Sunday 22 December 2013

Stasis at Stately Jones Manor

"Home, where my thought's escaping..."
                               -Simon & Garfunkel

  Listing your house for sale puts your life on hold.

  And it is driving me more than a little crazy.

  See, here is how the whole house-selling thing works, apparently:

  You hire a Realtor, who wanders through your home and gushes about what a great house it is...

.....  then tells you everything you need to change, fix, modify, improve, repair, replace, and renovate to be able to sell the dump your beautiful home.

Your helpful Realtor explains that prospective buyers need to be able to see themselves living in your home...

... which means your home cannot look like you live in your home.

You are introduced to the art of "staging," which basically means removing most of the art, furniture, family photos, books, knickknacks,  and life from every room until the room echoes, and boxing it all up and stowing it in the basement/garage/garden shed...

....  at which point  your Realtor suggests that the basement and the garage look a little cluttered-  could you, you know, get rid of all that stuff?

You ask your Realtor for 24 hours notice before he shows your home to a prospective purchaser...

....  but your house apparently only attracts prospects who simply must see it today, right now, in 15 minutes.

You will discover how quickly you can dust and primp and make beds and fold towels and vacuum (again) dog hair...

....  and learn that one of your dogs has the ability to sneak ninja-like into the just -cleaned/dusted/primped/vacuumed den and hoark up an unpleasantly moist toaster oven- sized hairball in the middle of the floor which will go undetected for 11 more minutes until the prospective buyer discovers it.

  Stately Jones Manor remains on the market.

  And our lives remain on hold.

   And it is killing me.

   Knowing we might get a call about a sucker potential qualified buyer interested in touring Stately Jones Manor at anytime has produced a hell of a writer's block.

      I can't write  with that 15 minute state of readiness looming over my head.   I am a full- immersion kinda scribbler.  My computer is my diving bell- I sit down in front of the screen and two or three or four hours later I surface, either mission accomplished or out of oxygen and low on fuel.
     Luckily, today's unpleasant freezing-rain filled weather forecast is keeping most people snug and secure in their own homes, drastically reducing the already low chances of a Realtor drop-by,  allowing me to finally dive back into the blog.

     Stately Jones Manor in Winter

  So here we be, you and I.

  Further complicating the writer's block is a dearth of new material to write about.  With the skunkworks beneath Stately Jones Manor filled with all of the de-staged detritus from the rooms upstairs, and the ever present risk of a tirekicker  potential buyer walking through the door, ongoing projects have been untouched.
Paddleboards are postponed, just pieces of wood on a bench, potential unrealized.   A big boat build is out of the question, what with no room to manhandle and maneuver sheets of mahogany ply. Even simple stuff like refinishing companionway doors is on hold, as that requires sanding and varnishing, which  creates dust and odors which may be offensive to some viewers.

  All of the cleaning and fixing and futzing and waiting and  having to be far more perfect home-makers than we have ever had to be and just plain enduring would be worth it, if it helps to sell the pile place.

   Alas, it hasn't.
    No offers.
    Not even a nibble.

    The listing has a couple more weeks to run, and then we will pull the sign out of the front lawn...

... and think about  doing it again in the spring.

    In the meantime, this act of sitting down at the keyboard and actually writing something about why I haven't been writing anything has caused me to revisit this season, and I realize that I have lots of material to work with, just tying up the loose plot ends of this season's tales.  So, over the next few days I will catch up
on the cast of characters and their crises. There's news.

   Stick around.

In the meantime,
"Talk the Dock!

Wednesday 4 December 2013

New Crew Review- Living the Dream

"I see clearly now what must be done...."

     Right now is a hell of a time to be a dreamer.

     Always wanted to live aboard a boat, go cruising, live the dream?

     It's closer than you think, lately.

     Used boat prices are down, way down in some cases, making dream fulfillment attainable.

     At least, for those willing to do more than just dream.

     This season we've seen a few dreamers on the Dock who decided to turn dreaming into living.

     You've already met John, and heard about how he came to own a Sirius 22.

      At the tail end of this season, I got the chance to hand Whiskeyjack's helm to another new crew for an

     Alistair joined Sailnet looking for info on a boat he wanted to buy.  I offered some time on the water and a couple of weeks later he took me up on the offer, and brought along his capable partner, Sam.
    It was a typical snotty fall day on the Bay, with 3-5 foot chop and 15 knot winds.  Fun was had by all, as seen below:

     We talked about boats and living on boats and we walked the docks and looked at a few boats, and Alistair and Sam were able to narrow down what they wanted and needed when they eventually, you know, someday, bought a boat.

     No doubt, they were hooked.

