Wednesday, September 26, 2012

St. Augustine, Florida, and the Secotan shrimp boat

A brief history of our Secotan that became a part of the St. Augustine fishing fleet;

Jane and I went in search of its history with information we obtained from the Federal Documentation Office, and here is what we found;
 In 1947 on the banks of Albemarle Sound at Manns Harbor, North Carolina, and a short distance from Kill Devil Hills, the spot of the Wright brother’s historic flight, a very special creation was brought into this world. Clarence Holmes contracted Belove Tillet to build a forty two-foot party boat.
The boat was built “by the rock of the eye,” with special care since it was designed to spend its life in and out of the most treacherous inlet on the East Coast of the United States; Oregon Inlet at Cape Hatteras. The talent that went onto this special vessel can only be appreciated by a person that has piloted it through the crashing seas of a deadly raging and unforgiving inlet…like a little duck in love with the water, the Secotan bounces and bobs along in the wildest of torrents…trust me for I have been there.
Secotan arriving at our dock in St. Augustine, Florida, 1980. George Tappin is standing on the bow and Jane on the stern.

What we were about to do next was not for everybody.
With our seamanship, navigational and boat building abilities, and a desire to do something totally different and exciting, we put our newly built dock to the perfect use.
We acquired a commercial fishing vessel.
This was not going to be like the good old days when any hayseed could drag some nets around and make a living. Cheap fuel and plentiful shrimp were gone.
The timing was right; we had the boat handling expertise and our youthful exuberance.
Jane and I had just finished constructing a dock in Hospital Creek at a piece of property we were developing adjacent to the “fabled Fountain of Youth”. Hospital Creek is where Ponce de León sailed up on April 2, 1513, when he was searching for the Fountain of Youth and discovered Florida.
For the rest of this interesting story read the book: Sailing to St. Augustine by John M. Grimsrud.  It is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Exotic Bicycle Adventurers

Exotic Bicycles:They evolved over the years to meet our changing needs.
Leaving Netherlands along the Amelo-Nordhorn Canal and entering Germany on the paved bicycle path known as the “Grenz route” or border route we enjoy the friendly open borders of the Euro-zone.
We have been bicycling for over forty years in North America and Europe.
We have the most pleasure exploring quiet paved roads; the slower we go the more fun we have.
Our collection of cycles has filled our needs for amusement, entertainment, excursions, travel, and shopping.
After all these years we still roll along on our oldest machines that we refer to as our exotic bicycles.
For the past twelve years we have not owned any motor vehicles. All of our travels have been by bicycle or on public transport with our folding bikes.
Not being racers or speed freaks, modifications began to evolve.
For comfort Jane got new handle bars and a comfortable springy seat. For shopping and touring, carrier racks were installed. Then alloy crank, wheels, and shifters became upgrades. Before our Rhine River trip up to Switzerland, new mountain compatible sprockets were installed. After our cross Europe trip through East Germany and into Poland, where we broke twenty spokes on the cobble stoned streets, I exchanged all of our spokes for heavy duty Mexican replacements…fixed!
A computer, drink holders, and front rack for straddle bags were added to make cross-country touring even better for serious cross-country. The innovations made our bikes into little pack mules. A map holder and my personally designed “save my ass” bike seat came next. I designed the seat to save my sex life and protect my kidneys using light duty springs and special cut high density padding. A compass and two drink holders completed the upgrades.
Our exotic bicycles are robust but roll extremely well.
My bike modifications made me think back to a story my grandfather told me:
One day when I was in his shop he held up a well worn little hammer, and he exclaimed, “This hammer has been in the family a long time, it has had seven handles and two new heads.” That sounds a lot like our exotic bicycles.
Ten years ago I was 62 years old and many times made 120 kilometer days.
Now I am 72 years old and 40-50 kilometer days are enough…it must be the global warming?
History of our exotic bicycles: They were purchased second hand in Florida when we lived there. We loaded the bikes on our camper and traveled across the U.S. from Florida to the Pacific Northwest and California to Maine. In Canada we biked the islands of British Columbia and across to the Maritime Provinces in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. We had a home at Brownsville, Texas, and biked the area there, and then settled in Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico.
Eighteen years ago we loaded the bikes on a freighter with our camper bound for Rotterdam, Netherlands. In Europe we have bicycled with our exotic bicycles from Norway and Sweden to Spain and Portugal and from Western Europe to Poland plus every centimeter of the Rhine River from the North Sea all the way up to Konstanz in Switzerland at the Bodensee, headwaters of the Rhine. 
Biking the rural canal region near Emsbüren, Germany: We are still rolling on our exotic bicycles, and they don’t owe us much.
Click here to read more about our life long dedication to adventures.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sailing the Florida Keys

