Thursday, December 22, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 83

Finished my wax job and full annual motor maintenance.  Doing it myself cost less than $200 and saved me about a thousand under the dealer costs.  Next time will be even cheaper if I plan better and order my parts online in advance instead of paying local retail.  But it's good to stimulate the local economy and some of the advice I got from the parts counter at the Yamaha dealer was worth the extra 10-15%.

I put in 6 new spark plugs, removed/inspected my propellor, re-greased the prop shaft, changed fuel filters, dropped the lower unit of the outboard and did a complete water pump changeout, changed the gear oil, waxed the hull, changed out corroded trolling motor plug and receptacle (last one lasted less than a year so I went for quality this time and spend 60 instead of 20).

My buddy Chuck helped me re-launch the boat from the Charlotte Beach boat ramp.  Boat jumped right up on a plane and ran smooooooth.  I got her back on the lift before dark.  Keeping the trailer that came with my boat turned out to be a really good idea.  Doing maintenance in my yard is much better than trying to do maintenance on the boat lift while floating from my canal barge.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DIY: Outboard lower unit service

Home in PC
High of 81

Sunday we pulled the boat out of the water and trailered it home for annual service.
I changed the spark plugs, upper and lower zincs, drained the gear oil, and pulled the prop.
Only thing left was to pull the lower unit off the outboard and change the water pump.
I bought a kit from the local Yamaha dealer for $58.

After work today I went out to resume the job.  Removed lower unit of outboard, went just like a tutorial video from you tube said it would.  Had trouble removing the anti-knock washers so I took the whole lower unit to the Yamaha dealer and asked a tech what to do.  He said they break them off and replace them with each service.  I bought new ones for $14 and took it all home.  I got the impeller off and saw some wear cracks inside.  Good time to replace.

My model of outboard has a "half moon key" that holds the water pump plate down on the drive shaft.  This key is a  pain in the butt to remove.  Tech said to use a punch and hammer to pop it out.  Nope.  Online boat forums say these keys stick bad for everyone...suggested using a torch to heat the metal, then rust bust spray. Nope.  It got dark and I had to quit for the night.  After this piece it should be smooth to the finish.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
Low of 62, high of 78

I launched the boat and went fishing alone yesterday.  Leaving the canal system, my fish finder lit up with about a dozen targets just before the last bridge out.  I pinned the boat down near the seawall in 2' of water, as the tide was nearing low, and cast live shrimp into the center of the canal channel where it was about 5'.  I caught a catfish, which is considered a junk fish here because we have so many desirable species in our waters.  After releasing the cat I cast another shrimp that produced a small stingray.  You have to be careful with their barbs so after photos I just cut the line and sent her back where she came from.

I pulled up my anchor pin and headed into the harbor.  The conditions were fair, with light winds on the way out.  The forecast was for that to change so I didn't want to stray too far out alone.  The extreme low tide would limit my near shore choice.  I went up the Myakka River in search of redfish.  I was able to run 22 knots per hour, a nice cruising speed in my boat that will easily do twice that.

There are several tidal creeks and tributaries that connect throughout Charlotte Harbor, and both the Peace and Myakka Rivers.  This makes a shallow water boat like mine the perfect boat for these waters.  I arrived at such a creek and, wow, was it low!  I could see many crab traps completely beached on high ground. The tide was about to turn so there was no fear of me getting least not for long, before the incoming tide would free me up.  It was 10AM and the tide would rise by a full 18" by 5PM.

I got as near to shore as I could and raised up my outboard.  I drifted along in the 10 knots of winds.  The water was crystal clear but the bottom had a lot of seagrass mixed with occasional sandy flats.  I could see oysters in the sand but no fish.  I baited two rods with live shrimp and cast off.  Several times my boat got stuck on a flat but I was able to use my anchor pole to push myself free.  My baits kept getting wrapped up in seagrass.  The fishing wasn't too great but, as the photos above show, it was a beautiful day of solitude.

I fished 4 different spots off the river and caught stingrays in 3 of the 4 spots.  They must be migrating in for winter because they were everywhere.  I endured a briefing passing shower and the winds out of the Northeast really began to gain strength by 2PM.  Wave heights were picking up to 2-3' and my anchor pin was struggling to hold me when I was on the Western shore of the Myakka.  I used my binoculars to scan some bays on Eastern shore and saw dead calm waters on the leeward side.  I zipped over to a pristine position and pinned the boat down again.  This area had a sandy bottom that produced more bites...from Stingrays.

