THE CIRCUMNAVATION OF LAKE
The first time it happened was really a bad experience
but nothing compared to the second time. They came
upon me in Biblical proportions, the Creatures from
Hell. I had just dropped anchor and was readying the
Cruise Ship Dinghy and myself for a desired rest after
our day of rowing. The surroundings were perfect,
dusk would be coming soon, there were birds all around
and Mullets were jumping. How pleasant to reflect
back on the day’s events and the joys of the
cruising life! Ah, the cruising sailor and his dream!
The thunder and the threatening black clouds are rolling
in. Now the extreme downpour of heavy rain and wind
is over 50 knots. I sit inside of my coffin size ship
realizing what a lucky sailor I truly am. Life is
good and I love the experience of the storm at a safe
Enter the Creatures from Hell and the nightmare begins!
As I come out of the hatch to smell the roses and
the gentleness of Mother Nature after her violent
storm, reality hits me. I take a deep breath and something
flies up my nose and all Hell breaks loose. I didn’t
even see em coming! Let’s just say that I’m
not overly dressed at this instant and while I’m
wondering what is in my nose I start to feel something
on my body stinging me. Then my brain kicks in and
I discover that I’m in deep trouble. Something
is attacking me with thousands of painful little bites
and the bite sources are all over me. I start slapping
them in self-defense and I’m killing ‘em
by the hundreds. But killing thousands by the hundreds
is not good or fast enough! I take my hand and place
it on top of the intruders and rake them over in a
killing stroke down the length of my body, removing
and killing the attacking monsters. By this time I’m
completely out on top of the boat and I dive into
the water in an attempt to rid myself of the thousand-fold
parasites. I stay under the water for long periods
at a time coming up only to breathe; I find the brackish
water somewhat soothing from all the bites. The fight
is over as long as I’m in the water. Yet I know
I cannot not stay in the soothing brackish water all
night with the possibility of hypothermia setting
in being ever-present.
My plan is to quickly go back aboard ship, climb
inside, and close the hatch as fast as possible. After
gaining the inside of the boat and slamming the hatch
to keep those mean, biting bugs out, I grab a towel
for double duty: to dry myself and to kill the enemy.
Peace at last! Well, not yet! There are still a threatening
amount of mosquitoes left inside. Oh! I happen to
have some material (fabric) aboard that happens to
be mosquito cloth. I’ll cover up with that and
it should keep ‘em off of me.. Good in theory
and it works. Well—almost. You see, if it’s
draped over me, the mosquitoes can’t bite me
unless the cloth is laying on me, directly on my skin.
If that’s the case they just drill in and start
pumping my blood. Well, I decide to give that a try;
I’m desperate and will do anything to rid myself
of those ruthless (but obviously not toothless) bugs.
Not all the Vampires are on the outside of the cloth,
some have managed to get inside the cloth and position
themselves right next to my skin, and are poised to
WHOOPS! The battle is not over! In fact, I can tell
that this is going to be an all-night ordeal. The
exposure from the sun and now the attack of the Vampires
has left my skin in a burning, inflamed state. It
has been hours now and I’m still fighting these
blood-sucking Vamps. Sleep has not come my way, fatigue
has fallen upon me and cruising is no longer fun.
I never experienced this kind of action in the Hollywood
jungles. I have now resolved that I will not continue
cruising until I’m better outfitted to fight
those unwanted visitors of the night. After all, there
have been reported cases of West Nile Virus in this
part of the world, and with the thousands of blood-sucking
Vampires feeding on me; it’s quite possible
that I have contracted that dreaded Virus.
So now I cannot help but wonder what symptoms I should
be looking for and hope that they don’t surface
within me. One thing that I fear most has now come
to past. It’s not the monsters of the deep that
scare me; nor the mighty beast from the forest. It’s
the mosquitoes (or as I call them “vampires”)--
that frighten me! If these little and I mean little
mosquitoes are so bad, I’d hate to be exposed
to what their big counterparts in Southeast Texas
can do.. If the little ones bother and plague me so
much, imagine what the bugs in the Amazon Rain Forest
are capable of doing. I got off easy in this case.
They could have been Killer Bees, or even Marabunta
Ants that would have eaten my entire body in a matter
of minutes. Not to mention those parasites (that I
would rather not mention by name or species, and that
I am sure that you have heard about) that get inside
your body and feed off of your flesh until you die.
I wonder how many deaths have been bug-related?
Enough of these tales of woe! Let’s go back
to the beginning of the adventure and look at the
really great side of the cruising life. The date is
15 August, 2006, and it’s 04:27 hours. This
is the first day of cruising around the world in the
smallest ship to ever do so. This is also the first
cruise for the Cruise Ship Dinghy I will no longer
think of her as a working sculpture but a ship of
the Oceans and of the world. I will think of her as
my safe passage to adventure, education, and the unknown.
