Tag Archives: Cruise

Set my turtle free!

I had the chance to go on a pretty neat science cruise the week after Thanksgiving.

It all started a couple of weeks earlier when I received a call from the director of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. It seemed they had a loggerhead sea turtle that had outgrown her tank. Because of the cool beach water temperature, they wanted to release her into the Gulf Stream and asked if we could help. I explained that we were not in a position to donate a free sea day on our research vessel. The going rate on the R/V Savannah is around $10k/day. However, in the past, we have helped other groups with similar issues when we had room on board an already-scheduled cruise going to the same area.

As luck would have it, we did have a cruise to the Gulf Stream scheduled, and the scientist who “owned” the cruise graciously allowed the Tybee turtle and her entourage to “piggy back” along. As long as we were going, we also invited the team of four interns from the UGA Aquarium here on our campus, just to give them the experience of an overnight science cruise. I got to go along to shoot video, photos and to generally coordinate with the turtle team and the aquarium interns.

We left our dock at a little after 9 am Monday morning and cruised all day, doing some real science along the way, to our launch point, 82 miles off shore, arriving around 7:30 pm. The loggerhead was lowered over the side in a shrimp basket and, once in the water, she took off without as much as a wave good-bye.

Most of us went to bed fairly early while the crew turned the boat around and headed home. The ten-hour trip got us back to our dock around 6 am.

Here is a YouTube video of the release.

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Keep those cards and letters coming!

What ever happened to Christmas cards? We have always looked forward to the annual mailings, especially those with photos, but each year, the volume of holiday greetings seems to be a smaller.

We have moved around the country to various cities before settling in Savannah. As a result, we have left good friends all over the Southeast, from Orlando to Tulsa (not really Southeast, I know.) We started a tradition of doing photo-cards when Poolboy was just six months old. It was one way for our distant-friends to stay in touch with the progress of our growing family.

Last weekend, Mrs. P and I sent out our reduced-batch of 40 cards. This year, it is a photo card with a picture of all six of us (includes son-in-law and Poolboy’s GF)  sitting around a table at an outdoor bar in Key West during our summer vacation cruise.

Cbristmas letters are also a great source of humor, although not always in the manner the letter-writer intended. We frequently laugh — sometimes WITH the writer and sometimes AT the writer. On one end of the spectrum is our old friend, Wyatt, who mercilessly pokes fun at his children in his annual letter. A collection of his Christmas letters could be published. At the other end are those sanctimonious letters, usually written by mothers, who try so hard to paint a glowing portrait of their perfect little life and family.

Gag!

A cruisin’ vacation

I’ve been off the grid for the last week, but for a good reason. Mrs. Poolman and I joined a bunch of family members on a cruise vacation.

The whole idea originated last winter with our son, Poolboy, who wanted to organize a family vacation. He picked the cruise, the destinations, the dates, etc. and then called us to see if we wanted to go along. We had a good group, including daughter (Writer Princess), Son-in-Law (SIL), SIL’s brother and wife, Mrs. P’s sister, her son and daughter and their significant others, and a couple more friends of theirs. All told we had 16 people in our group, all adults. Since booked last winter, we had a great price.

We drove to Tampa last Sunday and spent the night at the Candlewood Suites in Clearwater. Once again, were very satisfied with our stay at this relatively little-known chain. Primarily designed as an extended-stay hotel, they offer great facilities for a ridiculously low price. We had what was essentially a one-bedroom apartment with kitchen, living room, bedroom, two TVs, etc for $66/night including all taxes. We upgraded to the suite because Mrs. P’s sister stayed with us and it advertised a sofa-bed. We didn’t realize it was actually a small apartment until we got there, and were very pleasantly surprised.

On Monday, we boarded the Carnival Inspiration bound for Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Mexico and two days at sea.

The Inspiration (left) at the dock in Cozumel with the Carnival Triumph

We are not exactly novices when it comes to cruising. This was my tenth cruise and Mrs. P’s twelfth. (She took two cruises with her father and sisters in the 90s.) Of my ten cruises, seven of them have been on Carnival. I guess we like it because we do keep coming back. Our biggest adventure came when Writer Princess graduated from high school. We and two other families organized a “graduation cruise,” essentially the same cruise we originally planned for our trip last week. The group grew and grew to eventually reach 10 adults and 18 teenagers. We had an absolute blast. Ten years later, the kids are still talking about the afternoon at Carlos and Charlie’s in Cozumel.

The Inspiration and the Triumph at Cozumel

We had only one disappointment on this cruise. Our first stop was to be Grand Cayman where we had plans for “Stingray City.” Unfortunately, one of our fellow passengers burst an appendix the first night of the cruise, so we diverted to Key West for a medical evacuation. Key West became our replacement port. It was OK, but we would have much preferred Grand Cayman. Oh well, no point crying over what you can’t control.

