A Ride Through the Pinckney Marsh Wildlife Preserve

I finally got back on the bike and took it for a spin. We’ve been busy painting and fixing up the place but I needed a break from paint and drove over to a nearby wildlife refuge.

You would think by now that the tourists would be at home baking apple pies or raking leaves but they were out in force at the refuge. Lot’s of folks in bird watching gear. Is there gear for everything? Why do you need gear for bird watching? Binoculars, camera, sandwich. Good to go. These people have big wide hats, shirts with pockets, shorts with pockets, socks with pockets, hiking boots and a cloth to tie around your neck. Nobody said good morning as I rode past. I think they feel the bike makes too much noise on the gravel and scares away the birds. I’m more concerned about the gators. I make as much noise as I can.  I should clip a playing card to the front fork to make a Harley noise. Maybe a balloon. Wubba wubba wubba.

This place was bigger than I thought and the tourists only make it about a half mile in and go back so it was a solitary ride the rest of the way. Nobody around. I could have rode naked. Just me and the birds, crabs and gators. Funny that all the birds are beyond where the uniformed watchers give up and turn around.

I had to stop and let some air out of my tires. The trail was full of tree roots and it became a real nut cracker of a ride. I really need new shocks for the front. My hands were numb halfway through. I was numb in other spots too.

I over hydrated but there was no problem finding a place to take a leak. I was going to pull over but I saw a sign for Woodpecker road and figured there might be a good spot down there off the main path. There were no woodpeckers but there was a sign for Dick Point. Perfect place for a rest stop.

I was disappointed by the lack of Gators but I did see Fiddler crabs. I rode out onto the tide flats to check them out but then I realized I was in a bad spot for a little chomp chomp action and got the hell out of there. Do gators make a noise? I heard some low level grunts while looking at the crabs. That’s when you start thinking how lonely and quiet it is in the park. All they would find is an old bike with a Bills hat on the handlebars. Maybe an old pair of sandals held together with some 5200.

I only came a across two other riders that whole time. When I hit the main trail it was smooth packed dirt and I got up to speed. I came around a turn and there were a flock of bird watchers blocking the whole trail. Damn. I kept going because I spotted a little hill off the trail and I took off for it, zoomed up the hill and stopped at the top, startling a group of watchers who were on the other side looking at something. My brakes squealed and they all glared at me. I should have asked, “Excuse me but do you know what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is?”   “African or European?”, would have been the proper reply but somehow I don’t think any of them were Monty Python fans.

There were a few hills in the park! Yes, it’s the low country and you expect flat swampy land but a nice big hill was in front of me and I got all excited and dropped a gear and pedaled my ass up to the top for a view of a lake surrounded by pine trees. What the hell!?  Cool. I got up some speed and put my feet out in front of me on the way down. Fortunately there were no tree roots.

Earlier we had a nice little get together for the kids in their Halloween costumes. Some of the adults put together a costume as well. I didn’t have one but I did have an old Stetson hat in the closet so I brought that and some face paint. Maybe be a creepy cowboy or something. I painted some whiskers on my Granddaughter and my Grandson got a Super Mario mustache. I joked that maybe I should give myself some eyebrows because I don’t have much of a brow and we joke about it sometimes. The kids said yeah, do it. So I did.

During one of our old college bar talks my pal Charlie asked me how my date the night before went. I told him I thought she hated me and it was a bust. I was on a losing streak for a while and I wondered out loud what the hell was wrong with me. Charlie replied, “Well besides being a drunk sarcastic asshole, driving a Pinto and having a head too big for your body you also lack eyebrows. I don’t know how you even get any girl to go out.” I can’t remember if I punched him in the head or not. We continued our friendship despite my new paranoia of a big head lacking eyebrows. Eventually he lacked hair so I got the last laugh.

I asked Deb if she liked me better with brows. She seemed intrigued by the new look I had and the nice thing to say would have been, “You look fine just the way you are” but she didn’t. She just shook her head like I’m nutty. So now I’m paranoid all over again about my bald forehead. Can you get brow replacements?  I think eyebrows would have been life changing.

Time to start painting again. I’m doing the kitchen and trying hard not to splatter paint all over those cabinets Debra refinished. Yeah that would not be OK. Wish me luck

Cheers!

PJJB

The solitude of the park was just what I needed

Goodbye Mom.

Goodbye Mom.


I lost my beautiful Mom recently. Her smile, her sarcasm, her wit, her intelligence, her good nature and her love has left this life but remains with me as wonderful memories.

Mom was not a drinker. I have no memories of her having more than a glass but for some reason she wanted to pose with a Guinness. Cheers Mom!


No matter how prepared I was for her passing I blubbered like a baby when she left. Losing your Mom is a lonely feeling. No matter your age you still are drawn to your Mom when life slaps you around, or when you just need to hear her voice. You don’t run to her crying any more but just talking to her made the world seem a little bit more normal. I’ve lost that now. I can’t talk to her. I can’t hold her hand. I can’t get a hug or a kiss. Mom was a cheek kisser. All I have are the memories now.

I bet I fell off that creepy horse and it’s evil eye was staring at me while I laid there crying.