There wasn't another boat in sight for miles.  At one point I heard a noise that sound like slow marching footsteps.  I looked up and saw beauty in motion.  Dozens of Pelicans, flying in a perfect V formation, all flapping their wings in slow unison.  I starred in awe as they flew out of sight.  I wondered if there was some significance to the lead bird.  What made him the leader?  Is he always the leader?  Do birds have alpha-males, like dogs?  Yeah...I was pretty bored.  But I was still loving life out here.

By 3:40 the weather radio alerted me that a small craft advisory was issued for Charlotte Harbor.  I peered out through the binos and saw white caps a-plenty in the river.  Time to pull up and head out.  As I brought last line in, it was heavy with another Stingray.  Instead of Redfish I was stung by rays....all day.

The ride home was a choppy one, through solid 3' waves.  I was still able to run at 20 knots, although I did get airborn a couple of time.  I couldn't resist stopping to photograph a rainbow in the distance.  The only camera I had on board was my phone so today's pictures aren't the best.

Nonetheless, it was another gorgeous day of Messing About in South Florida.

Click on pictures for full screen image.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 84

For the 4th year in a row, my daughter, Kimber (24), came to Florida for Thanksgiving. We flew from AZ together, did Siesta Key Beach together with my wife, and best of all...we fished together. (Although the drinking beer together all weekend came in as a close second best activity).  Many thanks to Kimber for shooting the new title page photo above, using her new iPhone.

The winds were gusting high so we stayed close to home, pinning the boat down in a foot of water in Alligator Bay at the North end of Charlotte Harbor. The incoming tide and winds out of the southeast were an excellent mix to throw popping corks and have them run a drift past the mangroves but we got no strikes from that method.

As soon as we re-rigged to jigs and tossed them into the 7' deep channel...BAM! Non-stop lady fish action for about an hour. Back home, we cleaned up and went out to dinner at Benedetto's. After dinner we returned home and fished our dead shrimp off the canal behind my house. There had to be 100 giant mullet cruising the light on my dock, with the occassional snook making a strike amongst them. We fished the remainder of our dead shrimp but only landed catfish. Kimber did great casting and landing her fish...which far exceeded my own, as usual.

Here are some pictures from our weekend. I drive her back to Tampa for her flight home today but will get to see her and all my kids/grandkids/parents/siblings for Christmas in Phoenix and New Year's Eve in San Diego.

Yeah, I have lots to be thankful for. And I am. Happy start of the holiday season to all.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
Highs in the low 80s, lows in the low 60s

Saturday I participated in a bragging rights fishing tournament with some local guys who all met on the website  The website has online community bulletin boards covering most metropolitan areas of the US.  Much of the topics of discussion on the website is related to real estate and standards of living.  Members or posters, as they are called, post messages or ask questions and others comment.  One of the most popular topics on the Sarasota/Bradenton/Venice board, which covers Port Charlotte, is a topic called Fishing Charlotte Harbor Area.  This is where I met the guys who fished with me on Saturday.  The names below refer to their online screen names on city-data.

Despite the gloomy forecast, it turned out to be a terrific day to be on the water in Charlotte Harbor. I launched from my backyard canal, accompanied by my new friend WPC, at 6:30AM and throttled up through Alligator Bay at 7:05 in misty twilight and 72* air, 73* water.

We tied up at the Fisherman's Village courtesy dock at 7:15. WPC and I prepped our lines while waiting for Big House to arrive. He pulled up, fashionably late at 7:55, accompanied by a Great White Egret bird riding shotgun on his portside bow. I wish I'd have gotten that picture. Foxrivman met BH dockside and boarded. The fleet headed south, through the morning mist, to Boca Grande Pass. The water was as perfectly smooth. We ran 32 knots at 4500 RPM the entire way.

The fishing teams stayed in radio contact on the VHF radio and updated each other throughout the day. It was a blast that will only be better with more boats next time.  We missed the participation of our friend Harbor Hopper and hope to get more city-data members on board with the next event.

Over the course of the day we fished Boca Grande Pass, the sand bar outside of Burnt Store Marina, and Bull Bay. We worked in water ranging from 65' to 2'. We caught and released short gag grouper, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, a giant pinfish and too many catfish.

