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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Boat Parade

One of the finest traditions we have discovered living in the south is the Christmas Boat parades that begin in early December.  Usually organized by neighborhoods or boating clubs these events range in size from canoes and kayaks on the Hillsborough River in Tampa to huge yachts on Tampa Bay.  Our favorite is organized by Boca Ciega Yacht Club in Gulfport Fl.  To be fair it should be noted the HideAways have been members of the sailing club for nearly the last two decades.

HideAway All Dressed Up
All boats are welcome to participate.  It is not a competition like many of the others.  Prizes are awarded but they are usually dinners to local restaurants.

The real reward is the chance to be a rock star as you motor close by throngs of your screaming fans shouting the seasons greetings.

The parade route takes you on a tour of  Boca Ciega Bay visiting the cities of St Petersburg, Gulfport and Southern Pasadena including several other boating clubs and residential areas.

The proceeds of your entrance fee, two or more toys, go to Gulfport's Operation Santa project.  A fine way to begin the Christmas Season.  This year's parade is the subject of our latest video below.  It's a long one so put another log on the fire.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Loose Footed Main Sail Report

After a dazzling array of obstacles, broken brakes, mashed outboard gears, not to mention a lingering strength sapping illness, the HideAways finally floated to the end of “A” dock to spend the last hot night of the Summer Sweat Season.

 The early morning air fanned by No-See-Ems so big you could see em, chased the bug bitten crew onto the polished mirror surface of Boca Ciega Bay. Muttering the mantra “Light air is a fine way to test a new sail-yes it tis”; HideAway ghosted along under main alone keen to successfully tack sans jib. Before someone points out that such a maneuver is not difficult clearly has not observed our many failures to accomplish this skill. Over the years you see, any crew who tends jib on HideAway instinctively knows to back it without encouragement from her Capt.

  HideAway tacked smartly and without a whimper of complaint from her wide-eyed crew then sailed unattended for nearly a mile before another tack was executed.

 Sunday brought with it a spot of cool, fast air and a whole flock of Boca Ciega Yacht Club racing boats to share the bay. The monthly club race is billed as informal and certainly is not considered serious racing. If two sailboats on the same tack are judged to be racing then what happens when a dozen or so boats join in  the fun? About that bridge I have for sale….

HideAway's New Main Sail
Since HideAway had not officially signed up for the race we instead steered a parallel heading sufficiently far off the race course as not to interfere with the real racers. Under standard jib and full main the HideAways threaded their way through a zoo of anchored boats, keeping well clear of a sunken sailboat near the Gulfport FL pier. She made herself proud keeping up with the fleet. Something not dreamed possible before the new main sail. 

Racers are funny sailors. After they finished their race every one of them set course for the clubhouse leaving HideAway alone on the bay to enjoy a fresh sea breeze ordered up to test the main. Voila! Another first; in all the years of sailing HideAway never once have we felt the joy of real acceleration. Instead of just heeling over and slogging along a burst of genuine speed could be felt. What a fun concept!

 To be fair the new loose footed main is four inches taller than the old one and certainly holds shape better. We ordered two reefs installed in the sail then realized later that the first reef is not nearly as severe as the single reef of the old while the second reef leaves just a scrape of power flying. Since the first reef is shallow perhaps a second reef could become the norm. It may serve to leave the standard jib up longer before changing to the storm. A decided advantage. The job of changing our hanked on jib has never been agreeable and always more exciting than necessary.

 Made by Doyle Sails in St Petersburg, Fl our new loose footed, double reef main sail is a most welcome new crew.

 Small Boats Rock!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Manatee Springs Mullet Movie

A perhaps disturbingly small number of curious folks have been inquiring, nay, demanding to know just what the Mullet Myrtle actually looks like.  The Mullet Myrtle as you surely recall lurks in the depths of the only channel into Mullet Key Bayou at the mouth of Tampa Bay.  She is quite famous playing catch and release of the unwary sailor's keel.  At least that is the most probable explanation of the rash of recent groundings in the bayou put forth by her many victims.

After hacking through a contagion of  housing developments, strip clubs – er- malls of the urban jungle that is Florida in modern times, the valiant HideAways finally found some illusive mullets cleverly hiding in Manatee Springs doing what they do, which isn’t much when you think about it.   