...  and apparently the hook was well and truly set.  A couple of days alter, I started to receive emails from Alistair linking boats for sale...and I started to fire suggestions back.  Alistair and Sam began looking at boats in earnest, now that they had a rough idea of what they wanted and needed:  Something that was older, but pretty much turn-key, needing little reconditioning, 30- 36 feet,  $5-15 K.  Might take a couple of years.

    Last week, they bought this:

   A Pearson 30.  Project.  The hull had been painted and the deck hardware stripped off in preparation for painting, and then the owner got financially sidetracked.  Alistair and Sam looked at her, saw the potential, and bought her for less than the value of the keel.
    I've seen worse.

      If the  Atomic 4 has decent compression, starts, runs and doesn't walk off the stringers,
the intrepid couple are well ahead of the game.

If it's beyond help,  they can recoup their investment by parting the boat out, and maybe end up a little ahead.

As I mentioned, the cushions need recovering.  Ahhh, the 70's.

   Yeah, they've basically got a very big puzzle to put together, but as long as most of it is there, it shouldn't be THAT complex.
     Dirty, sweaty, tough?

      However, if you can assemble furniture, bolting parts back onto a boat is pretty much the same thing, with the added bonus of bedding with butyl rubber or 4200.

    (Yeah, I know, as I see the old boatyard slats shake their heads, it really isn't that easy, but no boat would ever gotten back in the water if the owner/dreamers knew how much gruntwork it really is.)

   And, as another added bonus, the new boat owners will know every inch of their boat before she goes in the water.

      Folks, please welcome Alistair and Sam to the tribe.  I think they are in for the long haul.

     You can follow their adventures here:   Craving Wanderlust: Sailboat Adventures

Monday 4 November 2013

Stories From Behind the Beach: It Ain't Easy Being Cheesy

"You were never the same way twice, I'm falling in love..."
                                                           -Blue Rodeo

  I was wrong.

  I know, Constant Reader, as you will no doubt remind me, I am often wrong.  The frequency of incidents of my demonstrated wrongness is depressing and occasionally alarming.

 Yet, I continue to point it out, Constant Reader, because if I don't, I know you sure as hell will.

  I have the emails to prove it.

  This time, though,  I was wrong about something important.

  I was wrong about food.

  More precisely, I was wrong about cheese.

   Until quite recently, I hated most cheese.   Couldn't stand the smell, the texture, the taste, any of it, all of it, whatever.
   Cheddar?  No thanks.
   Colby?  I'll pass.
  Muenster?  Yeahno.
  Limburger?  See above.
  Et Cetera, on down the list.

   I didn't start eating cheese on pizza until well into my 20s, when I discovered that the mozzarella-esque cheese on most pizzas is essentially flavourless topping glue.

   So, with my aversion to most curd-n-whey related foodstuffs well and firmly established, I saw little reason to wander into...


    ...Until the owners invited me to stop by and check the place out.

     Yale and Jenny Lowery  love Port Dover.  Originally From Guelph, Jenny moved to North Carolina, where she graduated from high school and went on to college, graduated from Appalachian State with a marketing degree, met and married Yale, then bounced around North Carolina and Tennessee before moving north to Canada.  Mostly in that order.

     While living and working in Brantford, the Lowerys made a trip to Port Dover one summer day a couple of years ago, and that was it.

    They'd found home.  They knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives living in Port Dover.  The couple found a house, settled in, and lived the life of normal sane people, commuting to work at corporate jobs in Brantford every day.  Life was good.

    Then, one day, in September, 2013, Jenny decided she needed some cheese.

    And everything changed.

    Jenny is an admitted "cheese nerd."  Combine her love of cheese with her love of her new hometown, and she's not  driving to the grocery store to pick up a package of Kraft Singles.


   She's keeping it real local, and real tasty.

    She stopped into her favourite (and only) local cheese shop in downtown Port Dover.  While making her purchase, she started talking to the owner. She learned that he had decided that the cheese business wasn't for him, he was selling the business and starting over...
... in Australia.

    A few conversations and negotiations later, Jenny and Yale dove headlong into the world of the retail entrepreneur.

     If  you're a local, I know what you might be thinking:

    They bought a specialty business, in downtown Port the END of tourist season?

    Hey, we don't always get to pick the timing of our opportunities.  But, we can determine what happens after.

     Jenny and Yale aren't complete greenhorns.  Jenny has a solid marketing background, Yale has a solid sales background, and both aren't afraid to work long and hard to achieve their goals...

... and it is paying off.

    In their first six weeks of business, with little advertising or fanfare, they are ahead of their sales projections.

