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Saturday, August 29, 2009

LIFE ON LAND.........................


Our morning power-walks continue and so many things are found on the way that spark our interest. (Have we lost it, or have we been gone too long?)..........There was so little water in this fountain at the mall (left), that the manatee got out, only to be frozen in time and petrified, literally. Saw this 'Banyan' tree in the photo on the right, on one of our walks, with an array of roots coming down searching for soil and moisture. Quite a curtain....................even though someone had recently cleaned this vacant lot. We found this climbing cactus (below) in full flower early in the morning. If you double-click on it you will find a flower within a flower. Just beautiful. By the afternoon, it had withered and was gone. Must be our good 'karma', to catch it just at the right time. Getting free tickets sent in the mail for 'Superbowl' is good karma. Getting an open parking spot at Walmart, right in front of the big door is just good luck, not good karma. Remember that....



We saw some more sea-turtles, of the "Glasfiberitis-suburbia" variety, one of whom had made it ashore, and was suitably camouflaged near a marina. With all the other yachtie-types around, he might well have gone unseen, were it not for getting caught by a steering wheel, poking him in the groin.



Double click on these little photos if you want to find the mail-slot. Our quest for the unusual mailbox continues, .......as we cover more territory in our walks. On some, you'll have a struggle to find it. Mail people must have very long arms.... and don't put the mail in the sailfish's mouth by mistake.......could be painful. LIFE ON LAND is turning out to be GREAT. A good long walk, a shower, a swim in the pool, and on to do our chores for the day..................

" IT'S A FACT, PEOPLE ONLY BECOME FASCINATED WITH MAILBOXES WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE ONE"



............. and then to go out and have dinner with wonderful hosts like Dianne and Dick Browne, and friends Eileen and Steve and delicious food that will require more walks............

Thursday, August 27, 2009

WE FOUND THE SEA-TURTLES....................



The sea turtles have come ashore much further than we had anticipated. This species know as "FIBREGLASITIS- SUBURBIA" comes in various colours which tend to fade after four to five years. They are very, very slow to move, and generally found on street corners and in parks. The specimen on the lower right is the "Farmer" variety and truly endangered. There are so few farmers left. You have to double-click on all of them to see the intricacy of the design on their shells, and notice the absence of sea slime, barnacles and algae. They appear to be immune to sunlight, onlookers, traffic and pollution. Nothing short of remarkable............. If only Charles Darwin was still around to see this species ...............



A sea-cow, known in Florida as a Manatee (known in Australia as a Dugong), stopped by to do a little feeding on ARITA's hull. We have accumulated considerable algae ourselves, from being in the hot tropical waters of Florida and the Bahamas. He became quite thirsty after a good feeding session, so we gave him a drink of refreshing water. A couple of winks from his beady eyes indicated that we should " bring it on ". He drank plenty....................



They blend in perfectly with the water colour and become hard to see and even harder to spot when travelling by boat. This one had scars on his tail fin from being hit by propellors. Manatees, too, are endangered and protection zones and go-slow areas exist everywhere in Florida's shallow waters. A few hours later, another manatee appeared, and they began a Gypsey two-step and a Vienna Waltz. Suddenly there was nothing slow about either of them............................. kept dancing for at least three hours................................Sorry, nothing for the Press.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ON A BEACH SOMEWHERE..............................



Definitely do a double-click on this heavy-metal mailbox.

Someone (no names mentioned, of course) posted the comment on our last blog entry that...... "You should be on a beach somewhere............", well that one came in at the same time as we were on a beach somewhere. An endless beach along the Atlantic Coast, south of VERO, that disappeard at both ends into the haze. We were doing our powerwalk thing in the morning. The tide was high and the sea dead calm, despite the fact that Hurricane "BILL" is out there somewhere towards Bermuda, wreaking(wrecking) havoc. Lots of tracks on the beach from a 4-wheeler ATV, which we eventually tracked down to a sporty young guy with a clipboard, a laptop and a hand-held GPS. That GPS stands for 'global positioning system'. Allows you to pin-point yourself anywhere on Earth, and with a shout of "Eureka", and some finger-pointing, declare loudly...... "I am here". Well, the ATV guy is actally a scientist recording all the location of the sites, where sea-turtles have left tracks during the night when they have come ashore to lay clutches of eggs. These are mostly 'loggerhead' sea-turtles. The buriel sites are marked off with stakes, numbered and dated and the expected young 'flip-floppers' emerge between 52 and 85 days later. Little point in spending 30 nights sitting next to such a site waiting for the big moment........ but it would be awesome to see new life emerging..............and the frenzied crawl to the sea on tiny little flippers........... (double-click on the pic, if you want a better look at the sand)




That little gadget, in the photo on the right, that looks like a vintage cellphone is the hand-held GPS. We asked him if there were any vacancies in his line of work, but he only smiled...................Imagine being paid to do this................



What is truly amazing is that the surviving female sea-turtles (and the mortality rate is high) when mature, return to the very same beach to lay their eggs, in turn. The amazing part is that they don't even have GPS. The egg laying takes place from June to October, which co-incides with the hurricane season................ bad plan, if you ask me........................



We found this piece of intersting wild-life on the way back. A very fat, and fast-eating locust specimen, who had systematically devoured the three periwinkle plants in the foreground, which used to look just like the row in the back. You may have to double click on this photo, to see his munch marks, and when you do, you will notice that the locust is actually smiling at the camera...............in an off-handed sort of way. This is not an endangered species, unlike the sea-turtles, although it will be, if the home-owner catches him in the act.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MOST DEFINITELY DOCKED

What a wonderful homecoming after being in the steamy mangroves at Vero Beach.

