Monday, December 30, 2013

Race to Texas

The van that was to take us to the airport arrived right on time, 3AM the morning of the day after Christmas. Generally, this is not "how we roll", but we were anxious to return to Chicago where our planned trip south had been rudely interrupted. We arrived in Chicago where Sarah's aunt and uncle, with whom we left the tow vehicle, picked us up at the airport. On the way to their home, we were joined by Sarah's sister, Kate, who cared for our cat while we were gone and had decided to join us on our way to Padre Island, Texas where we would celebrate the arrival of the new year with another of Sarah's sisters, Nora.
Aunt Marge and Uncle Ed

We had a pleasant lunch with Marge and Ed before leaving for Louisville, where we had left the Mary Joan III. It took a little over six hours to reach Louisville. Arriving tired and not desiring to have to cook our own dinner, we stopped on Bardstown Road in Louisville, an area with many fine restaurants. After reading many excellent reviews we found on the internet, we chose Ramsi's Cafe on the World ( ). The menu is extremely varied and has entrees from many different cultures.  We decided to each order one of the three northern African dishes and share them (Faithful Falafel, Egyptian Chicken and The Spice Market). Each was well done and perfectly complemented the other. We were pleased with the food and the friendly service. We met the owner and learned how she and her husband had started the restaurant nineteen years earlier and that they have a farm that has supplied many of the ingredients used in the restaurant. We thought so highly of our experience, that we bought a gift certificate for our son and daughter-in-law who live in nearby Radcliff. 
Rhona, owner of Ramsi's Cafe on the World
Thanks for a wonderful meal.

Stopping for dinner before going to the trailer turned out to be fortunate because on arrival at Grand Ma's RV park, we found the trailer's batteries were dead. There are two deep cycle batteries that should have been able to supply the small amount of electricity needed to operate the controls for the propane refrigerator. While the power needed to keep the food cool comes from propane, the refrigerator still needs a small amount of electricity to control the propane. With the trailer in storage and not plugged into external 110 volt power, we depended on the solar power panels to keep the batteries charged.  We believe, judging by the minimal odor, that the refrigerator had not shut down too long prior to our arrival since it seemed the previously frozen foods were just beginning to spoil. 

Despite being tired and realizing that two pounds of lobster meat was lost, the three of us worked quickly and in as good spirits as can be expected to get things cleaned up, organized and the trailer moved to a campsite in less than an hour. We were determined to be on the road by 8 AM in order to reach Corpus Christi, Texas, a distance of nearly 1,200 miles, with only two days on the road. 

Our plan was to reach Atlanta State Park that is just south west of Texarkana where we would spend our first night. But, we were now in the mode of "the way we roll", which is that we are flexible and open to changes in our plans as the situation changes or new information or thoughts occur. On this day, while Sarah was relieving me at the wheel, I saw there was a National Park along our route that was a better option than the state park. I can forgive myself for missing the park when we first planned the route as it is very small. Hot Springs National Park is just a half hour off of I-30, our selected route through Arkansas. We arrived in time to explore the town a little before having dinner at Via Roma Italian Restaurant, where once again, we had a fine meal. 

Buckstaff Baths, Hot Springs, Arkansas

The next morning found us on the road at 8 AM. On the way out of town we stopped and filled all of our available water receptacles with as much of the fine mineral water we could. The flavor is fresh and clean. And, it makes wonderful coffee. 
Every available container was used to collect the water
Hot Springs Fountain

There was a big surprise awaiting us today. Our schedule was predicated on our need to travel about 550 miles a day to reach Padre Island near Corpus Christi, Texas where we were to join Sarah and Kate's sister, Nora. However, just before leaving, Kate pointed out to me that Nora was in South Padre Island near Brownsville, Texas, about 150 miles further than Corpus Christi. Now our required milage was 700 miles. This set a record we hope never to break. But, we wanted to be in our campsite on Saturday night so that we could have a relaxed Sunday to celebrate Kate's birthday by watching football games. Nora had scouted out sports bars and selected Louie's Backyard ( Louie's was packed and we found many tables were reserved. We wanted to be able to see both the Chicago Bears and the Patriots who were playing at the same time, but of the screens we could see, none had the Patriots. After assuring the bartender that I had poled the other fans around us if they would mind a switch of one screen to the Patriots, he quickly obliged. With special prices for draft beers and surprisingly good bar food, we enjoyed the festive atmosphere. 
Thirty cents a gallon less than Massachusetts
Makes up for the decreased mileage we get at 75 MPH to cover the distance we needed to go

