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Old 06-01-2018, 03:49 PM   #2026
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I was going to post this in the OOT things that shouldn't piss you off but do, but I sorta feel like it should piss me off.

When we were staying at biggerwife's friend, of course I needed to take a shower. In the shower were 4 containers, but NO SOAP. Obviously one was body wash, but I just don't get bodywash at all. Maybe I haven't figured it out but it seems less than ideal for, well, washing your body. A bar of soap guarantees a liberal amount of soap everywhere your hand can reach. But body wash requires having to pick up the bottle, squirt some in your hand, put the bottle down, then lather a small part of your body. I haven't figured out how to do this in less than eight repetitions.

That's only half the problem The other half is I can't see to read anymore and they all look the same. The bottle for shampoo is exactly the same as the bottle for conditioner that is exactly the same as the bottle for body wash. I'm guessing it doesn't matter all that much in the long run, but still.

To make things worse, the one bottle in the shower that didn't look like the others was the one I picked. Turns out it was body scrub (according to wife). It felt like a mixture of gravel, wax, and honey. Not pleasant at all. And I couldn't seem to wash it off with any of the other bottles.

SOAP people. Just put a bar of soap in your guest shower. Please.
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Old 06-01-2018, 04:20 PM   #2027
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I think I mentioned I submitted my book to an organization called Mom's Choice. Apparently they are fairly well known, and respected, in the children's book community.

I'm still unclear on how the awards are given. It looks like there is a standard Mom's choice award, a silver award, and a gold award. I talked to my illustrator and she indicated that the gold is not easy to get.

But, I got one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 06-01-2018, 05:51 PM   #2028
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Awwwww yeah!
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Old 06-06-2018, 02:49 PM   #2029
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Grouper!



Fanmail from some flounder?

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Old 06-13-2018, 02:18 PM   #2030
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I thought I'd go through a typical day of fishing.

Part 1 - The prep

There are a lot of things to do to get ready for a day of fishing. When we first started, it took us about 1 1/2 hours from the time we got up until the time we left the dock. We have continually worked to get this time down.

First is the human necessities. Sunglasses, suntan lotion, food and drinks, and assorted other things that we like to have out there. Biggerwife usually makes us sandwiches which takes a bit of time. After a while, we've got this mental checklist down so we aren't running around trying to figure out what we forgot.

Then we have the fishing tackle. Rods and reels, tackle box(es), and other essential fishing supplies like knives and pliers. We have slowly started to keep some of these on the boat but there are some things we just have to lug. The distance to the boat is about 200 yds. but there is so much stuff we generally load it into the truck and drive the short distance. It seems like it wouldn't be too far to tote everything, but it is.

We have 10 fishing poles as of right now. There is a huge shark rig, a grouper rod, a tarpon rod, a heavy snapper rig, and 6 lightweight spinning rods. That's a lot to carry.

Not only do we have to haul them, we have to rig them all up. Because we do other kinds of fishing, they are often not rigged for offshore. And, we have to re-tie many of them because of frayed line. This usually takes about 30 minutes.

The new boat has a lot more room, so we now keep the lightweight rods in the boat, as well as most of the tackle. We can't fit all the rods in a secure place, so we still carry the big (4) rods to the boat. Saltwater rusts stuff pretty quickly, so we don't keep the pliers or knives on the boat. One week out in the salt air and the pliers lock up. Once the get rusty, you might as well throw them away. You can WD-40 them to loosen them up but it takes a while and they almost immediately seize up again.

The biggest pain in the butt is ice. We need a lot to keep any fish we catch cold so they don't go bad. The boat comes with an ice box but it is big, and it isn't insulated very well. It will hold ice through the day, but not overnight. It takes about 150 lbs. to fill it up, but we rarely put near that much in there. About 50 lbs or so will do it if we don't catch too many fish. Fortunately we have an icemaker at the pool at the condo complex. We fill up several 5 gallon buckets and haul them to the boat. The whole procedure is difficult and time consuming, though.

As stated earlier, all of this prep work takes about an hour and a half right now. We want to get this down.

I'm now starting to do a lot of this the night before. We haul the big rods over and get all the proper lures tied on, and bring whatever bags we can keep overnight and just leave them in the boat.

