The first morning waking up on the boat set the tone for the rest of the vacation. Four of us woke early to have coffee and breakfast and prep the boat for an early departure, and three of us slept. We put the sails up for awhile, but there was little to no wind. We passed by Aegina and some large rocks to enter into the harbor near Poros. We saw our first and only flying fish
We took some time to anchor in a cove by ourselves, don our wet suits and do a bit of swimming. We saw a few fish but not a lot. Lots of old moorings and nets. Sea urchins were everywhere on the shores.
Pulling into Poros it was impossible not to be overwhelmed by how beautiful the city was. It was as if the city rose up out of the sea on the mountain and we were moored at the base of it.
We had our first attempt at med mooring. After picking up a tire on the first try we got ourselves settled in. We did a short hike up to the clock tower and explored some old churches.
We began to see why Greece is known for its cats.
Me and Fred took off to get some good night time shots, while everyone else settled in at the one cafe with wifi.
A “last minute” birthday invite from a friend led us on an adventure chartering a 42ft Fountaine Pajot Cat in Greece this fall. Last minute for me is only have three months to plan provisions, anchorages, and our sail plans.
We stressed over the plans for the entire three months, but in the end picked a fairly well-traveled path around the Saronic Gulf just west of Athens.
I used the same method as my last trip to plan the provisions. You can read those details here. The only difference this time was that everything was in KG and G and so it took a bit more math on my part. We sent the list off to a provisioning company this time instead of doing the shopping ourselves, and had the supplies delivered to the boat.
We got in early to the marina Saturday, but the food arrived late. The charter manager sat us down to sign paperwork and pay all of the remaining money owed. He explained to us that there would be a $3600 deposit paid, and if there was any damage at all to the boat that we would be out the cost of repairs or all of that money if the repair was higher than their insurance deductible. We could however pay $300 up front to have the insurance put into our name, and we would then be covered for damages. After much debate we decided to go ahead and pay for the insurance money. It was worth it to not have to worry throughout the week.
The marina was a busy place. The docks were just big enough for cars to drive down, and they did. They drove full speed, forwards and in reverse.
After loading the provisions and signing paperwork it was too late to head out. We opened up a few cans of Mythos and headed over to a local place that our captain recommended. He helped us to order a hearty Greek style group meal that ended up being enough food for three days.
We all went to bed excited to start our adventure on the open ocean in the morning.
Last week we headed to Illinois four days earlier than the rest of the family to get the Crestliner running and comfortable for the 4th of July.
While we were gone I had a rebuilt outboard put onto the back of the boat. When the shop installed the outboard, they also replaced the rotten transom board for me.
When we started the project, we had an idea that we would pattern a new floor with painters plastic or butcher paper. This didn’t work too well. It was very difficult to keep the plastic tight on both sides on the curved edge. It was also impossible to reach both sides at once without being in the middle of them. We ended up doing side to side measurements every 6 inches to create a pattern.
The subfloor of the boat had been filled with styrofoam, but throughout the decades, it had become water-logged, crumbly and moldy. When I looked up replacement options for closed cell foam, the slick mix and pour foam that would have perfectly formed to the subfloor troughs was far too pricey for this project. After googling several types of closed cell foam, we landed on pool noodles! $50 for enough to fill the whole thing.
We secured the floor over top by screwing it into the metal ribs.
The next step was the front seat. My father had a bench screwed down on all sides, but we wanted to make it open up to provide access to the storage we found underneath. This was obviously the original design since the hinges were actually welded in place.
We decided to cover the seat and the floor with a vinyl imitation teak decking. It’s soft on the feet, non-slip, pretty to look at, and it keeps you from getting splinters. After the flooring we took considerable time to install some swivel chairs. It was difficult because they bolted in both sides.
During the spring we made some cushions for the aft part of the boat using some closed cell foam and sunbrella leftover from our sailboat interior. Our next step was to make some bases for them. We chose to do a rectangular plywood base with 2x2s as joiners in the corners. After we had them all put together and painted, we traced them onto the floor where we wanted them. I then took them out of the boat and cleaned the plywood floor carefully before sticking down the vinyl decking. Then we bolted down the side seats and left the middle seat as a floater, which can be also be used as a step or a coffee table.
The last thing we needed was to get the lights running on the boat. That was fairly simple as the wiring isn’t very complex so we just ran all new. We ended up buying new stern and fore lights as well.
Our last obstacle was some safety concerns on the trailer. Our forward winch wasn’t working at all, so we got a replacement for it along with some new tires at the local farm store.
We did a quick test run in the yard, as well as some backing practice. The yoke of the trailer turned out to be a bit crooked, so pulling straight back involved a sort of S pattern wobble with the steering wheel to compensate.
Finally we got to take her down to the river! I can’t wait to take her out many more times in the future.
