Monday, May 18, 2015

The Spring British Car Gathering at Camp Dearborn

Today on the ol' Patio Boat we have a few photos from this year's Annual Spring British Car Gathering & Picnic, which is hosted by the Windsor-Detroit MG Club at Camp Dearborn in Milford, Michigan. It's not a formal event or car show, just a chance for folks with British cars to meet, look at each other's cars, and have a relaxing Sunday afternoon together.

The FUN MG leads off a line of MGBs. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of MGs here, but there were also quite a few representatives of other marks. Here are a pair of Morgans Plus 8s:

British cars old and new, an antique MGT and a contemporary Lotus Elise.

Badges? We don't need no stinking ... oh, wait. We do need badges.


Another MGB joins the line. This yellow B belonged to a couple who had just bought it last month. I got to show them how to fold their convertible top. I felt like quite the savvy veteran.

And then there was this little fellow.

Triumph TR3.


Jaguar E-Type.

So, you might notice that my right rear wheel no longer matches the others. As seems to be the case for me this year with WDMGC events, there was a bit of an incident with the FUN MG. I drove over a nail on my way in to the parking lot. Fortunately, one of my fellow British car owners noticed the flat and let me know. When I went to pull out my spare I noticed it was very soft -- check the air pressure in your spare tires, folks! -- but fortunately we were right by Camp Dearborn's maintenance shed, which had an air hose that I used to refill the spare. And parked right next to me was a couple who had a hydraulic jack in their MGB's trunk, which made lifting the car to change the flat a heck of a lot easier than with my old scissors jack.

(Yes, it's true. MGB owners use their limited trunk space for things like hydraulic jacks. It's possible that these old cars need a bit more work than the average new Honda.)

All of it put together made what could've been a really annoying problem into a bit of a communal effort to get me up and on the road again. Thanks, everybody!

And now back to the British cars....

Looking for a British sports car of your own? This sweet MGA is for sale.

I like this random lineup. It's a nice representation of the variety of cars that showed up Sunday. From right-to-left: MGB, Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite, MGB GT, Triumph TR6, and a modern Jaguar XKR.

The Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite: really, the happiest looking cars of all time.

And finally, this young lad from Walled Lake was here with his parents, who own a classic Mini. He told them that he'd seen this car several times before ... and since I drive through Walled Lake all the time, I'll bet he's right!

All in all, a fun, casual afternoon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Virgin Islands: "Free Monday" Kayaking

And now we come to the St. Thomas post that I probably should've posted first. But it's not really the event that was my proudest moment of the week. You see, this was the point at which I nearly let my poor mother drown while I snapped photos. (Oh, the sacrifices I make for you, gentle Patio Boat reader. Yes, lives were nearly lost, but this sort of high-quality vacation photoblogging doesn't come without its costs.)

The trouble started when they let people have free kayak rentals on Mondays at Bluebeard's Beach Club. It seemed a good idea to send my Mom out for a spin in the cove with veteran lake kayaker Monique.

Alas, there were a few problems with that plan:

1. Monique had never before kayaked in the surf.
2. Monique hadn't done a dual kayak before, so wasn't really sure how to get both of them onboard.
3. Small craft warnings that churned up a chop and surf even in our protected cove.
4. Given half a chance my Mom could tip an aircraft carrier on its side.

It all began peaceably enough:

But then disaster struck:

Here -- about where my Mom disappeared entirely beneath the surface of the sea -- this is about the point at which a better son would've set down the camera and gone to rescue his mother, who had been knocked down by the surf.

Oh, wait. There she is. And she still has her life jacket on. Okay then, I reckon I'll keep taking pictures of the event. (I suppose the upside is that if I ever some day try to get a photojournalism job and some editor asks, "What are you willing to do to photograph the story?" I can say, "I'll let my mother drown," then show this set of photos as proof.)

Fortunately, there was lots of nearby help. Half the beach ran to the rescue:

With Mom now safely rescued, Monique righted the kayak.

... and a small platoon of beachgoers helped get my Mom back on board. Full credit for bravery goes to Mom, who could've just packed it in after getting nearly drowned in the first attempt.

They're off!

And out into the deep blue sea ... well, the shallow turquoise cove, anyway. Much paddling about ensued:

Ahoy, the cruise ship! Prepare to be boarded!

Facing the looming threat of Caribbean kayak pirates the cruise ship fled for port:

... leaving our kayakers free to search for other seagoing traffic.

Other than the initial launch, a fine afternoon of kayaking.