Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!



My gracious thanks to Donna at D's Designs for these great graphics!  Wishing you all a great new year and all the best in 2008! 



Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Story

The renowned blogger and artist Judith Heartsong is very timely this month with her chosen topic for her monthly Artsy Essay competition.  Although I don’t enter every single month, I try to enter as often as I can and I encourage other journalists to enter as well.  It’s a fun competition and a win, win situation for all.

This month Judith challenges us to write about:

The Funniest Gift
I Have Ever
Given or Received

There is no explanation needed... let's light up the holidays with some laughter here and make sure you spell-check, use colorful and descriptive language, and tell your tale in an engaging way!

You have until the very last minute of the last hour of the last day of this holiday month to spin a yarn to share.

I have taken many days to consider this topic, and almost passed on this assignment, because I don’t have that many funny gift stories.  An interesting thing happened during this process.  I forced myself to sit down and really try to reflect on the Christmases of my past and the gifts I received through the years.  The memories started flooding back in. 

I am one of the fortunate ones that had a great childhood.  My parents loved my sister and me very much and did everything in their power to protect and nurture us.  They didn’t let us get away with much, but their discipline was meted out with our welfare in mind and with much evident love.

Every Christmas Jan and I were asked to write out a wish list early in November.  Mom always hoped she got it well enough in advance that we would forget exactly all that we put on our lists.  You see, the lists were guidelines and she never wanted us to think they were absolutes.  We may have gotten one or two items from the list or, some years, not even one item depending on costs and availability of our requests. 

We never went wanting, though.  Christmas morning Mom and Dad always made sure we would enjoy a great Christmas under the tree and we never went away disappointed.  Sometimes the occasion would call for extreme action to ensure that happiness, but if it was within their power, they would do it.

One such occasion was the year 1964.  That year I wanted a model car racing set.  Not the little tiny ones, but a set with the larger race cars, oh, say, six to eight inches long.  The track was a figure eight design and could be set up in our living room without much problem and plenty of room.

We were living in Smyrna, Tennessee that year.  My father was stationed at Sewart Air Force Base and we were about twenty miles south of Nashville.  This part of Tennessee is of temperate climate and gets snow on the ground for one or two days perhaps twice a winter on average.  1964 was the year that Smyrna would have a white Christmas.

The snow began to fall late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, big white flakes, wet and sticky.  Much different than the almost dry, tiny flurry type of snow we were more accustomed to.  The kids in the area were elated and hopeful.  Too many times we had snow start only to stop a few minutes later and disappear like a phantom in the night, silently appearing and leaving with no notice or trace.

Every few minutes I would leave the comfort of my usual spot in front of the TV, where I would be ensconced on the couch in our den.  I would run to the picture window in the living room or open the back door and peer out.  Once assured that the winter onslaught was still coming down, I’d march through the house and deliver the great news to any I happened upon that, “Yes, it was still snowing and it looked like it was sticking!”  Or, “Yes, it’s still snowing and it looks like an inch deep now!” … and so on as the evening progressed.  By bed time we were assured we would have some snow on the ground come morning.  The only question was, how much?  I fell asleep that night with that wonderful feeling that we would finally experience a White Christmas.

Until that Christmas, a White Christmas was only something I had seen in the movies or heard about from adults who had been raised in a colder climate.  The linking of Christmas with snow on the ground was like magic to me, mystical in a sense that I could not fathom.  When I awoke that Christmas Morning, I sprang out of bed and hurried to the front door.  I opened it on a magical scene that I will never forget. 

Every tree was covered with a white blanket.  The road in front of the house was indiscernible from our front yard.  There were two or three feet of snow out there and it was still falling lightly as I stood in awe.  The term, “winter wonderland,” seemed no exaggeration at the time. 

It was cold on that door step and I pulled myself back into the living room, withdrawing from the cold and reveling in the warmth of our house, my immediate attention fixating on the tree in front of the window.  The lights were twinkling like a thousand stars beckoning to me.  Pretty colors played from the lights and were reflected on the wrappings of our collective gifts.  There, on the floor in the center of the room, my race car track had been constructed and two shiny cars were poised at the starting line, set to speed off at the drop of a flag.

