Even with ocean travel on the horizon, I still think some of my most memorable adventures spawn from some of the smallest excursions. I had to share this one with you. Whether you’re headed home for a family reunion, setting off on a random road trip for the weekend, or just headed out to paddle around the bayou, don’t let the chance for an adventure slip by you!
This past weekend Phillip and I hitched a ride in an RV to a good ole’ Alabama wedding with our friends, Boat Repair Badass Brandon and his wife Christine. A good buddy of ours (for those of you hard core Salt of a Sailor fans, it was actually the “Ringer” we brought along when we looked at that first Pacific Seacraft with Hookmouth!) got hitched this past Saturday in the beautiful back country of Lillian, Alabama and being the classy folks we are, Phillip, Brandon, Christine and I decided to roll up to that party Uncle Eddie style in Christine’s folks’ RV and rock that party out. I believe this story would be told best through mere captions alone. I give you: Have Gas Will Travel
“Brandon, can we hitch a ride to the wedding?”
“Thanks B. Pick us up at the No Loading Zone.”
Have roadies will travel.
We’re here, and “Shitter’s full!
“Better make the bed while I still know how.”
“Are the girls falling out yet?”
“Nope, not yet. You should drink some more.”
Phillip: “How’s my hair?”
Brandon: “No pictures with britches off.”
Can you bring to-go drinks into a wedding?
“I’m getting some of that pig.”
The higher the hair, the closer to God. We love you Camy!
“What happened last night?”
“Well … Christine drove our asses to Pirates Cove and parked it last night.”
Scratch that: “Christine drove our asses to Pirate’s Cove and ran aground.”
“It got soft,” she said.
“Is that the community tractor?”
“You got to floor it,” Brandon says.
“Is that a proximity alarm?”
“Dude, where’s my RV?”
Time for breakfast at the Cove.
“Morning!” says the man brushing his teeth. (Typical morning at the Cove.)
Bloodies all around, please.
“Cheers! To Phillip’s bloody birthday!”
Found the perfect book for my followers in the book swap.
Found a lot of other stuff, too.
Hangover cure. And best greasy breakfast sandwich in Alabama.
Cutest puppy in … the WORLD! (And almost the new second mate on s/v Plaintiff’s Rest!)
We had a great time glimpsing the RV life. Turns out RVs are way easier to maintain than boats, the gas right now is super cheap and (who knew?) but you can stay free in Wal-Mart parking lots. Sure helps with provisioning, and I believe I’d have a helluva time watching the People of Wal-Mart traipse by my living room window.
Something tells me, though, we would miss the water a little too much.
We’ll sail for now, but when the time and circumstances are right, RV’ing is definitely on the list! How about you all. Any RV’ers out there?
Atlantic crossing update: We splashed the Catamaran yesterday and took her out for a test ride (first for the crew). It was a gorgeous day out there and (if my goofy smile doesn’t full capture it) we had a great time testing out some of the systems. I’ll be posting some pics on Patreon this morning.
Ahhh … Dani and Tate. Perhaps I don’t have to introduce them to you all here. You probably already know them. They’ve earned a bit of a celebrity status in the sailing blog world and have certainly been an inspiration to Phillip and I. We started following along on their SundownerSailsAgain blog during the last of the five-year refit of their Westsail 32 for its fourth, but their first, circumnavigation. As Tate so aptly put it, when they stepped on the boat, they “felt its soul.” It seemed, like our Niagara 35, the boat chose them.
Dani and Tate, well into the last leg of their refit when we met them through our mutual blogs in the fall of 2014, were planning to set sail in January, 2015 from their homeport of Metarie, LA to really do it — sail around the entire world. Phillip and I, having planned a trip to NOLA months prior to celebrate the completion of our solar panels project, knew we had to try to meet up with them before they shoved off. So, we set it up, a Sundowner-meets-HaveWind union in the frothy culture hub of the South – New Orleans.
Now, being avid NOLA go’ers already, Phillip and I had already made several reservations at some of our favorite N’awlins eateries and had purchased tickets for a couple of different shows in advance of the trip. What kind of shows you might ask? Only the best — burlesque! While the reason we ended up with tickets to two burlesque shows was through no fault of our own (after the Friday show was seemingly cancelled, we bought tickets to a Saturday show then Friday’s was re-instated — what are you gonna do?), we did hesitate for a moment when Tate asked us if we needed some guidance on finding things to do in the city. Nope, Tate. Unlike the ladies of burlesque, we’ve got it ALL covered! But, knowing we would be meeting up with them on Saturday night, we invited them to Show No. 2 which was actually going to be a Clue-themed murder mystery. I’ll never forget Dani’s response — “Awesome. I’ve never been to one. Can’t wait to solve the mystery! ; )” Love those guys. With everything booked and an exciting meeting in store, we were off.