Mom worked full time. She was a mother of four and we were all a year apart. She had a lot of energy and kept us all in line all those years. Mom would wake me up by whistling. Like a bird. When you’re a teenager trying to get every damn minute in bed that you can it’s annoying to hear that human bird whistling away as she passed my now open door. She would eventually whistle her way into my room, let in some horrible sunlight and get me moving. No yelling. No threats. Just whistling and maybe a little laughter or joking to get me out of bed, dressed, stuffed with cereal and out the damn door for the bus.

Looks like a good time.

One night we were up late. I was on the floor in front of the couch. My Mom sitting behind me. I asked her to stay up so I can watch Midnight Special. ELO was playing. ELO or the Electric Light Orchestra performed Roll Over Beethoven. A minute into the song and Mom says, “Ooh they have a cello. They’re really good. The singer would be cute if he’d get a haircut. I like his voice.”
I slowly turned to look up at Mom as she’s moving to the music. I thought, My Mom thinks Jeff Lynne is cute. She knows what a Cello is? I smiled at that and leaned back a little. Eventually her fingers found my curls which she knew annoyed me but I let it go this time.

My Mom and Grandma’s.
Christmas Grandma with her GrandDaughters.

I never got to see the rest of the set. Dad pulled into the driveway and I had to scoot upstairs where I would wait at the top to make sure Mom had an easy night ahead of her. Once the snoring started I went off to bed knowing Mom would get to bed in peace and get some much needed rest.
For some reason this memory keeps coming back to me. Something special about that moment but it just seems as plain as all the other nights we stayed up together. Sometimes watching an old movie, a show or another rock concert. Even Monty Python’s Flying Circus. She’d laugh along with me. Maybe I just figured out my Mom was pretty cool for a Mom. I still listen to ELO.

My parents sure could dance. Wish they’d done more of that.
Mom giving her great Grandson Mason some snuggles.
My Mom, Dad and I doing an Ad for Maui Jim sunglasses.

I miss those moments. If I could go back in time I would jump out of bed when I heard that whistling passing my door in the morning. I’d smile from ear to ear and give her a big hug and tell her how much I love her before I left for school.
P

LTBR

In this world of humans there are instances where you question the sanity of the world we live in. Slavery, Genocide, World Wars, invasions for oil and land. You know, the usual stuff. It happens and you  look back in history and wonder how those people could be so misled by idiot and or corrupt leaders.

A more recent (not really) bout of human insanity is the humans currently living in the United States not protecting their children from being slaughtered by some monster with immediate and unrestricted access to semi automatic weapons. Yep. We will march in the streets and burn down planned parenthood buildings for the unborn but 6th graders not so much. I mean freedom right?

‘Sorry but the 2nd amendment says I have a right to bare arms.’ Cool. Can you buy a machine gun? ‘Well, no.’ Can you buy a grenade launcher? ‘Don’t be stupid’. So some weapons are regulated? ‘Well yeah’. Why can’t we add one or two more? Like maybe semi automatics? Save the children. ‘Over my dead body!!’  Well no probably not over your dead body, unless you’re a teacher maybe.

It’s enough to make your blood boil. We’ve sunk so low in this country that the slaughtering of elementary school kids doesn’t even bring us to the streets in anger. Even the cops sat and listened to the shots destroying little bodies while they stood outside in full body armor and assault rifles. How any man can do that is beyond my comprehension. During 9-11 we saw cops and firemen run to the scene and into the maelstrom to help people. Why can’t we do that now? Why can’t we save our kids? Why are we silent and just waiting for it to happen again and again and again?

I just don’t get it. So many amendments we just ignore or toss aside or modify for the times but because a few manufacturers and lobbyists throw dollars around we have a portion of society that will not give one inch for the safety of their children.

With that I will leave you with beach photos. Low Tide Bike Rides are the best way for me to toss the craziness behind for a while and just listen to the sand under the tires and the surf on the shore as you roll along.

I would love to have everyone just take some time to think about the issue at hand, protecting our children. Go for a ride. Watch the sun come up. Watch the sun go down. See crabs heading for the water. See turtle tracks going up the beach and then down again. Think how awesome it would be for your kids and grandkids to see the same thing you are seeing and how much joy it would give you. Think about how little we have to give up for them to be safe.

P

Road Trip Rochester NY

Rochester. My old hometown besides Buffalo. We went back for a week to see the kids and play around in some parks and maybe get a bite or two and definately a pint or two while there.

Just how I remembered it. Gray and wet

Covid popped up before we got there and we had to dance around some positives before we could settle in for a good time. Eventually everyone was negative and not contagious and we enjoyed the time together.

Smurfs in the park

Spring had not sprung yet but we put our jackets on and went to a few favorite places. The kids were a joy to be around and they had some good fun in the hotel pool. They didn’t even freak out when the guy with the extra large belly button entered the hot tub.

Yeah it was a pretty ugly thing to see. Dude wear a shirt or get that trimmed. At first glance it looked like he had something else poking out of his suit. Not cool. 😀

We did get to the park to see the lilac buds starting to bloom. Highland Park is beautiful but we were just a bit too early to see all the flowers and trees in bloom. Rochester has a Lilac festival every year. It’s a nice event when they get organized. Some years in the past it was all screwed up. We got to the festival one year and took my parents. We walked the park and my Dad was like, ‘Where’s the beer?’ Turns out they moved the actual festival to downtown and the park just had trees and flowers. Dad was not impressed. In fact he was miserable. He spent the entire time on a beer hunt. That was pretty much the end of their travels to Rochester. Too many flowers, not enough beer. Oye, what a pain in the ass he was at times.

