OUR PLAN

We are writing this blog for one reason and one reason only. To provide a vehicle to make it easier to remain in touch with our family and friends back home.

Our plan is simple. Depart our home port of Goderich Ontario in the Summer of 2011. Cruise Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron while visiting some of the ports and anchorages we have missed over the years. As well as revisiting some of our favourite haunts hopefully with some of our very good friends with whom we have cruised with many times before. All the while adding up the miles and gaining experience with our new trawler. Our first and only self imposed deadline is to be in the Chicago area around Labour Day. South of Chicago, weather and circumstances will guide us!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

January 21, 2012 Palafox Marina in Pensacola FL. to Shalimar Yacht Basin in Walton Beach Fl.


One of the highlights of this town is the Naval Air Station and also the National Naval Aviation Museum that is on the base. Charlie and Bonnie from Sonata have visited this before and really talked it up. Terri and I must see this! Charlie has even offered to chauffeur us there and back in a car that friends of theirs have lent them. What service!

Our chariot arrived right on time minus the back seat that was inadvertently left out. No problem as boaters are resourceful people and Charlie supplied us with the ones off of his fly bridge. A very funny event!

One of many jets on display.
Food for thought!

A replica of a job in Terri's previous life. A theatre box office girl.

This is going to be a tight squeeze.
Now if only I can get my leg in.

Ahh! I knew I could do it.

Mark reporting for duty Sir! lol
Terri and I had a blast in this simulator. I was really getting the hang of it after the 4 minute ride. Terri didn't like the loop the loop maneuver but didn't push the panic button. I think she came close to it though.

Even Snoopy showed up for us.

A Mig 15 just what you didn't want to see on your tail.
Planes every where even hanging from the ceiling.

Helicopter cockpit and all of it's gauges and controls. These pilots had to really be on the ball.

Say what you want about this President but he did serve his country.
This is what you want as your wing man when the Mig's are around.

Another President that served his country with distinction. Actually this jet is from the Air Craft Carrier USS John F. Kennedy

What more can I say!
Not the real thing but a very good replica!

Go Navy

A view of the museum.

A bird for each branch of the service.

Cant forget the Navy

January 19, 2012 to January 20, 2012 Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach AL. to Palafox Marina in Pensacola FL.


WE FINALLY ENTER FLORIDA!

COLOURFUL HOUSES


THE WHITE SANDS


MORE DUNES

FRIENDLY BIRD

Saturday, February 4, 2012

January 18, 2012 Home Port Marina (Lulu’s) in Gulf Shores AL. to Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach AL.

The only reason we chose this marina was that they had a huge boat service department next door. I had talked to them on the phone and discussed a propane issue we were having on our newly installed system that we used to feed the BBQ. It didn’t seem like a big idea and they told me to come on in. We did just that but we were disappointed to find out that they couldn’t get anybody to do the work for a few days. We did have a solenoid part delivered there overnight but we didn’t feel like waiting around for a few days.

SCENERY ALONG THE WAY

MORE SCENERY

APPROACHING THE BIG CITY


Here’s a tip for our good friends Bob and Kemba on Spirit Dancer. You have a potential customer here. For the rest of you Bob and Kemba offer a training course for Marina companies and their employees. They train on actions such as radio protocol, communication, and assisting boaters in docking maneuvers.  All three of these topics could have easily been addressed here with a little, fore thought and maybe a little practice. When the dock hand tells you that knots and tying a boat up are not his strong suits you know you are on your own and he is more of a hindrance than a help. The people are very nice otherwise and this is not an exception as we see it over and over.

Next stop Pensacola FL. Yes I said FLORIDA!

Mark

Sirius Satellite Radio and a rant by Mark

When we had the boat built we had Sirius Satellite Radio and Weather hard wired into the boat’s systems? We have delayed activating it until now as we have been on the River System most of the time and weather was not really a big factor. But now with a major portion of the travel on the Gulf of Mexico and the  Atlantic Ocean and the East Coast of North America after that. It only made sense to activate it.