(And, quick note to the viewers, all photos and videos of the burlesque gals in this post are completely PG 13. I have edited to cover all pretty lady parts (the not-so-pretty ones? Well, it’s just part of the show. Burlesque babes come in all shapes and sizes. Enjoy!)
If you haven’t been to New Orleans, or have only been during Mardi Gras when the city is a chaotic, drunken mess, you should definitely take the time to roam the less-populated streets in the daytime, admire the colorful history and appreciate the true age and culture of the city.
The buildings are almost as colorful as the characters you will meet walking along the cobble streets. The food is eclectic and superb. Just plan to eat and try everything while you’re in the city (NO DIETS ALLOWED). You can work it off when you get back. Trust me, say no to nothing. Our best meal of this trip? The meat pie at Cochon:
Follow that with a worldly trek through W.I.N.O. (the Wine Institute of New Orleans), where you can sample hundreds of wines from regions all over the world,
and you’re ready for a night on the NOLA town.
Street bands seem to emerge around every corner, always playing some jazzy, cajun upbeat number that will force you to put a little dance in your shuffle, smile unknowingly and inhale the energy of the city.
After all of that fun, it was time for Show No. 1 on our list — Cirque d’Licious at the Hi Ho Lounge. Fantastic show. Very talented ladies. And, I do mean that. While pulling your stockings off with your teeth is, yes, entertaining, one gal in particular really impressed me — LadyBeast. (I’ve been called that a time or two). And, you know what her specialty was? Aerial acrobats! But instead of silks, she uses chains! A woman after my own heart!
I have to say, though, I drove Phillip absolutely mad watching her. I was high on the wine and my own inner Cirque-ego came out. I kept saying, “That’s such an easy trick. Super basic. I can totally do that!” To which Phillip, in his infinite wisdom, responded, “Yeah, but you’re not. You’re sitting in the audience. Now hush!”
Hmmmppfff. But, it was really fun to watch LadyBeast do things I did know I could do. I have to admit a little seed planted for my budding burlesque career–after I finish with the sailing perhaps. The real highlight of the show, though, was this little number.
Why, you might ask? Because of this and this …
What are they? Great question! We didn’t know until she hooked up the power cord and roared that thing to life. It was a wire brush grinder. Vrrreeeerrrrr!
Yep. Just like that. And, what do you think this dainty little gal did with it? She fired it up and sparked the place out on her custom garter grind plate. I have to tell you, I’ve seen a number of burlesque shows in my life, but THAT was a first. She was phenomenal. Fearless. A total show-stopper. Funniest part was, though, when I was telling Dani about it the next night. Being the crafty, highly mechanically-inclined sailor she is, she thought immediately about the physical repercussions of use of such a tool near one’s … nether parts.
“My God, wouldn’t it get super hot?” Dani asked, to which my inner thoughts immediately responded, “Yeah, it was super hot.” This literally was probably one of the first things Dani and I discussed when we met on Saturday night. I mean, let’s get down to business, am I right?
The much-anticipated meeting with Dani & Tate from SundownerSailsAgain was incredibly inspiring. Those two had been working so hard for years to fulfill a lifelong dream.
They had saved, scrimped, sacrificed and given pretty much everything they had to do it. They had their concerns and a refreshingly honest approach to what life would be like out there, but they were so energetic and enthusiastic about it, you couldn’t help but feel the excitement pulse out of them. I felt like arcs of energy were going to zap and pop between us. We shared such a common goal. Phillip and I were very fortunate to get to meet the Sundowner crew before they left because we can now feel the personality behind their posts. Dani also did a riveting recap of our NOLA union on her blog as well.
It is also with great joy (and a twinge of bitter jealousy), that I let you know Dani and Tate completed their exhaustive-yet-rewarding refit in the winter of 2014 and set sail January, 2015 to bravely make the first passage of their trip, their first overnight passage on the boat and their first Gulf crossing (all in one!) as they braved the winter winds from Rabbit Island down to the Keys. They made it safely to the Keys in five days, subsequently made the jump south to Cuba then decided to go west to Mexico where they fell in the beautiful quagmire that is Isla Mujeres. I encourage you to follow them on their wildly entertaining and inspirational journey.