Side note. My Dad would get an oil change and rotate the tires the day before driving to Rochester from Buffalo. It was 60 miles. Yeah, sixty. All highway.

Our visit was too short and the drive back was horribly long because I decided to drive straight through only stopping for fuel and snacks. I’m an idiot. Deb had a blown back so no assistance there. She could barely walk. With one hour to go I thought I was going to poop myself because I thought having a Starbucks cold brew was a grand idea on top of all the junk I ate. Just the thought of soiling the new car made me kind of a maniac behind the wheel and I just pressed on, passing gas stations and regretting each one gone by but somehow I made it and then could not go. It’s like I backed up the system and now I had to pay the price of a stomach ache plus a headache that made me see stars. It was a long night on the couch with no sleep for my caffeinated body.

From here on out I am restricting my road time to 6 hours, maybe 8. Things get squirrely after eight hours travelling. Last place I want to die is on an American highway.

Hopefully my daughter moves south soon and we will not have to make that drive twice a year. If the hotels weren’t gouging us to make up for their losses during the pandemic we probably would have stopped but fuck, a semi proper place to sleep is $150 easy. We see a lot of people just sleeping in the rest areas, avoiding the hotels.

Now with the price of fuel so high there might be way fewer travelers and the hotels will get screwed again, keeping prices high. Fuel prices go up and the oil company profits skyrocket and we still give them a tax break and subsidies of $40 billion. What the fuck man!

OK. I ended the blog with a rant. Cool. Now I’ll go do something productive, like maybe work on the next blog post.

Cheers!

PJJB

Still here, or there.

Yes, I’m still blogging occasionally. Not much going on right now so I guess I will just insert a little blurb here to keep people strung along. The people not on FaceCrack who don’t get exposed to my weekly brain dump. The smart people. Well, not too smart else you wouldn’t be here.

We caught a mini break in our babysitting chores and decided we’d fill the time by taking their garbage cans in while they were gone and maybe finding a bar.

Found one! Two actually.

It was nice to get back to our usual selves being out and about and then in a bar. It’s been a while. A little food and a wee bit of beer. Well, Deb had a wee bit. I was a little over excited about a new brewery and then another bar cross the parking lot that I maybe got a little carried away for my first outing in a while.

It’s all good. Fun to get out and have a few laughs looking at tourists.

What’s with the all pink outfits dudes? You come south and you need to look like a flamingo? Hey to each his own. I wore purple for Easter! Actually it was coincidence. Why is purple associated with Easter?

Ah, purple is associated with humility and sorrow. Very popular during lent. I should have known that for all the time I spent in church pre paganism. Not really a pagan. Not really anything spiritual. Kind of just hanging out, being a nice person mostly. Where will I go after death? Probably nowhere. If I had a choice it would be Bavaria. I can be reincarnated right there. About time for some mountain scenery anyway. The Beer is good.

We’re up in NY and I forgot my keyboard so I’m fat fingering this on a tablet and it sucks. Short blog post because this is so annoying using just 2 fingers. The weather here also sucks but it was expected. We’re also surrounded by covid which makes things more boring. Hard to get together with people. Still nice to catch a glimpse of people you know and have a few laughs even if it’s outside in 40 degree wind.

I should wrap this up. We’re heading to a trail for a little hike with the kids. The sun came out so we will too. I will leave you with a classic Easter photo of our time in Key West on Easter morning. Most fun I’ve had on a holy day.

Been meaning to retire this pic but people keep asking for it. These two were so much fun. Back when Florida wasn’t Russia South. Live and let live you assholes. I don’t understand the need to control other peoples lives. Are you that bored?

I’m making a better effort to blog more, away from Facebook. Let’s see how that goes. Every time I post there I see that Zuckerberg asshat mining my data. Bothers me.

Cheers,

PJJB

Who’s the Captain?

When a couple buy a boat and decide to sail off somewhere is it pre-determined who the captain will be? Someone has to be the Captain and there can only be one… right?

Why only one? Well, I guess there needs to be an ultimate authority. Someone in charge. A vessel representative. A vessel master. Someone to blame if it all goes to shit.

If there is an emergency or a critical decision needs to be made quickly then someone has to take charge and make those decisions. So, why can’t there be a group decision or vote on what to do? Well, unfortunately, there may not be time to debate.

There are no set rules that sailing couples have to adhere to in regards to who is in charge. Can there be co-captains? I think it’s up to each couple or crew to decide that. I suppose there can be co-captains but someone has to represent the vessel and crew in many situations involving communications with other authorities, like clearing in for example. In a lot of countries only the captain or vessel master can leave the ship to clear in. You have to designate someone as the Captain. Someone who has to meet with local authorities and fill out all the paperwork and hand over some cash while sweating profusely and wondering if they’re going to ask why it took you so long to get here from the last port. Perhaps you made an illegal overnight stop? Eh Captain?

I feel that the designated vessel master has to be someone cool under pressure, calm in extreme situations and not likely to panic.

