Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Southwest Florida International Airport (Ft. Myers)

Last week I flew 2,200 miles and drove 1,000.  Traveling from home to Pittsburg, then driving across PA, NJ, NY, CT (where I encountered a tornado) and finally into MA.  It was a week of doing safety evaluations at 7 golf courses.  I returned home on Saturday afternoon.  On Monday morning Kathy departed for a 2 day drive to Atlanta to meet our newest grandchild, Ann Marie, and see her son Chad and wife Tiffany.

Kathy left me a detailed list of what to do at home and before leaving home on my next trip.  Monday and Tuesday were a bit of a role reversal, with her on the road and sleeping in a hotel while I stayed at home.  It was a little weird, I must say.

Today I am departing to Detroit to work three more golf courses.  I will spend the weekend with a friend on his boat on Lake St. Claire, Michigan, the smallest of the Great Lakes.  Our next door neighbor, Kathy, has three brothers who live in Michigan.  We have met 2 of the 3 and became quick friends with them during their stays in Port Charlotte.  I will spend Thursday night with Larry & Sue at their home near Highland and then Friday and Saturday nights with Tom, sleeping aboard his boat at the marina and cruising the lake during the day on Saturday.  The weather is forecast to be beautiful with lows in the upper 50s and highs in the upper 70s.  Yeah, I brought a jacket.

We have our first hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane season.  Alex is presently a category 1 hurricane and is set to make landfall in northern Mexico/ southern Texas.  The storm will have no impact on our area of Southwest Florida.  There is presently no other tropical activity being tracked in the Atlantic.

I will return home on Sunday, only to depart for California on Tuesday.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Happy Father's Day, to my Dad (pictured here from 12/09) and my son, who is quite the Dad himself.

Home in Port Charlotte
82* with scattered t-storms

Weekends at home...what a concept! 

Last week I participated in our company's annual safety awareness day, where we award 5 lucky employees with a brand new Ford Ranger pickup truck.  This was my third year of holding the honor of making the secret delivery; timing it to the exact moment the winner's name is announced at one of over a hundred parties taking place around the country.  Thursday I participated in a crane safety class in Orlando and I made it home Thursday night.  Friday was filled with several hours of conference calls and paperwork in my home office.  We also received a huge thunderstorm with about 2" of rain.

Saturday was yardwork day.  I began by changing the oil/filter in my tractor and getting the blades sharpened.  I have 56 hours on it already.  I took the used motor oil to the Charlotte County recycling/transfer station.  That is one of the best things about my county.  This facility is 2 miles from my house.  I can dispose of oil, hazardous waste, appliances, yard waste, tires, you name it.  All included in my property taxes.  It makes it very convenient to do the right thing and properly dispose of crap.  I mowed 3 lawns, including my own.  The yard is looking good, although we still have 3 different kinds of grass growing.  The weeds are well under control, which is a comfort.  It's time to do my annual palm tree trimming but I will have to put that on the back burner for now.

Sunday was Father's Day and I mostly recovered.  I received phone calls from all of my kids, which is all I could ask for.  I called my own Dad and he always appreciates that.  I spent a couple of hours booking hotels for the next two weeks of business travel.  I leave Monday morning for Pittsburgh, where I will be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  After work Wednesday I will drive 6 hours to Old Bridge, NJ for work Thursday.  Then it's a 5 hour drive to Boston for a very long Friday.  Saturday I fly home from Boston to Tampa.  I know, weekends off...RIGHT?

My latest book is called "My Old Man and the Sea; a father and son sail around Cape Horn."
17,000 miles in a 25' sailboat with no motor.  They bought a hull and built the rest from the ground up.  They sailed her from Connecticut to Florida; to the Bahamas then Jamaica; across the Caribbean to Panama; through the canal and into the Pacific; the Galapagos Islands to Easter Island; around Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean and back up the Atlantic to home.  Oh yeah, they live to tell and write this book.  A twenty five footer?  Wow.  That's smaller than my current boat.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Home in Port Charlotte
75* at wakeup, going to a high of 94*

I'm spending another full weekend at home.  I could get use to this.  I haven't blogged yet about last weekend but I went fishing on Saturday for the first time since February.  I brought along a colleague, named Christian, from our Venice office.  He had never been on a boat before but sure took to it well.  We launched at 7:30AM and made the short bridge on a rising tide with about 2" to spare.  We needed some live bait so I crossed Charlotte Harbor and headed east to Laishley Marina, in Punta Gorda.  My old Garmin GPS kept losing power from an apparent bad power cable connection.  I'd had this problem last year and thought I'd fixed it when I purchased a new plug connector.  This old monochrome Garmin has about run its course.  It has about a dozen horizontal lines running across the display, which also make it hard to read.  But when a new one costs $600, I'm more patient to try and keep running this one.