It should be noted here that the Manatee High Council was invited to participate in the following film however it would neither deny nor confirm the presence of mullet in their namesake spring.  The Manatees plainly want nothing to do with the scandalous Mullet Myrtle who, according to the MHC, is responsible for the recent Mullet foray into Manatee Springs witnessed by the HideAways.

Meanwhile a spokesmullet from the Mullet Association of Manatee Springs stated that while the MAMS has not met with the Mullet Myrtle personally, it fully supports her efforts to annoy the humans who believe that Mullets are only at their best when smoked.  

With no interest in fairness the HideAways confess that smoked mullet and ice cold beer on a hot summer day is right up there with Tupelo Honey on the list of Florida Delights.   But please don't tell the Mullet Myrtle as we plan to return to Mullet Key Bayou one day soon. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mullet Key Bayou Cruise The Long Story

After some viewers asked on why the movie is so long and the blog is so short it is time to make a short story long.  So here is the famous or not so Mullet Key Bayou Cruise- The Long Story for your edification.
Keep those cards and letters coming!

After several unsuccessful attempts at aligning the moon and the stars, not to mention tropical storms, three boats all captained by crews who are old enough to know better set off one hot day in July for a cruise from our home port in Gulfport Florida through Pass-A-Grille Channel into the Gulf of Mexico heading south to Bunce’s Pass bound for Mullet Key Bayou.home of  Ft Desoto.

Ft Desoto - No Wake Zone Enforcement Squad 
Not an epic journey perhaps, nonetheless a Google Earth photo taken at the entrance to Bunce’s Pass featured a nicely found sailboat heeled over on the beach without the slightest trace of water to be found.    Bunce’s Pass, you must understand is not maintained nor does it feature markers.  Water depths vary from Heron Knees to Davie’s Locker in scarce a beam width.     

Of the three participants, Miandros, HideAway, and Smooth Sailing, only the shallowest draft boat, HideAway at 28 inches had an electric depth finder.  Miandros used her handy lead line while Smooth Sailing took soundings several times with her always dependable keel.    While all three depth finding methods are accurate some have less desirable outcomes than others.

Sailing HideAway's Course Plot
Sailing a course of 215m from Pass-A-Grille channel marker 7A  HideAway tacked towards Bunce’s Pass north shore when the Ft Desoto Park water tower was 120m.  Depths of 12 -15 feet abounded.  The north tower of the Skyway Bridge framed the channel’s entrance as we closed on the shoreline.   

A radio broadcast from Miandros called us back to lead the rest of the fleet in.   In the process the HideAways somehow employed a five year old way point that put us well south of the new channel in 4 feet of water.  Not cause for great alarm but we ended up showing the rest of the fleet good places not to go rather than a good path to nirvana.   Eventually the best navigational aides proved to be fishing boats anchored on the edge of the channel, larger power boats coming out and the bright green color of the water.

Once you are past the beach the channel is marked but be advised the depth of the water on the marker’s northern edge is more suited to fiddler crabs than sailboats. No mistakes are allowed.   HideAway experienced a main sail malfunction that required a stop over at the Ft Desoto boat ramp and those wonderful floating docks while the rest of the fleet searched the southern reaches of the bayou for the best anchorage.  The channel going into Mullet Key Bayou is well marked and at pretty high tide is 6-8 feet deep.  Miandros, the largest of the three became the anchor boat with Smooth Sailing rafted to starboard and HideAway to port.   The waters around the point are 8 feet at high tide in a large area.  The crews rested during the hot afternoon.  The coolest place on HideAway proved to be below decks in the wind-sock cooled breeze.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge viewed from Mullet Key Bayou
Story telling and snacking had hardly begun when Dan, the best weatherman around, announced that we had two minutes to leave the raft and maybe another five to drop the hook as far away as possible.  Dan noticed that the big US flag flying at the park’s entrance had changed directions indicating to him a tempestuous wind was close at hand. 