We were surprised to see both rolling and jumping tarpon in the BGP. Unusual to see that many in late October. We suspect WPC hooked into tarpon or big sharks when twice his 30 lb braid ripped off the spinning reel at a rate that left him powerless to do anything but watch it peel off down to the the mono below the braid.

The first run resulted in the angler getting back everything except his bait and catch. The second time resulted in the fish departing with a substantial amount of braid, leader line and hook. We re-rigged to 50lb line with 80lb leaders but never hooked up with those.

We made a detour to Burnt Store Marina, where we met Mrs. WPC and their real estate agent. WPC signed an offer sheet on a house in PGI and did his part to help the economy of Southwest Florida.

I did as well, burning 40 gallons of marine fuel on 77 nautical miles for the day.

Highlights of the day included numerous visions of bottle nose dolphins doing full aerial leaps, like a Sea World show.  I see dolphin rolling at the surface almost every trip out but had never seen shows like we saw Saturday.  The low point of the day occurred when I navigated onto a grassy flat and got the boat grounded.  But I was able to recover by raising the motor to full tilt, getting off the boat and pushing us to 2' of water.  We were back underway in two minutes.
The winds never created one white cap on the water, all day long. We made the right call by keeping our plans, despite the forecast of 20 knot winds and rain that, thankfully, never appeared. Forecasters are often wrong, but it usually works against boaters. For once, the wind blew in our favor.

Click on pictures for full screen image.

Winds were forecast to be 20 but stayed 5-10 knots most of the day

WPC, also known as Mike, an American living in Germany for 4 years, came to SWFL to fish and purchase a home. He and his wife made an offer on a home in Punta Gorda and plan on moving here in May, 2012.

Rain was in the forecast and daybreak had a marine layer of mist that reduced visibility to a half mile. The above shot was taken in the afternoon when the air had long since cleared. We never got a drop of rain all day.

The winning fish was this 35" blacktip shark, landed by Big House, also known as Jon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 80
simply gorgeous day

Our house guest this weekend was my wife's childhood friend, found on Facebook, after a 30 year absence.
Kaye lives in Kentucky, where Kathy was born and raised.  The gals picked up right where they left off, laughing and sharing, catching up for lost years.

We enjoyed meals at Sharkey's On The Pier, in Venice, and Benedetto's in Punta Gorda.  The ladies went shopping at Fishermen's Village and today we went for a little 3 hour tour on the boat.  It was an absolutely beautiful day on the water in Southwest Florida.

The new title photo above was taken from the dining deck at Benedetto's.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
70 at wake up; high of 87

For the second Saturday in a row, I launched the boat and went fishing.  Both days saw rough seas and tough fishing.  Last week I got completely shut out.  Yesterday I landed a few catfish and ladyfish.  I brought a new friend, Jon, out with me and he fared better than I.  I have made of couple of new friends/fishing buds through a local online bulletin board about local issues, including fishing.  Last week I went out with Jerrid, who is in his 30's and yesterday I took Big Jon, who is 56.  Both have boats of their own and we will take turns being captain and crew.  They are friends, as well.  My daughter teased me, saying, "so you're going on blind dates with men you've met online?"  Very funny.

In addition to cats and ladyfish, like I, Jon landed several nice bonnethead sharks, a few stingrays, some small mangrove snappers and a nice 25" Cobia, the first Cobia landed on my boat.  All were released.  Cobia is supposed to be good eating but they have to be at least 33" to keep.  We were looking for spotted seatrout or redfish but found neither.

The seas in the afternoon were pretty rough, with winds around 15 knots, seas consistently at 3 feet and a few rogue 4' waves that slammed us pretty hard.  When we got home it took me 2.5 hours to clean the boat and I was absolutely exhausted.  My feet hurt terribly.  I went to bed at 8:00 and slept until 5AM.  This morning, I still sore but rested.

For the first time since I moved here, Southwest Florida is experiencing Red Tide.  It's an algae bloom that kills fish by the thousands and irritates peoples respiratory systems.  The current bloom is 2 to 12 miles off shore but dead fish have washed upon our beaches.  It's not good for tourism.  In my travel yesterday, we didn't see any Red Tide or dead fish in Charlotte Harbor.  We covered about 50 miles worth of water, from 7AM to 330PM.  For a map of this trip, click here:

I had a few minor problems with the boat.  At one point the motor wouldn't crank.  The battery showed 12.4 volts but the outboard wouldn't turn over.  I called my buddy Subaru Jim, who has just returned to Port Charlotte, from PA, this week.  He suggested I pull out one of my house batteries and try it.  Bam!  That did the trick.  So now I have to take the original cranking battery back to Sams to exercise the warranty.