Our custom was that the kids did not do Christmas without Mom and Dad.  I danced around the house as I waited for everyone to assemble in the living room so we could open the presents.  It was pure torture that Mom insisted on taking the time to brew that cup of coffee before we began.  But, alas, the time finally came.  My opportunity to feel the controller in my hand and press the accelerator control had arrived.  I pressed the button and waited with great anticipation for the little race car to roar to life and command that little figure eight track … and waited, and waited!  Nothing happened!

I checked the power cable, I checked all the connections.  I read the instruction manual forwards and backwards.  The car still would not budge.  My racing set did not work.  In today’s retail parlance it was an out of the box failure.

There I sat on Christmas morning with a toy that did not work and, for the first time in years, we were snowed in.  Two feet of snow in that part of Tennessee pretty much paralyzed travel in those days.  There was no equipment available to plow the highways; all you could do was to wait for it to melt.

I will never forget my father for what he did the next morning.  We still had more than two feet of snow on the ground, (it had snowed some more), yet he loaded me and my defective race car set into the family vehicle.  There were few cars on those snow covered roads as we made our way the twenty miles into Nashville, back to the store where the toy had been purchased. 

I thought there would be no chance that the store would even be open with that much snow on the ground, but, lo and behold, we made it there and was able to make the exchange.  The ride back home was one of the scariest I’ve ever made.  Shortly after leaving the store, the snow began to fall again.

The visibility on the highway was about ten feet.  The slippery roads became even slicker.  We almost got pushed off the road by a trucker barreling down on us trying to get out of the area before being stuck there and losing precious time.  The car lurched as we went into a skid, sliding across an unseen tarmac, frantically trying to maintain our path.

We made it home without further incident.  I saw a side of my father that morning that I had not seen before.  It was only after I returned home that I realized to just what extent my father would go and what he was willing to risk to insure the happiness of his son.  Yes, that was truly a magical Christmas that year and one I will never forget.

Thank you, Judith Heartsong.  I may not win a prize in this Essay Contest, because my gift was not a funny one, but the memory I retrieved was priceless.  Merry Christmas everyone, and a very Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Caroling Through J-Land

Thanks to Donna at D's Designs for this great graphic!

My apologies to those who have dial-up.  This is my first Video Only Post.  If you can't get it to play, Email me and I'll let you know what it is all about.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Holidays!


I hope everyone is having a Happy Holiday Season.  We are all doing fine here in Georgia and enjoying this unseasonably warm weather spell.  Who can get upset about the weather when the highs are in the mid to high seventies each day?

My Thanks to Donna for the graphic above which really spruces up this place!

Our household is not that much different than most of Y’all’s.  We are still doing Christmas shopping, most of our cards are in the mail, and we are still decorating the house.  Oh, and I am performing my usual Christmas screw-ups.  Yesterday I mailed a beautiful card to my sister and did not realize until after it was in the post that the gift card had not been put in the envelope.  So, today I wrote another card and ‘fessed up to the deed.  A second card is in the mail and fully armed this time.

I was given eighteen postcards yesterday to take to the post office.  My instructions were to, and I quote, “Buy some Christmas stamps for these and get them in the mail. “  So, I wait in line for a good twenty minutes, get up to the clerk and do my Priority Mail transactions and ask for eighteen Christmas Stamps.  I take the stamps over to a counter top and stamp all the envelopes and stick the cards in the mail bin.

Last night when Paulette got home I got the third degree.  Did you get receipts and tracking numbers for the priority mail?  (Yes!)  How many stamps did you end up having to buy?  (Eighteen, honey, there were eighteen cards.)  What?  Eighteen stamps?  How many stamps did the larger envelopes take?  [Suddenly I knew I was a cooked goose].  (Honey, you said to buy Christmas Stamps for the cards and mail them.  That is exactly what I did).  No, what I sent you to do was to hand the eighteen cards to the clerk and have the clerk weigh and size them and affix the proper postage on each for you.  [We are now in danger of four cards being returned for insufficient postage]

I held my tongue and did not ask why she did not explain it to me if she wanted it done in a certain manner.  I am a typical guy who does not keep track of postal rates and wonders why a thin, light card would cost more than normal airmail postage no matter what the dimensions are.  After all they are all about an eighteenth of an inch thick for goodness sake. This is a normal part of marriage, and next year SHE will be in that postal line no matter HOW busy she claims to be, LOL.

