Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Season 2006

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!
I'm writing today's blog in the dark. Well, sort of. Tonight we had a bit of a wind storm which knocked out power to about 1200 residences, ours being one of them. But one of the perks of living on the boat is having two generators at your disposal. It makes all the maintenance worthwhile. For instance I'm really glad that yesterday we replaced the bad battery which starts up the generator. I can now appreciate the exertion put out to haul that 120 lb crate of sulfuric acid up and down the steps.

Anyhoo, we had the Holiday Boat Parade party this weekend. It turned out to be a 23 hour day, but all went well and everyone had a nice time. I took a few pics, but I'm not going to post them. I don't want everyone racing out for new eye glass prescriptions. My camera doesn't do so well with night pics and they are all super dark or blurry. Maybe my new keychain camera will do better at night?

Now we are preparing to cruise over to the Bahamas on Friday. Hopefully we'll get X-mas Monday off and on Tuesday the guests arrive. So a few last minute preparations and we are off with a new chef and stewardess. I'll check in with the details, but probably not until next year.

So I did get my X-mas package even though I got an email from UPS saying they lost all the shipping information. Funny, they lost my address, but not my email address??
I actually thought it might be a Phishing solicitation, especially when the link didn't go through. But it arrived, Thank You! And I'm also thankful that those Pringles cans aren't any larger. I let Pierre have two cookies and then ate the rest in one sitting. So, Mom, you can put off your anorexia concerns for a bit. I'm sure that binge added a pound or two.

Enjoy the holidays, and if you see Santa tell him not to forget to stop offshore....

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Anniversary Cruise 2006

Not much to report. Just checking in. I had a pretty busy work week while Pierre ran off to Singapore. He met a girl online and fell in love. Well that was the fantasy he had going in to it. The reality wasn't as sweet. She was everything she said she was, but the fireworks or whatever fantastic notions "romantic love" conjure up just weren't there. But they had a nice time and he really was impressed with Singapore.

Meanwhile I was slaving away. Not on the boat though. I was working on Michael's property. Cleaning the house awnings, cleaning/sealing the patio, ripping up/jacking up/leveling the dock, adding rubber piling bumpers, etc. Now we are gearing up for the Holiday Boat Parade on the Intercoastal Way. We've got a front row slip reserved for the parade of decorated and lit up boats. Should be quite a spectacle! It's also a opportunity for Michael to throw a holiday party where we are expecting about 200 guests. After that we will start preparing for our next charter in the Bahamas which begins just after Christmas and goes through the new year.

Last week I got to hang out with Dennis Feilly. He had just done a Key West trip and was in town for the evening so we got together for some sushi and a few brews. Other than that I've just been running, getting in an occasional bike ride, busting a few moves downtown and working.

Oh while we were on the cruise, Gloria's Sun did a charter down in to Key West with Wally as first mate. Wally is Michael's friend who was planned to become co-captain with me when Pierre moves on. Well, it turns out that Wally isn't really cut out for the job so it's down to me. Good news for me I guess. I definately wasn't comfortable with a co-captain situation. Much the same as too many cooks spoil the pot, I believe there can only be one captain. Afterall, the "Buck stops here.", not "the buck stops here and there".

So that is it. I added a few pics from the Mexico cruise. I hope all is well. The new car looks sweet! Enjoy. Mom, let Dad drive it once in a while, OK? ;>

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Most Wanted

So after being picked up at the airport it was straight back to work! Michael had guests onboard and they were just coming back to the dock as we arrived so we took their lines and tied up the tender.

Before I get into the guests' story a little background information may be helpful. Michael (Gloria's Sun's owner) is a businessman. His business happens to be clubs. Mainly "Gentlemen's Clubs". For this he did five years in prison. It seems that the conservative powers that be weren't very keen on the idea of having, god forbid, hot naked woman making a great living in the state that resembles a flacid penis, Hhmmm, coincedence?? So they trumped up some charges and put him away.

As I understand it, while he was in the bighouse the Russian Mofia took over the biz and by the time five years was up they were all too happy to have Michael back. Since then he has been further vindicated by the Florida Supreme Court which handed down a decision absolving him of all wrongdoing and basically said that the charges were erroneous, unjust and just plain illegal. Great, "Can I have my five years back please?!?"

Anyway, while in jail Michael met a guy named Eddie Maldanado. Eddie had the dubious honor of being showcased on the television show "America's Most Wanted"! Whether or not the show had anything to do with it is debatable, but he was eventually caught and convicted of weapons smuggling. A man can change alot in 15 1/2 years (his time spent), but he's seems like a good guy now and I suspect that he wasn't such a bad guy then. Just a guy trying to make a buck notwithstanding the ethical and Karmic dilema. So while in jail Eddie started a program to revitalize old donated bicycles and pass them on to needy children.

To make a long story short, Michael and Eddie became friends and recently Eddie became a free man. Now the pair are taking the idea and adding fuel in the hopes that it will blow up (in a good way). The program is called "Bicycles Most Wanted" and it is gaining momentum in a suprisingly short period of time. They're pretty busy getting the programs going and with some coporate backing (notables: WalMart and Coke) it seems that all systems are a go. The program gets schools, police and at risk kids together (and off the street) in an after school situation. The kids learn the skill of turning old donated clunkers into working bikes and share in the merit and pride of getting them into the hands of children not unlike themselves who otherwise would never know the joy of riding a bicycle.

So for the week we had an "America's Most Wanted" rehabilatated criminal on board along with his two brothers, Albert and Willie. Albert also provided some interesting insight into the world of today as he is a Infantry Marine awarded the Purple Heart. He was one of the first guys into Iraq and for a guy that has been through Hell and back (bullet, shrapnell, buddies lost, etc) he seems to have come through it remarkably intack. How I don't know? What he has gone through is inexcusable. He's served his country to the nth degree, but has his country served him? I don't think so! But I don't have the will to go off on a rant here so I'll leave it at that. But, Don't Forget, elections are just around the corner. You hired them, don't hesitate to fire them!

So the guys spent some nights stuffing dollars into G-strings, and we took them down to South Beach with the boat and everyone had a good time. Well, except for the last day when Michael took a dive off of the waverunner at full speed and took away a couple of cracked ribs and a shoulder tear. We refer to the waverunner as a "toy", but watch out! The seas were rough on the day of our departure so we took a new alternate route via the Intercoastal Waterway. Slower and requiring much more awareness (no autopilot for that trip), but something new and different.

This week we spent the time preparing for a weekend party cruise, but a 5pm on Friday we got word that it wasn't going to happen. Oh well, I lose the tip, but gain my weekend off. I'm not compaining. Till next time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Who'd a Thunk

Well it's been almost a month since I last updated the blog. HI MOM! It's been a rather bland month, that is until this last week.

Another one bites the dust!! I don't mean that in a pessimistic way, but there is one less single comrade after this week. Mark and Julie are now Mr. and Mrs. Tesi!! Big Congrats! It was a great 10 days back in the old stompin' grounds. Family, great friends, strippers, dinners, surfing, and a Brazilian drum troop all capped off by a spectacular wedding event.

Pretty much everyone that is reading this was there to witness it for themselves so there isn't any need to go into detail. I'll just say that I was thrilled to be able to participate.

With 90 people at the rehearsal and 250 at the ceremony I didn't get a chance to give a toast, but if I had it would have went something like this:
"Giving speeches in front of large crowds is never easy, but the hardest part about giving this one is not letting it go to long or get to mushy. I haven't known Mark all that long, only 27 years!! We grew up together, played soccer with Roger coaching, raced BMX, skateboarded and started our life long pursuit of surf. We even worked and lived together. I remember when Mark, TQ and I went and bought our first surfboards together. Mark happened to pick out a hollow (Hansen) surfboard. Tommy and I never missed a chance to tease Mark about that, but he was always stoic. As it turns out, Mark gets the last laugh because today, whats the newest hottest technology in surfboards? Yep, Hollow Surfboards! So big appologies to Mark for all the ribbing and Kudos on the foresight.

After Highschool I wandered around the country a bit, but we never lost contact. He'd visit me in San Diego, I'd visit him in Santa Barbara, He'd visit me in Atlanta and we'd always pick up were left off like it was only yesterday. When we were in West L.A., living together in about a 100 sq. ft. apartment with Brian Strahle, another friend and more often than not a few visitors, we were literally living and sleeping on top of each other. Throughout that whole time and for that matter throughout our whole relationship I don't think we were ever mad at each other for more than 10 seconds!! I think that is a great testament to a great friendship and I'm lucky to count Mark as a best friend!!!!

Actually, come to think about it, I think I'm going to have one of those 10 seconds episodes and be mad. Because Mark is holding out on me. I don't know where you find a beautiful, sweet, artistic, caring surfer chick these days, but you really should let me in on your secret!! O.K., I'm over it, 10 seconds is up! And I am extremely happy that Julie is the one marrying Mark.

All I really want to say is that it's an honor to be here and I'm thrilled. I know that you two will continue to be a great couple and I wish you both nothing but perfect and complete Happiness. To the Bride and Groom!!!!! "

It was a great week. We had a blast at the Bachelor Party and Mark escaped without being guilty of any offenses. We had surf sessions together. I was able to introduce a new friend to all my life long friends and the wedding/reception were events that won't be fogotten.

If only I didn't have to go back to work!

