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Where’s a snowshovel when you need it?

12 Jan

Epic snow (for Portland), with overnight accumulation of nearly a foot! Poor Tango sank down several inches below her waterline, and the bimini and trampoline have new stretch marks.

Need to shovel off the snow, but don’t have one waiting in the forward hold? Why would we – this is Portland after all. We thought our days of bitter, snowy Maryland winters worrying about de-icing, shoveling, winterizing engines and buying bubblers were behind us. 

No worries! A dust bin, a collander and a squeegee will also do. Sailors can find many uses for an item, or necessity is the mother of invention, right? 

With Tango a few pounds lighter, some of the crew took a school break to throw a few snowballs and bound with the crazy dogs. Some of the other crew just hid under afghans and wished for warmer weather. ­čśŐ

On a night like this…

4 Jan

…What we wouldn’t give for another ten amps! (Especially Robin who is missing tropical weather big time).

Is it really supposed to be this cold in Portland this soon? The east winds blowing at 20 knots don’t help either. 

Time to dig out the ski gear, brrr!

Drowning on land

15 Sep

Today our marina parking lot flooded…blame is still to be decided. Construction proceeded to follow city marked lines and broke through the water main.

With about a 10-minute warning we moved our car before it drown. Robin had to wade through knee deep water to rescue our poor car! Amazing how quickly that parking lot filled up…

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A smelting we will go

1 Mar

Okay, not really. People go on about how good they are to eat, but they are so tiny that you need so many before you can really do anything with them. Hence, you need smelt dipping nets (no poles for this). Plus, I have a thing about eating a whole fish – scales, bones and all. I’ll leave them for the rest of you.

But, it is that time of year. The water in our marina and along the shoreline were thick with these little silver guys. Never heard of smelt? These guys are tiny fish come up river to spawn and then die. In this process, they swim along the surface and are very visible to lots of predators. We even saw some sea lions, who don’t usually come this far up river.

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Geese doing some smelting of their own

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Success!

 

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Shoreline all silvery from dead smelt

 

Fried egg jellyfish

11 Jul

In the Chesapeake where we started out with Tango, we were plagued (mostly in the spring) with sea nettle jellyfish. As the bay has gotten warmer and more polluted, the sea nettle blooms have gotten so bad that a new industry developed, that of expensive “nettle nets.” These pop-out inflatable circular nets trail behind your boat or from shore, so you can swim safely and not get stung. Robin used to cruise craigslist looking for a good used nettle net, as they can be quite pricey. She never did find one, but after we left the Chesapeake, we didn’t ever see too many jellyfish, so she let that one go.

That is until we sailed down to Seattle…

We had no idea that jellyfish were such a problem in the Puget Sound as well. Here in the Elliott Bay marina, we see so many jellyfish every time we walk the dock to shore. Finally, we took some time to look up what they were, and to find out if their stingers are painful (a very important girl question). We found out that most are fried egg (or egg yolk) jellyfish. Guess these guys are wimpy in the world of stinging tentacles and many small creatures will ride on their bells and steal food. The bad boys around here are the lion’s mane jellyfish. They look very similar, but apparently have more pink in them.
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Whoever we have floating around us, fried egg or lion’s mane, it’s cured the girls of wanting to even dip a toe in the water. Not sure they will let Max get more than ankle deep either…next girl question…can they sting through fur?

I love google and wikipedia for these rabbit trail question sessions!

Okay Fort Lauderdale, you won us over

27 Apr

Last year when we came through Fort Lauderdale, it was spring break and we stayed at a public marina just off the beach. What do we remember about that visit other than being parked right next to a mega yacht once owned by Tiger Woods? Red solo dixie cups littering the beach and drunk people throwing up. As our east coast adventures wind down, Robin believed that Fort Lauderdale has more to offer and was determined we could find it. We succeeded on this visit (especially since it was post spring break).

We visited the Museum of Art (they have a wonderful and moving Civil Rights photography exhibit) and the Museum of Science (fellow boaters June and Joseph got scared with us at the Goosebumps exhibit…thanks guys!). We also saw a few IMAX movies in 3D (Islands of Madagascar and Avatar), found a old car show, walked the fancy shops on Las Olas Blvd where we saw Rolls Royces parked next to Lamborghinis, and enjoyed all the boardwalk sights. It was especially fun to sit in our cockpit and people watch as boats large and small cruised up and down the New River, most with their music pumping.

Our marina also had lots of muscovy ducks, and since it is spring time there were ducklings aplenty. Max wanted to chase them all down, but after the palm warbler incident, he is not trusted around anything with feathers.

Robin met a wonderful and passionate boater…in the showers…which just proves that you never know where or when you are going to meet someone special! We wish we could have hung around longer and gotten to know Audrey and Frank better. Check out the great work they are doing to connect Americans, especially people of color, with our national parks.

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Kid wall at the Museum of Art

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Lots of cool cars

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Peyton in action

Keys Wild Bird Sanctuary

1 Mar

Today we visited the Wild Bird Sanctuary where they rescue and rehabilitate injured birds (fkwbc.org). The girls had a great time, and especially loved the pelicans.

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It's a big gulf

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Flip the jay

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Strangler Fig

Dinoflagellates

4 Sep

A few┬á weeks ago we noticed a bit of bioluminescence in the water at night, just a bit of sparkling. We have seen this out in the gulf stream, and all of us think it’s pretty cool how the plankton can glow when disturbed. Over the weekend we decided to brave the no-see-ums (who do not respect bug spray at all) and check it out again.

What we saw was unlike anything we’ve seen before. We felt like we were walking onto a set of the movie Avatar.

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Any disturbance, from a splash or a fish, caused the water to glow blue-green quite brilliantly. We ended up sacrificing our ankles to bites and sat on the sugar scoops playing in the water and watching in amazement. We could see every fish swimming around, as they would disturb the plankton and cause the water to glow with their movement. Each droplet of water was an individual light show. When the girls stuck their hands in the water, the plankton would stick to them and make sparkly and glowing spots on their skin. Turns out this is a special summertime event, caused by a special kind of plankton called dinoflagellates.

We tried to get photos and video of the girls playing with the bioluminescense, but it just wouldn’t show up withe camera equipment we’ve got. I did find this great Discovery News video, which shows the phenomenon in San Diego.

Turns out there is a whole industry developed around playing with the dinoflagellates in Florida during the summer. Midnight kayak tours, complete with glow sticks, allow you to float and glow paddle through them. Simply amazing to watch.

We decided we need to get a portable microscope, so we can see our dinoflagellates up close and personal.

Waterway Cleanup

26 Jul

Today we joined hundreds of other people along the Treasure Coast and spent several hours picking up trash. In our little stretch along the Indian River we collected over 40 pounds of trash, including over 26 plastic bottles, several fish hooks, and even a toy ear scope. Having seen the sea animal injuries caused by our trash, we all felt good to remove even just a bit of it, and we decided to make trash cleanup a more frequent Tango activity.

Trash be gone

Trash be gone

Madi was in charge of documenting the trash we found, and she thought some of the categories were really strange (especially the one for washers/dryers).