Battle Cry

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It will come as no surprise to readers of this forum that on a bright sunny Delta morning in early May, Bill could be heard crying out to Lisa that “We are sinking” yet again. Lisa’s typical response would normally have been “What are We Thinking about”, but since we had just launched our latest nautical enterprise everyone was on alert for which part of the venture would go wrong first.

Over the course of the last two years we Century at beachhave been working on El Rancho Alla Razon’ to great effect and pleasure. The yard has filled in nicely with near golf course quality grass, roses, trees and the like.   40 percent of all the bathrooms have been remodeled, the kitchen remodel is nearly 50% complete, a new staircase was added as well as a supersized pergola, Bill’s workshop is looking like the Craftsman Tool Companies poster child and Lisa’s decorative touches, which include full interior paint, have all but erased the 1970’s atmosphere which permeated the nether regions of our domain.   It was time to do something a bit different.

Beyond Reason of course is still in the stable and ready for the next holocaust, natural disaster or job lay-off.   Before you worry too much about her, have faith that we still wash her on a regular basis. Bill has tended to her thirst for attention by recharging the refrigeration system, replacing several hose clamps and adding a new prop to the al ’mighty bow thruster. Her varnish is a bit pale but that will be attended to before the fourth of July; at least that is the plan. For our real sailing friends that will have concern for us moving to the dark side, ol B.R. has even made a trip out to the Sacramento River and back under sail within the last couple of months.   No we’re not giving up sailing; not giving up house work and certainly not giving up on drinking rum, we just needed another venue.

For all her adventurous spirit, Lisa needs her comforts. Heat is one of those and shelter from the delta winds while sipping a cocktail is another.   The shallow waters of the delta do not lend themselves well to sailing a 53’ barge around for cocktail hour and the 12’ of clearance at the Bethel Island bridge is a bit too low to make evening naviguzzeling any real fun, so it was time for a compromise.

Bill would not settle for trawler. After all, Beyond Reason makes a great trawler with the one exception of its 60’ overall height. Lisa would not settle for your standard flat bottom delta ski boat. Neither wanted a typical Bayliner or white on white family boat. For years we have made a statement when we came into harbors and we were not about to change.   Our next boat would have to be unique, loud, fast, have wind and sun shade available and not be something you see every day…perhaps that is the same as unique.

After months of seeking out our new ride we finally found something a bit out of the ordinary in a 1973 Century Resorter.   We had started out looking at 1953 – 1967 Century Resorters just because they were one of the first “go fast” (a Chrysler 440 engine in a 16’ wood boat) boats that had a bit of flare without the extreme costs of a Chris Craft barrel back or Riva.   Once we looked at the costs of replacing wood bottoms though we quickly steered towards first generation fiberglass boats. Behold the 1973 Resorter. Add the optional Targa convertible top, IMG_1591Naugahyde decks, duel straight exhaust and plush seating and we had our statement boat.

To ensure that we would have a story to tell we bought the boat in San Diego which meant a 24 hour road trip and a no turning back attitude when we saw the boat for the first time. Swap some cash, hook up the boat and back home we came, 700 miles, 18 hours, 2 stops and a quart of Pepsi later.

IMG_2289So, on a bright, sunny delta morning we splashed the new money pit. See, it really wasn’t until we got it home that we noticed there could be a problem with the engine mounts and perhaps there was a bit of emulsified oil in the bilge along with several wires or instruments that either weren’t hooked up or didn’t function. The Targa top had a few extra holes in it that we hadn’t noticed after our midnight run to Southern California and several of  typical maintenance items were either not accessible or needed some immediate attention.

So with the morning sparkling we paid the ramp master $10 and launched. The boat fired right up with a tremendous roar and we pulled her away from the trailer. Everything appeared well. Mostly. While the engine idled away Lisa returned the trailer to its parking space and Bill began to check for leaks (fuel, oil, water, cash). On Lisa’s return Bill sent out the all too familiar Battle Cry, “Honey, We are sinking”!   The inaccessible rudder shaft packing gland was dripping a small stream of water into the boat. The engine purred away while we contemplated pulling the boat from the water, but being a bright sunny morning we figured we had about 8 hours of leaking before the boat would be lost and there was sure to be 5 gallon bucket somewhere on the shoreline to help us bail if needed.

