Friday, March 30, 2012

The Mail Service Must Go On

  Rosie and I have been making all of our visits to the various doctors, dentists, and other specialists that we normally see once or twice a year. We have everything bunched up now to occur in this part of the year, even Holly's veterinary visit, so we can find a town with services next year at this time to get all these check ups done again in a couple of days or so, in case we don't come back to St. Louis for a visit.
  While getting my yearly physical at my "Primary Care Physician" (I used to call him my doctor) I was explaining to the "Nurse Practitioner" (I guess plain ole "nurse" has lost its shine too) how it was that we were going to be living on our boat and that I wanted to find a way to get prescriptions for an ongoing condition that is never going to go away without needing a visit to a doctor I don't even know to get the script. In the midst of my story, she asked me how we were going to get our mail. Her question derailed my train of thought and I remarked with my regular straightforwardness that how we were going to get our mail was not the issue, but getting the medication I needed without going through a lengthy evaluation process with an unknown physician was the issue.
  She left the room and I got my physical and when Heather (Nurse) came back into the room, she rather apologetically said to me that earlier, "I wasn't trying to pry, I just was curious about how you were going to get your mail."
  Well, that changed everything. I said, "So you weren't trying to solve a problem, you were just interested in the process?"
  She said, "Yes, my uncle has a boat and is considering living aboard like you and your wife are going to do and I was just wondering how they were going to get mail."
  With that, I happily launched into my explanation of how we were going to use the mail forwarding service of St. Brendan's Isle. Sometimes I need to disregard the male portion of my brainpan when I talk with women.
  I've mention St. Brendan's Isle before, but I've gotten more information about the service since then and we've signed up for it. My story is a short synopsis of the service, a complete explanation of the service can be found on their website:
  Last week I had called and discussed the process with them and I again called yesterday to sign up for the service. We will use their basic service for $11.99 per month and we added on the Mail Scan Pro for an extra $7.99 per month. With Mail Scan, they scan each piece of mail and we can decide whether to have them send it to us, or shred it, or open it and scan the contents, etc. There are lots of options that we can choose online. They will also help acquire our Florida residency, our boat registration, voter registration, and our drivers licenses, although the latter will require a visit in person at some point.
  We'll use our Missouri driver's license when we need them, as they don't expire for a couple more years, because St. Brendan's Isle is based in Green Cove Springs, FL, which is on the St. John's River between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. If we don't get around to that part of the state by the time we need to renew our driver's license, we'll rent a car and go there.
  We completed a necessary form for them to keep on file for the United States Postal Service and we will keep our account inactive until we actually move onto the boat in a few weeks. Once we leave Missouri, we'll go ahead and apply for Florida residency. I hope they'll have us.
  For our part, we have 35 people and places to contact to inform them of our change of address. Some of these can be done on line, others we will call. We'll fill out the mail forwarding forms with the USPS, so that any other mail addressed to us here will be forwarded to St. Brendan's Isle, but we are trying to keep those mailings to a minimum.
  We've directed St. Brendan's to not forward any bulk mail, no matter who from, and we also won't want any birthday, Christmas, Easter, or any other card or invitation. Everyone knows our email address, facebook name, or phone number. If anyone has an undying need to send cash, contact us and we'll find a way to make this happen. Otherwise, save your stamps.
  As we spend a few months cruising the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, our address will officially be 411 Walnut Street, in Green Cove Springs FL. The complete address won't be given out unless you are on that list of 35. Being St. Louisans all our lives, this will take some getting used to, but Florida will insist upon Swing Set having a registration sticker at some point.The lack of State Income Tax in Florida has its appeal too, but they do have an asset tax, one that we aren't too concerned with.
  The upcoming weekend promises to be a pleasant one, weather wise, but Swing Set will still be up on blocks, but we have an invitation to join our friends James and Marny aboard their Trojan "Rocinante" on Sunday and we get to be passengers for a change.
  Hold those cards and letters.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Boating Season Gets Underway

