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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Their teeth go every which way but straight"

Time travelled:  3:45
Nautical miles:  33.7
Docked at:        Bay Springs Marina, Mississippi

  The boat looks great and runs like a charm!
 We had thought we may wait on the transient dock until tomorrow morning and get an early start but we were both kind of itching to get on the move. So, after the boat got in the water and the little kinks we ironed out, we pulled away from Aqua !  Woops, we forgot to return a heater - so back we went and delivered it by boat pole to the dock. Now we are off. About ten minutes later Garth went down to check the engines and SMOKE - never a good thing! Zeke and I quickly put on our life jacket and had the ditch bag ready to go.  It was just some oil burning off from some of the parts that were cleaned.  I kept one eye on the engine cameras for the next hour though.
 Before we left Tony, the shop foreman, asked us if we knew that it was huntin season .  No, it is not something we generally pay attention to -- well, in these parts "you need to be on the look out for camouflaged boats that are up little creeks or at the banks"  DO NOT WAKE THEM or they will shoot at you he says. Garth asked if they had orange flags or anything so that you could see them. Nope, nothing. Well, Garth says, we don't generally wake anyone but if you can't see them then it makes it a bit difficult. "Do they fire in the air" asks Garth. Nope they shoot right at you or your boat!!  Garth said - well, aren't they afraid that they might hit you. NOOOO says Tony, they don't care! Have you seen the movie Deliverance. Yes, we both answer as we stare at each other. Well, these people have teeth in their heads that go every which way but straight and they just don't care!!         Great !
So, here we are slowly creeping down the Tenn-Tom keeping our eyes peeled on the banks and up the creeks!!     OY VEY!!  What next.

 It is great to be on the move. It was time to get going, LynnAnne and Boyd left today and the mast that was left behind two weeks ago finally left this morning as well.

We can see our first lock from the marina and will come up with a rough plan for tomorrow after dinner. It will either be a very short day to Midway Marina or a very long day to Columbus.

PS One of the men at Aqua came to say goodbye to Zeke this morning and he commented on how much he had improved over the last 2 weeks. He said I can see him bounce now when he walks!   YEAH ZEKE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baby it's cold in here!

Just before I head out to Savannah to buy another heater I thought I would update the saga and post a few pictures of the past week.  The original seal that was put on turned out to be OK - so now the problem is why did it leak - well could it be the little notch on the shaft? Could be - so lets replace the hose, make it a little longer and push the seal up past the notch.  The hose has to be ordered and it is being shipped overnight UPS! Sound familiar!!! So, now we anticipate getting the hose at 3 this afternoon and getting it all reassembled tomorrow.  Back in the water by nightfall November 30th and on the road Dec first!! Are you laughing!

As mentioned in the last blog entry I went over to meet the folks on "Abreojos"last night to invite them out for dinner. We arrived at the yard and were greeted by the night watchman dressed in camouflage! Should have been my first clue. He escorted me through the puddles telling me the whole time "you know I could stop you from being here"  I reassured him that although I did not know these peoples names that they would not be ticked at me for knocking on their hull. He was still not convinced.  After I spoke with Larry - now I know their names - the night watchman stayed back and I could hear him apologizing for allowing this person who in his words sounds like a "Southern Canadian" into the yard!!! Gee, you would think I was packing and dressed in camouflage!!  I think I need to go back and ask him what a Southern Canadian is?? Someone who has spent 2 weeks in Iuka, Mississippi perhaps!

Hope you are all warm & cozy!! We are being sent warm breezes from my Aunt Dorothy in Beaverton, Ontario and they should be here by Thursday. Even warm wishes from Rhode Island came in. Calls from Florida and the laughter in the background is just plain mean and you know what you will be getting in your stocking this Christmas.

Draft on Tap & served in a milk jug from the gas Station

Shiloh Battlefield

The Pirate of Pickwick - sounds like an opera in the making!