    Walking into the store, it is easy to see some of the reasons why:

    It's a small space that doesn't feel cramped.  It is clean, uncluttered, organized, but inviting.

   The case in front of the owners is the "Canadian" case:  All local cheeses, all the time.  Norfolk's own Jensen Cheese is represented, along with Gunn's Hill from Woodstock and Bright Cheese from, as the name suggests,  Bright, Ontario.
     The case to the right is filled with cheeses from around the world: Stilton, gouda, swiss, brie, camembert, mozzarella, romano...

   you name it, they've likely got it. And if you name it and they haven't got it, they'll get it.

      They don't just sell cheese- The Dover Cheese Shop also sells cheese accessories, like cutting boards and brie bakers (at $8, a seriously good deal.  Need a quick gift this holiday season?  Stop in, pick up a brie baker and a wheel of brie, and Wha-bamm! You are a hero with discerning taste, my friend... and change from a $20.)....

 ... And a selection of snack foods from nearby farms and suppliers, like The Cider Keg and Barrie's Asparagus .

   Kettle chips, teas, salsas and dip mixes, all of  it available right here on the....

   "Okay," Interrupting Constant Reader interrupts, "We get it- the place is clean, has lots of selection, yadda yadda, big deal-  any big supermarket is like that.  Why should I shop here?"

   Because a supermarket has never made me enjoy cheese.

    With an overview of the store and it's origins out of the way, Yale started pulling out cheeses for me to sample. I held up my hand  and dropped the bomb:

     "I don't like cheese."

    Jenny didn't miss a beat.

    "No problem.  Everyone's palate is different, Yale's favourites are different from mine.  Everyone has different tastes. Try this and let me know what you think."

    Okay- I'm here, they're nice folks, I'll try it just to be polite.
      I popped the proffered sample of Bright's four year old cheddar in my mouth
     Not bad.
     Not bad at all.
     Much better than I expected any food that was four years old to taste.

      Next  I sampled a really nice Wisconsin produced gouda/swiss blend with a little touch of Merlot added- nice smooth, mild, a great sandwich cheese, I thought.  Then Jenny introduced me to "dessert cheeses."

      Mango and Ginger Stilton- Off the chain!  What a great  flavour combination.

 See, here's the deal:  Yale and Jenny have an enthusiasm for cheese which is infectious.  They are cheese evangelists.  From the moment you walk  in the door, you start to understand and share their passion.  If you are standing in line to buy a pound of cheddar, the Lowerys are going to ply you with samples of any  number of cheeses, and every cheese has a story.
    You aren't leaving with just the cheddar, and you have enjoyed the experience, and you will discover cheeses you never even knew existed.  Like this one...

   okay, you might want to pour yourself a drink and sit down...



    Chocolate Cheddar.

    It.  Is.  Amazing.

    Yeah, I'm digging this cheese thing now.

    Need a cheese tray?  No problem, The Dover Cheese Shop can build you a custom cheese tray, and short notice orders are no problem.  They will even put it on your tray- THAT is a brilliant idea.  I am not one to worry overmuch about aesthetics, but when SWMBO puts out the Tiffany silverware and the Wedgewood plates, nothing spoils the "Ain't we fancy" mood than a big ol' plastic tray of cheese in the middle of the table.

   Next spring, The Dover Cheese Shop is going to do something really, really clever:

     They are planning to offer "Boat Baskets."  Call ahead and they will prepare a picnic basket for you to pickup and take with you to the boat. It is a brilliant concept for provisioning daytrips, especially with guests you want to impress.

   Do yourself a favour- stop into The Dover Cheese Shop.  They're open Wednesday through Sunday  at 318A Main Street, just down from Stoney's Hardware.  Check 'em out on facebook too.


Wednesday 30 October 2013

Down on the Dock with the Great Big C

 "What would I do with it?"
                  -Tim Mcgraw

    *Warning- profanity follows.  Deal with it*

     Gutcheck time:

     I have met some tough bastards this season.
     I have known some of them for a long time, but never knew what kind of tough sonsabitches they were.

     I am not sure I could be as strong, as full of grace and quiet good humour, as these gentle men around me have been.

    Cancer came to play this season.

     Those on the field for the showdown didn't step aside.
     They stepped up.

     It hasn't gone easy, but Cancer is, so far, getting it's ass kicked.

     Fuck Cancer.


     My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer early this year.  He was lucky, if "lucky" can describe anyone tapped on the shoulder by the Big C-  A biopsy, surgery, infection, surgery, medication, too many checkups and consults and too much time spent in doctor's offices, he and his oncologist are cautiously optimistic.
    The coast is clear.
    For now.