Just as we dropped the last line, the engine stopped. The engine had idled for at least 10 minutes without a hitch, now seeing the lines drop it stopped.   Chug, Chug, nothing, Chug, Chug nothing, Chug, fire and it purred for about 5 seconds then stopped.   Several minutes later we got her to run and decided we would just take her up stream at a fast idle to see what other troubles we could get into.   Well…


Diamond in the back, Sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with the Gangsta lean…!

As we were pulling just north of the Bethel Island Bridge our cool column shifter went from the “up” position and dropped haplessly downward and pointed towards the floor. Lisa’s wisely stated that this new event did not bode well for continuing our tour.   Seems there might be couple of screws that needed to be tighten.   This left us to with having Bill shift the transmission from within the engine compartment. To add to the troubles, we were still having issues with the boat idling so shifting from idle forward, to stalled neutral was a bit tedious. Probably time to head back home, at least it was downstream.

We got our new nemesis back on the trailer and shuffled it off to the vacation annulment specialist (boat repair facility), and unhooked.   Today we were not about to delve into boat repairs, at least not yet.   Stay tuned for the next installment.

It’s been months

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La Casa con caballaWe have been so busy lately with La Casa Alla Mas De La Razon that we haven’t had a chance to update our blog, play ukulele or provide friends and others with any kind of updates at all.

We are happy to say the El Rancho Beyond Reason is open for business and if you are a friend consider this an extended invitation to  come by and visit, stay a night or two and enjoy what we think is just an extended piece of Paradise.

We do write this with a sad heart as we have lost one of our best friends recently and it has left the home a bit empty.   We lost Sparky on July 7th, 2014.  We have posted a bit of a memorial on his page, and hope that you will join us in wishing him the best on his next adventure.  Our hearts will always be with him as he brought so much joy to our travels and so much comfort in our own personal struggles.

La Casa Alla Mas de La Razon

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“It doesn’t matter if it costs another $20,000, I am in”.    Lisa was trying to persuade Bill again that the purchase of a new homela casa com2 was the right decision.   We have been looking for homes since we landed in Alameda almost 6 months ago.  The process would actually be easy if we just put the square peg into the right hole, but that just isn’t the style that we are guided by.

In Lisa and Bills utopia their next home will be their last.  It will have lots of space on the inside.  This is quite a big diversion from what they have owned over the last 30 years.  Bills first home purchase was a condo with just a tad less room than what we currently enjoy on board Beyond Reason.  The new property must also have a great view and plenty of outside space that will never be encroached on.  This is a big one in our books.  Enjoying the Baja like we do, we felt we just would never be happy with anything that had neighbors close enough that when they changed their curtain colors our daily mood was affected.  So land, view and most of all the option of sitting outside and enjoying a bit of nature that could not be built on or improved by somebody else was really important.

Our list of wants is not very particular after that. The home we are looking for does not need to be in fine condition.  Nearly half of the homes we have looked at have needed serious repairs. Some required over $60,000 in foundation leveling or worse.   It is all about space and hopefully wide open space beyond our borders. Beyond reason, we think not.  Enter La Casa Mas Alla de la Razon! What we hope will be our final home.

The place is on a full third of an acre, in California, water front with an electric gate, extra bedrooms, a ukulele studio for Bills new Conto Ukulele and an unobstructed view of wetlands that stretch perhaps 25 or thirty miles.  The afternoon view is of the water and the sunset.   The back deck is nearly 60 feet long and spans two levels and there is room for our boat and two others of similar size or larger on the private dock.  For once in our lives we might just have room for guests. We certainly have enough room for their laundry as that room is just about the size of the entire interior volume of the boat.  Lisa gets excited just thinking about reaching into a refrigerator without having to go “tail up” for ice during cocktail hour.

We have done all the required inspections are just waiting for the final appraisal to come in.  It has not been an easy journey getting to this point in the purchase process.  For months we have looked at homes on the Napa River, the Northern California coast and every conceivable watershed within 2 hours of Bills work.   Our budget is small so purchasing something that Larry Ellison previously owned was out.

To add to the adventure we have been dealing with the installation of a new damper plate for the boat.  It turns out that not only are all the bay area mechanics pre-Madonna’s and can’t stand to have their work processes and prices questioned, but getting new parts in the land of plenty can also be a task as difficult as finding good gin in Mexico.

