Thursday, April 30, 2009


The fourth living generation of our family tree got one branch longer with the birth of
our newest grandson, Owen Anthony was born in Arizona on April 28, 2009

His first photo, just hours old

Owen weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19" long

He's ready to turn out the lights

Ethan meets his new baby brother, Owen, as new Dad Ryan looks on

Two year old Ethan shows his approval and likes saying, "Baby"

Happy Family
Bonnie, Ethan James, Ryan Anthony and Owen Anthony

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Click on picture for full screen

This was one of the smaller waves encountered today

Home in Port Charlotte
69* at wake up, going to a high of 89*

On Saturday morning I launched the boat for a day of fishing Charlotte Harbor. My friend and neighbor Rolando joined me but our Kathys (both wives) stayed home to plant flowers and enjoy a girls day in.

The marine forecast was less than appealing with winds 15-20 knots and choppy waters but since we were going to stay within the barrier islands we felt good about our safety. Conditions were expected to improve as the day wore on.

We entered the harbor via Alligator Bay and saw very few other boats out this day. We had to keep our speed down to about 10 knots to avoid getting splashed. It was a nice slow cruising speed so we decided to put out a couple of trolling lines. I had Rolando take the helm while I shot some short video clips. Click here if you wish to view:

We went to an area known as the West Wall, where Rolando had been told the snapper bite was on. The depths all over Charlotte Harbor are shallow but along the West Wall it's particularly thin, with many areas charted at 1 and 2 feet. I need two and a half feet to stay afloat. As luck would have it, just as we were approaching the area my depth finder started malfunctioning. It's an old Humminbird model that came with the boat. My Garmin GPS has great mapping and positioning but it lacks sounding capabilities. You really need to have both to be safe and up until now the two units working together fit the bill. We decided to anchor down in what we knew was 23 feet of water. This kept us way to far off the West Wall and a half hour of fishing proved fruitless.

We pulled up anchor and I started heading for Boca Grande Pass, where the Harbor meets the Gulf. After a year of making this trip, I knew the safe route well enough to travel with the GPS alone. Rolando went down to the cabin and got some anti-corrosion cleaning spray. He took the depth sounder off the mount and used my primitive tool kit to open it up and spray it out. After some trial and error he got it working. GOOD JOB ROLANDO! We determined there's a short in the connection and will solve it tomorrow. For the rest of this day, it worked good.

Even at the narrowest point, Charlotte Harbor is 4.5 miles wide so the winds, out of the east, were really kicking up the waves; 3-5 footers consistently. As we crossed the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway channel we saw a couple in a little bay boat who had absolutely NO business being out in these conditions in that boat. was about an 18' little open bow day boat and they weren't even wearing their vests; talk about denial.

At about 2:00 PM we reached Boca Pass and found a pretty protected spot west of Cayo Costa Island where the winds stayed down to a bearable 10 knots. We started fishing live shrimp in 30 feet, while drifting. My first line was hit on the way down. BAM! Fish on. I pulled up a small Jack Cravalle, the first of those I've caught. I released him as Rolando pulled up a 3' reef shark. He was an angry little fella. After spending a couple of minutes trying to grab the hook with the long needle nose pliers, Rolando was finally able to release him unharmed. My next catch was a nice Nassau Grouper, although not a keeper. They pull so hard when hooked you always think it's a monster until he surfaces. When I went to unhook him, I was amazed to feel his strong heart beating in my hand. Geez, I have never felt a fish's heart beating. This was so cool. I was quickly able to released the circle hook from his mouth and I gently released him to be caught another day.

For the next two hours we pulled up Nassau Grouper and Mangrove Snapper but none were long enough to keep. The legal minimum is 24" and we were falling well short of that. Nonetheless, we had a great time but knew we'd need close to 2 hours to get home in these winds. They never did slow down in the late day, as was forecast. We had to get to the short bridge by 6:30 PM.

At 4:40 we set out, with a heading of 90*. You have to travel due east for about 9 miles before you can make the turn, heading 0* for another 13 miles to reach our canal system. If you try to short cut it, taking 120* instead of 90*, there are sandy shoals that will ruin your day and your prop.

Heading east 90* was taking us straight into the wind. The bow was taking a hell of a beating at 19 knots, so I slowed to 9 knots. This made for a more comfortable ride but we quickly realized we'd never beat the tide to the bridge at this speed. To give you some perspective on how rough it was, on a normal day I travel about 26 knots on this run home. On flat water days I have run wide open throttle at 36 knots.

