Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Hurricane Ida Missed Us

 This entry is a quick update. We arrived in Demopolis on August 17th. We were very relieved to get there and have Tropical Storm Fred stay east of us. Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis is a very protected and comfortable marina. We really like it there. They have nice concrete floating docks, nice bathrooms and showers and a swimming pool. 

We swam in the pool each of the days we were there. We spent some time hanging out with Berrlin and Debra from Satisfied Frog. We taught them how to play Mexican Train Dominos. They thanked us by beating us each game we played. 

Here is a shot of SHIFT with Satisfied Frog on our starboard side. The Frog is a beautiful boat. 

Our plan was to relax for about a week. Then leave in our truck, and drive to Arkansas to see our son, Michael and his family and then on to the ranch in Missouri to see the rest of the family. We met a number of other boaters that are at the marina. It is always a very social time at KBM. The marina is full of boats of all shapes and sizes.

This is Liberty, a beautiful 70 foot yacht.

This is Miss Tennala, she is a homemade floating RV on barrels. It is an interesting looking boat. 

We left Demopolis on August 26th. We had been watching a storm that was forming, but it was too early to tell what it was going to do. As we drove north and west, I kept checking the weather and each update looked worse. By the 27th, I was getting worried. The storm was now named Ida and it was forecast to hit the gulf coast around New Orleans, but it was going to just be a Category 1 storm and would quickly weaken to a tropical depression. We were very glad we were not still in Gulfport. They were talking about a mandatory evacuation of the marina we had called home for the last 7 months. By Saturday the 28th, the forecast got much worse for the gulf coast. Ida was now going to grow into a Major Hurricane and the impact would be horrific. The track of the storm was staying to the west of Demopolis. The storm was forecast to stay strong pretty far inland, so the track was critical for us. 

As it turned out, the forecasters got it right this time. The storm followed it's forecast path almost perfectly. Demopolis got a bunch of rain that caused some flooding in the river we had just come up, but no winds over 25 knots. I was very relieved when I contacted a friend in the marina and he said it was no big deal there. The river is now high enough that we could not make it under the bridges and the current is very fast (about 3 knots which is double from what we saw). All has worked out well for us. Unfortunately, not so well for the people in Louisiana. Our prayers are with them at this time. It will be a long recovery.

So, now it is time to rest and get ready for our big adventure starting in late October. We are at the ranch in Missouri. Spending as much time as possible with the kids and grandkids. I probably won't write much until we get back to the boat, so don't worry the adventure begins in about a month and a half. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Running From Tropical Storm Fred part 2

 In my last entry, we were running from Tropical Storm Fred. We had made it 63 river miles up the Tombigbee river to an anchorage called 3 Rivers. We had a very calm night other than we could see occasional the spotlights of the alligator hunters looking for their target. 

We arose before first light and got ready to go. I was gaining confidence in the new engine with each passing day. After we had been on the river for a couple of hours I recorded this video update:

Update from Mile 74   click on the link to watch the video

We were able to get an internet connection fairly quickly and were very excited to see that TS Fred was moving more east than previously expected. This was very good for us. We were now solidly on the "dry" side of the storm. We wanted to make it to the Coffeeville lock to have that protection from rising waters, which was looking like would happen around 2:30 pm. 

Just before we arrived at the lock I noticed we had a target on our AIS system. It was the trawler "Satisfied Frog", that we had seen the previous day. They were running close to 8 knots, so they had caught up to us. We talked on the radio and agreed to go through the lock together. When we arrived at the lock, the lockmaster informed us there would be a wait as two of the big "tows" were passing through. We both idled around for over an hour until it was our turn to enter the lock. 

Here we are in the Coffeeville Lock. The rise is 33 feet.

That is the Satisfied Frog in front of us. They are a 50 foot trawler. 

I am not sure what was different, but this ride up was very turbulent. We struggled for a few minutes after they started letting water into the chamber to keep the boat straight and not slam into the wall. After a while, things calmed down and we waited for the signal to leave the lock and head upriver. 