Mark and Julie are off to Mexico and hopefully they left the computer at home and won't read this right away. May you two get all the waves you can handle. But save some energy for bedtime......... :)

Pics are located in the "Mark and Julie Wedding" file. Enjoy

Monday, August 28, 2006

Me Llamo Ernesto

Monday August 28th, 2006

Me llamo Ernesto,

How is an Alabama divorce and a tornado similar? Somehow, Someway, someone is losing a mobile home:)

I've always said if you're thinking of buying a home in "Tornado Alley", Don't! If you're thinking of buying that cheap property in a flood plain, it's a bad idea. If you just've got to have that multi-million dollar house on a cliff prone to mud slides, you're asking for trouble. Sam Kinison joked about the Ethiopian's living in a desert and dealing with starvation offering his answer "MOVE! You live in a F**king Desert!!!" A bit harsh considering the circumstances. More closer to home though: If you've bought a multi-million dollar piece of property on a coastline which is inevitably going to be reclaimed "buy" the sea, sucks to be you! A fool and his money will soon be parted. So today, on the anniversary of Category 5 Hurricaine Katrina, I find myself contemplating my hypocrisy as Tropical Depression Ernesto threatens to gather strength after passing over Cuba and is projected to do anything but miss the limp phaleus on the U.S. map and my current place of residence that we like to call Florida.

Growing up as a surfer in NJ, my breatheren and I would begin salivating when we got word of an impending laison with one of Mother Natures awesome displays of power. After all, we really had nothing to lose. No ownership in property to worry about, no actual threat to our lives or limbs. We just looked forward to the aftermath; an eery quiet stillness and fantastically groomed mountainous swells to ride until we could paddle no more, assuming we didn't drown in the effort. But then, living on the edge is really living. At least that's one way to look at it.

Here in Florida notwithstanding the pauper surf community, the outlook is not the same. As the "U.S. welcome mat" for incoming storms, most people here are not quite as enthusiastic as we were in our carefree adolescent days. Personally, I still feel I'm on the safe side of hypocrisy because realistically I still have nothing much to lose. Sure the boat could sink, but we are in about 7 ft of water and have a 6 ft. draft so at worst my clothes would get wet. I'm pretty sure I can find high enough ground to save my Mp3 player which isn't really of any significant monetary value, relatively speaking it's completely negligible to what others stand to lose, but the weeks worth of time it took me to load up my music collection would cause a sting if lost. And that's about all I have to lose. Granted a tree could get blown down and crush my car and I don't want to belittle a much appreciated gift, but it was a gift and in the end "easy come, easy go" as they say. But then I'm not typical of most Floridians. Nearly everyone here has, at least to their way of thinking, everything to lose. So I won't make light of their situation. I'll just be thankful for mine and hope the best for everyone else. However, it does beg a moment of pause to contemplate our actions with regard to aquisitions and what we hold dear.

So Ernesto is slated to hit Florida Wednesday morning. Everyone at the Weather Channel is ecstatic and everone in Florida is tense while scrambling to the grocery stores and waiting hours in line to fill up their tanks with gas. Where they are all planning to go I don't know as in all likelyhood it will do more damage on it's track up the coast. My car's gas light is glowing with a "Low Fuel" orange amber, but that just means if it does get crushed by a tree I won't have lost as much. After all, I'm not going anywhere and I'd feel terrible if that presumptuous tree where to puncture the gas tank and send gallons of the harmful "America's addiction of choice" juices into our watershed even if that's the direction they originally came from.

So what does it all mean in the end. Well, not much to me really. We had one day charter scheduled for Wednesday, but barring a miracle that is going to be cancelled. It will be rescheduled and I'll get to gander at all sexy waitresses and dancers that were coming for the party at a another time. Looking at the predicitons of our infamous "weatherologists" (God save us from ourselves for relying on the only group of professionals who can be wrong more often than not and still keep their jobs) things look as though they'll be pretty mild. It may not even brew up to hurricaine strength by the time it hits Lauderdale although it may strengthen for it's rendevous with all you in the Mid Atlantic. We will undoubably get our fair share of wind and rain which will rock the boat, but it is unlikely to get up past a Category 1/2 which we can handle we we are now. BTW: don't come a-knockin while the boat is a-rocking cause we will be full. The owner will come on board with an entourage when the power inevitably goes out and we will start digging into our stock pile of water and any food we can procure, that is if all the food isn't gone by the time we get to the market. But all in all we are in a pretty good place. We have plenty of fuel on board. Enough to get us to the Bahamas if we had to make a run for it. But seeing that it's just as likely to affect the Bahamas as Florida our plan is to stay put and use up the fuel by running the generator to keep the AC running and the ice pumping for the drinks. And the watermaker (turns sea water into drinking water) isn't taken for granted in times like these.

So although I don't really believe that this is going to much of anything, you never know. No worries here, but just in case I hope everyone out there is comfortably prepared and fares well. And in the worst case scenerio, we will always have FEMA to save us! I hope Jeb didn't piss off George the last time they spoke......

So for anyone concerned, don't be. Unless it gets to Cat 3 or higher, in which case I'll probably have a very interesting story to tell. In any case I'll survive. No pics with this blog and hopefully there won't be any forthecoming, but if there is some interesting destruction I'll belatedly post some evidence of the aftermath. To all those worried about losing something; keep in mind what really counts. To all the surfering grommets and elders with nothing to lose, I hope this brings us all a few freight train barrels where all you hear is the hollow vacuum of suction as that enveloping wall of liquid bliss enfolds you in a solitary room of awesome yet oddly peaceful power before a birthing baptism spits you back into our time-space reality leaving you renewed and refueled after siphoning off a bit of its pure-natural energy.

I'm planning on being in NJ Sept. 15 or 16th for M.T's wedding. Can't wait........

From the Weather Channel this is psuedo-meteorologist Doug Wolinsky awaiting Ernesto from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, back to you Jeanette.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Summer in Florida 2006

It's Hot and Sticky so it's no wonder that my hard drive had made like an egg and fried itself. So I had to decide between buying a new laptop or fixing this one. If it ain't broke don't fix it, but if it is broke and you can fix it then why not. So I picked up a new internal hard drive and despite the installation instructions which read, "NO installation instructions are provided with this device. We strongly recommend installation by a certified professional.", I managed to get the thing up and running again without too much agony. And I only have 2 screws left over :) Of course, in light of the apparent success I fully expect the thing to burst out in flames at any moment!! But I must say there is something refreshing about starting out with a crisp clean and empty hard drive especially now that I have 3 times the amount of space.

Well things have slowed down for the moment regarding work. We just did a mini-charter down to Miami and as far south as Key Largo. It was a "Manager of the Year" reward for one of Michael's employees and he took the opportunity to get married on the boat. Who knows if the marriage will be as much of a sham as the myth that captains have any authority what so ever to perform marriages. Maybe their was some truth too it 200 years ago when sailors where on board and away for years at a time, but today a taxi driver or a mermaid has as much authority to perform the service. In fact in the U.S. and British Navy a captain could wind up in the brig for marrying people! And on many boats they have signs which say "Any marriage performed on this vessel is only valid On This Vessel!" BTW: 200 years ago how many woman where aboard as sailors to marry? (I can't imagine marrying ones spoils of war) Or was it the present day equivalent to "Civil (gay) Unions"? Anyway, I digress.

OK. I hate when you fulfill a self-fulfilling prophesy! NO Lie! My mouse pointer just froze and forced me to reboot. Not quite bursting into flames, but not a good sign. I should mention that I "upgraded??" to Windows XP Home. It is Win 2000 based so it should be relatively stable and it has some nice qualities, but it's still Windows to Hell !!!

Can anyone tell me why when you try to update all hell breaks loose! (and God knows how many patches Winblows requires. It has so many holes they should call it "Sieves" not "Windows") (Or "Screens", which come to think about it may very well have been in the running until someone (most likely outside the company) pointed out the connection) (Has anyone contacted the Swiss government about a class action suit for Swiss cheese copyright infringement?) I can't install the updates that I downloaded because the install process takes over my Wi-Fi port and hangs up the connection which of course is required to install. If our government is going to let the monopoly continue at least make sure the shit works. Back in the day Ma Bell wouldn't have lasted nearly as long if every time you tried to make a call the operator asked you to press the non existent "Moon" button to connect. Now it's nice that Gates has become the philanthropist, but maybe he should be paying back each and every Windows user a couple of grand for all our mental and emotional anguish and time lost due to his product! Don't get me started!!

So there you have it. For better or worse I back in the computing game and work is slow. Pierre is back in France getting a second opinion regarding his heart condition so I'm holding down the fort again and hoping we don't get a hurricane this week. Regarding the American medical machine: The doctors here were immediately ready to burn out his Thyroid with a radioactive pill and put him on medication for the rest of his life. He's 35yrs old! Radiation, Burned out thyroid, lifetime of medication!?!? $$$$$Cha-Ching$$$. That's all I have to say! F**king Quacks!!! Corporate Drug Dealers!!! Hey kid, first ones free!!

So in France they diagnosed him with Graves Disease and with 6-12 months on meds they are confident that he'll should be stabilized and fine. Never trust someone who spends their entire life not working, but having a "practice". How much practice do you need? Maybe you should rethink your approach if you aren't getting it right in a reasonable amount of time. How is it that such a huge group of people full of compassion and sense of duty go into medicine and wind up selling their souls?

Well, it turned out to be more of a bitch session than an update, but it's a slow news day and that's the way the cookie crumbles.....

I was going to load up some pics of the wedding, but you'll just have to use your imagination. I didn't take any pics with my camera so all the photos I have from other cameras are too big to post. They need compression which I don't have right now with a new hard drive and all. I tried resizing them, but that made them fuzzy like a TV show blurring out nudity. And it wasn't that kind of wedding. But it is your imagination so if you're so inclined....... ;)

Enjoy the remaining days of summer.....

