Entries Tagged as 'Campground'

I’m still alive

I apologize for not posting for so long. I’m still here and I’m still alive. Time is more valuable to me in the summer. I like to spend all of me weekends up at the river so during the week I just work and try to maintain the house and lawn and stuff like that. I’ll start to hammer more writing in this blog when fall rolls in. I’ll try to write more before then but I’m not making a commitment on that.

Not much is new except that I’ve uploaded my first youtube video. I hope you enjoy it.

The first vacation of the year

ontheriver1 I like to take my vacations around the summertime holidays. It usually gives an extra day or so without having to burn my PTO time and there are always parties going on up at camp.

All in all, this vacation was a good one. I had great weather and I had some good conditions to try out my new old sailboat. I had some light winds, some strong winds and some gusty winds. There were a few days with no wind and I got to break in my new outboard. There were a few snags though. There were two days where my leg was hurting so bad I couldn’t even put on my prosthesis, but even a bad day on vacation is better than a good day at work. side

So there she is sitting in the water on a beautiful sunny day with my first mate enjoying one of his water toys. She’s tight and dry with no leaks to speak of. I made this mast too and I use the same gaff sail that I did on my Compac 16 except I run the forsail with roller furling from the CP on this boat as well. I’ll post more details and pics on the boat and the sail rig soon, but I just wanted to get this post and a before and after picture up right now.

I wish I could vacation all year and get 4 weeks of work rather than work all year for 4 weeks of vacation. Isn’t that what the French do?

Sky swims with the geese

sky-geeseWe are still waiting for them to raise the dam up at camp. The water is too low for boating right now but that doesn’t stop Sky from pestering me to take him swimming. I took him for a ride in the golf cart up to the end if the island. There’s usually no one around there and we can just hang out and play without the distractions of kids and fisherman.

So I grab one of his water toys and send it out as far as I can and he of course happily swims out, retrieves it and waits impatiently for me to throw it again. After the second throw something strange happened. There were two geese about 75 yards away when we got there, but after the first two throws, they flew up and landed right in the water about 20 feet from where I was throwing his toy. I threw it again. He swam out and got it and brought it back. The geese just stayed right there and paddled against the current, neither advancing closer nor drifting farther away. They were just hanging out and watching this new sport and honking to each other as it went on. They were curious and obviously entertained at this marvel. We were there for about an hour. Me throwing the toy and Sky swimming out and bringing it back. It must have been like a sporting event to them. It was pretty cool for me too, to watch them cheer Sky on like that. They would bustle their wings and tails from time to time and honk a little louder.

When we were done I called sky over to me and got him back in the cart. As I pushed the pedal and began to leave, the geese took off and flew back down stream to the same place they were when we started. It was a strange event, but enjoyable for Sky, myself, and apparently the geese too.

Summer Vacation

morning-riverI just got back from my last vacation of the summer. It was from August 28th until September 9th. I spent all of it except for a few days up at camp, boating and drinking heavily with a few friends that took their vacations at the same time.

The jury is still out on whether that was a good idea or not.

Don’t get me wrong. We all had a blast. For about six days straight we loaded up the coolers and headed out on the boats about noon. We’d drink beer, eat ring bologna and cheese, play fetch with my dog, tell our stories of years gone by and get a good jag on. Then about five in the afternoon we’d head back to camp and grill up some supper, which was accompanied by more beer, more banter and more revealing stories about our pasts.

After that, it was a tub of margaritas or two, more slurring about how great our lives were when we were young, and hearing the same stories that we told 8 hours earlier on the water, but of course by now the stories were better and funnier now that we were pie eyed.

It was great.

sky-boat1Sky the wonder dog was in heaven. Every day meant another day of swimming, begging for treats and chasing his water toys. It’s nice when there are only a handful of boats on the river. It’s even nicer when there’s only mine.

My liver needs a break. My stomach needs a break. I need a vacation from vacation. Believe it or not, I’m glad to be back to work.