We tied up at the courtesy dock at Laishley Marina and I spent about 20 minutes manipulating the Garmin power cable until it seemed to hold power even when I rotated the display.  We bought three dozen live shrimp, which were quite shrimpy.  I usually buy my bait at Fishin' Franks on Highway 41 but when I drove there at 630 AM he hadn't received his morning delivery.  Franks usually has terrific sized live shrimp.

We re-embarked our journey and ran about 22 kph west on the Peace River, south across Charlotte Harbor, then west through Boca Grande Pass.  The winds were 10-15 knots, just as forcast.  We hit a few hard bumps and caught some spray, but for the most part that 20 mile trip was very bearable.  The boat ran great, despite the fact I've had this fuel on board since February.

The pass was full of boats fishing for Tarpon.  We continued out the channel into the Gulf of Mexico.  We headed about 5 miles off shore, then went about 2 miles south and found some structure west of Captiva Island at about 10:30AM.  The seas were a little stronger out here, about 3 to 4 feet.  My new/used fish finder spotted some action and I deployed a couple of markers to spot the spot.  We both baited up and dropped our lines to 35'.  We had numerous hookups that resulted in lines being bite off.  Clearly there are reef sharks here.  The wind picked up over the next hour and we kept drifting away from our marked spot.  I tried to anchor down several times and drift back over the spot but the anchor was dragging every time.  We decided to head back to Boca Grande Pass and drift fish there.

For the ride back I put out a big lure, Bomber CD 30, for trolling.  We trolled it at about 3kts in 35' of water and after about 5 minutes the line started ripping out, with the clicker screaming.  My friend took the wheel while I manned the rod.  I made the mistake of trying to slow down the 65lb test line with my thumb and instantly burned some skin off.  Ooops.  I used the drag to slow the line down after about 100 yards or more had peeled off.  I spent about 7 minutes bringing the line back in, with a lot of energy spent fighting it.  Imagine my dismay when the lure came into view with nothing on the line.  Either the lure hit some structure or I have another notch in my "one that got away" belt.  Nonetheless, it was still an exciting few minutes.  I'm just thankful I can finally tie fishing knots that don't come undone.

We arrived back at Boca Grande Pass around 1:00PM and had a few more breakoffs.  I rigged us with some wire leaders to stop that nonsense.  Christian landed one 14" grouper (have to be 24 to keep) and later was delighted to land a 30" reef shark.  Surely that was the source of our breakoffs.  Due to the windy conditions on the day I spent most of my time piloting the boat.  Christian was pretty new to fishing so I also had to rig his lines for him.  The Captain usually is very busy aboard the boat but for me, that's the fun.  At 3:15 we headed for home, clearing the short bridge at 4:15PM.  We'd run 60 miles on the day and the boat preformed perfectly.  After a couple of cold beverages I washed her down and put her up.  Even though we didn't bring home any fish I'd fulfilled my need to be out.  The night ended with a cookout next door with Larry and Sue (Kathleen's brother and sister in law).

The next day began a what was to be a week of jury duty but by Tuesday mid morning I'd been released by the judge.  Kathy and I decided to grill steak kabobs before I was to depart Wednesday morning to head back to work in Boston.  While grilling the kabobs we spotted a bobcat in Bob's backyard.  Kathy grabbed the camera and captured the images below.  This lynx was much smaller than the one which roamed our backyard on many a night last summer.  Likely we have a family of bobcats living in the vacant, overgrown, lot next to Rolando and Kathleen's house.  These photos created alot of chatter on Kathy's facebook page.

Wednesday was a travel day, leaving the house at 8:30AM to fly at 11:30AM from Tampa to Baltimore to Boston.  I arrived at my hotel at 5PM.   Thursday and Friday were nice breaks from the Florida heat/humidity.  Boston had morning lows in the mid 50's with highs in the 70's.  I returned home Friday night, in time to capture a gorgeous sunset over Tampa Bay (new title photo above).  I hit the door at home at 9:43PM.

