1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: December 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Aduana, the Wonderpuppy© - *repost*

(Note - this post has not appeared for some people, mostly those picking it up from their Facebook page - if this is a repost for you, I apologize.)
Quite a few of you reading this know of Aduana, my Cuban rescue pup, and some of you have met her, but not everyone knows the story behind how she left Cuba to come to the US and then Canada.
First, some facts. Aduana is four years old this winter, and 34 pounds. She 'adopted' me at two months of age, when I was in Veradero, Cuba. I didn't want a dog - she didn't want to starve to death as a street dog. Guess who lost that battle of wills? It's real tough to say no to a cute and tenacious 8 pound bundle of fur when she's got her sharp little puppy teeth deep into your heart and soul.
Aduana has crossed the Gulf Stream three times now, and done the ICW four - soon to be five - times. She's done about 10k miles on the boat, from the Great Lakes to Cuba, and this year, she'll visit the Bahamas, adding one more country to her list.
No, she's not real big about boating - her first boat trip, across the Gulf Stream from Varadero to the Keys, was rough, and she was down below on her own, and frightened. I don't think she's forgotten that. 
What's going on here?
Aduana's first photo, on the boat after her bath

I couldn't be with her much as I had to sail the boat, all I could do was run below when I could, give her a quick cuddle and try to reassure her. It didn't help much, she was sick both ends and all over my Florida Straits chart - a new meaning for paper trained.
Here are some photos of Aduana as a very young puppy, including her first day on the boat, first bath (she was a street dog and full of fleas), her first few steps on American soil....and right up to some recent photos.
Aduana has developed into a gentle, friendly, very loving dog. She's wonderful with children, and an enthusiastic greeter of everyone she meets. And when she sees someone she hasn't seen for a while, she goes right over the top in her excitement, as several readers of this blog can testify, Doc being the latest.
I've written the story of how she escaped Cuba as a children's story, complete with photos. I think you'll enjoy it. If you have kids, or grandkids, they'll love it.
If anyone would like a copy, it's available as a download via Dropbox. Send me an email, or use the message function at the bottom of the post, and I'll send you the link.
This story is the first half of her escape: leaving Cuba. I'm finishing up writing the second half, entering the US, including Aduana's encounter with the officers of the US Customs and Homeland Security boat... as soon as it's done, I'll set up that link as well.
At 8 pounds, three days out of Cuba
Aduana's first steps on American soil

 One story deserves telling here. In 2010 we returned to Cuba, stopping at the resort at Cayo Levisa to the west of Havana. Most of the guests at the resort were European, and many many were missing their their dogs back home. Aduana became their surrogate puppy.
Every morning when Aduana and I would arrive on the beach for her walk, Blanche, a woman from Belgium, would take her for a walk and a swim while her husband Jacques and I chatted. 
A little later, around 11, a couple from Italy would come to the beach and take Aduana for their turn for some puppy love. They generally had leftovers from dinner the evening before. And then, after they had done spoiling Aduana, the next couple arrived.
And so it went, day after day. Aduana was getting spoiled badly, but there were a lot of people who were upset about leaving when they left Aduana. And I still hear from these people, always asking 'How is Aduana?'

In her basket with her favourite toy, a plush lobster
With her Belgian friend Blanche, at Cayo Levisa, Cuba
Of course I'm the world's cutest pup....you doubted?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Post Christmas...

Have we all survived the Christmas season and its attendant madness? Was Santa good to all you girls and boys out there? Sure hope so. I had a superb Christmas day dinner with my friends Doc and Cindy and her sister and brother in law - great food, lots of wine, lots more laughter. Best of all, the next day I received a very special Christmas present from Santa - when you travel as I do, it can be a bit tough even for Santa to track me down I imagine!

My very special gift was a Christmas greeting from someone whose friendship I thought I had lost and I have to tell you, it made Christmas so much better. As much as I was hoping for a 68 foot Oyster sailboat and an all Hooter Girls crew, this was better by far. And, there's always next Christmas, right?
Nice, but I like my gift much better...

Maybe next Christmas?

Christmas Day was lovely as well, sunny and warm and I took Aduana for a good long walk in short sleeves. So nice, especially when I hear there's over a foot of snow back home.
I've been putting in the hours here in Urbanna Va working on a writing project, as well as preparing a new version of my boat show seminar, Sailing South - First Timer's Guide to the ICW. For those who would like to see the video trailer, you can find that at TheSailingChannel or watch it right here.