   My dad has golfed for most of his life.  On October 3rd, 2013, after almost 6 decades of chasing a little white ball, and months of cancer treatment...

.... my father scored his first hole-in-one.

    Hey, Cancer?

    Fuck you.

      Closer to the Dock, we were all floored when, at the start of the season, in his quiet unassuming way, Jack slipped into a cockpit conversation that he was undergoing chemo.


      And, as he does every season, he sailed his ass off.  No holds barred, no concessions, other than to make sure the CVC in his arm stays dry.

      Think you're tough?

      Throughout months of chemo, Jack has not taken any time off work, and has sailed his Tempest at least once a week.

      THAT'S tough.

      Hey, Cancer?

      Fuck you.

      For those of you new to the Dock, Jack is second from the right, beside his daughter, Melanie.

      The guy on the far left is John,  the greenhorn.

      Cancer brought John to the Dock.

      Last winter John was diagnosed with throat cancer.  Off work from his job in Hamilton, he'd spend time walking the docks, drinking coffee, and looking at boats.  One night in May, he walked past and we got talking.

   He had never sailed before.

   He loved the idea, though.

   We get a lot of that down here.  Lots of dreaming, not a whole lot of doing.

    Lots of folks walk the docks and ask questions and get enthused, and....

   We never see them again.

    Life gets in the way.

    John bucked the trend.

    He backed his own play:  A couple of weeks after our first conversation, John comes strutting down the Dock, beer in hand, and announces, "I've got a slip."

    Now he just needs a boat.

   A week later he owned a Sirius 22.
   Which he proceeded to sail.
    A lot.


   He even started racing.

   Yeah, he's all in.

   His doctors say he is looking good.

   Hey, Cancer?

   Fuck you.

   Get off my Dock.




Saturday 26 October 2013


      "But now I think I'm able to carry on..."
                                  -Sam Cooke

Hey, Constant Reader,  long time, no see.

     Miss me?


      Robert F. Kennedy once said, "There is a Chinese curse which says "May he live in interesting times." "

      Times have been interesting as hell around here lately.

       Since I last added a post  to this venerable archive,  there have been some big life changes around here for SWMBO and I.

       In September, we made the decision to put   Stately Jones Manor on the market.


       It is more house than we need, or want, at this point in our lives, and the time and money we have to devote to maintenance and upkeep and mortgage payments and property taxes is time and money that can't be spent on the boat.

     Or rum.

      So, we had a confab with the most amazing Realtor I know, signed the listing paperwork, and then did something very, very stupid.
   We asked for recommendations on work that should be accomplished around the house to maximize the value and minimize buyer's objections.

   The list was long.

    SWMBO and I realized we had about 5 years worth of unfinished, half-finished, unstarted and unplanned renovations to accomplish...

   ...  in three weeks.

   Remember those home decorating "challenge" shows on TV, like Trading Spaces , where ham-handed amateurs accomplish an astounding amount of transformative work to an old home in an amazingly short period of time?

     Bull.  Shit.

     Here we are, a month on, and the house photographed well, but there are still a ton of little jobs to do, like replacing old light switches and tuckpointing  brick and repainting trim.
   Inside and Outside.


  It is a bittersweet decision.  We have a lot of good memories here, and we love Stately Jones Manor.  But...   it doesn't float.

    Friends, relatives, co-workers have been asking the same question, "Where are you moving to?"

   When we answer  "Dunno.  Haven't had to worry about it yet."  There is some consternation.

    "Well, you need to move somewhere!"

   Whoa, let's get Stately Jones Manor sold first, then we can worry about the next step. It might sell in a month, or it might be on the market for three months with no action, in which case we take it off the market and continue to live with it and in it.  We don't need to sell SJM.  But, it would be nice not to have to mow the lawn we never use and paint the trim we never see and clean room we don't use and...

... it is a little frustrating always having to keep the place in "An agent has a client who wants to see the house can they come over in 15 minutes?" -level readiness.  We're not total slobs,  but now the laundry has to be folded and put away straight out of the dryer and shoes are always in closets and the bed laways has to be made and the kitchen sink has to always be dish-free and the bathroom sink has to be toothpaste blob- and whisker-free and....

   ...Okay we might be total slobs.

   What is really frustrating is that it puts any winter boat building projects on hold.  I don't want to start building something and then get confronted with a no-conditions, full-asking-price offer asking for a 30 day closing.

   (Although, now that I think about it, maybe that is one way to guarantee a quick sale- start building something that will be a royal pain in the ass to move.  )

      I've also undertaken a bit of a serendipitous career change.