We had a short 2 mile trip from the lock to Bobby's Fish Camp. They have done some improvement on the dock since we were last there. Satisfied Frog and one other boat were there, but there was still room for us to get docked. It was great that the other boaters helped us get docked and tied up. Joshua on Leaping Lizard was a great guy and I enjoyed meeting him later that evening. We also enjoyed meeting and talking with Berrlin and Debra on Satisfied From. They are from Parker, Colorado and have been cruising for 5 years on the Frog including one complete "Great Loop". 

Both of the other boats were planning to depart the following morning. Frog was hoping to make it all the way to Demopolis, which was about 100 river miles including passing through the Demopolis Lock. We hung out and fixed a nice breakfast and studied the weather. It became clear that the storm was going to pass east of us and we were in the clear. At about 9 am, we decided to go ahead and head further north and break up the trip to Demopolis into 2 days. We filled two jerry cans with fuel and promptly left them on the dock. We had only gone about a half mile when Kim asked me where the fuel cans were. I felt pretty dumb, when we returned to get them. 

I recorded this video update around mile 130:  Update from Mile 130

It was a beautiful day as we cruised up the river. We never saw any part of Fred while we cruised along the river. When we reached our intended anchorage at mile 177, it was calm and beautiful. I recorded this video update after we got two anchors down and settled in for the night:

Video Update Mile 177 - Our last night on the river

Just after that update we heard a rushing in the trees that surrounded us. It was Fred paying a little visit. It was actually a far outer band of the tropical storm that was bringing us some wind. Unfortunately, with the stern anchor out, we were being held with our beam to the wind.  We waited out in the cockpit for a while and then the wind died off. I made an adjustment to the anchors to allow a bit more swing to allow SHIFT to get nose into the wind if it came back. We set the anchor alarm and went to bed. We did not have a Tow pass us all night and it stayed perfectly calm. That is all we saw from Fred. 

I took a few shots on this beautiful evening. Those distant clouds are the outer bands of TS Fred.

A small sand island just off our stern.

Beautiful pink colors in the sky as it got dark.

We arose the next morning and got moving. We did see a bit more current as the river got more narrow as we approached the Demopolis lock. The river banks turn to white limestone for long stretches in this area. with the additional current we saw our speed over ground drop to around 5 knots, but still just fine. 

You can see the additional current with the wake coming off of this red channel marker. Red on the right going up the river. 

We made a very easy and uneventful trip up to the Demopolis lock and on to Kingfisher Bay Marina at mile 218. It felt great to be tucked into our slip and safe from the storms along the gulf coast. Or is that true? We will find out in coming entries as a new storm is on the horizon, and this is no Tropical Storm. A real major hurricane is on the way.  

Friday, August 20, 2021

Time to Depart - Running from TS Fred

 As I wrote in my last entry, we had finished the installation of our new engine in SHIFT. We would have liked to do more testing, but we had a problem. Tropical Storm Fred was looming out in the Caribbean. The forecasters were in agreement that the storm was going to impact the Gulf Coast between Apalachicola and Gulfport. We were right in the middle of the possible landfalls. We looked at all of our options and we decided our best bet was to head north as soon as possible. 

On Thursday, August 12, we rented a car and relocated our truck to Demopolis, Alabama. Demopolis is where we stayed for hurricane season last year. There is a very nice marina and boat yard there. The problem is that is about 270 nautical miles from where the boat is now. At an average speed of 5 knots into the current, that would be over 50 hours of motoring on our brand new engine. 

I recorded this video on the morning of August 13:Ready for Departure

Click on the link to watch the video.

You may notice that the boat is now facing out of the channel. We turned it around when we came back from our sea trial two days prior. It was very shallow and I wanted to get that turn out of the way. 

When we got the engine started and the instruments on, we started hearing alarms. It was a shallow water alarm. It told us we were in 3.5 feet of water. The problem is that SHIFT draws 4.5 feet. I knew it was a muddy bottom, so I decided to try to power out of there. It worked! we left a trail of stirred up mud, but before long we were in 7 feet of water and moving well. 

The next problem is that we were going to be moving up another shallow bayou to get to the Pascagoula inlet. We saw some depths of just over 4 feet, but we were able to power through. It felt great when we rounded the corner and entered the main ship channel. As we hit the open water, we had a nice breeze, so we unfurled the genoa and motor sailed at almost 7 knots out into the sound. It was a nerve racking start, but we were now on our way. 

