Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tara in Paradise - Taradise

For 12 minutes in June of 1978, Tara was the most wonderful, perfect little girl that ever existed in the entire universe.  This is fact and not opinion.  After the 12 minutes, her sister backed in and caused an incredible tie for the position.  The tie continues to this day and we had the good fortune of hosting Tara for two days, here in the Florida Keys.  As you will see from the ensuing photographs (obviously un-retouched) and dialogue (obviously objective) Tara is still amazing.

Shortly after she arrived, she disappeared and we were looking all over the boat for her when we heard a splash.  A guy on a neighboring boat later gave us this photo he took of Tara as she exhibited perfect form while diving from the top of our mast.  That is, by the way, 55 feet off the water.  Like I said pretty amazing little girl.

Here she is again - beating Suzi at backgammon.  They're both pretty good at it; notice that they both play one-handed. Suzi cut the cheese.

Later that day we took a dinghy ride around the mooring field at Boot Key Harbor (made famous by a mention in the classic movie, Key Largo, by Humphrey Bogart.)  I think he said, "I'm twelve miles out of Key Largo approaching Boot Key Harbor."  Unless there was some serious continental drifting since the late '40's they were playing fast and loose with geography.

Here are a couple of unusual boats we saw - this one, Walkure, has a unique open bow which allows the mast to lay down.  It was built from a Bolger design by Mike Wagner.  We had seen the boat in Elizabeth City but didn't meet the owners until we got to Marathon.

We also saw this house boat which has a second story added complete with a latticework veranda.

And now, back to Tara, the subject at hand.  Here she is with her Mom.  You can see where she got her looks, as witness this next photo for proof.

I am much more comfortable taking the pictures than posing for them, but there were complaints that I was never in any of the photos.  Now you can see why.  And this should stop the complaints.  (There really weren't that many - and I may have exaggerated when I called them complaints - probably more like comments or maybe just passing mentions.)

Here's Suzi scolding me for being so damned homely (lovable but homely, nevertheless) while I ignore her and pretend to pat a loon on the head.  There's a point there - but I'm not sure what it is.

Later that day, after wrestling my camera back from those shutter button crazed females, we drove around in our rental car because it looked like it was going to rain.  And rain it did.  Here we are, right in the middle of a Hurricane.  Really, we are.  And it's blowing outside, and the rain is coming down in buckets.  Hurricane, by the way, and just so you nervous types aren't all worried about our welfare, which if you thought about it would know that we survived, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this seemingly interminable sentence, is a restaurant.  

So back to the boat we went when the Hurricane lunch / storm was over - though this may be the next day, I really don't remember and in the greater scheme of things, does it really matter?   Just answer no and move on.

It must have been the next day, because we have Bloody Marys every Sunday and Tara was fascinated by the play of light through her empty Bloody Mary glass, and I thought that, like all of us in the family, we are easily amused, but now that I think back on it she may have been hinting she wanted another.  "Dad, Dad," she said,  "Look at my glass, it's empty, and the sun can shine right though it and make pretty patterns on the side of the boat, because it's empty."  But such things are far to subtle for me so we thought we'd go for a dinghy ride instead.

And we did.  Because we have the technology.  Here's Tara at the helm controlling our massively powerful and equally cantankerous 9.8 HP dinghy engine, famed in earlier sections of this blog (See: how-to-permanently-repair-your-dinghy engine )

Here's another picture of Tara except this one is in the vertical format instead of horizontal.  I like to offer my readers options.

She spotted a pelican, trying to get a little shut-eye on a piling and turned suddenly to say hello.

This is Henry.  Tara is not the least bit shy about introducing herself to other species and she has such a marvelous way about her that they usually respond well.  Though, as you can see in this photo, Henry was a little grouchy.

But Tara made funny faces and kidded him out of it. you can see, and Henry, though reticent at first, finally succumbed to Tara's charms and they had a lengthy conversation.

