Saturday 25 June 2011

Meet the FD

     "'cause I need you by my side..."
                      -Fontella Bass

      In our ongoing effort to support coastal security and public safety,  Dock Six once again graciously hosted a training event vital to public safety on Thursday evening,  when the volunteer firefighters went for a swim.

    (Okay, they didn't actually ASK us if they could train on our Dock, but who the hell is going to say no to the people who are ballsy enough to run into situations when everyone else is running out?)

  Before you attempt a rescue and/or recovery operation ,you need someone to rescue and/or recover.   So, the "victim" jumps in the water

   "Help!  Help!  et cetera, et cetera..."


"Uh, a little help here?"

   "Keep your shirt on, I'm coming!"

   Almost there...

"Here, put on this swim noodle..."

"You good?"
"Yeah, I'm good."
"Okay, don't drown now.  The paperwork is a bitch."

    "Come on, does it look like I need a second guy to rescue me? Really?"

    "Hey, it's true- if you fart in one of these suits, you float WAY better."

    "Okay boss, we're coming. ..."

   "It's okay, I can walk from here."

Thanks for everything you do, Norfolk County Firefighters.

As always, thanks for checking us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or simply tell your friends.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

New Crew

     "We gotta get out while we're young..."
                                    -Bruce Springsteen

     Sunday was a beautiful day on the Dock, setting the scene for one of our most memorable day cruises aboard Whiskeyjack...  and not just because Gavin and Sylvia FINALLY showed up.

      As often happens, the breeze had picked up throughout the day, then died off about 4 in the afternoon.  SWMBO and I were relaxing in the cockpit, debating whether to cast off and motor out and drift around, on the off chance that the wind picked up a bit, and we could get a short early evening sail in before dinner and sundown.  While we were trying to make a decision, and simply enjoying the sun like a couple of old cats on a window sill, Gavin and Sylvia rolled up the dock with Sylvia's daughter, and Whiskeyjack's newest crew, Destiny.

      They LITERALLY rolled up.

      Y'see, Destiny uses a motorized wheelchair.  She has limited mobility, and very limited use of her hands.

       And she wanted to go sailing.


       Waitaminnit.... how the HELL are we gonna manage this?

        The finger dock on our slip is three feet wide, and Destiny's chair is 30" wide. and the boat has a foot of freeboard above the dock deck  and the cockpit coaming is 3" wide  and...
...  what kind of faux pas am I going to commit and how much toejam am I going to be eating from sticking my foot in my mouth?  Is it impolite to ask about top speed on the chair, whether we need straps, would it be bad form to ask if Destiny likes her feet placed a certain way?   While I am doing the mental math and the gentility  geometry and trying to figure out the etiquette of moving a person from a wheeled conveyance to a floating conveyance, Gavin and Sylvia swooped in and Destiny gave me the only instruction I got...
     "Grab my legs!"
     ...And we dropped eased her into the cockpit.  Gavin then insulted Destiny, Destiny insulted Gavin, and my concerns began to subside.

   Last summer, Destiny took an introductory handicapped sailing cruise in Hamilton harbour, on Lake Ontario.  The experience wasn't great.  She didn't feel comfortable on the boat and the skipper didn't instill confidence, especially after he hit the dock.  To Destiny's credit, she was willing to give sailing another try.

    The wind was still absent, so we decided to take a tour up the river, under the lift bridge and past the yacht club.  We've found that chugging along the calm sheltered river, with lots to see on both banks, is a good way to introduce new crew to the boat, the water, and the area, and allow everyone to get comfortable and confident.   As the sun went down, we returned to the Bay, and made a long lazy loop past the beach and back to Dock, where we enjoyed a  two-burner dinner and a good bottle of wine.

      Destiny was a trouper.  A great conversationalist with a quick sense of humour, she is a solid addition to the crew.  Yeah, she can't handle sheets for shit, but she didn't get in the way, drop anything overboard, whine, complain or insult the cook, and she offered up a great idea for a future dessert!  THAT is solid crew.