We barely had our anchor set when the severe storm covered the bayou with two and three foot breakers. (See the video “Small Boat Big Storm on the Sailing HideAway You Tube channel). The rigging howled, the rain pelted and HideAway did a rock and roll dance to make any hippie proud.  Eventually the storm passed and the rain cooled air provided a treat for the adventurers.  After building the second raft, story telling went on well into the night with much joy and laughter; a proper sailor’s party at a great gunkhole.

The morning brought with it a forecast grimmer than the previous day.  Instead of waiting for the afternoon tide as planned, the crews decided to risk low tide to beat the coming storms.  HideAway lead the way, but unaccustomed to following channel markers was forced to make an abrupt course change as her rudder smelled the bottom and a green marker appeared to starboard. Miandros steamed straight down the middle of the channel followed closely by Smooth Sailing.  Moments later Steve declared his depth finder – the keel mounted one – had found the bottom.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Great Mullet Key Bayou Pocket Cruise

Mullet Key, home of Ft Desoto Park at the entrance to Tampa Bay is usually found by land yacht however it is much more interesting to approach from the Gulf of Mexico using Bunce's Pass.

Sounds simple, however the channel is unmarked, not maintained and has shallows ready to snag your keel. A distant water tower the only navigational reference. Add in some choppy seas, challenging sun angle, a recent tropical storm that rearranged the channel and your depth finder becomes your best friend.

The Great Mullet Spirit

Of the three boats on this gunkhole cruise only HideAway, the boat with the shallowest draft, had an electric depth finder.  Another used a lead line and the other their keel. All three methods are accurate however the side effects of some methods are less desirable than others.  Of course the Great Mullet Spirit who loves to roil up the bayou as it hangs on to your keel must be entertained or he'll never let you leave.  But then again, who'd want to?

Sailing HideAway Mullet Key Bayou, Tampa Bay Florida
It was a great gunkhole cruise that included a severe storm, an escape from it's brothers at low tide and the drama of the unknown --

Come join us as we navigate the tricky waters of Bunce's Pass at the mouth of Tampa Bay

See also "Small Compac Sailboat Big Storm" another video from the same cruise.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer Sans Sail Sailing Story- {so sorry}

The storm, Isaac, has passed without causing ill effects for HideAway yet others further north were not as lucky.  As often happens, storms on Isaac's course tend to veer to the northwest unless a cold front drops down  to push it onto the west coast of Florida.  There are always a few anxious days as we wait for the storm move away knowing that some day one will tack to starboard with dramatic effect.

Meanwhile HideAway, stripped of her sails, sits on her trailer like a bug caught in a spider's web of tie down lines. It is one thing to have a fully found sailing vessel that you choose not to sail at this moment and quite another having a fine vessel sitting decommissioned unable to raise sail.

In a place where sailing is a year around sport the idea of placing the boat out of commission for a month should not be an issue. 

Even though we have sailed every month of the year more than once I would be hard pressed to brag that we sailed them all in chronological order during a single year. The reality of work and other events of the average life place harsh limits on time spent messing about on things that float. 

This time of year the fun of boat projects melt in the brutal Florida summer heat and the friendly sea breeze has all the charm of a blast furnace. Still, to be completely land bound, unable to feel the boat heel into the wind on a bright sunny day is more difficult than I would have thought. 

True, the reason for my predicament is honorable, a new double reef, loose foot main sail is at this very moment being sewed together by JSI/Doyle sail makers in St Petersburg.  I’m sure they are working day and night on such an important project.  It’s my fantasy, OK!

Sailing HideAway-St Pete Beach Fl
It won't be long now.  HideAway will be back sailing the low seas.  Yes not long, I'm sure.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

HideAway Prepares for Hurricane Isaac

National Hurricane Center Hurricane Isaac

No longer in the Cone of Uncertainty, the designated space where Hurricane Isaac's eye may pass, West Florida and the Tampa Bay area looks safe from the big storm and except for that pesky blue line denoting a Tropical Storm Warning, life is good.   The experienced sailor knows this concept contains less truth than the average political advertisement.

Isaac has a Beam of 200 Miles 

The very best time to prepare for the inevitable is when the sky is blue.  If you wait until the sky is black and you notice it is hard to walk against the wind and your exposed body parts sting from the rain, the need to prepare for the storm has passed.