Both of us are pretty chill in rough situations. I myself am paranoid as hell but but when things get weird I can stay pretty relaxed. Not sure relaxed is the right word. Focused! That’s it, focused. I zero in on the problem and fix it while saying we’re all going to fucking die. I think Debra is the same way minus the ‘fucking dying’ stuff.

We were never in a really bad enough situation to test this out but there were a few times we thought we could be in some real trouble. I don’t recall ever feeling like the grim reaper was behind me and the tap on the shoulder would come any minute though there was this one hangover on a rolling boat at anchor where I gladly invited him aboard. The universe could have reduced me to atoms at that point and I would have sighed relief as the last spark of my existance winked out.

There were a few at sea situations where our roles came into play. I think we played on our strengths and handled each problem accordingly. There was no My Way or the Highway attitude but in those situations there definitely was no debate. I think couples that sail together for a while get a feel for when a hard decision needs to be made and who needs to make it.

Society had trained us to expect the male to be the captain of any boat but this is not true of course. The kind of thinking that only males can fill certain roles is just more of the bullshit from the past that needs to be forgotten. I know some of that stupidity still lingers in the weak minds of a few people but as time moves on I feel it will fade. I say this with a lot of hope because I thought the same thing of racism and we all know how time didn’t fix much related to that ugliness.

For some the role of captain comes easy. Others do not want the responsibility. I like being captain. Mostly I liked being called captain. Deb didn’t call me captain too many times. I usually heard it when something need fixing or a decision needed to be made that she didn’t want to make. ‘Hey Captain, the toilet just flushed all over the floor’. ‘Well then which route would you prefer Captain Himhaw’.

Who is the Captain on Kelly Nicole? I’ll start with a picture of my Grandson drawing our boat and us in the sand.

Aiden’s drawing depicted me at the helm and Debra on the bow. I commented on the nice drawing and said that Grandma was usually at the wheel. He looked up at me with one squinted eye, paused and went back to his drawing. “How come you don’t drive the boat?” I do sometimes but mostly Grandma steers the ship. There was another pause as he dug in the sand and then he walked away to poke at something else. Typical Aiden he seems distracted by other things but his mind is still focused on what was said earlier. “So grandma is the captain?” No, I’m the captain. More thinking. “But you don’t drive the boat.” Grandma and I share some duties but we have our own things to do on the boat that get us to where we want to go. Grandma likes to navigate and sit behind the wheel because I am too restless to just sit and I like to move around and check on stuff like the sails and the engine and other boat functions.

Aiden thought about that for a bit, then drew a large penis in the sand.

I can’t speak for other couples but we kind of fell into the above mentioned duties as time went by. It sure didn’t start out this way as I was the jerk who bought our first boat and had the most sailing experience so I defaulted to Master and Commander.

Once I bought boat number one Debra decided she wasn’t going to rely on Captain Skinny Legs for survival out on Lake Ontario. Debra enrolled in sailing school and quickly learned how to get her babies back to land safely if the big headed sailor wannabe fell overboard or she strangled him.

Soon my “ultimate authority” had been diminished a wee bit. This was good! I’m not the type who wants to be the Ultimate Authority.

So now that Debra knew how to sail, the UA assigned her to mainsail trim. Eventually Debra got annoyed because no matter how she trimmed the sail the UA was always there to tweak that thing. By the 2nd boat Debra was thinking the Ultimate Authority is becoming the Ultimate Asshole so she suggested that maybe I should focus on the sails seeing how I am never happy with her setting and she can take the helm and we can get back to the dock quicker because when I enter a port I do so from one mile out like we have a 20 ft draft. Cool. I agreed. In my defense there are some ports with shallows extending out from the entrance. Just approach every one from a mile out and it’s all no worries. So what if it takes you an extra hour to get to the dock 😳

Debra is not interested in anything engine related or “tweaking” a sail to get an extra 1/4 knot. Is the boat moving under sail? Good. Is the engine on and are we moving? Good. Any other details are my responsibility.

By the time we were cruising Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands we had our roles defined but there was still some cross training. I did the navigating because we were still using paper charts, compass, speed and Loran when it worked. I had some training in this and I liked it. While I was screwing around with that Debra was at the helm.

Deb is good at keeping a steady course. I was good at plotting that course. Life aboard had a rhythm. Pretty soon electronic navigation went all touch screen with nice charts and we got autopilot and AIS and Deb said “I’ve got this Skinny Legs”. At this point I was thinking I had it made and could just relax in the cockpit but damn if shit didn’t keep breaking and I had to keep bouncing up and down all over the place keeping us going. Plus you know I had to tweak those sails and listen for any engine abnormalities. 

Me and the girls racing. Kell must be on the bow. My Mom rode along. Deb’s Mom was probably below getting a manhattan. Should have renamed the boat Estrogen V for this race.

Deb did appreciate my eyes when it came to shallows. I had a knack for seeing the thin water. This came in handy a few times. I was also good at reading the wind and seeing squalls coming. I probably hold the record for the fastest fuel filter change as well. See, I’m not worthless!

Deb is great at navigating and working the helm. I always felt safe and confident when Deb was piloting. She’s also the #1 best list maker. You would not believe how handy a list is on a boat. Pre-departure checklist, Leaving the boat checklist, arrival checklist, decommissioning, launch, yard work,  etc.