We decided we'd rather get home wet than spend the night out dry. I picked it up to 14 knots and that was do-able. We crashed the waves, took a good salty soaking but it wasn't what I would call dangerous. As we turned north, heading 0* for home, the wind was now coming from my starboard side. Rolando taught me how to use the trim tabs to adjust how the boat rides on plane. I picked the starboard way up, dropped the port way down and this helped quite a bit. I've used the trim tabs before but only to compensate for passenger loads, not to battle the wind. This was very cool.

Rolando went downstairs to grab a water out of the fridge and he told me my electrical panel had come loose from all the pounding. He was putting it mildly. When we got home I found the entire carpet covered wooden wall had broke loose of the bulkhead. HOLY CRAP! Electrical wires had pulled off the breakers. Rolando says it's no big deal and we can fix it on Sunday. He pointed out a lot of corrosion on the back side of my breaker panel so this would be a chance to clean all that up and maybe prevent more short circuiting like we had with the depth finder.

We made the short bridge at 6:35 PM and docked on the lift at 6:45. After a thorough flushing of my motor and good wash down of the salt stained top side, it was time to hit the shower. We released several dozen live shrimp into our canal. These lucky fellas are on their own now. I'm sure they're just glad the trip is through.

Trip total: 53.1 miles
Hour meter: 388.2

We enjoyed a post trip dinner, courtesy of the Kathys. My Kathy made delicious Carne Asada burritos with a wonderful array of red, green, and yellow peppers. Rolando's Kathleen made a tasty batch of Spanish rice, her first ever! It was a great meal and a nice time had by all. Maybe next time we'll be able to bring home some grouper for the girls to grill.

Don't forget to view the video clip from today:

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Ruthie (center, arms up) was determined to dance the night away

Danny Shirley, lead singer and founder of Confederate Railroad

Chuck (look right) tries in vane to get Ruthie to stop dancing long enough for a picture. She wasn't having any of it.

Home in Port Charlotte

Saturday we joined our neighbors and fellow football junkies, Chuck and Ruthie, at the Punta Gorda block party. The highlight of the night was a free concert with Confederate Railroad. They have had several number one country singles, the biggest being "Trashy Women" and "Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind". My personal favorite is "Elvis and Andy."

The band started out in the 70's as The Johnny Paycheck Band, providing music for the man famous for "Take This Job And Shove It" and later they were the David Alan Coe band for the mega hit, "You Don't Have To Call Me Darlin'".

We spent the entire concert on the floor right in front of the stage, dancing and singing, trying to decide what was more entertaining . . . the band or Ruthie playing to their attention.

After the show we all went out to the newly opened IHOP in Port Charlotte. We really enjoy Chuck and Ruthie's company. If you missed it before, I met them while I was out jogging and saw Chuck's Arizona Cardinals window sticker on his truck. He is a lifelong fan of the red birds back to the 60's, growing up in Western Ohio. They moved to Port Charlotte 19 years ago and live a couple of streets south of us. Ruthie is a Pittsburg Steelers nut. Their marriage even survived a trip to Superbowl XLIII, where we all know what happened.

I spent most of the day, Sunday, doing projects on the boat. I replaced a broken fresh water flush intake, (pictures below), replaced a faulty connector on my GPS antenna cable, cleaned out the raw water sea strainers and washed the entire boat. Afterward, I opened the cabin windows and lay down to read a fishing magazine in the cool breeze. What a nice day!

Kathy and I are going over to Chuck & Ruthie's house right now (Sunday, 3:45PM). Chuck and I are going to install some plants and trees in their yard and then we will all enjoy dinner together.

Ship shape pictures

This is what the old one looked like.

This is what it looks like broken. Hard to hook a hose up like that.