Auger Tie Down Four Per Boat

Saturday found the capt at the Gulfport Florida City Marina tying up loose ends as it were. HideAway sits majestically on her trailer held to the ground by auger tie downs provided by the marina.  Preparations include making sure the trailer wheels were blocked and doubling the lines.  Below deck chores include buttoning down all ports and finding places to put on deck items- solar panels and such..

HideAway Waiting for Isaac

The Admiral insisted the capt make a photo record to show the insurance agent should a worst case scenario develop thus the video below documents our hurricane procedures.  Although you may find them helpful your results may vary. For that matter you may see a blank space where HideAway used to be in the next blog.  Stay tuned....


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Small Boat Air Conditioning the Natural Way

By the time July rolls around in Gulfport Florida the thought of cruising to a secluded gunkhole somewhere is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Sure, if you have a large boat equipped with an air conditioner you can waddle over to a marina, jump in the pool - northern folks call these things hot tubs I believe - to get wet and hope the sea breeze cools you off a bit before you call it a day and retreat to conditioned air.
HideAway's Natural Air Conditioner 
 If you're lucky you have a small  boat like HideAway, a Compac 23, with a Swing From the Hook Natural Air Conditioning System.  On a very hot day the wind scoop may not provide relief.
HideAway's Natural AC Set on HIGH
Fortunately, another method is readily available to the Florida Summer Sailor.  It requires little set up and is far more exciting than a dip in a hot pool.

Notice how calm and serene this scene is - Then have a look at the video below shot minutes later!


Monday, August 6, 2012

GOT CRABS? A Sea Pearl Story

In our Sea Pearl days too many years ago, our hands down favorite place to sail was the area north of Ft Desoto park at the mouth of Tampa Bay.   Often we'd let the boat sail itself from the boat ramp to the shallows across Bunces Pass until it ran aground among the myriad of Mangrove islands that populate the area.  One of my adult children reminisced  that the Capt's cure for running aground was to make crew members leave the boat one at a time until flotation was achieved.  This is not as bad as it sounds since the Magic Pearl drew all of eight inches or so.

One of our efforts to use the Magic Pearl for an over night cruise found us aground at sunset near a large barrier island near the Gulf Of Mexico.  We dropped an anchor over the bow and ran ashore, without benefit of a flashlight, to catch the last of the sunset .   Returning after dark on a moonless night had us wishing we'd at least lit the anchor light.

Our Magic Pearl had disappeared in the darkness.  So did everything else.  

As we walked bare foot along the shallows of a large beach we could hear what sounded like silverware clinking.  We could not place the direction of the sound, but it was very close.   We stopped and it stopped.  The two of us stood in the pitch black darkness completely befuddled.  Suddenly Linda, who is not known for this behavior,  let let out a shriek and ran in the general direction of where the boat might be.

I felt them a moment later.  Unseen  wild creatures with lots of legs were scampering over my bare feet. While I won't admit to a shriek, we eventually ran into the boat from which I grabbed a flashlight and returned to the scene.

At first I couldn't process why the ground seemed to be moving away from me.  In an instant I discovered the silverware symphony came from thousands upon thousands of Fiddler crabs snapping their huge claws as they tried to get out of my way.  If I stopped and especially if I had turned off the flashlight, they would return to crawl all over my still naked feet.

Fiddler Crabs On the Move!

Earlier this year found us encamped near the Lower Suwannee river hiking the many trails in the area.  After crossing a foot bridge to an island we found a wood bench near the seldom traveled back waters begging for company.  As we sat there awhile we realized the waters edge was literally crawling with Fiddler crabs.

At that my friends was the inspiration of the movie:

Wild Beach Camping or Why I Like My Compac 23 Cabin

Yes it's cheesy but it was a lot of fun in the making!   

Next time back to sailing "Weathering the Gunkhole Storm"


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Eastport Pram Sailing Conversion - The Hard Way

HideAway Pram  St Pete Beach Florida
Back in 2002 we acquired an Eastport Pram kit from Chesapeake Light Craft as a tender for HideAway.  We had no intention of sailing the dink.  Then one fine day the folks at CLC brought all their boats to our part of the world.  We tried a few kayaks then started on the sailboats.  I noticed the Eastport Pram on the beach begging me for a sail.  It was not a long time before I discovered the pram sails as well as it rows and  with none of the effort.  I was instantly hooked.