Apparently, Henry was quite amusing - though I didn't understand a word of it, but Tara speaks fluent Pelicanese - having a degree in language arts, she picks up this stuff with ease while the rest of us struggle along splitting infinitives and dangling prepositions even in our own language.  Suzi always tells me if my proposition is dangling, to help avoid embarrassment.

After awhile, Henry grew tired of the banter, having a short little span of attention, and we left and went through Sister's Creek to the ocean side of the island to relax and play on Sombrero Beach.

Here are the ladies, relaxing and soaking up the rays.  Tara soaked up a little too much and took home an unwelcome souvenir.

Reading and sipping on Blue Kanau's isn't all we did.  Tara wanted me to do some of the fun stuff we did when she was a kid.

I wasn't sure I was up to it, but Tara is still light as a feather.  We impressed many on the beach...

such as this beach babe, who I noticed but, fortunately for me, the girls did not.  Turns out she didn't notice me either.  I guess women just aren't as observant as we guys are.

We watched a seagull eyeballing a fish as big as its head, and wonder of wonders...

he did it!

And just proudly walked away.  Made me hungry for lunch.

Part of the view from Sombrero Beach includes this island as small as a house with a house as big as an island.  Not something you see back in our old home town of Warren, PA.  Or even Bradford.

More beach scenes, because we know you folks in the frozen north need something to get you through the long, cold winter.  (That's me, gloating.  Hee hee hee.)

The beach isn't all soft white sand though.  Some of it they imported from the moon.

Here's a closeup for you doubters.  Never, never question my veracity or I'll, I'll, ... I'll just show you a closeup.

And here are some strange imported moon creatures.  It's a good thing I was holding the camera so you get interesting pictures like this.  If the ladies had the camera, they'd be taking pictures of me.  These are much cuter.

More beach - I knew you needed that.

During the recent cold snap here in the Keys, (temps as low as 38 degrees) many fish died.  This was probably one of them.  Note the blue lips.

Ahh, what can touch the soul more poignantly (fun word, huh?) than children playing at the beach.  This photo was taken just after I yelled, "SHARK!"  It made for a much better photo than stupid kids just standing there.

See? There's those kids again just standing there over Tara's left shoulder.  And don't I look happy, just being with my daughter Tara?

There is a restaurant at the end of the harbor with a mermaid - so it was mandatory that we went there for dinner.

I took this photo just before we went into the restaurant.  You didn't need to know that, but I had to say something to fill up the space between the pictures.  Otherwise it's just a long row of pictures without words between. And all you viewers would think, "Well, Larry's just not doing his job."   And I can't have you thinking that, not for even a moment.  You don't have to read this if you don't want to.

This picture is almost like the previous one, but we like to offer you options.  And I had to put in another picture to separate out the words.  It's a complex process.  I took a special course.  It didn't cost anything, but as you can see, it was worth every penny.

I let the girls use the camera to take a picture of themselves.  And it came out pretty nice.  But then...

they turned on me and took this photo.  I think I was saying "Arghhh."  You can see why I like to stay behind the camera.  Those girls just don't know how to take a good picture.

The end of our visit with Tara (tear in my eye) offered us this view of the sun sinking slowly in the south.  (Directions of sunsets are optional in the keys - and they try to set them up for optimal viewing.  Local ordinance or something.)

Goodbye, Tara. Thanks for visiting us. We miss you already.  See you in the Spring.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The marathon ends at Marathon

I've been too busy fixing stuff to update our blog.  Yesterday it was the stove.  Today, the dinghy engine...again.  The only things that aren't broke are Suzi and me.  No, wait, we're broke, too. 

Alright, where did we leave off - I think we were in Ft. Pierce at anchor between the two bridges, planning to leave for West Palm.  So we thought.  The current and the wind where we were anchored started doing weird stuff and caused the boats to dance in all kinds of unusual directions.  We were swinging just a few feet from a couple of boats so we decided to re-anchor.  That didn't help so we headed to our secret spot near Ft. Pierce to anchor - very protected from the wind and no current. 

