Friday, July 02, 2010

Epic On The Cape

After a (far too brief) 4-day trip to the gulf this weekend the topic on everyone's mind seems to be oil and oil booms. "Were we able to get out into the gulf through Port St. Joe?" The answer is: Yes. We were.

I understand Barack Obama has some kind of half-ass orange contraption all buoyed-up around the mouth of the bay, but I think it is more for panache than anything else - just so Port St. Joe can get in on the oily action. A blind manatee (or "aquatic speed bump" as we like to call them) could get through, over, or around said oil boom with ease.

From what I was able to tell they've set buoys strategically and have the yellow booms on stand-by - ready to stretch across; but they're definitely not set so as to block traffic or actually do anything constructive.

When we headed out into the wild blue I tried to convince Fred B. Hand, IV (Captain, Friend, Patriot) we should troll alongside the floating booms at the mouth of the bay for billfish, oil globs and kayaks, but he disregarded my advice.

There you have my basic oil report.

As to the Annual Crash-The-Hand-Family-Vacation vacation I'm pleased to announce that it was a rousing success. Attendees: Me, Twylerpants, Fred B. Hand, IV; Fred B. Hand, III; Kelly Logan (IV's girlfriend), Frances Hand, and finally - Fred B. Hand, Jr. Thats right - this year Fred's granddad came down.

We had a ball. We had a bit of boat trouble, but perhaps you should read about it as reported earlier this week. Please, do read on....

Last year when Fred broke the throttle cable (on the 20' Mako offshore boat) they took the boat to Indian Pass Marine. Indian Pass Marine had (written) instructions to take the Mako BACK to dry storage when it was fixed. Instead, Indian Pass Marine set the boat in their backyard and left it outside in the weather all year. ALL year - August to July. When we got there on Saturday, the poor Mako was an absolute wreck. Mildew all over everything. It was rough.

So, Fred took my fiancee and drove off and left me with his Dad in the parking lot of Indian Pass Marine with a wrecked and mildewed Mako somehow hooked to MY truck.

Mr. Hand was absolutely beside himself. It was like watching a well-educated Yosemite Sam lift off into orbit. I mean he was foaming at the mouth over paying for dry storage for 12 months while the boat sat outside. I'm serious - the man was almost unable to speak.


We got in my truck and took it to the washdown place where I proceeded to wreck my good clothes with "pressurized foam spray" and Clorox whilst washing down the Mako under the very detailed tutelage of Mr. Hand. Thank God he finally ran out of quarters. It took 60 before we were through. I'd hear the alarm beeping and think "maybe we're done now," then I'd hear him furiously cramming quarters into it again and swearing violently to himself.

Once we finished attacking the baked-on mildew as best we could; we went to the gas station...then to Autozone....and the place to get yamalube.....then back to autozone....then to Bluewater Outfitters for bait....then back to the yamalube place again....and finally back to Autozone...again.

So, I finally made it home to the beach house around 4pm with a truckload of petroleum products, dry goods, hardware, a semi-wrecked-looking boat in tow, and a distinguished looking gentleman in his mid-50's furiously gesticulating at every car that got in front of us.

We pulled up and Mr. Hand said completely serious (to sodden, soapy me shivering in the arctic air of my truck AC) "Oh good. Thank God the girls have already unpacked everything so we dont have to. Now arent you glad we missed all that mess!??"

I looked at him through soap-blurred vision and shivered my assent.

The next morning we took the Mako out and I said "Hey did y'all put fuel stabilizer in this thing last year?" and I got blank looks. So inside my brain I went "Oh boy. I wonder how today is going to turn out?"

We crank it up and it immediately starts surging and sputtering. I would have turned back. Fred dropped the hammer and let it surge, sputter, and cough us 7 miles offshore towards a storm front.

We surged and sputtered around for a few hours, caught a few spanish mackerel and sharks, then headed back surging and sputtering (hammer down). It sounded like a completely screwed fuel system to me. I was just waiting to hear a rod go through the top of the motor. "KAAAWWWAAACCCKKAAA!!! Call the Coast Guard!"

By dint of sheer Hand-Family-Luck we barely limped back in, put $72 worth of assorted fuel additives in it at Mr. Hand's direction (octane boost, stabil, seafoam, Lucas Miracle Oil, Lever 2000 - whatever would fit in the tank) and took it back to Indian Pass Marine. Mr. Hand handled it from there, gleefully, I might add.

Basically, the fuel was ruined as you can guess; which filled up the water separator filter with water and lawd knows what else....Which plugged all the filters and ruined the spark plugs and shot h20 all into the cylinder heads doing who knows what kind of damage. I'm sure it shot the 02 sensor too. When that ethanol stuff separates (which it does in about 3 months - or sooner in that kind of heat) it grows all kinds of algae and crap in the water at the bottom of the fuel tank which immediately gets into everyplace you don't want it.

Fred remained extremely upbeat, even "sunny and cheerful", through the whole thing; he was even heard to whistle a few bars of "I've Got Sunshine" on the way back and I couldn't figure it out. Then I realized - A. We're on a "major adventure" so, naturally he and I felt pretty good right off; but B. He knows if he can figure out a way to blow this motor - he's going to figure out a way to get Mr. Hand to rebuild it and put on his other boat, then put a fresh Yamaha on the Mako or something. So - it was a win/win for him. In fact, he may be leaning a bit harder towards "stranded" just to get the new motor.

Anyway, Fred was happy as a clam so I didnt worry about it.

Indian Pass Marine finally fixed all that and who knows what else. Mr. Hand said alot of words to me with boat terms mixed in when I asked him what was wrong with it - but I dont think he really knew what they did. I suspect when Indian Pass Marine told him; he was thinking too hard about the next thing he was going to say to blast them to really pay attention to the diagnosis. Anyway, Mr. Hand bore down on them so hard they had the whole boat fixed and looking brand new in two days - in the middle of high season.

To top it off Indian Pass Marine then said they needed to replace both throttle cables - which they did. That REALLY pissed The Freds off (Fred Jr got in on the action at Indian Pass Marine too - they took his big Cadillac over there and parked it out front for intimidation).

All I know is we had a ball. Fred's Dad was positively overjoyed to have somebody to bear down on, Fred Jr was tickled to get to critique Fred III in action ("I'd have been a whole lot harder on those idiots Fred, why did you go so easy on them are you getting soft?"), Fred IV got a little less heat on him because the heat was all on Indian Pass Marine, Mrs. Hand managed to slip away and fish with us whilst all the heat was getting poured on Indian Pass Marine, I got to watch it all happen, and the Mako ended up a-ok.

Hilarity ensued. It was a giant win/win/win/win/win.

In between all the hooplah we managed to cook a bunch of stuff that was entirely too complex for the venue, stay fairly sodden, hide beer cans all over the house and deck for Fred III to find, get in big trouble with the rental agency for having a dog over to visit, and do a bunch of scalloping around.

My favorite was when I overheard Fred III on the phone invite 5 extra people to dinner on Tuesday night and tell them I was cooking.
I panicked and looked at Tyler, my sous-chef, who mouthed back "WHAT DID HE SAY??!?!!"

The trip was, to quote Fred B. Hand III "Epic".

My apologies to the Hand Family - you'll never get rid of us now.

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