A fellow sailor who had enough of my babbling about the sailing pram gave me an old rig as more of a dare, I think, than a polite suggestion to shut up or put up.  More time passed until I happened upon the plans for the pram hiding in a long forgotten place.

Yeah, I know that's not how the dagger board looks on the plans  

 If you know how to read plans it is easy to trace the full scale drawings onto plywood and cut them out.   It's a bit harder if you don't notice the difference between millimeters and inches.  'Course then you wouldn't have a spare dagger board and rudder like the author. 

Some modification is still needed to the donated rig.  Who, besides me, needs a gooseneck when you have a bit of electrical wire and a couple of non stainless steel plates?

Yes that's electrical wire and a couple of metal plates
OK a lot of modifications will need to be made.  It has to be easier to make a new mast rather than scarfing on a couple of feet to prevent the ever painful boom-whacking-noggin incident. Not to mention that the existing mast is too skinny to fit the deck hole step.  If the dink had a mast step that is.

I'm sure you have realized by now, as have I, that the step hole for the mast bears little resemblance to the American way of measuring wood.   There is not really enough space to enlarge the existing hole and maintain the designed strength.  The good news is I'll likely get a new block plane out of the deal as I shave 3/8 INCHES off the last eight INCHES of the new mast.

Mighty handsome rudder & tiller construction don't you agree?  The answer is - Yes by the way!

We spent an entire Saturday afternoon unraveling the mystery of the rigging.  The process involved many trips to the Internet and at one point taking photos of the screen then running outside to compare with reality as we understood it. 

We believe this to be the correct rig setup
 The HideAways did eventually discover the correct configuration.  The lines in the foreground were determined to be the standing rigging of the former craft.  I bet that was interesting!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It was a lazy day for the HideAways Saturday. It was the first sailing day after Tropical Storm Debby wrought havoc in our part of the world.  Relieved that we had escaped unharmed or damaged we took our time recommissioning HideAway, our Compac 23 sailboat.  The afternoon sea breeze had set in but we chose to anchor for a leisurely lunch and a nap.  Later, after sailing off the anchor across Boca Ciega Bay listening to WMNF 88.5 Community Radio in Tampa spin 50s era platters, I craned my neck around the bimini to check the mainsail set and noticed our large American flag flying off the back stay framed against a clear blue sky

Trading the tiller for my camera I started shooting this video when the music stopped for a moment and suddenly The Star Spangled Banner, sung a cappella, reached over the air ways.  Neither of us could speak when it ended. 

Unfortunately the combination of wind and bad reception ruined the original audio but my good friends at UTube stepped in with this rendition.   A special day for the HideAways on Boca Ciega Bay near Gulfport Florida. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Great Mullet Key Cruise

Mullet Key Ft Desoto Florida Tampa Bay 
Mullet key is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay on the north edge of the Mullet Key Shipping Channel. Mullet Key is home to Ft Desoto Park with its cannons hidden behind tall concrete abutments along its western shore in defense of Mullet instead of the Spanish these days.

Even though Ft Desoto is one of the most popular parks in Pinellas County, Mullet Key proper is a place of heart stopping beauty and serenity. In 2001, I believe it was, the North Shore of Ft Desoto Park was judged best in the known world by Dr Leatherman. It shares this distinction with Caladesi Island State Park 30 miles or so north just offshore from Dunedin Fl. Both are highly prized by the HideAways as sailing and in the case of Ft Desoto, beach camping destinations.

The entrance to Mullet Key from the Gulf of Mexico is via an unmarked channel surrounded by Heron Knee Water that extends half a mile or so off shore known as Bunce’s Pass. Navigation of the pass varies each day to the whims of afternoon sea breeze storms, not to mention the rare hurricane or not so rare tropical storm.

In preparation for the cruise HideAway’s Capt. surveyed the channel using a two year old Google Earth image, duly noting that one photo of the entrance to Bunce’s Pass featured a large sailboat firmly aground on a vast beach without a single drop of water in sight.