For those of you in Canada reading this, I'll be home for the Toronto Boat Show as a speaker and I'd love to have you come see me at the show. You can download the speakers' schedule at the Toronto Boat show website. The show itself is held from January 12 - 20th, and it's one of North America's biggest boat shows. Hundreds of boats to see and get aboard and just drool over - I'll be there a couple of days prior, getting used to the cold...ok, that was cruel, sorry! If you do come to the show, try to let me know in advance so we can meet up because, unless you find me at the speaker's hall, I could be anywhere on the site.
For those of you who have watched the video trailer of myself and a friend who is helping me repair my mainsail, I've got a new project coming up.
Making this video was fun, not the least because it was a nice day and a fun project to do. And the sail worked really well after it was all done too. My next project is to build an entirely new mainsail - watch for news on that coming, hopefully, very soon. I'll again have video up of the process. Now all I have to do is convince someone to come to Florida in the New Year and help me at it. Any takers, lol? (Hint - bonus points if you look good in a bikini!)

Have a great weekend all...and to all a good night! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Carol - for you....

Hello all - here's a recording of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens - enjoy...

Merry Christmas to all....

Hello and a very Merry Christmas to all - here's hoping you're favourite Christmas imp finds your stocking hung with care and fills it with all the wonderful things you could possibly wish for. And also, let's not forget the true reason for the season, and remember to give thanks to Him for the many blessings we all have in our lives.
Here's a little something for anyone tired of the same old Christmas music - it's Cuban Christmas music, and it's great - very bouncy, if you aren't dancing around the tree listening to this music, I'm gonna be a bit concerned about you...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Escaping Annapolis....

....whew, got away from Annapolis with my liver pretty much unscathed. Got some sail up and headed south to Solomon's Island, on the Chesapeake, where I ran into my friend Steve from Port Dover, ON. I've mentioned him previously, he is travelling on a steel 53 foot sailboat he's built and is now finishing up. Beautiful boat.
But talk about going from the frying pan into the fire! Just when you thought it was safe...of course, sitting around talking boats with a good friend, you simply don't pay attention to the number of bottles  - sorry, I meant glasses of course, glasses, what was I thinking - of wine you're imbibing in the course of an evening and they can catch up to you. Not only caught up with me in fact, but tackled me like a 300 pound NFL running back. The pain....why is it that as we grow older and presumably have more experience with drinking that our ability to drink somehow decreases? Or maybe that should read our ability to endure?
So from Solomons I headed for Deltaville, VA, to Regatta Point Marina. Steve of course caught up with me there a couple of days later and we had lunch and much laughter (minimal wine!) with Doc, who lives in the area.
While here, I picked up a writing contract, an interesting project that ties in with this winter's travels. The only drawback to this contract is that I'll be stopping my progress south for a few weeks to do this job, and I'd hoped to be in Miami Beach for Christmas. That isn't going to happen now.
On the other hand, given the frequency of minor breakdowns I've been experiencing this trip, I have been thinking that it would be a good idea to stop to do some basic maintenance. 
Since I'll be going through the Bahamas and then Cuba, and I really don't want problems in those locations - parts and repairs are much more difficult when you're in the islands - it's just as well I stop now. I'd rather have the boat shipshape before getting that far.
I've run Gypsy Wind up to Urbanna, a lovely small town where I painted the boat last year - oh, and took the video of the drunk guy talking about viagra - which I posted here on LiveBlogging a while back. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out, it's rather hilarious.
Everything here is more convenient for someone on foot - in D'ville, the marina is a couple of miles out of town. Here, everything is within a ten minute walk and the town is simply nicer - I feel much more 'at home' here than in Deltaville, and then of course, Doc, who is on this forum, lives here, so we'll get a chance to spend some time telling lies about sailing to one another.
The weather has been good - lovely yesterday, and quite mild but overcast today. Temperatures are forecast in the high 50s, low 60s all week, so it's going to be very pleasant, at least, compared to Toronto, or New York, and other places north...
That's it for this post friends - I'm tired today and not feeling very inspired, I suspect you can tell...I promise a much more fun and exciting post next time. 
(this post, btw, is dedicated to my left wing, hippie socialist carpenter/sailing dog-loving friend from back in Ontario - yes, I heard you were reading the blog Todd! Aduana says hi...)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Be still, my trembling liver....