After changing out the batteries, my fish finder/depth sounder had no power.  This makes it really hard to navigate the flats, in 1-2 feet of water.  I got us stuck on a grassy flat in Bull Bay, just after low tide.  We fished there waiting for the tide to come in and after an hour or so, Jon got out and pushed us to deeper water.  Luckily my GPS shows the path I travelled coming in, so we just followed the same path of digital "bread crumbs" to get back out.  I'm hoping the fish finder power is related to my battery change but I will find out.

I'm also having problems with my oil sending unit.  On a 2 stroke outboard there is an oil tank, separate from the engine.  You fill this tank and a sending unit automatically transfers oil to the outboard and mixes it with the fuel to create 2 cycle fuel.  There's a small 1 quart reservoir attached to the outboard unit.  So my problem is the sending unit is not automatically transferring oil from the holding tank to the reservoir, so the engine alerts me every couple of hours that it's low on oil.  I have to shut down, pull off the cowling or engine cover, and manually fill the reservoir.  I'm told the problem is either with a clogged oil filter (which I have yet to find) or the sending pump.  I don't think it's the sending pump though because every once in a while it sends the oil automatically like it should.  (I have a gauge on my dash that shows me the levels and I can tell when it's been filled automatically).

Finally, as if all of this weren't enough, the boat seem to run fine in those rough seas but once I got to my canal system and had the final 35 minutes no wake trip to my dock, the boat was running rough.  It's hard to describe but it seemed like the engine was just rough, as if I needed to blow out the exhaust or something.  It could be time to change the spark plugs.  I've put about 70 hours on her and I'm not sure when the last guy did his last PM service.  I still need to purchase a service manual for the Yamaha 150TXR.

Sunday I will be finishing up our annual replenishment of red mulch in our yard plant beds.
Monday/Tuesday I am attending a "train the trainer" class in Tampa so I can certify others in crane signaling and load rigging.  The second half of the week I will be in the Miami/Homestead area, returning home Friday afternoon.

We have a house guest arriving Thursday for four days.  My wife re-connected with one of her high school friends, through facebook.  Kathy and Kaye haven't seen each other for over 30 years and of course, I've never met her.  This will be interesting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


60* at wakeup in Western PA.  Calling for a high of 70.  Inspecting 3 golf courses today then spending tonight near the Pittsburgh airport before flying home Friday morning.

Yesterday it struggled to get out of the 50's as it rained all day.  Of course, I forgot to bring a jacket.

Last Saturday I fished really rough waters and was skunked.  I'm hoping for better results this weekend.

Here's a beautiful shot of the fall color near Donegal, PA on one of the golf courses we maintain.
Click on the photo for full screen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Hampton Inn, Richmond, VA
73* at wakeup

I've been sick with a sinus thing all week long in VA Beach, Newport News, Richmond.
Monday and Tuesday were both poor nights of sleep.  Last night was a little better after I tried one of those Breathe Right nose strips that looks like a bandaid.  I certainly opened me up a bit and made it easier to breathe.

I'm working Richmond today and have a 4:30 departure, so it will be a short work day but a long day of travel.  I'm up at 4:30AM.  I will be changing planes in Atlanta at 6PM, with a 3 hour layover.  Departing at 9 and landing at 10:47PM in Fort Myers.  With the drive home, I should be at my door at midnight.  I'll take that over another hotel night and Friday afternoon arrival.

Next week I will be working the 5 locations closest to my home so I'll be in my own bed all week.
That's a rare treat for me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


San Juan, Puerto Rico
High of 85 low humidity

After a week of work here on the island I'm more than ready to head for home.
I was able to get a free upgrade to first class on my flight from Tampa to PR and my return flight tomorrow has every first class seat available again, so I'm hopeful again.

The weather here has been nice all week.  Tuesday we had off and on rain from the outer bands of TS Maria but I have spent much of the week indoors, leading training sessions.

