Dream Away Update 03-30-2009


This update has been a long time in coming, and I really hope I do not forget anything.

Quite a lot has been happening since Hurricane Ike left us here in Houston. Lets go back to last September when my last real update went out.

We were able to get water to our boats on Pier 4/18. The marina was able to provide water to the bathhouse, and they also had replaced the washers and dryers in the laundry room. We then ran a hose from the bathhouse to a central location, and then tapped off of that hose so we could then get water to our boats. That situation changed as of March 23rd. The marina finally got the water back to our individual slips, 201 days after hurricane Ike struck.

The situation was not good with our 1995 Nissan Altima. The water had actually been pretty high in the car. The computer and lots of the wiring had been under water. Our mechanic said he could replace the computer, and go from there, but we would probably have electrical and electronic problems from then on, read “money going out”.

I started to look around for a new car for Kitty. The good news is we still had the Suburban, and our friend David, in Dickinson, was still letting us use his spare vehicle. I did not want to purchase a vehicle in the Houston area unless I knew the owner because it might have been a hurricane damaged vehicle. I looked on Ebay and also on Craig's list. It worked out that we were able to purchase a 1999 Nissan Altima in Dallas using Craig's list. My good friend Jim, who lives in Dallas, went to look at the vehicle, and said it was a very nice vehicle and seemed to be well worth the money. The owner and I agreed on a price, and I purchased the vehicle.

Another good thing was happening to get the vehicle to Clear Lake Shores. Jim, and our mutual friend, Paul, were coming to Clear Lake Shores for a visit and to help me with some boat projects, and to see how to “play” with fiberglass. So they drove the car down from Dallas.

When Jim and Paul brought the new Altima to Clear Lake Shores, we had to transfer the tires from the old Altima to the new Altima. I had just purchased four new, good quality tires for the old Altima because Kitty was making a very long commute, and I did not want her to have any tire problems. We got all of the tires transferred. I had called a used parts yard, and they came and picked up the old Altima. I got a whopping $150.00 for it.

While Jim and Paul were here we spent a lot of time working on the aft deck box lids. We had to finish the mold, and we tried to get it as perfect as possible. When that was done, we made the first lid. It came out pretty well. Because of some not-perfect measurements, we needed to modify the mold for the second lid, which we did. We then made the second lid, and it came out pretty well, too. I hate to admit it, but I am still working on those lids. For a more detailed explanation please see the updated maintenance log.

We also worked on getting the new support for the main mast compression posts for the main mast built and fitted. We did get the new support put together. This new support was made out of native Texas air-dried Cypress, and impregnated with penetrating epoxy, so this support should outlast the original. We then brought the new support to Dream Away and started the process of jacking the compression posts back up to their original location. This process took about 2 months because I did not want to force it all at one time. It took over 20 years for the compression posts to sink. I felt it best to raise it gradually, and to let the surrounding structures readjust accordingly. When the process was finally finished, and the supports under the compression post support were all glassed in and fitted, all of the doors were back in their original location. I know this because all of the door-closing mechanisms were put back into their original locations.

When I retired from Baker Energy, back at the beginning of September, I had planned to make a trip to Tampa, then Atlanta, back to Tampa, then home to Houston. It was during this trip that we got power restored to our dock. We had gone 46 days without power!

I initially went to Tampa and visited with family. I then went to Sarasota to stay with a high school friend and his wife. It was a great visit and it is always wonderful to relive the times of high school. It was during this time that my friend, Tate, and I went to Lake Suzie, Florida, to watch my life raft be unpacked and re-certified. The life raft is a Winslow, and because it is vacuumed packed, it only has to be re-certified every three years. It was a great experience watching my life raft being opened up, and then blown up. It is good to know it really does work. The only things that had to be replaced were the life saving items (food and water) and flares that were outdated. We also enjoyed a tour of the factory. The Winslow company makes everything for their life rafts right there in the factory. We also visited the portion of the factory that does all of the re-certification of life vests, slides, and life rafts for United Airlines.

The day after the factory visit, I flew to Atlanta. And Kitty met me there. We were in Atlanta for several reasons, but the biggest was to watch Judy walk in the 3- Day Walk for the Cure, a breast cancer research fund-raiser. The trip to Atlanta was a high and a low. The high was being there to see Judy do her walk. I had already told Judy I was not going to watch her for the whole walk, but we would be there for her starts and finishes each day. I am sorry, but watching someone walk did not really get me excited.

As it turned out the start of the walk was interesting. Neither Kitty nor I was prepared for the weather at the start. It was pouring rain and the temperature was in the low 40's. We stood out there for so long waiting for the start, that I got so cold I was starting to get hyperthermic. We went to the car and got warm, then drove very close to the start, and actually watched Judy get started on the first 20 mile walk. The first part of the walk was pretty miserable for Judy, but by the time we retrieved her after the 20 miles, the weather was beautiful.

