Friday, December 31, 2010

Exit Strategy, Part 2

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

Yesterday I posted a question from reader Chuck.  Here is our answer.

Chuck,  the truth is that we don't have any exit strategy.   We plan to cruise as long as we're able.   When the day comes that we're not able, then we'll make a new plan.   That's the simple answer.  The rationale behind it is more complex.  I'll elaborate.

We are now fully adapted to the voyager's life style (some would say the vagabond life style).   Every year we ask ourselves the question, "Do we want to continue cruising or to give it up?"  Every year so far (including today) the answer comes back "No.  We'll continue."  Indeed, "normal" retirement life on land sounds boring.   We certainly wouldn't have as much fun as we do.   

We are still blessed with good health.  That is the number one criterion for being able to live the cruising life.  Number two is the health and needs of your family.  That blessing could be taken away in an eye blink.   In fact, we recently met Bob and Sandra on the vessel Carpe Diem.  They're younger than we are.  Sandra was an oncology nurse.  She told us that being witness to the tragedy of patient's suddenly losing the ability to choose how to live, make her realize that, now (immediately), is the time to start living your dream.  Thus, their vessel Carpe Diem (seize the day) is most appropriately named.   

On our very first day on board Tarwathie we were inspired by another couple.  I blogged about it here.
I said, "When I got back to the boat Libby was onboard the neighboring boat Easy Lady, with Tim and BJ Page. The Page’s have been cruising the world since 1989, but now they’re going to give it up because they’re getting too old."  I further remember Time and BJ telling us that cruising was the best part of their lives, and how happy they were for having decided to do it, and how happy they were for us having made the same decision.  Our first day on Tarwathie was their last day on Easy Lady.  I feel they passed us their mantle.

Finance:  We estimate that our cruising life costs only 1/3 of the minimum expenses that we would need for a "normal" land-based retirement.   In fact, if we weren't doing this we couldn't afford to retire at all. Not now, nor anytime in the foreseeable future.  That kind of makes it a no brainer.  It also makes having a cruising life exit strategy secondary.  You could say that cruising was our exit strategy from working life.

Finance aside, we were drawn to this life by two motivating forces.   Just as it dawned on me, "now is the time to retire" We had just finished reading The Self Sufficient Sailor by the Pardeys.  We agreed that we were strongly drawn to the self-sufficient life style.   When considering what to do in retirement, we also realized that our fondest life's memories (aside from kids) were all associated with life on sailboats.  That's what we loved most.

We are also predisposed to act more and think less.  Prior to retirement, on three occasions we decided to uproot our family and move overseas to another country; just because it sounded like a good thing to do.  One of my friends later remarked, "You two do things whereas most other people just talk about doing things."   The point is that an impulsive decision to cruise was entirely in-character for Libby and I.

Determination:  The lesson I remember most from 2005, our first year, was that we had to be determined to succeed in our transition.  There were countless obstacles to overcome and doubts to suppress.  Fierce determination is closely related to courage and I'll confess that it took a lot of that the first year.

However, I think Chuck is wrong to pose the question as courageous versus timid.  It is more accurate to express it as a matter of priorities.   We each have our own values and priorities in life.   Priorities force us to choose.  For example, consider the dilemma Chuck raises -- the desire to cruise versus the need for a secure exit strategy as a backup.   If you're health and wealthy perhaps you can have both, but otherwise you must choose which is the higher priority.  That's a decision each person must make for themselves.  Nobody can help you.

Another very critical element is that there are two of us on board, not one.   I'm very fortunate that Libby and I think alike in these life choices.   Many, if not most, couples aren't like that.   We've seen very many would-be life cruisers give it up after a year or two.   I'm sure that it must be emotionally devastating in many cases, leaving lingering guilt over having ruined a spouse's life dream.  Tread carefully -- now, more than almost any other time in your life, the need to truly communicate with your spouse is vital.

I think most couples should begin more cautiously than we did.  Start with two week charters. They try a single season 3-6 month cruise on the US East Coast.   If that goes well, you can try longer cruises or repeat it in the next season.   Lots of people are part time cruisers, cruising in the winter and back home in the summer.   The turning point for many people seems to be two years on board (consecutive or not).  By that time, both parties should know better if full time cruising is the life for them.

Proceeding cautiously comes at a price.  If the boat and cruising expenses are in addition to  (as opposed to instead of) land-based living expenses it becomes an extravagant luxury.  If you can't afford that, they you're back to resolving priorities once again.