I recently bought a fish kill bag. It looks like this:



After doing some research, it looks like this will hold ice for several days. Instead of getting ice at the condo icemaker (which is super slow), I can run down to the nearest tackle store (less than 5 minutes) and have them fill it up. It's pretty cheap. Then I can just put it in the boat the night before.

Our goal is to be able to get up and be out of the dock within 45 minutes. I'd like this to be even shorter but biggerwife likes to have coffee and sort of wake up a bit. That's fine.
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Old 06-13-2018, 02:39 PM   #2031
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Part 2 - Bait (small)

Although you can use a lot of frozen bait like squid, frozen sardines, or shrimp, there is nothing like live bait. It's almost a necessity. It will increase the quality and quantity of fish you catch 5 fold.

The main bait here is called white bait. I think they are officially named pilchards but they are also called greenbacks. They look like this:



They are found several different places. We try to find them on the shallow flats first. On a good day, you can spot them on the surface like this (note the rippled water).



If you are lucky you can sneak up on them and just toss the cast net on them. Generally, you aren't lucky, though. Most of the time they aren't on the surface like that. And, even if they are, they swim away from the boat pretty quickly. If you are reasonably sure they are in the area, you can chum for them. We make our own bait chum out of canned fish, corn meal, and menhaden oil. It usually draws them to the boat if they are in the area. Sometimes, not.

If we can't find them on the flats, we sometimes go to the skyway pier. In the 80s (I think) there was a bridge that went across the tip of the bay that connected Sarasota and St. Petersburg. A barge hit it and actually knocked down some of it, resulting in around 35 deaths. Instead of fixing that old bridge, they built a brand new one.



It's a pretty cool bridge. The barges and cruise ships go under it on their way out to sea. It is actually the thing you can see furthest from shore when you go offshore. Quite a landmark.

Anyway, they didn't tear the old bridge down, though. It is now a fishing pier. You can drive out onto it.



I'm digressing a bit, but this area holds a ton of bait. The only problem is it is pretty deep and the current can run fast. Although there is a ton of bait, I've not had much luck actually catching it.

Our last stop for bait is at the Fort DeSoto pier. This pier is right at the mouth of Tampa Bay, pointing towards the ocean. There is always bait there, but it can be quite challenging.



Now, imagine that same picture with fishermen lined along the pier with lines out and over 10 boats in that little area. It becomes quite the cluster ****. Add in a raging current and high winds and it becomes somewhat dangerous. But, again, there is almost always bait there.

continued.................
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Old 06-13-2018, 02:47 PM   #2032
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Once you find it, you gotta catch it.

Here is a typical cast net.



They come in a lot of sizes. Mine is a 10 ft. (diameter). You really can't be successful with much smaller. I also have a 12ft. but I haven't mastered it yet.

Cast nets are HARD to throw properly. There is quite a setup and you have to have the net just so before you even make the toss. If you ever go online to see the proper way to set up, you'll find as many proper ways as there are videos. I have a method that works for me. Once you get the setup, it still takes just the right toss.

The idea is you do this:



About 1 out of every 10 throws for me is that good but most are good enough to do the trick.

Your goal is this:



I talked about the bridge earlier. The problem there is that it is about 15-20 ft. deep with a current running. It's just so hard to get the net down fast enough to trap the fish. You really need a big heavy net, but I just can't throw that with a lot of success. Even then you aren't guaranteed anything.

If you can lure the bait to you on the flats, it is easy peasy.

The pier is hit or miss. When it is hit, I've caught so many I couldn't lift the net out of the water. When it is miss, then ugh. It is usually our last resort and we sort of give up and use whatever frozen bait we bring.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:06 PM   #2033
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Big bait.

We use the small bait for bottom fishing snapper and grouper.

But we also do what is called freelining. We attach a much larger bait to a hook and just let it swim around the back of the boat. We set up two rods with this larger bait and just set the rods in the rod holders. When a fish bites, it just starts taking line. It can be pretty much anything. Kingfish, grouper, shark, tuna. Anything big.

The bait of choice for me is a cigar minnow. They average about 6 inches long. They are quite hardy and will stay on the hook a long time.



I'm not always able to catch cigar minnows, though so I use threadfins as well. Note the little "thread" coming out of the dorsal fin. These are also about 6 inches long, but they aren't very hardy. They tend to die fairly quickly.