On a positive note, I have maintained my diet that I started in July and now have officially lost thirty pounds.  I’m pleased, but the goal is to lose twenty more.  I may not get there for another few months, but I know I’ll make it.

Just how many months it will take will depend on what I succumb to during the Christmas Season.  I have lost the three or four pounds that Thanksgiving threatened to stick me with, now it will be the battle of Christmas’s repast, not to mention those innocent looking stocking stuffers.  We have always loaded our stockings with little trinkets and lots of nuts, fruit, and chocolates.  We may break with tradition this year; Paulette and Sandy have gone into diet mode, too.

Last Christmas I wrote a post about the music of Christmas that filled our house every year growing up.  I even recorded the song, “Here Comes Santa Clause,” and included the video in the entry.  It was fun and well received.  This year has been no different than previous years.  I held true to my annual pattern of practicing my guitar playing through the holidays and into spring time.  Then, as work got busier, I put the guitar away for the summer.  The vicious cycle continued.  All the progress I had made went by the way side and all the songs I had memorized became faint memories and had to be learned all over again.

I have said it before, but this year I mean it.  I am not going to put the guitar down this summer and I will not let this progress I’ve made go by the wayside this year.  When I set my mind on a goal, I don’t often fall short.  So, I think next year’s post may have a much higher quality to the home grown music offering.

All this is leading up to this year’s offering which is quite short, and … if I get really industrious… may be joined soon by another song if I can get another one on tape, so to speak.  I get real nervous when the camera is on and don’t perform very well.  30 years ago it was a much different story, but this is the reality of today.  So, for those of you who have requested another Christmas music offering, here it is.  Merry Christmas, everyone, and I wish you all a very happy holiday season.  I hope to post at least one more time before Christmas, but I have a lousy track record and don’t know if you should trust me on this.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Great Fig Caper!

This might be a bit rambling, but I’m going to take a stab at it, so here goes.  Yes, it has been a while, and yes I know it’s a lot longer than I promised in my last post.

Everyone is fine on my side of the screen.  A lot of things have happened since we last got together here and I’ll try and go through a few of them.  I think it all started in August with our fig tree.  We had a bumper crop of figs this year.

As I grew up, many of my relatives had fig trees in their yards.  My paternal Grandmother had a couple of them.  Every year she would can her figs and would give me four or five jars to take back home and remember her by.  I loved her figs.  They were in this sweet syrup and tasted so good on a hot buttered slice of toast.

I got very excited when I learned that we had a really nice fig tree in the back yard of this house.  As the summer progressed and I saw what a bumper crop it was going to produce I started making my plans.  I searched the web and got twenty or thirty recipes for canning figs.  Culling through them, I found the one I thought must have been the one my grandmother had used.  I then searched for a canning outfit with the double boiler and pressure cooker, oh and don’t forget the mason jars.  Thank goodness I didn’t go out and buy this equipment.

I had made my lists and located local sources of everything I needed.  I was going to put up this fruit myself and then I would have some nice homemade goods to share with friends and relatives.  I watched the crop mature and about a week before I was going to press the go button on everything, someone snuck into our yard and stole the entire crop.  I stood in our back yard with my mouth agape as I realized that our tree didn’t have a single fig on it anymore.  There wasn’t a single fig on the ground underneath the tree, either!  On close inspection, it was apparent that some sort of snipping tool was used to cut the fruit from the branches.  You could see the fresh cut marks.

I was pretty upset, as you might imagine.  I decided to talk to the widow who lives next door to warn her of what happened in our yard. Sandy caught up with her the next day and let her know of the theft.  The neighbor had a bumper crop on her tree, too, and kindly invited us to have a few of her figs if I wanted.  Then the thieves came back a few days later and stole all the figs off of her tree.

Poof!  There went my faith in humanity.  Sigh.  It seems that figs were commanding top dollar on the grocery shelves this year.  My crop became someone else’s profit, at my expense, I’m sure.