Excerpts from Sailing the Florida Keys by John M. Grimsrud

Jim and Mary Flood;
Jim and Mary Flood were the owners of a twin-engine sport fishing boat named Mistress… Jim’s reason for owning the Mistress was to have headquarters for a dockside party…With a glib Irish wit and party mentality, Jim poured all visitors his potent high-octane and nearly lethal concoction that Jim jokingly called “cherry bounce.” It felt like 200 proof!
Jim had worked for Household Finance in Chicago and later Collagen Water Company where he made enough dough…Jim owned five different planes that included a DC-3 and a Piper Aztec before he came to the sunny southland to lay back. Jim drove the biggest Lincoln Continental available and owned the biggest house on the block…in the high-rent district. Jim joined the sailing community when he bought a classic Crocker designed 40-foot sailboat named Puffin with a dinghy aptly named Huffin.
Jim Flood aboard Puffin in, Melbourne Harbor.
Jim and Mary Flood … anchored…south of Melbourne with their Puffin…his spiffy yacht that now looked like a show room specimen with its meticulous paint and varnish work. We had a fabulous time together catching fish for our dinner. Jim had a knack for landing trout, and Jane had the talent to cook.
When Jim and Mary got ready to leave, I gave a demonstration of how to sail up their anchor without using the engine…I pointed Jim’s pristine yacht in the proper direction, sheeted in the sails for optimum speed and performance, handed the helm over to Jim, and I got into my dinghy giving Jim and Mary a thumbs-up when they briskly sprinted off on a beam reach. We were later told this was the very best sail they ever had.
Jim, a scientific wine maker: Jim’s exact and precise procedures for making wine were without dispute the only acceptable way to make wine. Jim and Mary came to our boat for dinner, and Mary went to great lengths to compliment Jane on her exquisite wine…would not quit her praise… Jane is a fine wine maker…what made this incident hilarious was that the wine was made using Welch’s concentrated grape juice… we had heard Jim go extremes to profess his scornful disdain for wine made from concentrated grape juice. We knew that Jim knew this was concentrate wine, and we could sense him smoldering. Mary either knew this was wine from concentrate and was giving her husband the business or if she did not know, then Jim knew we were just getting a chance to see him squirm.
Another Jim Flood wine story: Jim told Jane that we needed to take advantage of the prolific fox grapes to be harvested in the area. We talked to our friend Harold and asked if he knew of any fox grapes. next we were off on another all-day excursion into the county down the back roads that just happened to yield lots of fox grapes and a number of taverns where Harold was well known. Jane followed Jim’s exact winemaking instructions with the fox grapes and sugar, but in the end we wound up with the driest mouth puckering wine ever produced aboard Dursmirg or for that matter the driest red wine we have ever sampled. When Jane gave Jim a glass of the finished wine to sample, Jim’s comment to Jane was: “It's always considered a good idea to wash the feet before stomping, and in good society it is considered that the shoes as well as the socks should be removed. If the socks have been worn for more than two weeks, they have a tendency to add certain piquancy to the finished product, though after the first bottle or so the unique flavors tend to disappear.”
End of excerpts.

We met Jim and Mary Flood on our yearly excursions to south Florida aboard our live-aboard sailboat Dursmirg. We made the Indian River area and Melbourne a regular anchoring stopover. The boating community included the Floods plus many others who became our life-long friends. Mary passed away a few years ago, but Jim is still ticking and keeps the jokes flowing.

These interesting people and many fascinating places are part of our Travels of Dursmirg sailing series. The Indian River is included in Sailing the Florida Keys, Volume 3. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Streets of Merida, Yucatan - VW - Car of the Century

VW in Mexico: Volkswagen was the car of the century and number one in Yucatán from the 1960s to the 1990s when more than 9 out of 10 vehicles were Beetles = Bugs, (or called Sedáns in Spanish).
The Beetles were produced in Puebla, Mexico.  Sales soared because of strict import regulations, low prices, and any shade tree mechanic could keep them running with readily available parts.

In the streets of Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico, the VW love affair is still alive and well. Those old cheap Beetles and transporter vans are now cherished collectables.

Jane and I became a part of this mania and owned six VW camper vans that led us to more than twenty years of far flung adventures across Europe, Canada, U.S., and Mexico. That adventure story is part of our latest publication: Sailing to St. Augustine, volume 4 of the Travels of Dursmirg series. Click the link to look inside: Sailing to St. Augustine: Travels of Dursmirg.