Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Dog River Marina

The Dog River Marina .....

where we are staying is not only a marina but is also a working boat yard.

We are on "the hard" which is a term that we think means the "hard surface" which in turn means that you are not in the water.

We are on the black top next to the boat lift that puts boats in the water and takes them out. There is a lot of action around our boat from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The boat to the right of the lift below is the stern of In My Element so the action is right off our back porch.

They, and therefore we, do get 30 minutes for lunch whether we need it or not..... usually we do! That is both good news and bad news.

The good news is that as long as you are "on the hard" here
 you are an active customer and are not charged a "moorage" fee or a "hardage" fee. The bad news is that as long as you are "on the hard" you can not run your heat or A/C or your septic system as there is no place to dump it. So we are on the routine that we had 48 years ago when we were first married and living in a small trailer [20 feet long]. Then we had an MJB coffee can.... now we have a 5 gallon bucket. What the hell has happened to us??!!

Part of the services they offer include.... outboard motor replacement. These guys went from two 200 H/P Yamaha engines to two 300 H/P Yamahas. Sometimes you just can't get there fast enough.

They also repaint boat bottoms which sometimes requires the removal of the previous layers of paint. This is tough work which is often done with grinders and sanders and a strong back. I will not comment on the usefulness of the mask that is hanging around his chin. There seems to be quite a few guys like him around the boat yard.

Many of these guys here are "died in the wool" Alabama football fans and their trucks clearly demonstrate that. I can remember a day when the Huskies had some bragging rights. When will that time come again?

One of their fortes is the refurbishment of local classics. Below is one of their 20' Bertrams that has been redone. It is a 1968 model and is now in great shape.

The next is a boat that is being updated after having completed the Great Loop this past year. They are having new bottom paint done, new canvas, and everything cleaned up. It is looking pretty good and should be a good

ride for someone looking for this kind of boat.

Lastly, the boat below came into the boatyard about an hour before we arrived. Some friends at the marina whom we had previously met at a boat meeting thought that it was our boat finally showing up and were wondering what we were thinking! Gilligan may have been on this one in the past.

Nautical Word For The Day:  [from]


1. To formally take a ship out of service and relieve the crew
of duty.                                                                       

From Great Loop Jargon:                                               

2. Dat is da money dat one pays the sales guy when you buy da boat.                                                            

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Hi All,

At the suggestion of a few folks we want to send a quick update to let everyone know we are well and warm in Mobile. The weather has been in the 60s and low 70s most days. We are incrementally getting things done on and to the boat with some long days so have not had much "umff" at the end of the day to do any blog postings. But, there will be more to come soon.

It looks like we will be here another 3 weeks depending on when our supplies arrive from the boat builder. We can't believe that we have been gone 3 weeks already.

Hope that all is well with each and everyone of you!
Bob and Debi

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Boat's Trail To Mobile

The boat's trail to Mobile was much different than ours. After starting in La Conner the trucker with his wife in the chase car went east to eastern Washington crossing Sherman Pass into Idaho and then south to Boise. The truck driver's wife took these photos and sent them to us at the end on the trip. Thank you, Jeanne!

They thought they had a weather window that they could stay ahead of the snow and the cold but  were delayed in Provo, Utah so the weather caught up with them there. The snow storm left them there for an extra day until the highway department was able to get the roads cleared enough for passage.

Next the boat passed through a portion of Wyoming where they spent the night in the town of Rawlings.

This was followed by a journey through a portion of Colorado skirting the Denver area.

 In each state the truck was preceded by a pilot car in front and back. The truck driver's wife drives the chase car. The front pilot cars are hired for each separate state and have poles extending up in the air in the front of the pilot car just above the height of our boat on the truck. That height was 15'7". In Texas they were re-routed from the original state generated plan which added 200 miles to their trip.

After they passed through Mississippi they too ended up at our destination, Dog River Marina in Mobile, AL. They showed up at 4:00PM on Thursday, January 17.

The boat was in good shape but mighty dirty as you might expect.

The next day the boat was unloaded with a lift similar to the one that loaded it in La Conner earlier in the month. These guys at Dog River have a well orchestrated operation as it was off the boat and positioned on "the hard" [or hard surface] in short order.

They set it on its keel on wooden blocks with support stands in all four "corners". By three in the afternoon the boat was washed and starting to look like our boat again.