But, let’s get back to the important stuff. Yes, the burlesque gals. As talented as LadyBeast and the d’Licious bunch were (it is admittedly hard to top metal grinders and chains), I have to say Show No. 2 took the cake. Why? I’ll give you a clue …
The CLUE-themed murder mystery was really such an awesome idea for a show (and a great way to get the audience involved and make more money to boot). Before the show began, you could buy votes ($1 a piece) to take a random stab at WHO DONE IT? (And, of course, in true CLUE fashion, in what room they did it and with what weapon — pictured above — the revolver and the wrench). Then, as each lady took the stage, she was dressed as a certain CLUE character and dancing in a certain CLUE room. At the very end of her dance, she would reveal a weapon, which meant you needed to scratch that suspect, venue and deadly piece off your list. Here is the burlesque CLUE cast – you can likely make out a few key characters — Miss White, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard is actually the voluptuous vixen in the middle (well-played):
As the show went on (and you realized your previous guesses were obviously wrong) you could buy more votes to submit. The winning votes were thrown in a hat at the end and one drawn out as the winner of an actual classic CLUE game and the privilege of crawling through a “spank tunnel” (yes, exactly what you would imagine) under the burlesque gals. In all, it was total entertainment, an incredible night with the hilarious Dani & Tate duo and certainly an evening Phillip and I won’t soon forget.
Visiting with the Sundowner crew, who are now well on their way to world travel, only told us what we already knew–the time to go is now. As Tate said recently in an email to us, “My God, it’s everything we expected. You need to get out here. You understand.”
Yes, Tate. We do. You kids have fun out there. Fair winds. We’ll see you soon.
Many thanks to the patrons who help make these posts just a little more possible through PATREON.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re probably right, but be patient. We’ll get there.
April 29, 2014:
While the run-aground in the ICW was certainly not fun (and quite embarrassing on my part) it, thankfully, was a very minor graze with a soft bottom and one that we were able to ease off of fairly quickly. And, while I know I deserved some of the scoldings and finger-shaking I received as a result, I’m not sure I agree that it rose to the level of demotion from my position as First Mate as one of our followers opted for (you know who you are!). But, I tell these tales so that hopefully some of you fellow cruisers can learn from our mistakes and, on the rare occasion, brilliant discoveries! It’s all about getting out there and doing it – mistakes included. But, assuming the demotion was in order, we’ll see if this little diddy can salvage me. I call it – Redemption of the Selfie!
So, still maintaining our slight trickle from the stuffing box around the propeller shaft, we motored our way into the Gasparilla Marina so we could have our leak inspected. And, you would think, by now, with all of the docking debacles we’ve encountered, we would be pros at docking. Well, we are better, but I’ll tell you, I’m just not sure anyone can actually call themselves a “pro.” You just never know what kind of conditions you’re going to face with the wind, current, pilings, finger docks, etc. There’s always some element to contend with that can turn your perfect entry into a … well, a cluster. As we made our way into the marina and found the slip they had assigned us to, we knew we were going to be contending with some pilings.
I even called the dockmaster to see if he could send some guys over to help catch some lines (Captain decided not to be too embarrassed about it, knowing my knee was not 100%) but, unfortunately, they were all on the other side of the slips at the fuel dock (a good 10-minute walk from our slip on the other side). So, it was the Captain and I, easing in … While we would have loved for it to have played out something like this.
Sadly, that’s NOT what happened. After debating it a few times and exchanging a couple of confirmations (“midship first? stern second? then bow?”), we went for it. The wind was coming across our starboard deck, so we had decided, as we were easing in, to put a loose midship line around the second piling to keep us from hitting the dock on the port side. A grand idea at first …
But how loose is is too loose? Or, more importantly, not loose enough? You’ve got to cleat to the boat it at some point or it has no purpose, so I lassoed the pole, pulled out about 8-10 feet, cleated it and hobbled back to the stern to try and catch the piling on the starboard stern. Unfortunately, though, it seems my “8-10 feet” was not enough and as Phillip eased forward, the midship line pulled taut, causing the boat to … well …
Like I said, a total cluster. Thankfully, we were able to push off the port piling, back out and try again. This time we decided to forego the midship line, catch the stern on the way in and then run up and tie off the bow. Well, run, hobble, crawl – however I could make it happen. So, we tried again.
This time we caught the stern fine and start to ease forward. But, do recall that other element I mentioned. Ahhh, yes, a sailor’s best friend (or worst enemy at times). THE WIND!
The wind was pushing our boat over to the dock on the port side and we had yet to tie a line to hold the bow off. Without a friendly set of hands on the dock to catch a line, I tossed a pile of the starboard bowline onto the deck hoping it would stay put until I could get off to tie it.
Thankfully, the pile landed solidly on the dock, and I took off to catch it!
“Here I come to save the DAAAYYY!” Yes, that is what I sang to myself as I leaped.
Luckily the pile remained, I was able to grab it, tie it off and keep our boat off of the dock on the port side.
Whew! Have I mentioned before how much I hate docking – period – but particularly at new places??
With the boat secure, the Captain set to contacting the guys at the marina to have them come out and look at our leaking stuffing box. A young guy came out pretty quickly, jumped down beneath the engine and started pulling and wiggling the stuffing box, as Phillip and I kind of stood there, hovering, exchanging worried looks.