Yes, that is snow on the fenders this morning!!AHH

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good

1. We met Cheryl and Alan, loopers from "Salty Dog" and will hopefully see them down the road!
2. We met LynnAnne and Boyd from "Bushranger" and have had several enjoyable evenings with them. We also spent Thanksgiving together. They are leaving their boat here and returning to Virginia  (and Australia) on Wednesday.  We are going to Freddy T's with them tonight, it won't be a farewell dinner but a "see ya'all later" dinner.
3. Lynne Anne is an awesome baker and we have been the lucky recipients of some delicious homemade treats and dinners. Her bread making is, well it is right up there with the French - we had Italian bread with a spaghetti dinner. An Almond Dessert Bread, we literally devoured that one. Last night we had a Country Cheese Bread -umm umm good.  Did I mention the biscotti - another winner! Thank you LynnAnne, your culinary skills and efforts were appreciated by all aboard Algonquin! We will miss you both.
4. We had the opportunity to visit Shiloh Battlefield and learn a little more American history.
5.  We caught up on "stuff" that needed to be done.
6.  Zeke made tremendous strides while we were here, he is begging once again - usually just for LynnAnne’s bread and he is exercising a little bit every day.
7. We have once again made a significant contribution to the local economy from the Garth and Kathy Stimulus Package, helping the US economy recover just a little faster!
8.  We heard of another Looper getting some engine work done at a yard close by. They are friends of "Once Around" so they must be nice by association. We are heading over to meet them right now.!

The Bad

1.  Our one week out of the water is now on day 14!
2.  We can't use our on board heating system and it has been pretty darn cold here at night. They are calling for snow tonight.
3. The boat was painted and polished right! Well, when they put us back in the water last Wednesday the slings marred the paint and the polish - Garth spent Saturday afternoon fixing it!
4. We waited until 4 pm Friday for UPS to deliver the seals from Florida, when we checked on line later it said a delivery was attempted at 3:39 pm Friday. This morning Garth drove to Boonesville to get the seals. I called to complain about the forty five dollars we paid for next day delivery and low and behold they admitted that the UPS truck never came to Aqua Marina on Friday because the driver knew that there was no one in the office. AHH I could go on ..
5.  We do not have winter clothing and it is now winter in Mississippi! 
6. The hose that goes over the seal should be replaced while they are at it and they do not have the right size .....holy mackerel!!
7. Its too cold to swim down this river ....wait a minute ...the dingy is calling my name.

The Ugly

1. The weather for the next 36 hours is not looking good. Even if we were to get back in the water tonight I do not think we would be going anywhere! One hundred per cent change of snow from 6 pm tonight until 6 am tomorrow morning!  They are expecting four inches. Now, four inches to us is nothing - we don't even shovel four inches but here it is a big deal - some of the workers have taken the 4 by 4's home so they can get back to work tomorrow! Garth has gone to scrounge a few heaters! Zeke and I are looking for firewood!

 Even if I clicked my ruby slippers I would not get to Kansas FLORIDA tonight. So, making the best of a not so bad situation!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


A beautiful sunny day in Mississippi and in Tennessee.

Turkey, catfish, ham. brisket, cinnamon apples, yams, hush puppies, banana pudding, pumpkin pie, the list goes on. The State Park has a beautiful resort right on Pickwick Lake so we went up there for lunch with LynnAnne and Boyd from Bushranger.   Even though they ran out of turkey just as we approached the buffet there was still plenty of everything else. Great food and great company, who could ask for anything more.

Boyd, LynnAnne and Garth  

When we got back to the marina Garth did some painting and polishing. LynnAnne and Boyd did some housekeeping and I did some on line shopping.

Spiders and ladybugs are not welcome boat guests!

Polishing never ends!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry."

Time travelled:   30 minutes by lift
 Nautical miles:   zip
 Docked at:        Aqua Marine Harbour - on the hard, but this time with cable TV!!

Finally,on our way to the water .

Almost ready to touch down!

Ah, back where we belong!