Tranny comWe probably should start by qualifying my rip on the mechanics in the area.   Perhaps not all the mechanics are not as bad as I stated but two in particular are.  Jason of Proline Services and Marty of Bay Marine Diesel.   We contacted both of these companies to help us with the transmission troubles we developed back in February.  After a couple of calls to Jason/Proline and a hopeful follow-up to proceed with work he suddenly fell off the radar and would not return calls.   Marty of Bay Marine Diesel seemed nice at first and we were ready to hire him based on our interview but when we called him the following morning he claimed he wouldn’t do the work because we said we were hiring another company.  We tried to explain that his statement was not true at all but Marty just didn’t have the time to listen.   After that we decided to just do the work ourselves and save about $1800 in the process.

We finished the install of the dampernew damper plate two weeks ago.   Prior to buttoning up the entire project and heading out on an overnight cruise we thought it might be best to take some video of the new damper as it just didn’t feel quite right.  Being a new fancy design we were not sure how much play should be allowed on the damper plate so we sent the video to our friends at Blue Ridge Marine who had sold us the plate in the first place.  Bill called Keith at Blue Ridge just to be sure he would take and look and Keith assured us he would let us know if anything was wrong.  In his opinion there is a lot more play in the new plates than in the old spring set plates from 1980.    After a week we thought they had forgotten us or that everything must be OK.     Just after completing the transmission install and locating the final four bolts for the driveshaft we were sent a mail from Blue Ridge…Stop.

For some odd reason Keith, the owner of Blue Ridge Marine had been trying to get a hold of us for the last 7 days.   The damper plate had way too much play according to the video and he was sending a new one back down to us.   As of this posting we are still waiting on the part and we are beginning our second month of having a boat that can’t move on its own diesel power.  We hope to have the parts soon as it is going to be tough maneuvering the boat up the delta without the auxiliary assistance.

River view comBack to La Casa Mas Alla de La Razon:  If we told you we stole the house we might be over stating the facts.  We did get an exceptional deal.  We also got a long laundry list of “fixes” that could take us into the next decade to complete.  On the plus side we have a great view (we think we said that already), and the electric gate works nicely as well as the alarm system.   We are not sure that we mentioned how nice the view was.  Anyway that’s about it.   The fixes include, deck, paint, roof, siding, kitchen counters, and a few electrical and plumbing issues.  Nothing a couple of handy-folks can’t handle.  When we compare the list of “fixes” on the new home to the lists of “fixes” we have seen over the last 6 months of house hunting, this home is in great shape.   We figure a couple of weeks will get the most pressing issues sewn up, but the deck will take a bit more work.  Bill is looking forward to the deck, but Lisa insists that the roof and paint are the priorities, right after she picks out the new interior colors.

For the grandchildren and our boy Sparks we could not have picked a more perfect home.  Surely there will be some tough times but like the purchase of Beyond Reason, it will be a labor of love.

We haven’t written in quite a while so we will post this update as-is for now.  Kind of like the way we purchased La Casa Mas Alla De la Razon, as-is.  Hopefully the closing goes well next week.


Trouble with the wild life.

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Throughout the years we have written about numerous animals that have disrupted our tranquil state of mind and have given us pause to contemplate why there were put on this earth in the first place.  solar panels comThose that come immediately to mind are; jellyfish, roaches, snakes, bee’s, no see-ums, moths, flies, gnats and the occasional tourist.    All of these have interfered with us having a perfect time in some gem of a spot that only cruising can find.   In most cases we have had to pay for their visits only with our own discomfort.  In rare cases we have actually caused damage to the boat trying to evict these unwanted tenants but never have they actually cause any more damage than just a superficial wound, bit or sting.   Well, that has all changed.

This last weekend we moved a bit closer to East Oakland or Oak Town for those with a bit more street in them than the average reader.


Pulled from the Virtual Tourist     website:

East Oakland : ¨The Flatlands¨. Area     within Park Blvd., Bancroft Ave., and E.98TH Ave. Now this part of town is     infested with crime and chaos.Theres always crime on International Blvd. DO     NOT wander around past 11pm unless you want to put yourself in harms way.     Theres too many bad places to name so heres the most notorious.. from E.20th     to E.27th they call it Murder Dubz, From High Street to Seminary Ave., and     from E.73rd Ave., to E.98th especially from E.90th to E.98th Ave. you see     many gangs and witness plenty of violence it is not a place for tourist the     smart thing will be to stay away. Theres always gang fights, shootings,     Sideshows and many homicides in this part of the city.