     I'm not sure who had more fun, Sylvia or Destiny.

    I do hope Destiny will be back.  Thanks for joining us, kid.

    Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Meet the Coasties

     "She drives real fast and she drives real hard..."
                                                -Jan and Dean

    Last night, Dock Six actively assisted the Canadian Coast Guard in important matters related to national security and the safety of our sovereign waters...

... the Coasties used an empty slip on the Dock to practice docking their go-fast RIB.

      The weather was perfect for practice last night, with flat seas and no wind, but, as we all know, nothing is tougher than docking when somebody is watching.

   Chris, Laura and Alex, approach the dock....

Chris has been with the Coast Guard for three years, Alex has two years of experience under his belt, and Laura is in her first year, which may explain the fierce look of thin-lipped concentration on her face, and the grave expressions of her colleagues

     Nah, she's got it...  I think.

     Tightening the chin strap-that's not a sign of confidence.  Quit posing and concentrate on the helm!

   Pretty cocky, getting all smiley before you've tied up.  It's not over yet!

  Getting closer....

This RIB, powered by  twin 175 hp Evinrude outboards, has a top speed of 45+ knots.

  No scrapes, no bumps, a textbook approach.  Nice work.

     A quick chat with the spectators, then back out to do it all over again.  Thanks for doing the work you do,  Chris, Alex and Laura.

   Thanks for checking us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Monday 20 June 2011

Two-Burner Tastiness

     "Will her cooking be the best?  Yes it will, yes it will!"
                                                                -Harry Belafonte

   Small boat cruising does not mean you have to live small.  SWMBO and I both enjoy cooking, and our kitchen at home reflects our interest.  With our busy and typically conflicting schedules, often the only time we are able to connect and decompress is when we cook together, so we've made our kitchen a place where we can work together and produce results that make us happy.   We have gadgets and gizmos and stainless steel and stuff, even power salt and pepper shakers.  Some really great memories and some really great food have come out of that kitchen

  On Whiskeyjack, on the other hand,  we have a small galley.

   Really small.  Six square feet of surface area would be generous.

   Equipment-wise, we have a two burner alcohol stove, an icebox, a sink, and cold water. That's it.  No oven, no microwave, no refrigerator, no blender,  no mixer, no dishwasher. We have happily discovered that cooking aboard has become a valued component of our life aboard, and Whiskeyjack meals rival anything we could produce onshore.

     How do a pair of  gadget-loving foodies learn to cope with the basic tools available on the boat?

     In the words of Gunny Highway*, we learned to adapt, overcome and improvise.

    Here's what we have learned:

     1.  Plan your meals.
     Before you provision your boat, put together a basic menu for the duration of your voyage or stay.  Then, plan your snacks.  Then,stick to it. By taking the time to set out what you plan to cook and when, you don't end up buying more than you need, and buying more than you will use.  Space is at a premium, and it makes little sense to try to stow a case of canned tomato soup when you are only going out for the weekend. The space those cans take up is space  that could be put to better use, like, say, rum storage.

    2.  Know the limitations of your equipment.
     If you haven't got an oven, don't plan to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving.   If you have only two burners, it doesn't make sense to plan a fine dinner of pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn, and peach cobbler for dessert.   Do the math- it just ain't gonna work.

    3.  Simple ingredients can produce sophisticated results.
    We only have 7 powdered spices aboard.  We don't keep much produce. The staples are seasoned salt, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, curry, pepper, sea salt, cumin, paprika, chili powder, fresh garlic, and ginger.
Produce is always sourced fresh, and we try not to load more than we can use.  In Cajun country they talk about the "Holy Trinity", the three ingredients that go in damn near everything, celery, onion and pepper.  On Whiskeyjack, we have "The Four  Horsemen":  celery, onion, pepper and garlic.