      I wasn't looking to change jobs.
      I wasn't actively beating the bushes or trolling

      But an opportunity was offered, and I saw the chance to be one of the rare lucky few who are able to work at something that they really love to do.
     The money isn't huge- it's not a whole lot different than what I have been earning.

     But, it's an interesting challenge.
       And, for the first time in almost 20 years, I will have weekends off.

        That's huge.

        In fact, it's difficult to explain how huge it is, to have a schedule that fits your spouse's, and your social circle.

        This season, due to our work schedule, SWMBO and I sailed together far less often.

       Hell, the reason we started sailing in the first place was because it was something we could enjoy together.  I know it sounds sappy, but when we're not together, sailing is a little less enjoyable.  Whiskeyjack did not leave the Dock as often as she has in seasons past.

      So, it's been a crazy busy few weeks, but the worst is past, so now, instead of coming home from work, changing clothes, picking up a hammer or a drill or a paintbrush, I can get back to scratching my head and trying to figure out how to  fill a blank screen woth something worth reading.

    Thanks for sticking around.

   and remember to...
"Talk the Dock!"



Monday 14 October 2013

Stories from Behind the Beach: Low-Buck Breakfast Quest

     "Never seem to get a lot..."

     Port Dover is not lacking in eating establishments.   Within two blocks of the beach one can find hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, ice cream, onion rings, onion chips, onion soup, burritos, nachos, perch, pickerel, clam strips, steaks, chicken, ribs, salad bars, salad carts, Salada tea...

    But breakfast?

    Not so much.

   For breakfast you have to get Behind the Beach.  This season SWMBO and I set out to try the regular breakfast joints in town, and compare the fare.

    Our testing criteria was simple- Eat the same meal at each establishment and compare...
    Portion size
    ....To determine which joint offers the best overall value.

      Our recon of the Port resulted in a Best Breakfast Challenge shortlist that is really short.  
       Total breakfast joints in town: three....
      ...and a half.

     The Dover Dairy Bar, The Coffee Shop, and Angelo's/ Angelo's Side Door Bistro were the contenders.  The "half" is the Brant Hill Inn, which serves breakfast only on weekends, only during the summer months.  In the interest of being able to provide accurate useful information year-round, we left the Inn off the test roster.

You're welcome.

     To keep the playing field level, we ordered the same meal at each restaurant, opting for the BCB ( Basic Complete Breakfast):  Two eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, coffee.

     Here's the results:

     Third Place:  Dover Dairy Bar

       For years, the Dairy Bar has been our go-to breakfast joint.   The grub was cheap, and the scruffy furniture and carpet was overshadowed by the dozens of historical photos of the Port that adorn the walls, giving the place the feel of an informal archive of  Dover back in the day.   The service was always friendly, and while not quick, you usually got a meal that was tasty and hot.
     This summer, though, we found ourselves underwhelmed.  The breakfast and the service and the decor aren't suddenly horrible, but the Dairy Bar is slipping.    A paint job and new carpet wouldn't go amiss, and the service could be a little more polished...I'm not expecting waitstaff to recite a mouth-watering array of specials  from memory  and my water glass to never be empty, but make sure that  tables are served and coffee topped up before retreating behind the counter to text.  The portions are smaller in subtle ways- the eggs are medium, not large and the bacon is thinly sliced, for example.

    There are better options for breakfast.

   (Having said that, the DDB remains the best choice in town for ice cream-  lots of flavours of hard ice cream served in generous portions that overwhelm the cone underneath,  cheaper than anywhere else in town.)

Second Place:  Angelo's

    This was a tough call.

    Angelo's wins on price- $4.95 all in.
    Angelo's wins on portion size- there wasn't any room to spare on a large plate packed with big eggs, a heap of homefries and slices of thick cut bacon, all cooked perfectly.
   Angelo's wins on service- our meals were served fast and hot, and our cups never went empty.
    Angelo's is a bar, and it feels like a bar, even at 9 am, UNLESS you wander around the corner into the aptly named "Side Door  Bistro,"  which feels like a stripped down version of the Dairy Bar- less history on the walls, more history on the floor.
   And, Angelo's is only open for breakfast on weekends.

 which means that...

    First Place goes to The Coffee Shop.

     The Coffee Shop is small and comfy, clean and brightly lit.  The food is good, portions large and SWMBO and I both agree they have the best toast in town.  The only quibble is that the hash browns are sometimes a little undercooked.   Service is efficient, and when you see what goes on behind the counter you may be amazed at the results.
    This place has no fryers, no broilers, no ovens, no flattops, none of what you would expect to find in a restaurant kitchen.  There are two countertop electric griddles.  You may have a similar one at home, that you may also cook breakfast on.  That's it, as far as cooking gear goes. It's unorthodox, but seems to work just fine.