Carpe diem

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bahama Charters Summer 2006

July 29th, 2006
O.K. I'm back in Ft. Lauderdale and it's time to catch up with the blogging. The problem is motivation! Right now it's pretty much all a blur and sooo "yesterday". Keeping a journal during the trip would help out in times like these, but when you're so tired you can't see straight their is little chance in writing down the days events. And even if you did it probably wouldn't be intelligible. So I'll just paint the picture in broad strokes, upload the pics and slip silently out the side door before anyone asks for their money back.

The first charter was a group of eight, two adult couples and their four children. They self-proclaimed themselves as "low maintenance" which of course they weren't even if they were refreshingly casual. The price for that refreshing-ness was too take the "Nestea Plunge" off the moral and legal tightrope of service into the murky liquid of customer satisfaction. See, the parents for whom we had trouble keeping liquor stocked, ice available and glasses full, let the two oldest kids (16 & 17) drink too. And when it came time for the adults to have a break from the kids and the kids to have a break from the parents it fell upon the stewardess or I to play babysitter. Only we weren't supposed to actually babysit so much as play the "cool uncle" who lets them get away with things to that fine edge right before everything goes horribly wrong. In other words let them do their thing, just don't let anything bad happen. Not the most comfortable situation in the world. To make a long story short we pulled it off, but not without some tense moments and ruffled feathers.

The charter took place mostly in The Abacos and to sum up the rest of the charter: I was worn out. Heading into the charter they boasted how they had so friends in the Abacos and continually had people on the boat to party. But in the end they seemed to dislike most of them! And so did I. Adding to the fatigue factor is the fact that I get an extra $500/wk to sleep on an air mattress in the pilot house which is not seperate in anyway from the rest of the boat and therefore not seperated from guest or crew traffic. And I was "late" person which meant staying up until 2 or 3am most nights and since I slept in the pilot house I was essentially first to rise also. Well, second to rise. As soon as the morning person was awake and about, so was I. Well, at least the "awake" part. This in conjunction with wearing so many hats really took its toll. I was Mate, Stew, Bartender, Gopher and Chaperon averaging at least 16 hours a day. Hey, but at least we got a good tip.

We had one day between the first charter and the second charter so there was no rest for the weary. Having been through the ringer the Captain decided to hire another stew to help us out. We really could have used an extra stew for the first charter. As it turns out, we really didn't need her at all for the next two. But we were stuck with her which was unfortunate because she was a real BITCH!! who thought the two implanted masses in her chest caused the Sun to revolve around her! Hey, but at least her shit didn't stink. That's always a nice thing when you're sharing a bathroom. Honestly, I was worried that if I had to listen to one more of her ignorant comments I was going to choke her out and throw her overboard. And I don't even kill mosquittos! But then a mosquito is less of a bloodsucker than she! Buddha help me!

So the second charter was only 5/day 4/nt. Pretty mellow. One of the woman was ill for 2 days. The kids were well behaved but really didn't take advantage of the toys. For that matter neither did the parents. Really kind of a dud. To make matters worse we had a serious mechanical failure. We are sailing along when I look over to the monitor showing the engine room and noticed it's filled with smoke. Great! Good thing I took that fire safety course. So I decide to call 911 and give directions to the fire department. Oh no, that won't work on a boat. So then I decide to put on the fire gear. Oh wait, we don't have any. OK. Feel the door for heat and charge in with my trusty and mighty fire extinguisher. Choking on the thick vapors, Eyes burning from black smoke, Intense heat searing the hairs off my body. Just kidding. No fire, just some smoke from a large rubber coupler which transfers power from the engine to the transmission. Didn't smell very nice though. And of course it meant we were down to one engine.

This slowed us down considerably so when we finally arrived at our intended marina I was very much looking forward to finishing the journey and docking up. Preferably, with one engine, you dock up bow first. It's just easier. So we intended to do this, but the marina informed us that since our power was in the rear we wouldn't be able to reach their power outlets if we went bow first. So we decided to dock stern-in, which led to a minor catastrophe which could and should have been completely avoided because what the marina told us regarding the power was complete bullshit and we could have came in bow first. So what's this minor catastrophe I speak of? Well as Pierre is backing the boat in with one engine and dealing with some current (not the easiest thing to do) he gets off course a bit. My job is to be his eyes and seeing eye dog so to speak so I get on the radio and tell him to abort and retry. He does and is more on course this time. But not perfectly. "Pierre your close to the piling. Stern to port.... Stern to PORT!... STERN TO PORT!!! Your not going to make it!!" And so he hits the piling which bends but fortunately doesn't break. As it turns out he was planning to use the piling as a bumper, if maybe not quite with as much force. The problem was with the rope which was resting on that piling and since it wasn't glued down promptly found it's way in to the water. Before I had time to scream into the radio "NEUTRAL" it was too late. Like iron to a magnet the rope was attracted to the prop and the two quickly became intimate. So now we are down to Zero engines. Luckily we were deep enough into the slip to catch a few lines, secure the boat and then pull it in by hand. The trick for me was managing my new found crew which instantly materialized to give us a hand. Nice sentiment, but as The saying goes, "too many chefs, spoil the pot". Something similar can be said for too many captains on one dock!
Well it took Pierre and I about 10 free-dives each to swim under the boat and cut the rope from the prop. I have a piece of it draped around the ships bell as a souvenir. Back up to one engine! Back in the game. Anyway, we got a bad tip from that one and were glad to move on. The question was whether or not we could get the boat fixed before the next charter. Luckily we had 6 days in between, but we are in the Bahamas not Ft. Lauderdale. Pierre had a mechanic come and check it out. "No problem Mon! Fix tit ina day" OK, we realize he's probably crazy, but it seemed to give Pierre some hope while I'm not at all convinced. The next day we get a second opinion which confirms our suspicion that the first mechanic had been smoking conch or something! "Big Job, Big Big Job. Nothing I can handle." Yup, gotta lift the 1100 HP engine and the tranny which probably weighs as much as the engine.

So we limp it to Nassau. There we contact a mechanic who actually rebuilt the very same engine a few years ago. He's good and knows his stuff. Only two hiccups. They don't have the part and it's the weekend of the 10th of July which is equal to our 4th of July. The Bahamas are 30 years young and they take the holiday as seriously as we do. If everything goes right and we get the part for them they say they can get the job done in time for the next charter.

Well, I'm not going to hide the fact that I was a little bitter about having to fly back to Lauderdale to track down a coupler and bolts while half the crew flew home to chill out and the other half stayed behind to chill out. However, I got it done and I guess I can chill out when I'm dead. So I brought back the part and bless their hearts the guys got the job done. We got the boat set and headed to Atlantis (arisen again) to pick up the third charter.

Atlantis is in Nassau and is themed after the lost continent of "Atlantis". It's new, cost a lot to build, has lots of stores and is very pretty. The kind of place I hate! Now of course their is no shortage of money (except on my boat) in the yachting world and you can find yourself in some very ritzy places: Miami, Monaco, Nice, Majorca, etc. In places like those you'd pay $2-3/ft for a dock space. In Atlantis it's $7/ft!!! It's completely insane! When you add in power (note the circuit breakers were mislabled) and water for a relatively small boat such as ours (95ft.) it's a $1000 per night to sit in their marina! I'm pretty sure I'll have the last laugh though when the next big hurricane comes and buries their precious little development right alongside the original Atlantis.

So the third and last charter. In a word excellent. And it was excellent because the guests were excellent. A Brit and Aussie family with sailing experience and just a real sound outlook on life. Their was Rachael (2yrs old), but no teenagers to worry about. The sons (in-laws) and daughter (in-law) were all 20 to 30 something and enjoyable to be around even if one son's girlfriend insisted on asking me fully loaded questions which no one in their right mind would answer like; "Who's your favorite guest?" or "Who's your favorite on the crew?" or "Who of the crew have you hooked up with?" Answers: "Yes, no and maybe!"

We had seen Nassau, The Abacos, The Eleuthras and so it was nice to get to see The Exumas on this trip. They are farther southeast and much less developed, in fact one of the islands is a protected national park complete with a pirates lair which we visited. So far I must say this area is the most enjoyable simply because it isn't developed as much. Nassau and the Abacos have more (well at least a bit more) life and entertainment, but if that's what you're looking for then why leave Ft. Lauderdale? The family jetskied, waterskied, tubed, fished, went on hikes with us and snorkeled almost everyday. They drank, as Brits and Aussies do, but they didn't show it. They were sincere and appreciative and it was an honor and a pleasure to have worked for them. If only they could all be like that.

Well, I'm running out of steam and I'm going to wrap it up. It was work, but it was a good experience. I don't have pics of everything so for the record I did get to drive the big and little boat, sniff out/deal with the aftermath of 3 burnouts, party, jetski, feed large formerly vegetarian/now carnivorous lizards, feed wild island pigs, snorkel with a pair of dolphins, a pair of reef sharks (5ft), on two plane wrecks and with countless fish and crustaceons of various size and color. Oh and I got a couple hours of sleep.

I hope you enjoy the pics.......DJ
Carpe diem

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Da Bahamas

July 12, 2006

I know it’s been a long long time since I’ve updated this blog, but I’ve got a good excuse. I’ve been working. Working long hours. In fact, at points I was finding it difficult to find the time to wipe my butt properly let alone sit down and write.