Key West

The rest of the cruise went just great. In retrospect, once our shore excursion in Grand Cayman was cancelled, we should have gone ahead and booked something in Cozumel. If you don’t book some sort of organized activity, there isn’t much else to do there. We got off and took a cab into town and wandered around some. But after awhile, one gift shop looks pretty much like the last one. And we’re not big shoppers.

The shopping strip in San Miguel, Cozumel

The non-stop attention from the Mexican “barkers” trying to get you into their store gets to be annoying.

One thing that is never a disappointment is the food. Supposedly, Carnival is not known for gourmet cuisine, but you’ll get no complaints from our crowd. At times it seemed like everything else on the cruise was just there to fill the time between meals. We found we actually had to pace ourselves, by not eating too much early and filling up too soon.

Early on in our cruising days, our family established the custom of meeting each night for dinner in the dining room. (A casual buffet is the alternative.) When we started this, it was Poolboy and Writer Princess who objected. These days, it was the two of them who were telling the cruising neophytes of the benefits of this custom. And since the dining room is where you find the prime rib, rack of lamb, lobster tails, etc, it’s not a real hardship.

Now, we are back to dry land and life-as-normal — no one to make the bed and serve us great food every night. Life’s a bitch, ain’t it?

Gettin’ ready for a cruise

Earlier this year Poolboy decided he wanted to organize a family vacation.

We have been on so many we can’t count them all a number of cruises and that is Poolboy’s all-time favorite activity. He did the research back in the winter and came up with an extremely good deal on a five-day Carnival cruise out of Tampa in the fall.

The group grew to 16 people (all adults), including our entire immediate family, Son-in-Law’s brother and sister-in-law, and a good group from Mrs. Poolman’s side of the family in Jacksonville.

A number of the group will be on their first cruise. As we get closer the excitement is building. We are going to have a pre-cruise preparation gathering this evening at Casa Poolman to bring all the newbys up to speed and to coordinate travel and shore excursion arrangements.

Like many enjoyable activities, half the fun is in the anticipation and the memories after it’s over.

A day on the water

I had a quick turn around and was out the door early Thursday morning for a one-day research cruise on our ocean-going research vessel. I had not been out on a cruise in about a year, so it was time to get some fresh pictures for my files. This particular cruise was for a group of students from a local university.

Safety briefing -- including the survival "gumby suit"

For many of the kids, this was their first experience. For a few, it was their first time on a boat.

"Abandon ship drill." Fortunately we did not have to go through with it.

We went off shore for about 90 minutes and then came in the Savannah River and worked our way all the way to downtown Savannah. The offshore part was a bit of an eye opener for some. We didn’t expect rough seas, but we got it. We were bouncing around like a cork in a hurricane.  I took a motion sickness pill, but was still just a little green. I was pretty happy when we made our way north to the Savannah ship channel and things calmed down quite a bit. I think one poor kid thought he was going do die, and was afraid he wouldn’t. A handful of the kids just went below and curled up in a bunk for a couple of hours. Can’t say I blame them.

Deploying a conductivity-temperature-depth, water collection array

Recovering a plankton net

It was a long day. We got a back well after dark. But aside from fighting the “Gee I just want to go to sleep” after-effects of the motion sickness pill, it was a very good day.

Just before we pulled back to the dock

Cream of Artichoke Soup

charlotte-amalie-harborWay back in the late 1980s, Mrs. Poolman and I went on our first cruise. During a stop in Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas, USVI, we had lunch at a small outdoor café. I had a bowl of cream of artichoke soup and French bread that was outta-sight. That memory stuck with me when I made my first pot of corn chowder (See yesterday’s post.) I experimented a little and here is what I came up with. Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Note: I revised this post to make it a little easier to follow, without reference to yesterday’s recipie.

Cream of Artichoke Soup (my own adaptation)

* 1 large sweet onion, chopped

* 2-3 stalks of celery, finely chopped

* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

* 1 tablespoon of flour

* 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 2 cans of artichoke hearts – chopped fine

* 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

* 1 cup half-and-half

* kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Saute onion and celery until soft.

2. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

3 . Add 1 tablespoon of flour and stir smooth.

4.  Stir in the artichoke hearts, broth, and half-and-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

5 . Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir to combine.

6.  Divide the soup among individual bowls.

For presentation, I toast a few slices of French bread under the broiler with garlic salt, butter and parmesan cheese and float one in each bowl. I also sprinkle a few flakes of parsley just for accent.

Notes:

1. I almost ALWAYS double the recipe.

2. In a double recipe, the SIX cups of broth equals three normal cans of chicken broth. In a double recipe, use 3 cans of artichoke hearts.

3. If you don’t have smokey paprika, regular paprika will do.

Yum, yum!