Over the next week or so the boat will be recommissioned including washing and waxing the whole thing, putting the top back on, the radar mast back on, and a number of other things to get it ready to cruise. Our next job will be to move our things onto the boat and organize ourselves for our boating life to come.

Nautical Word For The Day:


1. A grip achieved by attaching a mechanical device such as a windlass or block and tackle.

2. An advantage applied to the lifting of a heavy load.

From Great Loop Jargon:

3. What one constantly does when one acquires a boat. This includes the boat itself, fuel, supplies, charts, provisions, and all sorts of gadgets. This has given rise to the acronym for B-O-A-T which is:                                
Bring On Another Thousand.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Trail To Mobile - Day 8 and Day 9

The trail from San Antonio to Baton Rouge, LA proved to be the longest so far. We covered 485 miles which is the most for us on this trip and should be the last big travel day by land. After spending parts of four different days in Texas, happiness truly was seeing it in our rear view mirror. We knew we were getting really close to our destination.

Once in Louisiana we retraced some roads that we traveled with Randy and Karen last September after a UW Husky football game in Baton Rouge. That was just after Hurricane Issac which had left a lot of water standing in the  bayous and the low country. Well it turns out that Louisiana has been having some record rains which we got to experience first hand.

 There were similar water levels now as there were then. I guess the difference is that it took a month and a half of steady rain to duplicate Issac's performance which took a couple of days.


Day 9 started with the knowledge that we would only be on the road about 3-4 hours. In short order we passed through the remaining part of Louisiana, crossed through Mississippi, and then into Alabama.

We drove into the marina yard just after noon on Wednesday, January 16. We were met by the marina folks whom had been expecting us. They were a little surprised by what and how much we had inside the truck. I know that they were not expecting to see the dinghy and outboard motor with the radar mast laying over the top.

Within two hours we had our truck unloaded and possesions stored in an old trailer on the property.

What a relief that was. We were then able to arrange the return of the truck to Budget the next day and pick up a rental car from Avis while on the way. It could not have been smoother.

We feel very fortunate to have traveled 3,440 miles without incident as well as having the opportunity to visit friends along the way. The next part of the story is: The Trail to Mobile for the boat. We were in regular contact with the trucker on most days and watched their progress from afar.

Nautical Word For The Day: [from]


1. A coastal harbor offering safe anchorage, dockage, and facilities for offloading cargo.

From Great Loop Jargon:

2. A suitable adult beverage useful for toasting whether one's successful arrival in that coastal harbor is by sea or by land.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Trail To Mobile - Day 7

The people on the trail to Mobile took a day off in San Antonio. After six long days in the truck and finding out that we were a little ahead of the trucker's schedule of arrival, we took a day off to explore San Antonio. This is a city that we had not visited before despite it being a favorite for dental meetings. We are glad we did.

We had three places that we wanted to visit while there. One can not miss visiting the Alamo and understanding its place in Texas history. It was preceded by an I-MAX film depicting the days preceding and the lengthy attack. The battle took place in 1836 ending on March 6th. The displays that are there as well as the memorabilia they have gathered is impressive. It was a must see especially for a couple of folks who watched Walt Disney's version of Davey Crockett as kids. His famous quote on t-shirts down here was said by him after he lost his congressional seat. He told them that "you'll can all go to hell, I'm going to Texas".

The next area we explored was the famous River Walk. Since it was off season and a little chilly, it was not too busy which suited us just fine.

 We were able to have lunch at a place called Casa Rio, a restaurant that has been in this family since 1949. We figured they must be doing something right so took a chance. We were rewarded with some of the best Mexican food we have ever eaten.

Following this we went to The Buckhorn which is a tavern famous for its collection of horns from any game animal with horns and also from Texas longhorn cattle. It is a museum for the Texas Rangers as well. What a great combination! [Hey, who took this picture?]

It had terrific exhibits and personal stories as well as many photos of the early Rangers up to more recent ones. It was very well done. Our docent for the museum was in total character.

One of the items that they had on display was the final "get-away" car [almost] of Bonnie and Clyde. There sure were a lot of bullet holes in that car. I don't think that there were any Second Amendment issues back then.