We finished the evening by stopping at Padre Rita's to listen to some live music and share a final margarita in celebration of Kate's birthday.  
Happy Birthday, Kate

Our home here in South Padre Island is Andy Bowie County Park. Although not more than an RV parking lot, it is just what we would want for the time we will be here. It is situated just behind the dunes on the beach on the main road and next door to Nora's hotel. 
Andy Bowie County Park

Now we need to plan our New Year's Eve celebration. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas

Reading the first line of my last blog entry could, with minor editing and major change of sentiment, be the same for this blog post. It requires changing just one word to perfectly express the chaos that enveloped Sarah and I after our trip to Kentucky to settle the Mary Joan into her place of short hibernation. "Sometimes circumstances, events and desires perfectly align in time and place to " impede " our travels."

This is what happened to the plans we thought we had crafted so neatly. In late October we traveled with the Mary Joan to Louisville where we knew we could leave her safe from the snow and salt until our return after Thanksgiving to start the retreat from wintry New England weather. It all seemed perfect. We would travel again to Louisville and bring our daughter-in-law along with us to Chicago where nearly all of Sarah's relatives were gathering for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday then return to Louisville and head to the Texas coast where we would join Sarah's sisters for Christmas . However, the small mare's tail wisps of an impending storm that Sarah had detected in her throat in September and had set aside, now demanded attention. An ultrasound of her neck was done on the day before we were scheduled to leave for Louisville. Being optimistic, we stuck to our plans believing that the report would be positive and we could continue on our way.

However, the report we received in Chicago was not positive and our doctor wanted more tests. Our daughter-in-law returned to Kentucky by bus while Sarah and I left the cat and TV in Chicago and flew back to Massachusetts. Two more ultrasounds, an evaluation by the endocrinologist and a fine needle aspirate of the thyroid mass revealed a benign mass that could be monitored over time. We were given the blessing to proceed on our way.

If circumstances and events allow, our desire to travel to Chicago, reclaim our feline companion and TV, and return to Louisville to resume our retreat from the New England winter will happen the day after Christmas.

Hopefully, we learned that circumstances, events and desires may or may not always perfectly align as we would wish. But, align in some fashion they always will. How we accept and deal with that is up to us. 

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward All
Merry Christmas

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Louisville Redux

Sometimes circumstances, events and desires perfectly align in time and place to facilitate our travels. Those circumstances have for three years in a row brought us back to Louisville, KY. Sarah and I use the Mary Joan III to travel to warmer winter climes. This city is just far enough south to mostly avoid snow and salt encrusted highways so that we avoid the aforementioned hazards. 

Our son and daughter-in-law live in Radclif, KY. John is in the Army, assigned to the First Infantry and he is currently deployed in Afghanistan. His wife, Becca, works as a case manager for a non-profit organization that provides services to disabled persons. So, securing the Mary Joan at Louisville allows to visit with our loved ones. 

Knowing we had just a couple days to visit with Becca, we all made the most of it. The evening we arrived, we dined on Market Street then made our way Iroquois Park for the Jackolantern Spectacular. A meandering walkway through the park was lined with thematically arranged carved and sculptured jackolanterns. 
Wonderful pumpkin art

Thousands of jack o lanterns

The next day Becca introduced us to Tonka, her recently adopted German Shepherd. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at Saunders Springs in Radciff. That evening we dined and enjoyed the theater at The Bard's Town Theater ( We all enjoyed our dinner and could not have expected a more hilarious performance by the community actor's and actresses. 