This is the scene around Faber Cove - our little secret hiding place - promise not to tell.  Out side the wind is blowing and the current is flowing and in here, surrounded by palm trees, homes and piers, it's quiet, and our boat bobs gently from its anchor.

Or so we thought.  Our little piece of paradise was soon lost behind a cloud.  And it got cold.  And it rained.  And it rained.  Did I say that already?  And it still rained.  We did, however, gather about forty gallons for our water tank.   But after about three or four days...

the clouds left.  And so did we.

We stopped at West Palm and did some re-provisioning and waited for weather before we headed further south - we took no pictures at West Palm because there was nothing to take pictures of.  (Yes, I know, Mrs. Crainer, dangling preposition. I really don't care anymore.  Mrs. Crainer was my sophomore English teacher.  She's probably dead now.  But I had nothing to do with it.)

We loaded the dinghy on the front deck so it wasn't hanging off of the back on its davits waiting for some errant ocean wave to rip it off the back and claim it for its own.  We left the dinghy engine back there though but the ocean didn't want it.  The ocean is smarter than you might think.

This is what the shore looks like in southern Florida when you're about three miles out into the Atlantic.  The sea was quite calm but we still felt the effects of the gulf stream - and some of its eddys.  Sometimes we would suddenly slow down by 2 or 3 knots as we rubbed up against the stream.  We would head back closer to shore and get our speed back.  Then, occasionally we would gain a couple of knots.  And that was probably because we were catching the favorable side of an eddy which would have spun off of the stream.  Either that, or Suzi was just playing with the throttle to mess with my mind.

Speak of the devil - here's that little rascal practical joker now, just cruising along on the Atlantic ocean acting all innocent and stuff.

We came in at Ft. Lauderdale, the Venice of the U.S. (seriously, googlemap the place sometime - half of the town's streets are waterways.)  We anchored at Lake Sylvia.  And there was probably 30 billion dollars of real estate just within view.  This is one of the more modest homes.  There was one we saw which was for sale.  I'll bet all of the people we know together couldn't afford it - though it was large enough, I think all of us could have lived there.

This is Thea and Nick.  We met them in St. Augustine.  They, like us, have a Morgan Out Island.  They live on their boat in Ft.  Lauderdale and came to visit us before we left for Miami.  This time we remembered to take their picture.  We've met a lot of nice folks out cruising - these are two of the nicest.  Hey, guys, thanks for the water! 

Back out on the ocean we can see the skyline of North Miami.

That building on the left is a cruise ship.  Hard to tell sometimes.

Here are some idiot fishermen on their tuna tower sportfish. Why do I consider them idiots?  They are all on the back of the boat, fishing.  Take a look at what's on the front of the boat.

Here's another with a little magnified pop out for your viewing pleasure.  These guys must really like fishing.  And they can't be that good a math either.  Fishing boat, a million plus bucks, rods, reels, bait, lures, line, fishfinders, fuel (some of these boats burn 60 or 80 gallons an hour at cruising speed.)  My question is, how much does the fish cost, per pound?  And how much if they simply went down to the fish store.  And there's still the issue of the nearly nude babe on the front deck.

More Miami skyline.  With a bunch of seagulls heading south.  All the birds were heading south.  Maybe they knew this cold front was coming.

Even more Miami Sklyline.  We're told there are nude beaches along this stretch. My telephoto lens isn't long enough.  Or maybe what they meant was the beaches are nude.  The people are all modest and stuff, but those beaches - trollops to the end, just sitting there all nude.  Stop it.  Stop it now.  I know you're squinting at this photo.  Forget it.  It won't work.  I have the original, hi res version and you can't see nothing!

Flying overhead (where else?) we see many little planes towing ads. 

I took a picture but he was going the wrong way.  So it's an ad for Ocieg.  And it probably costs more.

