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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Just some ramblings…

First off, Bin Laden is history.  Though it’s troubling for me to celebrate anyone’s death, I’m glad this guy was killed.  He was an evil man, a villain in the true definition, and indiscriminately killed thousands of people and, undoubtedly, if he could have, would have killed thousands more.  Good riddance.  I’ve never been one to get up and wave the flag each morning but I think it’s good for the enemies of the United States to know that if – if – you screw with us like he did, we will hunt you down and you will get your just reward…no matter how long it takes.  Maybe that’s not really a deterrent to an extremist that doesn’t give a damn, but it makes me feel better.  That’s just my opinion.

On a different note, though my guy and I cram in a day or two of skiing at Lake Tahoe each year when we visit his mother in the Valley of the Moon, it’s always just that…crammed.  We go either on the way in, or on the way out and it always seems a bit hurried.  So, it was a most pleasant surprise to have him come home the Wednesday before Easter and tell me to pack for three days for a trip down the Texas coast to Rockport, Port Aransas, back to Surfside and then on home.  I’ve lived and traveled over much of the States, only living in Texas as a base for about 10 years now.  I’d never been to any of those places.

On Thursday, we drove down to Rockport and stayed at this very old and somewhat Victorian hotel called the Lighthouse Inn.  Check out the photos of the place HERE

Rockport is an artist’s community of sorts and it shows.  Their waterfront is strictly set up for fishing boats, restaurants, art galleries, pubs, and yachts.  We had a second floor room with a perfect view of Aransas Bay.  We checked in and headed for the bar.  After three back-to-back, absolutely perfectly made, just the slightest bit dirty, martinis, we asked the bar maid for a restaurant within walking distance.  She gave them; and we set out to find them, settling on a place called Benny’s.  We ordered huge seafood combination dishes and though the service left a bit to be desired, the cuisine was just superb.

After taking in the Inn’s huge complimentary breakfast buffet, we checked out and headed further south to Aransas Pass and Port Aransas.  The Port Aransas area is quite affluent, with huge, huge homes built right on the water…with deep sea fishing vessels and yachts that are probably worth almost, if not more, than the homes…tied up right in front of them.  The cloudy, silt laden water of the Gulf of Mexico starts to clear up in this area of the coast.  The Aransas Pass/Port Aransas area is world renown for its big game fishing (think world record class Blue Marlin or Sailfish).  Between the charter boats and both power and sailing pleasure yachts, the marinas are filled.  We even found a Hunter 31, like the one we own, that someone had let go to pot.

By midday, we were on Padre Island heading for Corpus ChristiPadre Island is a National Seashore but you are allowed to drive to the beach.  This time of the year, though the shore is about as pristine and free of garbage as it comes, there are piles of red sea weed…still, the water was not too, too cold and we played a bit in the shallows.

 We hit Corpus and then looped back, heading Northeast again.  The intention was to stay in a small fishing town by the name of Port O’Connor, located on the point of Matagorda Bay, south of Port Lavaca.  My guy had not been to this place in twenty years or so; he used it as an overnight berth when sailing on down to the Aransas Pass area.  We were under whelmed.  They were having a fishing tournament over the Easter Weekend, there looked to be few decent places to stay, and almost nothing to do.  So, he looked as me and asked me what I was thinking, my reply was one word…”escape.”  He agreed immediately and off we went.

The issue now was that it was getting to be a bit late, 3:00 in the afternoon or so.  It was never a matter of getting lost, only a matter of how quickly we could make it to the next sea side place of interest…which happened to be Surfside…on the coast just south of Freeport, Texas.  Between a paper road map that was twenty years old, and a GPS system with several year old map software on it, neither of which agreed with each other – and with me navigating –  we made it to Surfside around 6:00 or so.  Surfside is small, but nice.  But, since it was Good Friday, both of us were sweating getting a nice room…or any room, for that matter.  We stopped at the first place that looked good.  Driving up into the parking lot it look crammed with cars and people.  But, as luck would have it, the establishment indicated  they’d had a cancellation just minutes before and we ended up with a very nice room with a decent view of the ocean.