I think a lot of the folks out there male and female will fall into their roles naturally. That’s why it’s important to get out there sailing and taking a few small voyages before you set off for some big adventure on the high seas. I would even recommend living on the boat at the dock or on a mooring for a bit before you take off. Just my opinion. Everyone is different…thankfully.

We did witness some tyrant captains unfortunately. These boats suffered a mutiny pretty quickly. Marriages and friendships destroyed because of an over compensating vessel master. Fortunately these boats were very rare. Toxic masculinity will make you a solo sailor pretty quickly.

Tough guy. Ultimate Authority. Definitely a solo sailor. Don’t be this guy. 😀

There were a lot of solo sailors out there. The women were cool, the dudes were freaky. Yea not kidding, the guys start losing their shit out there alone. The women excel.

Debra and I had our moments. Nobody was a Captain Queeg, Bligh or even a Quint but we had some issues. Mostly the issue was me. I tend to voice my paranoia out loud. So as we’re traveling through a narrow cut I would say, “Strong current. Should the motor die we’ll try to stay in the middle and I’ll drop the hook but if I let out too much we’ll slam the coral so maybe just 50 feet and hope it grabs else maybe try to steer to port where there is some sand we can stick it.”

Deb: Why would the motor die?!!

Me: I don’t know, just thinking out loud.

Deb: I’ll murder you.

Eventually I got over this thinking out loud because Debra would have went home and left me to sell the boat. I had my chance to be a freaky solo sailor but I managed to escape that fate with a little self control. I would suck at solo and I did get to do this for a month in Grenada. Damn that was a lonely existence. It was fun for about a week, then you start talking to yourself, playing loud music, drinking too much and walking around the boat naked. Eventually I shaved, got myself together and hit up a few restaurant bars only to find myself amongst even weirder people. Debra can sometimes depower my weirdo magnate. Alone I’m vulnerable to the crazy among us. I was so happy to see her again. We went straight to the bar.  😀

So, who’s the Captain on your vessel?  Go have some fun on the water and figure it out. Maybe it’s predetermined. Maybe it is but will change once you get out there. You’ll never really know until you’re on the water. One thing I can tell you is, have some patience. Cruising requires a lot of patience and understanding to live in those close quarters. A sense of humor helps too. A good captain knows this. They are after all, the Vessel Master, responsible for the safety and well being of the ship and its crew.

Cheers!

PJ Vessel Master, Retired UA

Goodbye My Friend

This is hard. I still tear up weeks later trying to write this. I lost a friend I’ve had since 1977. We met in Junior College while in a circuits class in the Electrical Technology program. He sat next to me and was completely overwhelmed. He had that deer in the headlights look about him and took detailed notes like a stenographer. “Hey man you’re so busy taking notes you’re missing the point”. My pal was kind of shocked that the class was seventy percent math and not just us making cool circuits for guitar amplifiers.

We had many classes together and got along because we helped each other with homework and we cracked each other up about stupid stuff going on in the classrooms. One afternoon classes were canceled and we were going to fly one of my radio controlled planes I had built. I brought two of them. One was in the trunk of the Pinto and Fuzznuts was holding the smaller one. He had his window open. He moved the plane out the window because he thought it would move up and down like his hand. I was doing 45! The wings blew off the plane in a loud crack and fluttered into the ditch. WTF! I slammed the brakes as I pulled over. I could have killed him. He was just sitting there with his mouth and eyes wide open. I just stared at him, fists clenched. I was gonna pop him one. You idiot! What the fuck man!

“Should have used better glue”, he said quietly. We stared at eachother for a few seconds and then burst out laughing and went to go retrieve the wings. “How are you going to be an engineer with a design like this?”, he said holding a wing. How are you going to even graduate with such a shitty understanding of physics!, I replied.

Charlie was a great guitar player. That was his passion and he was incredibly good at it. He could have easily played in any top band, in fact he was offered a few times to head to NYC to make it to the big time but for some reason I forgot, he missed his chance. It probably involved a woman. Charlie had the worst luck with relationships. We had some serious laughs over the phone regarding his love life which was incredibly crazy sometimes.

My pal had a topsy turvy life. Girlfriends came and went. Wives came and went. The things that never left him were guitars and friends. He had plenty of those.

We would still talk about “the one that got away” from time to time. No, it wasn’t a guitar it was a girl. To this day I think she could have changed his life. Not that his life was that bad but he did make a few mistakes that lead to some difficulty, flashing blue lights and an ankle bracelet.

The whole time I knew Charlie we never really called each other by our proper names. There were always nicknames. My friends hair was quite wild at one point and my 3 yr old daughter referred to her Godfather as Uncle Hairball. We laughed and continued to insult each other with various names and digs over all these years which always made us laugh because there was nothing behind any of it, just friendship.