By gunshot I imagine we are about 0.25 seconds away from Oakland notorious International Avenue and Fruitvale station and there recent 3 shooting deaths, but we are protected by the Alameda Moat so who’s counting anyway.   No longer do we have a protective barrier of boats to shield us, but the view of the ocean going traffic that moves up and down the channel is worth the added danger or so we thought last week.  Today we are reconsidering.

We have been experiencing some wet weather lately.  Not really Seattle or New York weather but soggy just the same from our point of view.  It only dried up yesterday and so after nearly 5 days we were able to put some cushions out in the cockpit and had a chance to enjoy our new location.   Bill had come home early and was a bit fussy, but with a drink in his hand he seemed to relax a bit and went out to enjoy the sun and view.  Lisa was on her way out just before she heard the words she just hates to hear Bill utter, No not “Get me a beer bitch”, but rather..”You’ve got to be kidding!” Not really alarming to most but it was all she needed to hear before stopping dead in her tracks and cringing as she asked, “what now”?

The list of refit items needed on the boat over the last couple of months has never quite reached zero, so any exclamation is usually a realization that there will be another bit of spare change tossed into our wishing well, in hopes it will be the last.  We were actually feeling pretty good about everything at the beginning of February.  So much so that we opened up a new project that didn’t even require replacement.  Lisa just felt it was time to replace all the wall paper in the boat.  Upon hearing the words she had other thoughts.

It took Bill a minute just to form his thoughts around the problem but finally he got it out.  “The solar panel is shattered”!  Solar panels should last 20 years.  We have had to gunshot comreplace our solar booster before but this was completely uncalled for and just seemed to the boat rebelling and having nothing else to break down (trust us, it’s all been replaced), decided to do the unthinkable and have us replace one of a set of panels.  It didn’t take long to discover the real problem, a gunshot wound on the outer edge of the solar panel glass.  From our thorough cursory inspection it appeared that a small caliber bullet had probably been shot up into the air (most likely from either a Bart policeman or some gang member practicing his Tony Montana’ moves and tripping over his baggy pants) and it just happened to drop down on our side of the moat, Thanks Fruitvale Gangsta’s.

So we will be parting with another couple of boat bucks later this month when we find a replacement.  The frustrating part of all this, besides having to pull and replace the panel is that preliminary checks so that our 65 watt replacement panel will most likely cost us more than the new 290 watt panels that are offered up everywhere, assuming we can even find a match.

Enjoy your commute, and if you are in the neighborhood, wear your helmet as you drive by…get it, “Drive-by”.

Almost Perfect

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“75 feet” at the water.  Lisa was yelling back to Bill.  We had laid out just barely enough chain for the conditions because Bill said he was too lazy to wash off the normal 150 feet that we would usually lay out if we were in Mexico or any other anchorage.  It didn’t matter, we were anchored:  Away from the dock. Away from the neighbors.  Away from every thing we have seen as normal for the last 2 months.   It felt good!

San Francisco tripOur scope was almost 3 to 1.  If you are from Winters we are talking about the amount of anchor chain between the boat and the anchor in comparison to the depth of the water.   For most of you that would sound like a lot as many of our friends would think that 26 feet of rope would get your anchor to the bottom with a foot to spare, but really it didn’t matter; Lisa was happy to be out of the slip and some where’s (sorry a Captain Ron slip) other than Fortman Marina.  We celebrated with an anchor beer and took in the warm winter sun that San Francisco usually offers this time of year.   Central Basin is one of our old haunts and being here brought back a lot of memories.   The water was clear and cold.  The ships in the yard were still being rebuilt as they had for decades, and the bay was peaceful.  Mostly we were thrilled to be drinking a cool beverage without the yank of the dock lines holding us in a still pattern of nothingness.

We had a great “passage” of nearly 5 miles.   We don’t remember 5 miles actually being so long but even though we spent nearly 45 minute running the engine to get here everything performed just as it should.  The 120 volt refrigeration fired up and burned off the excess amps that the alternator was shoving into the batteries, the bow-thruster worked when we asked it to, the radio was blasting our some great Spanish Guitar and we had a wonderful time just chewing up the deposits of so many Dinosaurs’ who died eons ago. We had nothing to complain about.

Sitting in Central basin, the heart of San Francisco, the haunts of the infamous Hell’s Angel, we were content.   Lisa exclaimed that her place in the world was on the hook and Bill believed it.  Everything was just as it should be.   As much as we would like to complain, we were content.