Bunce's Pass Looking Toward Gulf of Mexico
If you are as unfortunate as to catch Bunce’s Pass in a bad mood the combination of tide and wind can produce, for your afternoons’ sailing enjoyment, 6 foot seas with a short fetch in an unmaintained and uncharted rather narrow channel. No wonder few large cruising sailboats call at this secluded tropical gunkhole.

On Tuesday night last, a group of renegades from the usual marina sailors met at Boca Ciega Yacht Club in Gulfport Fl to discuss strategy. Of the three boats in attendance HideAway, a Compac 23 would be the smallest and the only boat equipped with a nearly modern electric depth finding device and a mostly burned out GPS. Thus HideAway would take the lead with the others, a 26 foot something or other and the largest, a Pearson Wanderer, following. The fact that HideAway has the shallowest draft at 28 inches was over shadowed by the ownership of the electric depth finder without considering that navigation would really consist of bearings from a water tower, past excursions, and a change of sea color.

Thus plans were made, courses plotted, tides observed and rendezvous chosen. Someone added Debby as a possible addition to his crew list but no one paid much attention to the change.

As I write this in the dark, Debby is busy trimming my trees, flooding my street and yard and otherwise throwing a major hissy fit that I fear will prove costly to many.

Tropical Storm Debby - Which Way Will She Go?
Since the hurricane center is convinced that Tropical Storm Debby will head west ignoring the most reliable models that suggest a Florida landfall a nervous night is in store for everyone including the flooded city of Gulfport.

Yesterday we left HideAway spider webbed to the ground in her dry slip prepared for a level one storm event. Meanwhile work continues between power outages on HideAways’ dink sailing conversion.

The Great Mullet Key Cruise will wait for more favorable weather.

HideAway's  Dink Sailing Conversion Under Way

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ladder of Success
 The odd thing about sailors, OK. One of the odd things about sailors is that we often disregard the knowledge and skills of somebody who went to school a long time and no doubt spent his entire career figuring out what works best on the very boat you own.

Still, making modifications to sailboats for good or questionable result is at the very heart of the sport. Besides wandering through a boatyard looking for new ideas is as close to a mystical experience any of us are likely to have. 

Custom Rudder Compac 23
Custom Rudder Compac 23

There have been of posts on the Compac Owners Association website recently about making a better rudder. However this interesting invention was overlooked.

The real purpose had more to do with the wheel steering system on this Compac 23 rather  than rudder art.  Somehow the idea of wheel steering on a Compac 23 and this particular rudder setup seem made for each other.

When building the trailer for HideAway I used 2 x 6 guide on boards set tall to catch the keel at the earliest possible moment.   The system keeps the boat centered in a cross wind and makes loading easier.  Sometimes an unfortunate gust of wind or my inattention would bring HideAway on the wrong side of the guides adding another scar to the keel.

Clearly sharper minds were at work to produce not one, but two versions of the Bounce & Glide Keel Guide

Made from what looks to be plastic drain pipe and held on with galvanized through bolts this guide will keep you centered in the universe of your understanding without much separation of boat dollars and your wallet.

In this deluxe example wood is carpet wrapped and held in place by a complicated but sturdy frame of Schedule 40 plastic drain pipe for a gouge free keel.  Note the new rollers for ease of loading.  Oh, the decadence.

You see sailing is as much about the tug of the wind in your sails as the discovery of a new approach to an old problem. You're a Sailor-man & Tinkerer Too!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lunch is packed. the gas tank full and mixed, the drive to the marina complete.  The only thing left to do is make the final decision -

To sail or not to sail? 

Often the decision is easy, ranging from "just launch and go" to musing about how high the waves are breaking over the sea wall in the Gulfport Channel as large oak tree limbs dance the Hully Gully.  The view from the end of  "A" dock gave further evidence that Boca Ciega Bay had worked it's way into a tither of white caps making waves breaking on the jetty tower taller than the average senior adult.    

Unwilling to risk breaking something expensive the HideAways sought refuge on the clubhouse porch where other melancholic sailors held court telling tales of great courage in conditions much worse than this mere summer breeze. None suggested a romp on the bay would be troublesome, noting rather that they would sail if something or other wasn’t preventing them from doing so on this particular day.

