Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Promotions All Around!

Oriental, NC
With the arrival of Anna Meagley Monday in Rome, NY, Libby and I have just been promoted to great grandparents. Wow, what a great feeling. It has been a long time since our last promotion.
Most of all we are happy for our granddaughter and new mother Sara.
Of course, John and Cheryl also gain promotion to grandparents, not to mention auntie Katelyn, auntie Victoria, and uncle Nick. Congratulations one and all. This is a joyous day.
My God Sara. You are so beautiful. It seems like only yesterday that we cradled you in our arms. Well done Sara.
Don't know yet when Libby and I get to see Anna but we will find a way.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Skydive Videos

Oriental, NC

Any day where you can expand your personal envelope is a grand day. Yesterday was a grand day for both David and me.   Today is a joyous day.  To find out about why, visit tomorrow's post.

Dick's Video

Dave's Video

Sunday, October 19, 2014


New Bern, NC

Our last day in New Bern today, and what a grand day it was. Dave and I did our skydive this afternoon. A still picture is shown below. I'll post the video in a few days.

How was the experience? It was awesome. I won't try to put it in words until I have more time to do it, but in summary it was great fun. Even better, Dave enjoyed it even more than I did. The jump was a birthday present for Dave. IMHO, the best birthday present I ever gave him.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Follow Up: Respecting Roles

New Bern, NC

I neglected something critically important in yesterday's post about cruising secrets.

On the boat, it is essential that all parties learn their roles and live up to the roles.

There must be one and only one captain on a boat.  That's not a policy, it is a reality.  With two on board, that means that one is captain and the other is crew.   That differs from the "partners" role that we follow in marriage.   The two people on a boat under way can not be partners.  That adjustment, and the ability to juggle two sets of roles, (one on board the boat, and another ashore) can be difficult.  But failure to adjust dooms many couples to failure.

It is the captain's role to gather data (including crew input, opinions, and abilities), to formulate an action plan, communicate that plan.  Then it becomes the duty of all crew and captain to execute that plan as a team, unless and until the plan changes.   There can be zero tolerance for anyone in the crew who fails to work with the team to execute the plan.  In moments of urgency, there may be no time for words; orders must be executed immediately and without question.  Urgent moments on a cruising boat are presumably less extreme than those of soldiers in combat (much much less), but the principles of discipline are analogous.

It is the crew's role to provide input to the captain when a decision is being debated.  But as soon as the plan is announced, further debate must be suppressed.   That does not mean being blind. If the captain decides to go to port and a crew sees danger to port, he/she should shout out "Danger to Port!"  Crew must also be free to observe "Your plan is not working Captain."  But there is zero tolerance for crew to substitute a plan differing from what the Captain said.

Who gets to be Captain? Traditions bias us toward choosing the man, but experience and various abilities are the real criteria.  Even the male choice is rational to the extent that men are supposed to be less subject to emotional pressure than women.

Another key role is helmsman.  With two of us on board, we take turns at the helm.  The helmsman necessarily has duties and authorities independent of the person's other role as Captain or crew.  As a trivial example, if the plan is to go east, and there is a buoy due east of us, of course the helmsman steers around the obstacle.  Only in cases where an officer is standing beside the helmsman does the authority of the helmsman get narrowed.

Here's where many Captain Queegs go wrong. Any crew has the right to jump ship once we get to port.  If the captain behaves like an ass, he will lose crew.  So the Captain's primary duty is to command the vessel, but a secondary duty is to nurture relationships with the crew. When the crew is also your spouse, that secondary duty is more than just important it is vital.

In our case, our first two years were rougher until I learned how to properly criticize and berate Libby when she screwed up.  Everyone screws-up, Captain and crew alike.   It turned out that the essential l thing Libby needed was self-confidence.  Once she became sufficiently confident that she could bring Tarwathie safely back to port alone in any reasonable circumstances, she relaxed and became vastly more comfortable living life as a cruiser.  Hasty criticism, and harsh words, pierced her self-confidence.  I had to learn to hold back criticism until times of post-mortem debriefings when we reviewed what we did without emotion.  In the immediate aftermath of something like running aground because of helmsman error, we have both learned to accept it without fear or even raising our voices or our pulse rates at all.  Hours or days after the fact, (and back in our partner roles),  we review what happened and try to learn from that.

That details of that real life lesson for Libby and I may not apply to other couples.  Every person is individual.  The unvarying rule that applies to all vessels, is that there are roles that must be played on board any vessel, and all persons must learn and fulfill their respective roles, quite apart from their relationships on land.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Key Secret for Cruising

New Bern, NC

A friend, Jill Upchurch, is circumnavigating on her W32.  She is currently in the South Pacific, heading home to NZ.  She recently posted the following on Facebook.

Seems like it is the time of year when maritime marital bliss is strained. I have had a steady stream of boat wives visit saying if they/their husband doesn't get off the boat for a few hours, blood will be shed. I'm blaming the humidity
A key to successful cruising is that you must somehow arrange for privacy/time-apart from your sailing companions to maintain sanity.  That applies to your spouse and to anyone else on board with you.  How much privacy/time-apart you need is highly individual, but we all need some.  The consequence of insufficient privacy is a growing sense of annoyance that will continue to build and eventually explode if not relieved.

Remember that a sailboat offers far less area and volume than a house or apartment does.  On board, Libby and I live 90% of the time in 150 square feet.   That includes kitchen, eating, living, and sleeping accommodations.  For most of you readers, that may be less area than in your bathroom.

Many people remark that they and their spouse would never be able to live in such close quarters.  They are probably right.  But for those of us who succeed, finding ways to be apart from each other sufficient time is essential.

When we are in port (which applies 8 months out of the year), Libby and I live very separate lives during the day.  I go to the gym, or the library, or ride my bike, go to lunch with my friends, and spend most of the day on shore.  Libby likes to work on her baskets on board the boat, but she also goes shopping, to Tai Chi, or to visit with her friends independently from me.  In Marathon we like to have a weekly luncheon with our closest friends, but we split up.  Men go to one restaurant and women to another.

Don't we ever do things on shore together?  Sure we do, but the majority of time ashore we are apart.

From suppertime on, we are together on the boat in that 150 square feet.   But we have a knack of being able to read, or basket, or even watch a movie together in silence, and with a sufficient feeling of privacy that whatever tensions exist between us, don't build up.  Not everyone can do that, and not everyone can adapt to living on a boat.

When we are at sea, there is no opportunity to go ashore to be truly apart.  But 24 hours per day, one of us is on watch while the other is below decks usually trying to sleep.   We get to see each other only 10 minutes each 4 hours as we change watch.  Instead of an excess of togetherness, we actually feel lonely when at sea.

We we are under way on the ICW,  we typically travel 10 hours per day.  Most of those 10 hours, one is on the helm, and the other below decks.   But the evenings at anchor, are much the same as when we are in port.  Those are some of the most varied and fun days of the whole year.  We really like them.

Of course there are many single-handed cruisers, but I have little experience with that, so I can't say much.   But in terms of cruising with other people, and especially your spouse, you must learn to manage togetherness in close quarters if you are going to succeed in the long term.  I suspect learning how to do that may be more difficult than learning the skills of seamanship and boat maintenance.

I don't think I can offer good advice on how to achieve that; it is very individual. I simply point out that it is a must.