Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Repowering Project Days 6 and 7

Fort Pierce

Well, we made the deadline to be ready for Bud Taplin, but barely.

Tuesday morning we went to buy some paint and to check our mail back at the marina in Vero Beach. Then we returned to Tarwathie and painted the engine compartment an appropriate battleship gray. It is cleaner than ever. One more major job to do to be ready for Bud. That is to remove the old propeller shaft.

A man named Jeff passed by and stopped to look at our old engine sitting on the ground. He asked to buy the exhaust water loop header, saying that it would fit his Perkins 4-108. I told him that I wouldn't sell the parts because I was trying to sell the old engine for $300. I had a previous quote from Trans Atlantic Diesels up in Virginia. They said that they would pay $300 to $500 including freight depending on how complete the engine was. I called Fort Pierce Diesel and asked if they wanted to buy it for $300. The man there said that they would get back with an answer by Thursday.

Last Saturday when Ed and Steve were here we disassembled the Max Prop. It all worked fine except the last piece. There is a hub that presses on to the end of the shaft and mates with the key in the keyway. We tried and tried and we couldn't get it off.

So when the painting was done I hopped in the car and drove to the nearest NAPA auto parts store to buy a gear puller. They had two sizes, a two ton and a five ton size. Since two tons sounded like a lot and since space between the end of the shaft and the rudder was very limited, I bought the smaller one. That was a mistake. Libby and I fiddled with an hour with the gear puller with no success. Finally I overstressed it to the point that a bolt hole on the puller pulled itself out of shape. The gear puller was broken.

At the end of the day, Jeff called about the motor. I told him that I wouldn't have an answer by Thursday.

This morning we started fresh. I returned to NAPA and bought the five ton puller. Once again, Libby and I tried and tried but we couldn't budge the hub. Every time we applied maximum pulling force one of the gripping arms would hop off. I even tried to heat the hub with my propane torch, but it didn't help. Finally, we gave up and I asked the boatyard for help. They said OK but since everyone was busy it would take some time.

I worked on other chores. I put in new control cables for the throttle and gear shifter. I put in a new copper foil grounding plane between the antenna tuner and the master grounding plate on the outside of the hull. The route for this copper foil let through the engine compartment so now is the time to do the work.

After lunch Jeff came by. He didn't want to wait so he had $300 cash to buy the engine. I was happy with the deal and was surprised at how easy is was to sell it.

Finally around 16:00, just before the end of the day, a boatyard guy came by to help with the propeller hub. I showed him what we tried and the difficulty we had. He brought over an acetylene torch. We put tension on the hub with the 5 ton gear puller and then he applied the torch flame. It worked. In less than 4 seconds the hub heated enough to break free. Now the old shaft is off and everything is ready for the new engine and Bud Taplin's arrival tomorrow morning. Like I said, we made the deadline, but barely.

The picture shows what our propeller looked like after hauling it out followings two months in Marathon. The hull was covered in slime but no barnacles. Both zincs that I replaced 10 weeks ago were nearly used up. Beware of warm salty waters when it comes to zincs. They get used up faster than you can imagine.

Repowering day 8

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Repowering Project Day 5

Fort Pierce

This has been another day of good progress. We got the engine out by 10:00. It only took about a half hour of fiddling. The boatyard brought their big fork lift over to do the lifting. It was ideal for the job. We just tied a chain to one of the forks and lifted. It took a little wiggling to make it find its way out. We also had to remove the exhaust header because it was jamming.

That leaves us 2.5 days to clean up the engine compartment, repaint and get ready for Bud Taplin. Things are going according to plan.

I asked the boatyard to order us two gallons of ablative bottom paint. Our existing bottom paint may have a year of life left in it, but while we’re here up on the hard we might as well paint.

Repowering days 6 and 7

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Repowering Project Day 4

Today we rested. There is nothing more we can do until the marina brings over their fork lift truck tomorrow.

Here's an aerial view of Fort Pierce. Notations on the photo show the marina, our temporary apartmnet, and the outlet to the sea.

Repowering day 5

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Repowering Project Day 3

Fort Pierce

We made very good progress today. I did all the minor work in the engine removal. I disconnected all the wiring, the fuel, the cooling, and the exhaust.

