Tag Archives: and Bikinis

A Day in the Life of a Pumpout Boat Operator

While we’ve been hanging out in Laishley Park Marina in Punta Gorda, I’ve been working part-time as a pumpout boat operator. The S. S. Clearhead was commissioned in October. When it arrived they had no one to run it, so I volunteered. Think it’s a crappy job? Well think again. Here’s my sweet ride:


  On Mondays and Thursdays I take her out for a spin around Charlotte Harbor. I leave the marina at 10 a.m. looking for boats that may want a pumpout. Some call the dockmaster ahead of time to arrange a rendevous. Others contact me on VHF channel 16.

Leaving the marina:


  As you can see it was glassy calm this morning. We had a new arrival on our mooring field so I floated on over to see if he needed my services. What did I find? The dude was naked. What is it with boaters and nudity?! I politely granted his request to come back later. 


  I crossed under the route 41 bridges and found dolphins playing in the Gilchrest Park anchorage.



I then proceeded to slow troll along the Punta Gorda waterfront. Here’s Fishermen’s Village:


  You never know what you might see in or on the water around here. Here’s a spotted ray.




It was a trawler kind of day:


  I arrive outside the markers to Ponce Inlet at 11 a.m. I’ve got some regulars that come out of this inlet, but no one showed today.



I did watch an impatient and discourteous power boater pass a sail boat in the very narrow channel. He then decided to throw a large wake as he passed close by while I was drifting.


Which resulted in this:


Okay, no takers at Ponce so I got her up on plane to make the run down to Alligator Creek. I arrive there at 11:30 a.m.


These two sail boats were anchored up, but did not require my services:


Next I completely cross the harbor and enter the Myakka River. Sometimes deeper draft vessels will stage outside the entrance to the lock at South Gulf Cove, waiting for high tide to navigate the shallow channel. I get there around noon. No one home. Here’s the El Jobean bridge:


  Exiting the Myakka I head back north, around Hog Island and into the mouth of Alligator Bay. Sometimes boats will come out of the canals in Port Charlotte for a pumpout. Not today. Port Charlotte Beach complex:


  I slow troll from there up the Port Charlotte waterfront and check outside of Edgewater Lake and the Port Charlotte Yacht Club until 12:30. As I start to head back to the Punta Gorda side, I see my friend Rodney out for a sail:Image

  Then it was time to head back towards the marina and take care of whoever had arranged for a pumpout with the dockmaster. I stopped off and rendered my services to the guy on the mooring field, who was now fully clothed. Crossing under the bridge:


  So today was not typical. Normally I have several pumpouts on the harbor and as many as a dozen within the marina. The snow bird season is apparently over. Less boats on the harbor. Less boats in the marina. Overall I ran 25 miles on calm seas under clear blue skies. I got paid for that. Not such a crappy job afterall. 

  If you make your way to Charlotte Harbor, keep in mind that this service is free. Hail Clearhead on VHF channel 16, Mondays and Thursday after 10 a.m. Give the pumpout boat operator something to do besides admire the scenery.


For more adventures in Poop, check out Amazon’s #1 bestseller in boating. Poop, Booze, and Bikinis is available for your Kindle at just 2.99. Click the link.




Planning Another Leap

   Forty months ago Kim and I left our old life behind. We sold everything we owned, bought a boat, and moved to paradise. It’s been a fantastic experience. We were chasing happiness and we found it aboard Leap of Faith, in SW Florida. Our boat, the Gulf Coast and the Keys, our life in the sun – all of it is more wonderful than we ever dreamed it could be. 


  Then I wrote a book. It was all down on big yellow legal pads, handwritten while on the beach or the back of the boat. I needed to type/format/etc. I needed to learn how to get a book published. I needed reliable internet. So after three glorious years at anchor, we returned to civilization and . . . Gasp . . . a marina. We’ve been tied to the slip for six months now. It’s my fault. I wrote and published two more books. I’ve networked and promoted and done radio interviews and became immersed in the world of publishing. It’s been exciting and rewarding. I’d do it all again, BUT – this life on/near land is killing us. 

  The people, the noise, and the drama are wearing away at our seafaring souls. Fortunately we have a plan. We still have dreams. We still have bucket list goals to achieve, places to go, things to see. Our first tropical destination that we want to check off our list is the Dry Tortugas. See those sailboats in the picture below? We are going to nudge right in amongst them with Leap of Faith.


 We’ll swing by Key West again and up the Keys. Then on to the Bahamas! I wish we could leave today. What’s stopping us?