After we filled our big bellies with our favorite “just before noon” drinks we fired up the dink and took Sparky on a quick ride up to South Beach.  We explored the houseboats parked under the freeway, saw Pac Bell/Monster Park and the imposing boat show of Clorox bottle boats and reviewed the Mariposa, Hunters Point Yacht Club before returning for a couple of more “Passage beers”.  Before moving into an afternoon coma that we hadn’t had in several months, Bill strummed out a couple licks on the Ukulele.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.  It felt good to finally do absolutely nothing.  Warmth of the sun, comfort of the beer, calm of the music being played and the soft swell of the occasional Pilot boat going by, it was siesta time.

When we both woke up it was time for a bit more Ukulele.  This time on the amplifier. Fender of course.  We were sure that the Hell’s Angel’s were fan so  Bill cranked it up just short of 11 and began wailing out a little Surf music, all was right in our world.

By sunset we had chicken smoken’ on the BBQ, the ice cubes were coming out of the freezer just as fast as our rum could melt them and the lights of the city twinkled in the west.   Everyone says it’s not a party till the cops show up, and almost on queue, when we finished dinner the sirens started.

The police did not knock at our door, but when 4 fire vehicles and a ladder truck showed up at the bar on the shore we both thought, “this is liven’ “.  When the Coast Guard showed up outside the gunnels, we both exclaimed, “Surprise”, as if it had never happened before. 

The Coast Guard just wanted our names and to see if we had seen Don Johnson or anyone else speeding away from the scene in a boat, but unfortunately we had missed all that action while down below.  Go figure.

We passed the night away listening to sirens, gunshots (according to Lisa), and the occasional squeal of wheels and roar of engines but basically it was just the Call of the City and we snoozed away knowing our 1” fiberglass hull could protect us from almost any government or gang onslaught.

We won’t bore you with the details of the morning, but suffice it to say we had a fine Morning and a well earned passage back to the berth.  It is possible that there was bit of adventure along the way, but you will have to wait till the next update as this was truly a near perfect weekend.

The ropes have gone slack

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Look for an update late tonight. The crew of Beyond Reason have left the dock. Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S™ III, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

Another week gone

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Another week is passing us by.  Lisa has been up North hanging out with our daughter and her new grandson Parker.   She will be heading home today after making another Grand Stop at the boy’s house to visit the rest of the grandsons that we have in the family; Shane and Levi.   Bill claims he misses Lisa being gone and Lisa is not sure if he misses her or if he is just pining for the days when she was gone.

Miguel Contu Ukes

Miguel, master woodworker

We move into a more permanent marina at the end of the month which has made us both a bit happier.  Fortman marina is a nice place to stay but somehow the clientele there is just not as party centric as we would like.   It really is rare to find anyone who just wants to stop and chat, but perhaps that is just par for the Bay Area and soon we will find that it is just as pervasive everywhere in California.

Bill is still having trouble adjusting to the new “No Bags given” rules that we discovered at all the grocery stores.   To make up for it he is asking for plastic bags at the hardware store even when he buys just one screw to make up for it.  He always takes on the big challenges, but at least we have garbage bags on board now.  We are still not sure why the rules only affect grocery stores and places like Nieman Marcus, but if the rest of San Francisco wants to crumple their new Armani suits into a canvass bag we are OK with it, we just aren’t going to buy any fancy suits.

If you have a couple of minutes you could browse over to the Dudes View and see what Bill’s latest entry is all about.   Most of you are stuck inside anyway because of the cold and if you are working you know the boss doesn’t really mind, have her drop a note to us if she does.  Besides there are no pictures this time so she won’t know if you are reading a technical document or something really interesting.

Anita, Silvios daughter com

The Luthier’s daughter: Anita

On the Ukulele front, Bill’s adopted family continues to put some nice touches on his new Coco Uke.  Kevin at Nica Tiki keeps us up to date on both the business and the Uke.  When you see the finished product you will be amazed that these Ukuleles are produced in what many of us would consider a one room shack.   The company is growing though and there are plans to build special humidifying rooms and other control factors into the process of producing these beautiful instruments.  Nica Tiki Ukuleles are selling in many of the top rated Guitar and Ukulele shops around the country and have received great reviews form almost all of the shops.  If you are out and about, stop into your local store and ask about them.   What you won’t find, at least today is one like Bill’s.

We know that the worst of the winter storms are still in front of us, but the days are getting noticeably longer and brighter already, so spring must be just around the corner, or perhaps the one after that.  We hope to get out on the bay soon but until then we will keep the heater burning and the boat cabin set at a nice comfortable 80 degrees.