Then my brother Ed came down from Melbourne to help. Even better, Ed brought his friend Steve. Steve is a mechanic and he has the right tools. Their trip down here was not uneventful. Steve failed to securely close the tailgate on his pickup truck, and some of his tools fell out. When he discovered the loss he was very upset and he retraced his movements for the day attempting to find them. He didn’t succeed. Sorry about that Steve. I know the feeling.

Ed and Steve helped me with the two things I couldn’t do alone with the tools I have. Steve took the nuts off the motor mounts, and he unbolted the shaft coupling. To get the propeller shaft out, we have to remove the propeller and the tiller. The tiller prevented the rudder from moving enough to the side to allow the shaft to be withdrawn. I have a Max Prop, a geared, adjustable and self-feathering propeller. It has internal gears and parts. We disassembled it and accomplished everything except removing the propeller hub from the shaft and the keyway. A gear puller will be required to do that.
On Monday, the boatyard can bring their fork lift and lift out the engine, and they can use a gear puller to pull the propeller hub off and then remove the propeller shaft. Then the engine removal will be complete.

That will leave me two days, Tuesday and Wednesday to clean up and repaint the engine compartment. Bud Taplin will fly the redeye special here and will arrive on Thursday morning. Sounds like a good plan.

As a side activity, I’m going to re-take my exam for the general class ham license on Wednesday night. I took that exam last year on February 11, 2006 but I did not complete the Morse Code test. Despite three months of daily practice and learning with Morse Code, I could never manage to copy reliability with an accuracy better than 80%. It never began to feel natural or become easier to listen to code. Anyhow, I I hoped that they would change the rule to not require the Morse Code. They did change the rule but not until February 23, 2007. My exam was only good for 365 days, so I missed the deadline. Therefore I need to take it again.

Repowering day 4

The Repowering Project Day 2

Riverside Boatyard, Fort Pierce, Florida

Things move slowly down here. We keep telling everybody that we'll be up on the hard for only a few days, maybe a week. They laugh and say, "Call it a month." Our friends Reggie and Terry came here for two weeks, and wound up staying for 5 months of repairs. Captain Bill, who we met today put his boat up for 2 weeks work, and now he's on his second year of repairs. We won't let that happen to us.

Not to say that everything is easy. The boatyard gave me a hassle about outside help. My brother Ed and his friend Steve are coming tomorrow to assist us in removing the old engine. Bud Taplin will come next week and the manager said that he would not be permitted either, despite the fact that he's not being paid. The boatyard said that none of them could assist, or even climb a ladder without insurance. I checked with my insurance company and they were going to send a certificate with language that should satisfy Riverside. Still, the Riverside manager said no.

In the meanwhile I talked with a neighbor, Captain Bill that I mentioned above. Bill said that it was really a matter of money. When local contractors do work in the boatyard, they pay a portion of their fee to the boatyard. Outside helpers who are not paid deprive the boatyard of revenue. With that in mind, I went back with a new ploy. I proposed that the Riverside yard workers would remove the engine and put the new one in, but that I would have the assistance of my friends to prepare for the removal and the supervision of Bud Taplin on the installation. I explained that Bud was an expert that I was calling in because of his expertise. That approach worked, and the manager agreed.

It was a good lesson in diplomacy for me. I would have needed some yard worker help in any case. The difference was in emphasis. In my original mental model I thought to do all the work myself with the help of friends and to call on yard workers in if and when needed. In the compromise model, I asked the boat yard to do the work while allowing me to handle some preparation and supervision with outside resources. The practical difference between the two is not large. What can I say. I'm an engineer. Diplomacy has never been my strong suit.

At the end of the day I rode my bike down to Avis and rented a car. Then we drove out to the barrier island to a place called Bauman Apartments. Bauman was recommended by our friends Reggie and Terry from Blue Topaz. It's very nice. We rented an apartment here for a week, extendable to two weeks. The apartment is delightful. There is even a back yard and a nice dog to play with. Across the street is a path leading to a private beach. Libby was also delighted to find a microwave oven in the kitchen. Wow, such luxury! (Thanks for the recommendation Reggie and Terry)

Anybody want to come visit us in the next week or two? We can host you in better style than we could do onboard Tarwathie.

The only problem is that all this stuff costs money. Ah well, I just have to relax and to consider these expenses as part of the repowering project.

