Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Humans share a collective myth or a self-delusion. We believe that once we learn to do something reliably and expertly, and practice it over and over, that we'll do it right every time. Wrong. We may do things correctly 99.99% of the time, but it is human to fail at common tasks from time to time. For example, you may sleep in beds your whole life but the chance of you falling out of bed is nonzero. My son John is a soldier. He handles weapons every day. He and his fellow soldiers follow protocols for handling weapons, loading and unloading them. The protocols are designed to prevent injury in the case of very infrequent but inevitable personal screw ups. Another example: When I learned to fly I was surprised at how imperfect the pilots, and the air traffic controllers are. The system is designed to allow mistakes yet still avoid accidents.
You can already guess where this blog is leading to. My readers love to hear stories of how we screw up. Yesterday, the summer solstice, was just such a day.
First, it was Libby's turn. For the first time ever, she stepped from the dock to the dinghy and lost it. The dinghy shot away and her feet went from under her. Libby's butt was heading for the water and the back of her head was heading for a nasty hit on the dock. Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time to catch her under the arms, so nothing bad happened. Since living on Tarwathie, I estimate that Libby must have gotten in to and out of the dinghy 3600 times. Never before has she come close to falling in. Yesterday was her day.
Only 30 minutes later it was my turn. We approached the night's anchorage. Libby went forward to drop the anchor and I stayed at the helm. As I backed the boat down, I heard a sudden loud snap noise, and then the engine stalled. OH NO! I forgot that we were towing the dinghy behind us. I backed down on the dinghy painter and caught it in the propeller. The last time I committed that mistake was 10-15 years ago, also on Lake Champlain. I can remember to take up the slack on the painter 1999 times in a row and then forget the next time.
Libby didn't have to pay a big price though. I saved her from a dunking and a whack on the head. I wasn't so lucky. I had to dive in the water with a knife in my teeth to cut the painter away from the propeller. It is early in the summer season and the water is very cold. Very cold indeed. I had to do it though even though I hate swimming in cold water. The line had 10 tightly wrapped turns around the shaft so it took a long time to get it off. Brrrrrrr.
The dinghy's painter is ruined. Cut in three places. I'm going to replace it this afternoon, but I'll follow a very sensible suggestion that Libby made just three days ago. She asked, "Why isn't the dinghy painter make with floating rope?"
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
44 29.38 N 073 14.23 W
Yesterday we met with Stephan and Lori. They are the couple from the yacht Twin Sprits that we have known for several years. Last summer they "went over to the dark side." That means they sold their boat and put the money into an RV. After 11 years of cruising by boat, they switched to cruising on land. Libby and I were very interested in their stories and curious about their reactions to the switch.
Not surprisingly, Stephan and Lori have been thoroughly enjoying themselves. They started in Massachusetts, then traveled to Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and back to Massachusetts again. Now they're preparing for another grand tour of the lower 48. They say that there are many similarities between the water and land based cruising life styles, but some important differences too. One disappointment was that they found it harder to make new cruising friends in the RV park. They say it is because the RV cruisers stay in one place only a short time before moving on, and because they choose from an infinite number of routes. East coast boating cruisers go up and down the same coast on roughly the same schedule. That means that they have many experienced in common and that they cross paths with familiar faces much more often. Interesting.
Anyhow, Stephan and Lori drove up here to visit us, and to explore Vermont a little bit. So far the weather has been uncooperative with scattered showers, and no good views of the mountains. I hope that improves soon.
I can't start our outboard motor. We haven't used it since the Bahamas. I suspect bad fuel. I'm going to go ashore now in search of a gas station to buy some fresh gasoline.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
We're always so concerned about running aground. But we usually manage to get ourselves off OK. Out troubles seem small compared to the Volvo Race boat in this picture taken today. I'm guessing that the damage to this multimillion dollar racing boat may be severe.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
44 17.69 N 073 18.82 W
A week or so ago, I wrote about the joys of returning to home territory. More on that subject today.
We spent the night in Porter Bay. Porter Bay on Lake Champlain is a particularly idyllic place to anchor. The bay is about 1 mile in diameter, sheltered in all directions. There are no houses or structures visible. The perimeter is marked by cliffs, and forests and a marsh. Last night the wind was totally still. That meant that we could see and hear the surroundings particularly well.
We had the whole place to ourselves; no other boats. Just us and two ducks and a family of geese with 3 goslings. As the sun set, we were reminded anew of the sights and sounds of nighttime in the northeast. The crickets and frogs were all making noise the best they could. Ah yes, we thought, one forgets things like the sound of nighttime when visiting exotic places in other states and countries. In West Charlton, we used to have the joy of nearby peepers from May through June. Peepers are tiny frogs the size of your finger tip that can make extraordinarily loud sounds. No peepers here in Porter Bay but the other frogs made up for it.