  Everyone who boats thinks that where they choose to partake in their favorite activity is the best place on the planet to do so. I believe that's true, in that they're all good. If you have read any of the older posts on this blog, you'll see that we've been able to scrape up a few grins just about wherever we've found a place to throw out the hook.
  The above picture is from the 4th of July a few years ago and is just an example of how it's done on the Alton Pool of the Mississippi. If you've done any traveling on the Mississippi, you'll find a distinct change in boating activity as you arrive in this area between locks 25 and 26 on the Big Muddy, basically where the Illinois River ends at Grafton.
  I would never lay claim that this area is the best place to boat though. We've had lots of fun on  a smaller river, the Meramec, which is a tributary to the Mississippi and ends its run just up from Hoppie's Marina in Kimmswick, MO. You Loopers know that stop for sure. The Lake of the Ozarks is a favorite boating destination in this part of the country and boaters come from all the adjoining States to partake in some heavy duty partying, and we've done our stints there as well but eventually tired of the weekly drive.
  The folks up in Peoria do a pretty good job too on the Illinois River. There's a nice beach area and the downtown Peoria waterfront is one that other towns would do well to emulate.
  From our experience, Put-In-Bay on Lake Erie may get the award for the best boaters party area around...from what I can remember.
  Our theory is that the closer you get to "big water", the boaters that congregate and hold the best parties are more spread out and therefore do not get the large raft ups and gatherings that the smaller places do. We intend to bust this theory wide open as we travel around the inland rivers and coastal areas of the U.S.
  Holding to our theory, Kentucky Lake has a loyal raftup population we are told. Some friends of ours that boat down there have posted some pictures and I believe those people down there know how to do it, dry county or not. We intend to be there before Memorial Day. They have been warned.
  Our friends that snowbird on the western coast of Florida near Cape Coral report a more spread out boating population and the large raft up parties that we are accustomed to are harder to find. This has become a mission for us when we get down there and we intend to not only find the party area, but also start one if we have to.
  Years ago when we took our little 24 foot Formula to Key West, we found some promise, but again on a smaller scale, and I don't mean on the streets but out on the hook. Can't wait to see what's changed down there.
  Admittedly, the younger people may have an edge in finding the boating parties. I don't think anyone can deny the attraction of just a couple of beautiful women in skimpy bikini's as party starting bait, but it's normally the older gang that provide the best party platforms as they generally have the bigger boats. Have you ever seen a stripper pole mounted on a bass boat? Ya got subwoofers on that Sea Doo? I didn't think so.
  We like a party and we know that as good as it is up here on the Alton Pool, we don't have the market cornered in the party department, and we also don't lose sight of the fact that a good party can be had with just a couple of boats and like minded folks. Reading this, a person can get the idea that to us, boating is largely a social activity, and they would not be wrong.
  It can't be too hard to see why we are so anxious to get on our way before complete senility sets in. It turns out that our delay from departing last fall has been for good reason, but as the obstacles fall away, the greater our enthusiasm grows in our aim to cast off.
  For Swing Set's part, she's getting a beauty treatment at the boatyard and won't dip her bottom back into the Mississippi again until next week some time. Then, we have some minor work to do in the engine room before we can get out on the hook and inflict ourselves on others for just a few more weekends up here on the Alton Pool.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Time Like the Present

  We are still asked all the time, "When are you leaving?" I can only name one person that we know is only interested because they actually want to see us gone, but the rest are just curious. I think. Many of you following this blog since it was started last December know that we've been planning this for a couple of years and we are now getting close.
  Our big obstacle currently is the delay of the sale of our condo. When I say "delay", what I really mean is that we flat out cannot sell it. The real estate market has not co-operated with our plans, but when does everything go as smoothly as you want it to? We keep lowering our price, and are still considering leasing it out, but we still have a few weeks to make a final decision. Hope remains eternal that we'll get something going soon.
  The other big item is that the cost of fuel is going up in a big way, but that is not keeping us here. Fuel prices always go up, but now it's got us paying some attention. A friend asked the other day what we were going to do about the high fuel prices. I said "Pay 'em". What else can we do? The way we figure it, we intend to spend most of our time "on the hook", or at anchor. (Notice how the blog address reflects this?) We'll just take longer intervals between travel time. As we've stated, we'll have no schedule, so getting somewhere by a certain time won't be an issue. A simple way to explain this is that if we had decided to travel 60 miles per day and changed our plan to travel 30 miles per day, or 60 miles every other day, we've just halved our fuel cost outlay. If it gets to the point where we can only afford to travel 60 miles every three months, we'll take the engines out and get a mooring ball in Key West. Just kidding.
  As a side note; last week another friend who had just gotten back from the Keys reported diesel at over $8 per gallon, I think just to get my goat. I checked the current diesel price at Conch Harbor Marina the next day and found an acceptable price of $4.82 per gallon.
  I got a call yesterday from Jeff Miller, the new service manager at Bloch Marine at Polestar Harbor. They were starting to sand the bottom of Swing Set and wanted to remove the dinghy and get it out of the way to avoid getting dust debris on it. That was a considerate, but expected call, and since the dinghy was going on a trailer we decided to have some minor engine work done on the Mercury outboard, so a good move all around.
  As far as the leaving part, our friends are making us feel like we will be missed, and it's actually making our decision to take off harder to do. But we'll find a way to overcome our grief about missing our friends, along with this downturn in housing costs and the uptick in fuel prices. We have a few weeks to go, I just hope by the time our departure date arrives, we aren't chased out of town like those townspeople did to Frankenstein's Monster way back when.
  Just a short blog today. I've added some neat features to the blog and wanted our friends to see them. Let me know how the "follow by email" feature works. Scroll down to the bottom and see the most popular posts, along with a soon to be growing list of blogs we are also following.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Holly and Swing Set Both Get Some Attention