Repowering Day 3

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Repowering Project Day 1

Fort Pierce 27.49460 -80.332350

By by Vero Beach. Since Sea Tow skunked us on the tow, we were dependent on weather to sail down here. The weather cooperated. We had a nice 5-10 knot breeze from the NW, perfect for our trip. It is also a very nice day. 100% sunshine and 80 degrees (27C). As we slipped the mooring, Libby was so happy to be moving again that she danced a jig on the foredeck.

The engine does run but barely. It gives off black smoke and leaves a trail of oil in the water from the exhaust. We also have to refill the coolant every 15 minutes. However, it starts right away. We reserved the engine for emergencies.

As as second precaution, I put out 30 feet of chain and hung the anchor just above the water. That way if we needed to anchor to prevent a grounding, we could do so instantly. Tarwathie is a big heavy boat, and maneuvering her in tight quarters (like the 40 foot wide channel leading the the haul-out ramp in the marina) in light winds under sail would very risky. Indeed, if we tried that, the probability of colliding with other boats would be more than 50%. Therefore, sick as she is, Tarwathie's engine could serve for precision positioning of the boat.

As it turned out the trip was uneventful. That is except for one minor grounding. It was my fault. I neglected the helm for a second to fiddle with the GPS. In narrow channels, a few seconds neglect is too long. No big deal. We were under way again in about 15 minutes.

We arrived at the Riverside Marina Boat Yard about 13:00. They told us to tie up on some pilings waiting for our haul out. A bit later they told us that they couldn't haul us out until the morning. No big deal. We can wait here.

Repowering day 2

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More Bad News

Vero Beach

Boy oh boy, some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Bud Taplin called. He is back from his trip and ready to fly out here to help install the engine. When talking on the phone the fact came out that we have been on entirely different pages all the time. I had been viewing this engine deal as a turnkey project. Bud is the engine dealer. I thought that I was buying all the engine replacement services from him. I expected Bud to work with me on the entire project, including removal of the old engine. Yesterday it came out that Bud expected me to have removed the old engine, old wiring and everything before he flies out to work on the installation part only.

Ay ay ay. If I had known that we could have moved to Fort Pierce and started the removal more than a week ago.

p.s. Just to finish making my day, my PVC tiller extension disappeared from the dinghy while it was at the dinghy dock yesterday. That's the first pilferage we've experienced yet.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Almost Ready To Go

Vero Beach

The day after tomorrow we should leave for Fort Pierce and the engine project. Last minute headaches are hindering (but not stopping us)

  • Bud Taplin is still out of the country. We want to finialize when and where to meet and to make motel reservations for him. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll get in touch.

  • I have been counting on Sea Tow to tow us down to Fort Pierce. We pay $139/year for an unlimited towing membership to Sea Tow. I just called them. They said that so-called dock-to-dock non-emergency towing is covered only in my home port. Since I don't have a home port, they want $200/hour to do it.

    I'm sorely disappointed to say the least. There's nothing like an insurance claim for something you thought was covered only to have the insurance company tell you no. They charged me the same fee as people who do have a home port and who do get the dock-to-dock coverage. What I got could be described as dick-to-dock.

    I checked the Boat-US competitive towing package. It doesn't include the dock-to-dock service at all.

    I'll try to get down there one way or the other without the tow. It might make for an interesting trip and an interesting blog article.

  • Today I rode in the dinghy. We now have a motor so the oars were stowed inboard. I made the mistake of sitting on them. Both oars broke. I just ordered new ones to pick up at the Fort Pierce West Marine store. Sigh.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Cruising Life Times Three

Vero Beach

Many sailing enthusiasts are interested in the cruising life; being so different than conventional land based life styles. In reality there are (at least) three distinct cruising life styles that we have experienced so far.

The first cruising life style is life in port, such as we’re doing right now in Vero Beach. In port life is focused on the activities we can do on land. We can shop. We can shower. We go to the beach, or the library, museums. We can (but usually don’t) eat in restaurants. We ride the bus. We ride our bicycle and we take walks.

A key element of in-port life is that we use our dinghy every day. It is a key component of ship’s equipment when in-port. This contrasts with the cruising style we enjoyed in Sweden. We never had a dinghy in Sweden as do most boats. In Sweden the shore lines tend to be steep. One approaches shore head on while dropping a stern anchor. Then one brings the bow right up to shore and ties it off to one or more trees. Usually the crew goes ashore by simply stepping off the bow onto the rocks.