As I had awesome Electronics Technician named Scott who is from New Orleans aboard this afternoon finalizing  other minor electronic changes and upgrades. I thought it prudent to ask him to stay and help me ensure a swift and easy process with Sirius Satellite Radio/Weather. Scott agreed and of course we were away to the races. Or were we? Hmm! of course not, this is a boat, I am writing a blog and I need something to amuse me for the afternoon (not).
Well Scott had the phone number for Sirius Satellite Radio and it is just a matter of calling them and setting up an account and activating our radio and weather systems.  Sounds simple, as I am a veteran of the Bell Canada vs. common sense wars. Terri can attest to the amount they have contributed to my personal requirement for blood pressure medication.  Perfect I thought as Scott has performed this most simple of operations before. Of course this is a clock work operation and a mere formality as  Sirius performs this operation on a continuous basis. It is their business and they need the money I hear. The economy you know!

Scott gave me then phone number for Sirius and after five minutes of explaining my objectives to the girl. She wanted me to discuss this with someone else. ??? I think the “boat” word scared her. So after another four minutes with another Sirius person, as I have refined my desires down to a more manageable time frame and things are understood and all we need now is the formalities. You know address, credit card numbers, etc. etc.
Now Sirius has a great system where as every piece of equipment comes with a Sirius identifying code number. Well labeled and easy to reads on the various instruments that require their Satellite service.  Corporate boardroom thinking that works, unlike many products that seem to want to hide pertinent instructions, serial numbers etc.
The last bit of information she required is my Zip code. Well as I am from Canada we call them Postal Codes. Oh no sorry, she apologizes. The computer won’t accept letters as in Canadian Postal Codes only numbers as in U.S. Zip Codes.  Well I am in the United States and it has been done before I am sure. What about the rest of the world? Are all people who traverse this great planet from the USA? Hmm she informs me that it really is impossible, can’t be done.  OK I say so what are my options? Well you can call Sirius Canada and I am sure they can satisfy you. OK I say and promise to call Sirius Canada as I really need this service. Thank you for calling Sirius Radio as she signs off.

1 800 O Canada and I am now talking to another Sirius representative.  Only this time from North of the 49th parallel.  Same accent on the phone, but a different company, as according to Sirius Canada they are not in any way shape or form related to Sirius USA. I give the Credit Card number and address and even answer the same technical questions. Great, I am signed up and the signals are sent to both the Radio Receiver and the Weather Receiver. The Radio Receiver receives the satellite signal and soon the sweet sounds of Orleans and the song Dance With Me, fill the cabin. I recognize this song as a memorable courting song from the seventies when Terri and I…...  (My mind wanders)………..But back to reality as the weather information refuses to download on the chart plotter. All of the codes are correct and we acknowledge that the satellite signal has been sent and confirmed on our plotter. But where is the pertinent information Scott and I ask? What channel are you on Miss Canada asked in her heavy accent. The weather channel Scott replies. But what channel is that she asks again? Now Scott a man of infinite patience and pure southern charm replies The weather channel, and there is only one. “Hmm”, we hear through my speaker phone on my minute eating cell phone. But what channel is the weather channel? Scott and I must not break ranks and respond the weather channel and again Scott offers to her that there is only one weather channel. It is not like a radio with different channels. Again we hear Hmm, I wonder, if, is, maybe, Hmm? Is it? Could it be? Hmm? Let me put you on hold while I check my resources for a solution to this challenge? OK I say as I have lots of cell phone minutes to spare. Earlier in the day I had mortgaged my house in order to pay the data and phone minutes combined with my favorite all Canadian phone company. Miss Canada is back in a flash or in less than a dollars’ worth of cell phone minutes with the news. We can’t, don’t, offer this service as we don’t have weather in Canada.  Now those of you that know me.  Know that I ……………. Perhaps you are wrong, and could I please speak to your supervisor? One moment please sir! After 5 minutes she returns with the bad news. There is no supervisor available.   But sir I don’t know who will be on duty when and besides I might not be on duty when they are on duty. Leave a note I suggest. To whom she replies. The next on duty supervisor my voice straining now. Hmm, Sir could I put you on hold while I review my resources?  I agree (a week moment or a sense of capitulation encourage me).  Five more minutes have been offered to the Bell Canada minute gods before Miss Canada returns.  Great news sir as a supervisor has just arrived. Same channel, same excuses prompt me to cut the conversation short. Mr. Supervisor Sir, I would like to cancel my subscription with Sirius Canada. OK he says we will cancel the Weather Subscription and just carry ion with the Radio Subscription. Negative I say cancel them both with no charges for either as it has been less than 30 minutes that the radio subscription has been active. But sir… OK I understand. Sirius Canada & I have parted ways.
NEW SIRIUS MUSIC RECEIVER