The old hole is 1/4" too small

After buying a hole saw bit it went easy

Stainless is better than the old plastic one

Better than new!
This is used to flush the salt water out of our inboard motor, by hooking a garden hose up and running the engine while the boat is on the lift and out of the water.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Washington Dulles International Airport
50* with light showers
I will wrap up my 7 day business trip to our nation's capitol with an 8 AM flight home to Florida. The weather I in VA/MD/DC during my visit ranged from 30's early in the week to 60's late. I'm looking forward to sub-tropical mid 80 degree temps of South Florida.
I finished my business late Friday at about 5PM in Clarksburg, MD and then drove 90 minutes back to Dulles, VA to check into the Hampton nearest the airport. Along the way I convinced myself I should run for the third time this week in order to continue to build on my progress. I had run 5 miles on Monday and 7 miles on Wednesday of this week. Upon arriving at the hotel I noticed some joggers on an overpass behind the hotel property. I checked in and inquired about the path and was given a brochure describing the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. The W & OD, as they call it, is an old railroad line that was turned into a paved exercise path for bicycles, walkers, runners, roller blades, dog walkers and even horsemen. It has mile markers every half mile and it runs for 45 miles! I decided I would set a new personal best on this path.
After stretching out in my hotel, I did a light warm-up walk to the trail on ramp and kept walking until I found the first mile marker; 18.5. I started running; heading what I thought was eastbound. The weather was mild, upper 50's at the start, lower 50's after the sun dropped. The trail is very well paved, with a center line dividing two lanes to encourage navigation on foot and bike and reduce the chance of a collision. I found the trail to be very clean and safe. It was also quite popular with the locals. I was carrying my blackberry for music and communication, if needed, and a pint bottle of water for hydration. In the first mile, I went by three teenage boys and one asked me if he could have some water. I gave a sarcastic "nope", mostly ignored them and kept going. No one else bothered me the whole way.
In the second mile I decided this would be a monumental day. I would run 5 miles in one direction, giving myself no choice but to turn around and head another 5 miles back to the hotel. I knew it would be dark on the way back and, despite the fact the trail was unlit, I felt comfortable with the surroundings.
I would save my water until the halfway mark, knowing I would need it most on the back half. In addition to the mileage challenge, the trail itself was unprecedented for my skill level with it's hills and bridges. This was going to be a real test of how well I have trained over the past six months. In the fourth mile I took a phone call on my blackberry. My friend Gary, in Cottonwood, Arizona asked if he should call me later but I told him it was good for my breathing to carry on a light conversation. Gary and I were officers together on the PD in Cottonwood in the mid 90's. He was calling to share that he was finally being promoted to Lieutenant. Congrats, buddy!
At mile marker 13.5 I reached my halfway point. I was happy to open my water bottle and walk a few steps to take a couple of sips. Not too much, this had to last me another 5 miles. I took on more water after six and a half miles. It was getting pretty dark now but I noticed a definite incline in the trail. Funny, I didn't remember getting the benefit of this downhill coming the other way? I began to wonder if I chose the wrong direction at the start, as far as level of difficulty, but I was sure the whole 45 mile W & OD trail had it's share of ups and downs.
After seven and half miles I got a rush of energy, knowing that everything after this point was going to be a new personal best for me. This didn't last too long because at mile 8 I was starting to wear down. When I slowed to drink some water it was tough to get going again. But I did. There was no way I was quitting now.
At mile 9 I passed those 3 punks I'd seen earlier, hanging out on a bench, one saying something about me as the others laughed but I wasn't distracted. Mentally, I prepared to do battle with them if it came to it but thankfully, they stayed put as I passed. One last look back at them and wow, it's really dark now. I can't see them. I picked up some speed to increase the distance and realized I was more than 90% through. As I passed the mile marker 18, with a half mile to go, I started smiling. I also began thinking about what would be next for me.
I have the Corporate 5K in Miami on April 30 but some of my online running friends are meeting in Cleveland on May 18 for the Cleveland Marathon and Half Marathon. The training plan for a half marathon gets you to the 10 mile mark in training and figures you can get three more out of race day adrenaline. I would have 5 more weeks to train for Cleveland. I am really leaning toward doing it.
Well I did it. My first ever 10 mile run. I pretty much limped my way back to the hotel but smiling the whole way. I showered and had a late dinner at TGI Fridays and hit the sack at 11:30 PM with a 5 AM wake up call.
I'm looking forward to getting home, seeing my honey and getting some rest. This has been a very long, but rewarding, week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Click on any picture for full screen images

Departing our home canal system

No we didn't buy too big a boat; someone built too small a bridge!

And we're Rollin'....Rollin'....Rollin on a river......

Hmmm...why didn't we look at real estate here?

Tied up at the Desoto Marina

Sign says, "You're either here or you're lost!"
This is traditional Old Florida

Hmmm...something here seems familiar.