Zeke and I walked over to the transient dock and waited and waited and waited ....Garth called – there is a problem with a seal on the starboard shaft – didn’t we just have that replaced – yes, with our spare..Hum...having water coming into the boat is never a good thing so here we are back on the pavement. 
We have cable TV and a nice Ford pick up.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow and the marina is closed until Monday.  Garth called Hatteras and ordered new seals, hopefully they will be here Monday. Then we can get them installed and be on our way. Our spare seal could be faulty or perhaps it just needs to be turned a little bit. Regardless, nobody was about to get involved with it when they were only working a half day. But, the one mechanic did take the time to hook us up to cable when we were saying that the only thing we got on TV was Billy Graham.
Tomorrow we are going to go to Pickwick State Park for Thanksgiving lunch with LynnAnne and Boyd from Bushranger.  
 Well, it is what it is but now we are never going to make Key Largo for Christmas. 
Garth spoke to Frank from Once Around last night and we may just try to get as far as Port Charlotte, spend Christmas and New Years there, then head south around the Keys .
No schedule, no budget, no plans ---- no brains!!  


Monday, November 21, 2011

Liquor Mailboxes & Gomer does an oil change

Well, first off, there are worse places to spend ten days! Like Kilkenny Creek NC . Spent a week there one day. But that is a book waiting to happen.
All in all it was not that bad. The staff are all very nice and Tony went out of his way to make sure the three of us had what we needed to camp out in their yard.
We meet some very nice people and even had a home cooked meal. Lynn-Ann and Boyd, bought their boat knowing that it had to have a new engine put in. Well, it's a boat, and one thing led to another, before you know it the boat is being ripped apart, sanded, scraped and basically getting a fresh new lease on life. They rented a cottage up the hill from the marina and we went up on Saturday night for a delicious prawn stir-fry and apple crisp! We left Zeke on the boat and when we arrived back there was an empty package of chicken treats on the floor - humm - somebody is feeling well enough to steal treats.
The thief and the evidence!

 On Sunday Gomer did an oil change and I cleaned. Every time I talk to my Mom I am cleaning something. Living on a boat is like four star camping - everything is subject to the elements all the time and it gets dusty within an hour and dirty within minutes. The cleaning went well, the oil change not so much. The pump to get the oil out of the tanks decided to slow right down - it had just been checked the day before, so back came Diesel Don . An hour later things were moving faster but still not fast enough. Gomer got up at 6 this morning, he had been dreaming about that pump - "I think it's the wires" so another few hours messing around with the pump. We'll test the wire theory at another location down the road.

Now, the liquor,beer and wine situation here is complicated . Across the river is Tennessee , the town is dry but you can fill up your own jugs of draft at the gas station. If you want wine,beer or liquor you have to drive to Savannah, Tennessee another twenty miles. In Mississippi you can't get anything in this county. But, if you drive twenty minutes you can get beer. For liquor it's another twenty miles after that. One local restaurant, Freddy T's had come up with an innovative solution to allow their customers to drink while dining or watching a game. They rent you a mailbox - what you keep in that mailbox is up to you but all the mailboxes are full with liquor of one kind or another. Just don't forget your key.!

We went to get a picture of these liquor mailboxes tonight but the restaurant finally got a liquor licence so they got rid of the boxes.  How, in a dry county they can do that is beyond me but one of the guys working on the boat today summed it up when he said "the liquor and beer laws around here are retarded"

The new crew!

Look who turned the 9 in Mississippi!!

Are you finished with the pictures cause I'd like to eat!

It is hard to see but there is a 9 candle between the chicken wings.

Before and After

It is amazing what a coat of paint will do - have a look at it now because only the fish will ever get to fully appreciate just how nice it is. We were supposed to get a second coat and touch up today but the weather is not cooperating. The props have been painted with "prop speed" and are in the shop all shiny and new looking. Waiting on the guys to paint the shaft, put new zincs on, re-attach the props and then it is up to mother nature as to how quickly we get back in the water. The polish and buffer man was here all day Saturday finishing up!
River mustache and turquoise blue hull

No mustache, nice navy blue hull and no mechanics truck!