SNAP SHOT OF THE REAL TIME WEATHER PATTERNS FROM SIRIUS WEATHER

WRITTEN WARNINGS JUST POP UP ON THE PLOTTER SCREEN

Now for the last little while I have been entertaining  Scott as he has been monitoring my conversation and has reconnected with Sirius USA. All I need is a USA Zip code and we are good to go. Now my desire to have Scott aboard for further trouble shooting purposes out ways my desire to reform Sirius Canada/USA and there ways. Scott can and will make things work. Sirius Radio not so much. Now I am again courting Sirius USA and my ace in the hole is my good friend Glenn. While he is Canadian he keeps an address in Florida. WITH A ZIP CODE. I take advantage of Glenn and exploit his precious code. Even though it will never be used as every pound of flesh will be extracted in advance via credit card. All correspondence between Sirius and myself will be completed through email. Glenn should entertain no extra junk mail. I think, and if I am wrong Glenn I owe you a pop. As the nice girl on the other end of the phone and I are waiting for the signals to be completely transmitted between their Satellite and my receiver we make small talk. Where you from she asks? Ontario I say. I knew it she said Canadian eh! How did you know? Your accent she says. Where you from I return the question?  Nova Scotia she replies. Oh a real Blue Noser eh! Now to the unfamiliar, calling a Nova Scotian a Blue Noser is indeed a huge complement. She giggled! Where in Nova Scotia do you hail from I asked? Cape Breton she replies. Really, I say my Mom was born in Glace Bay. Cool she says right around the corner sort of thing. What city do you work out of for Sirius Radio? Cape Breton she again replies. I think to myself you are a Canadian working for an American Company. You're armed with only a postal code. You without a Zip Code! How can this be? But the down load has been completed and it is 1730. Scott has to go and I am getting hungry.

Terri what’s for supper?

Cheers,
Mark

Jan. 11 2012 to Jan. 17 2012. Seabrook Marina in New Orleans LA. to Biloxi Marina in Biloxi MS. to Home Port Marina (Lulu’s) in Gulf Shores AL.

I guess we have been tardy in keeping up with the blog. It seems there is so much to do here in Florida and the days are flying by. Many of you have been on our case to get at it so here is the next excerpt.

1/11/12

It has been a long couple of travel days for Terri and I. We have returned to New Orleans after our Christmas celebrations with family and friends. It was good to see them all again and we will miss them as we head back to warmer climates. We had a 1000 flight out of Toronto which means we should arrive at the airport by 0800. Our Airport Transportation Van picked us up at 0545 and after picking up another person in Stratford had us at the airport at 0715. We breezed through the maze of Security Checks and U.S. Customs and we were at our departing gate by 0800. For sure a record but Terri and I were both exhausted as we had little sleep the night before. But we are not complaining as we know many people would gladly trade places with us. We are truly blessed.

TERRI IN THE GALLEY


MARK AND SMUDGE WAITING FOR A WAITRESS

RESTING AFTER OUR WALK


When we arrived at the New Orleans Airport and collected our bags we found a Cabbie that had unfortunately missed his calling. I am not sure what his calling was but a Cabbie it was not. He had no idea where our destination was and asked if we knew how to get there. He had no GPS or even an old fashioned map. It was lucky that I had the phone number of the marina and they managed to give him directions. Our short stay in New Orleans was spent finalizing boat warranty work and a completing a few upgrades that I had managed to talk Terri into. Also, our provisioning trips took us to wonderful new places in New Orleans that neither of the next two Cabbies could find without some extra prodding. Oh well we will leave in the morning and that should be it for cabs for a while.

1/14/12

We did leave the next day and made the return trip to Biloxi Marina in Biloxi MS. We had been there before of course and just wanted to get some rest and be gone in the morning. We did just that.