Well it’s like this; we need to refill the cruising kitty. Book sales are going great, but the royalties are slow in coming. The big checks will just start to arrive in late April and May. All three books are going strong today so some level of future royalties is assured. We hope to have sufficient safe funding for another multi-year adventure by the Fall, or within the year at the very latest. In the meantime, the boat will undergo some upgrades in preparation. Crossing the open Gulf and east coast Gulf Stream are nothing to take lightly. Our first order of business is a new stove to replace our 34 year-old propane range. Then we’ll need new bottom paint before setting off. We’re going to need to replace our battery bank as well. It all costs money. 

  Just knowing that we have a plan, and that we won’t be stuck here permanently is heart-lifting. Soon we’ll start taking off for several days at a time just to escape. Pelican Bay awaits. The beach at Cayo Costa is calling our name. The Dry Tortugas and the Bahamas are out there in the distance, but we can see them. 

  Those books of mine are our ticket to paradise. If you haven’t read them all yet, please consider buying them today. 


The one that started it all is on sale for just 99 cents until sometime tomorrow.

It’s currently ranked #5 in Happiness and #10 in Social Sciences.




Book number two is still Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Boating after two months.





Book number three is currently Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Physical Impairments, and #19 in Pain Management.




Anyone who purchases any of these books is due a free drinking session aboard Leap of Faith. Where ever the wind blows and the sun comes up, that’s exactly where I’ll be.



Poop, Booze, and Bikinis / Two More Chapters Done

Four new chapters in a week is excellent progress for the lazy writer. Earlier I composed the Zombies Can’t Swim Chapter and the Tim Dorsey Chapter. Now I’ve added the Jimmy Buffett Chapter and Pirates. 

  I emailed Jimmy Buffett to ask him to write a chapter for this book. He didn’t dignify my request with a response. I’m sure he’s really busy though, so I’ll let him off the hook.

   Jimmy has written several books himself. I particularly enjoyed A Salty Piece Of Land. The reason I thought he could contribute to Poop, Booze, and Bikinis is this; take a slow ride through any crowded anchorage and the majority of the boats will be playing a Jimmy Buffett tune.

  Why Jimmy? Songs like Son of a Son of a Sailor, or A Pirate Looks at Forty, were written for the boater. They weren’t for your average weekend boater either. They were conceived with the real cruiser in mind. 


I have long wondered about the fascination with pirates, especially among boaters. Again, take a look at any crowded marina or anchorage. I bet you’ll see some pirate flags.


  Why is this so common? Who thinks it’s a good idea to celebrate bloodthirsty killers and thieves? After much rumination on the topic of pirates, I’ve decided that sailors and cruisers see the pirate as some romantic notion of escape. After all, we quit our jobs and live on a boat in order to make our own escape from the stresses of normal society. The pirate may have been a scoundrel, but he was a free man. The pirate may have been demonized throughout history, but also slightly admired. He has broken away from conventional culture.


  I trace the origins of this pirate love affair back to 1883, when Robert Louis Stevenson coined the phrase “yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum” in his adventurous tale Treasure Island. Then all those Errol Flynn movies in the thirties made pirates out to be chivalrous and good looking swashbucklers. 


  That’s twenty chapters down in the first draft. All are short and to the point on specific nautical topics. I’m trying to keep it fun and funny. It is NOT any sort of technical advice book to be taken seriously. Look for the release of Poop, Booze, and Bikinis sometime in the next few months.



You can get my first book, Leap of Faith / Quit Your Job And Live On A Boat at Amazon, in paperback or Kindle version.





Progress Report: Poop, Booze, and Bikinis

   Christmas passed and suddenly I was hit with a bought of inspiration. Not one but two excellent ideas managed to come out of my rum-soaked brain over the past week. I sat down with the laptop and banged out two good chapters that I’m really happy about. 


   The first is “Zombies Can’t Swim”. In this chapter I explain why you should be living on a boat during the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s hilarious, trust me. 

   The second is called “The Tim Dorsey Chapter”. 

  For those of you who don’t know who Tim Dorsey is, I urge you to pick up and read all of his books featuring Serge Storms. Tim is a New York Times bestselling author and Serge is a loveable serial killer. I asked Tim to contribute a chapter for this book. He told me that contractual obligations prevented him from participating in the project.

  I wanted his input because most of what I see and write about takes place in Florida. No one knows more useless yet interesting trivia about Florida than Serge Storms. Tim would have been perfect, but it was not to be. What you’re left with is the chapter that would have been written by Tim Dorsey, had he said yes.

  When I first thought of contacting him, I wondered what sort of chapter would he write? What would the frenetic mind of a writer who makes you root for a psychopath think when presented with the topic of Poop, Booze, and Bikinis? I then proceed to pretend I’m Tim Dorsey and write a very interesting and fun monologue that could have been from Serge Storms. 


  So yes, progress is being made. I’m feeling good about it as I await the next spurt of creativity. I just sit around drinking beer and watching sunsets and try to think of what to write next. Not a bad job if you can get it. Image