Saturday, May 30, 2009

So Many Books So Little Time

One of the things you have lots of time for when cruising is reading. Here is an annotatde list of some of Jims favorite series authors:

Randy Wayne White

Doc Ford is a marine biologist who used to be some sort of operative in a super secret government organization. Now he lives at a marina in SW Florida where he runs a biological supply company, but keeps getting dragged back into his old government doings. Read Sanibel Flats first.

James Grippando

Grippando writes outdoors at his south Florida home, and most of his novels are set in Florida, chiefly in Miami. He writes novels of suspense in the genre of crime fiction, including psychological thrillers and legal thrillers, many of which draw upon his experiences as a trial lawyer. (From Wikipedia)

Stephen Hunter

The main character is Bob Lee Swagger who was a Marine sniper in Vietnam. He keeps getting involved in situations that call upon his old sniper skills. Lots of details about long distance shooting. Read Point of Impact first. This book was made into the 2007 movie Shooter staring Mark Wahlberg.

Tom Corcoran

Alex Rutledge is a freelance photographer living in Key West who is always getting involved with cases of the Key West police and Monroe County sheriff.

P T Deutermann

Many feature Cam Richter who is a deputy sheriff and the cases are set in North Carolina. Read Cat Dancers first. Also try Darkside which is not a Cam Richer.

Robert Crais

Crais's usual protagonist and first-person narrator is private detective Elvis Cole, a wisecracking ex-Ranger tough guy with a heart of gold and all the charm of his namesake, Elvis Presley. Almost as well known is Cole's partner Joe Pike, an intimidating ex-Marine who never smiles. The author tackles a variety of subjects in his novels. The most frequently recurring theme in Crais's books is the value of honesty; in his works, the long-term value of coming clean always outweighs the short-term benefits of covering up the problem. Crais also delves into issues of family and loyalty. (From Wikipedia)

Harlan Coben

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent and former professional basketball player who gets involved investigating murders that sometimes involve his clients and sometimes not. His best friend is Win Lockwood who defines “walk softly and carry a big stick”. Mostly set in northern New Jersey and New York. Read in order.

Lee Child

Jack Reacher is a retired army military policeman. His only possession is a folding toothbrush. He travels the country and is always helping the underdog. Read in order starting with Killing Floor.

Les Roberts

Milan Jacovich is a Cleveland PI and most of the cases take place in Cleveland. The address Roberts uses for his character’s apartment is about three blocks from our condo. Read in order starting with Pepper Pike.

Steve Hamilton

Alex McNight is a disability retired Detroit policeman who moves up to the Upper Peninsula to manage a set of vacation cabins he inherited. Trouble finds him there. Great descriptions of weather in the UP.

Alan Furst

Often compared to the works of such writers as Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, Furst's novels — which he calls "historical espionage" — have a literary quality that sets them apart from most thrillers. In addition to Greene and Ambler, Furst cites Joseph Roth, Joseph Conrad, and John le CarrĂ© as important influences. Furst has been particularly successful in evoking the cities and characters of Eastern Europe during the period from 1933 to 1944. While all his historical espionage novels are loosely connected (protagonists in one book might appear as minor characters in another), only The World at Night and Red Gold are linked together as prequel and sequel. (From Wikipedia)

Olen Steinhauer

Police procedurals set in a fictitious eastern European country. They start right after WW 2 and continue to the present.

Henning Mankell

Swedish author who’s main character is Kurt Wallander and the stories are police procedurals set in Sweden.

James Lee Burke

Author of the Dave Robicheaux police procedurals set in Louisiana. He has also started two other series, one set in Texas and the other in Montana. All contain great character development and incredible descriptions of the environment.

S M Stirling

Many sci fi books, but I like his alternative history series about the Change. Start with Islands in the Sea of Time and Dies the Fire.

Reed Arvin

Legal thrillers featuring flawed lawyers. The books remind me of John Grisham. Arvin is actually a record producer and keyboardist.

Nevada Barr

All Barr's novels are about the adventures of US Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon. Barr herself was a ranger and all the novels are set in US Parks. We have already visited one (Cumberland Island National Seashore) and expect to visit more on the trip.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Still trapped -- but having fun

We're still trapped in Vero Beach. But we've solved the problem of Diane going to California and getting the boat out of Florida by June 1. Diane still goes to California Tuesday and Jim got an extension of a week on the Florida boat insurance. It won't cover us if we're hit by a named storm, but a named storm in Florida the first week of June would be a very unusual event, so we'll take our chances.

After considering all of the options, we decided to stay put in Vero Beach until I get back from California. Boaters call this place "Velcro Beach" because it is so easy to get stuck here. It is almost too convenient to get provisions, meet other boaters, find ways to amuse yourself. Although we will rent a car on Tuesday, because the Jacksonville airport is 223 miles from here, you could easily stay here for ten days, as Jim will do, without needing personal transportation.