Becca and Sarah with Tonka

At the theater

For our last day, we decided to make an excursion to Mammoth Caves National Park ( Although we had not made reservations for the cavern tours, we got lucky and were able to join the Historic Tour and the Black Onyx Lantern Tour. This visit was my third to Mammoth Caves and it was clear that I could return many times and not see all there is to see. This was evident when our tour guide pointed out a couple from England who had spent a week at the caves and had taken two different tours each day. The extent of the caves is amazingly vast.
Beautiful day and beautiful women

The natural entrance at the beginning of the Historic Tour at Mammoth Caves

The Historic Tour retraces the steps through the natural entrance to the caverns that tourists took more than 150 years ago. We got to see remnants of the mining that was conducted there and experienced some of the largest "rooms" in the caves as well as some narrow and short passages that challenged some of the tourists.
Low "ceiling"
Historic Cavern, an ancient underground river bed 

The Black Onyx Tour took us into a cave with an amazing variety of mineral structures. It passed from a "wet" cave with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites to drier caves with exquisitely formed gypsum crystals in the "dry" areas. This tour was illuminated only by the ten Coleman lanterns carried by our fellow tourists. This tour is only offered during the months of September and October, we happened to be on the last tour of this season. 
We carried lanterns to find our way

I was continually at awe to realize that I was walking on a riverbed, the river which had long ago carved its way through solid limestone hundreds of feet below the ground level and was at some places less than one hundred feet below my feet creating more passageways on its relentless journey to the not so distant river in the nearby valley. 

Down we go
Incredible column

We celebrated our day with a delightful dinner at Rye restaurant on Market Street in Louisville ( Each of us enjoyed the food and the service. 

The next day we winterized the Mary Joan III just in case there was a hard freeze in Louisville before we could return to resume our trip south for the winter. 

We enjoyed our visit with Becca and look forward to returning to continue our journey. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Trip to Ohio for Airstream Warranty Work

Since we planned on storing the Mary Joan in Louisville, KY until we are ready to head south, having some issues we found with our 'new' trailer fixed at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio seemed a logical choice. It is almost on the way to Louisville and we know that whatever needed doing could be done at the factory.

We left Massachusetts on the morning of October 26th.  Not a day too soon we thought since the temperature dropped to 27F the previous night.The day's drive rewarded us with brilliant scenery as we traveled from Massachusetts to Black Moshannon State Park in central Pennsylvania. The foliage, although past its peak here in Massachusetts became more intense as we traveled south. 

When we arrived, Black Moshannon State Park ( was nearly deserted, only a few campers were present. We spent two nights because we enjoyed hiking the trails and we didn't need to be in Ohio for two more days. Our next stop the afternoon before arriving at Jackson Center was at Barkcamp State Park in eastern Ohio ( It too was nearly deserted, but we enjoyed the foliage and a fine sunset. We didn't get to explore the area because we arrived in the afternoon and left the next morning for our appointment with the Airstream crew.
Black Moshannon Campground

The forest trails were beautiful. But, there was evidence of disease. I think these are Ash trees killed by the Ash borer.
Beautiful foliage at Barkcamp State Park in Ohio
I doubt anyone would argue with the statement that Airstream represents the iconographic image of the American travel trailer. Like other truly American brands such as Harley Davidson, L.L. Bean, John Deere and Apple Computer, Airstream is generally recognized as being a leader in its field in terms of design, quality and customer service. Each of the aforementioned companies has not only endured and survived serious economic downturns that threatened their survival, but have come back stronger and more determined to survive.

In the process of becoming an icon the brand can become precariously perched on a pedestal constructed from the opinions of its customers. The attributes that customers determined awarding the status of icon set a standard that future customers come to expect and will not forgive if they are disappointed. An example of this can be gleaned from customer satisfaction remarks about luxury brand automobiles versus those not considered luxury vehicles. 

So, it was disappointing to find numerous issues with our new Airstream (actually we are the second owners, but the first owner had it for less than six months and only used it for three nights). None of the problems were of such a serious nature that arose to the level of a safety issue. Rather, they ranged from faulty third party components to cosmetic finish work. However, when one purchases an icon and pays a premium price the expectation for quality materials and finish is naturally at a high level. 