    4.  Garlic makes everything better.

    5. Everything tastes better on a boat.

    6. Baguettes are the Swiss army knife of bread.
     Half a loaf for garlic bread for dinner, the remainder makes great small pan french toast for breakfast,  or lay hand-torn chunks out on a cutting board with a block of cheese and cold cuts for a quick afternoon snack.  One warning, though- it is damn hard to disguise a three foot long baguette as you walk down the Dock.  Everyone you pass will look at the bread poking out of your dock cart, then contemplate whatever lesser meal they had planned on their own boat, then start angling their way into getting in on whatever you planned to use that tasty-looking bread for.

     7.  Free food gets you free booze.
     Offer someone a meal, and they always ask, "what can I bring?"  No matter what you reply, the guests always bring booze.
     At least on our Dock.
     Your dock may vary.
     I love this place.


    This weekend, we had our first shrimp boil.
    This may be come a regular event.

The four horsemen, plus shallots, tomatoes and corn on the cob, ...

Toss it all in a pot with a stick of butter and two bottles of beer.  Add some spices, then when it all starts boiling, toss in some littleneck clams and shrimp.

    Serve straight out of the pot with a baguette and/or some garlic bread.

    It.  Was.  Tasty.

    Need a quick appetizer?  Pears on toast.
    Melt butter in a pan, slice baguette, slice pears,slice brie cheese (or other creamy cheese), lay baguette slices in buttered pan until brown and tasty, turn pieces.  Add pear slices topped with brie slices.  When brie melts, remove from heat and plate toast.  Optionally, as seen above, add a little cranberry jelly or chutney to the pear layer.  Fancy shmancy, quick and easy.

   I'll put our most successful recipes up on a new page,  available in the upper left hand corner.

  Got a good two-burner recipe?  Send it to me and I'll add it to the recipe file, with due credit given to the source.

*Clint Eastwood's character in Heartbreak Ridge, with the best collection of taglines any Eastwood character has ever had.  Including Harry Callahan.  Which is saying something.

    Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Friday 17 June 2011

Boats, guns and funny hats

   "Stand tall, don't think small, don't put your back against the wall..."
                                                                             -Tommy Shaw

    This weekend,  the Port Dover Harbour Museum hosts the annual Marine Heritage Festival.   War of 1812 re-enactors, a tall ship, gunboats, a wooden boat show, music, topped by the Battle of the Beach on Saturday night.  What's not to like?

Pictures from last year's event:

     Chirp and Legacy  will be at the wooden boat show at Bridge Yachts.  of course, if Chirp is to be the belle of the ball, she needs a new frock.  With a reasonably favourable weather forecast for the week, the back yard of stately Jones manor was transformed into a boatyard

  She even got a jaunty new cove stripe.

    A quick and dirty varnish job, and she's ready to go.

   Do something different with Dad on Father's day- Come on down and join us!

Thanks for checking us out!  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Monday 13 June 2011

Happy hour(s)

     "My head is like a football.  I think I'm gonna die..."
                                                                -The Rovers

         I was reminded, once again, that I don't bounce back like I did when I was 25.

         But  I bounce back better.

         SWMBO is visiting her parents on Long Island, this week, so Inky and Finn and I are left to our own devices.
     ( I'm not offering her absence as an excuse for what happened on Saturday, but simply an explanation for why she wasn't in the middle of the shenanigans.)

       It was a tough afternoon for docking,  so when I saw Wheelin' n Dealin'  approaching her slip on the third first attempt, I sauntered down to catch lines.  Wheelin'  is a newcomer to the Dock, so we did the Who-are-you-where-are-you-from-what-do-you-do human buttsniff.   Nice bunch, in their early 20s. Soon, James rolled up.  At this point, we decided to do some more rum research.  The crew of Wheelin' broke into a fresh flat of Bud Light.  In cans.
I repeat:
 Bud Light. In cans.
I raced to Whiskeyjack to grab some Brava.  In bottles.  I smirked at their choice of over-priced watered down mass-market training beer, they smirked at my choice of full-bodied cheap beer.  Young buck-old fart cultural differences. We argued about beer, docking, sailing versus powerboating. As the shadows lengthened we ordered pizza.  Another disagreement on where to order from, but  Harbour Pizza* won out because a) they will deliver to the dock, and none of us were driving anywhere and b) I had the number on speed dial on my phone.
A good time was had by all.