Even the tender is getting some TLC!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Everybody knows your name

Life in a big city is pretty much anonymous. When we lived in Toronto we knew most of our neighbours within a 10 house radius. Occasionally you would run into someone you knew on the local shopping street or at the corner store.  We took Zeke to High Park and would meet “dog friends” but never see them anywhere else because people came from all over the city to “our” park.  Around the loop we have had the opportunity to visit some wonderful cities – Savannah, Norfolk, Baltimore ....but for the majority of the time we are in small rural type communities both here and in Canada.
We went out for lunch today and I said to Garth it is like going from one “Cheers” town to another because everybody knows your name. Not us – we are the strangers in the corner soaking it all in. Although people were sitting at different tables they carried on loud conversations with someone clear across the restaurant. When “Joe” walked in everyone said “Hi” and of course he responded. Did I mention Joe was smoking as he walked through the door| Smoking is still permitted in some restaurants here.
Menus are pretty much standard in big cities but when you get to the “cheers” towns they have some different entrees – today for example I could have had a “stuffed pig” – had to ask – it was a bed of lettuce with a baked potatoe on top and BBQ in the middle of the potatoe “that way you get your meat, vegetables and salad all in one” said the waitress.  Things like gizzards & chicken livers, collard greens, green fried tomatoes, corn bread and biscuits are becoming everyday to us.
We have witnessed these “Cheers Town” all over the world – from Laos to Berlin but it is only here and in Canada that we can fully understand all that they are saying . OK, here, we have to listen very carefully!  I am undecided as to whether or not I would ever want to live in a “Cheers Town”, we are use to our anonymity but I can see some positive sides to it.   However, having said that, we have not met the Aunt Bee or the Eddie Haskell of Iuka yet – I am sure they exist! 
 Can you tell what I did when I got home from school  – yep – I watched TV!!  Signing off for this morning – HOP SING! 

PS I am glad that we do not know anyone here because honestly it is embarrassing driving around in this truck with no headlights and the directional signals flapping in the wind – but it does have heat!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Who says you  can’t teach an old dog new tricks!!

For the last ten months we have tried everything – and I mean everything to get Zeke to pee on the boat.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty.  Our friend Steve phoned around St. Augustine last year to find a “pee stick” – all dogs will use them – can’t resist! Well, Zeke resisted.  We bought real sod in Savannah, Georgia and it did nothing but make a huge mess on the back of the boat. We captured urine and made “other” scents on the grass – enough said.  We pretended to take him for walks around the boat and then just happen to end up on the grass. Our pockets full of the best treats ever just in case he ever used it!! Nothing! He would stare back up at us as if to say “are you nuts”.
Last night as we were sitting here huddled around our little space heater we thought – lets move the grass to the front of the boat. Maybe, he sees the back as still inside the boat because we often sit back there and generally use it to get on and off.   So, we got the grass all set up at the front and this morning we waited for him to ask to go out.  A lot like waiting for Christmas morning.  All of the sudden we heard such a clatter ....oh no ....all of the sudden he was a barking fool wanting out the door – Garth took him to the grass at the front – he walked over it and around to the side door – Garth called him back pointed to the grass and said ” Zeke be quick”   Zeke let it rip!!  YEAH ZEKE!!!! Life just got a lot more pleasant for all of us considering the lack of marinas from here to Mobile and then the Gulf crossing.  
Now, this new habit may also have something to do with the fact we are 15 feet above the pavement. When we would take him around the boat for our faux walks we always had him on the leash for fear he would make a move to jump up and over -  jumping up and over into water is one thing but up and over to pavement – not a good outcome!  
This is turning out to be Zekes week –yesterday he ate a small package of dog food on top of his regular chicken wing quota, we have a variety of dog treats in an open container sitting on the floor – for the past two weeks he would approach the container take a sniff and then keep walking, yesterday he approached the container, sniffed, and ate five cookies, he also drove the truck yesterday and today he used the pet grass!!  As Frank would say “life is good and boating is fun”!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OK, we are not last -yet!

