Sunday, May 29, 2011

Triple Threat

No pictures today...

Put up the 11m^2 Crossbow and used the Stretch. Launched from a beach called Jake's Place (with the help of a sunbather). Nice and shallow on the inside - sand bottom and waist deep water. This area is sheltered a bit by a point, but as you leave the inside you get into cleaner, way stiffer air (gusts to 20+). I have to figure out where to self-land (spatially). Got some pretty good jumps and some really fast runs. I wish I had a camera with me to show this place off. It's kinda unbelievable that places like this still exist and that there are no crowds around. As long as the wind doesn't turn (after October I've been told) it'll be pretty fun.

After that, I signed up for a windsurfing race. I was in the intermediate class and came in second. I talked with the advanced racing windsurfers and turns out they are fledgling kiters. I'm going to teach them to kite better and I'm going to learn how to windsurf better from them (slalom and carving jibs).

And finally, I cast out a grub at the North tip again - didn't catch anything but did see some Manini (Convict Tangs) and Goatfish grazing in the shallows.

Pretty fun day (I am tired)! Not all fun and games though - had to go into work twice and will again tomorrow. I will try to go kiting again tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back online

Ok - it's been a while but I have a good excuse...

I am now stationed on XXXXXXXXXX and the move from Gulfport has been a long road.

Well - since the last post, I have flown door step to door step 43 hours (with 6 layovers),
Settled in at both the office and the room,
Gotten a windsurfing license and windsurfed out here,
Gotten a powerboat license and took a short motorboat ride,
Got tested out of the sailing classes and sailed a Laser Pico (with jib),
Scoped out the kiting launch,
Went fishing at the northern tip of the Western branch of the island (caught a humuhumunukunukuapa'a and got a huge bite that teased me by releasing the hook before I pulled it up),
Drove to the Southern point of the island and saw a titan triggerfish, a school of adult batfish and 18 turtles all basking in the shoals,
and of course did a lot of work (in-briefing and meeting a lot of people).

So what do I think of my new home?

Well if I could bring La and the kids out here, we'd never leave. But since I can't, it's still a great place. Despite all the awesome things to do and the wonderful location, I do miss the family terribly (this tour has driven the nails into the coffin - time to find a different line of work that is a lot less volatile with choice of location - if I have to leave, we want it to be for shorter and on our terms - living where we want to live - hell - life is too short isn't it?).

The Buddhists say "life is suffering" - a different way of viewing life as challenges to be overcome - but for them the suffering has no end. For us, the challenges never stop. For me, this is another challenge (but thank goodness for Skype).

Anyways - on the island, we executed a terrific nautical tradition this evening - a Dining In. For those that don't know, special occasions merit the gathering of the officers at a command to dress up in our best, celebrate the company and relish the moment. Well - with the upcoming Change of Command ceremony out here, the wardroom celebrated the successful tour of the outbound Commanding Officer.

What will make this one memorable for me is the prescribed uniform - Tropical Mess Dress. An unusual combination of the Summer White Top, the Service Dress Blue Trousers, Mini Medals and the ubiquitous cumberbund. As funny as it sounds, it was rather cool... and I don't say that lightly and it is also literal (much cooler considering our latitude).

I don't have a camera out here yet (it and an underwater housing are on their way), so I couldn't take a picture during the event. A far second is the photobooth picture in my Q room (sad, yes I know).

So - stay tuned for a play by play description of what is it like to be Gilligan, or Wilson (not Tom Hanks) as I live life out here 7 degrees south of the equator for the next 51 weeks or so.

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Old Fish Store

While we were visiting Virginia Beach, I felt compelled to take Marlon back to the old fish store that was by our old house. The place still had great livestock and brought out the kids' curiosity.

I can't wait to set up a tank again (too bad it'll be at least a year - thanks career...)

My Brave Kids

Marlon and Noe are used to shallow beaches. Gulfport is shallow forever and the lost any fear of the unknown SUPing/sailing/riding along with me on the Windsurfing runs. Mayport is relatively shallow as well.

The beach here has a series of sandbars with relatively deep troughs in between. But it gets deep quick. And if there are waves, there will be a longshore current. But don't tell them that - they still charged it!!!

Except when the bigger set waves came up on shore - top to bottom barrels right up on the beach that grabbed the kids and flushed them. The cold water reflex didn't help much either (but it did make them put on that classic "I'm cold and I don't know what just happened to me" look).