I had tickets to a Genesis show in Toronto. At the time Charlie was out of school and I had a growing fascination with a girl in one of my classes. Hmm, take this girl to Toronto or call the Knob? Girl wins. At the show, Dance on a Volcano is played and I roar with my fist in the air not far from the stage. I look over and my date has hands over her ears and wants to move up to some empty seats. Fuck me I should have taken the Hairball. She dumped me a month later cause her boyfriend in the Marines is coming home. Geezuz what a dumbass I am. Later the Knob found out I went without him and I think it stung a little. I offered tickets to 10CC. You know the band that did, “I’m not in Love, The Things we do for Love, I’m Mandy Fly Me” songs. Charlie is like, “Serious? What the fuck, this a date Cornhole?” No! They are a great band! You’ll see. Anyhow he loved the show. It was a good time.

Later I bought more manly concert tickets to Deep Purple and later it was Rainbow. The Buttmunch idolized Ritchie Blackmore. He just called him Ritchie and we were all supposed to know who he was blathering on and on about. We had floor tix. We were as close as you could get and right up against the security gate at the Rochester War Memorial. Hairball was in a trance. Ritchie slid on his knees down to the edge of the stage and leaned back into a solo. The Hairball reached out with his hand and was literally less than inches away from touching Ritchie’s guitar. It was a great moment in our history together. I saw a tear of joy. “You crying fan boy?” Fuck off Melon Head!

As the years went by we drifted apart in some ways, especially politics. I tend be progressive on most things and Hairball hit the wall on the far right. I drove GM, he drove Ford. I’m not religious at all and Fartknocker became a born again Christian. We went in different directions in many ways. I left Buffalo, met Deb and started a family. Charlie stuck around for a while, met someone and started a family then moved out to the country without the family and ran with a different crowd. My partying days were coming to a close (OK maybe a tapering off) but the Knob kept going strong and eventually got a State job and continued his love of playing live music.

When Cowhead got married the third(?) time it was a really funky and very religious wedding and I was in the wedding party. I was told there is no alchohol allowed so I put some beers in a cooler in the trunk of the car. I was sick as a dog too so I don’t know why I even showed up. I probably gave everyone in the wedding party the flu. While at the altar there was some freaky ceremony with a woman and a dance of veils. It took forever. I was dying up there. I leaned in to another dude and said, “That’s not something you fucking see every day. If this chick dances another 10 minutes I’m gonna hit the floor”. When the dance was over the dude went to his dancing wife of veils and gave her a big kiss and then a glare my way. Woops. “Enjoy the flu”. I took a stroll out to the car after that. If I recall correctly Charlie met me there and we laughed our asses off much to the dismay of the bride and her family as we slipped the beers back into the trunk. Woops again.

As long as we’re on the subject of beers you should know that I took Fuckwit to his first bar. Yep. The Marlboro Inn or M building as we called it in school. I got him rightfully buzzed on his first pitcher of Molson Ale. yea his first beer was a pitcher 😀 He went home early. Years later his Mom blamed me for getting him started on the beer trail. Hope she was joking. I remember sitting at a piano with her, singing in between drinks. She told me I had nice teeth.

I have so many stories to tell about our adventures for those years but they will remain with us two and whoever is nearby after I had a few beers. We were so young and just smart enough to stay out of serious trouble and make our way through adulthood. Well, one of us stayed out of trouble.

The last time I saw the Porcupine he was living in a trailer in a small town in the sticks, surrounded by memorabilia, family treasures and guitars and amplifiers. Somewhere in the clutter there was a cat. It was hard to move around but I was in awe of the collection of crap he had stuffed in there. Dude saved EVERYTHING. He had bar tokens from 1977! He looked like shit and I told him so. He offered me a beer but I refused and pointed to the monitor strapped to his ankle. I had a serious look on my face and it made him nervous and maybe a little defensive.

“What the absolute fuck Charlie!” He recoiled a bit because like I told you we seldom used our names. We had a good talk about health, living conditions, life choices and all that but in the end we just laughed about old times and how we need to do this and that again and maybe make some music together and go to this bar and that bar. Oh man we knew that would never happen. His drinking days were done. The politics though. Damn. I told him if politics got discussed I would leave and I did. He just couldn’t help himself.

In the end that’s all my friend could ever talk about. Politics. Kill libtards. Civil war. DemonCrats. Non believers. Christians fighting evil liberals, Bill Gates vaccine nanobots… I can continue but you get the picture.

One of the last serious conversations I had with Charlie was to make sure he was vaccinated because he had a whole host of issues including diabetes of a serious level. He said he takes science seriously and he is vaccinated. I took his word for it despite his anti vax posts on facebook. He was so full of contradictions it made my head spin.

My fiends last post on facebook was a picture from his hospital bed saying it’s Covid time. The top of the picture showed the TV where Fox News was playing. How fitting. Your last gasp is on god damn facebook. How completely and insanely fucking fitting and god damn aggravating!

I never got to say goodbye.

My last message “You better not have died on me! Love you man.” went unanswered. I honestly thought he would reply and call me some new funny and insulting name.

Goodbye Charlie. I think about you every time I pick up the guitar and I promise I will learn one Ritchie song… and you’re still a Fucking Knob.

P

We looked so innocent.

Hey Captain!

Hey Captain Paul what is your favorite piece of gear you had on the boat?

Hmmm. This is a tough one because so much of the gear was shit. Kidding, most of it was OK else we would have given up much earlier. I come from a career of fixing machines so I didn’t freak out too much when something broke. There was plenty of whining but not much freaking out….except for leaking heads. You’re allowed to freak out about that shit. How did people with a background in finance or muffin baking maintain an old boat? This always baffled me. It’s like learning to play guitar before youtube videos were around. How can this be possible?