     The Coffee Shop is a little more expensive than Angelo's, but breakfast for two will still come in under $15 with tax.  You won't go away hungry, and you will come back.

     Come on down and join us for breakfast some time.  Coffee's on me.

  "Talk the Dock!"


Sunday 22 September 2013

The Official Ultimate Dock Rock Playlist

   "You think maybe I need help, no, I know I'm right..."
                                               -Hall and Oates

     *Before you get started, go pour yourself a beverage.  This blog bone's got some meat on it.  When you come back, fire up some comments and join the discussion.

       One of the interesting things about scribbling a blog like D6C is the reach.  Publish your meanderings on the WorldWideWeb and you will, as the network's name implies, attract regular readers WorldWide.

 (I hate the word "followers"- Cripes,  I'm scrawling a typo-ridden blog here, not starting a cult.)

 ((But I thank each and every one of you who is a follower, for following and reading regularly.))
     You will also electronically rub shoulders with other bloggers.  It's cool to be able to compare notes, share ideas, discuss plans and thoughts and share advice and opinions with somebody hundreds or thousands of miles away, in real time.

     Often the discussion is technical.

      Sometimes, it is not.

    This post was spawned by an ongoing discussion that falls squarely and firmly into the "not" category.

    I've mentioned fellow small boat sailor/casual racer/blogger Chip on these pages before.  Chip and I share, much to our spouses' occasional horror, the cheesiest of aural guilty pleasures- an endless fascination with "Yacht Rock."

    "Yacht Rock" was a term coined back in the early 90s to describe Jimmy Buffett's style.   In 2005, multi-platform film festival Channel 101 premiered "Yacht Rock", an ultra-low-budget "series" about the fictional behind-the scenes saga of the incestuous California music scene of the 1970s.

     "Incestuous?"  shocked Constant Reader exclaims.

    Let me explain.

    Did you ever notice how a lot of the Top 40 music from say, 1975- 1985 sounded pretty much the same?
     Here's why:
     The Doobie Brothers lead singer at the time was Michael McDonald.
     Michael McDonald wrote songs for Kenny Loggins.
     Kenny Loggins wrote songs for The Doobies.
     McDonald sang backup for Loggins.
     Loggins backed up The Doobies.
     Michael McDonald sang backup for Steely Dan.

   Whoa, hang on, let's back up a second...

    First, there was Steely Dan.
    Steely Dan's original guitarists were Denny Dias and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.  Michael McDonald sang backup.
    Baxter left Steely Dan and joined The Doobie Brothers in 1975, bringing Michael McDonald along as lead singer.
    McDonald still sang backup with Steely Dan.
    Meanwhile, Steely Dan and Kenny Loggins and The Doobie Brothers were backed up in the recording studio by session musicians David Paich and Jeff Porcaro.
    Porcaro and Paich also backed Seals and Crofts and Boz Scaggs.
    Boz Scaggs' hits "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" were co-written by Paich.
    Paich and Porcaro  went on to form the band Toto in 1977.
    Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins sang on Toto albums.
    Christopher Cross probably listened to Toto albums.
    McDonald sang backup on Christopher Cross's first album.
    Don Henley also sang on Cross's debut LP.
    So did J.D Souther.
    Don Henley is an original member of  The Eagles.

      Okay, hang on, hang on, hang on, let's start again...
      FIRST, really, there was The Eagles.

    J.D. Souther co-wrote hits with Henley and Glenn Frey for The Eagles.
    Souther also co-wrote songs for Dan Fogelberg...
    ...and James Taylor.
    Jimmy Buffett sang backup on the same James Taylor LP that features the hit Souther co-wrote.
    James Taylor wrote and recorded "Mexico", which Jimmy Buffett covers.
    Leland Sklar may very well have played bass on damn near everything...

     .... including Jimmy Buffett's 1992 album Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads...

    ... all of which brings us right back to the first time the term "Yacht Rock" is used, describing Jimmy Buffett's style.

    So, basically, most of the American Top 40 music recorded between 1975 and 1985 was written and performed by one band: The Steely BozToEagles Brothers.

    And Leland  Sklar.

     If you spend any time on the water, you have at least one or two dozen Yacht Rock tracks on your iPod, on board, or on your mind at any given time.

    It is generally acknowledged that Yacht Rock crashed and burned when Loggin's recorded "Danger Zone" for the Tom Cruise flick "Top Gun."  Just as he may very well have killed the cinematic career of Jack Reacher, it looks like Cruise may have made his bones by thrusting a stake through the heart of Yacht Rock almost three decades before.

