Friday, March 21, 2014

Tricks For Old Dogs

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I presume that around the age of 5 my mother taught me how to tie my shoes. Unfortunately, I learned wrong. For the next 62 years, I was annoyed because my laces came untied a dozen times per day. Finally, in 2012 I got tired of that.. I searched Google for instructions on how to do it right, changed my method, and have not had that problem since.

While cruising, it took me 7 years to learn the correct way to tie a dinghy alongside Tarwathie. Most sailboats have squared off transoms in the back, so they tie the dinghy behind them. But Tarwathie is double ended, and we have the monitor self-steering in the back, so we can't tie the dinghy back there. I saw how our friends Don and Margaret tied their dinghy differently on their W32. Tried that, didn't work well. In the six years before I learned, we acquired scrapes and black marks where the dinghy rubbed the hull for 6 years. Those marks testify to my slowness at learning. By the way, after two years, the new method has proved to work very well.

It took four years on board the boat before I learned to change into work clothes before tackling dirty jobs like painting or engine mechanics. Every time I ruined my clothes, Libby would relegate them from my clothes drawer to my work-clothes drawer. I changed only after noticing that the first drawer was almost empty and the second drawer was stuffed to overflow.

It took an additional four years for me to learn to take off the work clothes before sitting down on the cushions. Lucky for me that it is usually only me and Libby on board so that I can run around in my underwear during the day. If I were an auto mechanic, I bet I would always put down paper before sitting in a customer's car, but at lunchtime I would hop into my own car with dirty clothes and no paper.

But it took me only 55 years to learn how to paint properly. Ever since my first full time job at age 14, I painted things for work or for home, or boat. For thinners and cleaners I used turpentine, linseed oil, mineral spirits, lots of acetone, but never naphtha. I thought naphtha was for moth balls. This month I bought a quart of naphtha for my deck painting projects. I'm amazed. It makes the painting very much easier and the result looks much more professional than anything I've ever done. I put a few drops of naphtha on the brush every 5 minutes. By the way, I owe this experience to the Pensylvsnia Legislature. They passed a law saying that products like Interlux Paint Thinner ($30/quart) must reveal their secret ingredients, I looked it up. Naphtha ($8/quart).

For someone who brags about how much he likes to learn new things, I can be awfully dense at certain things. If Libby was writing this post, I bet she could offer a much longer list.



  1. why not go through your boat blog and make a list of all the helpful hints, rules of thumb (or dumb),pearls of wisdom, so I wont have too. Something on the order of Rumsfeld's Rules would do nicely.

  2. There's your next book dad, "Cruising for Dummies"
    "Cruising: Lessons learned"
    I think it's a great idea

    Loved reading your latest blog post :) Do you now tie your shoes by going "around" the opposite way? Is it different for left handers?

    1. Proper ties are square knots. I was tying granny knots. Google them.

  3. You mean that after all these years there is something I could teach my mentor?


Type your comments here.