A Little news before the year ends.

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Shane and LisaWell we have just about finished up the year here.   The introduction back to the USA was not without its challenges but we have had worse.   Having returned with little in the bank that we wanted to spend, we have financed our way deep enough into society to keep us in San Francisco for at least 7 years if not longer.

We are now part owners (the bigger half belongs to the bank) of a new Toyota Corolla for Lisa and a big Ford Diesel truck that Bill has wanted for years and Lisa insists we will need for Boon Docking later in the year.  Our financial encumbrance has brought an end our use of Bills brothers’ truck for transportation.  The truck did re-introduce us to all the reasons we really didn’t want to purchase an older vehicle.

In the three weeks that we used the truck (a total of perhaps 100 miles) we had the battery give out, two flat tires, an alternator that quite charging and needed replacement and finally another dead battery.   We were aware that the battery was a problem when we first picked up the truck so the first day we had the truck we took it in to have the battery checked out and then just replaced the battery.   The truck worked great for perhaps a day then on Lisa’s first drive around town in the truck (Bill has taken her new Corolla to work) she had a flat tire.   Being in town she just limped down the street and had it replaced.   The next day she fired up the ol’ truck and drove to the laundry mat.  Unfortunately the new tire she had just replaced sprung a leak and soon she was faced with either drying clothes or taking the tire back for a replacement of course she did the right thing and dried Bills underwear before going to the tire shop.  Following this episode she took her car away from Bill and forced him to begin riding the ferry across San Francisco bay to get to work.

With the truck now used for just getting Bill from the ferry to work, a total of 1 mile, the truck serviced us just fine until last week when the alternator gave out.   Another fix and the truck ran fine for 3 more days.  On Friday of last week the battery died again and that was the final straw, we purchased a new truck and returned big brothers truck to him.

Culturally we are just about there as well.   We have not taken on the trait of following our Starbucks coffee cups or cellular phones up and down the boulevard, but we are closing in on that.   We are pretty sure that the coffee cups will become bottles of water when the weather warms up a bit in March, but it is such a different sight to see people lead through the streets by an inanimate object.   When we think back to Mexico we can’t even remember people, other than tourists, who felt the need to have liquid containers in their hands everywhere they went, even in the summer months.

Surprisingly our fuel consumption and maintenance have not gone down since we arrived in California.   With the cool temperatures we have had in San Francisco we continue to run through about 40 or 50 gallons of diesel each month just trying to keep the inside of the boat at about 75 degrees.  Unfortunately the fuel at the marine pumps is $5.58 per gallon, so it is going to be an expensive couple of months.  We are trying to keep the engines and everything else on board running and lubricated and that resulted in us discovering an overheat problem with the generator.  Seems the heat exchanger was just about to depart us in Mexico and since we didn’t stay there we discovered that it was clogged up during one of our weekly engine runs.   It is currently in San Leandro working on a $150.00 facelift.   To add to our list of items that we don’t use much in San Francisco but have decided that the better part of neglect is decay, our forward water tank needs replacement as well.   On the up side the heater, windless, wash-down pump, bow thruster, water maker and just about everything else are working at peak performance.

Uke comAlso at Peak performance is yet another Ukulele for Bill.  Lisa swears he has either adopted Kevin Keith (The Director of Marketing in Nicaragua) or has joined the Uke of the month club.  It’s a strange fascination he has with the instrument, but at least he stays at home and out of the bars.

Silvio Conto is the Nica Tiki companies head Luthier and Bill has asked them to build a Ukulele with a 100% Nicaraguan Cocobolo top and back.   He has also asked them to install tuning pegs called Peg Heads which is a product that Nica Tiki has never used before.  Silvio Conto According to Bill these “tuners” look like the pegs you would see on an old fashioned Ukulele but they are geared inside…High Tech for the Beyond Reason crew.   The guys at Nica Tiki seem to be almost as excited to build the Uke as Bill is about getting it into his “Uke Stable”.   We have included a couple of pictures of the yet to be finished Uke.   The lighter wood is the sapwood of the Cocobolo, we think the contrast of the natural wood and the way that Silvo has matched the two sides of the Uke really set it apart from anything else we have seen before.

We better get this posted before 2014 beats us to the punch.   Have a great New Year.

The tans are fading but good times still abound!