 Time travelled:
 Nautical miles:  12 miles to - you guessed it Walmart
 Docked at:       On the hard Aqua Marina, Mississippi

On the hard~ note front entrance

Diesel Don all ready to fix the girls!

Dons son in law Kevin hard at work

Ha, we jumped up yesterday morning when we saw a boat coming into the dock, it was just before 8 am and it didn't appear that any dock hands were around. So, like all good boaters we went out to grab their lines. Turned out to be Loopers from Stouffville, Ontario!!  Maybe there is a whole fleet behind us yet. I heard from some other Loopers that there is very little water down river and some of the places that people had used to anchor are no longer suitable. So, we might as well be sitting here as further on down.
It is weird staying on the boat when it is out of the water. first off it is on a bit of a tilt and secondly we cannot use the water, heater or air conditioner.  Well, we use a bit of water- the sinks go right overboard, the bottom is being painted and the run off goes right over the spot. There are laundry, showers  etc just down the way. It is a long way down the stairs in the dark.

Zeke at the wheel.

Look what happens when Zeke drives!!

The bumper is hanging by a thread and the lights on both sides are just sitting there.

We took the shop truck to Savannah, Tennessee this morning - not much there other than Walmart! I am getting so that I know the store layout,  sometimes the pet section is at the back, generally it is between seasonal and the pharmacy!!! SCARY -
It is cold and dreary today, tomorrow we might head over to the Shiloh battleground if it is nice out.

Garth on the back stairs

Make shift ramp for Zeke

Zeke is continuing to improve every day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pulling up the rear

 Time travelled:    7 hours
 Nautical miles:     50 nm
 Docked at:           Aqua Marina, Luka, Mississippi

One Lock - Pickwick    raised 55 ft.

Well, someone has to be last and I believe we are at the tail end of all Loopers, if we are not dead last then we are probably pretty close. It is extremely quiet on the rivers - only saw one barge today.
We left Clifton early, have to travel with the sun these days.  We had one lock - Pickwick - we called from mile 200 to say we were on our way and the lock keeper said there was one boat there all ready and that he would wait for us. Humm - had not seen anyone else for 3 days so where did they come from? Turned out that they actually waited about 40 minutes for us and that they had left Pebble Isle after us, two days ago. They did not go into Clifton Marina because they had been there last year and thought the harbor was too small! They are on a 40 foot boat.  The ears started to swell and the hat, he never said a word. We apologized for making them wait.
It was kind of a dull day so I did not take many pictures. The scenery was pretty nondescript. It was interesting to see the homes though. Everything from trailers under a shed roof to magnificent architectural wonders. The disparity jumps out at you. 
We have 450 more miles to go until we reach the Gulf - 12 more locks - I can't wait to see the doors open on the Coffeeville Lock - no matter what time of day it is I am having a drink to celebrate.
We will be here for a few days. Diesel Don is coming to fix the rear seal on the transmission, we need to get the zincs changed and if the weather permits get the bottom painted. Also going to see about having the hull waxed. OK. maybe more than a few days. 
Zeke is great. He went out in his life jacket today while we were in the lock and is now greeting people as they walk along the dock. So good to see that he is getting back to normal.  His diet these days is pretty simple - Vanilla Boost in the morning, a few dog cookies followed by chicken jerky and 3 chicken wings for dinner. Whatever it takes. 

All the wildlife we saw today.......
A heron watching us leave Clifton

Cows walking the beach ?

Goats watching the cows??

Zeke, tired of watching the cows and goats!

Wake me up when we get there!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

That gentleman sure does know how to handle a boat!!!