I have to admit that I have been talking to this Dinghy
for more than 32 years now.. It will be a new kind
of dialogue as we find our adventure together, circumnavigating
Lake Sabine, which amounts to a round-trip distance
of 66.5 miles with Toups Marina serving as starting
and ending point.
As I cast off from the side of my beloved Neptune’s
Castle, my 62-foot sailing ship I come to the
realization that I’m leaving my home of more
then 20 years. I will be passing on my position as
her Captain to Darrelle-- Daughter of Dingy-- the
little girl who once lived aboard her hull and deck.
The little girl who played with her ship’s wheel
and stood on her salon table and vied for attention
at age two.
I’m sincerely wishing that Neptune’s
Castle and Darrelle--Daughter of Dingy will have
a long and adventuresome marriage together. They are
both in their 20’s and have a life of discovery
to find. As for me, I’m bound for the Intercoastal
Waterways AKA The Ditch to find my adventure. About
two miles down stream on Cow Bayou, the little ship
cruises by Burton’s Shipyard and I am able to
spot its proprietor, Fred getting his crew of yard
birds ready to do their duty on repairing the ships
in the Yard. I hope that he isn’t looking at
the Dinghy too hard, because I just had one my first
Dumb Dingy moves: I have managed to run aground on
the little point at the shipyard! No big, I’m
off and running and I don’t think that he even
noticed my Dumb Dinginess.
The bridge is coming up as I thread the needle and
row under the bridge. The Dinghy is now in open water
with no more overhead obstructions. Now I can rig
the mast and sail. After a very good show with my
balancing act, it is done and the ship is rigged for
running. Not really, just a few probs.with the sail
that can’t be fixed at sea. That means no sailing!
No prob. I have two 24-volt continuous-run motors.
Not really, one is frozen and the other doesn’t
have a shear pin, which can be fixed at sea. So I
row my boat, gently down Sabine—
--Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, living out my
Rowing is something that I’ve
hardly done with the Cruise Ship Dinghy. After I cut
her deck and cabin off, I used to row her and found
her to be a slow row. But she ran straight and true
with her full keel. She is what she is: a cargo boat
designed to carry a load, and now with her high freeboard,
she is weighing in at about 2000 pounds and that’s
with me in her! Take into consideration that she has
her superstructure now and that means more wind obstruction
with her higher center of gravity because of the mast,
the wind generator and VHF and computer signal antennas.
These have contributed to changing her motion on the
I’m starting to perfect my rowing with this
craft, and rowing is something I’ve always loved
doing. I started out this morning with a forward push
type rowing. Although I do enjoy this rowing style,
it is not the fastest. I do find it the most logical,
though-- and I also find it to be the safest style
because I’m facing forward and pushing my one-ton
boat forward with 10 foot oars. In short, I can see
where I’m going without turning my head. The
next style of rowing is standing with my back to where
I’m going and pulling the boat forward. Oh,
and in all of these rowing styles I will be standing.
That’s just the way the Dinghy is set up and
I don’t foresee the possibility of me changing
it. Besides-- I’m looking for a full-body workout.
One more style is sculling with one oar at the center
of the stern of the Dinghy. Also--I’m using
the muscles in quite a different way by simply turning
around and rowing backwards. So I’m man I’m
getting my balance, my form, my rhythm, and style.
One thing that’s not included in that workout
“package” there yet is my deep, diaphragm-based
On down Cow Bayou I row, until I float onto a sand
bar at the end of the bayou where she meets the ICW.
That’s because about 35 or 40 black buzzards
gathering in the trees and on the beach are glairing
at me. They have my attention and I have theirs. As
I look through my bino’s and see the intense,
focused look on their faces, I can’t help but
wonder what they’re bound to be thinking. Are
those birds thinking that I’m carry-on for an
afternoon snack? If so I’m dead meat! After
all, there a lot more of them than there are of me--!
So can you imagine these birds turning into hunters?
Shades of The Birds by Alford Hitchcock!
Enough of the birds! I have to move on and the ship
is hard aground. WHOOPS! I’m off rowing once
more! Now the Dinghy is on the Inter-Coastal Waterway
(ICW) about another five miles to row and I’ll
be settled in for the night. Anchor is set and I’m
kicked back! Cool!
Then along the ICW come two of the wild bunch-- Will
and Willey Toups in one of the strangest boats I’ve
ever seen--delivering beer and conversation from Toups
Marina. Now this is really too cool! So we enjoy the
beer and the converse and then the storm is upon us.
DUMB DINGY DEMASTED DUH DINGHY!
Six months after the attack of the vampires (mosquitoes),
it’s time for Admiral Dingy to finish the circumnavigation
of Lake Sabine. I vowed that I would not go back to
sea without protection from those merciless bugs.
So simple enough, I thought: “I’ll call
for the land yacht to pick up the Cruise Ship Dinghy!