But we’ve finished our second charter here in the Bahamas and now have a few days standby time, so here we go. On June 19th we left Ft. Lauderdale for the Bahamas prior to which we worked hard preparing for the six week trip. Loading up the boat with the groceries and supplies was no small feat. I had to put my foot down when we ran out of storage space and I found some canned goods stored in my pillow case. I comprised and switched the cans for rolls of toilet paper and everything eventually found a home. Now the only problem is remembering where we stowed everything!

It was a slow cruise and the crew (Captain Pierre, Chef Chris, Stewardess Carolyn and I) paired off for watches for the better of the 19 hour journey. We anchored outside the Cay of Spanish Wells. Spanish Wells residents are very proud of their island which as the name implies was founded by the Spanish and not much has changed culturally since. It’s primarily caucasion and more or less survives on the fishing business.

Once the tide came up we were set to yank the anchor and meet our pilot who would guide us through a narrow and shallow channel into the Spanish Wells Marina. I went off ahead in the tender to meet the pilot “A-1”, a colorful character with a heavy Bahamian accent who grew up fishing the Bahamas and now makes a very good living driving his 15 foot dingy and guiding yachts through the maze of reefs and extremely shallow depths. He’s is also a great guy to know if you want fresh conch, stone crab, grouper, etc. delivered straight to your door. And we now know he really likes Oreos and can recite the capitals for all 50 United States. And he will, like it or not.

The next day was nice as we had a day to relax. We enjoyed it which was good because it would be awhile before we’d get another. We took the tender and went for a snorkel on a ship wreck and then found a great beach and stopped to check out the natural cave just inland from the beach. It’s quite large and must have made a relatively comfortable home for Jacob Sayle who was shipwrecked and took shelter there over 100 years ago.

The next day the “Whitaker” charter began.

Oopss! I stepped away. And now I’m having a hard time continuing so I’ll just pause here. Just a taste of the Bahamas. More to come…..

Sunday, May 28, 2006

All Aboard the "Gloria's Sun"

Happy Memorial Day!

So after flying back to NJ for the weekend I picked up my new used car (which will easily be the sexiest car in Ft. Lauderdale) and drove 22 hours (with a two hour nap in SC) back down to Lauderdale. The drive down was uneventful except for getting pulled over by a SC Sheriff K-9 unit. How much circumstancial bullshit does it take to make a case? Well let’s start with being pulled over for “weaving” (apparently my slot car pin jumped out of the track). Then I was under suspicion because I had an air freshener in the car! And the final thing that clinched my guilt was that I was “acting nervous”. Question: who wouldn’t be a little nervous being pulled over in the deep south by some hick with a gun, mace, handcuffs and a big scary German Shepherd for no reason other than being a young (looking) male driving alone?!! Anyway it wasn’t any use in arguing with his airtight case. But I could exercise my constitutional right against illegal search, so I politely did. Of course, he said that he was going to use the dog and wouldn’t you know it, the dog “showed interest”! But I wouldn’t be surprised if they train the dogs to “show interest” every time to bypass our semblance of protection. Really, it’s quite possible. So right about now I’m wondering if the old man that had the car before me was a Glaucoma patient. I knew I didn’t have anything in the car, but I was praying the old guy didn’t have a secret stash tucked away somewhere. But the cops search turned up nothing and I drove away.
So I moved on to the Motor Yacht, “Gloria’s Sun”, named after the owner’s late mother. The crew quarters are pretty small and I do share them with Captain Pierre, but he spends most nights with his girlfriend so it’s not bad. So I’m settling in to the grind. We did an overnight charter for Michael’s (owner) Girlfriend’s son, Deshaun who turned 10. In the morning we cruised up the New River where I got to get a feel for driving the boat and docked. Then about 15 kids and 15 adults came aboard and the festivities began. As you can imagine they kept us busy. If I had put out a tip jar on the bar I would have had my best bartending night to date. Even with all the running around, in the end there were only 3 injuries, all minor.

Eventually they all left except for 4 of Deshaun’s friends who stayed for a sleep over. In the morning the Captain was sweating because he neglected to make reservations for brunch. He didn’t realize how big a deal “Mother’s Day” is in America (He’s French). But luckily we managed to get a table right before they stopped seating and had a really nice meal. Of course they charged twice the usual price because of the holiday, but Michael was buying so it was gratis for us. We spent the afternoon there and when high tide came in the evening we ventured back home.

So we spent the next week doing what we do, maintaining the boat. Not much of interest to share there. I’ve gotten back into working out: either biking, running or using the elliptical machine on board. I’m keeping an eye on the wave forecast because I sure would like to get some surfing in soon, but South Florida might as well be on a lake. I’m considering buying a kite surfing rig!

Right now Pierre is on vacation in France so I’ve already made it to “Captain”, well “Acting Captain”. Not bad only one week into the gig. I thought it was going to be a really quiet time, but I’ve only be alone on the boat a total of one day so far. This thing is as popular with Michael’s friends as a Holiday Inn. No sooner does someone leave when someone else shows up. But it’s all good.

Just before Pierre left he took me to one of Michael’s clubs, Pure Platinum, “a Gentleman’s Club”. A really nice one. We got the VIP treatment and didn’t pay for a thing (lap dances included) which is good cause you could easily blow your retirement savings there in a night.

So right now I’m working through my list of jobs at a relaxed pace and enjoying some leisure before things start heating up. In ten days we are doing a 4 day charter to Miami for Mo Williams, a Minnesota Vikings Football player. Then right after that we are doing a ten day charter to the Bahamas. The car is registered and tagged in Florida and interestingly you don’t need an inspection or smog check here. Maybe it’s because the plethora of Lamborghinis and Ferraris would have a hard time passing the emissions test!

So it’s Memorial Sunday and the beaches were packed, the water is warm and right this instant I’m drinking a beer in honor of all the men and woman, past and present serving our country, especially those unnecessarily in harms way this very day. Here’s to them and you……Cheers! (And I don’t have to say it’s not Busch Beer, although wouldn’t it be nice if we could piss out Bush and flush it down the toilet!)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jumping Ship, or rather, Tossed Overboard

Jumping Ship, or rather, Tossed Overboard

Life is a series of continuous change and this applies to employment also. Friday morning I was blindsided and got the boot. Hans was happy with my work and couldn’t offer any constructive criticism for me to work on. In the end the only reason they gave for letting me go is because I didn’t have the right experience to take the owners/children/grandchildren fishing on the 31 ft. Jupiter and 18 ft. Flats boat.

OK. I can’t really argue, sport fishing is not my forte. But they knew this going into the job. Thus I can only assume that I was used to fill a spot which they needed filled right away for the Bahamas trip and it wasn’t going to be a permanent position at all. Pretty lame! Or maybe it was because I’m a vegetarian and the owners are the biggest hog and turkey farmers on the east coast?! It doesn’t really matter now. It would have been better if they been upfront about it. Then I could have had my resume floating about and working on a contingency plan for the end of the trip. But now the window of opportunity is all but closed for getting on a boat headed for the Mediterranean as most have already left on the crossing.

C’est La Vie! It was a good experience and now it’s time to look forward and move on.

So now I’m back down in Ft. Lauderdale, back at Neptune House. There is a ton of daywork available which is good. But that isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. There are still some permanent positions available from what I hear so all is not lost. I just have to get out there and drum up some business. Time to update the resume and get out there to rub elbows…….

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Well the kids and the grandkids arrived. I should mention that they arrived by their private jet. The first bunch is Jon and Janet and their children: Katelin (13), Ben (10), Bill (10) and Vanna (8). This would be the group staying on the boat. Later on in the day the next group arrived. Scott and Joy and their three young ones: Max (10), Billy (7) and Stephanie (5). They would stay in a $300/night hotel room a few hundred yards away from the boat.

Due to the weather last week, poor Zach only got to do one day of Bone fishing which is his favorite, but since his family left the weather has improved a lot. Incidentally, the Bahamas is supposed to have the best Bone fishing in the world. I can’t comment. I had never seen a Bone-fish and still haven’t. But apparently they are 5-10lbs and give one hell of a sporting fight when hooked. It’s a catch and release fish though, not very good for eating. Another day the guys went for Yellow Tail and did rather well, reeling in 33 fish. They are eating fish and made for a tasty dinner!

So anyway, since the weather had gotten nice it seemed like things would be a little easier for us crew. Not in reality though. There is a beach and a pool here. The problem is that it’s not a short walk to the pool or the beach. Now little kids drink a lot and so do moms and dads on vacation, not to mention lunches. And guess who gets to carry the coolers out to them. You guessed it, yours truly. I guess it’s better than blowing my money on a gym membership! And I should have never told them I worked behind a bar. Luckily we had “Bahama Mama” mix on board!

So between all the standard boat work and the drinks, lunches and fishing we were kept pretty busy, but that’s o.k. The Bahamas are nice, the water is beautiful, but if you don’t have a boat to yourself for things like fishing, snorkeling and island hopping it can be a pretty (well let’s not say boring) relaxing place. The night life, in spite of the live music (usually a one man band) is extremely tame. In the future there is one bright spot though. There actually is some decent surf here. The most consistent spot is a place called “Garbonzo” on Elbow Cay. “Charlie don’t surf!”, but Captain Hans longboards so next time I’m bringing a board and it’s on! And one way or another I’m making time for some diving although it’s so shallow here that you can probably put away the tanks and take a deep breath for a free dive. Or you can just snorkel. And it is quality snorkeling.