Checking in and checking the local entertainment guide, it seemed their were only two good places to eat.  We took our best shot at the one with the line waiting outside, to get inside.  After maybe a five minute wait we were seated.  This time, not only was the service out of this world, but the food was to die for.  I had crab stuffed filet of flounder, my guy had grouper with sautéed crab and shrimp on top, with crab stuffed jalapeno peppers for the appetizer.  It was delicious.

We went to a local liquor store, bought a bottle of wine for me and some beer for my guy and headed back to the hotel to finish and reminisce over a long and interesting day.  The place had a very high deck overlooking the ocean to sit out on, and though it was very windy and a tad on the cool side, the night was clear; I went up to the deck while my guy went to open the wine and put the beer in the fridge.  I waited.  I then waited some more.  And, then I continued to wait.  Finally, my guy shows up with the wine and beer.  It turned out that the corkscrew that he used was from a Swiss Army Knife he carries for those sorts of things.  After he screwed the cork and started to pull the cork out…the corkscrew broke off in the cork.  When he told me the story we both laughed until it hurt.  We finally decided the Swiss Army Knife was probably a fake…and made by the French.  

The next day, Saturday, we had a huge breakfast, walked the beach a bit.  Then we observed the absolute two worst surfers on the planet, and an older gentleman, equipped with enough safety gear to survive a trip over Niagara Falls trying to kayak in about a foot of water.  To everyone’s defense, the surf was quite big for the Gulf Coast, probably 6’-8’ at the first break for the wind has been blowing at twenty-twenty five knots for days down here…and with onshore wind, the water was quite confused, choppy if you will, very rough.  Tragically, we heard Saturday night on the news, after we got home, that a little boy had drowned in Surfside that afternoon after we left.

And, then there is the sailboat…specifically, the cockpit table.

For my part at least, the mahogany, teak, and walnut cockpit table is the last project on my personal list of sailboat things to do until next winter.  Chuck is almost finished with the galley before scratching off the A/C from his list…we have got the water system back…a good thing.  But, for me…the cockpit table is the last project on the list. 

My caption for this photo:: 

“Your mission, should you decide to accept it Mrs. Taylor, is to take the parts on this table and elsewhere and build a very steady, strong, and exceptionally beautiful cockpit table.  As usual, should you choose to proceed, but fail, everyone will laugh at you.  The decision is yours, Mrs. Taylor.  This recording will self destruct in five seconds.” 

My guy, being a P.E., has a tendency to be very ponderous…and substance always rules over form.  In other words, sometimes, but only sometimes, it really doesn’t matter so much what he builds looks like, but how strong or functional it is.  When it came time for our desperately needed cockpit table, I had visions of a fairly nice piece that no matter how much I looked at it would resemble a picnic table…if he built it…instead of a showpiece of craftsmanship if I did.  It was time for an executive decision to be made.  So, in a most declarative statement, I said to him, “I’m doing the cockpit table…all I want you to engineer is how it will be supported at a right angle to the binnacle brace when in the up position.”  Actually, I’m being a bit hard on him, but suffice to say, except for the support when the table is raised, everything else was to be all mine.  Predictably, we disagreed on several things right off the bat.  For example, I wanted to epoxy glue and dowel the two main mahogany boards of the main leaf and use oak dowels…he felt the epoxy was necessary but not the dowels…we used the epoxy and the dowels…my decision.  Another, was the fiddles…I would have preferred them a tad lower at 7/8″, but went with his suggestion to keep then at one inch.  I chose polished S/S slide hinges, but ordered twelve feet of polished S/S piano hinges when I only needed fourteen inches; mistaking six inches for six feet and a very costly mistake…we have piano hinges out the wazoo these days.  Anyway, the table when extended will be 26″ long from the binnacle brace, 14″ wide with the two leafs folded up, and with the two  7″ leafs folded out, it will be 28″ wide…for an over all usable table, when the leafs folded out of 24″ by 28″…above is just the rough cut material.  The table is basically finished now, with five of the ten coats of polyurethane on it.  I’ll post the finished table once it’s completely finished ad installed.

End of my rambling…