Gaff Rig Take II

reef1The winds at the Pennsylvania lake where I sail are always unpredictable just by the nature of the high mountains that surround it, but when you add storm fronts moving through, it becomes that much more uncertain. Saturday was no exception. We had storms coming in from the west but I had a job to do, and that was to get this sail rig tuned in. Saturday we had gusts probably from 25 to 30 mph so I reefed the sail. You can see in the first picture that I have about one third of the sail tied fast to the boom. If I’d have gone full sail that day, I’d have been knocked down several times for sure. Even with the sail reefed, there were times I reached 8 to 10 mph. I had re-laced the top of the sail to the upper boom and was able to get that dreaded wrinkle out from the week before. She sailed beautifully and I honestly couldn’t have been more pleased. She sailed fine on a reach, a broad reach and windward as well. I am very happy with my new homemade gaff rig.

full-frontSunday came and the wind died down a bit. I was able to raise full sail. The winds died down from the day before to about 8 to 10 knots I’d say, but they weren’t steady. A puff here, a blow there. It was nice though, because I’m still learning how to raise and adjust this thing. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about sailing this new rig while I had the wind, but it only lasted about 2 hours and then it died. It didn’t really break my heart though, because I had one more test to prove. I had to see if I could fit under the bridge. After all, that’s what started this whole project.

I lowered the sail and tied it off. One pull fires up the mighty Johnson 4. At 3/4 throttle she purrs about 4mph. Good enough. I made it down to the bridges and under the first one easily with about four feet of clearance. Fifty feet away is the railroad bridge. As I got closer, I started to worry. It was looking like it was going to be a tight fit. I got within a few feet and kicked the boat sideways and went parallel with the bridge and looking up, could see that I was probably going to clear it but it would be close. I swung the rudder and under I went. I have about a foot of clearance. Much closer than I thought I’d be but it’s in a no wake zone so there’s rarely any waves there. It’ll work just fine. I turned her around and back under the bridges I went, proudly back to the dock.

She passed all of the tests. Now, it’s all up to me to learn and tune this new rig. Sailing is going to be great this year.

The new sail rig’s maiden voyage

left-rearI was all excited last week. I thought the lake would be full and we could put our docks and boats in for the season. I left work an hour early only on Friday only to get up there and find out that it was still down about 2 feet. Bummer. We drank a bunch of beer Friday night, all of us, disappointed about the lack of water in the drink.

Saturday morning I woke up and got to work on rigging the boat. Lines here, ropes there. A little adjusting on this and tweak that. It was getting really windy so I just buttoned up the sail and put on the sail cover. I was done by about two o’clock. We all took the dogs down to the boat ramp and let them swim for a few hours. While we were there a guy backed down the ramp with an inboard/outboard runabout. He splashed it in and took off. Even though he kept his trim up, he took off! It was burning in my soul then. If he has enough water, I got enough water for the Compac. So I dunked it. I started off with the Johnson 4. It fired right up and purred out into the middle of the lake. Test number one, successful.

This was really not the optimal day to test drive the new sail rig. The wind was swirling and gusting to about 30 knots at times, changing direction about every 5 minutes. I got out into the deeper water and raised her up. It passed a few tests. The main one being, I know that the mast is sturdy enough the way I have it built and mounted now. I got hit with a few nasty gusts that nearly put the rub rail in the water and she held tight and sound. The sail both raised and doused quickly and smoothly. Those are the good things.

The sail grabbed wind and sailed nice, but I was only getting good wind in 2/3 of the sail. Even under those circumstances, it felt like more power than the original rig, but that could have just been the gusty conditions deceiving me. If you look in the picture you’ll see a crease where the sail is tight from the back of the lower boom to the second grommet from the mast of the top boom. From there down, she worked great but the top rear third of the sail was slack and spilling wind. Also, it was flapping badly. I sailed in all directions and even though I only had 2/3 sail working, it performed about as well as I had hoped, and I had high expectations. She sails as easy as a dinghy now, only having to worry about one sail. Very nice.

Not wanting to press my luck, since I was only one of two boats on the entire lake, I dropped the sail and headed back to my buddy’s dock under iron wind.

I got a lot of advice from a few drunken, onlooking arm chair engineers about repositioning pullies and leverage points and so forth but I think it’s going to be a lot easier than that. I think it’ll be as easy as re-tying the sail to the upper boom. I think if I tie each grommet individually, starting loose (about 2 or 3 inches loose) at the one closest to the mast, and gradually tie it tighter at the end of the boom, that it’ll take out that wrinkle and give me full sail.

Well, that’s plan A. If that fails, I’ll start considering other alternatives like re-engineering the gaff. I can’t wait for Saturday. I’d love to have about a 7 knot steady wind to dial this thing in.

Camp is set up. Time to party!

site2Well, the second trip is done and camp is pretty much all set up. There are a few things to do yet but, pretty much, I’m in and I’m happy. Granted, this isn’t a lot of people’s idea of camping, but it suits me just fine.