It’s also a great place if you’re into big game fishing. While we were there they started the Bahamas Billfish Championship fishing tournament. It’s a week long contest with a million in prizes available for those catching the best selection of 500-600+ lb White and Blue Marlins and Spearfish. I put out my line and as it was being yanked out of my hand thought I had the winner, but that jellyfish got the better of me ;)

As I mentioned it’s a great place to island hop if you’ve got the transportation (boat, no bridges here). One place I got to was Hope Town, which was quaint with beachy blue, sea green and white washed buildings and picturesque beaches that could be straight out of a Corona advertisement. But I wouldn’t suggest importing a car here. There is a 50% duty on the blue book value. Ouch! I guess that’s why you see a ton of golf carts.

So on April 19th we prepared the boat for leaving and ~3pm left the marina for a 1 hour trip to anchor up outside of Man ‘O War Cay for the evening. There we had a nice jumbo shrimp dinner and then a peaceful evening until around 2am when I was awoken by Hans. The wind had switched 180 degrees so we had to pull the anchor, move the boats and reset. After that, all was quiet and on the 20th , after sunrise we pulled anchor again to set sail for Florida through the blue-purple waters and rolling ground swell with the owners aboard and the 31 ft. Jupiter in tow. Next stop West Palm Beach.

The conditions were pretty good for the trip. Part of the time there were 4-5 ft. swells but the boat soaked them up well and after a 16 hour sail we were once again tied up at Old Port Cove.

We called our information in to customs and then went to bed. The next morning we had to go to customs for the mandatory check-in. But this gave us plenty of time to offload the 30 Bahamian illegal aliens, 6 crates of Cuban cigars and 80 kg of cocaine. WHAT A JOKE!! There is a $50,000 fine for not checking in with Customs, but the fact is they didn’t even know we were gone and it doesn’t exert one ounce of security doing things this way. But the beaurocrats know what they are doing, right? Yeah, wasting their employee’s time, our time and our tax dollars!! It’s great to see the government in action; playing up the fear factor so they can erode our personal rights and then doing absolutely nothing to actually sure up our borders and protect us! Don’t get me started!

Anyway, we are back safe and sound. The next trip is slated for sometime in June. There is talk of Mexico, but Mrs. P. isn’t really into that so we’ll have to wait and see……

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Bahamas

Well, I wish I had something really cool to report to you, but the truth is that the weather has continued to be rather bad. The temperature is in the mid 70’s, but it’s been windy most of the time with rain coming and going constantly. So all in all we’ve been mostly hunkered down on the boat.

I’ve gone swimming a couple of times. Took a quick boat ride, but turned around due to rough conditions. I poked my head into some shops. But mostly it’s been a lot of time to just relax. The good news is that there really isn’t much work to actually get done. And the family are all very nice people.

Today I spent a few hours trying to hunt down lobster tails for dinner. Surprisingly though, there are none to be had. The season is over and after checking with the only two places that can legally import them at this time I found that they have had a horrible lobster season. In fact, they had a shipment to export for Florida three days ago and they were short so they pulled all the tails in town from the retail stores and sent them too. I guess we will have to be satisfied with the huge Stone Crab Claws we ate the other night.

Ron, Cindy and their son Zach are leaving tomorrow and the next crew will arrive. We are all praying for the weather to turn around. Not so much for our fun factor. More for our sanity. The next crew is bringing along 7 grandchildren so if the weather doesn’t allow for getting them outside on the beach we are in for a long week.

Coming Up
Well, a quick update until I catch up: The kids have come and gone, the weather has improved dramatically, we’ve convinced the owners to chill for a few more days and we found some lobster tails afterall…..

(a few pics have been added)

Monday, April 10, 2006

On To The Boat

So it’s Monday morning and I’m up at 5:30 am to drag myself to the bus stop which takes me to the central terminal where I connect with another bus which takes me to the Tri-rail Train Station for my ride up to West Palm Beach.

I arrived at Magnolia station around 8:30 where Captain Hans Steiger picked me up. We drove to Old Port Cove where the “Marsha Kay” is docked. There I met Janna the boat’s stewardess and I got the “50cent tour” as Hans calls it. Then I got right to work polishing stainless steel and aluminum fittings, railings, winches, horns, bells, whistles, etc…. When you have a 118ft. floating luxury home to take care of, a lot of the time is spent clearing away the water and salt. It ain’t glamorous, but the boat is and it’s a living.

As it turns out, the one and only crew house in West Palm is booked up and with nothing else readily available it was decided that I would be staying on the boat. Which works out well, since I don’t think West Palm’s bus system is nearly as comprehensive as Ft. Lauderdale’s. Not to mention that the boat is stocked with food and drink, a hot tub, satellite TV, bicycles and marina WiFi internet (although it seemed to be down for the first two days and then the signal is weak and requires an external antenna).

So after my first day of working on the boat, Hans and Janna took off for home and I took one of the bicycles for a spin around. Not really much around that I saw, at least nothing interesting. Just the usual stores and restaurants. I don’t think West Palm is going to turn out to be nearly as fun a spot as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. But who knows, it’s too early to tell.

The rest of the week was spent working on getting everything set for the Bahamas trip. Replacing the reverse osmosis water purifying membranes (each of which is probably worth the price of a small car) and UV light, shopping for food and bait, other mainly mundane actions and also washing down the 33ft. Jupiter and taking it for a test spin. This turned out to be a real good idea because although things were fine a cruising speed, one of the twin Mercurys started overheating at idle. So the day before we are about to leave we sent it to get checked out and lo and behold the mechanic forgot to replace a cam. Just left it out! Once all the pieces were in place it was good as gold.

So the eve of our departure is upon us. It’s closing in on quitting time and we are reinstalling the osmosis membranes when we realize that they sent us a hose which was much to short. Luckily we still had the old hoses and their guy was able to install the new fittings on an old hose that was still in good condition. Close call and down to the wire, but with this job finished we are ready to roll.

Hans and Jenna go home to chill for a few hours before they come back around 11pm. Also coming along to give a hand is the Dave the captain of “Magic” based in Lauderdale. We go about the business of securing and readying everything for the 16 hr ride across the pond. After the hoses, landline power cables and communications cables are stowed it’s time to untie from the dock and shove off.

Dave follows in the Jupiter and once we get to the port we come together and connect the Jupiter to its harness for a tow. All is accomplished without anyone going for a swim and we are off for the Bahamas. Hans takes us out to sea and then hands over the bridge to Dave and I for the first watch while he and Janna get some rest. It’s a pleasant night for cruising with only 1-2 ft. seas and light winds. Dave puts his Ipod into the docking station and is happy to answer my questions on what is what. Including a lesson on the use of the ARPA Radar. It’s a handy little tool that tracks the surrounding traffic and gives you all the pertinent information on their course. Including how close they will get and if you’re going to collide. In other words it takes the guess work out.

We did a three hour watch and handed the controls back over to Hans and Janna and I climbed into bed around 5:30am. I rose around 10:30am and found the Bahamas to starboard as we made our way around. Around 3pm we were close to our marina and so flew the appropriate flags and loosened the Jupiter to send Dave ahead to warn the locals of our impending arrival.

After tying up we went through the customs customs and I added one more stamp to my nearly full passport. Janna’s had a brand new virgin passport. So we made sure the customs official went slow and easy. But he wouldn’t buy her a drink, let alone dinner! Then it was down to business, washing down the boat. Luckily Hans is a hands on captain. He’s a good deligator, but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. So it’s a big help to have us all washing down the boats even if the customs procedures did pull half of the team away for a significant amount of the time.

I was looking at the falling sun and deduced there wasn’t any way we’d been done before dark. Hans confirmed that when the order was given to put down the sponges and grab a beer. We relaxed for a bit, cleaned ourselves up and then took a walk to get some dinner at a good local restaurant. We started out with some delicious Conch Fritters. Hans and Janna went for the Cracked Lobster, Dave stayed with the Conch motif and I opted for the Tuna. Unfortunately I asked for my Tuna to be cooked Pittsburgh (still flapping) and they must not know what that is because it was way over done. But the peas & rice, mac & cheese, and plantains were very good.

After dinner we walked a little down the road and stopped into a bar with a live band, some very intoxicated (intoxicated, not intoxicating) dancing and at least one local who Dave slyly passed my way who wanted to talk politics and what not. Apparently they don’t realize here that there two things you’re not supposed to talk about in a bar: religion and politics! After putting a glazed look on my face and nodding with a bunch of “yeahs and hmms” he left us in peace in search of his next victim.

The next morning we got back to work cleaning the rest of the boat and the Jupiter as the owners (Bill & Marsha, their son (Ron), daughter in law (Cindy) and their son (Zach(16)) were due to arrive that afternoon on their jet. However, bad weather prevented them from making the trip. So the afternoon was relaxed and I got to go for a swim in what some people refer to as “green Jello”. And later we had the evening off to suck back a few brews in honor of Han’s birthday.

The next day the weather was pretty bad again. They flew to within about 10 minutes of the island and then had to turn around and land back in Ft. Lauderdale. They eventually made another trip and arrived around 4 pm. We cooked up dinner with Janna watching Nascar in the galley and the family watching golf in the salon. Everyone filled their bellies, we had a quick clean up and another day had gone by .….

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Back to School

So this week it's "back to school" for me. Unfortunately, Will Farrell wasn't in the class to keep us entertained. All in all though it was worth it. The class was held at Maritime Professional Training (MPT) Center just a few blocks from where I'm living. And it is something that if you don't have it under your belt, then you're going to wind up missing out on about 80-90% of your job opportunities.

Besides that, it's just a good course to have as it does boost knowledge, confidence, and ability in dealing with emergency situations if they should occur.

Day 1 was about personal safety and survival: Learning about the various floatation devices, life jackets, survival suits, life rafts, etc.