Nautical Word For The Day: [from]

Red Line:

1. The maximum safe reading of a gauge usually indicated by a red marking.

From Great Loop Jargon:

2. An RPM reading on a tachometer that would only suggest that the maximum speed limit in certain portions of Texas is 80 mph.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Trail To Mobile - Day 5 and Day 6

The trail to Mobile for days 5 and 6 each involved a whole bunch of time in the truck. We left Tucson early and arrived in Van Horn, Texas in the late afternoon... some 458 miles later. On the way there we passed through El Paso, that west Texas town made famous by a Marty Robbins' song years ago. We saw a whole bunch of nothing for much of those days except for an occasional pile of rocks.

The good news is that the roads are in great shape and are straight as an arrow with speed limits up to 80 mph in places. Debi still thinks those signs are just a suggestion though.

Van Horn is a small west Texas town just as you might picture it with a long wide nearly empty and dusty main street. Many older empty buildings lined the street as well. There was one spot that was thriving though. It was a Mexican restaurant called Chuys [chew-ees] that was recommended to us by the hotel operator. It turns out that John Madden, the former football announcer who never flies in airplanes, has made this a stop on his travels between the west coast and Texas several times. Now we know why. This little joint served up some of the best Mexican food we have ever eaten.

An early departure from Van Horn landed us in San Antonio some 420 miles later and about 3:00 in the afternoon just in time to watch Pete Carroll out-coach himself in the loss to Atlanta. We are looking forward to a day out of the truck tomorrow [Monday] as we tour The Alamo and The River Walk, both in downtown San Antonio. We hope to be able to sleep in a bit as well... for a change.

Nautical Word For The Day: [from].


1. Those portions of the planet not covered by water.

From Great Loop Jargon:

2. West Texas confirms the above definition as there was no portion of the planet there with any discernable water.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Trail to Mobile- Day3 and Day 4

Day 3 had a chilly beginning being met with a frozen windshield in the morning as we left Sacramento. The warmth of the evening before far overshadowed the cool weather as we drove south. Our goal was to get as far south as we could but wanting to stop driving about 4:00PM if we could.

As we drove south on Hwy 99 we were met with highway signs that said the pass between Bakersfield and the LA freeway area was closed because of snow fall! Welcome to sunny southern California!  But as we continued south, the pass opened up for us just in time. There was a flood of cars comimg our way as we crossed the pass without delay into the LA freeway system. So, as it turns out, we did see a splash of snow as we crossed despite our thoughts that it would be a time before we would see snow again.

The end of our travel day found us in Indio, CA just east of Palm Springs. The hotel we intended to go to was not what was advertised on the internet so we went elsewhere. What great fortune that was. We ended up at the Embassy Suites at La Quinta and found it to be not only a much nicer place but also a great value as well. They offered free "Happy Hour" drinks and snacks plus a full breakfast all inclusive. We'll be looking for more Embassy's in the future.

Our Day 4 goal was to get to Randy and Karen's place in Tucson as early as we could. Good intentions were overshadowed with a slow start and a time zone change. We ended up with a 5:00 PM arrival followed by a quick trip to Bevmo. One must have the ship's stores in order and we think that goal was met.

After another terrific dinner and fine wine we greatfully collapsed into bed. Even though there is not a lot of physical exertion while driving, we sure seem to be plenty tired at the end of the day. Once again we were blessed with wonderful friends showing us outstanding hospitality. How lucky are we?

Nautical Word For The Day: [from]


1. Having short, steep, isolated waves caused by local winds which give a small boat an uncomfortable action.

From Great Loop Jargon:

2. also describes the action put upon a vehicle by the roads in southern California.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Trail to Mobile: Day Two

Day Two started off fairly quietly but ended up with us having a whole bunch of fun. After waking early [for us] and having  breakfast at the hotel, we were on the road for about 5 hours from Yreka, CA to Elk Grove, CA. It is a little south of Sacramento.

We were able to make better time than expected despite some additional mountain roads smothered in fog to drive through. We were greeted at the home of Frank and Carrie, folks whom we met several years back at a Great Loop rendezvous in North Myrtle Beach. We had spent some time together along with another couple, Doug and Judy and had a pretty darn good time.

Well it seems that we picked up right where we left off talking about family, travel, and boating in general. Since Frank and Carrie completed the loop last year, they were a terrific source of information about what lies ahead. If we have half the fun they did, it will be an unforgetable experience.