I also catch these guys. They are blue runners. They are tough as nails. They work better for sharks and kingfish than tuna or grouper. Not sure why. They can get pretty big (too big for bait) and it isn't always easy to catch the smaller ones. They are about the easiest of the baits to find and catch. These guys are so tough and strong I often clip their tails so they can't swim so fast.



I catch these with something called a sabiki rig.



You will often catch several at a time.



You can also catch the pilchards/white bait with these, but the whole sabiki thing is really time consuming so catching a days worth would take hours.

The sabikis are kind of a pain. They get tangled a lot and you have to just use a new one. Spanish mackeral will also bite on sabikis but they have teeth and just cut right through them. Ugh. The sabikis are about $1.50 each and I go through at least 5 a trip.

There is a ship channel that goes out of the bay into the ocean. There are buoys every mile, 1 on each side of the channel, that mark the edges of the channel. We sabiki around the channel buoys.



Usually the ones about 5 miles offshore. For some reason they hold more bait than the ones closer in.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:27 PM   #2034
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Sometimes catching bait takes up to 3 hours. It can be very frustrating.

Once we have caught bait, or have decided to give up catching bait, it is time to fish.

I rely on my GPS/Fishfinder heavily. I really don't know how anyone could fish offshore without it. I know they did, but sheesh.

The first function that seems pretty necessary is the navigation map. It is a lot like google maps for the water. You can zoom in and out. It shows the depth of the water at different points on the map.



The image above shows a navigation feature. If you type in any gps coordinates, you can press a "go to" button and it shows the route. Much like driving I guess. I can store as many different coordinates (or waypoints) as I need. I have all of my favorite fishing spots stored so I can run directly to whichever spot I want to fish.

The second feature is the depthfinder.



As you can see, you can split the screen so your navigation is on one part while your depthfinder is on other parts.



The middle image is a standard depthfinder. The blue is the water. The red on the bottom is, well, the bottom. The red and yellow stuff on the left is something other than bottom or water. It could be grass or fish. In the ocean there really isn't grass like that, so if you see that, it is fish. If you see a bunch of fish on your graph, it's always a good idea to stop and fish. The image on the right is called clear-vu. It doesn't really show fish well, but will show things like rocks on the bottom much better.

There is one more image that is fairly new called sidevu. This allows you to see what is on the bottom going out from each side. It is really helpful if you are looking for something like a sunken boat.



This thing is really critical. I'd never go out without one. If it did somehow go bad out there, I do have a compass and I know the area well enough to get home.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:34 PM   #2035
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Not much left to do but fish now.

We start by dropping our bait to the bottom and see if we get bites. If we start catching fish, we rig up the free lines and set them out.

We usually get about 4 to 5 hours of fishing if we go offshore. We try to leave by 4 P.M.

On the way home we generally stop for gas at this place.



We typically use about 35 gallons of gas on a long trip. Marina gas is about $4.50 these days. Not a cheap hobby, eh? I'll get a beer or 2 here as well for the short ride back home.

Once we get home we still have work to do. I generally clean fish while biggerwife cleans the boat. Then we have to haul whatever we aren't leaving on the boat back to the house. We then wash, sort, and vacuum pack whatever fish we have. Then it is time to clean up and sit down. As stated, we typically leave our fishing spot around 4:00 and it is usually almost 8:00 before we can sit down. Since we leave around 7:00 in the morning, it is a loooonnngggg day. We are absolutely exhausted. We generally have a couple of beers, eat something easy to fix, and go to bed.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:28 PM   #2036
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

I had no idea there was so much to fishing. I'm going to stick to chess. Much simpler!
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Old 06-17-2018, 12:05 PM   #2037
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Caught one these yesterday. This is the first one I've caught.

It is a Lionfish. You've probably seen them in salt water aquariums. They are very pretty, but have venomous spines.

They are an invasive species here and extremely harmful to the indigenous reef species. They are voracious eaters and multiply like crazy. The government actually pays people to harvest them. We have many lionfish tournaments here, but they are rarely caught on hook and line. You pretty much have to don scuba gear and spear them.

I've heard they are good to eat but I don't know how to clean them and I really didn't want to mess with it.

I killed it, though. The state strongly encourages you not to throw them back.