I recorded this video at that point: Leaving Pascagoula

Very calm water in Mobile Bay. A very welcome site.

We cruised along making good time. As it turned out, much better than I had expected. As we approached the bridge between the mainland and Dauphine Island, the wind died off to nothing. The water became glassy. We have heard of horror stories about crazy weather and rough seas in Mobile Bay. That would not be our story on this day. It was like a mill pond. I called the Dog River Marina and they told us to dock at the fuel dock and plug in for the night. They closed at 6, but we arrived at 5:30. After waiting for another boat to fuel, we tied up and began stuffing all the fuel we could into the main tank and then two 5 gallon jerry cans. While doing the second can the high volume pump overfilled one of the tanks and covered me in diesel. That was not good! I had to quickly pay the bill and then hit the shower they have on shore. It took a while, but we got everything cleaned up. Kim decided it was a good time to wash the boat yard off of the boat. 

I spent the evening checking the shaft coupling and all of the fluids. I found nothing that concerned me. We were in bed early and up before dawn the next morning. We got underway at first light. We had a long way to go and that storm track was now heading right at Mobile Bay! They were also predicting it would get stronger as it approached the coast and may make hurricane status. My big question in my mind was how strong was the current going to be. Last year we struggled to make 4 knots over ground in the 2-3 knot current. I was hoping for 5 knots, but only time would tell. 

I recorded this clip of the early morning over the calm Mobile Bay: Sunrise over Mobile Bay

Sunrise over Mobile Bay

We traveled 10 miles to reach the downtown area of Mobile. The current was light and we were averaging over 5.5 knots. I was very pleased. 

A large container ship at the port of Mobile. 

Downtown Mobile by water never gets old. We have done this 3 times now. 

Even though it was the weekend, the downtown port area is very busy and you have to pay close attention. I was really looking forward to leaving civilization and being on the quiet river. The change is immediate as you get to mile 6. It was now just us and the river.

The rainbow ahead was a good sign.

We had to pass two barges, that were moving upriver a little slower than us. The good news is that our speed was consistent at between 5.5 and 6 knots over ground. The barges were running around 4.5, so the pass was very slow, but the captains were very helpful and we made it. We had to wait a while at mile 14 for the railroad bridge to open. They were having mechanical problems, but were able to get it fixed and did not delay us too much. 

At the good speeds were started to plan our stop for the night. We thought we could make it to mile 63 and the 3 rivers anchorage. It was about that time that we were passed by a fast trawler named "Satisfied Frog". When a thunderstorm came up, they pulled off and anchored for the night, but they will become part of this story. We kept going and the thunderstorm passed south of us. We made it to 3 rivers. Some locals told us it was safe to go back to the lake. We tried, but ran aground. I had to power hard to get SHIFT back to deep water, but we got it done. They also told us that it was alligator season. We met a couple of guys that were hunting. We saw a number of alligators while we were there. 

The bad news is that we had no cell signal. I could not see what was going on with Fred. The last we knew it was heading right at us and would be here in 24 to 36 hours. I did my engine checks and all looked good. We would now try to sleep without air conditioning. We have a big battery bank of 4 AGM batteries, so we ran fans all night and actually slept well. 

In my next entry, I will pick this story up from there and let you know how we made it north and the safety of the marina in Demopolis.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Real Time Update and Finishing the Engine Installation

 In my last entry we were finishing up the installation of our new engine. It had been a long road and we were now looking at another week in a less than desirable motel/apartment. My Birthday is August 6th. I spent that Friday working on the engine with Adam. It was a very long day, but we were close. He left about 3:00 to go work on other boats, but I worked on into the evening getting the raw water system put together. I had a list of things to do over the weekend to get the boat ready to go back in the water on Tuesday, August 10. It was over that weekend that a storm named "Fred" started to become a worry. At first it was just another tropical storm way out in the Atlantic, and then the models showed it could grow into a hurricane and it was heading straight at us.  

Now for the real time Update: We are safe and sound in Demopolis, Alabama. Demopolis is 155 miles from the gulf coast. This is a very safe place from most hurricanes. How we got here, will be detailed in the rest of this entry, and future entries. I just wanted to let everyone that reads this blog know, that there is nothing to worry about. 