  Boating season is under way on the Alton Pool of the Mississippi. The water is on at the docks at the Duck Club Yacht Club where Swing Set is berthed, so boat owners were out over the weekend and the winter dirt and spring pollen was being spritzed off of a lot of boats on Saturday.
  Swing Set got a bath on Wednesday of last week, so Rosie and I were able to address some other chores on Saturday that we'd been putting off until the weather broke. But first, I need to back up to Friday. I picked up Rosie from work on Friday evening and we got to the boat around 6 P.M. after a pit stop at the IGA. Holly sat on Rosie's lap and barked at customers while I did a drive by shopping stint for enough food to get us through the weekend.
  After bringing another carload of stuff aboard, I asked Rosie how she liked the job I did installing some hanging shelves in the main cedar locker in the master stateroom. "I don't like it." was the short response I received. I re-evaluated the installation and realized that Rosie was right. I had hung the shelves in the widest side of the locker which left no room to hang stuff on the other side. I got my screw gun out, and while dinner was warming up, I made the switch and we were all happy. I admitted that I didn't know what I was thinking at the time, except my mind has been on bigger fish.
  After a dinner of beef stew over egg noodles, we did a few more chores and then we watched our first movie on the boat using our Roku box, streaming movies via the WiFi at the Duck Club. Nifty. We'll be able to view free movies wherever we find a WiFi hotspot, and we'll change our Netflix account from DVD rental to the instant movie program for about $8 per month.
  We got to bed early and slept like logs until the late hour of 8 A.M. That's late for us without the help of our friend Bud Light. Rosie got the coffee going and thus started a filling breakfast while I tended to the job of giving Holly some early morning attention. Before I get too carried away, I have to show you this picture of Holly in her "stateroom". Our friends on facebook have seen this picture already, but some of my blog readers haven't.

  Being part terrier, Holly has discovered the joys of burrowing and gets thus engaged at any opportunity. Those two pinpoints of light are her eyeballs peering out from under her bed.
I took this picture a week ago and was showing it to everyone and was charged with being obsessed with the dog. Yep, guilty.
  Once my scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, bagel, and two cups of coffee were stowed away safely in my innards, I set to work on my mission for the day which was to install our water maker. The components of our Katadyn water maker have been setting patiently on the floor of the salon since December and it was time to get them put where they belonged.
  Earlier in the week, I had been going over my installation plans mentally and I had a clear vision of how I wanted things to progress and I only encountered one misstep. My setback was minor once I became aware of the beauty of drilling proper pilot holes and it was smoooooth sailing all the way after that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Mini-Celebrity

  Holly and I went up to the boat yesterday as planned, but the work I had intended to do didn't happen. Working on a boat is like chess, sometimes you don't make a move for hours.
  Once I got there and got her settled in her "stateroom", I went below to contemplate my strategy to rearrange some equipment in the engine room. I keep an old milk crate down there, as there isn't much headroom to stand, but plenty of head room to sit, and sitting on the milk crate to wonder what to do next is the easiest thing to do in the engine room.
  Considering that Swing Set is getting hauled out for bottom paint soon, I decided that to start taking things apart right at this point would not be in our best interest, especially since I didn't want to be working on the boat while it was at the boatyard and we were going to have a survey done before relaunching. Plus the work I needed to do involved taking the exhaust apart on the starboard engine. I didn't want to take it apart and then have to reassemble it for the drive to Polestar Harbor before the work was done.
  I did get it straight in my mind as to how I was going to approach the relocation of our water pumps and accumulator tank once I began the work. "Gettin' my mind right" is a big part of the process any time work like this is involved, and it's time consuming. Nowadays it takes a stint on the couch with Holly in my lap as I ponder any given problem.
  Once I finished tackling the issue of my equipment relocation, I realized all that thinking about work made me hungry. I put Holly back in her room and tackled a bologna sandwich. Feeling a little bit guilty about not having accomplished much for my morning, I got industrious and scooped Holly up for a game of fetch in the cockpit. Our game of fetch involved some lessons in negotiating the stairs to the flybridge for Holly. Those stairs are steep and the first one is the hardest but Holly just hopped up onto it right away. Her next attempt was not as successful and for her part, the lessons were done for the day. Any further fetching was to be done on the level areas of the boat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