There are several areas of the county where you can expect to see roadside produce for sale during the season.  These are different operations from the larger produce venders with brick and mortar buildings and year round inventory.  No, these roadside operations quite often sell right out of the back of a pickup truck.  When you see these micro produce stands, you can reasonably expect that the produce is absolutely right from the fields, fresh, and of very good quality.  I’ll bet my nonexistent canner that my figs ended up on the back of someone’s pickup truck with a handsome price tag.

I was having a pretty decent summer right up to this little incident.  Oh, well, next year I will rig some kind of surveillance equipment and train it on the fig tree during the month of August.  I’ll catch those sticky fingered miscreants!

I thought this entry might be a little longer, but I’ve got to run right now and get busy.  I’m taking a few days off and trying to clean out the storage unit we have kept for so many years.  It’s time to try and cull out the items we have discovered we really can live without and bring the rest home.  Believe me,there are several days’ worth of work ahead of me.  I’ll check back in here soon and share a little more of what has been going on in my part of the word.  Take care!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Taking a Break!

Once again it’s budget time at the marina.  This happens every year just as I lose my summer staff and the weather is at its hottest.  Business is still brisk and every spare moment I am huddled over this computer crunching numbers. 

I have decided to take a break from computing for a few weeks.  When I get home at night these days I don’t feel like pulling out the laptop and spending another hour or two with my nose to the monitor.  I just don’t have the energy right now.  All I really want to do is put my feet up, have a cool beverage, and get to bed early. 

I didn’t want y’all worrying about me, I am fine.  I just need this time to take care of business and get through the last of the blazing summer heat.  I’ll be returning to post again after Sunday September 16th.  That is the weekend of the Leukemia Cup Regatta and I should have some good pictures to share after the event.

Because I won’t be spending too much time online between now and then, I will be turning my alerts off for now.  I’ll turn them back on again in mid-September.  In the meantime, I wish everyone the very best and I hope everyone makes it through Labor Day Weekend safe and sound.  Take care, and I’ll see you in September.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Wonderful Contest Revived!

One of the saddest moments in my time here in J-Land was the day Judith Heartsong left the AOL journals community as a result of unsolicited advertising being insert into our journal pages.  Besides losing one of the best written and most read journals In J-Land when Judith left, the monthly Arsty Essay Contest died a sudden death and our community suffered a big loss.

The monthly Artsy Essay Contest was set up to bring writers together to share and explore their talent.  It was to encourage individuals to try and explore their creative side and to practice writing skills.  It was a contest for beginners and seasoned writers alike.  There was never anything like this contest before Judith Heartsong created it and there has been nothing like it since.  Until now!

There is life on the Internet beyond AOL Journals and we are fortunate that Judith set up shop elsewhere in the land of HTML and continued Blogging.  Time has passed and Judith has decided to revive her Artsy Essay Contest with some new ideasand expanded formats.

I really enjoyed the challenge of these contests and the ability to discover other writers through this forum.  I also coveted one of those Heartsong awards and compete I did!  Nope, I never won one, but the fun was in the trying.  So, here goes my entry into the newly revived Artsy Essay Contest.


The theme for this month is:

What is your favorite and most inspiringpossession? Tell us about it, and if you want an extra creative challenge... tell us about it without naming it until the very last sentence of your essay:):):)


My favorite and most inspiring possession first came into my life on my fourteenth birthday.  It was a gift from my parents and with it, I was told came responsibilities and obligations.  I think my mom was afraid I would be entertained by this gift for a while and then it would be set aside to collect dust like so many previous possessions through my early years.

This item required care and dedication.  One gets out of certain items only what one is willing to put into them.  To my parents’ delight I devoted myself and took the time to care for this item as it deserved.  It was not long before I wanted another one.

Oh, we have had our rough times, this possession and I.  There were periods that I was so frustrated and fed up with it that I didn’t even want to look at it again. That feeling would wane and I would catch myself staring at it fondly and imaging it in my hands as it would take me places.  Most would think that I would be the one doing the taking, yet there were times past when this possession would take me to places I never dreamed possible.

Through this possession I soared to the heavens and felt a Rocky Mountain high.  I was transported to Shangri-La and have experienced the summer breeze.  I have gone over the rainbow and have found my happiness.