As most loopers say, the  experience was wonderful but the best part was the people they met along the way. We haven't started the actual loop yet but after our visit with Frank and Carrie, we can confirm the "people" part. They were wonderful hosts each with a great sense of humor. We hope to meet up next spring somewhere when they return to visit their boat in North Carolina and cruise some new areas on the east coast.

Nautical Term of the Day: [from]

Direction Finder:

1. A radio receiver with a directional coil antenna mounted over a compass card, used in navigation to determine the bearing of the radio signal.

From Great Loop Jargon:

2. The job of the person riding "shotgun" while enroute  to do the loop and is found to be especially important when two country kids are attempting to transit the LA freeway system.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Trail[s] To Mobile- Day One

The trail to Mobile leads in two directions... one for us and one for the boat. The boat was loaded up on Monday morning at the La Conner Marina by a huge mobile lift that picked it up with several large straps. It is rigged in four corners that can move the boat in all directions to center the boat on the trailer. The guys doing this were very skilled and the truck driver was very particular about its placement... bless his heart! Once on the trailer its height was carefully measured so as to keep the overall above road-level height at under 16'. After several adjustments the height came in at 15'7". Everyone was pleased so we were too.

The driver intends to take the boat from Washington through eastern Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, and finally to Mobile, AL. He said there is a good weather window to go that way at this time. We sure hope so!

Our route will take us down the I-5 corridor to southern California and then east from there. We have visits scheduled in several spots. On Wednesday we will stop in Sacramento to get reacquainted with Frank and Carrie whom we met at a Great Loop rendezvous several years ago. They have gone on to complete the loop last year. We have kept in touch with an occasional e-mail and they were kind enough to invite us to stay with them and talk "loop" for an evening. Every looper couple that we have met have been warm, friendly, and generous. Can't wait to see them.

The next visit will be in Tucson with friends Randy and Karen on Friday. They have made sure that we will be stopping by since we are carrying a big box of stuff from their home in Gig Harbor for their place in Tucson... if we can find it in the truck. I know it is in there somewhere. After that it will be "pedal to the metal" to finish the drive through the southwestern states to get to Mobile hopefully before the time the boat gets there.

The preparation and packing for this whole year-long trip was almost overwhelming. The last item was put in a box and then into the moving truck at about 11:00 o'clock last night.
Earlier in the day we packed in our dinghy, upper deck railings, microwave oven and numerous other items that we did not want to ship on the boat.

After a long day on the road we have ended up in Yreka, CA. tonight. It should be an easier day tomorrow... not so far to go. As a truck driver's daughter Debi's experience helped guide that truck as if she were Danica Patrick at Indy. I didn't know that a loaded 16' rental truck was that maneuverable...
but it is.

One of the reasons for pushing so hard today was to get through the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon. At times it can be snowed in pretty well but not today. Smooth sailing all the way. There was a fair amount of snow on the sides of the road. Debi commented that this will probably be the last time we'll see snow for quite some time. I'm ready for that.

Nautical Term of the Day:


1. Disturbed water caused by rapid flow over a submerged object.

Great Loop Jargon:

2. Disturbed air caused by rapid flow over the cab of a rapidly moving truck on a 5% downward grade and similar to that created by a F-18 as it approaches Mach One.

[ pictures to follow .... someday]

Friday, January 4, 2013

"We're Watching You...

.... with great interest" a good friend recently said in a Bon Voyage phone call. "We are ALL wondering how the two of you are going to survive living together in such a small space?" Great question!

Well, we thought about that too and have relied on the experience of others to help us minimize the damage. A number of the Loopers have discussed this at length in their blogs and at meetings. Listed below are the Top Six that have surfaced that seem worth mentioning.

Certainly living in a much smaller living space 24 hours a day can be challenging. The first suggestion was to have designated separate "getaway" spaces for a while once the boat is docked and all is secure. We all need a little down time to call their own. Fortunately our boat allows that to happen as long as it isn't the dinghy. Hopefully this will provide ample space separation when needed.

Another idea was to go for a walk after mooring each day. One woman told Debi that she was really mad at her captain one day and after they docked the boat, she went for a walk. She walked and walked and walk some more until the anger was gone. Then she was mad at herself because she had a really long walk back to the boat.

Another lady posted in her blog her "wish list" for the boat that they were about to buy. She wanted certain things in the galley and she wanted a walk around deck to be able to safely set the fenders. The last item on the list stated that she needed at least one door to slam. We have several slam-ables if ever needed. Hope not!