Back to the story: I spoke with the yard manager and he agreed to put us in the water on Tuesday, August 10. Monday was a very long day. Kim and I both worked hard on all of the last minute things that had to be done before going in the water. 

The Beta looks beautiful sitting in her new home. The polished Stainless Steel Alternator bracket was custom built by me.

I wasn't taking many pictures at this point. I was just ticking things off of the list. We splashed on Tuesday after paying our yard bill. The lift out and then 15 days in the yard and then splashed was about $500. 

It is always a scary thing to see your home lifted up and carried to the water, but these guys a Pitalo's Marine did a great job.

Cameron keeping a watchful eye as we approach the water. Stacey was at the controls of the lift. 

When SHIFT was in the water, I jumped aboard to see if there were any leaks. Oh No! there was a leak in the shaft seal. I quickly grabbed a wrench and tightened it up and we were good to go. I guess all of the shaft movement when it was getting cut caused the leak. We were very close to being ready to start the motor. We warped the boat (which means we used the dock lines to pull it over) to a small barge and tied her securely. 

SHIFT's new home for a few days. 

It was then that I bled the fuel system and then cranked the engine. She fired and then sputtered out and died. I tried again and then it settled into a smooth idle. I was so happy to see water coming out of the exhaust and all looked good. I sent a message to Adam that we were now ready for commissioning and sea trail. We scheduled it for the next day. That evening the forecast for Fred looked worse. The storm was taking a move to the west bringing it right at Mobile Bay. Scheduled arrival was still not until Monday August 16, but we needed a plan. I talked to the yard and staying where we were, was not an option. We considered going back to Gulfport, but that is not a safe place in a storm. 

Adam showed up on Wednesday and we went through an extensive checklist. The new motor passed all of the tests at the dock including running it in gear for 20 minutes at 1500 RPM. We made a cloud of mud. It was now time to head out to run the engine much harder. The engine sounded great as we raised the RPM. First to 2000, then 2500, then Wide open. It reached 3300 RPM. It should have made 3600 RPM, so that means that we will need to change our prop to make the engine run at it's best. It was then we started to see smoke coming from the engine compartment! We shut it down and investigated. It was just some oil on the exhaust header. That was there from the installation and welding. All was good and we passed the test and were now ready to go. 

While we were on our sea trial, we saw this dead alligator floating in the bayou. It is not the hunting season, so I don't know what happened to it.  

Kim and I discussed our options and decided our best bet was to rent a car and  move the truck to Demopolis the next day and then depart the following day and head north as fast as we could. The truck moving day went well. We drove to Demopolis in 3 hours from Gautier, Mississippi. It took us much longer in the boat, but that is a story for another entry. In my next entry, I will begin to tell the story of how it feels to run from a storm with a brand new untested engine. I am not going to lie, I was worried.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Much More Difficult Than Expected

 As I wrote in my last entry, the process of installing a new engine in our boat has begun. On July 27th we moved the boat about 40 miles to Gautier, Mississippi. We were hoping to be in the yard about a week, boy were we wrong.

The following day, a mechanic named Michael came to begin unhooking our current Yanmar engine. In 3 hours he had the mechanical part done, but he does not do electronics. The company that we are using is very busy and they were not sure when someone would be available to do the electronics. That is when I offered to do that part, which they accepted. I spent Thursday and Friday pulling out the wiring harness and disconnecting the control panel. On Friday afternoon, the lead mechanic, Adam stopped by on his way home to check on the project. That was the first time he had seen the boat. 

We ordered the crane for Monday morning. The crane operator wanted to do it early because we have been under a heat advisory. We planned for him to arrive at 6AM. 

Michael arrived at 6 AM and the crane not much later. In less than an hour we had the motor removed and on a trailer that was brought over by the guy that was buying the engine. That part went very well. 

The crane just got done putting the old Yanmar on the trailer that the buyer brought to transport it to his shop.

Kim looking on as we say good bye to the Yanmar. That motor always concerned me, but never let me down.