Always in search of the perfect photo, the Capt grabbed his camera and wandered dockside returning just ahead the rain instead with this moderately odd video.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Boca Ciega Yacht Club Gulfport Fl Open House

If you are in the area and have a mind to stop by this Saturday, April 28, 2012 1-4 pm Gulfport time, our sailing club is having an open house with free sailboat rides around Boca Ciega Bay.

Somehow I must have gotton King Neptune really upset with us as I and my wife were charmed into coordinating 15 sailboats ranging in size from 22 to 45 feet to give about 300 people sailboat rides that afternoon - based on last years stats - Should be interesting.

Anyway its a lot of fun with vendors and hot dogs and soda and lots and lots of really good door prizes.

Boca Ciega Yacht Club  is located on the south side of Gulfport Marina along the channel - do not come by boat.

And as an added bonus you get to see HideAways brand new trailer tire -- such a deal!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dancing with an Egret

You've seen the majestic Snowy Egret standing motionless in the shallows stalking lunch.  If you wait long enough you many find one that likes to dance. This time on Sailing Hideaway. 

So life wasn't the party you exprcted it to be - but as long as you're here you might as well dance

Be sure to search for Sailing HideAway on Zazzle.com.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How NOT to Install - Thru Hull Depth Finder

Have you noticed that knowing how not to do something is more valuable than knowing how?

On a steamy hot summer day in Florida we discovered the true potential of this concept while making a video of what should be a relatively easy project.   After all, how hard can it be to drill a hole in a boat?


Sunday, March 25, 2012

We had Gator for Lunch on Lake Tarpon Florida

Living in a small space with almost a million of our closest friends it's easy to forget that crowded Pinellas County Florida  has creatures that would love to have you over for lunch. With you being the main dish on the menu. 

It's really not the animal's fault though.  Ignorant humans like to feed wildlife. When these people feed a Great Blue Heron or the beautiful Snowy Egret a hot dog it is the bird that will suffer, usually a great deal, before they die.  If their ignorance runs more to larger game, in this case alligators, it very well could be the feeder or a child that perish.   You can probably guess my preference.

Through our long association with sailing we are more aware of our environment than most.  On a recent outing with our grand kids we stopped for a picnic lunch along the shores of Lake Tarpon near Tarpon Springs.  Some of the picnic tables are more in the water than near it.  We found one that jutted out into the lake a bit encased in huge Cypress trees .  A perfect place on a beautiful spring day. 

What didn't happen next can be directly attributed to our outdoor experiences.  If this scene had happened when we were new to Florida the result could have been tragic. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mud Dauber Hatch Boards

Mud Daubers are sailors too. At least they seem to enjoy HideAway as much as we do building their mud tunnel homes anywhere they please. We’ve found them under shelves, in plain sight on cabin walls, and in our sail cover. Once they see a companion way open they have no qualms crowding in ahead of you to reach their home. Although they are not aggressive, a very painful sting can result if you happen to hit one during an angry swat fest.

Mud Dauber Defense System 1

Until recently the HideAways defense has been to shove rag, OK, old socks, into the extreme ends where the hatch boards do not meet the companionway cover. While you can usually shoo a Mud Dauber away, Yellow Jackets are another matter best dealt with using some sort of chemical attack.

As HideAway approaches her 33rd birthday her hatch boards have succumbed to the Florida marine environment to the extent of needing replacement. The need actually occurred a few years ago but their life was extended with infusions of Cetol into their weaker areas. Eventually the bottom board lost its edge and would slide to the deck creating an unacceptable gap between the two boards otherwise known as the Gateway to Mud Dauberville. Clearly a new design was called for.

Gateway to Mud Dauberville

It was a simple trip to the Home Depot and the discovery of Sande Handy Panel, a pre cut hardwood plywood with a no knots or patches on the finish sides. I did notice a couple of small voids on the edges when I cut it but they were easily filled. I began by adding one inch to the bottom board and with a helper I cut both panels into a rough-in shape scribing the top board to match the contours of the companion way hatch cover. How simple it sounds.