The campers in and level. The dog kennel is set up and Sky is happy. The golf cart is there to make campground travel and visiting much more pleasant, and the picnic tables are there and set up. Camping life is good. I have a great view from the camper and even a better view from the hammock.

hammockThe hammock is a wonderful invention. It comes in very handy when you wake up with the pain of a whiskey induced railroad spike being driven through your ear by Harry, like it was on Saturday Morning. Well, Harry busted out the Southern Comfort and Blueberry Schnapps at the campfire Friday night after we were already drinking. The severe hangover didn’t come of course until Saturday morning to be clear.

Then Saturday night, some of the gang did it all again. Mike S drank beer till he fell over. First time I’d ever seen that……twice. Someone tried to help him up but he opted to stay on the ground saying…”No no, I’m fine right here. If you help me up I’ll just fall down again.

It’s always rough at first. No one is used to that level of partying. It’s been a long lonely winter and now the gang is all here and the beer and booze is flowing like water. In a few weeks we’ll all step it back a notch. It’ll be time for boating, but we do have three weeks to kill.

bertFinally, Bert came over Sunday. He wanted to paint the stair supports and bannister that lead to the dock, and the picnic table. Bert is a Packers fan so he painted the stuff green and yellow. I’ve known Bert pretty much all of my adult life. I’ll post more about him later. He’s quite the character.

Anyway, life is good and if the liver holds up….boating will begin in mid May.

The season opener for camping

200236712-001Well, this past weekend was the season opener for camping season and I have to tell you that there’s nothing I enjoy more than standing outside on a frigid, rainy evening with an icy cold drink in my hand. I’m kidding of course. The weather was miserable. It was cold and windy. It rained about half the time but we all made the best of it. We got our campers set up and the basics laid out. When it rained hard we all went into our campers and cleaned and organized them. When it wasn’t raining, we huddled around a big campfire and drank like vikings. We all had fun and we all got a lot of stuff done.

I mounted a 17″ monitor on the wall of my camper to use as a PC and TV. They gave me an AT&T wireless air card from work since I’m on call one week a month, and a USB TV tuner will come in handy for rainy days and the morning news. Wall mounting a tv or monitor is a must in a camper for saving space since real estate in a small camper is at a premium. I’m pretty happy with it.

Next week I’ll take the golf cart, picnic tables and some firewood up. I’ll try to remember to bring my camera along so I can take some pictures to share. The weather is supposed to be nice so prolly not much else will get done other than beer drinking and bullshitting since the boating season doesn’t officially start until mid May.

Camping starts early

I just received great news in the mailbox. Camping season is normally from April 15th to October 15th every year but since April 15th falls on a Wednesday, the campground owner is allowing us to move our campers in on Friday, April 10th. I’ve updated the camping season countdown clock on the right side of this page to reflect this.

I have much to do and a great weekend forecast to get started. It’s supposed to be in the 60s tomorrow and Sunday. Let’s see….

I have to apply a few more coats of urethane to my sailboat mast and booms, clean my camper. I need to plug it in and get a good charge on the emergency battery. I need to fix a tire on my golf cart since it’s my main mode of land transportation up there. I’ll need to drain the antifreeze out of the water system in the camper and flush it all out with fresh water. Better fill the water tank too because they won’t turn on the campground water till prolly the beginning of May. I have work to do on both of my boats. Cleaning and some minor repairs. I have to mount my transom ladder on the sailboat….

Man this is great. I hibernate and do as little as possible in the winter. I hate winter. This marks the beginning of 2009 fun for me. A few weeks of hard work and I’ll be ready to party all summer. Woo Hoo!

The Promise Land

I rent a seasonal campsite every year from April 15th to October 15th. It’s at the Sunbury Airport on Packer’s Island. Packer’s Island lies between the city of Sunbury and the borough of Northumberland at the confluence of the two branches of the Susquehanna river. The Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam is located just below this confluence and that dam creates 3000 acre lake called Lake Augusta, and that’s where I do the lion’s share of my boating.

There are better lakes for sailing but this is where I hang my hat. The campground allows us to put our own docks in and there really aren’t any campground rules or regulations other than…

  • Use Common Sense
  • Be respectful of your neighbors

I have a lot of friends there. While we are all from different walks of life, we all have a common love of boating, and the river in general. Every weekend is a party and we can be found out on our boats during the day and campfire hopping during the night. Beer consumption is a favorite pastime there, and can be done pretty much 24×7 if your game.

We call it camping. Real campers would not call us campers. We all have RV’s with all the comforts of home including refrigerators, ovens, mocrowaves, satellite tv, air conditioning and such. Our idea of roughing it is when we run out of beer, which doesn’t happen very often.