About 7:30, Adam arrived with the new engine in an enclosed trailer. We quickly unpacked it and were ready to lift it into the boat. The crane charges $250/hour, so time was of the essence. The motor went high up in the air and then swung over the boat. All went well until we tried to move it into the motor compartment. We had measured the motor compartment and based on the dimensions on the Beta web site it should fit. Guess what, it didn't fit! The exhaust was hitting the back wall. We had to just set it down partially in the compartment and get it disconnected, so that we could send the crane on his way. We ended up only using him for 2 hours, so that was what we expected. 

There is the new engine getting dropped right in the middle of our living room.

Here is a shot of the empty motor compartment. We needed to take a minute and change the shaft coupling before we could set it in place. 

There is the new motor and transmission. The Beta 38, pretty, but the add-on exhaust manifold was much longer than the stock one.

Do I look concerned? Believe me, I was!

This is a shot of the very special Balmar Alternator that was on my old engine. I wanted to move it to the new Beta. This is a high output unit that is used to charge my very large battery bank, while we are running the engine. 

Now that the crane was gone, we left Michael and Adam to go to work. We came back at one o'clock and they were gone. The next day we found out that after removing the exhaust and cutting 5 inches off of the propeller shaft, they were able to make the motor fit. We also found out the next morning that Michael's wife had test positive for the COVID Delta Variant. He was now in quarantine for 14 days. Adam worked hard much of the day Tuesday, but was unable to get the engine and shaft aligned. By the end of the day he also had a very sore neck. He called on Wednesday morning to let me know that he was also unable to work. To say I was now concerned, would be a huge understatement. 

To Adams credit, he came to work on Thursday and worked as hard as he was able with my help to finally get the motor aligned and the motor mounts installed. I went to work installing the alternator and whatever else I could do. It was hard work, but thankfully we brought our window unit air conditioner from Missouri and were able to cool down the boat as we worked. 

I worked well into the evening on Thursday and then again on Friday to finally feel like we were getting close.  We even bumped the engine with the started to verify that all was hooked up correctly. The only problem was the propeller was spinning backwards! Adam did some research and determined that actually all was fine, we were just going to have to get used to an opposite lever direction for the transmission shifter at the helm. The two transmission linkages are set up backwards from each other.

Here is a shot of the motor almost finished. Check out the polished Stainless steel mounting bracket on the alternator. I bought one and had to modify it to make it work. 

I called Beta-USA to find out what we could do about the exhaust. They suggested we cut the exhaust and have it rewelded. I found out a guy that works in the yard was a welder. He could do it for me after work on Friday. I gave him the parts and on Saturday morning we had a perfectly welded exhaust. I installed it and it fit perfectly. 

As of Sunday, we have a few things left to do, but we are close to going back in the water and starting the engine. We are hoping to be ready on Tuesday. The problem with that is that we then need to sea trial and do final adjustments. That means that we will stay another week in the "roach motel". It seems that 3 weeks is what it takes every time we go to the yard. It has been tough, but the good news is that I know exactly how it was installed which will allow me to address problems down the road. 

In my next entry, I will hopefully document the final stages of this project. We can't wait to get back in our floating home and on the move. For now, the tropics are quiet, it doesn't look like that will last much longer. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Process Has begun

 It has been a busy time for us since we returned to Gulfport after our long trip. We were hoping to get started with the engine swap right away, but the installing company put us off a week. That actually was a good thing, because we really needed some down time to rest and get ready for the time in the yard. We have been keeping a close eye on the tropics and all is quiet for now. The main issue with the timing is that hurricane season looms, and the most active months will be here soon. We really want to have the boat up the river to give us the best protection possible. 

The delay also let us have time to say good bye to all of our new friends in Gulfport. We really had an awesome time there. One of the cool things about this marina is that it is a stopover point for many boats that are either moving east from Texas or boats headed back to Texas from Florida. We have had the pleasure of meeting many that were on one of those journeys. The other day a boat came in and took a slip just of our stern that looked very interesting. 

Two Guys from New Orleans sailed this boat from St. Pete directly across the Gulf of Mexico.

I walked over to them and said, "When I saw this boat I figured there had to be a good story". They both laughed and we begun an hour long conversation about their adventures. They had just sailed this steel boat from St. Pete directly across the Gulf of Mexico to Gulfport in 4 days. This is a French built boat that at one time was a race boat. It looked a little rough, but they assured me it was very seaworthy. They are from New Orleans and are heading home after spending some time along the Florida coasts. They, like all sailors, were very cool people and I really enjoyed the conversation. 