So the list of where they've surfed is now growing! I'm stoked!!!

Got a few in the washing machine

Thursday on the Element...

As good as it was for the boogie boards and the paipo, it was that much tougher to SUP. No channel through the beach break, wave after wave after wave of wind swell and colder water (I was hoping for temps in the mid 60s) all made catching waves pretty challenging.

I did manage to get a couple (and they were worth the trouble)! Thanks to my lovely wife for indulging me by taking pictures (yet again)!

Alaia + Jigsaw = Paipo + Hand Planes

As you might recall, a while back I built this alaia out of pawlonia strips. I did try to take it out a couple of times, but with my limited water time, I felt it more prudent to SUP surf or distance paddle instead of trying to learn to use the alaia.

So it hung on the wall in the garage at the Gulfport house.

Well, if you've hit the links I have listed here on this blog, you've surely seen some hand planes and paipos running around. So I get this idea as I'm packing for Virginia Beach earlier this week - "I really don't need an alaia to take up space again - what I could use is a paipo and a few hand planes to play around in the beach break with...."

The last thing I did before closing up the garage to begin our road trip was to break out the jig saw and take it to the alaia. La couldn't believe her eyes and repeatedly asked "are you sure you want to do this?" even as I was finishing up the cut.

Well - turns out the alaia is a much better paipo and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face - Thursday at 66th St at the North End of Virginia Beach!!! Washing machine conditions (no breaks between the short period wind swell), and the water was in the high 50's), but had to try out the "new" board!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Museum Tactics

Now that we live in the DelMarVa area and access to DC is relatively easy, we have changed our viewpoint on the museums. No longer do we have to zoom in early in the morning at first opening and systematically absorb EVERYTHING for fear of missing something.

Our adjusted tactics now consist of microviews - go when the crowds are at their thinnest and look at two or three wings in greater detail. This was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (for the second time in three months). This time we focused on the bug exhibit and upon exiting that, the animal skeleton exhibit. Very interesting to see the new exhibits next to the older ones. The bugs look a lot like the other bug exhibits we've seen across the country - very modern, interactive and low to the ground (for kids to see). The skeletons looked liked they were time warped in from the mid 70's - even the colors screamed outdated. Still good info despite the tired scenery (but that in itself says "museum" doesn't it?)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paddling at the Nearest Beach

I had a friend visit last weekend - Jason Glover - and he is just getting into Stand Up Paddling. SO we loading up a couple of boards and looked at a map to see where we could get some paddling in. We took a drive out to Sandy Point Beach Park in Maryland.

Nice place for paddling - but the sand was more like soil. And compared to the beaches along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the drop off is really steep and really quick - so we told the kids to be careful. With the steep drop off, I actually placed a Seeker fin on La's board and what a difference it made in tracking (straight as an arrow - about twice the paddle strokes per side before needing to switch over as compared to the shallow water fin we have been using).

Today, we'll try to see where else we can paddle - including our backyard - stay tuned...

Checking Out an Old Boss's New Boat

While in JAX, we stopped by to have lunch with one of my former Bosses - CAPT Ed Brown.

While he lived in Gulfport, he had a boat in his garage, but it didn't move much. It was also a smaller boat - big enough to cruise around in but not much else.

Well that's all changed now - he picked up a gently used Sea Ray and it is nice...

The lot that he keeps it stored in had crushed limestone and guess what the kids found - yes, marine fossils. Now we have crushed limestone in Noe's seat so the kids can see ancient marine life fossilized whenever they want to (at least while they're in the car and when they happen to remember they have ancient marine fossils riding around with them).

Ed and Eileen took us to a place called Whitey's Fish Camp - classic Southern Cuisine with a North Florida flair. What was really cool about the place was the decor in the entry way - the owner was a Navy Diver and he had the cool stuff to prove it (plaques, knives, helmets, etc). Now I know what I'm going to do with my junk when I no longer have an office to store it in...

Lastly, the other thing that was cool at the restaurant was the piers you could drive up to (in a boat). That is not uncommon for restaurants that cater to boaters, but there was a Glacier Bay 23 foot cat tied up - nice reminder of what could be (if we go to a place that we could really benefit from using a power boat - Hawaii.... for fishing, providing escort boat services to paddlers, reaching isolated surf spots, cruising to the other islands on long weekends - ah the life...)


Surfing Kiddoroosters

More catching up - these were from a week and a half ago down at Mayport, FL.

