Sunday, August 18, 2047

Attention Cruising Blog readers

The main subject of this blog is the cruising life of Dick and Libby in the years 2005-2017.   Since we are no longer cruising, the blog has become inactive. 

I know of at least 13 fans who went back to the beginning and read all 2978 posts in this blog in chronological order.    Sorry, I never collected all those stories into a book -- but they are all here for you to read. 

But only makes it easy to read in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent post (this one) at the top.  To read the other way, use the sidebar showing years and months, go back to February 2005 and begin.

Here is a link to the first post in this blog:

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Emergency Plan for Severe Thunderstorms

I haven't blogged for a while.  But yesterday I went day sailing with friends on Lake Champlain.  Soon after our return, an unusually severe thunderstorm went by resulting in some deaths on the water.   I realized that I never blogged before about strategy in those circumstances.

When you live aboard full time, you can't follow the advice to not go out on stormy days, or to get off the lake when storms approach.  Libby and I rode though dozens of such storms, day/night, offshore/lakes/rivers, sailing/powering/anchored, aware/surprised.   From that, I think I can express a general strategy for sailboats caught in severe summer thunderstorms.

  1. Be aware of the approaching weather.  Use all available info sources.  Today's forecast.  Your eye on the sky.  Weather alert radio.   Probably the only time you will get caught completely by surprise is when you are at anchor and asleep.
  2. If anchored, and if severe weather is forecast,  someone must stay on anchor watch all night.  No alcohol for anyone onboard, and don't allow everyone to sleep at the same time.
  3. If under way, and if there is adequate time to go to a sheltered spot, do so.  Never try to race the storm. Be cautious about going ashore.  Getting caught in a dinghy (or even walking on a floating dock) when the storm hits is more dangerous than being on board your main vessel.  If you are not 100% certain that you can make shelter with 20 minutes margin, then stay put and use your time to prepare. 
  4. Get the sails down and secured,  and the engine running on standby.   Loose items on deck must be put below or well secured.   A furled sail that spontaneously unfurls in high winds is a major danger, don't let that happen.   A roller furling jib should be secured with a shackle, not just the furling line.  The main sail must be firmly lashed to the boom with rope, not canvas or bungee.
  5. Consider your location.  If you are surrounded by nearby shoals, you are highly vulnerable.  Get out of there ASAP.   If not (the usual case) your primary strategy is to stay where you are and ride out the storm.  Intense summer thunderstorms seldom last more than 15 minutes. In the open sea, 15 minutes is too short to build up huge swells, so wind not waves is the main concern.  If you try to seek shelter during the storm, there is a risk of moving from a safe place to an unsafe place.   It is less risky to stay put.  
  6. If the depth and the bottom and the condition of your ground tackle are favorable, and if you have enough advance warning, drop anchor and set the anchor.  Use 10:1 scope.  If not, then you will rely on engine alone.   Even if the engine fails, you will not drift more than 1/2 mile in 15 minutes.
  7. One helmsman on deck, everyone else down below.   Everyone wears a life jacket.
  8. Use the engine to maintain your position.  If anchored, use the engine to reduce strain on the anchor rode.   If you have GPS, that is the best tool to monitor that you maintain position.   If the engine fails (or if you have no engine in the first place) and you have more than 1/2 mile safe water behind you, then stay calm, go below, close all hatches, and wait it out as you drift.
  9. Turn your VHF on to channel 16, and listen for nearby distress calls.  Do not chat on the VHF, especially not on channel 16.  If you hear a nearby call for help, you can respond after the storm passes.  Do not attempt a rescue during the storm.   
  10. When the storm passes, use your cell phone to notify worried family or friends that you are safe.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Libby's Icebreaker Speech

Umatilla, FL
[We're getting more and more plugged into society here. Mostly, outside the RV park.  We are working on a woman's club called Fluently Spoken, and on organizing an Intelligence Squared style debate with a group of men. Necessary that, is knowledge of how Toasmaster's works. So, Libby joined the Toasting Ocala club to learn. She did her first speech last night. I think she did marvelously on the delivery.

p.s. Do you want me to continue blogging about the prisons?

Here's Libby's speech]
Madam toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, and honored guests. Most of my story is intertwined with Dick, my husband of 53 years. His career gave us the opportunity to live many places and to meet many people.


Twice, our family moved to Sweden. We became immigrants, which exposed us to another culture.

We learned how alien local customs can feel. Let me give you a few examples:

  • · reindeer meat on pizza, 
  • · horse meat for cold cuts, 
  • · and when waiting in line, having people invade your personal space. 
I felt frustrated when expressing myself in a foreign language. Idioms and prepositions were the hardest to master. Swearing in Swedish never gave me any real satisfaction. When I taught English as a second Language both in Sweden and in the States, it was easy to emphasize with the students, because I hid experienced the frustration first hand.

