Thursday, January 24, 2019

Florida is a quacky State

At 3rd, and I know the next road is Manatee. Brilliant.
Don't get me wrong, there's a couple of things Florida does right. For example, when you are driving and you wonder to yourself what is that intersection coming up ahead they have signs that tell you in advance, which is extremely handy. But how they handle driver's licenses is not in their "plus" column.

Most states have something called a DMV. These are state-run offices. If the DMV near you is crowded you could go to some other DMV to get your driving needs addressed. Not so in Florida. Drivers licenses are the responsible of each and every county, specifically the County Tax Collector. This is a problem for us since the county we officially live in -- where we get our mail -- is not the county I actually live in. So to get a driver's license for the State of Florida we had to take a three and a half hour drive up to Green Cove Springs.

All of which is fairly interesting given we're technically not going to be living in Florida much of this year at all. But insurances require such things so there we go.

You'd think that would be a pretty definitive document. However, since we live on a boat, its registration number is my "address." Really. Take a look.

In conclusion, my official state identification doesn't have either my mailing or living address on it. I'm sure that won't cause any confusion. 

In Florida's "plus" column, we discovered a new ramen place. We were headed for lunch at Poppo's, which has become a favorite Mexican place. They have several locations, and we were trying a new one. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed a ramen shop called Mitaka. It was a dreary day, and a little cool, so a bowl of hearty soup sounded good. 
Being from the Bay Area, land of amazing Asian foods, we didn't expect much. It was incredible! We ordered vegetarian gyoza, veggie ramen, lobster udon, and washed it down with a junmai sake. I thought the lobster udon would just have some bits and pieces of lobster floating in it. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

Veggie ramen -- broth was outstanding

Lobster udon, you don't have to search for the lobster

Friday, January 18, 2019

She got a name

The boat with no name. Notice the sides are empty, too.
We've had the boat since late October. From that first day, we knew she had a new name. We had all the documents ready, designed decals for the stern, and had quarterboards made for the sides. We even had our AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers Association) burgee waiting to be raised. We just needed the thing stripped of its old name to make the change.

While George was a knowledgeable owner (remember George? He's doing fine, by the way) he didn't love this boat. It probably needed to be detailed for many months prior to our purchasing it. The sides were dull and every surface got dirty really quickly. Cleaning it was always a chore.

Getting ready to put on the decals
In early November we contacted a company to get the boat detailed, which included stripping the old decals. At that time, however, they were booked through December because of the holidays -- apparently, they also hang holiday lights on boats, so they were slammed. They could do it in late December, but we were going to be in Key West. So we planned on January 9th.

About a week out we called to confirm. Good thing, too. Due to the lousy weather Palmetto had in the late part of December they were behind. They confirmed for January 13th.

To do this Russ is standing on the dinghy
Finally, the day came and they showed up almost on time. But they could only do the detailing, not strip the old decals. After a phone call and a little bit of churn, they agreed to get it done. It took these guys three days of hard work to get the boat shiny. She looks completely different, almost brand new.

Behold. Cat-n-Dogs!

Note the quarterboard just under the hard canopy

Turns out there are a lot of superstitions and traditions that go into renaming a boat, everything from "never mention the name until the new decal is on" to "don't christen the boat on Friday" to "pour some champagne into the sea for Poseiden." Thankfully, we aren't superstitious. We did pour ourselves some champagne and remarked on how eventful the last couple of months had been already, and we haven't started the loop officially.

The burgee means we're committed, now
The famed dogs of Cat-n-Dogs, also known as
"the tongues of the sea."

...but we did give Poseiden his share.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

I drive the boat

A very long time ago, when doing the loop was just an amusing thought, Russ read some blogs from other boaters who either were doing or did the loop. One particular entry told of some harrowing ordeal in a lock, where the wife was handling the lines (which were big and heavy for her) and the husband piloted the boat. I don't remember the specifics, but it was clear to Russ that the rolls should have been reversed; that the man is stronger to deal with heavy lines than the woman, so that's what he should have been doing. You don't need muscles to pilot.

I'm not sure how it happened but I've become more of the pilot on our boat, and Russ handles the lines. To me it's feels natural -- I get how the thing moves (well, most of the time, when strong winds and currents are plaguing us). Moreover, I enjoy it. I'm looking forward to getting really good at it.

I've noticed, however, that this isn't normal. That most women don't drive the boat. I talked to the woman next to us once about maneuvering and she says she panics and makes her husband take over. I've certainly felt panicked or uncomfortable, but I feel driven to "get us out of this" rather than run away from the problem.

When we met with the "anchor people," who are a seasoned husband and wife team, I got the sense that they too had those gender roles: He piloted the boat and she handled the anchor and lines. They'd been doing this for decades.

Ultimately, we do want to share the roles. Piloting is more fun, in my humble opinion, but my skill set shouldn't be limited to the bridge, nor should his be limited deck. 

I am curious if this will be something we see throughout the journey to come.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures of the current boat's condition. THIS makes me panic. It's also why we haven't gone anywhere since getting back.




A sunset to calm my nerves

Friday, January 4, 2019

Non-boat life

Back in F5, Regatta Pointe Marina
Back in Palmetto we immediately filled our calendar with "things to do." There's a huge list of upgrade and gadgets we want to add to the boat, everything from a second anchor and davit system to curtains to make the place look more homey. 

Additionally, there are some repairs that need to be addressed. For example, on this last trip we lost one of our two depth gauges. Remember the running aground thing? The gauge we have was always more conservative than the other gauge (not sure why, probably different locations on the boat). It frequently reads shallower than we are, making it hard to guess just how shallow the water is. Having two gauges gave more information, which is always better. 

On the 41 bridge heading to Bradenton.
That's Regatta Pointe in the distance.
Since Christmas the weather has been much warmer. We've spent most the days in shorts and t-shirts -- a proper Florida winter! We took a number of scooter rides; one to get the scooters Florida license plates which ended in a tasty trip to Culver's for frozen custard, and another to "the island" (Anna Maria Island) for lunch. 

Today another storm will come through and things will cool off a little. 

The only other boating thing we have planned is to spend a night away on anchor somewhere. Not far, just a trial run on the process. Not to mention a trial run for the dogs, who'll need to dinghy to the shore for "breaks." Should be exciting for everyone!

Gotta admit, I'm curious about "beer yoga."

Not ours anymore

There's a saying in the boating world, that the happiest days of a boater life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. This...