We took Judy home so she could attend Temple and celebrate the Sabbath. On Saturday night, we took her back to the 3-day camp site. We were not allowed in, so we just had to drop her off. We did not see her start on the Sunday 20 mile walk, but we did go to the finish that was in downtown Atlanta at the Georgia World Conference Center. Judy was not able to finish the last 2 miles of the 20 mile walk because of a problem with one foot. She had a collapsed arch, which was painful, and took some time to rehabilitate, but it turned out it was not dangerous. The finish and the closing ceremonies were very emotional, and rewarding. We took Judy home so she could recover!!

Another event happened while we were in Atlanta during this time . One of Stacy's companies wrote an application for the iPhone, and Stacy wanted Kitty and I to have iPhones to help with the testing. I was reluctant at first, mostly because I have a cell phone to make telephone calls, nothing else. Now that we have had the devices for almost six months, I really like the device. It is a great tool in one nice package. It is not a great phone, mostly because of AT&T, but such is life. Also AT&T does not allow tethering, so that is a real downer. When that is allowed, then we will be able to get rid of our broadband card,

The low for the trip was that Kitty's contract was not renewed. She got this news the day before she flew to Atlanta. This put us in a really difficult situation. I had quit (retired) my job and we had Judy quit her job to attend school full time, so now we were all three unemployed and no real source of income except my Social Security.

After Judy's finish of the 3-Day walk, Kitty flew back to Houston to turn to on finding a job, and Judy started looking for a job. I went to visit a very good friend for three days, and then I flew back to Tampa for the weekend to visit relatives again. After that weekend I flew back to Houston so I could start looking for work, also.

I knew not to look in the IT world, because companies do not hire old people. No matter what the discrimination laws say and no matter what the companies say, in the IT world old folks are not hired!! I made a major effort to find a job as a captain on a crew boat.

November and December were spent trying to find work, and there was not much success. Judy was having a very difficult time because the economic situation in Georgia is really bad. Fortunately, she has been able to find a fair amount of part-time work which has really helped, and she can stay in school. So far that is the situation for her. She may have a full time job available in August, but for now it is part-time, and going to school.

We had a trip to Atlanta already planned for the Christmas holidays. This was our present from Tina and Stacy. So we headed off to Atlanta, and left Puss-N-Boots under the care of our next door neighbors who were staying on their boat for the holiday.

We had a wonderful time and a great visit. It is always great to spend time with Stacy, Tina, and Judy. The really spectacular part of the visit for me was the present offered to me by my son. He offered to hire me to finish my boat, and to fund all of the projects required for us to be able to leave Houston by June of 2009, and not spend another hurricane season on the Gulf coast.

Stacy asked me what I needed to get started, and what was needed to build one's own set of dinghy davits. We got on the Internet and started doing the research and ordering parts and tools. I will not go into all of the detail here, but in the future I will get some pictures on the web page. I will say that Stacy bought me a really cool TIG welder so I could, in fact, make my own dinghy davits. The welder is a Miller unit and will work on 120 VAC, which means I can use it on the boat. I have used the welder on the mast project, and have welded some pretty thick aluminum, and the unit is really great. I really do like it. Having it on board will enable me to make a lot of handy items for the boat. It will also make me very popular in some anchorages!

So, after the Christmas holiday, we came back to Houston. Kitty continued looking for a technical writing job or a contract, and I started getting on all of the boat projects. After we got back, and before the new year, I was offered two jobs driving crew boats in the Gulf of Mexico. In light of the job I had working for Stacy, I had to turn them down, but it was gratifying to get the offer.

Again, I will not go into a lot of detail on what has been accomplished on the boat. I have been keeping an electronic maintenance log and it has been put up on the web site, so you can look at all of the gory details there.

Kitty continued to look for work and went on several interviews. She had interviewed with two companies several times and was waiting for one of those to come up with an offer. One finally did and it was the really great one. It is working for HP, remotely. This came about around the middle of February, so we are very happy about this. Initially, she had some problems getting up on the HP VPN, and had to go to the HP campus several times. This is a commute of 75 miles one way! Now all of the issues are straightened out and she is being very productive from home, and so far can pretty much set her own hours.

In the middle of March, Kitty had some surgery to have her gall bladder removed. It had been giving her all kinds of trouble for several years, but we did not realize the extent of the problem. The surgery went off with no problems and all is back to normal. The surgeon said after he removed the gall bladder with two big stones in it, that it should have been removed a long time ago.

So the present situation is I am working full time on Dream Away, Kitty is working as a contractor for HP from home, Judy is working part-time and still going forward with her masters program, and Stacy and Tina are making my life very easy and happy.



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