Yes, as I said, I did not have it long before I wanted another one.  I was given one that was bigger, brighter, and shinier the following Christmas.  I cherished it and was devoted to it.  Since that time many of these have passed through my hands and my heart.  Some were purchased and some were traded.  Some were quite rare and my current one is quite expensive. At one time I even contemplated making one myself, however, I knew I would fret over it and did not want to subject myself to the rigors the craftsmanship would require.

There is no feeling quite like it as my hands touched this item for the first time and each time I touch it seems like the first time.  I follow the gentle curves of its body.  I feel the tightness and tension within.  I know the myriad of emotions this possession can invoke. 

Inspiration comes to me often as we spend our time together.  Through ownership of this possession I have been inspired to express myself in ways never possible to me before.

Sometime my hands shake as I caress this possession and sometimes they ache.  Aching with pain as I produce sensations of pleasure, I feelthe vibrations through my soul.  Others around me can sense my emotional intensity while fondling this item, sometimes to my pleasure and sometimes to great embarrassment.

There is no other feeling like it, though, when I know that my caressing, my fondling, my gentle and harsh stroking brings pleasure to others.  It is my wish to keep this possession to the day I die.  I never want to be without my guitar.

           (SCROLL DOWN)



Monday, July 16, 2007

This Summer

This summer has caught me up and carried me away.  This has to be one of the busiest seasons we’ve ever had at the marina.  I have a good staff this year, but we are one short of what I had last year.


My staff is a little older and more mature this summer, so the work has been getting done more efficiently than last year even with the shortage.  My role seems to have changed.  I was more hands on in past summers, sharing in the daily grind type of chores right along with the dock crew.  Now, with the Ship’s Store and some major maintenance projects I have subcontracted out I am playing a much more administrative role.


My normal routine used to include me going over to the main kitchen after opening up and getting one last cup of coffee to help start my working day.  I’ve been hitting the ground running lately and that last cup now seems like a luxury item from the past.  I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just reflecting on the changing characteristics of my job and justifying a bit why it has been so long again between posts.


Summer has always given me many more photo opportunities that seem to end up here in my journal.  I still take my camera to work each day, but have not been able to get out and utilize it to the extent I have done so in the past.  Here’s an example of a past situation and how I had to handle it this year.


The weekend after the fourth of July each year we host the Firecracker Regatta.  In years past I have taken pictures and posted an entry after the event here in Dock Lines.  It is a much different event for me now due to changes in our facilities and changes in my capabilities in the office.


I used to help launch the committee boats and then man the sailboat hoists to help launch the sailing fleet before the race.  After the boats left for the starting line I would have down time until the races were over and they all returned to the marina.  I would then launch a club boat and chase the fleet to get pictures of the action.


We have installed a ramp for small sailboats and they no longer have to be launched from a hoist.  The kids can just wheel them down the ramp and push them off into the water and go.  I now assign two strong young members of my staff to help lift the boats off the dollys and get them into the water.  We can get the entire fleet into the water in about a fourth of the time it would take to launch each and every boat using the hoist.


We had a very unstable weather forecast during the race weekend this year.  Saturday morning dawned with bright sunshine and calm waters.  We had a 40% chance of thunderstorms with the chances increasing as the day progressed.  There was little wind although the forecast proclaimed it would be five to ten blowing from the northeast.  The delay of race pennant was hoisted and the fleet waited and waited.


About ninety minutes past the normal start time the wind picked up and the races began.  I was heading to get a club boat into the water when I was stopped by the race committee and asked to put up the local Doppler radar on my computer and monitor the weather during the actual races.  We had a front system approaching and they wanted to squeeze every safe minute they could to make up for lost time.


For the first two races I was consulted before the start of the race and that was about it.  Then came the third race of the day.  We could see some weather in the distance and what we saw looked nasty.  I was asked to stand by and give a weather update every five minutes which coincided with the radar animation as it updated on a five minute schedule.


We pretty much took over VHF radio channel 68 for the next forty five minutes as I was relaying the approach of the weather front to the safety boat who then was analyzing the 36 mile radar they had onboard their boat.  The difference was that my radar showed the weather over a map of the local area and the boat’s radar screen did not.  However, the boat’s radar screen could pick up lightning strikes.  I gave them a thirty minute prediction to the storm hitting the race course, then a twenty minute prediction.


