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After a rather hectic few months that saw me doing the Management Buy-out at work and moving to Maidenhead, I finally managed to get away. My gracious host was Lt Todd Vorenkamp, an old friend who I met in Texas in 1998. He bravely offered to put me up for a week when he got back from deployment in the Gulf and (hopefully) a good time was had by all. Despite the general sniggering when I got out my 1.2 megapixel camera (Todd has a 4Mb Nikon) I managed to get a few shots that aren't too shoddy....

Click on the thumbnail images for the larger versions!

This picture more than any other sums up Todd's general repose. Everyone thinks that I'm bad with my addiction to all things online, but Todd makes me look like an amateur. :-)
Having discovered that I came from a family of shipwrights, it seemed only right that we should take the opportunity to strip and varnish the woodwork on Dawn Star - Todd's Orion 27. The wood was sadly neglected while he was away so, armed with a book by Ference Maté and some new power tools, we gamely set to work.
By the end of it, the wood looked great, although arguably there were some rather new drips down the gelcoat, that allegedly were caused by me. The shipwright gene must be recessive or something....

Towards the end of the week, Todd and I decided to drive to San Francisco. I think we managed almost half the journey before we got bored of the idea and drove back via the scenic route 33. It was the most amazing drive with some of the most beautiful views I've seen in a long while.
This picture was taken at about 4500ft having wended our way through the hills of southern California. You could see for miles and miles...
Todd and I ended up back in Santa Monica for dinner on the pier, and a mad dash to catch the sunset on the beach.

After dinner and a thorough explanation of the rules of baseball, we drove back to San Diego.

Despite rumours to the contrary I did not fall asleep in the car on the way home, I was just suffering from the rare "Random Head-Nodding" syndrome.

On Saturday it was decided to initiate me into the ways of baseball and floppy hat night at the San Diego Padres. The Padres were playing the Seattle Mariners and the powers that be were handing out free floppy hats, so the preferred seats were sold out well before we got there. We managed to procure a couple of 5 dollar seats in a row second from the top of the stadium.
I obviously hadn't thought the whole thing through very well as, clutching onto my seat for dear life, I had to tell Todd about my vertigo issues... Despite this, I managed to let go of my seat after about half and hour and went on to enjoy the whole experience.

After the game, Todd and I went to a bar where I was introduced to Shuffleboard for the first time. I'm reliably informed that it's an English game, but buggered if I've ever seen one in the UK. Is it just me? Suffice it to say, I discovered untapped talents that night, so if anyone finds one, give me a shout.

 

  And finally... given that my flight didn't leave until 5, that gave Todd and me ample time to take Dawn Star out to put the varnish through rigorous sea trials.

...while the seals gave the navigation buoys rigorous sea trials of their own!