Sunday, January 6, 2008

Home for the holidays

It has been a busy few weeks for us in Houston.  Christmas was wonderful with most of the family.  Trey did a marvelous job cooking Christmas dinner, as usual.  And we enjoyed catching up with various family members.  We especially enjoyed seeing the grandkids enjoy their Christmas toys.

I had the pleasure of watching both grandkids for the first week of January; they were out of school and their parents had to go back to work that week.  Zachary spent most of his time playing the rock guitar module of his Wii.  And BeBe taught me her way of playing cards -- with Loveable Kisses, Super Trees, Regular Trees and Diamonds (a/k/a hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds).  She makes up rules as she plays; such as, Diamonds beat Regular Trees because diamond saws can cut down trees.  And anytime someone draws a heart of any denomination then they must give Loveable Kisses and hugs to the other players.  Girls are so very different from boys in the manner in which they play. games.

We went to Goodwill and purchased 3 old hard suitcases to bring back all the spares and stuff that we have bought for the boat.  Today was our packing day.  Weight became an issue so Bill called Continental Airlines to verify the costs of excess baggage or overweight baggage.  He learned that Continental will not allow any excess baggage or overweight baggage on flights to Panama until after January 15.  The weight limit is 50 pounds per piece of checked luggage.  Well, that is a problem!  Our flight is January 9.  We managed to shift contents in all our luggage and eventually ended up with 3 suitcases which weigh 50 pounds, 50 pounds and 49 pounds.  And our final piece of checked luggage will be a duffle bag weighing 50 pounds.  Bill will carry a very full backpack and a 25 pound sea bag.  I will carry another very full backpack and a canvas bag containing a 3000 watt step-up/step-down transformer and books (total weight 36 pounds).   Our laptops will be in the backpacks; this allows us to follow the airline regulations of having one computer bag and one carry-on luggage.  Looks like we will manage to bring back everything we wanted except for 3 pairs of my shoes.

Both laptops are repaired -- new keyboard and hard drive in the old one and new hard drive and DVD-RW drive in the new one which has sustained lightning damage.  Actually had the hard drive and DVD drive replaced under warranty.   We have a new JVC radio/DVD player to replace the one fried by lightning.  Found out that the iPod will work with the radio using an adapter called a JVC-KS-PD100.  The audio jack on the iPod is fried from the lightning, but the data jack works fine; so we did not have to buy a new iPod after all.  We never use the headphones anyway so that isn`t a problem.   Bill also found waterproof alarm decoders for our boat security system, so now we will not have to worry so much about the alarm decoder getting wet when we are in the dinghy.

We have a new AIS receiver to install.  It was a major headache finding the correct things to enable us to install the AIS receiver but Bill finally found the right parts.   For you landlubbers, AIS transmitters & receivers are now required on all larger vessels worldwide.   Our boat is not large enough to require the AIS transmitter (which costs a couple thousand dollars).  But you can buy an AIS receiver for only about $200.  This receiver will connect to our charting software and will display all commercial ships and larger vessels directly on our chart screen.  It will identify the ship by name, latitude, longitude and course.  They might not see us but we will see them.  Looking forward to getting this installed so we can "see" all the ships in the vicinity of the Panama Canal when we leave that area in a few weeks.

Looking forward to going home to the boat in a few days.  Three weeks is a long time to be away.  As much as we have enjoyed visiting family and friends and buying boat stuff so easily available in the States, we are both homesick for S/V BeBe.

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