We have had work performed by the  Airstream crew at the factory in Jackson Center, Ohio before and have been very pleased with their professionalism and attention to detail. Our visit to have our warranty items addressed was no exception. We arrived the evening before our appointed service day and parked the Mary Joan in one of the Terra Port spots reserved for those having service done at the factory. Our trailer was whisked away shortly after 7 AM the next morning, our service technician reviewed our "to do" list once Mary Joan was inside then we retreated to the reception lounge where we conversed with other Airstream owners who were also having work done that day. 
Life on the Terra Port

As with our previous visits to Airstream I enjoyed seeing the work being done on other trailers.  During this trip, I was especially impressed by their ability to replace badly damaged aluminum panels on large portions of a trailer. It is also fun to see the vintage trailers that constantly come and go. 
Wally Byam's 'Golden' Airstream
A sad sight, the result of a fallen tree. But, it will be made new again.

Among the others having service work at the same time as Sarah and I were Fred and Dale from Connecticut. It turned out that we had friends in common from our Cape Cod unit of the WBCCI. We spent the day sharing stories about our trailer, people we had met and places we have been. 

During our previous trip to Jackson Center we visited the town of New Bremen and the Bicycle Museum. This time we traveled to Wapakoneta and the Wapa Theatre ( Wapakoneta is the home of astronaut, Neil Armstrong. The theater is essentially the same as it was in the 1940s when Neil would have gone there. 

Wapa Theater, Wapakoneta, OH

The next evening Sarah and I dined at the newly re-opened, Cafe Verandah. Just a few minutes walk from the Airstream factory, the cafe serves a simple lunch buffet and a fine dinner menu. 
Sarah with Madge Brown, owner of Cafe Verandah, a fine restaurant in Jackson Center

We retired early the evening that the work was completed knowing we wanted to get an early start the next morning. We were aware of severe weather crossing the country from Texas and approaching the mid-west. But, we didn't anticipate any dangerous conditions threatening central Ohio. So, we were surprised when we checked our phones the next morning and saw that we had slept through a tornado warning. Not only had we slept through the phone warning, but we also slept through the tornado sirens and our "neighbor's" pounding on our door trying to get us to join them in the concrete block tornado shelter. Fortunately, the tornadoes did not hit any populated areas or the vulnerable trailers at the Airstream factory.

One of the "issues" we had with the Mary Joan was the dinette table. The interior cabinetry of our trailer is fabricated from solid hickory. The warmth and beauty of the wood is a constant visual enjoyment for us. However, the finish on the edge of the table had drip and sag marks. Although I told myself that I could live with it because everything else was so beautiful, I realized that I needed it to be "right". The technician told us he might need to order a new table which could take a few days. However, we learned that the cabinetry and woodwork installed in our trailer was made by Roettger Hardwood Inc. of Kettlersville, Ohio which is just fifteen minutes west of Jackson Center.  Not wanting to spend that much time waiting, we called and spoke with Rene Roettger who made arrangements for us to bring the table to Roettger Hardwood. 

When we arrived Rene summoned her father, Dennis. He immediately made us feel welcomed as we talked about his work, what he did for Airstream and woodworking in general. When he saw our table he said he would re-finish it for us and have it available the next day. We also asked if he would make a custom fold down table to fit between the sofa and the dinette of our trailer. Dennis told us it would be no problem, just bring the dimensions when we came to pick up our dinette table. 

We returned the next day to pick up our dinette table and deliver the specifications for the new table Dennis gave us a tour of his workshops. The pride that Dennis has in his enterprise is obvious and he clearly enjoyed showing it to those who appreciate the technical issues involved in creating fine woodworking projects. 
Dennis proudly shows Sarah his woodworking machinery

We were very pleased when Dennis presented our repaired table. Needless to say, it was perfect. Dennis had sanded out the drips and sags and had polished the top to a mirror finish. Thanks, Dennis.
We were amazed at the fine machinery used by Roettger to work the wood into its finished appearence.
Happy to have all the items competently corrected, we left Jackson Center with our Mary Joan III  and headed for Louisville, KY. 