Another key feature of in-port life is that we get to socialize with other cruisers. The opportunities to socialize are very limited offshore or when on the go.

Books we have read about cruising devote most of their space to descriptions of in-port activities. The travel guides tell about the restaurants and the facilities and the things to do and things to avoid. Memoirs tell about the interesting experiences the sailors had on shore and what they like about the place they are visiting.

A fair number of cruisers intentionally or not become permanent residents of the port they visit. We have been in Vero so long that it is beginning to feel that way for us, but in a week we hope to leave here.

Of all the ports we visited, Marathon, in the Florida Keys is our favorite. Why is difficult to explain. It was pretty but not the prettiest. Convenient but not the most convenient. Perhaps the easy camaraderie that we found there with fellow cruisers. Certainly we made some lasting friendships there. We made lasting friendships here in Vero too, but for some reason Marathon was better.

Blue Water Sailing
We wrote a number of blog articles about our offshore experiences. Although we haven’t done any ocean crossings yet involving weeks at sea, we have had a fair sample passages taking less than a week.

Sailing offshore is a distinctly different life style. When it is just Libby and I onboard, the life is dominated by two things weather and sleep, weather and sleep. The one time when we had extra crew, (when Carmello and Diane sailed with us to Cape May) life changed dramatically. Sleep became less of a factor and social interactions with the crew took its place. In the close circumstances of offshore sailing it is vital that the crew get along well with each other. Whatever benevolent or hostile feelings may exist between crew members get amplified greatly at sea.

We also experienced the beauty of nature at sea. Although there are no trees or hills to look at, there is beauty and there is life. Even on the day when we were hammered by a Northern gale while in the Gulf Stream near Frying Pan Shoals, there was great beauty.

So far we have not experienced any seriously heavy weather in blue water. However we feel that we are well prepared to handle it and Tarwathie is among the world’s most seaworthy sailing boats. Nevertheless, we don’t deliberately put ourselves out there to challenge the storms just to prove the point. Someday we will go through heavy weather and then we’ll have new experiences to write about in our blog.

Inland Sailing
A distinctly different life style is what some people call coastal sailing. We call it inland sailing. Its distinguishing characteristic is that (nearly) every morning we weigh anchor and sail away to a different place. Then at the end of the day we find a new anchorage, anchor, eat a peaceful dinner and get a full night’s sleep. It is a migratory existence.

This year we did coastal sailing from New Jersey, north to Maine and back. We did inland sailing on the Chesapeake and on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

When doing inland sailing we typically sail perhaps five days out of a week and stop for a two or three day stay in one place the other two days. The most difficult part of inland sailing is finding places to replenish our supplies and to do the laundry. Even though we could provision for much longer intervals, we are spoiled. We like fresh milk and bread and ice cream, so we need to find a grocery store pretty often.

The east coast of the USA must be one of the best places in the world for extended inland sailing. There are thousands of safe and pleasant places to anchor. There are also a variety of landscapes and climates from sub arctic to sub tropical. There are urban areas big and small, up to and including New York City. There are marvelously isolated and remote areas where one can be alone with nature. Although we enjoy revisiting some favorite spots, there remain an enormous number of inviting places along the coast that we haven’t seen yet.

A disadvantage of the ICW is that long stretches have such narrow channels that one must motor, not sail the majority of the time. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

We also greatly enjoyed inland sailing the Stockholm Archipelago in Sweden where there are 20,000 islands within 100 kilometers of Stockholm. It was beautiful but there is not the variety of the US east coast.

When we go to the Bahamas we expect to sleep at anchor every night at a different place. In that respect it may resemble inland sailing. When we eventually go to the Caribbean islands and to other lands, we’ll no doubt meet new variations on the in-port, blue water and inland styles of life.

Our Favorite
So, which is our favorite? Actually we like the combination of the three, but in our hearts, inland sailing stands out. We have visited up to 115 places in one year that way. If we could visit 200 places per year, that would be great.

Not surprisingly, therefore, sailing the so-called Great Loop has great appeal for us. To sail the Great Loop from here, we would sail up the coast to New York, up the Hudson River to Albany, across the Erie Canal, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, along the Illinois River Canal to the Mississippi River, down the Mississippi to the Tennessee River, and then across the Tennessee River and various canals to Mobile Alabama, and finally across the Gulf Coast down Western Florida to the Florida Keys.