I was fortunate that our family never needed a second income. That left me free to pursue my life’s goal of being useful to family, friends, and community. I was involved with Headstart, Parents Anonymous, local libraries, ESL, ARC, a fireman’s auxiliary, and Habitat for Humanity.

When Dick and I retired at age 60, we went sailing. Our home for 12 years was a 32-foot sailboat named Tarwathie. I trusted Dick’s seamanship, and Tarwathie’s seaworthiness. So, I was willing to step aboard as a novice. While learning to sail an ocean-going vessel, I made many errors.
  • · I let her get off course. 
  • · I let the wind out of the sails. 
  • · I got sea sick. 
  • · I ran Tarwathie aground, sometime more than once in the same spot. 
But Dick was patient and eventually, I mastered all those skills so that I knew I could bring Tarwathie back to safe harbor even if Dick had been disabled.

  • I learned some important things while sailing. 
  • · I learned that sailors are helpful friendly people. 
  • · I learned that rowing a dinghy is fun. 
  • · I learned to pay attention to the wind! Too little wind is frustrating, and too much wind is dangerous. 
  • · I learned that schedules are useless. Wind, current, tide, and weather determine where you will be, and when you will get there. 
  • · I learned that at sea, if something is not secured, it will break or be lost overboard. 
  • · And, I learned that that once we hit our 70s, we no longer had the stamina for the sailing life. 
We still miss Tarwathie. She was a member of our family.

Now we have
  • · a winter RV in Florida 
  • · a summer RV in Vermont, 
  • · and a tent for travelling around between times. 
I hope that by being a member of Toasting Ocala I will develop the skills I need to be useful for gavel clubs. Thank you.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Our Life Story Told By Our Cars #20-22

Umatilla, Florida

We moved from Vermont, to West Charlton, NY.  I still had George.   

We went to my father once more (the last time I think) and bought this Plymouth.  It was a pretty nice car.  It lasted until I wrecked it one day in Thomas Corners, Glenville, NY.

Dave was living in Alaska, but he came to visit for Thanksgiving.  He borrowed the blue Plymouth to drive to Vermont to see his friends; and on that trip he went in a ditch.  His return flight to Alaska departed the next morning.  So, in the night Libby and I drove George to Vermont.  I drove Dave back, while Libby got the Plymouth repaired in Vermont.   That was a bad day.

George was approaching end of life, so we needed so we bought this brand new Saturn for Libby. Other than the Saab, this was the only new car we ever bought. 

The Saturn had a stick shift and it was fun to drive.

When we started cruising on Tarwathie. in 2005, we left the Saturn with Jen.  After a year or so of cruising, we asked Jen to get rid of it for us, so she sold it.  Thanks Jen.

After wrecking the blue Plymouth, I needed a car so I bough t this Nissan pickup.   I was a fireman at the time, so owning a pickup was nearly mandatory.

It was a clunker.  Full of mechanical problems.  One day, on the way to work, I got broadsided.  That wrecked the passenger side door, but the truck still ran, so I drove it that way for a year or two without fixing the door.

When we started cruiding on Tarwathie, we gave the truck to Nick.  He junked it.

Our Life Story Told By Our Cars #17-20

Umatilla Florida

When we moved from Sweden to Vermont, this was our first car. I had always wanted a minivan, so that was the attraction.   It was a Toyota.  It had stick shift.

Jenny said that she learned how to drive on that car.

After a while we began having trouble.  After close inspection, I could see a line of corrosion from the ground up to hip level.  I concluded that it has been flooded in salt water!!!

I complained to the Toyota dealer.  They denied that it was flooded.  However they took it on trade for another car.  I used it to buy a car for Jenny who was just graduating from high school.  I selected a Nissan Ultima, that I thought would be a reliable car for Jen.  She hated it!!! My bad; I should have not tried to surprise her, but brought her to the dealer instead so she could choose herself.

I went back to my father again to help us buy a car.  He came up with one like that, a Chrysler Lebanon.    It was pretty cool, with a big engine, and a turbocharger.   Most fun, it had an audio voice system.  That sounds mundane today, but back then it was innovative.  Because of the voice, we named the car George.  I used to joke.  George would say, "Your door is ajar."  I would reply, "A door is not a jar." or "No, your door is adjar."

When George got old and cranky, in the morning the first time someone touched the door handle, George would recite his entire repertoire of sentences.  It was as if he was lonely, and it encouraged us to think of George as "he."  That's not so different than thinking of Tarwathie as "she."

[Libby said that there was another car she bought before this one, some kind of blue Chrysler.  I don't remember that at all, and I have no picture.]
After some time, I started working in Conneticut while living in Vermont.   Libby needed a car while I was gone, so we bought this one.  I never drove that car, so I don't have much to say.

When Dave got his license, Libby let him borrow that car to go to school.  He wrecked it one morning right around the corner of our house.  

End of that car.

Libby went without a car for the remainder of our time in Vermont.  She said, "I wanted to teach Dave that cars were not disposable things that you can just wreck and replace."