1/15/12

0700 the next morning found us underway again and within 15 minutes the Terrmar felt very different to me. She felt sluggish, slow to answer the helm. We were still underway but at greatly reduced speed. There were crab pots everywhere and only red day markers to mark the channel. I was following a track that I had used to enter this marina last November. We had no trouble back then why now? What is going on? Our temperamental depth sounder was showing about 4 ft. of water. We draw about 4’-6”. This is not all that unusual as a soft bottom usually gives us wacky readings. I switched the chart plotter display over to the more accurate fish finder which has a depth sounder 50 times the strength of the primary depth sounder. Long story short, we were plowing our way through the mud. But we can’t be. I am on the track that we used from last November. Must be those darn crab pots and we managed to snag one. I shifted the engine to neutral and we slowed quickly to a dead stop. Terri took the wheel as I went to the swim platform and using a boat hook to measure depth confirmed that we were just in mud and had not snagged a crab pot. Looking at the chart we were just out of or just into the channel. But which one was it? Regardless we knew where deeper water was and I planned to plough a furrow straight towards it. The only problem was there was a line of crab pots that straddled the day markers. We had to cross this line of pots without picking one up. We did just that and soon we were underway happy to be in deep water. Terri and I both reviewed things and checked all of the facts.

The official findings arising from the inquiry are as follows. The facts show that we were at low tide and because of that we had lost about one foot of water. Thus the lesser degree of water equates to the greater chance of touching bottom. End of story and let it never be broached again. Oh wait for of course Terri must add an addendum to an officially closed enquiry. Rank has privileges. Lol While she agrees with the findings re the tide. The fact is of course she feels compelled to tell what she thinks is the rest of the story. If you feel compelled to know, please send her an email and I am sure she will happily oblige.

The balance of the day was spent digesting my crow and trying to stay in the channel. We had to cross Mobile Bay today and it has been known to kick up a good chop in a very short period of time. But Terri and I both marveled at our luck as it turned out to be a perfect boating day with flat water and calm seas with just enough clouds in the sky to filter the direct rays if the sun. I am now relaxing and looking forward to the balance of the trip. We have arrived at Home Port Marina which is also the home of a famous restaurant called Lulu’s. In fact it is owned by the sister of recording artist Jimmy Buffet whom Terri and I both are big fans of. With entertainment nightly it was a no brainer we were going out for dinner tonight. After diner we walked around the restaurant complex and exercised Smudge and ourselves. But soon enough I was down for the night and Terri ended up doing some office work on the computer before she also retired for the evening. We can sleep in tomorrow as it will be an off day and we are staying put.
TERRI, SMUDGE AND A MAGNOLIA TREE

TERRMAR AND SONATA AT REST

TREES, TREES, OH HOW TERRI LIKES TREES

1/16/12

I was up early for some reason and itching to get going. I was dying to wash the boat. The salt was beginning to do a number on the stainless steel and crusting elsewhere. But to do that would mean to make noise and wake Terri from her well-deserved sleep in. Soon enough she ascends from her state room. She is ready for a coffee and a plan. I am washing the boat I say. Perfect and she decides to polish the interior of the boat, woodwork and all. She like doing the wood I think. Four hours later and we are pretty well both finished and pooped. But the boat is sparkling. It’s a good thing too as we have touched base with Sonata and they were going to arrive here today. I must live up to Charlie’s standards and have my boat in ship shape as Sonata might be parked next to us and we wouldn’t want to look too shabby lol. Soon enough Charlie and Bonnie are docked right beside us and after hugs and salutations. Charlie is busy washing Sonata.


That evening the four of us went out too diner at Lulu’s. Terri had the Red Snapper and raved about it. We caught up on all of the news as we have not seen each other since Green Turtle Bay last Oct. We traded stories of past glories and of all of the people we have met on this loop. We originally saw Sonata back in Canada at Little Current. But it was not until after Mackinaw Island that we started travelling with them as we progressed down Lake Michigan. Many happy hours have been spent on the fly-bridge of Sonata.

After 3 days of resting up here and performing the daily boat maintenance routine we were ready to head out tomorrow. Our up-graded propane system for the BBQ has failed and we have to get to a marina that will do this work in co-operation with Seabrooke Marine who had done the initial installation. Sonata will venture a little further down the line and we will meet up with them again soon.

I was excited to again be on the move tomorrow and hoped for a good sleep tonight.

Mark