The kids would fearlessly pull their boogie boards (we got one for Noe in addition to the one Marlon has been using) to the deeper part of the beach break (even I had the heebee jeebies but I didn't show it - don't want to spook the yung'ins from taking risk) and RIDE the big ones in!!!

Marlon owned the break!!!

Today we're off to some of the surf shops in the area to interrogate them for surf spot info - more to follow...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seaworld Surprise

On the way from Gulfport to Northern Virginia, we told the kids that we would stop by Lola and Lolo's place in Jacksonville and that we would spend time surfing their favorite break (Poles at Mayport).

Well, since the SeaWorld Conglomerates are still giving out free admissions to the their parks for military, we couldn't turn that down.

SeaWorld Orlando is a much bigger place than SeaWorld San Diego. We spent about 6 hours roaming and checking things out - by the time all was said and done, we were pooped. But I think if this walrus pooped, it would be bigger than us (or at least Marlon and Noe). This was the second time (that I can recall) having seen a walrus (the first was at the Enoshima Aquarium in Shonan, Japan) - but the display here showed the immensity of a walrus much better - wouldn't want to accidentally bump into one of those while surfing - would scare the poop out of me...

We also watched the Shamu show. They were running a different program than the one we saw last time we were at San Diego - no trainers were in the pool this time. The big one that drowned the trainer was back in the show - seemed to be fine, but it looks like the staff (and the lawyers and insurance company) are taking the safe route.

Marlon and I got to feed the rays (always cool to see them feed) - and this place had manatees (first time the kids got to see those). Now Marlon has been reading up on mermaids and how sailors for centuries past mistook manatees for mermaids (long time out at sea eehhh sailor????)

The kids were stoked that we made this stop along the way!

Proud to be a Seabee

For those that do not know what a Seabee is, the textbook definition can be found here:

Outside of the "written" definition, I am proud to be a Seabee because of the following:

- they don't know how to quit
- they don't take "no" for an answer (their motto is "CAN DO" - how can you take "no" for an answer with a motto like that?)
- they always look for the fun in any situation
- they some how know when to be professional (and when they don't have to be)
- they get the job done so they can get on to the next one (it never ends)

I am proud to have had this opportunity to serve with the Gulfport Seabees and I will be forever humbled at what this relatively small group of people "Can Do" as they get their mind set to task. They have moved mountains time and again like it is NOTHING - and no matter what the odds they keep on smiling. You gotta like that! UCT Seabees have a few more qualities to them, but that's for a different post.

But most of all, I just love this Seabee - if you've never seen it in person, well - let's just say it is the most fitting Bee that Gulfport can have - with the space between the teeth, the lips flared (like it has a wad of dip in) and the affection with which it is holding the machine gun - this Bee is 150% Redneck - and PROUD OF IT!!!

Ooh-Rahh Seabees!!!! (And HOOYAH UCTs!!!)

Last Evening in Gulfport

At this point I was working on my second XX. Having survived a tour as Chief Staff Officer watching nine units train, spend money, deploy and return, and pull shenanigans - I deserved a whole six pack (if not a pony keg).

We had one last dinner at Shaggy's at Pass Christian (our favorite casual dining place) after the movers took away our belongs and we checked out of the house (we'll never have a quick release like that ever again...).

Capt'n Fun (Roger Evans) and Stan-O (and his better half Lisa) came out to say goodbye as well.

I'm going to miss the slower pace of life and the instant beach access life on the Gulf Coast provided. It was a blindingly fast 20 months - thanks for the memories Gulfport!!!

Catching Up

It's been a while, but I've been tied up with moving the family from Gulfport, MS to Northern Virginia.

Posts to catch up will include (but not be limited to) wonderful reading selections like:
Last Evening in Gulfport
Proud to be a Seabee
Seaworld Surprise
Surfing Kiddoroosters
Trailing A Weta
Checking Out a Former Boss's Boat
Paddling at the Nearest Beach
Museum Tactics

In the meantime, the pictures are for Jason - my longtime friend who is one of the ONLY people who I know is a better engineer that I am. Note how I stated this - "know is a better engineer". I specifically wrote this that way so as to not offend any of you other engineers that I may know (there are a lot of you) - you may actually be a better engineer that I am, but I don't know that.

Jase - here are the pictures you asked for - more will come soon. Let me know how the Starboard Hero paddles -

Stand by for lots of writing and pictures!