     Dead.  Finished.  Gone.

     Or... is it?

    Thus the foundation for the ongoing discussion between the erstwhile masters of Whiskeyjack and Fortuitous.
    If Boz Scagg's "Lowdown" is Yacht Rock, then surely Canadian content stalwart Ian  Thomas's "Pilot" deserves the label, as does "Clear Sailing."  Hell, he's earned entry in the club just based on  this album cover:

                                                                                                     -image courtesy WorldwideWax

       If a Canadian artist from the same era is allowed entry, smooth rock pioneers like Otis Redding and Booker T & The MGs deserve legacy status.

     If Booker T and the MGs  and "Memphis smooth" are in, then you gotta strongly consider some of the stuff backed by the Swampers, out of the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama

     And if one is willing to expand the definition of Yacht Rock from one of geography and collaboration to one of sound and time, if Ian Thomas is in the club, then Hall and Oates makes the cut.

      If one argues that Philly Soul gets in, then you gotta allow entry to NYC based Pina Colada lover, Rupert Holmes.

     If you're gonna let New York solo artists past the velvet rope,  Paul Simon definitely has to get a seat in the VIP lounge.  If you're gonna let Simon and Holmes in, then James Taylor gets membership, and he can bring Carly  Simon along.
     If those guys are in, three time zones east,  what the hell, keep going- let's add Birmingham UKs Climax Blues Band to the roster, Manchester's Simply Red,  Bath's Naked Eyes  and the ultra-smooth Avalon- era Roxy Music

    Well,  okay, if you're gonna allow the Canadians and Brits in, then Australia's Little River Band deserves a regular table too.

     And with the inclusion of Hall and Oates representing blue-eyed Philly Soul and the UK Soul of Simply Red, then you gotta include the note-perfect retro soul of French duo Daft Punk, thanks to their latest album, Random Access Memories.
     So, if you are gonna include current artists in the ever-expanding Yacht Rock Club, then Maroon 5 deserves a nod...  and they are from Los Angeles, where Yacht Rock was born...

      ...Thus closing the circle, and keeping it turning.

     Riding that turning wheel are a number of Yacht Rock stars of yore, who are touring under the "Sail Rock"  banner:

     (Shameless local promotion:  the Sail Rock tour will be appearing at the Norfolk County Fair.  Tickets are still available, as I write this.)


     Since the genre has expanded so far beyond the original "Yacht Rock" concept in both time and space,  and since "Sail Rock" is taken,  I think it has earned a new moniker:

     "Dock Rock"

    (Might have to be "Boat Rock" in Canada, since the "Dock Rock" tag was been used for a K-Telesque compilation of Can-Con-weighted classic rock hits circa 2002-10.  Sigh.)

     So,  thus we build

     The first Official Ultimate Dock Rock Playlist v.1.0  (annotated)

      If I had a Boat- Lyle Lovett  (C'mon, any song with the lyrics, "Kiss my ass, I bought a boat" is worthy.)
     Southern Cross- Crosby, Stills and Nash
     Southern Breeze- Isley Brothers (Some prefer the Seals & Crofts original-  this cover is better.)
     Mexico- James Taylor
     Easy- Lionel Richie & Willie Nelson (Is it a cover if  the original writer/singer re-records it, better?)
     FM- Steely Dan  (No static, at all.)
     Green Onions- Booker T & The MGs
     Slip Slidin' Away- Paul Simon
     Beth- KISS  (Tell me I'm wrong.)
     Couldn't Get It Right- Climax Blues Band
     People Gotta Move- Gino Vannelli  (Boz Scaggs' DNA is all over this.)
     Sunday Morning- Maroon 5
     Pilot- Ian Thomas  (Another Boz-styled mumbler )
     Sittin' (On the Dock of The Bay)- Otis Redding
     I'll Be Around- The Spinners
     Ain't No Sunshine- Bill Withers
     Promises, Promises- Naked Eyes
     Good Times- Chic
     Get Lucky- Daft Punk  (Promises, Good Times and Get Lucky are best played as a three song arc to get the full Nile Rodgers guitar effect)
     Love On a Real Train- Tangerine Dream
     Eminence Front- The Who
     Fallen Angel- Robbie Robertson
     Heaven- Simply Red
     What a Fool Believes- The Doobie Brothers
     Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes
     Sail On- The Commodores
     Sara Smile- Hall & Oates
     Night Moves- Bob Seger ("...autumn closing in..." sends shivers down my spine.)
     Ain't Even Done With The Night- John Mellencamp
     Why Can't I Fall In Love- Ivan Neville
      Love the One You're With - Stephen Stills/ Isley Brothers/ Luther Vandross  (One original, two covers, three different feels, all great.)
     Forever Young- Bob Dylan
     Reflections- The Supremes
     You're So Vain- Carly Simon
     Chain of Fools- Aretha Franklin
     After the Love is Gone- Earth, Wind and Fire
     Little Wing- Stevie Ray Vaughan
     Wondering Where the Lions Are- Bruce Cockburn
     Games People Play- Alan Parsons Project
     How Long- Ace
     Low Spark of High Heeled Boys- Traffic
     Avalon- Roxy Music
     Woman in Chains- Tears For Fears ("Woman.."  and "Avalon" are another matched pair, best heard together.)
     Miss You- Everything But the Girl
     Cab Driver- Daryl Hall
     Birmingham- Amanda Marshall
     Tiny Dancer- Elton John
     Love is the Answer- England Dan and John Ford Coley
     Another Auld Lang Syne- Dan Fogelberg  ("Love..."  and "Another..." should be played back to            back to get the full soprano sax effect)
     That Girl- Stevie Wonder
     Take Five- Dave Brubeck