Day 2 was spent at the pool putting the gear into action. Quite a funny site watching us in our "Gumby" suits (5mm fully enclosed wetsuits designed to boost survival time in freezing water from 10 minutes without, to 6 hours with.) jump into the pool from the 10ft. diving board and righting a life raft and climbing into it.

Day 3 was all about taking blood pressure ( I always wondered what those numbers represented), helping a choking victim with abdominal thrusts (formerly called the Hymlick) and learning/practicing CPR.

Day 4 was basic fire fighting information and technique in the classroom.

Day 5 things really heated up when we went out to the Broward Fire Academy and got to put ourselves to the test. Fortunately it was a fairly cool day, but there was still a serious dehydration factor as we were literally sweating buckets.

We got to extinguish a fire with, what else, but a fire extinguisher. Then we crawled around on our hands and knees in the pitch black through a maze as practice for our "Search and Rescue". Again in the pitch black we used our air respirators to crawl around through a smoke filled apartment to locate and retrieve a victim. It was no wonder the guy didn't make it out of the apartment on his own, he had no arms or legs!

The finale was a simulated ship fire. My three man team climbed up a container and then climbed down into it trailing the firehose. Checking the door for heat and undoing the dogs (latches) we entered the fire room. Tamed the fire to demonstrate the amount of steam/heat given off when the water hits it and then coaxed the smoke out the window by directing a stream of water out the window for what is called a hydraulic ventilation.

Having done all that we were now officially STCW-95 Safety Certified. Some of us made plans to meet later on for a drink at the QuarterDeck and afterwards I went with some of my housemates down to the beach clubs for a little birthday celebration. Spring break was in full affect which drove home my age. My Vancouverite buddy woke up in Miami. I woke up in my own bed.

In the class I met a Captain named Mike Palance and he had fished out of Holgate so we got to talking and knew some of the same people from LBI. He also knew a friend in West Palm Beach who was looking for a mate. He put us in contact with each other and after straightening out my phone number situation I had a meeting with Captains Hans of the 118ft. "Marsha Kay".
To make a short story shorter he offered me the job over a beer at Waxy's Pub and at the present moment he's looking for a place for me to live up in W. Palm Beach. Unfortunately they don't want anyone living aboard because they got burned by someone in the past who made off with some scuba equipment and a case of Dom Perrian. So as it turns out I'm probably gonna need some wheels. So now I'm just chillin and waiting for the background check to clear, hopefully that Fort knox robbery won't show up ;-) Hopefully I won't be up there any later than Monday since we are slated to head for the Bahamas April 7th and it would be nice to get familar with the boat and my duties.

I've added a few pics to the Ft. Lauderdale folder, have a peek.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ft. Lauderdale

Well, after one month at home I started feeling some moss growing, so it was time for this rolling stone to hit the road again. I might as well keep my momentum going strong. So on March 12th Mom and Dad were dropping me off at Philadelphia Int'l Airport for my flight to Ft. Lauderdale where I would begin the next chapter of my life.

After a fully booked US Airways flight I arrived, retrieved my trusty backpack and made a call to "DJ", my propery management contact. She gave me an address to find and after a short cab ride I arrived at "Keystone House" and knocked on the door. "Who's there?", "Your new roomate." A cheeky Swede female opened the door and said "What are you selling?, We don't want any!" and the door closes. Later it was a friend of hers who was pelting me with a slip-on green oversized nerf Hulk fist which emitted a sound effect with each connected hit.

I quickly come to discover that these "crew houses" are a 50/50 blend of frat house and hostel. Maybe not the best situation for privacy or getting a lot of rest, but wonderful for networking and getting the skinny on the yachting industry which is exactly what I need. A truly international blend, I'm shacked up with Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, Frenchies and even an ?American??

In the morning I fall back into my standard modus operandi and take a walk around to get the lay of the land. Everything is conviently located: Supermarkets, fast food, shops, crew agents and the beach is two miles due east. The rest of the day I pump people for information and try to soak it all up. In the evening I got call from the property management saying that the bed I'm in is double booked and they'll need to move me out. Fortunately, I was able to ascertain that the absent roomy was currently doing a yacht delivery in the Bahamas. Secure in the fact that some guy isn't going to crawl into bed with me in the middle of the night I managed to stay put for the night.

Tuesday morning I was on my way to straighten out the living situation and about 40 ft. from the property management office when a guy stopped me and asked if I wanted work. "Can't hurt". Well that was a little short sighted. A six hour day turned into over a 10 hour day of trimming Maple and Palm trees. Scraped the hell out of myself and woke up the next morning very sore, but it did pay my rent for the week.

I never had a chance to straighten the living situation yesterday so in the morning that was first on the list. They wound up moving me into the "Neptune House" which is the first house they ever bought. It also is directly behind their office which is nice because I don't have go anywhere to pay rent and as they get calls for daywork I'm right there front and center. And as a bonus this house has two fridges, two computers and AC that works! And as a bonus bonus it is next door to "Floyds" which is a competing crew house, but draws employers every morning who are looking for day-workers. A perfect way to make a little dough and gain experience until something permanent comes along.

I had planned on just settling into the new house and recuporating from the previous day, but I wasn't there a half hour when they got a call looking for someone to do some waxing on a 65 footer. So I sucked it up and went for it. And so my yacht experience breaks out of it's embryonic shell and enters the real world. And to hasten my development I laid down a rather steep $900 intiation fee and signed up for the STCW-95 Basic Safety Traing course (5-day). An all but mandatory certification recently brought to bare on the industry by the powers that be. On the bright side, I do get to play with fire in the 2-day firefighting course and kiss a dummy(would it be politically incorrect for the dummy to have blonde hair??) in the CPR class!

After a year on the road and then working hard for two days, some rest was definately in order. I know, "what a Wus!". But after my first three days here I did meet my self imposed work quota for the week and felt I earned some time off. Which was good because it opened the door the next day to lounging on the beautiful Ft. Lauderdale Beach. So I went down with 2 stewardesses (Canada & Scotland) and watched them do their impression of rock lobsters while taking in the spring break sights and sounds as well as enjoying a nice swim. Oh, and to add a little extra flavor to the mix it was St. Patrick's Day. No, that green paint is not waterproof!! Of course we had to cap off the evening with a few pints at Waxy's Irish Pub.

So it's Sunday evening and the weekend has been mellow. I've been laying low because I gave birth to a wisdom tooth early this week which has been a real bitch. Luckily getting some rest, sucking down many aspirin, eating soft food and gargling twice an hour with Listerine has helped squelch the swelling. Hopefully the worst is over, at least until I get some dental insurance.

So tonight I have to get to bed early because tomorrow school starts......

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


In the immortal words of The Grateful Dead: "What a long strange trip it's been."

From gazing at the awe inspiring art in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum (post-coffeehouse), to Paris's Mussee D'Orsay, Madrid's Museo de Prado, Barcelona's Picasso Museo and through to Rome's Vatican City.

Bearing witness to the ancient ruins of Rome's colossal Colosseo and Foro Romano, to Greece's Acropolis and Panthenon, to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples in Cambodia.

Devastated by the genocidal memorials of Poland's Auschwitz and Birkenau and by the horrors of Cambodia's Killing Fields and S-21 torture facilities.

Impressed by the spiritually inspired creations of the Sacre Coeur overlooking Paris to Gaudi's Sagrado Familia in Barcelona. From Michaelangelo's canvased Sistine Chapel to the Dalai Lama's Buddhist temple in McCleod Ganj, India. And by the thousands of Wats (temples), Churches and Synagogues dedicated to Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha and the Hindu Gods.

Enticed into the water to bathe in the Mediterranean, Jet-ski in the Gulf of Thailand, skinny dip on X-mass eve in Cambodia, and float lazily down the Song River in an inner-tube sipping world class Beer Laos. Thrilled by the chance to learn scuba diving in Koh Tao and horrified by being left at sea while diving in Australia. From wishing I had a surfboard to catch the standing wave in Germany's Englisher Park Isar river, to taking my undersized short-board out in double overhead surf at Margaret River Main break and all along the expansive coast Western Australia.

But while seeing all these incredible things the one continually inspiring factor along the way were the fellow travelers I met. It was a genuine pleasure to make their acquaintances and I wish them all my best.

Yes, it has been a long (but not long enough), strange (wonderfully strange) trip. And I don't regret a single second!
Yours Truly,
DJ Wolinsky

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A friend of mine who writes for a local newspaper asked me to give him a short summary of the trip. This just came out. For all those who don't have access to The Islander Newspaper, I share it with you.

The inevitable question one receives after returning from a year abroad is, "Are you glad to be home?". Honestly, I must answer that with a "NO!".

I'm glad to be able to see my family and friends, but it would be so much better if they were to come visit me abroad! Things are so much more interesting and alive while traveling. Also, one gets to meet more new friends than Ferris Bueller would accumulate over a lifetime. And every guesthouse Mom & Pop and every hostel Brother & Sister becomes a part of your extended family.

While away friends would tell me that nothing has changed back at home. Now that I have returned, I realize that they are right except that now there are more houses, more businesses and more traffic. I loved growing up on the NJ shore, but it will never be the same and that's a shame.

To anyone who cares to listen I implore you to travel. I was lucky and got away for a long period, but that doesn't really matter. Take whatever time you can put aside and get out there to explore. Forget the itinerary and timetables. Don't plan it all out. Just go and experience the wonderful moments as they occur in the present. You know, the present is a "present". The problem is that if you don't open up your present right away it's gone and you can't get it back. But then it's never too late to learn because there is always another one coming. On the road, if you are mindful, it's easy to enjoy one present after another. It's a parade of gifts and it is definately worth the effort.