Thinking…

How many times did Deb think, “We’re fucked.” but then Captain Skinny Legs pulls off a quick repair. I think I should have received some bonus points…or something. 😏

The first piece of top gear that comes to mind is the Mantus anchor. I called it my sleeping pill because it never failed us once it was set properly and it was easy to set. We started with a CQR and a Claw which both came with the boat. The CQR was worthless except in pure mud. I hated it and it departed pretty quickly once we hit Florida. The Claw was pretty good. We kept it as a backup. We had a Claw on our old boat and it worked just fine.

Virgin Mantus
A well used anchor.

The Claw earned its stay when in the Delaware river a barge dragged down on us during a tide change in heavy current. The current pulled the barge out but we held fast and unfortunately the barge was coming right at us. The tugboat Captain called us in the wee hours to let us know that even though he fired up the engines that it would be real close and we should be prepared to cut anchor. Hell of a start to cruising. He stopped with 75 ft to spare while I had a knife ready to lose all my chain and rode. Good times! I think I tied a line and a fender to the chain but I can’t remember. Not sure if I was that smart back then.

We were going to buy the Rocna but it was reported that some were breaking in half on people so we went with the Mantus. Rocna got better but mentally I never recovered from that news. It’s like the Ford Pinto. Yea a few exploded upon impact but they’re better now. We had 65 lbs of lovely pointy scooping metal hanging off the bow and I slept really well at night unless the French were anchored nearby. Hell we even made it through a Derecho in 80 plus knots and didn’t budge while everyone around us changed locations. I think I actually kissed that anchor at one point.

We were a little light on chain as I went with the 5/16 high strength versus the everyday heavy chain. I needed to save some weight up front. I was a little nervous at first but it was a perfect set up as we never did drag after being set and the water on the deck always drained to the stern. We had high confidence that the boat would always be where we left it after a full day ashore.

Coming in at number two would have to be the Honda Generator 2000. We used this primarily for the watermaker but every now and then we topped up the batteries with this little wonder machine. Pretty much ran smooth until we sent it to a mechanic for a tune up and then she ran a little rough afterward but never failed. 

Honda 2000. This is not where we stored it. I just couldn’t find a pic of it in action at the stern.

I always felt deprived because we did not have an inboard diesel generator but so many of our friends had problems with them that I’m glad we kept it simple. Still, felt kind of trashy with the little red Honda on the stern rail.

With the laundry on the lifelines, the generator running and me scratching my butt with a beer in my hand I bet we looked very yacht club unworthy but hey, we were just a pair of Sperry’s, Mount Gay Rum hat and a North Sails shirt away from fitting in.  🤔

Another benefit of the Honda was the extra space in the engine room. No diesel genny meant a big old spot was available for storage or getting your body in there. This really came in handy for the guys who were in there draining our accounts of cash and working on the engine. You know, that’s where my repair talent was diminished. I was hesitant to do too much with that Yanmar engine besides basic stuff. I was afraid I’d fuck it up. Mostly everything else can be replaced easily but this was a critical piece of equipment in a low budget boat. Experts, or people I could take to court were required for work on the Yanny.

Does the Yanmar engine count as gear? I don’t know but I will say it’s the best. I think I mentioned that in a previous post where I disparaged all other makes and model of engines and boats making lots of friends in the process. I was surprised that there were no comments from sailors who swore by their old crappy engines, calling me a know nothing prick. I was very disappointed.

I’ll cover one more piece of gear and then take a break. My middle finger hurts. The one I sliced open with a vegetable peeler. That wound healed in time for me to burn the same digit on a pan I was taking out of an oven. Burned it bad. It’s still red and sore and my guitar playing is suffering but in a week I should be fine. I probably should have left the blister alone but it’s like bubble wrap, I just had to pop it.

The next piece of gear on the best list is our watermaker. Yes it was a total pain in the ass at times and I had my roundabouts with the creator of this unit but overall it was a performer and probably kept us out there longer than we would have lasted had we not had it or went with something else.

Cruise RO 30 gallon per hour water making system was a life saver. We ran this unit every two days for about an hour. It was powered by the Honda Generator along with some boat volts. We were never without fresh water and we had plenty of it. Heaven compared to schlepping it from a broken faucet next to a bar.

When we received the unit and tested it the first time it leaked. One of the membrane tubes spewed water. I was instructed to take it apart and change seals. When I pulled it apart it was full of grime. I asked why I got a used unit and was told I was an asshole for saying that but the one tube was a different color (older style) and smelled and had a leak. Tell me again why I’m the asshole? I eventually got a new membrane for free but not until we were done with the first season of cruising.

We had some other boost pump issues and received a bad jabsco pump that was not their fault but I bought it from them so hey, new pump pal. Even though we seemed to get the shaft on this unit, it worked well and the Cruise RO dude did help us out even if we thought of eachother as assholes. They do reply pretty quickly and can help you troubleshoot. So despite the initial problems we thought this was a great system. Long hot showers baby! Amazing how hot showers still feel good even in the tropics.

I had these components spread out all over the boat.