List of Things To Do Gets Longer

  I thought that the closer we get to our planned departure the list of things that need to be done would get shorter but this doesn't seem to be the case.
  One of our boat neighbors strung together enough water hose over the weekend to run from the freeze proof faucet at the entrance to our dock all the way to the end where are boats are, so when I made a trip to the boat yesterday I had no excuse to not wash the boat for the first time this year. A "quickie" boat wash still takes close to two hours but drying was not a high priority with close to 30 M.P.H. wind gusts helping out with the blow drying.
  I began the de-winterizing process too by filling up the water tank and opening all the water outlets to chase the RV anti-freeze out of the lines. The proper way to "pickle" the water lines is to bypass the water tank altogether, but that method involves some equipment that I no longer own, so I used my older, less efficient technique which makes rinsing out the water tank more of a chore. During my rinse of the water lines I discovered that my #2 fresh water pump wouldn't run without tripping the breaker, and my primary pump would only run for a short time before it too would trip the breaker. That's the way I left things yesterday before I left the river to pick up Rosie from work, so I was able to tax my brainpan all last night as to the cause of my problem.
  Knowing that during the winterizing process last fall required running the water tank down to empty, my suspicion is that some debris in the bottom of the water tank has probably clogged up the strainers on the inlets of both pumps.
  Easy fix, right? Just clean out the strainers and I'm good to go. Well, yes and no. A few years ago my accumulator tank sprung a leak and needed to be replaced. The accumulator tank is an inline pressure tank that prevents the fresh water pumps from starting and stopping with every twist of the faucet handle. Think of it as a surge tank with a small volume. A quick hand rinse, or one toilet flush, usually won't make the pumps activate. The accumulator tank on our Sea Ray was installed at the factory on the starboard hull side, on the outboard side of the water heater, fuel filters, both water pumps and one battery. Think of this as a "remote location".
  A coincidental service appointment at the time prompted me to request that the tank be replaced since some nearby work on our trim tab pump had to be addressed. We got the boat back and I wasn't too thrilled to find that the accumulator tank had been relocated. The relocation resulted in a more accessible tank but put it in the way of some other equipment. I lived with this arrangement for a couple of years, but last year I relocated the tank again, but not to its original spot where a trained monkey would be needed to get to it, but still a better one.
  Now, this better spot put the tank in the way of a quick check of the inlets to the strainers on our fresh water pumps, something I knew when I did it, but I figured I could move the tank out of the way as needed. Yesterday I found first hand how one little mistake can snowball for you. I decided that a total revamp of this one area of the engine room was in order.
  I plan on installing our water maker next month when we move onto the boat and I can have all day to do the installation without interrupting my work to go home, or go drink beer. The watermaker installation will require some rerouting of water lines anyway, so I've decided to switch the accumulator tank and the water pump locations as the accumulator tank doesn't need the attention that the water pumps do. I'll have a report about this job as I go.
  Yesterday was not a complete bust though. I did get the boat washed as I said, and I completed the hookup of our Roku box. A Roku box is like an X-box, or other device that allows you to stream movies or T.V. shows from the Internet to your T.V. I hooked up the box last weekend, but was dead in the water when I went to try it out. I couldn't find the remote for it, and the remote is the only way to turn this device on and otherwise control it. I thought I had packed the remote with the rest of the Roku accessories when I unhooked it to take to the boat. I was ready to order another remote last night when I checked our video cabinet at home one more time to find it hiding way back in the corner of the cabinet, planning on an escape at a later time I guess.
  Once I got everything turned on and I entered the code to the local WiFi, I was able to access the Roku channels. Not only does Roku offer some free movies, we can watch Netflix instant movies too with a subscription. The key here is to be on a local WiFi network and not use the data transfer minutes on our MiFi device installed on Swing Set as two movies or so would eat up the 5 gigs of data transfer we get per month. AT&T brags about thousands of free WiFi hotspots all around the nation. We will see.
  Karl Kotraba came by and took inventory of some things I wanted him to replace when we get Swing Set back in the water from a new bottom painting we are getting done at Bloch Marine next week. We're getting a survey done for insurance purposes too, so we don't want the boat tore up for that.
  I also mounted a bracket to hold our new iPad on the bridge to use as a redundant chartplotter when we are in a 3G area, or WiFi for that matter. The bracket is made by RAM and is a solid mount with the ability to tilt and turn just about any way you'd want it too.
  Rosie had purchased some "hanging shelves" that I was able to stick into one of the lockers in the master stateroom. I'll find out next weekend if she likes my work.
  For now, I'm finishing up this blog post, gathering up Holly, dropping Rosie off at work, and heading to the boat to contemplate my next move to solve my water pump issues. We have to make ourselves scarce this afternoon so a real estate agent can show our condo again.
  It's getting to be crunch time.
  One last note, I don't know if one of our boating friends was being funny or trying to ruin my day last weekend when he reported diesel fuel at over $8 per gallon when he was down there recently, but I checked and price was still below $5. Our theory remains, the higher fuel gets, the more we sit at anchor between trips, hopefully at an AT&T hotspot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Spring That Wasn't