After 36 years on this big blue globe, this past year traveling abroad has been the best one yet. Now the only question is "Where to next??". As soon as I come up with an answer I'll see ya on the road.....

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Well my last stop on this world tour is infamous Pattaya. 24/7, 365 hedonism!! Enough said!

As they say in America, "What happens in Vegas, STAYS IN VEGAS!!!"

In that spirit I'm not gonna blog about it or post any pics with the exception of the attached pic which I think sums up Pattaya nicely. You'll just have to ask me about it in person. And maybe if you're lucky I'll share a few of the pics;)

So after 4 continents, 18 countries, 51 localities, 338 days and innumerable memories my trip like all good things (and bad) is coming to an end.

To all my family and friends at home, I look forward to seeing you again shortly.

To all my new friends I've met on the road, I hope to see you again someday. You are all an inspiration and I'll will treasure our times together. You all have a standing invite to visit me if you're ever in my neck of the woods.

Till we meet again, Farewell

Saturday, February 04, 2006

VangVieng and southern Laos

So today it's Kirk's turn to be sick. That's 3 for 3. He was puking all the way down the street as we walked to get our bus tickets to Vang Vieng.We took a minibus to Vang and the scenery through the winding mountain roads was beautiful. Poor Kirk, he's not looking to well and was almost set off again when the pretty Laos Co-pilot got car sick. Along the way we got stopped for over 40 minutes at a police check point. Never did figure out why?

We eventually arrived around 3pm and tried to get into Riverside Bungalows, but they were booked up and had to go next door to ChampaLao Bungalows. That was fine 'cause they are closer to the cool spots and cheaper. There Duong told us how to avoid getting into trouble with the police and then we decided to immediately test out our new found knowledge.

You see the bars here are also Coffee Shops ala Amsterdam. So we sat down at The Smile Bar and had breakfast including a cup of Laos Coffee which is undrinkable Mud. Really horrible stuff! And then bought a bag of good "Coffee" to brew up. Much nicer.Ok, so I'll sum up the next few days: lying in hammocks, lying in tubes going down the river, lying in our bungalows, sitting around bonfires at night, chillin, relaxing and chillin some more. It's just that kind of place!!

The tubing is fun if a little slow at this time of the year. At some points it seemed like we weren't moving at all. But it's nice to slowly and aimlessly drift down stream past bars, huts or even just a guy with a cooler selling Beer Laos. Along the way the way the bars have swings and ziplines to plunge into the water and hopefully not break your neck.

So before we relaxed into a coma we decided to move on to south to Vientienne, Laos capitol city. If for only one day. So we went to Buddha Park and it was worth a visit. Lots and lots of cement statues.

Then we were off to an area they call 4000 islands where the Mekong fans out it's width to accomadate them all. It's even slower and more relaxed down on Don Det, the island we stayed on. So basically we carried on at a snails pace and the highlight was the waterfall. Actually, not so much a waterfall as a large plateau of cascades with serious amounts of water moving even though it was the dry season.

So we only needed a few days there. At the rate we were slowing down we would soon start developing rust so it was time to travel back to Thailand viase Pakse into Chom Mek, Thailand. A little used border crossing, well at least for westerners. After paying the $1 holiday surcharge at the border (it's Chinese New Year! - Happy New Year!!) we had a quick lunch which gave us all the shits. Next we continued on to Ubon Ratchathani which is very much off the backpacking trail. In fact, we only saw one group of farang the entire time there. But then we were only there 1 day to make our way to Pattaya. Infamous Pattaya. The undisputed 24/7, 365 hedonism capitol of the world.

Ok. So it's two days before I'll be home and I'm gonna pretty much break it off here. My job is done. Well almost. ......

Monday, January 30, 2006

Heading into Laos

So Brad decides to come along to Laos and joins me for the backtrack bus ride to Chiang Mai. We arrive and as our Tuk Tuk drives past The Local I spot Kirk and Jody having some lunch. I introduced everyone, we had some lunch and checked into The New Zealander Guesthouse across the street.

We then went looking for bus tickets up to the border of Laos. At first it looked like we wouldn't be able to get a bus for two days. Luckily we did wind up finding a bus for noon the next day. With that out of the way all we had to do was relax and wait for dinner time to roll around.
When it did roll around we had another round of Mexican food at the Salsa Kitchen. Then we had nothing better to do but relax, sleep and await breakfast time.

At which time we had another round of Bagel and coffee breakfasts at the Bagel Cafe. Then off to catch our bus. A nice 5 hour mini bus drive on which I finished Goldstein's "One Dharma" and handed it over to Brad to read. On the bus we met Simon/Kathryn (Eng/Colorado) and Sky/Ben (Eng/Oz) and we all arrived ~5:30pm. The border closes at 5pm so we would spend the night here in Chiang Khong.

After checking into a snotty landlady's guesthouse we had a nice view of the full moon rising over the Laos mountains on the other side of the Mekong. While walking down the main street (the only street, really) a Scottish Expat of three years pulled up in his Toyota Hilux Pickup and offered us a lift. But since we had no idea where to eat we declined. He wasn't much help with restaurant suggestions, but he was very friendly.

We gave Bamboo Restaurant a try and settled on the deck to enjoy some Mexican food with an up close view of the Mekong. The owner had obviously taken a fair share of abuse from travelers and was rather defensive. But he quickly warmed up to us respectful folk. He even prefaced the dinner with the question "Have you ever had real Mexican food?" "Why, yes." "Oh, too bad. Cause I'm no Mexican, hope you like."Could have fooled us! The food was really excellent and we even broke down and had some homemade brownies to cap off the evening.

Up at 6:30 in the morning for breakfast and then a short hike of about a half a km to the border even though a Tuk tuk driver told us it was 5km!!After skipping across the Mekong into Laos we procured our 15 day Visas and bought our Slow Boat tickets for a two day ride down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Brad decided to take the speed boat, but in the end wound up getting stuck there for a few days chasing a girl (about the only girl there!)

for anyone heading into the area: There is a new option available which we really wanted to take, but time became a factor. You can now take an "eco tour" into the national forests, sleep in the tree tops, see the monkeys and fly along the tree tops in an extensive zip cable system for 3 days. Then take the Ou Nam river down to Luang Prabang which is supposed to be great. Next Time!

So around noon we got on the boat and I took a seat on the cushionless wood bench. Luckily I thought ahead and stuffed a towel in a stuff sack to cushion my arse. And somehow I had the two seater bench to my self. (who needs deodorant anyway).

Jody and Kirk are a few rows ahead. Against the wall behind me are the English girls who seem to be following me thru Thailand and Laos. To the side, a Belguim, Behind me Spainards, In front Europeans. A French guy who thinks he's Spanish plays a few entertaining songs on guitar and even a little Flamenco.

After a short lunch break Kirk and I had a few Beer Laos (BTW-World class beer, not like that Thai swill!!!) and played some backgammon. I beat him three in a row and then he turned around and did the same to me. We still haven't had a tie breaker? Then we shared a few tunes on his Ipod and suddenly we were there in Pak Beng, our stop for the night.

We all file off of the boat onto a very steep 80 ft. high sand dune while local kids carry our oversized backpacks (some two at a time) across a narrow wooden plank ashore. Grabbing our bags we make the difficult ascent, barely able to get a foothold in the shifting sands.
We weren't there more than a minute and a boy has offered us weed and a room. We got there and the price doubled so we got another room. He tried to rip us off on the green (brown) stuff too!

I awoke at 3am and had to vomit. I had just barely enough time as I tried to calmly find my torch, flip flops and make to the bathroom. It was short and sweet and then went back to bed. Dodgy food I guess.

As we were putting our bags in the back of the boat the following morning we noticed there was a lot of space there. So we decided to squat back there for the second day of the trip. OK, it is right next to the engine, but I had my earplugs and there was enough space for us all to lie about and take in the Mekong views in relative comfort.

My stomach was still a bit crooked in the morning and I was trying to avoid the bathroom because the previous boat only had a squatter and with 2 inches of water(???) sloshing around. But I was pleasantly suprised to find this boat had a proper toilet and with that and a few Oreo's my stomach was as good as new. :)

Near Luang Prabang we passed Buddha Cave and around 4pm arrived. We walked around for a while trying to find the recommended Vilay Guesthouse, but after getting misdirected we hailed a tuk tuk and got a ride there. Had dinner and walked thru the night market (pretty large) and admired the wares for sale: bedspreads, t-shirts, food, lamps, etc.

In the evening we went to check out The Hive Bar, along the way locals "ppssst, pssst"-ing trying to sell us opium or grass. After a beer we went down the street to Lao Lao Garden where we and others from the boat gathered around the bonfire for an evening of swapping stories.

We awoke the next morn and had some really great bagels and coffee at Jo Ma's Cafe. Unfortunately Jody wasn't feeling very well at all, so she went back to her room to work past the dodgy dinner we had and Kirk and I took a walk aroung Luang Prabang. Saw some more nice Wats and took in the quite becoming French architecture as we made our way to where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. We thought we'd keep up with the French theme and find some wine and cheese to munch on. We found wine, but no luck with the cheese. We also were unable to find motobikes to rent. Apparently they don't rent them to farangs here because if you get hurt the nearest decent medical attention is an air flight away.