Does the above sound ambivalent? Cruise, don't cruise, whatever?  I don't want to appear neutral.  I have a definite bias toward getting out there and doing it.  Carpe Diem.  In fact, whenever we get together with other cruisers, young and old, we understand something important that we all have in common.  We're out there doing it while most others aren't.  Those others can't truly know what they're missing.

I'll close with a favorite quote.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. 
Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover.
-Mark Twain

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Exit Strategy, Part 1

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

One topic requested by reader Chuck is that of our exit strategy. Being that tomorrow night is the last day of 2010, now could be a good time to write about it. Below is Chuck's question.

I am curious to know if you felt any temptation to, prior to embarking on Tarwathie to the places you've migrated, set up an "exit strategy" just in case you tire of cruising. I'm interested in slow cruising, for such adventures as you so thoughtfully describe in your blog, (I have a small motorboat now though would choose a sailboat for my version of cruising, the Inside Passage to Alaska my particular region of interest here in the Northwest)

BUT--ever the person thinking ahead, find myself at odds with the reality that, limited in means, I can either have a boat---OR---a humble terrestrial home, but not both, and find that, to embark on such a chapter of life, I keep wanting to make sure that, SHOULD I want off the boat in coming years, I'd already have a plot of land somewhere. Did you struggle with such a tempation? I "get" that you and Libby live simply by virtue of your decision NOT to encumber yourselves with possessions on land---but I'm asking if you have in some recess of your soul any inclination to WANT a safety-jump-off place, a home, something to return to should you ever have a change of heart. Or...are you equipped with such a sense of confidence that should you tire of cruising, you will just "cross that bridge" then, and are not in any way thinking about that now? 

 Please don't mistake this question for timidness--I'm primed for at least 2 years spent between Portland and Juneau with no haste and little in the way of destination------I seem though to struggle with the confidence that I'll be able to extract from a cruising boat the money I invest in it, and...of modest means, feel inclined to "set something up first" in terms of a home to return to, which of course delays embarking on such a journey to the point of nullifying my chances. A real psychological trap. I go round and round with this. Did you?

Tomorrow, I'll post part 2 with my answers to Chuck's questions.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

Here's a picture of Libby flirting with some man at the Christmas dinner. Who is it? Don't you dare say Dick.   It is actually Captain Jack.

Captain Jack is part of the local color here in Boot Key Harbor.   He lives alone on his sailboat at the City Marina. I'm not certain how many years he's been here; longer than we've been coming to Marathon.   Jack is ancient, in his late eighties we think. His skin is very leathery.  He's not too nimble any more, so the cruisers in the harbor have sort of adopted him.   Everybody goes out of their way to be nice to Captain Jack and to help him out any way.  I think that's sweet.  I even look the other way if my wife gives him a flirtatious smile.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Small Victory

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

You may recall that a month or so ago, my Acer laptop computer which served faithfully for 4 years met a sudden death.   I had not sealed one of the portholes tightly and when it rained, water dripped on the laptop.  I replaced it with a new laptop.  I wrote about that too.  Now, I've also managed to recover all the files from the old computer.  Hooray!

Keeping any electronic gadget running while cruising in salt water is a challenge.  The constant moisture in the air, plus the hydrophilic salt conspire to corrode each and every electrical connection.   Electronics designed specifically for the marine environment fare better than general consumer items.   When it comes to something like a laptop computer, the best policy for cruisers is (1) buy cheap: plan on any consumer item failing in a year or so. (2) be sure to back up often because the disk will crash.

My backup strategy was an external 1TB hard drive with a USB interface that I bought a few years back.  1TB is plenty of space to hold numerous backups.   It worked for a while, but then the USB interface on the external hard drive failed.  I have been unable to create new backups for a while, and when the laptop crashed, I was unable to read any earlier backups from the backup.

Our friends on Calypso use online backup from Carbonite.  That sounds like a good solution.  However, before leaving to go cruising they had to let their computer run with a shore-based Internet connection for 3 weeks to establish the initial backup image.   That can't work for people like us who only get occasional WIFI connections, or limited bandwidth connections via smartphone.

The thing that saved me was an EBAY search.  There, I found a USB adapter for 2.5" hard discs that I was able to buy for less than $5 including shipping.   I took apart the broken laptop, extracted the hard disc, plugged it into this $5 adapter and presto, I had all my files back.   

Now, I can buy a similar USB adapter for the 1TB drive and start again making new backups.

p.s. The picture below really fooled us when it came.  Our daughter Jenny used photoshop to put our granddaughter Victoria on the cover of Vogue.  Excellent!   Of course, we're biased and we think she's pretty enough to make the cover without help from her aunt. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas On Board

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

We wish Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, and (next August) good Ramadan to all our faithful blog readers.  May your own cruising ambitions be realized.