Kathy and I celebrated out 10th wedding anniversary when we were in Arizona last month.  We hadn't exchanged any gifts and I wanted to get her something nice.  I thought about jewelry but I also know how much she enjoys her computer time while I'm gone.  Our 3 year old Toshiba laptop had slowed considerably in the past year and I thought about getting her a new one. or electronics?  I could really screw this up if I assume I know what she'd like more at this stage of her life.  I decided to just sit her down and ask her.  She was thrilled at the thought of a new computer.  I researched the Apple i-pad but was surprised to learn from the reviews that it doesn't multi-task.  You can't have an internet window open with your instant messenger running in the backround.  It doesn't support Flash so many web programs don't work right.  It's really just a giant cell phone with lots of entertainment features but not so much of a computer.  We decided on a new traditional laptop.  We went to Sam's Club and priced features and models, then headed to Best Buy to compare.  Best Buy's sale prices were lower than Sam's member prices.  We looked at many different models, Toshiba having the best speaker sound, Sony Vaio having the best picture display but not in the size she wanted, HP having the best price in a 17" screen and a blue ray player, but in the end when we compared everything the best deal seemed to be the Dell Inspiron 1765.  The HD screen resolution is incredible, almost as good as the Sony Vaio (which only comes in a 15.6")  We took it home and she was thrilled with it.  Happy 10th, babe.

Saturday afternoon I went to the Port Charlotte library and got a couple of books for my upcoming travel.  I mowed our lawn as Kathy grilled some baby back ribs.  Saturday night we watched TV and I hit the sack about 10:30.  Sunday morning is quiet as I catch up on this blog.  The rainy season in Southwest Florida has yet to kick off.  The tropics are quiet with no storm activity off the coast of Africa so far.  Many people are asking about the oil in the Gulf.  There's none on our shores at this time, thank goodness.  When I was off-shore last weekend the seas were as blue as could be.  Hopefully that crudy crude stays away from our little paradise.

Enjoy the bobcat pictures below. Click for pics for full screen.

Friday, June 11, 2010


World prayers were answered overnight as an Australian Search & Rescue arrive on the scene in the Indian Ocean to find the sailing vessel Wild Eyes floating upright, but with a damaged mast. 16 year old sailing Captain Abby Sunderland made radio contact with the plane and reports she is fine. A French fishing vessel will arrive tomorrow to pick up Abby and bring her to dry ground. Thank you, God.

Abby had reported multiple knockdowns in 40 foot seas recently, during a satellite phone call with her parents at approximately 4AM Tuesday.  The call went dead and four hours later an emergency monitoring center received two activations of emergency locator beacon; one attached to the ship and the other a personal locator beacon Abby wears at all times aboard (similar to the one I carry).

The teen sailor had been on a quest to sail solo, non-stop, around the globe.  After four months and more than 10,000 nautical miles she was forced to make landfall in Cape Town, South Africa after experiencing mechanical problems with her auto pilot and its backup.  Following repairs Abby re-embarked on her journey May 21st, a Friday.  The day before her last launch, she wrote on her blog, "Yes, I do know all the superstitions and about how you're not supposed to leave on a Friday, but as things are right now waiting a day or two to get out of here could bring a whole new set of troubles weather wise. I know that a lot of people have been worrying about my next leg with how late it is in the season."

Abbys blog can be read at: )

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


On the road, Boynton Beach, FL
89, humid, passing thunderstorms
As I had hoped for, I found the time and the knowhow to fix our boat. Using my own tools, the manuals I bought, and a days worth of patience I installed the new power steering arm, ram and valve. The work was done last Saturday as the boat sat on the lift and I enjoyed the comfortable shade provided by the lift cover.
The tides over Memorial weekend didn't provide opportune departure and return times so I opted to wait still one more week to go fishing. I spent Sunday detailing, scrubbing and cleaning many weeks worth of dirt and Florida mold. I got some nice help from my friend and visiting neighbor Larry. He is another one of the brothers of next door neighbor Kathleen (Rolando's wife). She and her brothers are terrific people. It is clear they come from a great family.  I am planning on spending a day with one of the other brothers, Tom, when I work in Michigan later this month.
In other maintenance news, I replaced one boat battery (3 years old) and recharged the other one (13 mos old).
As readers may have noticed, I have been absent from these pages again recently. My work schedule has been nothing short of brutal. I logged well over 8,000 air miles in May. June looks to be near as bad but not quite. I am planning on ceasing the habit of flying on Saturdays and Sundays. I just can't take the 7 day a week schedule anymore.
The 2010 Hurricane Season is underway. I will track and report on storm development throughout the season so stay tuned for what is forecast to be an active season. The first name of the year will be Alex.
Finally, Kathy and I are the proud grandparents of our 5th grandchild and first granddaughter.  Ann Marie Parker was born to Kathy's oldest son, Chad, and his wife Tiffany in Georgia on June 1.  Baby weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces and was so healthy she has already gone home.  Kathy is planning a road trip this summer to go up and meet the little bundle of joy in person.  Welcome to the world, Ann Marie!