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Special Event Rally of the Cape Cod Unit of the WBCCI

Our first adventure in the Mary Joan I was to a Wally Byum Carravan Club International (WBCCI rally hosted by the Cape Cod Unit ( As soon as we arrived numerous long time members welcomed us and offered any assistance we might need. This first impression set the tone for the rest of the weekend and was a foreshadowing of what the individuals who make up the  WBCCI are all about. It is a group of individuals who have chosen the Airstream brand for their home away from home. Unfortunately, our extended travels have kept us from joining in many other events since. 
Lots of Airstreams at Coastal Acres already in place when we arrived, but they found a nice spot of us 

However, we finally were able to rejoin our group. This past weekend with the Cape Cod Unit's Special Event Rally in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod was an especially enjoyable experience for us. Familiar faces eagerly greeted us as soon as we arrived and three year old connections were instantly renewed. And, new acquaintances were made within minutes of our arrival. The shared experience of living in a small travel trailer in general and an Airstream in particular creates a bond that grows stronger as we share anecdotes, tips and techniques, and favorite destinations. Also, everyone enjoys showing off their trailers, especially those who have made new acquisitions since the last meeting. 
Happy Hour (photo courtesy Dottie Walbridge)
Old and new friends (photo courtesy Dottie Walbridge)

Spending four days in Provincetown after Labor Day was a special treat. The weather was pleasant, the summer crowds are gone and one gets to experience this town's true character. It is easier to connect with the year round residents, who seem more relaxed and willing to engage with us "tourists". 

In Provincetown, "colorful' is an understatement

There is so much to see and do. For Sarah and I, bicycling was at the top of our agenda. Established in 1967, the bike trails in the National Seashore are the oldest in a National Park in the country. Winding through the scenic, ever changing dunes, these trails are gentle enough for families with young children yet can be challenging enough for the toughest cyclers. The popularity of bicycling here is evident by the numerous establishments that provide bikes for hire. Others will find the shopping, both in Provincetown itself as well as the other towns closely spaced along Route 6, to be appealing. Or, one can drive to the National Seashore, carry a chair a short distance to the beach, and watch the waves and the fishing boats just off Race Point. It is possible at times to see whales from the shore.
Great bike path through the scenic dunes of Cape Cod at the National Seashore
Great views from the bike trail

Choosing a place to dine can be a trying affair. The number of choices is quite daunting and the quality is usually very high. We dined out with other Cape Cod Unit members for two of the four nights we spent at the Coastal Acres Campground ( that is just a short walk to the main attractions of Provincetown. Sarah and I were happy at each, The Squealing Pig ( and Napi's ( 
While choosing a place for dinner was difficult, the breakfasts under the tent were an extension of the party. Good food, and conversation.

The weekend passed too quickly, but as always, it seemed like we had left all our troubles so far behind and so long ago. That's what I especially enjoy about RVing, just a few days in a new place, with new acquaintances distorts time such that just 96 hours ago seems like ancient history. 
Smiling faces, all (photo courtesy Dottie Walbridge)

As our t-shirts say "Life is Good". Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Those D****d sliding glass doors

In my opinion, Airstream trailers are built to the highest standards of any travel trailer available. Despite that, there are issues that crop up from time to time. In the case of the Mary Joan III, she shares a problem common to many late model Airstreams that have the double sliding mirrored doors at the midship closet. 

There is a beautiful cedar lined closet between the galley and the bedroom that has large mirrored glass sliding doors. While the doors and the tracks that they ride on are well made, they were never designed to take the bouncing and jostling to which they are subjected to in a travel trailer. The result being that they jump off the track and end up hanging askew by one slider or laying on the floor completely separated from the track. Given the frequency that this has happened, it is a miracle that the glass has not shattered.

We know that this is a common problem because there is a lively online forum of which this door problem is frequently revisited by people with the same complaint. It also includes reports by those who have made modifications in an attempt to solve the problem. You can see that thread here:

While the problem is essentially due to the fact that the doors weren't designed to withstand the bouncing of the trailer, a closer look reveals why that is. There are two small wheels that ride in a shallow "J" channel. The doors are suspended from these wheels. Two small plastic springs on either side of the wheels are designed to help keep the wheels in the channel above the door by providing resistance to upward movement. These springs are inadequate for the forces applied in a travel trailer moving over bumpy roads. In addition there are two tabs at the bottom of the door that slide inside another channel. This tab, captured within the channel, prevents the door from swinging away from or into the closet. 
There is one wheel at the top of each end of the door. The semicircular arches above the wheel are springs which
are designed to keep the wheel within the "J" channel. 
Because the springs are just not strong enough to prevent the wheels from jumping out of the "J" channel the door is no longer supported at the top. Once that happens the door can tilt at the top, lifting one or both of the bottom tabs from its channel allowing the door to either hang by the one remaining wheel or fall to the floor.
The wheels ride on top of the shelf which has a small curb (arrow) that
creates a "J" channel.