In fact, Christmas is one of the main inhibitions to the cruising life.  In the USA, Christmas and Thanksgiving are the days when we most want to be with our families.   Cruising away to exotic locations makes it difficult to do that.   To be sure, many cruisers fly home for the holidays.   They however, have deeper pockets than we do, and they may have their families concentrated in the same place.  The reality we've experienced is not so harsh.   We get to see our children and grandchildren in the summer months.  We've adjusted to that and we adjusted our ambitions to cruiser still further to preserve that.   We find that even if it is not Christmas, it is just as joyful to see our children and grandchildren at any time of year.

Our very first Christmas Day on Tarwathie in 2005 was a bit bizarre.   On Christmas Eve, we anchored in the Indian River in Florida.  Early on Christmas morning, we pulled up the hook and set off for what looked like a very nice anchorage on our charts -- Vero Beach.   We had no idea what Vero was really like, nor did we know that the anchorage was now a mooring field.  [p.s. We departed Vero the next morning and never did learn what a great place it is for another year.]  Approaching Vero, Libby made the error of cutting the corner when making a left turn into another channel (I'll write about that specific error some day).  Bang, we hit bottom, lifted about a foot out of water and were hard aground.   

Our usual remedy was to launch the dinghy and take the anchor out to kedge off.   Before we could do that however, some very nice people came along in an inflatable dinghy to help us.  They carried our anchor 150 feet out into the channel.   Given that, and with the use of our manual windlass, we soon had Tarwathie afloat again.   To our surprise, those same people invited us to raft up with them on their mooring, and then invited us to join the cruiser's Christmas pot luck dinner.  What started out as a potentially nasty day turned into a wonderful time, thanks to the kndness of strangers.  What Christmas story could be better than that? 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Exercise While Cruising

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

Above, Libby caught me exercising on the forward deck, today; 2 days before Christmas.  Exercise is a topic I've never written about before.

On the whole, cruising is a much less sedentary life style than what we used to have on land.   While at sea, we only get to do sail handling.  However, that's only a few days out of the year.   Most of the time, we're at anchor, and we get ashore every day.   We have no car, so we do lots and lots of walking.  As a rule, we have to haul our groceries back to the boat as we walk.   Recently, we bought a bicycle.  With the bicyle I've been ranging farther afield, thus increasing my exercise.

The active nature of cruising is easily visible at gathering of cruisers.  For example, we plan to go to a Christmas dinner at the marina where 200 cruisers are expected.   Looking over the crowd, it is obvious that the average cruiser is more fit and more lean than the average American.  I think most of that comes from the active life style.

As far as organized exercise, we haven't done much.  I bought some of those stretchy exercise bands a few years ago, but that never really caught on.  However, a year or so ago our son John gave us a kettle bell plus lessons on how to use it as a present.   John and his wife Cheryl are cross fit training instructors, and they use kettle bells expertly.  That worked better.   When were at fixed places like Vero or Marathon, I leave the kettle bell out on the forward deck.  Then, several times per week both Libby and I go forward for a short workout.  In the picture you see me doing it wearing my Santa hat.

By the way, last night we got a spectacular view of a fly-by of the international space station, ISS.  I was alerted by one of my favorite web pages, heavens above.   The ISS appeared in the SW at 1839, just one hour after local sunset.  It passed our zenith at 1842 sparkling like a diamond.   Conditions were perfect.  They sky was absolutely clear.   It was close enough after sunset that most stars weren't out, and also so that the ISS was in sunlight as we were in the dark.   Soon after passing over head, it abruptly disappeared.  That means that it passed into the earth's shadow; sunset as seen from the ISS.   Very cool.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eclipses and Perfect Rise/Sets

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

I wrote once before about perfect moonrises -- the time when one gets to see the moon rise and the sun set in perfect synchronism.   It is a very rare thing to be able to see it.  Yesterday,  on the eve of an eclipse, I thought I've have a try.

The two pictures below were taken almost simultaneously.  One looks east towards the rising moon and the other west toward the setting sun.  Both are a few degrees above the horizon so the rise/set was less than perfect. 

Indeed, the pictures were shot about 9 hours prior to peak totality.   Mpeoonrise last night was at 17:12 and sunset at 17:40 (+28 minutes difference).  Moonrise this morning was at 7:18 and sunrise at 7:04 (-14 minutes difference).  The moon was ahead of the sun last night and behind this morning.  Sometime in the night, the difference would have been zero.  At that moment, people at about 20 degrees east longitude would have been in position to see the sun rise and moon set in perfect synchronism.