After dinner with friends on New Years Eve we were presented with a few going away gifts. The one that applies here is a "Dammit Doll". It appears to be constructed to withstand excessive forces and is meant to be used against any handy inanimate object. I will say again and emphasize the word "inanimate". Thank you.

Dammit Doll

Dammit Doll In Action

Number five is one that most loopers who have them rave about them. These are the EarTec Headphones. These are supposed to give clear, wireless, two-way communication between the captain operating the boat and the person handling the lines and setting the fenders. Docking is a critical time during any voyage and effective communication is key to its success. A few test runs suggest that they work pretty well but they have not been used "under fire" yet. We'll report back at a later date.

Of course number six is the old standby: alcohol. We know that this can be a slippery slope here but ice is inherently that way. If you combine number six with most of the others, it may bring about a faster resolution...... or not.

Nautical Term for the Day: [from]

Make Fast:

1. To secure a line to a cleat with a hitch.

2. To secure a vessel to a dock.

From Great Loop Jargon:

3. Refers to the rate at which the first cocktail is to be made after a particularly hard day at sea.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Where and When?

I guess we've been a little busy this week with New Years and family stuff since it has been a bit over a week since we made the first posting on our blog. Also, this is new territory for half of us so we are hoping and anticipating that the learning curve will shallow out soon.

Two of the most frequent questions we get are "can we come visit you" and "where are you going to be and when do you think you are going to be there"? The answer to the first is "sure" but we know from many conversations with other Loopers that it is really tough to give specifics because Mother Nature is very fickle. One of the first things that experienced loopers teach other loopers is that flexibility is required by all visitors as the weather dictates the journey. If it ain't good, we ain't going. In this same vein there is usually a tacit agreement between the Captain and the First Mate... aka... the Admiral that the boat doesn't move because of weather issues unless BOTH  agree that it is "good to go".

So... back to the where and when. These dates are guesses at best because if we find an area we like, we may spend an extra few days. Because we are starting our trip from Mobile, AL in early February we expect to be on the west coast of Florida during March and transiting to the east coast during that month. By April we expect to be heading up the coast of Georgia, South and North Carolina.

One of the Great Loop slogans is: Do the Chesapeake Bay during the month of May because later in the summer season it can get quite warm and humid. We believe them!  After exiting the north end of the Chesapeake Bay we will try to be in New York harbor around the first week of June. After a few days in NY city we head up the Hudson River seeing sites along the way including Westpoint. Can't wait for that!

Near the end of June we'll be in the Erie Canal as we boat through the first half only. A crossing will be made on the eastern end of Lake Ontario and we'll probably be celebrating the 4th of July with other Loopers in Ontario, Canada. After transiting the Trent-Severn Canal we'll end up in the Georgian Bay portion of Lake Huron followed by North Bay. We are told that this area is very picturesque and similar to our Northwest San Juan Islands and Desolation Sound in Canada.

Most boats typically re-enter the US in Upper Michigan during the first week of  August. We expect to tour the upper third of the west coast of Lake Michigan and then cross over to the Wisconsin side to see what is along the coastline of Bob's birth state. The first week of September should find us near or at Chicago. Since the U of Washington Huskies have a football game against Illinois at Soldier Field on September 14, we may stick around a little longer than typical.

The next potion of the trip involves the Illinois River, a portion of the Mississippi River, and then up the Ohio River to the Cumberland River. A series of locks will take us into Kentucky Lake followed by the Tennessee River during the month of October. We'll stay in this area until November first as we have a hurricane insurance restriction that keeps us above the 32nd parallel until then. From there it is all downhill through the Tombigbee River system back to Mobile.

As you can see, some areas are very accessible and others fairly remote. Some may join us for a week or so and fly in and out of different airports and others may choose to drive in to meet us for a few days. Either way works for us. Please go to expedia.goneboating for reservations!

Nautical Defintion of the Day: [from]
1. A commissioned officer in the Navy with a rank above Vice-Admiral, designated by four stars in the US Navy.
2. The form of address for any flag officer of the Navy.

From Great Loop jargon;
3. Term typically applies to the spouse of the Captain of the boat. She will often have several other ranks including First Mate, Chief- Mess Cook, Deckhand, but  if  its really, really important the rank escalates to SecNav.... Secretary of the Navy.... ever watch NCIS?