My solution was to prevent any vertical movement of the doors whatsoever without relying on the plastic springs to perform that function. To accomplish this, I drilled four holes allowing me to insert a pin that captured the door between the inside and outside flanges that concealed the "J" channel. 
These holes were drilled with the door closed. This is important to be sure that the hole in the top of the door aligns
perfectly with the two holes in the front and rear face frames. This picture is taken after drilling through all three
pieces of metal (front frame, top of door and rear frame).
View with door closed showing hole through outside face frame and door support

Schaefer Quick Release Pin 3/8" diameter by 2/5" grip purchased from
Jamestown Distributors (!6456&keyword=jamestown_distributors')
Pin in place, passing through front frame, door support and rear frame. 
Doors secured, all pins in place.
With the pins in place, I'm confident we will no longer open the trailer after a road trip and find our closet doors on the floor. We will be traveling to Provincetown for the Cape Cod Unit annual Columbus Day rally. We'll let you know how things worked. Until then, stay tuned.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Luna Rossa

Prior to cruising in our Airstream "Land Yacht" Sarah and I owned a sailboat which we cruised the coast of New England. Orinoco was a classic, world class sailing vessel. Built by Shannon Yachts in Bristol, Rhode Island she was designed to take us anywhere there was more than five feet of water and wind to fill her sails. Sadly, three years ago a marina fire in Maryland made her unseaworthy and thus a total loss.
Orinoco in Perry Creek
Vinalhaven Island, ME

Our time and experience sailing Orinoco fostered contacts with other sailors that allowed us to crew on other boats and temporarily satisfied our desire to be on the water. Those opportunities were all enjoyable, but we realized that sailing on other people's boats doesn't satisfy our desire to explore new destinations at our own whim and pleasure.

We thought at length about what it was about boating that we enjoyed. Like the popular "What my family thinks I do..." cartoons we looked at the different aspects of sailing, boating and boat ownership closely. We were able to separate the romantic from the practical realities. For instance, we enjoyed the challenge of navigating our own course, coming to know and fully understand our boat, dealing with the inevitable problems inherent with any maintaining a boat and the acquisition of knowledge it took to meet those challenges. These were very gratifying aspects of sailing. For another, we enjoyed the feeling of freedom and adventure allowed us by being able to drop an anchor anyplace on a chart we felt safe and we wanted to explore. Defining each element allowed us to identify those aspects we could satisfy sailing as crew and those that would require owning our own boat. Part of that process included realizing that Sarah and I enjoyed different aspects of cruising and being on the water.  The biggest difference in our view of sailing was long distance ocean passage making. While I enjoy long passages, Sarah does not. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for me to sail the open ocean by crewing on deliveries. Being able to pick and choose the boat and the journey is almost as satisfying as being the master of my own boat with the advantage of not having to pay the cost of the passage making. Discovering new places, meeting new people and learning about the history and art of each destination is more important for her.

Reflecting on the time we spent sailing Orinoco the last season we had her, we realized that exploring beautiful anchorages along the coast of Maine was a nearly idyllic time. After that, it was a matter of finding a boat that would once again let us cruise in that manner. We determined that a 27' Ranger Tug would be the best compromise. The major benefits are that she can be hauled over the road on a trailer with the truck we already own which avoids fees for dockage, storage and launching. It also means we don't have to spend time (and money) getting to cruising destinations on her own bottom. It is much easier, faster and less expensive to take her over the road (I get enough fun and ocean experience on other people's boats to satisfy my longing to be out on the open ocean). Finally, all boats require maintenance. Being able to tow the boat home and work in our own yard saves so much time traveling to whatever marina a larger boat would need to be berthed.  Still, she would need to be spacious enough for Sarah and I to spend extended time on board. The boat would need to have full amenities like galley, head and sleeping quarters for us to be comfortable for days or possibly weeks at a time.