This morning, before getting out of bed, we awoke to the din of a nearby flock of migrating geese. The geese are fond of putting down for the night in places like Porter Bay. About 1 hour after dawn, they're ready to take off again. Believe me, it is a very noisy affair when a flock of geese decides to take off.
What other rewards? Soon after departing, we caught our first glimpse of Mount Mansfield and Camel's Hump in Vermont. We lived many years at the foot of these two spectacular mountains. We climbed each of them several times, and I learned to fly planes and gliders in their vicinity. A few minutes later, we passed Split Rock Point. That is where one departs the narrow part of Lake Champlain, to the broadest part. Out in the broad part, one is treated to an unobstructed view of BOTH The Adirondack Mountains in New York, and The Green Mountains in Vermont. The beauty of that view lifts the soul. It is the reason that so many people, ourselves included, just love living in this area.
Today, we'll stop in Burlington and get to see our daughter Jenny for the first time in almost a year. Ah, more food for the soul.
p.s. Porter Bay was also the site of two of my all time favorite sailing stories. See "Opening Day", August 26, 2007, [http://dickandlibby.blogspot.com/2007/08/moment-opening-day.html] and "The Great Super Chicken Caper", September 2007[http://dickandlibby.blogspot.com/2007/09/great-moment-great-super-chicken-caper.html] Last night, we anchored at the exact spot of that super chicken caper, and it brought back strong memories of my departed father.
Friday, June 12, 2009
43 50.31 N 073 23.33 W
Yesterday, Libby and I hugged and congratulated each other. Yet another goal accomplished. We said that we would come to Lake Champlain for the summer and now we're here. In fact, we're anchored under the cannons of Fort Ticonderoga, a very historic symbol of Champlain for a long time.
I'm still challenged about what verb to use for these mast up-down operations and states. Dis-masted, is the only generally accepted word that applies. Therefore, allow me to create my own dictionary.
Masted A vessel with a functional mast. A sailboat.
Dis-masted A vessel with a lost or broken mast.
De-masted Lowering the mast temporarily. [alternative verb: unstep the mast]
Re-masted Re-raising the mast of a de-masted vessel [alternative verb: step the mast]
Un-masted Converting a sailboat to a motorboat.
Thus, according to my definitions, yesterday we stopped at Chipman Point Marina in Orwell Vermont and re-masted Tarwathie. That made Libby happy. It made me happy. It made Tarwathie very happy.
The only down side about being here is the weather. Since coming north of Delaware Bay, the weather has been frequently gray, cool, rainy, and no wind. Extended weather forecasts for the Champlain Valley call for more of the same. Bummer. We're used to having plentiful wind sailing on this lake. Oh well, we have lots of maintenance chores. If we're smart, we'll focus on those while the weather is bad.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
As you know, we constantly meet new friends while cruising. Nothing however quite matches the pleasure of spending time with old friends. Here in the capital district, we have lots of old friends.
Our social weekend started on Friday. Pete and Mary Ellen met us in Waterford and invited us out to dinner at a restaurant in Troy. That made a very nice evening and it allowed us to catch up with their news.
Sunday, we picked up my sister Marilyn to spend the day with us. It has been 9 months since we saw her too. We took her to breakfast at a Friendly Restaurant in Glenville, NY where we have been taking our family for nearly 40 years. Our children even remember that restaurant from their early childhood.
Then we headed to West Charlton to meet with friends and former neighbors and to attend the Charlton Founders Day Parade. I even got to stop at the fire house and say hello to my fellow firemen as the prepared the fire trucks for the parade. We met with Bud and Nancy and Craig, and Maggie, and Louie, and many more. We also drove by our former house and were somewhat shocked at how many changes the new owners made.
In the evening we went to have dinner with our oldest and best friends, John and Mary Ann. It is always a great pleasure to see them and it has been two years since we saw them last. Also, John and Mari from West Charlton also came to dinner so it made a great evening.
Tonight, still at Waterford, we may have a visit from Beverly, a very dear former colleague and friend, as well as follow up visits from Pete, Mary Ellen, John and Mary Ann.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder which is what makes reunions particularly sweet. We've been having fun.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
42 47.16 N 073 40.69 W
Where are we now? Right next to this sign.
Below is a panorama of the anchorage at Middle Ground near Athens. We saw deer and fox and lots of geese here. A truly beautiful place to linger. Click on the image to see it full screen.
The Cheaspeake is famous for lovely shore side homes. But we think that the Hudson has the best ones. Unfortunately, the best estates, owned by Rockerfeller, Roosevelt, Vanderbilt, Carnegie etc. have all allowed trees to grow in front of them. They can't be seen much from the river, nor do they have river views for themselves.