The high point of the trip would be the Erie Canal. That is our home territory. For nearly 40 years we traveled through the Mohawk Valley between Syracuse and Albany. It’s strikingly beautiful. Our favorite painting has always been Innes’ Peace And Plenty (above), a truly beautiful scene that depicts the Mohawk Valley. Then also we would have the great pleasure of visiting many family and friends along the way. The canal goes within a few miles of our former jobs, within 12 miles of our former home in West Charlton, within 20 miles of the home of our oldest son John and four of our grandchildren, and within 10 miles of our friends Jerry and Phyllis near Syracuse. Not only that, but the towns and villages along the canal go out of their way to be hospitable making it pleasant for cruisers to stay overnight. If and when we do travel the Erie Canal, I suspect that we might take a whole month to traverse it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hatches Away

Vero Beach

Tuesday was a very nice day. It was sunny, warm, and almost no wind. Around 17:00 I was sitting in the cockpit and I noticed a thunderstorm approaching from the west. I scrambled to make things ship shape -- to see that all things on deck that need to stay dry were put below and to see that all things remaining on deck were securely tied down. I didn't want to repeat the error of loosing my stay sail overboard.

Before I finished I heard an emergency weather report coming over the radio. They said that a line of severe thunderstorms with 50 knot winds were heading our way at a speed of 45 knots. I looked to the sky again. This time I could see a wall of clouds with low hanging scud rapidly heading our way.

I thought about the vessel Wing and A Prayer rafted up to us. The Captain, Bob, was on shore. I decided to break etiquette (one should not board somebody else's boat without permission under any circumstances) and to try to close up Bob's boat as a favor. I couldn't find his batter boards to close the companionway. However he had a tarp hanging over the boom so the open companionway should not be a problem.

I returned to Tarwathie in time to see the storm hit. In less than sixty seconds the winds changed from zero to 50 knots. At the same time, we got a torrential rain. I remained on deck hiding behind the dodger to observe. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw motion. I turned my head just in time to see Bob's forward hatch fly past. It was ripped off in the wind. It landed in the water about a boat's length behind us and floated neatly upside down on the surface.

I wondered what to do for a second, then I thought of the dinghy. I started to launch it, but a second glance backward showed that the hatch had already sunk. I abandoned the plan to rescue the hatch. Instead, I grabbed a canvas tarp from Tarwathie's desk, crossed over to Wing and A Prayer's forward deck, and covered over the open hole where the hatch was. Then at least, Bob's boat wouldn't fill with water and sink.

Five minutes later the storm front had passed us. Ten minutes after that we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow. A half hour later it was dusk and we could see a brilliant lightning show in the thunderclouds now over the Gulf Stream to the East.

The next morning, I got to tell Bob the bad news. He was devastated. The worst I'm sure was the feeling of stupidity he must have felt for not securing the latch on the forward facing hatch before leaving the boat. That's very basic seamanship and I'm sure Bob was very aware of it.

Next, Bob considered what to do about it. Buying a new hatch from West Marine would cost $500 or more, and the hatch probably wouldn't fit right. The missing hatch was curved to conform to the shape of the deck house on Bob's Bristol 26. A used Bristol 26 hatch would be very difficult to find. Making a replacement hatch would be very difficult because of the curved shape. The only solution seemed to be to dive and find the missing hatch.

Bob didn't want to dive himself in thse waters, plus he doesn't have the equipment. He hired a diver from another neighboring boat. This morning the diver came. I directed him to the place in the water where I thought the hatch had sunk. In less than 30 minutes the diver found the hatch, thus making Bob very happy.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Our friends June and Chris on Albion commented on my blog article when I complained about the cold here in Florida. They elected to spend the winter on board Albion at a dock in Annapolis Maryland. Here is what June wrote.

Well well let me tell you about the cold, and you can tell everyone else so that they feel better: We woke up this morning beset with ice. No water for tea because the pipes were frozen....(but I had an emergency gallon squirreled away) Of course we were concerned that if this continured that the pipes/hoses would burst..... it was only 8 degrees (F) last night.I hate to talk about "wind chill" degrees, but it was @ minus 10.