Living in Houston, I don’t do much astrophotography. When I do attempt to capture the night sky, it’s usually with a wide angle lens and a long exposure, like this shot from the Lick Observatory in California a few years ago.
However, this month all of the news outlets in Houston were hyping up Jupiter and claiming that you would be able to see not only the planet, but also its four largest moons with only binoculars June 10. I decided to had to check it out.
I pulled out my vintage Leica R 400mm f6.8 Telyt and stacked both a 2x teleconverter and a 1.4x teleconverter before attaching it to a Sony A7II and bolting it all to a good tripod.
I’m not a big fan of teleconverters since you lose stops of light and some detail, but I was going for maximum magnification, and this rig got me the equivalent of a 1120mm lens.
For reference, this is how close 1120mm gets you to the moon on a full-frame, 35mm equivalent camera.
I have the StarTracker app on my phone, so I knew right where to look in the sky. The hardest part of the evening was waiting until Jupiter made its appearance above the neighbor’s trees about 10:30 p.m.
I took a couple dozen shots at varying shutter speeds and ISOs, but it seemed like f8 (plus the lost stops from the teleconverters, so actually f22), 1/500 second at ISO 1600 gave the clearest results. However, I had to develop the RAW files twice — once to properly expose Jupiter and once to expose the moons. Then I combined the two files into one photo.
There is Jupiter with Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s pretty cool that you can see at least some amount of detail on Jupiter even using old lenses from the 1970s.
You know exactly what you think you know until you look it up.
Even if you’re positive everything is correct, take the time to utilize spellcheck, check your AP Style Guide, and run any bold claims through sites like Snopes.com or FactCheck.org.
Remember to check your graphics and photos for accuracy as well.
Keep your message focused
Cramming too many messages together causes clutter and confusion.
Lead with what is important and keep your messages brief and to the point. Rambling is an easy way to lose readers. Make a new post for each topic.
Update your messaging
What was once inspirational can end up being offensive.
Revisit your strategy. Do the slogans and calls to action used in the past still make sense?
Be aware of cultural connotations
Stay sensitive to the culture and history of your target audience.
I doubt this poster was even aware of the cultural history of his or her title, but if a business was to make the same sort of mistake, it could cause major backlash.
Focus your message to each channel
Hot links and video are great, unless you’re working in print.
Blogs are not the same as Facebook, which is not the same as Instagram, which is not the same as LinkedIn, and you get what I’m saying. Craft your message to best fit each channel, but to complement across all channels. Nothing is more irritating than messages that are cut off, links that don’t work, or the promise of photos or video when there are none.
Well, the Cougar and I managed to fulfill our acting obligations. She did a great job looking like a running car that was getting gas, even though she wasn’t running and the gas pumps didn’t actually work. I just did my best to follow directions and look distraught everyone time the gas station attendant died in my arms. However, once we finished, the big question was, how do we get home?
Well, big thanks to my parents who made the four hour drive from Montgomery Saturday morning to drag me home. They even picked up a trailer in Conroe, so that it would only be a 24-hour rental rate instead of the steeper U-Haul one-way fees.
I went to Home Depot and bought a 1-ton come-along to make loading the car easier, and it was … for a minute. We got it about halfway onto the trailer when the come-along jammed up. That’s when we started attracting bystanders. Unfortunately we didn’t attract enough to just muscle to car up onto the trailer, but we did attract enough to have lots of extra opinions on how to make it all work.
Once the Cougar was finally loaded, we took a ride into downtown Corpus for lunch at the dog-friendly Executive Surf Club. It was the only relaxing, vacationy part of the trip, which I had promised Mary would be so incredibly relaxing and vacationy, except for the evening I’d be working on the movie. (Sorry, honey.)
We cruised a few miles down the coast to get a look at the ocean before going back to pick up the rig for the drive back to Houston. Of course, there was a mandatory stop at DQ, so my mother could get a Blizzard.
We made it back to Spring around 8 p.m., and I made enough commotion trying to back the trailer into my driveway that it attracted all the neighbors. Big shout out the everyone who helped pushed the Cougar off the trailer and into the garage.
Well, some lessons learned.
First off, Hollywood is rough. Even if you’re the main character in a crime documentary re-enactment scene, your pay slip still says “extra.”
Movies do not pay well enough to cover classic car maintenance and repairs.
Maybe I should invest in a vehicle with some towing capacity and a trailer hitch.
And most importantly of all, I have an amazing family. Thank you again to Mary for picking me up off the side of the road and sitting around in a hotel all weekend while I dealt with the car issues. Also, huge thanks to my parents for spending an entire Saturday driving to help me get the Cougar hauled home.
After some discussion with the local producer about replacing my car with a Camaro, it was decided that “The Phantom” needed the authenticity of a white 1967 Mercury Cougar to match the crime scene photos. A guy named Joe had trailered in a 1980s Ford Crown Victoria from Austin for the scene.
