Posted by: nauticalchronicles | February 22, 2012



California Here We Come

Louise and I heard there was an ocean near California, so we went there. I had actually been there once before near Monterey Bay in Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, but there was so much fog, I never saw the ocean. It was similar to the time I went to the Kentucky Derby, stayed on a house boat, went onto the infield of the derby track to watch the race…and never saw a horse (a story for another time). Louise and I went to Davis, California for her cousin’s wedding, and while there visited San Francisco. We could barely make out the Golden Gate Bridge due to the fog, and there were no boats on the docks near Fisherman’s Wharf due to the seals occupying the docks; the seals are protected, but the docks sinking under their weight are not.

San Fran Bay

We eventually did see the Pacific Ocean. When the fog very suddenly rolled in, we looked at each other and immediately decided we did not need to bring our boat, “HalfMine”, out west. In all fairness to the pacific coast, we did not spend enough time there to become enamored of west coast boating.

While in California, we did make a trek to Lake Tahoe and enjoyed a day’s boating aboard a large sailing catamaran. The day was cool and sunny; the water was a deep, dark blue/black color and made quite a beautiful palette with the dark greens of the mountain background and the blue sky. Music and dancing were in abundant supply during our day’s voyage and we enjoyed ourselves.

The lake cat    Sailing Lake Tahoe

Getting to Tahoe was a different matter. The lake is high in the mountains…very high. I’m told the views there are fabulous, but I Hate Heights. Our main route into Tahoe split left and right at the lake; the right split going to where the tourist area sail boat rental was located, and the left headed out and around the lake (as I remember it; my recollection may not be accurate). As we took the left turn, there was a small, stone bridge with no side railings, a very short bridge which crossed a deep ravine, a very deep ravine. As I recall, the road was narrow and two-lane. I remember cars and motor homes coming at us from the other side of the bridge, and I recall being able to go no more than 2 miles per hour due to my fear of crossing that bridge. I almost stopped, mid-bridge, not being able to go further; unfortunately, there was a three-mile backup of traffic behind us and still I would have to change places with Louise which was even more frightening than continuing on. I recall, an hour later, on the other side, sweat pouring off me, parked in a vista-view area with Louise telling me I should come look at the view, asking her if she could drive the rental car for the remainder of our visit to Tahoe. Many of my recollections regarding our visit to Lake Tahoe are most likely inaccurate due to the lake’s height above sea level and the fact that my eyes were closed most of the time. Louise drove for the remainder of that day. We ended up in Carson City, Nevada on the other side of the lake, and I was never as happy as when we stopped at the Bucket of Blood Saloon for late afternoon WHISKEY. We pushed open the saloon doors, slowly looked around at the occupants seated at the gaming tables while they peered curiously back at us. We knocked the dust off our hats by whacking them against our floppy, well-worn chaps, and proceeded to clomp across the floor, noisily jingling our spurs while sidling up to the bar, putting one booted foot on the low bar railing, losing one spit into the spittoon…and ordering our shots.

To Lake Tahoe Vista view area Whiskey break

How she ever convinced me to drive the Donner Pass with her the next day, I will never know.

no way

Driving The Pass was way worse than driving around Lake Tahoe. The best part of that day, for me, was that I don’t remember any of it; my eyes were shut most of the time while Louise drove, pointing out the spectacular views and wondering how our pioneer forefathers could venture forth into such a demanding, inhospitable, forbidding environment. Since my eyes were closed, it was a fairly easy conversation to engage in. She must have eventually sensed my discomfort since, at her first opportunity, she began heading west toward the pacific coast and Napa, away from the mountains and the Donner Pass and back to sea level…thank goodness!

We enjoyed our time spent in Davis and San Francisco as well as our vineyard tours of the Napa Valley. San Francisco’s climate is very acceptable (though it does get cold) and especially enticing is the fact that there are no bugs in the city; none. Windows can be left open, without screens and with no threat of bugs entering. Just imagine; a bug-free boating environment. For the most part, though, Louise and I thought California was just “too far away”; we were not certain we would be returning anytime in the near future.

End of the trip

Then, not too long after our return, my starving, struggling actor friend, Alan, called us from New York City where he lives and he said, “thought of you guys for this, especially if Louise is retiring!!”.

Alan Dary

DOCU-SERIES FOR MAJOR CABLE NETWORK/Television/No Union Affiliation/

CASTING NOTICE: we’re looking for really interesting, compelling, unique people who want to boat from New York to Washington State, USING ONLY AMERICA’S WATERWAYS—NO OCEANS! Believe it or not, it can be done! We’re going for a John Steinbeckian/Travel’s With Charlie/Huck Finn kind of feel. People (a minimum of two) who are driven to make this journey for a reason, whether it be to reconnect to land as they make their way through these routes; or maybe two people named Lewis and Clark? We also want to see quirky, interesting folks; no upper-crust, slick, beautiful yachters, but real, gritty, bursting with color and personality characters who have a story. They should be somewhat knowledgeable at boating and have a passion to be on the water and make the trek.