I’ll rig up a proper mosquito net, and put some
bug spray onboard and I’ll be safe from those
pesky critters. I’ll be back in the water in
I can see the Dinghy’s land yacht onshore.
I think that this will be an easy out. All I have
to do is back the trailer into the water, (I am getting
better at that). So easy up, I’m learning. Well,
I put the trailer into the water without too much
problem. (OK--so there’s room for improvement,
but I’m getting more gooder (Admiral Dingy term
for better) at it. Defiantly better than the first
time I tried to load the Dinghy. (To familiarize yourself
with what I allude to here, go to the Ship’s
Log Page at ADMIRALINGHY.COM and read the article
Dingy Hanging in a Tree). Well--
I manage to get the Dinghy on to the trailer without
many problems. I tied her down to the trailer and
took down the wind generator which sits high when
the Dinghy is on her trailer.
Great! We’re on our way! Headed back to the
mother ship by land with no problems! WHOOPS! Prior
to departure, when Dumb Dingy did his walk around
the land yacht and Dinghy to check that everything
was secure, he forgot to look up! And you guessed
it! About a mile down the road, it’s WHAM! BANG!
Dumb Dingy has demasted duh Dinghy! I get out of the
land yacht and there’s the Dinghy’s mast.
It has been crashed upon, bent, slammed down and rendered
useless. Only one thing to do now--and that is to
build a better mast.
Now--five months later, I’m back and loaded
for mosquitoes. I’ve got my mosquito repellent
spray; I’ve got my net, and as added insurance,
I have got my stainless steel sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun
with nine (9) shots loaded. In this case, I’m
not loaded for pirates but rather for those pesky
flying vampires. I get “mosquito shot”.
But enough about mosquitoes! I’ve made other
advancements on the Cruise Ship Dinghy and still have
much to do. One problem that I have not solved yet
is the head, meaning the toilet. Yes doing “#1”
is easy because I got me one of those male urinary
receptacle things that even has a cap for safekeeping
deposits. It works fine! I’ve cleaned it with
bleach, and it’s ready to go. But ARRRR! What
about dealing with “# two”? I do not wish
to live with a bucket inside my coffin-sized Dinghy
where there is barely enough room for a throne. Don’t
wish to live with that either.
In reference to space, as I write this, I’m
aboard Neptune’s Castle--the last boat
that I will ever build or buy. This is my home for
the rest of my life--until I get old and die.( That
is if Davey Jones doesn’t get me first while
I’m aboard the Cruise Ship Dinghy!) As I look
around Neptune’s Castle, while I am
in her wheelhouse, I think about her vast amount of
space and compare it to the small amount of space
aboard the Cruise Ship Dinghy. Neptune’s Castle’s
wheelhouse alone has about 10 (ten) times more cubic
feet then the inside of the Dinghy, and that’s
not counting the engine room with that really kool
diesel below the deck boards.
got a diesel, and I really love diesels and the aroma
generated by one is divine for this sailor!
Why do people call me Dingy? Answer: Just because
I want to sail around the world in Neptune Castle’s
dinghy? Actually I have had the Dinghy for 32 years
and Neptune’s Castle for about 21,
but The Cruise Ship Dinghy is still Neptune’s
Ahoy there Mattie perhaps I’ll see you on
Lake Sabine in Southeast Texas tomorrow as I row,
row; row my Dinghy on the second half of my circumnavigation
of the Lake. AYE! 'TIS THE CRUISING LIFE FOR ME!
We have been on station at the Pleasure Island Pier
Landing for two days now, readying the Dinghy and
watching the weather. The wind is coming from the
southeast at about 20 to 25 knots--the exact course
that I need to row into, to finish an about 66.5-mile
row around Lake Sabine and make it back to Cow Bayou
and the mother ship, Neptune’s Castle,
at Toups Marine. Needless to say, I can’t row
into the wind with a 2,000 lb. Dinghy with about 30
inches of freeboard, (that’s the superstructure
that is above the water line to the top of the cabin).
That would truly be a Herculean task, one that I’m
not up for.
What to do? Simple! Simply wait for the weather gauge
to change with the wind coming from the west or southwest!
Also--I wish to catch the incoming tide! With this
strategy in mind, I splash The Cruise Ship Dinghy
into the water at anchor to see what the weather will
bring upon Dingy and Dinghy.
At 06:30 hours Sunday morning I awakened to a beautiful
sunrise with just a zephyr of wind coming from the
west. What could be greater than this? My next move
was to ready the Dinghy for sea. The prep work had
already been done; I just had to execute and get underway.
I wayed anchor ready, my 10-foot oars, and started
the long, grueling task of probably a two- day row,
weather permitting. I quickly positioned the Dinghy
for an exit out of the harbor with the wind right
up my fantail. Who could ask for anything more? Aye!