While we were organizing the plan to stay put, we noticed a boat next door at the Vero Municipal Marina named Cahoots, with a home port of Oriental, North Carolina. The last time we went sailing (20 years ago) we met a couple from Oriental with a boat named Cahoots, Pat and Almira Dallas. Thinking "No, it couldn't possibly be them", we went over and found out that, indeed, it really was the same couple with a new boat. So we have enjoyed catching up with them and seeing their new boat. We're both going the in same direction, although they probably will leave while I'm in California (assuming the weather eventually gets better) so we won't be traveling together. But they have invited us to stop by and stay at their dock when we go through Oriental. Meeting them again is a great reminder of how small and close knit the boating community really is.
BTW, if you are interested, our first boating trip can be found at Mid Life Cruising Sabbatical.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Here we are -- trapped in Vero Beach, Florida, by the weather, a huge rainstorm that may last until Friday.  Actually, being trapped by weather is a fairly common occurrence for boaters, especially boaters with a schedule.  I'm due to fly out of Jacksonville next Tuesday for a week of work in California.  Our boat insurance requires us to be out of Florida by noon on June 1.  We can't accomplish both if the weather doesn't change.  Florida has been waiting for months for the rainy season; unfortunately, it came four days too early for us.  Oh well, we'll figure it out. That is part of the fun of boating, unpredictability.

Until now we've had a reasonably uneventful trip up the Intercoastal Waterway.  The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States.  The waterway runs for most of the length of the Eastern Seaboard, from New Jersey to Brownsville, Texas.

The creation of the Intracoastal Waterway was authorized by the United States Congress in 1919.  It is maintained by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.  The waterway consists of two non-contiguous segments: the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, extending from Brownsville, Texas to Carrabelle, Florida, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, extending from Key West, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia.  Additional canals and bays extend the waterway to Boston, Massachusetts.  The Intercoastal is exactly what it sounds like, a waterway created by linking naturally occurring bays and rivers with dredged canals inside the coastline.  It is used both by recreational boaters and commercial, mostly barge, traffic.  During World War II it provided the U.S. with a secure shipping lane that wasn't accessible to the Germans.  From the recreational boater's perspective, it is a calmer travel environment than the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

We are in the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway.  We've actually been through this part of Florida nine times over the last five years as we have moved the boat between Georgia and Florida each year (Georgia for hurricane season, Florida for the winter).  So we're not spending too much time in any one place.  

We did stop in Miami to shop for fresh food at a favorite grocery store (Fresh Market), to see the new Star Trek movie (liked it), and to notice that the view of Miami from the water has changed a lot since this last time we were through this way. Last time we took the boat through Miami we counted 17 construction cranes in the skyline. In this shot of downtown Miami from the water, there is only one.  One more proof that economy continues to suffer.  Rumor has it that Miami has a five year backlog of condos for sale. Constructing more isn't much of a priority.

Our next stop was one night at the Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club.  One of the reasons we joined the Marathon Yacht Club was it reciprocity with other Florida yacht clubs.  As Marathon members, we can get a free night of dockage at any of the other clubs.  So as we move up the coast, we stay for free about half the time.

We anchored in Lake Worth (North Palm Beach) the next night, then came to Vero Beach. Vero Beach is a favorite stop for boaters because there is a nice city marina and free bus service from the marina to the grocery store, Home Depot, Walmart, and West Marine (for boat parts).  We were only planning to be here two days, but now it looks like it will be at least four.


Monday, May 18, 2009

The Adventure Begins

We finally pulled away from the dock at 9:00 AM on Monday, May 11, 2009.  After five years of planning and working, we're off on the Great Loop, a trip up the east coast, across the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi and other rivers, back to the Gulf of Mexico.  This is the reason we bought the boat five years ago and it is wonderful to finally be underway.  This summer's objective is to get to the Chesapeake Bay.

Down  Time is a 36 foot Endeavour TrawlerCat. She only draws 36 inches and can get under bridges with at least 14 feet of clearance.  Both of those features are particularly important in Florida where the water can be quite skinny and the bridges numerous.

The day of our departure was a glorious Keys day: shining sun, a few fluffy clouds, no wind --  the water was flat and so clear you could see the bottom.  If you have never seen the water in the Keys, understand that this is where the term aqua was born.  You can't imagine the beautiful colors of the water.  We enjoyed every minute of it because we knew we wouldn't be seeing it again for a long time.

The last week before we left was a whirl of projects that needed to be completed.  We added a rear deck cover that has nearly doubled our usable deck space.  We call the new space our back porch.  Two adirondack chairs give us comfortable seating, perfect for morning coffee or cocktail hour.  The rest of the projects were boat maintenance, cleaning, replacing worn stuff. 

We finished the week with a visit from our good friends, Rob and Carol Harris and their dog Franklin.  They joined us in our last meal at our favorite Marathon restaurant (the Chiki Tiki -- best fish sandwich and french fries in the Keys).  Then they took our car home.  They will store it for us until we are ready to move it to our summer docks.

Our first day ended in Thursday Cove, an anchorage about 70 miles from Marathon.  One of the unique features of Thursday Cove is that you can't see anything but water and mangroves.  Off in the distance there is a bridge over the waterway, but other than that, there is no man-made object in view.  No houses, no high rises, just natural Florida.  It is not that common a view, but it was a great way to start our goodbyes to Florida.