The safety boat wanted confirmation that the front was south of the Savannah River and heading in an Easterly direction from Garden City towards the race course.  I confirmed the position and movement and predicted fifteen minutes until it hit.  The ship’s radar picked up a lighting strike ten miles to our south.  I predicted ten minutes until arrival and more lightning was seen by the safety boat’s radar.


They blew the whistle and the boats beat it into the marina.  I sent four young men down to help get the boats out of the water.  The front hit exactly on the minute I predicted.


The race committee had known it would be close for the third race, so the course had been set right in front of the marina.  The small boats had little distance to go to get to safety and many of them got a tow by all the safety boats.  There were only four or five boats still in the water when the first lightning bolt struck within a quarter of a mile.  All the racers were already on land and undercover and then the sky opened up.  My crew, bless them, got the few remaining boats out of the water in the rain and that was it for Saturday’s racing.


The captain on the safety boat made a point of finding me amongst the crowd and shakingmy hand for such an accurate running commentary on the impending weather front.  We were being monitored by other marinas on Channel 68 and they started calling wanting to know when the weather would hit them!  I never got a chance to launch the club boat and was not able to snap a single photo that day.


Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny much as the day before.  The difference was that, although the entire fleet launched for more racing, the wind never came up and the regatta was called.  They got enough races in on Saturday to meet the official criteria for a regatta and winners were determined from Saturday’s standings.


I understand some nice words were said before the audience at the awards presentation about me and the performance of my staff.  I didn’t hear them, though.  I was back on duty at the docks.  Perhaps next year I’ll figure a way to get pictures again.


My thanks to Donna for this tag.



Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A New Shack

As I mentioned in my last post, my Dock Shack was torn down recently and a new structure built in its place.  This had been long overdue and, even though I was a displaced person for a few months, it was a good thing.  Here is a picture of my old dock shack in its glory days.  Notice the awning over the front of the shack.  That was my idea; there was no awning when I took this job seven years ago.

The day finally came for me to clear out of the old Shack.  A temporary pod was dropped off for me to occupy during the building phase.  I liked it, but in spite of the promise that I would have plenty of notice and time to move out of the old shack, I was informed I had an hour to move out before they were to haul it away.  So, I threw everything into some boxes we scrounged up and got out.  I also spent the next 12 weeks trying to find everything that was tossed haphazardly into those boxes.  To this day I still can’t find some of those items.  

They decided to try and move the old shack in one piece in the hopes that it could be put to some use in a new home somewhere.  I found out later that the guy they hired to haul it away lowered his bid for the job with the provision that he got possession of the old shack.  Personally, I say more power to him.  That shack had more spiders living in it than Carter had pills.  Some were poisonous.  Here they are putting a strap around the shack to keep it on the forks of the forklift.

It looked like it was going to be lifted with no problem, but that was not to be.

The shack was too heavy and everyone in the immediate area was pressed into service to hang on to the back of the forklift to try and budge the little building.

You can see here how small the footprint was that the old shack left.  It measured six feet by eight feet.  About the average size of a jail cell, I’ve been told. I can’t tell you how many thousands of hours I spent in that cell; sometimes, during the summers, six of us would squeeze in at one time if it started to rain.

They finally got it over to the flat bed truck and loaded it on.  I said my final good bye with a big smile on my face.

Then the building project began.  The job took longer than originally estimated because one of the building crew quit the day before this project was due to begin.  There was a crew of two who built this from start to finish except for the subcontracted brick work and roofing work.  Look at how small the old shack’s footprint looks as the new foundation dwarfs it.


The frame took on the appearance of a skeleton at first.

Then the plywood sheets that would form the outer walls were applied and it started to look like a kid’s fort or tree house project.

Next we add a roof just for good measure.


The building is being built up high off the ground to comply with the building codes for hurricane protection.  Remember, we are on the coast here.  So the second picture above is of the porch you step on to enter and exit the building.  In the next shot we add the insulation and hurricane proof windows.

The next step is to add Steps and railings.

Concrete siding is applied and then it is painted.