Vero is still beautiful, but the mosquitos and the 'no-see-ums', were something else and when Laurie dropped some salmon in the water, there was an instant explosion of catfish in the brown muddy waters. They must have seen that salmon coming......................It is not blue, blue, Bahamas blue, but this new location is nothing short of Superb. That's superb with a capital "S". Magnificent views across this enclosed mini-lake, a dock to die for, and dolphins to secure extra lines to, in the event of really strong winds. A real blessing and not in disguise, either. We are doing this daily 'powerwalk' thing in the morning, which really turns into a slow stroll, because there is so much to see (and to share). The residences and mansions are top class, and the lawns exquisitely manicured. This is quality living. Even the mailboxes are out of the ordinary, and if perchance your palm tree should die, well................ just turn it into a manatee(dugong) garden ornament............. The 'hood' is huge, so it will take quite a few weeks before we have explored all the streets. Definitely killer territory for the lawn service people. Here they don't just operate with a big trailer and a giant pick-up,... No Sir,........... this is semi-trailer country. Would not be surprised if someone re-invents the helicopter so that the blades are underneath and does a little grass-chopping as a side-job..................... Once again we did not win Powerball........ so many weeks of 'NOT A WINNER", how can that be? ......We are only going to be here for a short time............



Some have beautiful mini gardens around them with flowers..... and I was going to say 'bees', to keep the post-person on his/her toes.



Painted or layered with ceramic tiles they look real cute, or if you are inclined towards 'rusticity'...........Well, then there is this model. Or maybe it belongs to the oldest resident in the neighborhood.



There are lots of water birds to be found, all shapes and sizes, and a whole new array of flowering bushes in this parkland setting. The Atlantic Ocean is only a stone throw away......... Well, a good stone throw anyway.............



The real eye-opener was on the golf course. There are lots of employees maintainig the golf course but to ensure that there are no 'foreign' type weeds on the greens they use these trained egrets to judiciously remove the 'bad seeds'.



For a long time the Captain has been in the habit of de-laminating his food prior to eating. You know what I mean...................................... First remove the top layer of the hamburger, then eat the meat and cheese seperately, then the salad, the onion ring, and the slice of tomato, then finish it off, kind of thing. This whole process usually put this huge smile on the "Queen"'s face. The Captain does this, in order to prevent the "flavour savers" from sticking to his beard. The "Queen of Florida" on the other hand, doesn't have one of those, so her Highness wouldn't know. The first time I tried to eat a 'Subway" sandwich, her way, it was out with her camera...................... The result of that humungous bite is not publishable............, not under any circumstances..........

video..

Sunday, August 16, 2009

COMING BACK ON SHORE.............................

WE ARE IN THE TRANSITION PHASE........ Back in the land of plenty. Back in the land of normality, despite the heat and the humidity. And it is HOT, WET and STEAMY, here in VERO BEACH, Florida. One of the first jobs to be done was a trip to Home Depot to collect an air conditioner window unit and to install it on board ARITA or face the potential of a quick divorce.

STEP 1........ Install A/C unit under cockpit steps...... STEP 2......... Remove A/C unit and re-install in salon window..... STEP 3........ Re-remove A/C unit and re-install unit in front cabin hatch......... STEP 4.... Install the "Queen of Florida" in front cabin and 'normalise' Queen. STEP 5......Ensure that curtain on front cabin remains closed to keep the cold air in. Beginning to sound like we are protecting "royal jelly" in the hive. STEP 6........ install WIFI antenna on deck and provide laptop to "Queen" in front cabin......... Oh, and did I mention that the generator to power all this, is now installed under the cockpit seat with a flexible exhaust pipe and a 4" hot-air extractor fan ductwork line. There is also a plan in the works for installing a permanent marine A/C unit on board that will be salt-water cooled and will replace the deck-mounted window unit. Oh, how I love my job...........




That's the WIFI antenna on the A/C and the cable going into the front cabin.



The gathering of the female ROYALS,........ Duchess Dana, the Queen's sister, Her Highness Queen Laurie, and Princess Lauren Anne, the Queen's daughter. The Queen even gets her hair plaited by the Princess. What a life these royals lead.......
And this one is a gathering of CATFISH in the river. This kind of thing happens when you feed them 'catfood'. Do not try dogfood........ different outcome altogether. They will probably snarl and bark at you.



Speaking of 'feeding' the wildlife, here's a Florida frog scoring his nightly feed when the hot porch light comes on. Cooked dinner in a single shot. Now that's smart thinking.

We travelled to the various boatyards to look for a suitable place to haul-out ARITA,to repaint the bottom with anti-fouling paint, and found "MOANA" high and dry, in one of the yards. We had met her, and her wonderful crew, at Man-O-War cay in the Bahamas earlier in the year. Finally we are near to having all the replacement items in hand after our lightning strike.
Even the blown-up battery is now ready for its replacement..................... and on the right, is our new docking place for the next couple of months, pending hurricanes. Way, way better than the mooring buoy in the mangrove swamp at Vero. A really beautiful location............................ there's that good 'Karma' doing its thing again......



And there's a pool just out of sight for the "Queen" to dip her toes................



Now, for all those of you who are in the market for a GLASS EYE (Pirates included), then, this is the place to come to...................... Not just one glass eye, no................ they offer two for the price of one................I mean look at this incredible deal....BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE. So if you are eye-less, or you want a spare glass eye, then it would be very hard to beat this deal. Go to downtown Melbourne, Florida ........(not Australia).........
Drive carefully and keep that patch on till you get there............ and if you see someone who looks like a one-eyed pirate, move out of the way, for more than likely he's on his way to scoop up this special, ahead of you. Don't mess with Pirates.....