The marina had not yet put in "bubblers" -I think that should have been done 2 weeks ago because it's been frigid for that long and we've had ice. I don't just mean cold, I mean frigid(and remember I lived for 25 years in Maine before buying a boat, so I know winter!) It's been blowing hard for days....and that means the west wind blew out the water from Annapolis. We are sitting on the bottom in the mud. "High" tide looks like low tide(we have stationary docks, not floating docks so it's VERY noticeable) and at low tide I can't get off the boat-Chris manages to get up to the dock,but his legs are 2 inches longer-I still don't know how he does it. I have to wait for "high" tide and then it's still a little dodgy. The inside of Albion got up to 45 degrees today with the 3 electric heaters, but when I turned on the propane for 10 minutes it went up to 50. Ahhhh that's better!

Next year this time we will not be in the Chesapeake for sure.

Wow. I'm sure glad we didn't try to winter up north. Some years, when the winter weather is very mild, it might be OK, but not like that.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Trip Report

Orlando International Airport

Well, at this moment Libby is putting Marilyn on the plane back to Albany. It was a good week and,

We had three days with Marilyn. One at Disney. One day exploring and shopping around Cocoa Florida, and one day to visit her (and my) brother Ed and his family. It was the first time in many years that Marilyn got to Disney, and the first time in four years that she saw her brother Ed.

The high point of the trip was the breakfast with Mickey Mouse. It was amazing to see how excited and happy the characters made all the kids, and Marilyn reacted just like the kids did. She squealed with delight. The picture above is from the breakfast.

Marilyn does not have a lot of physical endurance so we ended the Disney theme park tour at 2 in the afternoon. It made for an easy day. It also helped that the crowds were very light. There were many more adults with no kids at Disney than there were familys with kids.

The best story I have from the stay at Disney came from Thursday morning as we were walking back to our room after breakfast. Many of the people we met on the path wore big badges around their necks. The badges identify the person or the group that they belong to. Almost everyone you see there appears very relaxed and happy. I noticed one man though who didn't fit the pattern. He stormed deliberately down the path in a big hurry and with a very stern look on his face. As he passed, I noticed his badge. It said in big block letters -- GERMAN. I had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing in his face.

Here we are at Eds. Sally, Marilyn, Libby, Kristi, Ed, and Dick.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mission Accomplished

The purpose of our side trip this week was to show my sister Marilyn a good time. For those of you who don't know, Marilyn is 55 years old but retarded. In many respects she sees the world like a seven year old. She lives in a group home run by Saratoga ARC in New York. Micky Mouse is Marilyn's absoulute favorite. Hence the trip to Disney and hence the event in this picture which was Breakfast With Mickey. It was great success. Mission accomplished.

I'll post a more detailed blog article on or trip later.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Vero Beach

The last few days have been cold and uncomfortable. At least by Florida standards. The daytime temperatures have been in the 50s, they sky is gray and rainy and it has been windy. Therefore we have been doing more indoor activities.

We had dinner with Bob from the vessel Wing and A Prayer. Bob is an arborist from New Hampshire. Bob and his friend Rodney sailed down to Vero from Portland Maine on a Bristol 26. They left Main more than two months later than we did, so they had a cold and stormy trip down, but they managed OK. Rodney had to return north and we hear that the temperature was below zero when his plane landed.

I never met an arborist before. I love the sound of that word -- arborist. Bob works for outfits like Davy Tree Services, pruning or removing trees. It sounds like the perfect job for someone who wants to work outdoors. In any case, Bob is the only sailor I know who carries a fifteen foot pruning saw, and a chain saw on a 26 foot sailboat. He is hoping to pick up short term arborist jobs in Florida to help fill his kitty.

This trip was Bob and Rodney's first voyage in the open sea. Bob said that he talked with his father by phone. Bob's father is a long term sailor, and he asked, "So what have you learned?" That sounds like a fatherly kind of question. Bob's answer was a good one. He said, "I learned humility and respect for nature. When you are alone out at sea you understand what an insignificant little spec you are.

We also had dinner on Blue Topaz with our new friends Terry and Reggie. The four of us are enjoying each other's company. After dinner I started a debate about Googlezon, whether or not that is the future destiny of news in the western world. (Googlezon is a startlingly prescient visions of the future. At least some people think so here. and here.)

