Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year and Welcome to a New Decade

Moored Naples Florida
Partly Cloudy, low 70's

 Well how things change in a year. A year ago this day I was in St. John USVI, just hangin with Janina and getting ready to push down island. I have covered a lot of blue water since then and am quite happy how things have gone over the passed year.

 It has been almost 3 years since I have lived aboard Christa plugged into a dock. It's everything I remember and more. At first blush you wouldn't think living on the hook or a mooring would be all that different than living at the dock. And for some boats it makes little difference. But for Christa and me it is a big deal. In terms of comfort, the boat is much drier and I am able to keep some order below. When your on the move, it becomes an exercise in constantly stowing gear and then re-deploying gear, sail covers have to come off and the result, at least for me, it seems a constant state of dishevel.

Here is a news flash. I had to buy a little ceramic heater! I've never lived in Florida before, but it has been colder than I had expected. I mean on my sail from Marathon to Naples, I was in full foul weather gear. I looked like the Gorton's Fisherman. With the chill in the air and me using the heater, the interior has dried out completely. I had become so accustomed being damp I hardly noticed, of course until things dried out. I'm already noticing these land lubber habits.

 On another sailing note. I am writing an article for Latitude38 that I hope they may publish. I spent years preparing and reading to go sailing around the planet. But after two and half years I learned a great deal and decided to stop sailing and alter my original intention. It is complicated as to why I have changed my plans. My point being is my strong opinion that most sailing mags don't seem to convey well long term cruising. Maybe it's just me. But many many people, like me set out with grandiose plans and don not fulfill them for many different reasons. Magazines are in the business of selling magazines and don't like to write about the rigors of long term cruising. And when they do, the starry eye'd sailor glosses right over the bad parts and focuses on sandy beaches and calm palm fringed anchorages. It is only natural. So I am working on putting that together.

I do my best to try and explain in word, video and photos what is going on with me. When I first starting blogging more than 3 years ago I had no one reading what I was blogging about. I remember months going by and noting the only one clicking on my blog was me! This set the notion in my mind that the blogs main purpose is to document what I am doing for my own personal consumption to be consumed when I'm old and grey or bald. It has been great fun thus far. So as I cast around and try and figure out what is "blog worthy" or not, please be patient. I have watched closely what the folks from Bumfuzzle have done and consider Ali and Pat to be modern day pioneers in terms of blogging and just sheer adventure. They leap from the ocean to terra firma, in a series of disconnected adventures but always seem to retain readership. Not that I expect to do anything close to what they are doing. But who know's? Being a full time college student in middle age may be interesting. Being an expeditor at a restaurant has surely been interesting. So with that here are two pictures I took on my way to work for New Year's Eve. Can you stand it? It is only two blocks on the bike and I am in the restaurant. The neighborhood is gorgeous with huge mansions, well tended lawns and spotlights illuminating coconut palms.

Looking east.....

Looking west...beach at the outskirts of the picture.

Hope everyone is well!

Capt Chris

PS: On an unrelated technical note. For Mac users buy the Apple Magic Mouse. This gizmo is amazing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Total Wirlwind of Activity, Pleasure and Progress

Moored Starboard Side too, Naples Florida

Where does all my good fortune come from? I certainly seem to be a lucky guy and this week has kept the trend moving forward. First off, my social calendar has gone from zero to sixty rapidly. With my friends Mike and Amy (owners of the dock I'm using) here, my good bud John visiting his mother, Emily, Amy and John's daughter on scene, Mike and Cheryl here after just buying a condo Naples and Mike Durrand (lots of Mike's no doubt) visiting M & C and then me parachuting into the mix. Well lots of visiting to do. It has been grand.

In between visits, I have been aggressively seeking work. I put in applications at Bad Ass Coffee Company, Book a Million, three Starbucks and two West Marines. And another coffee shop in downtown Naples. It this last application I need to brief you all on.

I sweep on in and ask Alison for a job. She tells me a story I have heard several times before. That she can't find enough hours for her current employee's. But she says maybe I should go next door to Ridgeway Bar and Grill and put in an application. The two places are owned by the same man, Tony Ridgeway and Allison is his daughter. So I head on over and notice straightaway that this restaurant like all others on 3rd Street Naples would be considered high end. You see I'm in a little bubble here. A bubble surrounded by opulence. Shrimp Cocktails for $18.95 type of opulence. So I filled out an application for server, of which I have no experience. I roll.

 A couple of hours later while shopping with my bud John and his mother for Lazy Boys, I get a call. It's Tony Ridgeway, the man himself. He wants me to come on down to the restaurant for an interview. He has a position open for Expeditor that needs an immediate fill as someone had just quite. I arrive and we have a great, crisp, professional and 15 minute interview. He offers me the job and I except. Boom just like that.

72 hours prior I hadn't a clue what an Expeditor did, but now I am one and with two shifts under my belt and having been thrown squarely into the breach and I can now explain. Apparently, it is maybe the most important job in the whole place. An Expo works in the kitchen and coordinates the timing of all the food. The Expo orchestrates when the chef's "fire" the meals so everything comes out hot and on the heals of the soap and salad. Collects the food in the window, gets it on the tray, wipes the dishes free of finger prints and sends it out via a "runner." The expo does more, but don't want to bore everyone with all the details.

Here is what I want to say. I was a busboy as a teenager, but that is the extent of my restaurant experience. So why was I hired? Well, I was able to explain to the owner that surprisingly much of what I did and learned in the Coast Guard will translate well to the Expo position. All I really did was coordinate, sometimes under much stress and strain; that each new position I had in the Coast Guard I really was not trained for, but Coasties have an ability to figure things out and are comfortable with confusion. In short I can deal with a sink or swim situation. The processes in the kitchen are structured and once I figure out the structure and once I can identify one meal from the next, I'll do fine. Tony agreed.

I am working 7 days a week from about 5pm to 10pm, at least for now. Really 30 to 40 hours a week and the restaurant is maybe two blocks from Christa's dock. Beautiful, I just peddle a bike to work. With unemployment being so high, I feel lucky to have scored a job in 3 days since arriving. And so far, I have found the job fun and very busy. It takes a lot of concentration and being 3 steps ahead at all times.

Where does all this good luck come from? Not sure, but keep it coming!

Capt Chris

PS: Below is a shot looking toward the beach from outside the restaurant.