The finished product is one of the best built buildings I have ever seen.  The quality of craftsmanship that went into this was well worth the wait.  If I were to be stuck on this property in the path of an approaching hurricane, this is the building I would take cover in, it is built that strong!

My office is the door on the left and the Ship’s Store is the door on the right.  There is an adjoining door between them inside the building.   Here is a picture of the inside of the Ship’s Store.  Not all of the fixtures have arrived yet and nor all of the planned stock, but you can get an idea of the feeling and look that the store will have.

So, that is how my winter was spent this year.  Listening daily to the sounds and enjoying the sights of a new building taking shape.  Good grief!  It just about drove me insane!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Great Shrimp Boat Project


One of the earliest entries in this journal was about an abandoned shrimp boat that had sunk in the Wilmington River.  It was near our marina right on the Intracoastal Waterway.  In the original entry, I commented about how sad it was that people could just abandon their boats like this when they are wrecked.  Click here for a link to that original post if you care to read it and see all the early pictures.

To my surprise, something has been done about this and other wrecks in our area.  One enterprising individual decided to contact his local state senator and state representatives to lobby for funding and action to remove theses hazards and eyesores from our waterways.  Here is a link to an article in the Savannah Morning News about this man and his efforts.  $180,000 Proposal


Imagine my delight one January morning as I observed a tug and barge with a crane positioning itself adjacent to the wreck of the “Treasure D.”  I knew immediately what it was there for and was happy that the funds were finally released to remove this wreck.  I also knew it would be interesting to watch this process fromstart to finish.


The wreck was almost a mile away from me, so I had to rely on my telephoto lens to capture what action I could during the removal operations.  In the PIC above, two men have been lifted over to the wreck by the crane and are cutting the boom arms that hold the trawling nets off with torches.  After they are cut into pieces, the crane lifts them up and deposits them on the barge to be hauled away.


After the big metal parts on deck are cut and removed, the scoop bucket on the crane is used to scoop up portions of the wreck from below the surface of the water.  In the above picture, it appears that parts of the engine, drive shaft, and transmission were being lifted with other huge chunks of debris.

Within the space of about ten working days, all that was left was the barge and crane and a pile of debris that was once a sea worthy and working shrimp trawler, plying the waters of our coast.  It was hard to imagine the men that worked this ship and the life of this vessel as I gazed upon this heap of timber and steel.  I had to get a closer look before it was carted off to be dumped in some unknown location, possibly in a landfill, or even far offshore somewhere.  I coaxed a friend at the marina to carry me over in his boat while I took some final shots of this nautical autopsy and the remains of the recently departed.


At one end of the barge I could still make out what used to be the ship’s fuel tanks.


Shooting into the sun, I was still able to make out the ship’s planking that was once her hull and decking.

A working ship is a living, breathing system of engineering and equipment that takes on a life itself.  It serves as a means to make a living and a lifestyle to those who choose to adopt it as their own.  The hundreds of independent mechanisms and systems that work in concert to keep the boat afloat and in motion thrive with a pulse-like rhythm, unique in itself, that can be distinguished from other ships even of the same build.  It has its own personality and traits and is life-like to those who work these ships.

I thought about the life of this ship as I watched the silhouette of this once proud vessel fade in the background.  It was a sad ending, in a poetic kind of way.  But lest we mire ourselves too much in the romantic notions of a time gone by for this ship, it was a good thing that was done here this past, cold January. 

For, as romantic as this last picture is of the wreck that once was, it was a danger to shipping and boating interests in the region.  We can now be assured that this wreck will not capture another hapless vessel in the middle of the night and pull it down with her.  And that is the end of the story of the Wreck of the “Treasure D.”



Just a note to my family and friends and readers:  I know I have been absent from these pages for too long of a time now.  I thank those who have sent Emails and comments checking up to see if all was well.  As it turns out, I have been well, but busy.  Spring always kicks us into high gear as we get ready for the heavy boating season Memorial Day Weekend always brings. 