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New Baby“Would you like to purchase a bag” the lady at the Lucky Supermarket check stand said.   Bill could not believe what he had just heard but asked anyway in his typical upfront manner, “What? Would I like to purchase a bag for my purchases, No”.   Well did you bring a bag for your purchases; was the reply and again Bill replied, “No”.  The conversation was going nowhere until the Check Stand lady retorted that “You must not be from around here”.  This was AlamedaCalifornia, the neighbor of OaklandCalifornia, Oak-Town for those from the hood.   We are an easy 10 miles from the likes of Gavin Newsom and San Francisco, but here we find that the oddness of San Francisco has somehow leaked up from the bay and in-filtered our new town.   It is told that these days if you don’t bring in your own carry bags for the groceries you just purchased that the store owners will charge you for each bag you need to carry your goods home.


We are all for conservation, but we believe the main reason for the new law was to help eliminate plastic bags from entering the water stream.   How charging us for plastic bags is going to solve that trouble we don’t know.  Why not just go back to paper bags:  Recyclable, sustainable, biodegrades quickly and heck it will keep our loggers employed.  Lucky we only had two or three items to carry home.


So After finishing our first complete week of being bound to a dock we are now reflecting on just what it is we have done.   No more can Bill crack a beer at 9 AM without the feeling of guilt.   In times past, our friends Terry and Diane could have heard that first morning fizz from 20 miles away and would have came screaming up in their dinghy to offer up help in emptying our refrigerator of any unnecessary clutter cause by too many bottles chilling in the bottom.  Our experiences of waking up in the morning to find nothing but peace and quiet and a few rays of sun peaking in the windows have vanished as well.   A power boat now looms over us just 5 feet away, and although Pat and Michelle are great neighbors, leaving the shades up at all hours of the day and night just doesn’t feel right.   Heck we don’t want to scare good neighbors away.   Yep, our freedom is slowing passing and good times are now measured by the hours that we count down to next weekend and then we wonder how much fun we can fit in before Monday’s alarm goes off.


It certainly is not all bad.  We have had time to visit family, see the new Grandkids, shop for fresh foods and look for homes but if you live in Bills world one of the greatest things to happen has been the delivery of his new Ukulele.  


Bill has been expecting his Ukulele for nearly 2 months now. After waiting for it to be made, waiting for it to ship to Florida, waiting for it to transfer to the United States Postal Service, waiting for the USPS to deliver it to the wrong address in San Diego and finally make it’s way up to our son Han’s house near Sacramento, Lisa drove the truck 70 miles to recover it and finally bring it home here in Alameda.   Was it worth the wait….Hmmm…YES!


The Owner of Nica Tiki Ukuleles has treated Bill like he was family.   From the day Bill contacted them to the day the Ukulele delivered Kevin Keith has personally been involved with helping to select one of the most awesome Ukulele’s we have ever seen.  All the Nica Tiki Ukuleles we have seen have been fabulous but ours just is a little bit more special.   When our son Hans opened the USPS box that contained our new baby he called his dad and said it was the best looking and best sounding Uke he had ever seen, pretty strong words from our son. 


When Bill started to strum out some light blues cords, Lisa almost melted.  The sounds were beautiful, but it was really warm in the boat as well so it was a combination of the heat and sound that led to her liquefied state. Really the Uke was incredible right out of the box and the only thing that even challenged the sound was wood grain and finish of the Uke itself.   Being made of Cocobolo we can think of no more beautiful wood to construct an instrument from.   When you look at the grain it makes the mini-ax seem alive, and it doesn’t take much to get the party started either.  If you have ever heard Nigel Tufnell of the at one time fictitious rock group Spinal Tap talk about his favorite guitar, you will get a sense of what this uke means to Bill.   Just looking at the strings make them sing.


Anyway, we dig the new toy and have plans to order an even more custom one in the future.


The house hunting is going slow.  We found out that although we are well qualified for the homes we are looking for, there will be about a six month waiting period from the time our new jobs have started to the time that we are finally able to make application.  Something to do with being out of the country and jobless for more than a year.   So we will be update photospending just some of our weekends looking for the perfect spot to settle into.  This is not going especially well for Lisa as she is anxious to move to the next adventure and she doesn’t know if that will involve more travel, building a home, fighting for the right to pave over some long forgotten slug’s or rats pasture land or just moving back to our old home in Winters.   Lots of decisions.