The days here are very long, as there is much work to do and limited time to do it.  I have been waking up at 430 and 415 each of the last two days.  I went out on the ocean front patio at the Marriott last night before dinner and was promptly biten by dozens of mosquitos.  Even in Florida I don't think I'll soon get used to skeeters.  My skin is so sensitive to them and I itch like crazy.  Of course this could be controlled with Deet or Off but the bugs are not always present, so I don't always have spray with me.

It's 730 and my class started at 6AM.  I have been done for about an hour but my colleagues are still working in the office and they are my ride back to the hotel.  It will likely be a very late dinner tonight.  My flight leaves at 11 tomorrow so at least I can sleep in until sunrise.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 90, humidity easing off each day

Last night I used one half of my catch to make baked, blackened Red Fish.  For blackened seasoning I used Zatarains Cajun spice, lemon pepper, coarse black pepper and Mrs. Dash.  I baked the fillets for 20 minutes at 350, halfway through adding a slice of butter and splash of lemon juice on each one.  For a side item I used Zatarains Dirty Rice, minus the ground beef option.  It was delicious.

Tonight my Dad sent over his recipe, borrowed from Rubios Restaurant.
I used the same spice mix from above, added to flour and beer to make my batter.
My wife pitched in a hand to help at the fryer, while I dipped the fillets.
We used the left over dirty rice to really fill those corn tortillas shells up, topped with a special yogurt based white sauce, garnished with cabbage and a splash of lime.

Photos of the finished product are below.  Click on photos for full screen image.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 89, nice breezes

After work today I headed out for a quick fishing trip on Charlotte Harbor.  Little did I know what I would come back with.

Finally got my first keeper Redfish. 26" long, 6 pounds alive, 1.92 pounds of fillets.

Tackle: 30lb braid with a 30 pound floro leader, 3/0 circle hook, free lined, no swivel.
Bait: huge hunk of cut pin fish.
Caught in Bull Bay, near Boca Grande Pass, on a falling tide.

The live shrimp available today was really slim pickens. I hit two bait shops but no one had a delivery nor were they expecting deliveries after the storms and waves in the Gulf last night. I took 3 dozen of the smallest shrimp I've ever fished with, LOL. But it was enough.

I was catching and releasing handsize sheepshead and grunts, using a 1/0 hook, freelined with shrimp. Finally, after releasing so many babies I caught the biggest pin fish of my life. I cut him up to a huge hunk of meat and put it on a 3/0 circle hook. I left it on a 15 minutes soak and decided today wasn't going to be my day. The tide was going down and I had come through 1' of water to get to the 3' hole I anchored down in. I needed to go before I couldn't get out. I started putting my gear away and the corner of my eye saw my rod, pop...pop........pop....pop.

When I realized what it was, I sought devine intervention. "Oh God, please let me get him in the boat." With no net and no crew I just let him fight until he was wore out. When he rolled over at the side of the boat I used the lipping tool to get him landed. I measured him at 26" and dropped him in the live well. I kept him alive for the ride home so he'd still have nice color for the photos.

You can't keep Redfish if they are smaller than 18" or bigger than 27".  It's what Florida calls a slot limit.  A redfish this big is known as a bull.  Funny, he was caught in bull bay.

Click on any picture for full  screen image:
Bull Bay

Red Drum, also know as Redfish

So beautiful, you almost feel bad killing him

Until you taste those Redfish fillets

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 89, morning and evening downpours, sunny mid-day

The active hurricane season continues.  Tropical Storm Maria is out in the Atlantic. I will be watching her closely, as I'm flying to PR on Monday.  Early models give her a chance of landfall there on Sunday; others have her following Hurricane Katia away from land. Another tropical depression is forming in the southwestern Gulf near the Mexican peninsula. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile in Southwest Florida our rain continues.  We rec'd three inches yesterday.  I was awoken by our NOAA weather radio alarm at 3AM for a severe thunderstorm warning with tornadic conditions possible.  I stayed up until 4 and went back to bed.  Sunrise brought light showers until 10AM but there's a huge squall headed our way that will make for an interesting afternoon.

Photos are below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 88, rec'd 3 inches of rainfall

Without a tropical storm or hurricane, we experienced the highest tide ever since moving here in 2007.  There have been days of consistent off shore winds blowing water from the Gulf, into the Harbor, and into our canal.  Our dock has 2 levels and the lower level was well under water this morning.  Our little canal shore beach area was completely flooded.  I'm happy I added 25 yards of rip rap to our shoreline last Christmas or I'd have really been concerned about our salty piece of land getting eroded away.  We received 3" of rain today.  My 85 year old neighbor told me about a day in the 90's when our area received 15 inches in 15 hours.  Wow.