Joe, being an absolutely amazing guy, agreed to use his trailer to pick the Cougar up from the transmission shop where they had FINALLY looked at the problem around 3 p.m., but then said they wouldn’t get to it until Monday.
We deposited the Cougar in front of the gas pumps at the Sunny’s Convenience Store, carefully making sure the axle didn’t slide out when we were rolling it around.
Mary’s one question was whether or not there would be a food buffet where all the actors could just graze in between shoots. There was — sort of.
As the production assistants finished setting up lights and removing all the blatantly modern signage from the gas station, I was issued my authentic 1983 street wear — a grey polo with a grey sweater. Apparently in the crime scene photos, Kevan Baker was also wearing a hat, so they stole a sweaty baseball cap off one the PAs and stuck it on my head.
I’m going to look goofy as heck in this movie. Also, watch for continuity because the bloody, dying gas station attendant falls into my arms. However, that meant my sweater got bloody on take one, and we did it about 25 times. Then we switched back to some pre-death scenes after I was bloody. Should be interesting to see if it shows.
So after all the intense gas pumping, stabbing, and first aid scenes, they wrapped it up with a Police ID of … you guessed it, the wrong Carlos. To add a bit of irony, the actor who played the actual killer was used as a stand-in with the Police for the ID scene.
They shot this scene from behind the car to catch the bright mag lights shining in onto the perp. They had instructions to let the light wander off the guys face onto the camera lens and then back. I’m really curious to see what it actually looked like in the camera.
Once we finally wrapped, Joe trailered the Cougar back to our hotel and unloaded her in the parking lot for me before going back to the set for his police cruiser. Thanks, Joe!
Now we just have to get the Cougar back to Houston …
On the evening of February 4, 1983, Wanda Lopez, a gas station attendant in Corpus Christi was stabbed to death. A man named Carlos DeLuna was arrested and convicted of the murder, then executed by lethal injection in 1989. DeLuna always maintained his innocence and claimed the murder was committed by a man named Carlos Hernandez. However, DeLuna was never able to identify Hernandez and prosecutors referred to him as “a phantom” in court.
Years later, an investigative team determined Hernandez was a real person, lived near the site of the murder, and he had a tendency to stab people.
Well, apparently the first witness on the scene was a man named Kevan Baker, who had stopped to gas up his white 1967 Mercury Cougar.
The white Cougar was a key part of authentically recreating the crime scene.
I made sure the producers were aware that my car was a work in progress and not what could be considered anywhere close to restored, but after sending plenty of pictures, they assured me it would work great for the movie and said the re-enactment scenes would have a soft focus anyway. Plus, the scene is set in 1983, so it’s not like the car would have looked showroom new.
My next challenge was making sure the old girl could take on 250 miles of highway to get to the shoot.
While drivability has gotten better and better over the past year and a half of work, I had kind of taken everything apart to install the air-conditioning and never put it all back together.
I did manage to get the correct console shifter installed and swapped in the refurbished console and radio, but I just didn’t have the time to replace the heater core and tackle the interior portion of the AC install yet. I’ll have to pull everything apart again when I get back to get it finished before the real summer heat starts.
I also finally put the rear emblems on the car. They’re kind of expensive, so I had planned to paint the car first, then put them on, but these people need a Cougar, so it better say Cougar.
Then, just to keep me on my toes, the starter decided to go out last week. I replaced that as well. We’re ready to roll — but I brought plenty of tools, just in case.
There were several times in the past few months when I was tempted to just start banging out dents and spraying spots with primer to get the body work started. I had also been talking to a guy in Austin about stripping her down to bare metal and painting her black.
I guess sometimes it does pay off to take things slow.
Not too long ago, Mary and I were sitting on the couch watching “I am the Night,” that miniseries with Chris Pine about the Black Dahlia Murders set in late 1940s Hollywood. Along with all of the period correct cars in the show, there were several buses and trucks, and I turned to Mary and said, “Who the heck restores old buses? Who even has space for that?”
We pondered over whether it could even be profitable to maintain old buses and work trucks and other specialty vehicles just for use in movies. I also wondered if directors made an effort to work around scenes just so they wouldn’t have to try to find specific vehicles.
A few weeks later one of the officers from the Mercury Cougar Club of America posted in our Facebook group that a woman from London was searching for someone near Corpus Christi that owned a Polar White 1967 Mercury Cougar. I responded that my Cougar matched that description, so he passed on her contact info, and I shot her a message.
Within an hour I was on the phone with a lady named Jenny in London who was booking my car for use in a feature length crime documentary being filmed in Corpus Christi.
And since they needed someone to drive the car in the crime re-enactment scenes, I’m booked as an actor.
My suitcase is in the trunk, and today after work I’m heading south down Highway 59 in this beat-up old car to see what happens next.