There were a lot of para-sailors out. They seemed to spend a lot of time over one particular beach.  I don't know why.  But they flew really low.  And really slow. 

Here we are turning into Government Cut, the main channel leading into Miami. 

Cousin Tara Lynn used to live along here somewhere, but I don't know where.  Tara, please let me know, cause it's very important.  Not really, but it's fun to think that it is.  A hundred years from now, posted over the door to the building will be a little sign which says, "Tara Lynn Bauschard, inventor of the Stretch and Fetch Maternity Bikini, slept here."  You wouldn't want them to be putting that sign up on the wrong building, would you?

Right in the channel they built a nice seat for the birds.  And you think our government wastes money.

Cranes take the containers off the ships with giant electro-magnets.  I often wonder, back in the days when they had VCR tape movies, how many were erased using this procedure.

I kind of felt sorry for these people who flew down to Florida and climbed on a boat and saw the same thing we were seeing for just a few bucks without having the opportunity to travel down the coast, fixing stuff all the way, cooped up for days in the rain, cold, wet with runny noses, at a cost of thousands of dollars.  What were these people thinking?

We got our anchor down in Marine Stadium south of Miami.  Many other boats were there and we could all see a spectacular view of the Miami skyline.  And I got to thinking.  In those buildings, behind all of those windows are people whose only view is the boats like ours in the harbor.  So I mooned them.

Anchored near us was a strange boat.  It couldn't make up its mind whether to be a tugboat or a sailboat. 

And while I was pondering whether to call it a sailtug, or a slug boat or what, suddenly, there was a roar overhead and I looked up and saw a commercial jet liner flying over.  This may not seem unusual, but as you know, the airline companies have been having a hard time financially for the past few years.   There is at least one enterprising airline that has taken steps to solve the problem...

I think it would be good for the economy if all of us went to Joe's Bar and had good beer and great fun.  See you there!

Shortly thereafter Miami engineered some special effects which I deliver to you free of charge.  Though donations will be graciously accepted.

Earlier I made reference to the Marine Stadium.  And that's exactly what it was.  This is the bleacher area, pretty much wiped out in one or more hurricanes.  I don't know what they watched, motorboat races, or fancy water skiing or what, but the bleachers sure were big.  You may notice it looks as if there are a couple of people on the roof of this decrepit building.

And there are people.  Skateboarders to be exact, daredevil, insane skateboarders.

Scott and Chad - don't go getting any ideas.

As the sun set slowly in the south, southeast, damn, my compass is broken.

Miami skyline at night.  I mooned them again and got bit seventeen times on the ass by mosquitoes.  So if you see me scratching, blame those gawkers in Miami, staring out their thousands of windows at me. 

Thought you might like another without all the ass banter.

Also at anchor with us in the Marine Stadium was this house boat, complete with upper and lower decks and a veranda.  We see some seriously unique watercraft.

The next day we sailed - hear that - SAILED - on Biscayne Bay.  Not motor-sailed, just sailed.  For the first time since the Chesapeake.  The wind was right, there was plenty of depth.  And the sun was out.  And we got to Blackwater Sound and dropped anchor and as I was taking sunset photos Suzi saw the Green Flash!  It is over in a fraction of a second, just as the last of the sun disappears over the horizon.  I didn't catch it with the camera so you'll just have to imagine.

The next day we motored past Key Largo in waters that were often barely five feet deep.  Our boat draws four and a half.  We about wore out the alarm beeper on the depth sounder.

Then we crossed to the outside and sailed the rest of the way to Marathon on the outside where the water was much deeper.

And that brings us to Marathon - where we are tied to mooring ball number A8 and will be relaxing and fixing things for the next couple of months.

Sailing past our mooring yesterday was this Viking, um, dinghy.

I told you we see some unusual watercraft.

And right next to our boat, early yesterday morning, I was lucky enough to catch this mermaid who was sound asleep.  Fascinating to watch, but elusive.  Just the quiet sound of the camera shutter and she was gone in a flash.