Time travelled:  6:54
 Nautical miles:  54.6
 Docked at:        Clifton Marina

 I have already put another pillow on Garth's side of the bed for his inflated head!
 We pulled into the marina this afternoon and an older man came out of the marina office to see the gentleman that was "drivin the boat".  He saw me at the side trying to hook a cleat with the mid line and said - in his best Tennessee drawl - THAT GENTLEMAN SURE DOES KNOW HOW TO HANDLE A BOOOAT!  He did not offer to grab the line I was desperately trying to hook he walked right by and stopped at the salon door to congratulate Garth on maneuvering the boat backwards and sideways onto the transient dock.  He has been on the rivers for over forty years blah blah blah ,,,,,,,, I could just see Garth's ears spreading and his hat slowly getting too small for his head!!! Afterwards Garth's reaction was , I wish Dan were here to see this - he taught me everything I know - then he stopped himself and said -" sixteen foot canoe - fifty three foot boat - it's all water and physics".  
Just so I could live with him for the next few weeks I was quick to add that yes Dan did teach you a lot but I turned you onto the "Frank Maneuver"!  So. to Dan from "Quest" and Frank from "Once Around" your training and information sharing has wowed the locals here in Clifton, Tennessee.
It is odd that nobody ever comes up and says " nice line throwing" , "great placement of the fenders", "great job you did in town, getting everything you need in the two hours allowed in the marina courtesy car"  - oh well, I have broad shoulders and can handle it, for now. But I must add, it is amazing what you can get at Wal-Mart and it seems every place has a Wal-Mart!  You meet all kinds at Wal-Mart to - last week in Paducah, Kentucky the women in front of me noticed I had Chicken Jerky (for dogs) on the belt - she turned and said to me - "You are going to think I am crazy but I have a few coupons for things you are buying" and handed over the coupons. I was a little miffed because she had handed the poor cashier a mittful of coupons and she took what seemed like for ever to scan each and every coupon into her machine.  She saved twenty five dollars so you can imagine the number of coupons she had. I thanked her and saved two dollars. 

Until we arrived here it was yet another uneventful day but we did see some wildlife - a wolf swam across the river in front of us early this morning and some beautiful big blue herons flew along side of us. 

It is really a wolf - it's my camera skills that are questionable. 

Blue Heron on bare branch above the orange clump.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Three Amigos are back and on the move!

 Time travelled:  7:33
 Nautical miles:  63.8NM
 Docked at:       Pebble Isle Marina,  New Johnsonville, TN
St. Louis the week before the World Series-everything was red

Well, it has been awhile since I blogged - poor ole Zeke has been through the mill and we honestly thought he was headed for the BIG PARK but once again he has rallied. He had a lot of help and a lot of love - special thanks to my Mom and Dad for putting us up and for putting up with us! I would be remiss if I also did not thank Zeke's cousins George and Sadie (2 beautiful black labs) cause when Zeke would not eat they were the tasters and the competition.  Everything was good about going home, we got to visit with Garth's Mom and we got to celebrate my Dads 85th birthday  Between trips to the University we also had time to see some friends. We appreciate all the calls and emails.
Zeke is doing well at the moment, we are taking it one day at a time. He is eating on his own, playing hockey with Garth in the salon and once again barking orders at us! His energy levels are improving a little bit every day.  So, he is trending in the right direction.

Grand Harbor, Kentucky all ready for Christmas

Zeke is ready, once again, to be on the blue water highway
 You know it is time to head south when you wake up to frost and the fishermen are wearing balaclavas! Wow, the lines where white with frost, the water in the dingy had turned to ice and the docks were slippery  ....start the engines and head south asap!
It was rather an uneventful day, only saw a few fishermen out and two barges. Wildlife spotting was pretty dim as well - one lonely deer.  Oddest sight of the day was a bridge to nowhere and an abandoned building in the middle of the water. I have seen both of these before from following other blogs - neat to see it in person.

Look closely and the deer is right at the point.

The bridge to nowhere.

Looks like one of those things in the bottom of an aquarium!

Off to Clifton bright and early tomorrow; weather permitting!