    "Talk the Dock"










Friday 13 September 2013

The Wet Side of Friday the 13th

     "And in the lonely cool before dawn, you hear their engines roaring on..."
                                                                           -Bruce Springsteen

    Port Dover is a fishing port.
    Port Dover is a beach town.
    Port Dover is a retiree community.
    Port Dover is a bedroom community.

    And every Friday the 13th Port Dover becomes a motorcycle magnet.

     The legend is now well-known:  Thirty years or so ago, a bunch of buddies rode their bikes to a bar.  They had such a good time they vowed to do it every Friday the 13th, and invite their friends.

     Who in turn invited their friends.

      Now, Friday the 13th attracts thousands of motorcycles to Port Dover, and tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of visitors.  The town becomes, for all intents and purposes, closed off to any vehicular traffic that rolls on more than two (or three) wheels.

      That means a lot of walking and shuttle buses and hassle, if you aren't two wheeling it into town.

      But, got a boat?  If you can find room to tie up or raft up on the wall, you're in.

      This year, the weather was...less than promising.


  If there's no room on the pier, you can always drop anchor inside off the beach...inside the marked swim area.

   Cool or uncool?  I dunno.  Nobody is swimming, or likely to be swimming, but.  it seems like it's a little like parking in a handicapped space.  Yeah, sure, nobody else is using it now...

  Pontoon boats, sport boats, new boats, old boats, big boats, small boats,  runabouts, bowriders, cabin cruisers, dinghies,  fishing boats, trawlers, tugs...


   ...all represented.  

    And one lone sailboat.

    Whiskeyjack, sailing deep to represent the blowboaters!


    I managed to nab the last open spot on the waterfront with enough keeldepth, right behind the shuttered Misener's fish processing plant. It's kinda eerie:


  One of the things that I really like about Friday the 13th is it's run-what-you-brung-it's-all-good vibe.  Showbikes, ratbikes, tourers, cruisers, cafe racers, crotch rockets, sidehacks, scooters, all are welcome. 
   The boats reflect the same vibe.  This shot sorta sums up the day for me:

    More boats:

    An impressive staircase on this Carver:  

   Normally found on the end of Dock 4.  The name is an acronym.  


    Looks like Lord Vader's Imperial Cruiser lurks in the distance:

   Thee was the de rigeur police presence, both at the Provincial level:

    and the Coasties had their BlackBoat out:

  The presence was obvious but largely good natured and not intrusive.

    And kinda picturesque:

  As we have learned over the last century, when one assaults a beachhead by both land and sea, it behooves one to have air cover. So it goes here.  
    Constantly overhead throughout the day, fixed wing:

   And rotor air support:

   In an effort to win the hearts and minds of the locals,    Canadian comedic gadabout Rick Mercer showed up. 
 "I'm going where?  For what?"

 When the CBC sends Mercer, you know you've arrived.
  (Actually this is the second time that Monsieur Mercer has moseyed down to our little burg: he was here in 2009 as the result of a tremendous fundraising effort by Port Dover students.)

   Okay, this guy...

 ...says I need to post some bike pics.



    Temporary campsite, at the former Doverwood Public School.  Hundreds of tents and trailers.


     The fun continues tonight, with more live music down behind Bridge Yachts.

     Come on and join us some time. 
     Bring your bike. 
     Bring your friends.  
     Bring earplugs.

      And don't forget to...
     "Talk the Dock!"