“You see something?”
He came up slowly, with a sullen look on his face, wiping the oil from his hands tediously, without saying a word. I took this as a bad sign. Like a doctor who’s about to dish out some really bad news. He told us he tried to tighten the hose clamps but he thought the seals were going to have to be replaced. Which meant … a haul-out. A haul-out?? Mid-TRIP?!? And, they’re so freaking expensive, too. The haul-out alone can sometimes cost 3/4 of a grand, not to mention the labor and expenses that will follow repairing the seals. And, anytime you haul-out, you always want to try and get as many “haul-out” requisite projects taken care of then to get the most of the hard-earned dollars you paid just to see your dripping keel, but that means more repairs, more time, more labor, MO MONEY. That was some pretty bad news. But, Guy No. 1 did say he wasn’t 100% sure and he was going to have his supervisor come out – the head mechanic at the marina – to have a look as well. A second opinion? Uhhh, yes please! Send in Guy No. 2!
It was nearing the end of the day, so we decided to get cleaned up while we waited for the head honcho, John, to come out and check out our stuffing box. The shower facilities at the marina were really nice, and they had a great Captain’s Lounge with TV, AC, books, wifi, coffee, etc. We also saw they had a little restaurant, the Waterside Grill, which we decided would suit us fine for dinner. After a long day-and-a-half of passage, we were ready to shell out a few dollars to kick back and let the friendly folks of Gasparilla bring us platters of fish & shrimp! When I hit the showers, a ‘body check’ confirmed that, a day-and-a-half since “the fall,” and the arm and knee were still showing signs of a collision.
I know, pretty right? The knee still had a little pain when bending and a funny ‘pop’ upon extension but, otherwise, was functioning reasonably well. The arm was functioning fine but was swollen to about twice its normal size and pretty hard to the touch. Just weird … No broken bones, though, so no complaints here. I’ll take functioning-but-weird any day.
When I got back to the boat, the head mechanic, John, was just leaving. Thankfully, he left us with better news than Guy No. 1. John said he thought it might could be adjusted, maneuvered somehow to sufficiently slow the leak to allow us to get home. It would just depend on what kind of stuffing box it was. So, THAT was our homework assignment. We had to find out what kind of stuffing box we had on there. Guy No. 1 had told us previously he could barely see the label on it from underneath the propeller shaft, but he couldn’t get a good enough angle to read the whole name. We searched our bag of instruction manuals to see if there was one for the stuffing box. (As I have advised before – always keep every instruction manual for every piece of equipment you install on the boat – you never know when they might come in handy). Unfortunately, no dice. We couldn’t find any paperwork on our stuffing box. We had to lay eyes on the label. But, the label was on the bottom of the stuffing box, facing down and there was only about a 2-3 inch gap between the label and the hull.
We broke out the little mirror that we keep on the boat.
I call this a mechanic’s mirror. We use it to look underneath things we can’t get under, much like a mirror under a car.
Super handy piece of equipment to have on a boat. But, the problem was, this label was too far underneath the stuffing box for the mirror to allow a reflection. The last thing you could see before the face of the mirror was lost under the transmission was just the tip of the label. We needed a new plan, so I got to thinking … I don’t know if you did this as a kid, but we used to make and buy those little boxed-mirror gadgets that allowed you to look around corners or over walls?
Nifty! Thankfully, though, my brother’s hair didn’t look like that. Or this …
But, we were HUGE Inspector Gadget fans!
(Doo-bee-doo-bee-doop. Inspector Gadget! Doo-bee-doo-bee-doop. Bum, bum. Whoo hoo! I know you’re singing along! Click HERE to reminisce further).
And we all know Penny secretly rocked that show.
“I’ve got it Uncle Gadget!”
Okay, so I digress. But, I did get a little Gagety with it. I started thinking about those around-the-corner mirror devices and started looking around for another mirror. While two mirrors would have worked fine, the first thing that caught my eye was my phone and that’s when it came to me. The selfie app! Now, not only could I view the image via the mirror function on the phone (a.k.a., the “selfie app”) but this way I could capture it via photo to confirm, show to Phillip and keep for our records. I positioned the phone under the stuffing box, tilted just enough to provide a reflection on the mechanic’s mirror so I could see what the screen on the phone was capturing.
I took a few (dozen) missed and blurred shots, but I was getting closer.
There! See? You can almost see it there. A few minor adjustments, taps on the cell phone screen to auto-adjust and BAM!
I got it. Good to the … LASDROP! It was a Lasdrop stuffing box. Now that we had a name, we could get some dinner at the Waterside Grill, relax and check back in with John in the morning to see about a solution for our leak. See? Good selfie training CAN be an important skill to have on the boat! I know my fellow blogger Dani would agree. Redemption of the Selfie!!