The winds have been so high I haven't launched the boat over the labor day weekend like I wanted.  I did however get some projects done.  All 4 batteries were serviced and charged.  Both my baitwell and my live well had stopped working on my last trip.  Turns out they were each solved with new fuses.  The automatic timer for the livewell has never worked right.  I found the timer module and ordered a new one for $20.

I fished aboard the floating dock on Sunday behind the house.  I had 3 strikes, 1 hooked and zero landed in 2 hours.  I used the floating dock to trim the neighbor's pepper tree up off the water to cut down on getting my lures stuck in it.

Out in the tropics, Hurricane Katia reached major category 3 strength today and then dropped back to a 2.  She doesn't appear to pose a threat to the US mainland.  Tropical Storm Lee came and went on the Louisiana Gulf coast without too much fan fare.  Today there are 2 other systems being tracked.  A tropical depression has formed 920 miles west/southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and may become TS Maria before the week is over.  I'm watching that one closely because I'm flying to Puerto Rico on Monday.  It is expected to pass by PR on Sunday as a low category hurricane.  Another low pressure wave is being tracked in the far western reaches of the Gulf of Mexico.  I don't think that has a chance of travel east toward Florida.

Today I discovered my company credit card had been cloned and used for fraud purchases in the Miami area while I was in Virginia and Mass.  I'm not responsible, of course, as my card is in my wallet but it still feels like I've been victimized.  I'm pretty sure the number was skimmed by a server at a particular Miami area restaurant on August 14.  No one else in the area had my card out of my sight.  I'm sure enough to not return there, even though it was really good food.  Sad.

I'm still hoping to get out on the water before the week is over but the winds will determine my fate.  Below are a couple of photos from the high tide at our dock today.
The recently broken low boy dock would be submerged even if not broken

This is supposed to be a beach, not a pond.

The dock kids are dipping their toes in the water for the first time ever

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Katia Lee

Hilton Garden Inn
Burlington, MA
low of 58, high of 83

I haven't seen any effects of Irene in my travels this week, except on the evening news.
I'm staying up here for the rest of the week, flying home Friday.

A new tropical storm, Katia, is in the Atlantic.  A tropical low pressure system is growing in the Gulf.  Neither of these storms have a chance of hiting Southwest Florida.

The next storm name on the list is Lee.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Hampton Inn, Lorton, VA
Low of 73, high of 94

I am grateful that Hurricane Irene decided to spare the State of Florida from her 115 MPH winds and 10 foot storm surge.  Not that I planned it this way, but I depart home again on Monday afternoon and fly into Manchester, NH.  I will be working all next week in New England, from Boston to Foxboro and flying out next Friday from Providence, RI.  I can't get non-stop flights into/out of Boston Logan, so I chose this itinerary.

Irene is looking for a US landfall on Saturday afternoon in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  She'll likely re-emerge over the Chesapeake Bay and then strike NJ/NY on Sunday.  Monday...New England.

My territory includes, VA, MD, PA, NJ, NY & MA.  If our company is cleaning up after the biggest storm to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades, I need to be there.
My plans were made a month ago and if my plane departs, the Safety Manager needs to be on the ground after a disaster hits.  Duty calls.  Below is the predicted path of Hurricane Irene over the next 4 days.
Click on photo for full screen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Hampton Inn, Washington DC
High of 86, low of 63...nice morning

The lastest computer tracking forecast models show the State of Florida completely outside of the predicted path of Hurricane Irene.  While the sunshine state is in the clear, I experienced the 5.8 earthquake in our Nation's Capitol today.  I was riding in the front seat with a colleague driving and another co-worker in the backseat of my rental car.  We were stopped at a traffic light and I was looking down at my blackberry, answering an email.  I felt the car rocking left and right or surging forward and back.I thought the guy in the back was messing around and I asked him what the heck he was doing.  He answered that he wasn't doing anything and told me to look at the car in front of us.  When I did I saw the other car rocking as if someone was shaking it from the roof top.  Luckily there were no reports of injury or damage in our operations here.

