Monday, January 28, 2013

Miami Seaquarium Field Trip

Leeson and I (Zaneta) joined homeschoolers from the Miami-Palm Beach, FL, area at Miami Seaquarium. We found the staff’s presentation about marine life very informative. The kids were given a “quest” and taken to different exhibits with the staff.

We stayed about two hours after the presentation to see all the sights: dolphins, sea lions, sharks and a killer whale (Orca). Notice the black shape atop the Orca's nose? That's a Seaquarium staffer! And the splash -- well, that's how some visitors stay cool when they visit the Orca show.

Of course, with all the brightly colored parrots and gliding stingrays, Leeson was attracted to the water guns (on a pretend pirate ship) and completely soaked a couple of kids who enthusiastically returned the favor even though none of the kids spoke the same language.

That trip to Miami was our first glimpse of Virginia Key where we hope to anchor in a week.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Where are we? Still living aboard, but at a NICE hotel/marina

We moved our boat from a pricey city Marina (Cooley's Landing Marina) with a heart-warming story of an Indian massacre that precipitated the Second Seminole War. We're now on the Isle of Venice, in a slip at the Villa Venezia Hotel (like a tiny resort) -- Beautifullly maintained, nice guests, showers! Laundry! Private bathroom off the boat, and a pretty pool! Have made a friend or too as well... Our frend "B" from Cooley's Landing Marina lives just down the street.

Here are some photos: 

You enter by a courtyard and are greeting by a pretty gushing fountain, then pass by the Italianate scuplture on the way to your boat slip -- up to 10-12 available. The hotel has about 10 cozy, beautiful rooms with balconies

Many of the hotel's European visitors take advantage of the balconies for meals in the fresh air. We receive packages and faxes courtesy of the great staff: Andrea and Linn. If in Fort Lauderdale, you may want to consider it as a destination. (No consideration was received for this mention.)

Leeson asks, What's that weird smell?

Stopped for lunch at the Briny Irish Pub on the Riverfront in Fort Lauderdale, and Leeson detected a weird odor. "Dad, what's that?" he wondered. I said, "Don't look up." The restaurant is "decorated" with the biggest bunch of junk nautical memorabilia that you would not believe: outboard motors, nets, buoys, life preservers, etc....oh, and a shark, too. Food is pretty good, although it's pricey like everything maritime-related.

(No consideration was accepted for this mention.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

There be sharks! (by Lee and Zaneta)

There be sharks in Florida and they are not all in the water!

We had our first encounter with the two-legged kind.

On October 31, we had our boat "hauled out" (video of someone else's boat haulout below) and inspected ("surveyed" in nautical lingo)...That's when we met The Shark. He befriended us, gave us his card, and said "Call me up if you need some work on your boat." 

We did, and he started work on our boat. We were presented with a steep estimate of three-four jobs: up to $9,500, so Zaneta did the businesslike thing and called other companies to get quotes. He found out because he's well-connected and came to us -- excuse the language -- "butthurt" that we'd gone around his back, in his words. He felt like he owned us, and he didn't!! 

He then wanted either (1) a $2,500 deposit and a commitment toward future work, i.e., the big projects discussed, or (2) payment then and there for work completed. We said we'd do the latter. He came up with some much-higher than anticipated figures on a paper invoice, and we said we didn't agree with the total. He actually said, You need to pay me right now, and added "in cash". He then gave us a much higher printed invoice. We said, "We'll send you a check; that's the way we do things." He then hung out near our boat in the marina for several hours until nightfall. 

He came back the next morning, and several more times over the next few days -- one day, he sent a coworker. That was beyond creepy. We paid him a lesser amount than he demanded because his invoices was jacked up by $500 from one day and the next. We wrote him a very long letter explaining our position, and we felt BLESSED that we hadn't signed on with him for the long term. Look, I know that some people are going to blame us, but The Shark gave us the creeps and was not forthright with us. He was unprofessional, aggressively demanded payment, threatened to blackball us to other marinas and other mechanics, etc. We could not believe our ears!

Later, we talked this mess over with another boating couple, and they said they'd used The Shark's services. They had to watch over him closely because he did work that they did NOT ASK FOR and charged them for ($15,000 for just one job). Ouch. Now that we're done with him, we thank our lucky stars... Hang in there for better news next post!

NOTE THE FOLLOWING VIDEO IS NOT OUR BOAT, but representative of what a haulout consists of: A giant piece of machinery hauls the boat out of the water for below-waterline inspection..(P.S. I liked the gay* military music.) *light-hearted, uptempo, happy...