This year they tore down my dock shack about the same time this tugand barge showed up.  I have pictures and will share them next post.  At any rate, I was moved into a temporary office like you see on construction sites while they built me a new and modern Dock Master’s Office and Ship’s Store.  I only had ten days before the holiday weekend to move into the office and get set up and only five days before the weekend to stock, merchandise, price, and display my wares in the Ship’s Store.  Remember, we never had a Ship’s Store before, so I was starting from scratch.  I even had to design my own inventory sheets and systems of tracking inventory and sales.  No fancy professional sales software or equipment was provided.  I made it, but perhaps I’ll save details for the next post.

I keep this journal because I have come to love it and the people I interact with here in the AOL J-Land community.  I was never one to state a commitment to posting something every day.  I understand those that do try to keep a daily commitment for posting and enjoy that for them and with them.

For me, it was a way to let my Grandson have some sort of sense of who I was while I was here when he gets older and also to have fun with it.  I am still having fun with it, and will continue for the foreseeable future.  But, I have to put all my energies into my family and profession as needed and, from time to time, drift away as life happens.  For those of you who still drop by and read here as I post, my deepest thanks for hanging in there with me.  I still cannot promise a more regular post schedule but I do promise I will return as I can each time and share a little more with you.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Our J-Land Visit

Okay, I’ve resized my photos to fit in the journal and uploaded them into my FTP space for web storage.  I’m ready to share.


Jeanette had planned her trip to the United States many months in advance and contacted me around Christmas time saying she would be in my area and perhaps we could meet for a cup of coffee or something while she was in Savannah.  The trip was original going to happen in March, but there was a snag on the part of her agency and the trip was rescheduled for the last part of April. 


I wrote back to Jeannette that, of course, I’d like to meet her and Andy while they were visiting and set about planning our day.  I made arrangements over a month ago to borrow a boat from a friend so that I could show them the area from the water.  I asked her if she would be interested in a boat ride and she said that would be great.


I want to say right now that Andy is a great guy and I really enjoyed meeting him and spending the time with him.  Andy does not do online journals and did not want to be in any of the pictures.  He let me take a couple of shots of him with the understanding that they were for my own collection and not to be shared online.  So, you won’t be seeing Andy in any of these pictures, but he was a big part of this day and I know you would all like him if you got a chance to meet him.


This first shot is taken through the driver’s side window of my pickup truck as I pulled up to the hotel to pick Jeannette and Andy up.  Andy saw the camera in my hand and ducked out of the shot with but a second to spare, LOL.



This next shot is of Jeannette and I at the marina with the docks in the background.  I should have taken off my hat for this picture.



This next one of Jeanette who is sitting in the seat next to me while I am drive the boat.  You can tell she is enjoying the ride.



Andy was kind enough to take my camera and get this shot of Jeannette and me together on the boat.



I shot this next shot of Jeannette as she was trying to get a picture of a container ship that passed near us as we approached the Savannah River.  The shot next to it is of the ship she was trying to shoot.





When we left the marina, we went out the Wilmington River to Wassau Sound and cruised the beaches on the south shore.  At that point we were in the Atlantic Ocean for just a few minutes as we turned north and before entering the sound again on the north side, checking out the beaches on that shore.


We turned into the Bull River and headed west, back in the direction we had come, but on another river that would take us close to the Savannah River.  We could see the huge container ships and tankers as they made their way in and out of the Savannah River, so I turned into the Savannah River for a little while to see the ships up close and personal.



That last picture was slightly blurred, but I think you get the idea.  This tanker was heading right for us.  We ducked over into the Wilmington River again and headed back to the marina where I got these two shots of Jeannette.




After we got the boat berthed and secured, we headed for my house to meet Paulette, Sandy and our cats.  I let Jeannette hop on the computer to check Email and do a short entry into her journal “Welcome To My Travels.”  We had been on the boat for three and a half hours.  I looked at my watch and the theme song from, “Gilligan’s Island,” went through my mind.  You know the refrain:  “The Three Hour Tour.”  I laughed because we had returned safely, unlike, “Gilligan, and The Skipper, Too!”  Here are couple of shots of Jeannette safely ensconced on my recliner posting her entry.




We capped off the day by grabbing Paulette and going out to eat at a local restaurant.  I must say that it was an enjoyable day from start to end.  I felt as though we all had known each other for some time and really enjoyed the time we spent together.  We met that morning as online acquaintances and parted that evening as friends.  I love it when there is a real life story with a happy ending!