Terry is a professional photographer, so she has a vested interest in such topics. We had a lively debate on the topic for a couple of hours. I played the role of spokesman for the younger generations who would embrace Googlezon even though the idea upsets me as it would anyone of our age. After, Reggie treated us to an oral recitation of a short story he wrote. My first instinct was correct, Reggie not only writes well but his voice is like Garrison Keillor's, and it is a treat to sit back and listen to him tell stories.

We also met Charles on the vessel Seawoof. Charles lives on board with his (very small) dog. He has been stuck in Vero for almost two years repairing what he says was extensive damage from the hurricaines. His dog barks whenever he sees dolphins swimming nearby and the dog jumps out of the dinghy to chase dolphins in the water whenever he sees them. Luckily for the dog, he doesn't jump off Seawoof to chase dolphins. If he did he wouldn't be able to get back on board.

Tomorrow, we are flying my sister Marilyn down here and we are taking her to Disney world. Therefore, from Tuesday to Saturday we are going to be sleeping on the hard. It has been a long time since we did that.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Two Years and Counting

Vero Beach

Yesterday was the second anniversary of our retirement. Still, we think that it was one of the best life choices we ever made. We are by no means getting tired or bored of the cruising life. Indeed, we feel that we're still in the preliminary stages. We have so many places that we haven't gone yet.

Do I miss work? In a word, no. The truth is that my stature as an engineer and programmer peaked years ago. 20 years ago when I was offered management jobs, I declined. In later years when a manager's job would have suited me better, I was too old to get considered.

Do we miss our family? You bet we do. But the truth is that in the past two years we have seen our family about as often as we did when living in New York.

Do we get tired of each other? Speaking for myself, no. Libby and I have been together since High School and there has never been a time where I tired of each other's company. I believe that Libby feels the same. Last year my ears perked when a long time cruiser said, "You can keep a woman on a boat for about two years. After that, they get restless." Well I'm happy to say that Libby is showing no signs of restlessness.

Do we feel cramped living in such a small space? Not at all. In fact, I picked up a copy of an old Time Magazine in the sailors lounge this morning and I read an article about people who live in micro-houses -- i.e. houses of less than 150 square feet (15 square meters) They looked very attractive to me. I could see us choosing something like that if the day came that we were unable to live on board a boat any more.

In about three weeks, we'll have our 2nd anniversay of living onboard Tarwathie.

p.s. I achieved another milestone on the anniversary date. I struck up a conversation with a local woman while sitting on a bench in the park waiting for the bus. I was eating a hot dog while talking to her about life on board a boat. She told me that I had mustard on my beard. While I was trying to wipe it off she said, "We locals have difficulty telling the difference between you sailors and the homeless people." Some sailors might have been offended by that but I was honored.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Nasty Prediction

Vero Beach

This is off topic, but I can't resist it.

This is pure speculation. I notice that experts seem to be increasingly concerned with zombie PCs on the web and all the damage that they can do. There will come a day when an injured party sues the zombie's host ISP (Internet Service Provider) claiming negligence. A natural reaction to that could be for the ISP to insist that its PC customers use the most hacker resistant, yet ubiquitous OS around -- namely Windows Vista.

I can hear the screams of anger now from millions of users who don't want to switch and who think that their existing PCs are fine for many years to come. The reality is that very few of them would stop using the net or even switch ISPs because of their anger. Most would probably grumble, then switch to Vista.

Hardware and third party software vendors and congressmen would back the ISPs because it would trigger the biggest orgy of computer and software upgrades since Y2K. It would create a surge of thousands of jobs.

The security debate to be acted out before congressional committees would be entertaining. We would pit antimonoculturalists on one side versus the ban-those-Win95-skeletons proponents on the other side. Both sides have valid concerns.

Could a major ISP successfully refuse Mac and Linux customers? I see no legal impediment. They can argue security and simplified support as their motives. Once again, most aggrieved Mac and Linux customers would scream, but they would rather switch than go back to dial-up. Therefore, relatively few customers would actually defect.

I hate bringing up such an ugly speculation. I can see the flames coming my way now. But, the simplicity and rationality of a Vista-only future from the point of view of the ISPs and others seems too powerful to ignore. Perhaps the question should be, what would stop it from happening?