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Old 06-17-2018, 12:54 PM   #2038
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Sweet
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Old 06-17-2018, 04:05 PM   #2039
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

awesome fishing day overview. i live in louisiana and have friends who go almost every weekend but you gotta add a 2+ hour drive to get to the gulf!

did you plan on a standalone freezer when you did the renovation or have you added it since then?
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:50 AM   #2040
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaft88 View Post
awesome fishing day overview. i live in louisiana and have friends who go almost every weekend but you gotta add a 2+ hour drive to get to the gulf!

did you plan on a standalone freezer when you did the renovation or have you added it since then?
Thanks!

Yeah, the drive is ugh for sure. When I lived in Texas it was about 2 1/2 hours so I rarely did it. It was pretty much a 2 day excursion.

The freezer was an afterthought. It seemed pretty gross putting bait in with food. Plus, I just ran out of room. Plus, wife. We found a place for it where it fit pretty well. It's almost like it was meant to be there.

Where in Louisiana? I lived in Shreveport for a couple of years. Sounds like you are much further south.
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Old 06-27-2018, 09:33 AM   #2041
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Not much to report these days. I spend the week hating work but thinking about fishing. I generally get 1 day a week to fish. That's NOT ENOUGH!!!

Here is the last outing. This is a mangrove snapper. The biggest I've ever caught. Yum!

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Old 06-27-2018, 09:41 AM   #2042
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I continue to focus on retirement. Other than fishing it is all I think about.

I feel like I could do it now, but it would be tight and I would spend most of my time worrying about money until social security kicks in.

I'm always calculating my estimated social security. For some reason I hope maybe it changes (lol it doesn't). However, in doing this I learned something. The government estimator gives you numbers for age 62, 66, and 72 (or something like that). What I didn't realize is that for every month you wait, it goes up a little. That's sort of "well duh" when I think about it, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn't have to wait for years to get the next step up. This will really mess with my brain because I know I'll constantly be saying to myself "just one more month....." Ugh.

There is a job posting today for a part time job that would be perfect for me. I want to apply so badly, but I just have to wait. Getting in a better financial place will give me a lot of peace of mind, even if it means slogging through work for another year.

Work actually hasn't been horrible. My boss is so overwhelmed with some projects that don't include me that he's sort of left me alone. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. The downside of this is I really don't have much of anything to do. Sometimes that is as bad as too much to do. That's going to change this week, though.
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:11 AM   #2043
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

What age/date would you need to work in order to not worry about money a lot of the time?

Perhaps chart out 2-4 dates and the level of how much worrying about money you think you'd do (e.g. quit right now, quit in 6 months, 1 year, etc.).

What I'm getting at is once you are able to set a hard date I think it may be easier to just concentrate on fishing up until then. Also, more Dilbertesque stories unless writing about them make you dislike work even more.
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Old 06-27-2018, 11:38 AM   #2044
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My worry graph looks something like this.

I've had this in my brain for a while. That's sort of the struggle. How much worry can I deal with.

Honestly, I think I'll always worry but knowing for sure I have a steady stream of income will help a lot.

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Old 06-27-2018, 11:39 AM   #2045
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I think the dilbertness at work has become so normal that I can't identify it as dilbert anymore.
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:36 AM   #2046
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Biggerwife is an occupational therapist. She has become somewhat attached personally to one of her patients. She tries not to do this, but this lady (and her husband) are special to her.

They invited us to a party Saturday. We expected the typical party where people popped in whenever and left whenever. It wasn't what we expected.

We got there early. Not sure why. A mixup on time I think. When we got there the husband and his daughter were still setting things up.

The couple are from Bosnia. I would guess they are in their 60s. Somehow in the small talk, I found out that he had fled Bosnia during the civil war in the 90s. I immediately wanted to find out all about this, so I started asking questions. He was somewhat vague about some things but apparently they knew they had to get out. I suspect he was in danger in some way but he never came out and said it. They weren't able to attempt to get out in the same fashion and somehow she escaped first. With a combination of bribes and help from friends he eventually escaped. He noted that at one time he was actually at the border and could see her on the other side. Because of the chaos, he lost touch with her for a period of time before he finally found her. They had to move around some in Europe (Serbia? Croatia?) before they ended up here. He was pretty involved in getting the party set up and I felt uneasy quizzing him so the story is a little vague. But, it sure makes me think about how bad things can really get in a country. I remember the Bosnian war and how brutal it was.