I added the height to the bottom panel because we usually dock stern in and if we are spending the night on board we leave the lower panel installed for privacy. I also use a solar panel set on top of the boom with the wire running through the gap between the hatch board and companionway top. I cut one of the new tabs a bit smaller to allow for the solar charger wire. While I’d have had to purchase a larger panel it may have been better to make one large panel then cut the 45 degree bevel between them. By the way this is no job for hand held power tools. A band saw and table saw were essential while the bench sander made sanding and final shaping a snap.

It’s too early to tell if I’ve solved the Mud Dauber problem but at least now they will have to work harder to gain entry and the buzzing in my ears is mine alone.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to Prepare for Your Dream Cruise

Well, the very first thing to do is grab your favorite writing tools and open your boat for inspection. That alone is enough to turn your teak gray.

The next step is to prioritize the list of stuff you need. That sounds hard but it’s pretty easy though if you use the Sailing Stuff Approach to Cruising. I’ve outlined the concept below with examples. Your results may vary.

Stuff That Left To Themselves Would Have a Bad Effect On The Cruise
Failing to pump out the head or pump up the trailer tires.

Stuff That Must Be Onboard
Trash bags preferably empty
Bottles of adult beverages preferably full

Stuff That Better Not Be On Board
Live critters being first
Dead critters and associated accessories next

Stuff That Must Be Purchased With Plastic
Well, maybe some duct tape judiciously applied might suffice for now.

Stuff That Can Be Bought With Paper or Bits of Metal
Unhealthy comfort food and the equipment to consume them

Stuff That Must Be Recharged
Talking Picture Recording Devices
Cell phone set on “Shut Up”

Stuff That Must Be Found
If something must be found it is therefore lost so you really must find the lost to be found.
Anybody seen my navigation tools? I’ve seem to have lost my way.

And remember: Part of the adventure is opening a can of something essential with a screw driver and a block of wood. Happy sailing!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

St Pete Beach Gunkhole Cruise - The Movie

Here's the latest on the Thanksgiving weekend gunkhole cruise to St Pete Beach -

                                                     SMALL BOATS ROCK!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

St Pete Beach FL Gunkhole: A Small Boat Sailing Cruise

Once north bound HideAway sailed on with a bone in her teeth joyfully tossing waves this way and that while her crew grew smiles from ear to collective ear. Only a radio alert from Miandros kept HideAway from trying to make Anclote Key before dark. Seems we had over shot the skinny little white church steeple that marked our anchorage.

Sailing HideAway off St Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico Thanksgiving Weekend

By the time HideAway had gained the safe haven Miandros had set two anchors close to shore in calm waters six foot deep at lower tide. Both crews piled into their respective dinghies and rowed for shore surfing along the way in the gentle swells. Once on the beach a crowd of people met us as if we had just sailed in from Texas or some such. Well I may have told them so, but it surely is not often sailors are treated as rock stars.

Mihrandros & HideAway St Pete Beach Fl Gulf of Mexico

Frank Hurley Park with its modern flushers and showers is a short walk along the sandy street. A longer, but certainly doable stroll to the Hurricane is possible for those without chicken to grille. Those with longer legs and deeper pockets would find the Don Cesar a bit further the other direction and of course on the way the Nancy Markoe Gallery is always a fun place to visit. With chickens calling both crews reluctantly rowed back to supper.

The base of the Off bottle seals the Solar Shower and repels bugs! 

The HideAways are pretty much low tech when it comes right down to it.    So it should be no real surprise to find a jar of sun tea brewing at the stern.  No need to bring a stove to heat water when there is a perfectly good, hot celestial body to do the job.

A fine cup of fresh brewed tea is a satisfying way to begin the day especially if it is sun tea made the old fashioned way in an aged pickle jar. Apparently the former residents of that particular jar were quite flavorful. Thus the invention of Dill Pickle Sun Tea came to pass on a sunny morning in November. DPST is an acquired taste for the sophisticated palette with an interesting bouquet and a long finish. Gulpable, perhaps a bit coarse, Dill Pickle Sun Tea has an aromatic nose that leaps out of the glass. Some say it’s a real knock out. Did I mention it is an acquired taste?