I had one issue that I needed to try to solve. I will be left with this Yanmar Diesel engine. I decided to list it on Facebook Marketplace and see if I could sell it. I had a buyer just a few hours after I listed it. He said he would be out to see it the next morning. I marked it as "Sold" and waited for him to come by. He never did, and after trying to reach him over the next three days, I gave up and listed it again. The good news is that the second time went better. The buyer was local and he came by and we made a deal. He lives 6 miles from the yard and will come by and pick it up when we get it out of the boat. Sweet! one less thing to worry about. 

The call came that we needed to be at the boat yard on Tuesday, July 27th to have the boat hauled out to replace the engine. We decided that pulling the boat out of the water was the best plan because we are probably going to have to pull the prop shaft to shorted it about an inch and a half. We will see if that was the right decision. 

The first problem is that we needed to move our truck to our new location, which is the coastal town of Gautier, Mississippi. The work is being done in a small yard on the Pascagoula River a little inland from the Mississippi Sound. This meant we needed to move both the truck and boat about 40 miles. I asked a dock neighbor if he could help and he said "Sure". Thanks Duane! So we both drove over to the yard and he brought me back. We did enjoy a nice dinner together. 

The only problem was when we talked to the yard manager they were not sure if they could haul us this week. A lack of available help and a full yard were the problems. He finally said, "bring it on, we will figure it out." Alrighty, then...

Kim and I were up at 4:30am the next morning and underway before sunrise. It was a beautiful calm morning and we headed out of the marina and out into the sound. A very different scene than when we arrived back in November, but we arrived in the dark and are now leaving in the dark. 

Watching the sunrise over the Mississippi Sound over the casinos of Biloxi.

While we were cruising along enjoying the sunrise, I recorded this update: Sunset Over Mississippi Sound 
Click the link to watch the video.

We had no wind at all, so we could not sail. The old Yanmar just purred along. It was putting out a little smoke, but I have to say that old engine never let me down. I ran at 2100 RPM, which gave us 5 knots.

We made the channel at Pascagoula at around noon after a very nice cruise along the coast. As we approached we saw the large ships of the Ingalls Shipbuilding Complex. This is where they build a number of US Navy Ships. They have a number that are under construction.

Ingalls Shipbuilding is a busy place. 

We cruised right by Ingalls and up the river. We had to open a rail bridge to get in, but had to wait about 15 minutes for a train to pass. 

When we arrived at the yard, they were waiting for us and in no time had us in the slings and then up in the yard. It was a long day, but we were very happy to get this part of the project completed. The one bad thing about this yard is that we are not allowed to live on the boat. 

We found an "interesting" place to stay. It is not nice, by any standards, but at about $250 per week it will work. The interesting part is they provide nothing. I mean no toilet paper, no sheets, just a bed, TV, Table and chairs, refrigerator, two burner stove and couch. It is like renting a furnished apartment. We do get regular visits from the little critters that call this place home, but we are on the gulf coast and roaches are just part of life. We learned that when we lived in Houston just after we got married over 41 years ago. To say we are motivated to get back to our floating home would be an understatement. 

SHIFT on the hard in Gautier, Mississippi. Ready for her new engine.

The work has begun unhooking everything on the old Yanmar engine. Some of that work was done by the company I hired to do it and some by me. That looks like the way this thing is going to go. I will explain how things are going in my next entry. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Busy Time in Gulfport and the 3000 Mile Trip

 We made the decision to buy the new motor for the boat that I wrote about in my last entry. Now, we had some time to wait for it to arrive. We also had two very important to us, things happening. Our Son, Mark was getting married in Missouri on July 14th and my father was turning 90 in Colorado on July 11th. We were planning to wait until after the wedding to go see Dad, but now we saw an opening to get to Colorado at the same time as my three brothers and see Dad on his Birthday and then drive to Missouri in time for most of the festivities around the wedding. It was a crazy plan that would involve over 3000 miles of driving, but we decided to go for it, but first we had to wait for hurricane Elsa to stay on her projected path and turn east up through Florida and then the East coast. While we were waiting for that to happen, we had some things happening around the marina that were kind of cool. 