  My thoughts turned to Spring this morning as I was walking back from City Hall in downtown St. Louis in yet another effort to get all of our documents in order. The weather here, like in other parts of the country, is unseasonably warm, straight from winter to summer.
  This means that activity at our harbor is increasing, something I need to keep in mind. Swing Set is not de-winterized yet. We have been staying aboard most Saturday nights all winter and this means using "the bucket" for most toilet activities, however, like any self-respecting dock rat would do, the males generally utilize the areas between the docked boats for nature calls when they find themselves outside. I was on my way up to the car last week when I decided at the last minute to take care of business before jumping into the car for the 40 minute ride home.
  Now, before I go on, don't tell me that there is not a male boater out there who has never done this. I am calling you a liar and a fraud, in front of whatever supreme being you want to name, if you say you have never used this method for relief, at least once.
  Sneaking in between two boats is usually fairly discrete, unless of course someone is aboard a boat you are standing between. Even worse if you are facing in their direction when involved in this activity. This is usually not an issue at night; for one, if someone is aboard, they may have lights on. In this instance, you avoid this area. For another thing, at night it's dark out, at least around here, so you can't be detected.
  But during the day, it's like those pimped up cars you see on the streets with the dark sunscreen on all the windows; installed for the purpose of "you can see out, but can't nobody see in." Someone looking out aboard a boat you are facing gets a technicolor view of all your hardware and you don't know if someone is in there or not, unless you hear either screaming or loud laughter.
  Such was my experience last weekend. As I finished up and walked up to the parking lot, expecting to see only our car waiting for me, I noticed another vehicle on the lot. Yes, it was the vehicle belonging to the owners of the boat I had used to shield myself from any prying eyes in the vicinity. Turns out I would have been less offensive had I stood on the bow of Swing Set, and hummed a tune during the process. However, having heard no screams or laughter, there is a chance that they were in a part of the boat where they couldn't see me. I figure I'll hear about it later if they weren't.
  So Spring, right?  Today, thinking about Spring got me to think about trees. We haven't owned a tree, much less a blade of grass, for over 12 years. I don't miss owning either. The grass is just so needy when it comes to mowing and otherwise manicuring, and trees are just killers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Staying Connected

  We made some more progress over the weekend in our goal of staying connected to friends and family while living aboard Swing Set.
  The first thing we did was get an iPad. A new version of the iPad is coming out, but for our use, we bought the current version and saved some money. The improvements weren't enough to warrant the difference in price for us. Although we intend to install our desktop in our new "office" aboard the boat, we wanted the iPad mainly to use as a backup chartplotter. So in addition to the chartplotter capability, we'll be able to access email and facebook from the bridge. We can access those things with our iPhone too, but we wanted the bigger screen.
  One concern we had was the fact that our iPhone is grandfathered in for the time being with an unlimited data plan, and the iPad was exempt from that plan. Knowing that we would be primarily using the iPad for the chartplotter application, the question was one of how much data transfer was involved in using the chartplotter. A call to Navionics solved the riddle. We were told that once the charts are downloaded, then there is no data transfer involved in the actual use of the Navionics program. I also accessed the data usage report on our iPhone and discovered that in 10 months of use, I only used a combined 19 Gigs of data, both sent and received, so with a 3Gig per month plan with AT&T, we shouldn't exceed that many minutes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Getting Our Ducks In A Row