Lord help me, I'm back in Annapolis less than 24 hours - hell, I wasn't here an hour when my good chums Mike and Dennis me - there's a Christmas Boat Parade party, get my butt in gear, they're picking me up in a half hour. Cripes, I take more time than that to set the anchor, and Aduana (the Wonder Puppy®) hasn't been walked yet, the outboard is still on the rails....oh man!
"Poop quickly, pup", I command as we walk out on the grass, quickly tossing the poor pooch back into the dinghy when she's done. 
The outboard fires up first pull and I'm off to meet Mike in front of Davis' Pub, one of my favourite dens of iniquity.
Well, talk about a great party - more than 100 people crammed into an apartment, all talking, eating (great food) and drinking (free wine and beer!)....gawd, I so love Annapolis...and then we were off to the Rockfish (another great den of iniquity) for more drinking and some dancing...and then downtown to McGarveys and Middletons (two more fine dens of iniquity, and historic ones too!). Does the fun never end? Not in Annapolis it doesn't.
Woke up this morning remembering why I had to flee Annapolis all those years ago - my liver simply wasn't up to the demands of this drinking town with a sailing problem! For those who knew me back in university, you can imagine how savage it must be here. I was a champion back then....up to it all....anytime, anywhere.....(post now subtitled: How the Mighty Have Fallen"...)
Monday, I'll complete my rounds with a visit to the Boatyard Bar and Grille...sigh! You know, had I not gotten a proper tune up in Chesapeake City just prior to arriving here, I might well not have been up to last night's revelry. Many thanks to TR, Kim, Harry, Chris and all the rest of the CC party crowd who provided me with such intense pre-Annapolis training. 
As for more mundane things, like sailing, that this blog is supposed to be about - I motored the entire 50 miles from CC to Annapolis since there wasn't a breath of wind - and didn't see a thing the entire way due to fog. Nothing like getting waked by someone you can't even see...and I was deliberately a good couple of hundred yards off the channel for safety.
At one point early on in the day, the Coast Guard came on and advised that the C&D Canal was closed due to fog - not something one wants to hear when one is in the middle of said Canal, which I was. On the other hand, it pretty much guaranteed that a 500 foot freighter wouldn't come out of the mists right in front of me. That can spoil your day - and ruin a good pair of boxer shorts too!

Here are some videos of last night's fun in Annapolis....does anyone wonder why I love this town - liver damage and all?

Kids dancing with a Boat Santa after the parade... 


Can you see the frog leaping up to kiss the mermaid?

Party On!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Lights in the Harbour...

Welcome to Chesapeake City - here's some video of the Christmas lighting that surrounds where my boat is docked at the moment....isn't this lovely?



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chesapeake City

I've always said that some of my best adventures arise out of difficult circumstances, and so it is now. I'm here in Chesapeake City, population 700 (and that's both sides of the canal included), with a broken motor mount to repair. In the last several days, I've met some fabulous folks and discovered what a lovely, friendly town this is. I'm very impressed with it in fact.
For example, yesterday, a new friend drove me 40 miles out and back to pick up the new mount. (quick plug here - should you ever require IT work, go to www.cssnetworking.com, TR will take good care of you!). Anyhow, we were only supposed to go out about ten miles, but the part sent out was the wrong one - so the marina found another marina that had what I needed - and best of all, it was cheaper! Then, today, another new friend, Harry, helped me out with repairing the motor mount by being my 'second hand', giving me tools and parts as they were needed. Working on the engine of a boat is always tedious,the worst part being climbing in and out of the locker to get tools and parts. 
Anyhow, with HUGE thanks to Harry and TR, the motor mount is now replaced. I'll spend another day here testing out the repair and doing a couple of other small jobs that should be done, and then make Annapolis sometime Saturday.
Now - some entertaining tales of Chesapeake City - Sunday, my first day here, I went to the Inn along with the crews of several other boats. A number of local folk were watching the Ravens play. One lady, who was seriously and entertaingly 'over-refreshed' and so shall remain nameless, offered all we visitors rides to the grocery store or wherever, and best of all - hot showers at her house. Jim, who along with Peter was on his way to New Jersey to help with the Sandy reconstruction, quickly took her up on her offer of a shower and they were out the door before anyone could say 'Don't drop the soap!'...not that anyone was jumping to any unwarranted conclusions, but....ok, we jumped to conclusions. So sue us. But somehow the offer never got past Jim....

Just a short distance from my boat, the City has put up a number of gorgeous Christmas lights - I'll take some photos tonight and post them shortly, as this is one of the nicest Christmas harbour light decorations I've seen yet. Tbey've done a super job, thanks to Mayor Dean - who I met the other day on another friend's boat
Talking about boats - this harbour has been busy the past several days, with everything from a classic styled wood boat to a 33 Dragonfly trimaran and an aluminum working boat. A surprising number of boats still headed south even this late in the year. Seems I'm not the last man out after all...
Chesapeake City is one of the nicer towns along the Bay's eastern shore - a lot of very old homes that have been vcry well kept. However, these are not big Victorians or old mansions - they're old workingmen's homes, some not much bigger than perhaps 25 by 25, like they used to build them when heating your home meant chopping your own wood. The smaller the house, the less wood needed - makes sense to me. Still, despite their size, they're really attractive, with many of them on the main street having been turned into shops
sign at the Chesapeake Inn tiki deck...

Former Post Office - er, make that a bank, thanks Henny!

Another pub, very historic, formerly owned by Dupont Family

Former general and dry goods store