Sunday, December 30, 2007

My professional history

After a 20 year career in law enforcement, I needed something else to do. I was highly qualified for retail security, private investigations, contract prisoner transports, or airport security. So naturally, I chose landscaping. I convinced the interviewers that I had enough supervisory and management skills to run their crews and manage their customers. Surely they could teach me grass, trees, plants and flowers. They bought it. I became a landscape maintenance Account Manager. After spending the first year with a tri-state landscape maintenance company, I was pursuaded to join my brother, Mike, at the nations largest commercial landscape company. When he recruited me, he said I would have charge of prestigious accounts like the NFL stadium, NHL arena and connecting entertainment district, a hospital campus and "3 or 4 more properties." When I started it was more like prestige plus 33 or 34 MORE PROPERTIES! On top of that duty I was tasked with fulfilling the duty of branch safety officer. As the BSO I would present a weekly safety briefing to the 70 or so laborers and managers, promote the company's safety policys. In a short periord of time I found more comfort and satisfaction in the safety role, than that of the "landscaper." It was very tiresome wearing both of these hats but untimately, that sacrifice paid off. I was soon to go from public safety to private safety.

Cuz I got a Peaceful....Easy Feelin'

For more photos of Peaceful Easy Feelin' see her my space page at

I could spend weeks writing of our 17 months aboard her. I will shorten it enough to say the best part of our boat was the people she introduced us to. Dock 1 at Pleasant Harbor Marina is the kind of place most people can't even dream of spending their weekends. In a short time, we grew close to people we will cherish for all the days of our lives. Jeff and Marion, Nolan and Nancy, Ernie and Maribeth (Burt), Greg D, Greg J, Bryce (even though he later abandoned ship). I can't forget Mike and Carla (Paparina's crew), Jim and Shannon, Randy and Jo, even Home Depot Mike and his great son Andrew. We will never forget any of you. You always have safe shelter, during any storm life may bring you, in our home port.

During our time at PHM, we grew particularly close to our boat neighbor, Jeff. He was the owner and captain of Costa Del Sol. He had spent his life on and around boats. Sail, power, you name it . . . he knew about it. Jeff taught me so very much about boats in a short periord of time. He taught me to slip my 34 footer so well, he would later say I do it better than he does. I think it really made him proud when he would see me teaching other new boaters, as he taught me. Over time, Jeff's shipmate and wife came to the boat less and less. This made him spend more and more time with us and we grew to be like family. My wife, Kathy, got to where she called him "our son" despite the fact he was "several years" our senior. We would feed him breakfast bagel sandwiches and always brought enough dinner for him to join us. He was very gracious and always said, "No, it's okay I brought a hungry man TV dinner," but in the end we made him dine with us. Kathy and I love ya, Jeff, and we wish we could bring you with us to our next port.

My brother, Mike, got me addicted to researching boats, boating blogs and everything boating online. I am continually amazed at how much Mike knows about boats, inspite of spending his life landlocked. One of my favorite quotes Mike introduced me to came from Mark Twain, who once said:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

The other favorite boat quote of mine comes from the 1908 novel, The Wind in the Willows:

"Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?"

I used to go to the marina after work just to take a nap aboard, or have a beer, or watch tv. It didn't matter what I did, so long as I was aboard. Kathy would call me and say, "where are you?" After a while, she just took it for granted that if I wasn't with her I was likely on the boat. Jeff and I spent hours upon hours messing about on our boats. He'd be tightening screws or waxing Costa; I'd be wiping down Peaceful's bow or reading the book for my GPS; Jeff would just holler out, "MESSING ABOUT!" I love that phrase, because it precisely described what we were up to.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Diamond Princess

Marine Max of Tempe salesman, Roger Spears, had been looking for Sea Ray Sundancer boats for me for about 2 months. I tasked him with a tall order. A late model, gently used dancer, bigger than a 300, but under 70k. Somehow, he did it. Enter the Diamond Princess, a 1995 330 DA, with newly replaced motors. The old owner was meticulous in caring for her . . . right up until the day he trailered her home to the mountains of eastern Arizona (Show Low) and forgot to drain the fresh water out of the motors. Two new 7.4 liter Mercs and a new canvas package later and he dropped 35k right before he decided to trade her in.

Some people say it's bad luck to change the name of a named boat. Personally, I think if you do it right with ceremonial champagne you can exercise the demons of the old owners by recommissioning your vessel.

Thus was born, the good ship, Peaceful Easy Feelin'.

Fast Forward to Feb, 2006

Mike's boat, Paparina, is slipped at Lake Pleasant, north of Phoenix. It was a 15 minute drive back to my house in Tramonto. Upon greeting my wife, she asked, "So how was it?" With obvious exuberation I must have orgasmically said, 'Oh it was NICE.' "There ain't no (blankin) way we're gettin' a boat", she said. What did I say? I said it was nice. But she accurately said how well she knows me. That's what led to us getting a Harley a few years back (which strangely enough, we bought from my brother Mike).

In April, 2006 Kathy accompanied me on a 4 hour cruise on Paparina. Her life's experience with boating was limited to day cruisers, runabouts and speed boats. It's fun for a few hours but by then end, you are sun burned, wind beaten and not work a crap. Paparina featured a closed cabin with air conditioning, a fully galley, flat screen TVs and sleeping for 6. On the way home from the lake, it was Kathy who asked, "How much you think we could get one of those for?"

I better start writing this down

All of this really started in February, 2006. My brother, Mike, called to say words which would later change my life. "I bought a boat," he said. The proud owner of a new 2006 Sea Ray Sundancer 300 power cruiser, it would be a month before he would invite me out. On that fateful day I set foot aboard a vessel for the first time in some 20 years. No, the spring of '06 was not my first "float-e-o."

As a young deputy sheriff in La Paz County, AZ, in 1987 I had been only six months removed from the academy when Captain (later Sheriff) Hal Collette put me on the Colorado River patrol boat with Ron (?). I was 20 years old and too young to know how good I had it. After going to SCUBA school, spending 6 months rolling on the river, I stupidly asked to go back to the street.
It would be 20 plus years before I set foot on another boat.