Some of the homes on the banks of the Hudson are ostentatious, some are modest. The collage below shows some of the prettiest. Click on it to see it full screen. Note the picture left, bottom -- look in the center and you'll see a child's playhouse -- just charming.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I was sitting in the Athens Public Library yesterday, surfing the net and ordering varnishes for this summer's coming makover of Tarwathie's cosmetics. I plunked down my computer on a table next to some of the library's public computers. At 1430, a nice teen aged girl, perhaps 13 years old, came in and started using the computer next to me.
I wasn't trying to spy on the girl but I got a big education on how some young folks live in today's fast track anyhow.
The first thing that alerted me was the sound of the furious bursts of keyboard strokes as she typed. It sounded like she was trying for a record in speed typing.
Then I noticed that she was wearing earphones plugged in to an IPOD. Of course; I should have expected that.
The girl logged in to some kind of online gaming site. I thought, "Aha! That's how she'll spend her time." Wrong. She played the game for only 5 minutes. Then it was on to her Yahoo mail page.. Then she was looking at a list of the top 50 songs. Then to myspace. Then to movie listings. Then to a big list of I don't know what.
I forgot to mention that while all that was occurring, her phone vibrated every 15 seconds. Even though she was sitting 12 inches away from a sign saying NO CELL PHONES, she answered each buzz. 9 of the 10 buzzes she got were text messages. I was amazed as she read each and composed a reply in seemingly 10 seconds or less. Her speed with that phone's keyboard was amazing. One of her calls was a plain old fashioned voice call. That one took her 30 seconds to dispose of.
Whoops, now she's gone and a second girl, this one about 10 yeard old sat down. She's checking her myspace account. Two minutes on that, and now she's at Yahoo mail.
Of course I already knew that teenagers do all these things. The surprising part to this ancient old man was how speedily and intensely they do it. They act like people overdosed on caffeine, or like I used to act at work when I was in danger of missing an important deadline. How terrible stressful their lives must be.
I hesitate to make judgments because I grew up in a different era and because there are three generations between me and these young girls. Nevertheless, if I were their parents I'd be worried to death about these young people burning themselves out at much too young an age. I
would also fear that they could lose their ability to concentrate and listen
at school or to just sit back and enjoy single-tasking while reading a book.
Am I wrong?
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Twenty minutes ago I dropped Libby off in Hudson to catch her train to New York. Already I feel lonely on Tarwathie. Just kidding. I hope she has a wonderful power lunch in Manhattan.
This morning is exceptionally beautiful. I got up at six and took my coffee out on the deck. The wind is so still that the water reflects like a mirror, and with the sun just risen, the cirrus clouds high above look lovely. I took several pictures of the scene and the reflections on my camera.
I also saw for the first time a herd of whitetail deer on the island we've been anchoring near. It is the first time in several years that we've seen deer.
Also, when I pulled up at the public dock here in Athens, there was a pair of
geese strutting around with their dozen goslings. They look so cute, but they make such messes!
All and all, it makes for a glorious day to enjoy being home alone. I think I'll mosey on down to the Athens Stewarts store for coffee and a donut.
p.s. Libby and I read a fascinating true crime story yesterday in the Washington Post. It makes CSI sound like child's play. Read it yourself. Read here first. Read here second.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
When we meet people who ask about our cruising lives, I’m fond of comparing ourselves to the geese. “We’re like the geese,” I say, “we go south in the fall and north in the spring.” This year, I’m happy to say we are truly in synch with the geese.
Ever since we entered the Hudson Valley, we've been seeing and hearing numerous flights of geese. That too is a familiar sound. I remember well past October sailing vacations on Lake Champlain in which the sounds of the geese honking seemed louder than that of the wind howling. I also remember life in West Charlton. The trees around our house made it difficult to ever see the geese, but we heard them all the time in the spring and fall. Behind us were big corn fields where the geese were fond of spending the night. In case you don’t know, they honk all night long.
The geese’s schedule has them flying south past New York in October, and north again in late May. In the past four years, Tarwathie and crew have been in the mid-Atlantic states during those months; therefore not truly in synch with the geese.
Just a minute ago, a flight of geese passed Tarwathie particularly low and close, inspiring this blog article. When seen close up, one can see how they use the honks to coordinate their flying to maintain the V formation. Each goose uses sight to maintain his position in the V behind birds ahead of him, and sound to know how he’s positioned with respect to the other geese behind him. The V shape is never perfect, it contains wiggles and curves that constantly appear and are constantly corrected by the birds.
The geese also made Libby and I a bit jealous. They fly north, while Tarwathie sits here with her wings clipped. What I mean is that yesterday we took the mast down. A sailboat without her mast erected is a sadly neutered creature. Don’t worry Tarwathie, we’ll erect it again as soon as we get to Champlain.
Today is a day of not moving. We’re hanging out in the Athens/Hudson area today. Tomorrow, Libby is going to ride the train from Hudson to New York City to have lunch with our daughter in law Cathy and Cathy’s friend. How very cosmopolitan. I wonder if this ladies lunch will be reported in Vogue?