First, was a sailboat race. We had heard that there was a race to Gulfport on June 12th. We saw the boats come in and one of them pulled into the slip right next to us. We enjoyed getting to know the crew of "Madam J". She is a very fast boat and has a large crew. 

The "Madam J" from New Orleans, LA. 

 We found out that the sail to Gulfport was really just to get set up for the big race on June 25th from Gulfport to Pensacola, FL. The boats were in the marina during the Tropical Storm Claudette on June 18th. That storm was not too bad with some winds around 50 knots and water up to top of the docks, but there was no damage other than lost sleep. We even got up the next morning and drove the 70 miles to New Orleans for our soon to be Daughter in Law, Callie's, wedding shower. We spent some fun time over in New Orleans with Callie and her Mom Christie and our son Mark. New Orleans is a cool place to visit with a person that really knows the city. 

On June 25th, we went out on the Jetty to see the start of the big race. 

It was hard to see much, because the start was 3 miles off shore, but it was cool to see them mill around with partial sails and then right at noon, they all brought up full sails and they were off. 

They sailed through that day and all night and arrived in Pensacola before noon the next day. It was a tough race with 25+knots of wind coming right from the direction they wanted to go. The Madam J finished 2nd overall! We were watching the race on the tracker and found that a good friend from the marina was racing and did very well. Dwayne is a 74 year old captain and just had a total of 3 on the boat.  

The July 4th weekend was crazy around the marina. We had a big fishing tournament and live bands playing just outside the office and a carnival set up in our parking lot. 

We have private access to the office building because our bathrooms and showers are there, so that served as a private skybox to watch the live music. Some of the bands were very good. 

And then behind us was the carnival set up in our parking lot. We had to park a bit further away, but not too bad. 

We then had a great fireworks show on July 4th. They shot them off on the jetty at the end of the marina. We just sat out on our foredeck and enjoyed the show. No drama at the end, we just went below and went to bed. 

On July 6th we drove the 8 hours to the DFW area to see Kim's parents. They are both in their 80's and doing very well. We really enjoyed our time there. We left at 4:30am on July 9th to drive the 12 hours to the Denver Area. We got there in time to enjoy dinner with everyone on a deck at my parents complex. 

Much of my family. We had a great time seeing everyone. 

 The next day on the 10th, Dad and I went swimming in their pool. Dad, at 90 years young, swam 20 laps. I swam 14 and had enough. Dad is amazing, and it is so great to see both him and my Mom doing well again after a tough couple of years. Then we had the big birthday party around the pool area. It was a great time. 

On Dad's birthday, the 11th, we went to church and then out to brunch. We are so glad we decided to make it for this special time with all of my brothers and parents. Then about noon, we headed out for the 12 hour drive to Missouri. We thought we might stop half way, but I am not very good at that, so we arrived at our daughter, Shannon's at 12:30am. It was good to get that drive out of the way. 

The next day we went to the lake with Shannon and son Michael, his wife Audrey and their kids and Amelia. Fun Time! The next day we had to run out to the ranch to find clothes to wear to the wedding. My suit still fit, and we were good to go. We made it back in time for a BBQ at Mark and Callie's house.

I got this shot of our 4 kids. The youngest, Mark on the left, then Scott, Michael and Shannon. Oldest to youngest and tallest to shortest. It is so great to see them all together.

The next day was the big day. We were all so excited for the big wedding and it went off without a hitch. I did not take any pictures because there was a professional there for the whole thing. I think I will make that an entry by itself for the extended family to see. 

On the 16th, we drove the 3 hours to Michael and Audrey's house. After a nice evening with them. We slept well and then got up and made the final 8 hour drive back to Gulfport. It was a crazy trip, but we are so glad we did it. It has taken the past three days to catch up on sleep and get used to life on the boat again. We are so glad to be home. I called the guy who is replacing our engine and he wants to start next week the 26th. That is a week later than we wanted, but it is fine with us, we really needed the rest. 

In my next entry I will either write about and show some wedding pictures or we will begin documenting the engine replacement. My number of readers as dramatically increased in the past few months and I am not sure why. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know how you found out about this blog.