We spent many hours on the computer searching for a boat that would suit our needs. Finally, I happened on a Ranger Tug. Built in Washington, Ranger Tugs are well regarded by those who own them. Despite being production built boats, they are of high quality, have a solid reputation and are spoken lovingly of by others who own them. Equally important, they are very attractive. They have a proper look for a motor yacht. While they are very popular in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, there were not many late model used Ranger Tugs in the Northeast. We found one in Maryland that warranted a drive to look at her. Sarah and I both liked it very much, and we thought it could work if a few issues were addressed. But, on the drive home, Sarah was on-line and found a "new" 2012 model for sale in Connecticut at a steeply reduced price. We made arrangements to see it the next day. It happened that Wilde Yacht Sales had a 2012 that they had used to display at boat shows, they were no longer going to be a dealer for Ranger Tugs and therefore were selling this model as "new" with full warranty. We bought her that afternoon. We are once again boat owners. 

On the drive back to Jamestown, RI from Essex, CT the full moon was rising over the Newport bridge. It so happened that this particular full moon in August is sometimes known as the "red moon". Since her hull is a deep red, her name had to be Luna Rossa.
As we found her at Wilde Yachts

As part of the negotiation, Wilde Yachts agreed to install and auto-pilot, the only equipment we felt we needed that this boat did not have. There were also a few other items that even a boat used only for boat show demonstration had to have repaired (I did mention that boats require maintenance). This of course took some time, as did getting insurance and other lesser details, like having a trailer built to put her on. The installation of the auto-pilot for a time was a matter of some concern, and is yet to be resolved. But, we are working on it as I write.
Luna Rossa on her new Venture trailer custom ordered by Scott at S & S Marine of Old Saybrook, CT
We took delivery on September 24th and spent the better part of the day learning how to get her onto and off the trailer and how to get her into an out of slips in the marina. She certainly handles much differently than our heavy full keeled sailboat, Orinoco. Paul, from Wilde Yachts took us into Hamburg cove on the Connecticut River just north of Essex. After returning Paul to Essex, Sarah and I returned to Hamburg Cove for our first night aboard Luna Rossa. The next morning we cruised down the river to Long Island sound and crossed over to Greenport, New York on Long Island. Greenport is a major summer destination for boaters and sun seekers, but mid-week in early fall, we were one of only three boats in Mitchell Marina. The dock hands, Mike and Tristan, made us feel welcome, helped us into our slip and told us where the local watering holes were. The last was especially important because we wanted to watch the final race in the America's Cup series. As all the sailors reading this know, it was a tremendous come back for team Oricle.
Launch time and learning the correct procedures to get her on and off the trailer
Thanks to Scott from S & S and Paul from Wilde Yachts for making it a great day

Mitchell Marina, Greenport, NY Long Island
Sorry we don't have a picture of Mike or Tristan, but be sure to say hi if you go

Our initial plan was to leave Greenport for Block Island, but the wind and seas were building from the east and we didn't want to make our first long passage a slog. Instead, we chose to circumnavigate Shelter Island and do some sightseeing from the boat of all the beautiful houses on the shore. After completing the round the island tour we made our home for night at Piccozzi's Marina in charming Dering Harbor on the north side of the island.
Luna Rossa at Dering Harbor, Shelter Harbor, NY

We were rewarded with a fine weather forecast the for the next couple days so we decided to head back across Long Island sound for the historical town of Mystic, Connecticut. With light winds and calm seas the crossing was a pleasure. Mystic Shipyard West ( welcomed us early in the afternoon. Their very friendly and helpful dock and yard man, Kenny quickly filled us in on where to go to enjoy our brief stay in Mystic. We enjoyed the scenic 1.7 mile walk to downtown Mystic. The streets were full of tourists enjoying the fine weather and the sales being held in the shops along the main streets. The town just felt right to be arriving by boat.

Turning into the Mystic River

Historic Mystic Connecticut
Along the walk into Mystic from the marina

With the weather forecast holding true on our last day, we had a relaxed downwind passage back to Essex. Total distance traveled was 110 nm, we used just over 30 gallons of fuel and averaged about 6.5 Kts.

To all our Airstream followers, don't despair, we will be on the road again in a few weeks. So, stay tuned.