'Tis the cruising life for me!
I’m gone for the second half of the adventure
on Lake Sabine (circumnavigating the second half of
it—I circumnavigated the first half last August)
-- and heading for the Louisiana side of the lake.
It’s time to get the muscles to working; I used
to do this on the dance floor. Just keep on dancing
until going beyond the pain, I call this a burn in
and then you can dance the night away. For me it’s
the same on the Dinghy--just keep on rowing until
I work through the burn and settle into a slow and
steady rowing style that resembles a machine. I fall
into my style and my rhythm; I have executed my mind
set for the proper breathing. It’s the breathing
that I lose, and then I have to come back and re-program
it once more. I do this throughout the day; keep losing
my correct breathing.
The wind is superb as I make my way down Lake Sabine.
Some time ago the wind did a change in direction coming
more from the south--which fit into my course so much
nicer. Again I have the wind straight up my fantail
gently helping the Dinghy achieve her destination.
The scene is beautiful. The sun is burning down and
bringing the temperature up beyond the comfort zone,
I’m into a relaxed atmo enjoying being a cruiser.
The Dinghy is heading for the ditch--meaning the
Intra Coastal Waterway. Everything is so relaxed,
when off the starboard bow an alligator appears looking
very primeval and stealthy. Not a large beast--only
about 6 (six) feet long! The day has been good for
me and Dinghy! Now I have this wonderful creature
to ponder over. I wonder what he is thinking. Could
it be that he also is having a wonderful day and is
reflecting over same? OK--so he’s enjoying me
and I’m enjoying him. So I’ll just take
a break from rowing and we can look at each other.
Well--I have been rowing diligently for hours and
I’m feeling some exhaustion. This creature (the
alligator) has been around since the dinosaur period
without much evolution. I know that the females are
excellent mothers—but the fathers are less than
excellent--they have a tendency to eat their young.
Just the same-- the alligator has been able to adapt,
with the exception of man’s influence. It’s
peaceful sharing the moments at sea with the creatures,
and with that thought in mind, I reach for my male
urinal. Got to whiz! I’ve been putting this
off for a long time since I have and am still contemplating
the alligator, finding relief, and the simple joys
of life! Something strange is going on as I begin
to whiz. First, I feel something tingling, not painful
just different, fuzzy, tickling! And I’m still
contemplating the gator! I feel bobbles, crawly things
engulfing my hand! Then panic sets in I’m looking
at a major eruption, it’s as if Mount Saint
Helen’s has blow her top! There is a bubble
lava flow spuming out of my male urinal. By this time
it’s all over my dink, the inside of the Dinghy,
my hands, my jeans, and the bed which I’m standing
on! I realize that there is only one thing to do,
and that is to empty the urinal over the side!
I look at the gator while the thing is overflowing
with long lines of what appear to be never-ending
bubbles which seem to say to me, what’s the
matter haven’t you ever seen a volcano erupt
Have to do clean-up after that fiasco! Coming back
out of the hatch, I see the gator is still on station
looking up at me, I’m suspecting the gator wants
more entertainment from that goofy solo sailor. When
I return to the mother ship, Darrelle--Daughter of
Dingy explains that it was the chemical reaction between
my urine and the bleach that caused the problem. I
normally wash out my urinal with soap and water and
leave the soap and water in to keep working until
its next use. In this case I had used bleach instead
of soap and water for the first time—and the
non-stop bubble/lava-like flow was what resulted!
Coming up on the ICW rounding the corner, I’m
watching the clouds—and they look threatening!
I row about two hundred yards and Wham--! It’s
happening all at once: the wind shifting to dead ahead
in very quick fashion and I realize that I’m
in trouble! The wind is now at about 35 knots--not
a big wind-- but something to be reckoned with! True!
And over the side goes the anchor. It's set and holding,
darkness is coming. This is almost the exact same
spot the mosquitoes got me on the first half of the
adventure of circumnavigating Lake Sabine. But I will
not let it happen this time. I have the Dinghy secured
and then it’s back down below for me to stretch
out my legs with a book in my face.
The next morning I’m off splashing and pulling
with the oars. Around noon, I round the corner into
Cow Bayou. It’s all an uphill pull with the
wind in my teeth. I realize that only serious rowing
will get me back to Neptune’s Castle!
As I’m coming up the bayou, there is an ominous
black cloud coming down, I see no rain, but I still
don’t like the looks of this monster. Then wham!
It hits, and over the side goes the anchor! The Dinghy
is fastened; the Dinghy is ship-shape and I’m
inside in record time! The storm passes quickly. I
don’t. I take on the role of a wimp--just laying
there relaxing, gathering strength. An hour and a
half goes by before I man the oars again.
The adventure is over and no harm has come to Dingy
or Dinghy--with the exception of the erupting volcano.
Aye! 'tis the cruising life for me!