I was struck by the positive energy of this man. He seemed genuinely happy. Not only had no doubt experienced human atrocities first hand, but his current lot in life is no cake walk. His wife is very sickly. She has had heart issues and needs regular dialysis. He has to do virtually everything for her. He gets up around 4:00 AM, and drives for Uber until 9 or 10 in the morning. Then he comes home and takes care of his wife, which included giving her dialysis for hours. After that, he goes back to driving until 10 or 11 at night. It is a brutal schedule. My wife tells me he is never down emotionally. He's always upbeat and positive.

The party, as I said, wasn't quite what we expected. There was a long table and chairs with food lined up the entire length. There were some flaky pastry things that looked like meat stuffed baklava. Some sort of chicken tenders, some deli meat that wasn't like anything I had had, and roasted lamb. It was all very good.

The guests filtered in slowly. One of the couples was the host's neigbors. They were the only ones other than the host that spoke any English. Everyone else only spoke their native language. It was a little weird at first, but then a man with a guitar showed up. He and the host started singing songs from their country. At first it was just those two, but as the night progressed, everyone was singing. They sang one song and literally every person started crying. I asked what this song meant (as I did with some of the others) but the translation never really made a lot of sense. But it was apparent that these songs were very meaningful to these people.

All in all it was a great experience. I was genuinely moved by this guy. I would love to ask him more about his life experiences some day.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:23 AM   #2047
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

Updates a comin'

First, the books. The illustrator sent me the "finished" second book. The first 2/3 were great but it seemed like she just phoned it in towards the end. We had a few back and forths on what I was thinking. She noted that she wanted to save me some money, which might be true. This particular book is a lot more involved and longer than the others. She didn't do anything bad, really. There were a couple of illustrations that I wanted to make sure were there to enhance the story. We talked about it some and she sent me some sketches of what she interpreted and they looked fantastic. Hopefully it won't be much longer. This book might end up being better than the first one. And, she's already thumbnailed the third one, which will be much simpler.

All in all I'm very happy with progress.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:32 AM   #2048
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I've been thinking about some way to better calculate post retirement income and expenses. I've just sort of done things in my head and have really focused on things from a month to month basis. I really wanted to try to extrapolate things for the long term.

I think I was able to do this today. I've put in my non-loan expenses, then both loan payments (for the duration). I've also put in when social security kicks in and when my pension arrives.

Then, I took my current 401k account balance. I calculated a percent return and subtracted net expenses so I have a running balance. I'm able to play around with different things like the non-loan monthly expenses, and my expected return on my 401k account.

No matter what I tinker with, it appears as if I could EASILY retire today. The balance will go down for a while, but will start to go up once loans are payed out and social security/pension kick in. In fact, once that happens, the balance begins to accelerate dramatically.

Now, I just need to make sure my methodology is correct. I think it is, but I need to make sure. Then, I need to get my head wrapped around the long term, not the short term. It's difficult for me to see the balance going down for whatever reason. It's ingrained in me to save more more more. But if I can convince myself to trust the spreadsheet I can do this.

I still might try to get a couple more things paid (next book, truck) just to give me the warm fuzzies but geez it sure looks fantastic on paper.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:33 AM   #2049
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Re: biggerboat's building boondoggle blog

No update would be complete without a fish pic. Caught this really big kingfish last weekend. We smoked it. DELICIOUS!

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Old 07-11-2018, 10:41 AM   #2050
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Heading to London tomorrow.

We have a direct flight in. My sister and her daughter will be flying in a few hours later.

The big event will obviously be Wimbledon. However, we have a jam packed schedule.

We'll be doing the whole touristy thing with guides. Sightseeing will include Parliament, Downing St., Westminster Abby, Churchill's war room, and Windsor Castle. Other stuff too, I'm sure.

We also have tickets to Madame Toussad's lol.

We are on our own the last day. Not sure what we'll do. Gonna wing it.

I hope to do a TR but I'm not sure how well I can take notes. My memory sucks so I'll need to write stuff down.

I'll have my phone but I won't have phone service and I'm not sure about internet.

Should be fun. I am excite!
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