  My blog posts have been far and few between because there isn't much to tell right now. Please hang in there, we will be ramping up activity on Swing Set in the next couple of weeks. We are still shooting for an early May departure down the Mississippi and then posts should be daily depending on our progress.
  Rosie has given notice to her employers, no easy task in this economy, but it's a load off of her mind.
  We're getting our finances in order and still are trying to sell our home. If we don't sell by a certain date, we'll start efforts to lease it out until the market turns around.
  We're headed for Swing Set today with another load of things from our home. I hope we don't sink it before we take off.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Holly's Adjustment to Swing Set Continues

  I had mentioned previously about how devastating the loss of our last pet was over thirteen years ago. Not only was the heartache over that loss a factor in our not getting another pet, we also had our choice of homes playing a large part in deciding to not get another dog.
  We had moved from our last home on the Meramec River to a condo in the city. The first condo we had in the city was on the second floor of the complex, and facing the street was a "solarium" with all glass walls which gave us a great view of the activities outside. An event I witnessed one morning while relaxing in the solarium cemented our resolve to avoid getting a pet again. If you are squeamish, skip the next paragraph.
  It was shortly after we had moved into our condo in the Central West End, just west of downtown St. Louis. The area has lots of shops and restaurants; in fact, we had over 13 restaurants and bars within a block each way of our condo. All of this activity made for great people watching most of the time. One chilly fall morning, an attractive woman came walking down the sidewalk, dressed in a very sharp and stylish pantsuit, being partially drug along by probably the largest Great Dane I had ever seen. The obvious goal for the reason of the walk was soon accomplished as the canine moose "assumed the position" and dropped a pile of excrement approximating the size of a football. While steam was still rising from this monstrous production, the woman dutifully whipped out a plastic grocery bag to perform her lawful responsibility as indicated by signs placed along the sidewalks about every 25 feet. The sight of that well dressed woman bent down grasping that steaming pile of dog doo doo with only a thin film of polymer separating it from her well manicured hand is one I'll never get from my mind. What amazed me about it was her ability to get it all with one scoop without it some extra squishing out onto her wrist.
  I told you to skip to this paragraph. I decided that we were never going to be that person. Not only was the actual act of picking up after a pet in the manner described a revolting one in the first place, being a place of high activity, the CWE was also a target for muggers and purse snatchers due to a large amount of potential victims present. Venturing out in odd hours of day and night for "dog doo duty" was a little more risk than we wanted to take in exchange for an occasional tail wag.
  It was partially due to this window upon humanity that we had that prompted us to move less than three years later. I once witnessed a purse snatching and I ran out in an attempt to apprehend the culprit, to no avail. One night I followed a suspected home invader while placing a call to the police after seeing the suspect emerge from the dark between two of the buildings where only someone up to no good would be at that time of night. I was right in my assumption that the person didn't belong there when I later learned that a man walked right into a first floor condo, but was luckily scared away by the resident. Being witness to other smaller, but equally annoying affronts to humanity, such as illegal parking or failure to pick up after a pet, helped persuade us to move to a high rise where the view was good, but human activities were too far below us to be of any concern.
  While others in our building have pets, or had pets, the twice daily trips down the elevator for the trek across a street to the only strip of grass for blocks around certainly didn't appeal to us at all. So it remained until our move to the boat became eminent and the prospect of having a small pet trained to do business in a litter box of some sort renewed our interest in a dog.

  If you've been reading this blog at all, you've already become acquainted with Holly, here sporting her new life vest and perched on the stairs to the flybridge on Swing Set last weekend. Holly was chosen specifically due to her small size as a companion for our life on Swing Set, and with good reason.
  What inspired me to write this blog was some recent posts on the forum of the America's Great Looper Cruisers Association regarding choosing the perfect dog for doing the Loop. I've mentioned before about how some people cannot make a decision on their own and feel a need to ask others for advice on the most basic of subjects. On one hand, a boat dog is a boat dog, but some people think that "doing the Great Loop" requires a pet that is somehow unique to that experience. So on the other hand, I suppose spending a weekend on a boat with a pet and its specific requirements would be different than spending a few months straight onboard with the same pet.