Meanwhile, Irene could be making landfall somewhere on the US Eastern coast on Friday afternoon/evening.  Hopefully, there will be no flight delays across the grid but you never know.  I'm scheduled to depart from Reagan National at 6:45 PM, change planes in Atlanta at 8:15PM and then land in Ft. Myers at 11PM.

Here is the latest spaghetti models of the predicted storm track:

Monday, August 22, 2011


Hampton Inn, Chantilly, VA
High of 82

Most of the world now knows Irene is a Category 1 Hurricane,with winds of 80MPH and growing stronger.  The good news is that the Gulf coast and Southwest Florida have been taken out of the cone of uncertainty.  That doesn't mean there's no chance of danger for us, as these storms can change direction at anytime.  But I will say that I'm breathing a sigh of relief for the first time since Saturday.  The storm now appears more likely to strike North Carolina than Southwest Florida, where we are.  Below are the latest tracking modelsm cone of uncertainty and color radar image.

9PM update:  Irene is now at category 2 strength, with sustained winds of 100 MPH.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte; flying to DC tomorrow for the week
High of 89, rec'd 1.58 inches of rain

Since moving to SWFL in late 2007 we have enjoyed the peace of not having legitimate hurricane threats.  The last one to hit this area was Charley, a category 4, on Friday the 13th of August, 2004.  Before that Port Charlotte had been calm since the 60's.  The only thing close to a serious storm was TS Faye in 2008 but she ended up being a rain event and never directly impacted us.  That peace may be in jeopardy.

Tropical Storm Irene has formed in the Atlantic Ocean.  Early computer models seem to agree it could be headed toward Florida; perhaps Southwest Florida.  Puerto Rico is under tropical storm warning tonight.  There's no need for panic or really even concern at this early stage.  But we're not taking chances on being unprepared. 

We have thought about the need for a home generator since we moved here.  Today we pulled the trigger.  I had researched models last year and knew which one I wanted.  If I wait until the watches or warnings came out for Florida, gen-sets would likely sell out quickly.  Since I'm flying to DC for work tomorrow, the time to act was now.  We bought a 7000 watt Honda generator at Sam's Club.  With it, we'll be able to power our whole house, except the air conditioner.  Our 2 refridgerator/freezers were the biggest concern.  My neighbor, an electrician, showed me how I can hook this unit up to the dryer outlet and then backfeed our breaker box.  This will enable us to run ceiling fans, wall outlets, microwave, TV, etc.  We can use the breaker box to control our usage, rather than having extension cords running all over the house.

Kathy will be implementing our preparation plan by purchasing extra cases of drinking water.  We will use that no matter what.  We already have enough food on hand to get us through 10 days without services.  With the generator, we won't have to be restricted to dry foods.  We have lots of frozen meats and fish.  Saving that was worth the cost of the generator.  The last thing we would need if we went under hurricane warning would be to fill the vehicles up with gas, have 40 gallons of generator fuel on hand and, if a major hurricane is coming I would pull the boat from the lift and strap it down on the trailer next to the house.

Again, if this all sounds like craziness...there's no cause to be alarmed but there is time to be prepared.  And we are making preparations instead of taking chances.  Below are some storm photos, as of Saturday night, August 20.  Click on any photo for full screen, then page back.
The computer models predict the storm track

Current action in the tropics

Current rain activity throughout the tropics

With this we can run the whole house, except A/C

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 93, daily heavy downpours

Last week I worked the Philly/Atlantic City area.  Nothing fun, just work and sleep.

My floating dock project is finally complete.  After cost overruns and a lot of sweat, it's floating and looks pretty good.  My thanks to neighbor Ronnie for the design and creative consulting and definitely thanks to my grandson Devin for his hard labor while he was here.  I will use this for maintenance on the boat, being able to access all four sides of the boat lift.  I will also use it for canal maintenance, being able to trim trees and remove debris.  Finally, it will make a pretty cool fishing platform from the center of the canal, instead of trying to cast from the dock, around the boat and around the trees.  Below are pictures of the finished product.  It measures 5'x12'.  The last picture is the stationary dock section that recently collapsed due to corroded screws/nails.  The floating dock will come in handy for repairing the stationary dock.

Tropical Update:
Since I last blogged, Tropical Storm Emily fizzled out without making a US landfall.  TS Franklin formed and faded out.  Now we have TS Gert spinning out in the Atlantic but again making no threat to the US.

We've had lots of daily rainfall here in SW Florida.  It has been great for our grass.

click on pics for full screen image