Since we had enjoyed the pacific coast area so much, and since we were looking forward to returning in the near future, and since it wasn’t really “that far away”, what better way to go than by boat?

Alan said we wouldn’t even need SAG cards (Screen Actors Guild) to do this documentary for PBS, AND…We could get paid for this (“remuneration TBD”); does this audition call have our names written on it or what??!

Here was the rub…we needed to get a 3-5 minute video of us, in action, to them within the next 3 days; already we were beginning to understand deadlines. We had no videos; we had no knowledge of how to make videos or what should be in them. We had no acting experience (but neither did Boston Rob, right?)… We were left with the only thing we could do; call Sean, our son.

As luck would have it, we had planned a family get-together with all the kids in Hoboken the upcoming weekend. We made certain Sean had his video camera and was prepared to produce the requisite audition tape. Our backdrop was to be the New York City skyline as viewed from the Jersey side. As his super 8mm film began to roll, Louise and I introduced ourselves, described some of our adventures to date, and explained why we would be the perfect candidates for this TV opportunity (Alan had told us “JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT HOW YOU COME ACROSS ON CAMERA; your personality will come through!!! The camera picks up on phoniness!”) Our “shoot” was interrupted only once by a low-flying, noisy helicopter, but otherwise…was boring.

On the day of the deadline, our casting company called and extended our deadline by another week. This was an excellent opportunity to have a professional video done by our starving actor friend Alan; and an excellent job he did! He was able to piece together several short clips we had managed to put together (editing I think it’s called), and the finished product was very professional. He over-nighted the finished audition video to us and we decided to hand-deliver it to the production company in Medford. While Louise double-parked in front of the studio, I ran the disk upstairs. I was buzzed into the waiting room, but then waited a few minutes for the receptionist to return from an errand. I had an opportunity to view all of the production items displayed on the walls and was very impressed with their work; what a different way of making a living (I’m always looking). When the receptionist returned, I told her I was hand-delivering a casting call video to our agent Carol in order to make a deadline. She thanked me and headed back into the office area; as I opened the glass front door to leave, I heard her yell into the studio, “Carol…here is that audition video you’ve been waiting for!!”  We were pretty sure that our audition video was not the one she was waiting for! But it was fun.

And then the waiting began. Alan said we should not expect to hear back from them at all unless we were chosen for the series. We called two or three times during the following months, but no decisions had been made. Then, three months later on an otherwise dull day, we got a message from our casting company; they had changed the format of the series to use families instead of couples and were we still interested. Well, of course we were…but none of our kids, with their kids and their jobs could take three months off to “Boat Across America”.

And so ended our dream of adventure, fame, fortune; our hope of becoming the next Boston Rob and Amber of a reality series…but it’s not the end of the story.

We called our casting company just last week to follow up on the series progress. Carol, our casting agent, was exuberant as ever, sparkly and very positive in her response. She said, “Sadly, nothing came of the show. This is pretty common in TV development—we develop ideas and get to the point where it comes time to shoot the pilot, and then they get shelved. We were all very excited about “Boating Across America”, and sad it didn’t work out…but happy we got to meet all of you! Your journey with Ralph was what would have made our show great!”

So, sadly at the conclusion of this adventure (which was mostly in our minds), our hopes and spirits dashed, we have only two questions…how were we to boat across and through the Rocky Mountains (they said it could be done), and…Who’s Ralph?

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man



  1. LOVED IT!!! never knew you shared my exact fear of heights….echoing my thoughts as we traversed the rockies! i never heard the story of your ‘almost’ reality series…..the last picture?? your award for your show???
    ps…loved your description of saddling up to the bar!!

  2. A few years back, we traveled to the lake for a wedding and stayed at the Olympic village! Toy had a desire to ride the tram to the top of Squaw Valley; so be gan the first of my worst days
    at Lake Tahoe. The tram swayed back and forth to everyones delight; unnoticed was my white knuckled death grip and silence!
    Alighting from the car with a massive jump to avoid the two inch crack; I found myself addressing the bar tender. Several extra large rum and cokes I found my travel companion peering over the cliff side; I pondered the question of a slight shove but, then
    there was always the ride down to consider; back to the bar for two more bracers, all mine ofcourse. The next day the road trip to hell; I went left and all was good until we started climing; at one point I think we were at least 1000′ above the lake without gaurd rails and everyone exceeding the posted speed, all except in my direction. we made it about halfway around when a cutout appeared and I turned around never to rize higher then the lake dduring the balance of our stay; back to the first wet spot for an attitude adjustment. I’ll fly in to South Tahoe before driving it.
    Thanks for the memories Captain.

  3. Very funny stuff (by the way, it must be genetic, my eyes would have been closed, too – you made my hands sweat just reading about the heights) Love, Betsy Lee 🙂

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