    There are rumours of photos of your scribe lying prone on the dock, unable to function. I cannot confirm or deny.
   There are some parts of the evening I don't remember.  I DO have to remember that I cannot drink like I am 25 anymore, and I shouldn't try to keep up with the 25 year olds...
Because I don't feel 25 the next morning.
I woke up with sweater-covered teeth, a brain that was threatening to break out of my skull, and mild embarrassment at being so immature.  After a quick glimpse in a mirror to make sure I don't have any new tattoos or piercings,  quick headcount to ensure that both dogs were present and a silent vow, again, to never do that again,  I climbed onto the dock and squinted into the sun.
     That hurt.
   Yep, I am not as young as I used to be... but I'm better.  I think.
   After a wake-up cup of coffee to clear the cobwebs, however, I did pull together a survivor's breakfast of "hair of the dog" cinnamon-rum french toast with homemade cinnamon bread and peameal bacon.  Served six. With two burners, two square feet of counter space and a two cubic ft. icebox.

      I couldn't do that when I was 25.


     *As seen on the Good Grub List.  Best pizza in town.  I don't care what James thinks.

       Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  As always, please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Follow us, link us, or just tell your friends.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

They're baaaaa-aaaack!

     "Are you ready for this?  Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?"

      This weekend, a couple of the sailing pieces of our Dock puzzle fell into place.  Saturday, Gavin did a drive-by, splash-and-run launch-and-leave, muttering something about actually having a life, and being back soon, hopefully.  Bring Sylvia!

     Sunday, Jack splashed his new-to-him O'day, Blew Orphan, naked.
    The BOAT is naked.
     ie.  No sails.
     Not Jack.
     I don't think.

  Walt and Bas were along for the ride, and the trio joined us aboard Whiskeyjack  to celebrate the grrenhorn's first cruise.
    Welcome back!

James Issues a Pan-Pan!

     "Look around, then slow down..."
                             -Little River Band

     Pan-pan (noun): An international radio distress signal, of less urgency than a mayday signal.
                                                                                   -From the Oxford Dictionary

     During  Guy's Excellent Adventure, outlined in an earlier post, our novice sailor  had the opportunity to come to the aid of another boater.*  (* Means see disclaimer at foot of post)

    (In your best Mike Rowe -"Deadliest Catch" narrator- voice:)

      "Three miles southwest of Dock Six, The Instigator is in trouble.  The weather is hot, the fish are hiding, and the crew has run out of beer.  Skipper James realizes that an emergency underway replenishment is imperative, and the clock is ticking.
    "Meanwhile, a half mile south of  The Instigator,  the well-equipped sailing vessel Whiskeyjack is making to windward  under full sail, with a full icebox.  The crack admiral, SWMBO, spots The Instigator approaching at speed:"

    George's distress is evident:

    "Realizing how serious the situation is, the ruggedly handsome skipper of Whiskeyjack scrambles his crack crew to assist in a vessel-vessel lifesaving fluid transfer.  He waves off The Instigator to make another approach, then quickly dives below to Whiskeyjack's  amazingly well-provisioned galley and retrieves a handful of cold beverages."

"The Instigator deploys it's Beverage Intake Gathering, Nautical Environment Tool (B.I.G.N.E.T.) to handle their end of the replenishment docking."

    "With the greenhorn on the wheel, Whiskeyjack's amazingly competent skipper puts himself in harm's way to pass life-saving fluids to The Instigator's  beleaguered crew:

   "... If he doesn't time this just right, he may drop the beer..."

"Mission accomplished!"

   "The Instigator's skipper offers a salute, in thanks."

   The arrival of a new boat in the Marina is purely coincidental.  I think.


 *Dislcaimer:  Do not try this at home kids.  Beverages were not consumed by skipper until The Instigator returned to dock.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this post.

Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.