Inside the confines of the Nav-A-Gator Grill

As we approached home, we found a boater who didn't have as good a day as us.
Home in Port Charlotte
High of 85, dry

Saturday afternoon we plotted a course up across Charlotte Harbor, eastbound and away from the Gulf, up the Peace River. This was a previously uncharted territory for this Captain and Crew but after researching our paper charts and Google Earth we were ready to go. Our launch was slightly delayed as we waiting until after 12 for the tide to bring us enough water to get off the lift. We launched at 12:20 PM. Once underway we found the harbor to be flat very lightly chopping. We had hoped to go pump out our blackwater tank but the late start forced us to postpone that for another day. As we crossed under the US 41 bridge we found the water of the Peace River to be as flat as glass.
Of course the river is very shallow and winding, so first timers must be very careful to follow a good and reliable chart. The appearance of the river water is deceiving and the main channel is quite narrow in some areas. I can best describe the route up the Peace as snaking. The deepest we found was 15 feet and at one point we slowed and raised the drives for a 3 foot shallow section. This is not to be undertaken during a falling tide.

Unbeknown to us as we approached the cove of our destination, the Desoto Marina, there was an unmarked sandbar. I saw another boat drifting in this area but didn't grasp that it was a "flats boat" that only needs about 9 inches of water to float. As we came through I was raising my out drive when suddenly my skeg (the lower rudder) was buried in sand and we came to a sudden stop. I continued raising the lower unit and was instantly freed from the grounding. It sure put a scare in us and the 34' Tiarra cruiser that was following us decided to take a different approach.

I raised the lower unit completely and performed a visual inspection. Thank goodness, all six blades of our prop were in place and undamaged. We continued the few hundred yards into the Desoto Marina and docked at a piling with the help of some local fishermen. These guys told me that the Tarpon run had begun, with both the river and the harbor full of the renowned Silver Kings. I was preoccupied with worrying about our boat. A thorough inspection of my skeg showed no damage. WHEW! Let's eat.

The Nav-a-gator Grill is situated on land that once served as a residential fish camp and prior to that was home to battles of the Seminole wars. It's a comfy, unassuming place, where bikers and boat captains dine next to snowbirds and euro-tourists. Everyone is welcome and the food is slow cooked to a high quality. Signage warns you that the food won't be fast but it will be good. There is seating inside and out, with an outdoor bandstand. If you're from Arizona you can relate by thinking of this as Rock Springs next to water.

I had the famous Super Grouper sandwich, blackened with Cajun seasonings on a hogi roll. Kathy had the Josh Burger, with Cajun seasonings, bacon, onion and cheese. Kathy upgraded from the fries to homemade kettle potato chips. Everything was wonderful. We each had bottomless iced tea and we spent $35 with tax and tip.

At 3:20PM we gave another check to the lower unit and left feeling confident. We were concerned about time because the tide required us to be at the bad bridge no later than 4:45. Coming down the Peace River, I was disappointed that we had to run and gun in a race against the clock. I vowed we would return and slow down to see the fish and gators next time. After passing back under the US 41 bridge we went with wide open throttle and cruised at 35 knots. The afternoon winds in the harbor had picked up slightly but they were head on so we weren't tossed about.

This was Kathy's first time aboard since we installed a stereo system after Christmas and she enjoyed Kenny Chesney's CD, Lucky Old Sun. We arrived at the bad bridge 10 minutes ahead of schedule and carefully passed under with the tide at 1.1 feet about mean level. Our critical high limit is 1.2. We need 0.8 to come and go from the lift. On the way home, Kathy photographed a boat about a mile from our house that had a large pine tree fall on it, smashing the bimini top. Sucks to be them. Anyone remember the huge Australian Pine we had removed from our canal last summer? Exhibit A shows why that was smart.

It was a quick trip but nonetheless enjoyable. This will help me get through my trip to Washington DC with fresh memories of rollin' on the Peace River and Messing About in South Florida.
Trip meter: 36 miles travelled, 3 hours run time, average moving speed 11 knots, peak speed 35 knots. Hour meter 378.5


Home in Port Charlotte
69*, going to a high of 85

Tomorrow I have to fly out to DC for a full week, coming back on Saturday the 11th. To offset that trip, my honey suggested we launch the boat today for some fun and relaxation on the water. We will launch between 1030 and 1100, as we wait for the overnight low tide to give way to enough water to get the boat off the lift. We plan on going to Fishermen's Village, in Punta Gorda, pumping out the potty and maybe walk the mall. After that we will venture east, up the Peace River, where we've never yet explored. They say the Peace River is home to many exotic birds and alligators sun themselves on the banks. Approximately 8 miles up from Charlotte Harbor is a restaurant and marina called the Nav-A-Gator. Here we will enjoy lunch and then make the return trip home, slow and easy watching for bottle nose dolphin. We should be able to clear the short bridge at precisely 4:45PM. Check back tonight or tomorrow for pictures of our day.