We don’t know if we will get another update out before Christmas but we hope that everyone enjoys the season and we want to thank everyone who reads this blog for pushing us over the 50,000 hits marks.  It’s only a number but it makes us proud that we have posted something that others consider at least a spectacle if not a great way to waste 10 minutes worth or your boss’s money as you read it at work.

Some things never change.

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“The boat is sinking”.   It almost sounds like the battle cry on Beyond Reason.   We don’t know how many times in the last couple of years we have declared that we were sinking, but it doesn’t raise the heart rate nearly as much as it use to.   At no time have we ever really felt that we were in need of launching the life raft. This time was just like the rest; the bilge was cycling once an hour or so, we could see water flowing into the low areas of the boat and there was a disturbing feeling that all the dust bunnies under the engine would soon be swimming for their lives if we didn’t do something.


The timing is never right for BR lghts com these types of fire drills and Bill had just finished putting on his tie and shinning his brogues when we noticed the bilge pump was running.  Even dressed in his finest Fork Lifting togs he knelt down and began to investigate where the water was coming from.   It didn’t take long for his assessment:  “It appears to be coming from either the drive shaft (the back of the boat) or somewhere up by the engine or water tanks (the front of the boat)”.   An astute concrete answer as expected,  but at least we knew if wasn’t coming from the top of the boat unless of course it was dripping down the sides and into the bilge.   Regardless he needed to get to work and the inflow didn’t appear to be able to sink the boat during the next 24 hours, so the bilge would just have to be monitored and hopefully Lisa would not have to resort to using the bucket to keep from soaking her espadrilles and capris.


While Bill was at work Lisa began to weave our lives back into society.  She scoped out the car market and decided we needed a used Ford Fiesta based on our budget.  She also contacted the phone companies and made another major choice in selecting our internet coverage.  The plan has almost succeeded, but she has had a hard time locating string long enough to connect our empty can of creamed corn up to the local telephone lines.  Even today we are still working on solving this last piece of the puzzle.  Trying to get DSL or even phone service down to the dock seems to be quite a chore for AT&T even though the dock box is already wired for service.


Not much has changed since Mexico except the conveniences we once enjoyed.  Propane, which fires up the kitchen stove is more difficult to find and Bill’s understanding of the English language failed to alert him to the “minimum charge” at the one station we found who could fill our tanks.   A $5 charge in Mexico suddenly cost us $16.25 here at home.   The local grocery stores are miles from the marina so recovering food cost us a $10 cab fare.   We really started to miss the cabs in Zihuatanejo where $2 got you all the way across town and that included the tip!


Bills commute, which we had hoped being 50 miles closer than the last time we lived here, has not decreased by that much.   What use to take between one and half hours to three hours, is now taking just sixty minutes, so we need to find something for him to do with all that spare time.  The good news is we did find the money to upgrade the Ford Fiesta to the Toyota Corolla, so at least he has a radio (optional equipment on the Fiestas we were looking at).


The laundry situation has changed a bit also.   Long gone are the days when we could drop off two weeks of stinky clothes to some nice villager and return 3 hours later to clean, folded and bagged linens.  It took Lisa two hours of scouting to finally find a clean laundry mat. With the proper laundry mat located the ordeal still was not over with. If you can believe it she had to do the laundry herself and she had to pay $15 as well.  $15 is just about two dollars more than having it done in Mexico. Her life of leisure suddenly came to a halt.


When Bill got back from work we began to narrow down the list of potential leaks and although it was a slow process that continued for several days we finally discovered the problem when we ran the forward water tank dry and suddenly the bilge quit running every hour.   Having never replaced the water tanks we probably could have assumed it would be the next item on our list of replacing every piece of equipment on this boat since leaving Mexico, but at least it is accessible.   Accessible may be too light a term as we do have to remove the dinning room table (bolted to the floor), remove the settee (or couch), unscrew a bunch of floor boards and then just disassemble a couple of transverse stringers (wooden cross members that hold the boat together) and pull the tank.   Not being able to live with a messy boat we will then re-assemble everything and wait for a new tank to be custom made and Viola! We can dis-assemble everything again to install the new tank.  Hmmm…”Sundowners and Sunsets in Mexico”, …”Sundowners and Sunsets in Mexico”, …”Sundowners and Sunsets in Mexico”…where are my ruby slippers.


We did get the Christmas lights up on the boat yesterday so we figure Bill’s gain of 30 minutes on the commute time helped out in that regard.  We will continue to pool his time savings and hopefully one day we can come up with enough time to find a land home.  Until then enjoy where you are and we hope all your commutes are short.