In the evening Jody felt better, but wasn't ready for the 50 cent street buffet so instead we went for some really tasty Indian food. Then we took a meandering walk to Lonely Planet reccommended Mylak Bar. A nice place with rugby on tv, comfortable chairs and a european feel to it. Later we went on over to Lao Lao Garden for more drinks and to wish Ben/Sky farewell as they are off for a three day trek.

The next morning we were planning on going to see a waterfall, but I awoke to a cold overcast sky and rolled over for more sleep. Eventually Jody knocked on my door and we went again to Jo Ma's for breakfast. Afterwards we got on the internet and upon exiting were pleasantly suprised to see that the sun had come out. So the waterfall trip is back on. We found a driver to take us there, but we weren't sure which waterfall we wanted to go to. The driver didn't speak English so he was no help and in the end we pointed to a waterfall picture in his truck and said "take us there".

It turned out to be a good choice. The other waterfall is where all the tourists go and we found out later that it was standing room only there. The Tad Se waterfall was practically empty. Maybe there were 8 other people there. And we even got to take a short boat ride to get there. BTW- there cabins would be an excellent place to spend a night.

We hiked up to the top straight off. It's not very high but we did get a little bit of a rock climb in at the top. No obvious trails up there so we climbed back down, peered into a cave and then found a pool and had a refreshing dip in the chilly, clean, clear water. Grabbed a round of Beer Lao and drank sitting on the stools in the shallow pool of the waterfall. Quiet, Peaceful, great sun and temperature. After a few hours we hiked back down and woke up the napping boy for a ride back to the other shore.

After a nice bakery lunch in town we climbed up the 300 or so steps to the top of Phousi Mountain. The Phu Si wat caps the mountain which has a commanding 360 view of Luang. Up there I met a young monk of two years. I heard that many of the boys join for a few years to get educated and then leave the Sangha so I asked him how long he intended to be a monk. He said he was in for life. Good Karma! There was a fair amount to see up there including: Buddha's footprint, Big Reclining Buddha, Buddha Cave and a few other pieces.

In the evening I ventured to try the 50 cent street buffet and was not dissappointed. Then a little pampering with an oil massage. Ended up again around the fire at Lao Lao Garden. A troop of jugglers from Brazil/Italy were there, "Jugglers without Borders". The English girls were there too and when things shut down they invited us across the street to the gay bar. No thanks, it's not worth the hassel, besides we're getting up earlier to move on to VangVieng.

Stay tuned......

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pai, Thailand

Pai is a quiet town in Northern Thailand. The type where a few years ago the police had nothing better to do than kick the dogs off of the stoop. Recently it's become popular with backpackers, but they still don't have much to do. You can walk thru the main part of town at 11:30pm and feel like you're the only one there alive. Typically though, I found myself walking home closer to 4am as luckily I found that there is one (and only one) place to go hang out after hours. Upon arriving in Pai I was escorted on a moto across the Pai river to the bungalow where I would tender my stay. My very own river front pad where you really felt away from it all and close to the environment.

I spent a lot of time there reading and watching the Pai river flow gently downstream as the occasional bamboo raft or saffron robed monks passed by with beautiful lush moutains framing the valley.

They had a flash flood recently which knocked out a considerable percentage of the bungalows along the river. A concern that I didn't overlook, but since everything was rebuilt on stilts I felt it was not a huge concern. Of course, I was ready to high tail it out of there at the first sign of rain clouds. Fortunately though, after the morning sun burnt off the daily morning mist it was nothing but bright sunshine followed by a few downright chilly nights.

After dumping my packs off I crossed back over the river via the newly constructed 2 foot wide bamboo bridge and ran into Dave (England working in Holland) whom we had met in Chiang Mai a few days earlier. We walked into town for food and drinks and so I could get a feel for my new surroundings. Spent a good part of the evening just sitting at a sidewalk table sipping Heinikens and watching Pai pass on by. A group of older Americans (Lake Tahoe) sat down with us and I was shocked but happy to hear that the one's Thai girlfriend who looked 13 was in fact 24. I.D. please.

The next day I spent walking all over the town and towards evening I was starting to wonder if I would stay much longer. The town is Chill. Very Chill. I just wasn't used to the pace. I needed to find something or someone interesting to pass the time. So I walked around in a bored state searching every table in every bar or restaurant for someone having a converstation I could intrude upon. But it was a quiet night. Apparently the town was bustling a few days ago for New Years, but now a vacumn has been created by the mass exodus.

I saw in one dimly lit restaurant two girls and one guy having a conversation which looked promising. But I made the mistake of going to grab an ice coffee and when I returned they were gone and the restuarant was shut tight. Not to worry though, our paths would soon cross.
Continuing on I was suprised to have yet another unlikely rendevous with Shimrit, an Israeli girl (with friend) whom I had taken a Reiki class with in Mcleod Ganj, India some 4 or 5 months previous. Small world. I joined them for some food at Mama Falafel (They are Israeli!) and we left with two Thai girls joining us for drinks at Ting Tang.

The staff at Ting Tang were exceptionally warm and friendly as were the fires to warm up next to. I was talking with a few English/Aussie guys when the trio I had spotted earlier walked in. A few minutes later I managed to muscle in on their conversation, but it didn't take much. Brad (S. African living in Germany) and Ali (D.C.) were engrossed in each other so her friend Cate (NYC) was more than happy to have someone to talk with.

We talked until they kicked us out and all made plans to meet for breakfast and rent motos to have a look at the surrounding waterfalls and have a soak in the hot springs. So we ate our eggs and porridge and then each rented motos (~$2.50\day). Cate wasn't very experienced riding and Ali had never been on a moto so Brad and I gave the girls a quick lesson and then we were off hoping for the best.

First stop, Hot Springs. Up near the top the water is hot enough to boil eggs, but below a French couple pointed out a "romatic" pool where we had a nice time soaking in the hot tub like natural spring waters.

There were two drawbacks though. One was the tiny little leeches, but they're harmless. The other were smaller pin worms which Brad first noticed. We didn't think much about them (there weren't any danger or warning signs, at least we hadn't noticed any.) until later that night when Brad reported that he had pissed one out!! Great! Brad checked with a doctor the next day and found out that they are harmless unless they get inside you. So he got some antibiotics and since I felt reasonably sure that nothing had entered me I gambled that I was right and just kept a close watch for any symptoms. So far so good.

Second stop was Pai Canyon where we forced the girls into a crash course in off roading. They made us proud. Unfortunately, Brad was nursing a particularly sore ankle as the result of a crash sustained while trying to keep up the previous day with a Thai motocross champ so we didn't hike through the canyon.

Third stop was to the Mor Paeng Waterfall. After a beautiful 10km ride through the Thai scenery we arrived and stripped down for a dip. The water was freezing so all we dipped was our feet and had a short climb up the waterfall. On the road in all the native town woman were raising their hands up to their mouths, making a smoking gesture. It took me a minute to realize that they weren't asking for smokes, but were indeed selling smoke! We were having a really great time with the girls so it was very disappointing that they had to leave on the 3:30pm bus out of town. They nearly missed that bus due to the fact that Ali was riding very slow. Not that we would have minded. I learned later that she was going slow because on the ride up to the waterfall she nearly had a serious crash into a pole. Full on speed wobbles. Brad couldn't fathom how she pulled out of it, but luckily she did. Later Brad wouldn't be as lucky.

So we dropped the girls off at the bus station and said our farewells, had some lunch and got back on the motos to check out one last waterfall. After crawling at a snails pace with the girls all morning we took the opportunity to eek out every last bit of horsepower the 125cc motos had. Reaching speeds of 100km/hr we were having a great time and turned onto the rode to the waterfall. We were screaming through twisty turns with me in the lead when I noticed that the next tight turn was covered in sand. Uh Oh!! I have plenty of riding experience and knew straight away we were in a serious predicament. Realizing straight away that if we tried to negotiate the turn in our lane we would have slid out straight away and probably been decapitated by the gaurd rail. Without the tires and horsepower to power slide the rear tire around oval track style I deduced our only chance for survival would be to use both lanes and the outside shoulder. I only hoped that Brad would follow my line. He did.

I managed to remain upright and safe, but Brad had to get on the brakes the last few feet to avoid running up my back and had a low speed lay down. His front wheel gently bumping my rear wheel as he came to a stop sustaining some nice scraps on his one good leg, hands , hip and strained his shoulder. Nothing serious, but what would have been serious is if the huge truck that stopped 10 ft. in front of us had come 2 seconds earlier. In that case you would probably have been reading about this in an obituary instead of a blog! Needless to say we didn't get to the waterfall, but instead headed back to patch Brad up and count our blessings. We found a pharmacy and the local sweet lady behind the counter donned rubber gloves and played the role of nurse. She even threw in some pain killers, gratis.

The next morning I made sure to get to that last waterfall before returning the moto. Later in the week we attended the big concert in town. "Caraboo", Thailands favorite band was in town. Of course, the lyrics were all in Thai so although they were a decent band we enjoyed the opening band's rock and reggae covers more.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing during the days and visiting mainly two bars. The Blue Lagoon, an Aussie SAS expat's bar with the only decent pool table in town and some live music. I even got to sit in on congas for a few songs. Undoubtably though the most entertaining place in town was Bebop. They have a really talented house band and we were treated one night to an equally talented jazz band. Bebop closes down at 1am so normally afterwards we would wind up at Bamboo light which is the afterhours bar I mentioned earlier. Sit back around the fires and socialize with the other night owls till the wee hours of the morning.
When I first arrived in Pai I was wondering if I'd stay even two days. In the end I spent over a week there! Once you slow down to the pace it really is a nice place to spend time. Just don't get cocky on the motos!!!!

Pics posting shortly.......