There were some fun moments with the watermaker. Once we filled a tank and then some when the top of the fill tube had come loose from the fitting and the water flowed into a cabinet at 30 gallons/hr for a little while. “Is that tank ever going to fill?”

Once we had an issue with the brine discharge and I put the discharge hose out a port to drain overboard. I thought I had it secured but when we started the unit the hose slipped back into the cabin and whipped around like a deranged snake and sprayed brine all over me and the aft cabin. Ah, such fond memories of the cruising life.

OK, I have to go now. Need to trim some of this dead skin from my finger. I think today is apartment cleaning day. Joy. No! It’s been postponed for christmas cookie baking day. Otherwise known as Why the hell did I eat all those fking cookies day.

Next post is titled, ‘Who’s your Captain?”

Cheers,

PB

Road Tripping, Greenville, SC

We waited for a new car and we waited for the fall weather and the weather came first so off we drove in our sixteen year old car on our 40th anniversary. We weren’t driving that far but we were going uphill. At one point during the week I smelled something burning and that something was our transmission. No problem. We just parked it and let it cool off and then it was all coasting downhill after that. Of course the brakes were a little warm but they’re new.

Beautiful spot for a sunrise cup of go juice

I miss the days of manual transmissions in this hilly terrain. What a blast it would have been going down these mountain curves in a sports car with a standard. I had fun anyway accelerating through the turns while Debra squeezed the dirt off the interior door handle.

The car performed just fine and we got in some good hiking in some beautiful country. We rented a cozy little boathouse on a lake and enjoyed a good time with a great view.

Beautiful spot for a sunset glass of happy juice.

It was nice to get away from our apartment for a change. We were feeling closed in and I was getting squirrelly I guess. We do get out from time to time but we’re still wary of getting in tight with the crowds, especially down in the south where…ah never mind. People will just go off the deep end if I go any further with that. For some reason protecting others around them is offensive.

Prior to our escape we were exposed to someone with covid so we did the right thing and quarantined for ten days. We came out of quarantine just fine but eager to get away.

So yea, 40 years together! Two of us working at Rochester Gas and Electric in the engineering department sitting across from one another, decided to go on a date. Over 40 years later we’re still together and still in love. In some ways it’s a miracle and in other ways it’s meant to be.

Wild hair girl
Wild hair boy
Our last photo aboard Kelly Nicole

Nothing weird happened on our little trip. Kind of disappointing. Whenever we went to shore from the boat there was always something or someone weird to talk about or deal with. Maybe my weirdo magnate is getting weaker or maybe there are fewer  weirdos on land.

200 yr old bridge. I took a piece. I’m a child sometimes.
The old bridge over a creek is on a trail from Greenville to Ashville.
So many creeks and trails. I look forward to exploring more of this area.

There was a kind of strange moment when we were in bed and Deb asked me to look at her back because something was on it. She handed me a flashlight she keeps on her nightstand. I didn’t see anything but she insisted something landed and then crawled on her. I looked around with the light and there…on her pillow was a giant cockroach…with wings! I lifted the pillow and the thing started crawling around while I rotated the pillow to keep it in sight while walking to the kitchen where Deb was going to grab it with a paper towel. The fking thing was on a treadmill getting a workout. It was running as I was rotating the pillow as Deb was trying to get it. The whole thing looked stupid and then the creepy crawler lifted off and landed against a cabinet where I had had enough of this shit and pancaked it. Geez, how do you sleep after that?!

We didn’t. Not much anyway. Between the lack of sleep and the hiking I wore myself out and eventually caught a cold. The first thing you think is…COVID!!  I really think this is just a cold. No fever, just stuffy nose and coughing. It’s one of those colds where you just cough for a week which is fun because when you are out somewhere and coughing into your mask people give you the dirty look. I just laugh. “I bet you don’t have a problem with masks right now, eh assholes?!”  Amazing how much more room they give you with just a little tickle in your throat.

As I type this we got notice our new car finally showed up. Hooray! Well now we can travel worry free only I will miss the V6. They don’t offer a V6 anymore in anything we can afford. Sucks because it’s a nice smooth running engine and not like a muted lawnmower. So now we are just another one of millions with a crossover vehicle. I enjoyed the low riding sedan and I liked what it did when I stepped on it. Now I can’t be a cocky little shit on the road anymore and I have to drive like I look, old and slow. It’s better this way. Nobody wants to be splattered on a highway…or shot for being a little butthole. Not that I was an unsafe driver or anything it’s just that with the extra zoom I didn’t have to put up with anyone being a dick.

Out with the old, in with the new. I will miss the little gray sedan but it was getting to be a roll of the dice with every drive.

So now that we have our new wheels we’re already planning road trips but first we head up to Rochester, our old home town on the lake. Lake  Ontario. I already saw snow in a forecast. We’re hoping for a nice weather window because we DO NOT want any road salt on the new car!

Because this blog post has taken several days to publish I can report that I am healthy again and back to my morning walks. We’re working on our winter escape plan and picking some place warm to drive to. We have regular babysitting duties so we’re limited in our time but a week here, a week there and before long we’re in survivable temperatures again.

I’ll be back to talking about boats again next post. There are still some people I can piss off with my opinions on gear that we used and maybe some Island reviews.   That’s all for now. I have to annoy people with my guitar for a while.  

Cheers – PJB