What is your own chance of seeing a perfect rise/set; let's say perfect within 1 degree.     Each 28 days there is a full moon with the time difference zero.  Two lines of longitude, 180 degrees apart, will be in position to see it.  One will see a sunrise/moonset and the other a sunset/moonrise.  Assume that it's cloudy 50% of the time, then your chance of seeing it is 2*360*28/2*365 = once every 28 years.   Like I said, pretty rare.

Libby and I got up at 0300 to see the totality.  The moon was a beautiful orange color.  I tried to photograph it, but I couldn't  (night photography from the deck of a moving boat is almost impossible.)  The picture below comes from Wikepedia.

By the way, I added a new cruising blog link to Traumerei.  That belongs to our friends George and Carol who are moored only 100 feet away.  George did manage to get a picture last night at 0100.  Hat's off to you George, you're a better photographer than I.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Eclipse

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

After midnight tonight, we can watch the lunar eclipse.  It is said to be special, or at least unusual, in that it occurs on the winter solstice.

It's rather grey, overcast and chilly today, which doesn't bode well .  However, if the conditions improve, we may be able to get up to see, or even better to sleep out on deck.

One thing I never considered before is what the eclipse might look like from a vantage point not on the earth's surface.   I found the following on

"How the moon will appear during totality is not known. Some eclipses are such a dark gray-black that the moon nearly vanishes from view. During other eclipses it can glow a bright orange.

The reason the moon can be seen at all when totally eclipsed is that sunlight is scattered and refracted around the edge of the Earth by our atmosphere. To an astronaut standing on the moon during totality, the sun would be hidden behind a dark Earth outlined by a brilliant red ring consisting of all the world's sunrises and sunsets."

WOW! That's hard to imagine.  Seeing all the world's sunrises and sunsets at the same time.  As far as I know, not even our moon astronauts have managed to be in the right place at the right time to see that sight.  Billionaire photographers of the world ALERT.  If you want the shot to top all other photo shots in history, I have the target for you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best Sandwich In the USA

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

Now I'm asking for it.  The title of this post just begs for readers to comment with contradictory nominations for best sandwich.   At least I didn't claim best food in the world.

Yesterday I took Libby to Keys Fisheries.  It is here in Marathon, on the bay side just across from the marina.   The specialty of Keys Fisheries is their famous lobster Reuben.  They've sold more than 141,000 of them so far.

If I claimed that our real reason for coming all the way down to Marathon is to get one of those sandwiches, I'd be exaggerating; but just a little.   It is a special treat, and when we're up north in the summer, we fantasize about the lobster Reuben.

It really is a Reuben, with cheese, and sauerkraut, but instead of meat, it is packed with lobster meat.  It's huge.  We buy it only to split between the two of us.  Even so, Libby was unable to eat her half, it's so big.   The sandwich comes with excellent fries and coleslaw. Mmm mmm good.   It costs $16, but it's worth every penny.

The ambiance at the Keys Fisheries is also great.  It's a marina as well as a restaurant, bar, and a fish market.   That's why we waited for a nice warm day to go.  We sat outside and enjoyed the spectacular view of the Bay of Florida, as shown in the picture below.  By the way, that really is half the sandwich she's holding.

I should be getting paid for providing this plug but I'm not.  It really is that good and that much fun.

We're going back soon because we notice that Keys Fisheries also has blooming onions on the menu.   We love those and we almost never see them for sale except at carnivals.  They also sell alligator hoagies, and rock crab claws.   All good stuff.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lucky Astronauts

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

My friend Kerry sent me a link to a site with ISS pictures.  This night picture of Florida was among them.  WOW!   Can you find Marathon? Thanks Kerry.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Marathon Cruiser's Herd

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

This is how we look and feel this morning.   Yesterday, we stayed on the boat all day because it was so windy.  This morning it's because it is so cold.   Libby wanted to go to the post office to mail Christmas packages, but I convinced her to wait until this afternoon.   

Boy oh boy do we ever hope that this winter is not a repeat of last year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Danger Where You're Not Looking

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

Safety first should be our motto, and the motto of anyone else associated with boating.  We normally associate that with obvious things like life jackets, passage planning, and signal flares.  Sometimes though, danger comes where it's least expected.

The other night, a long time boating resident of Boot Key Harbor was returning to his boat at night after the Christmas lighted boat parade.   BANG he ran smack into an unlighted day marker piling while in his dighy.  The poor man hit the piling and wound up in the water.  His girlfriend, who is not a boater, grabbed his collar, pulled him aboard and managed to get him to shore.   The man was helicoptered to the Miami trauma center with serious injuries.

It's hard to fault him for being careless. It is easy to visualize a similar accident happening to any of us.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marathon: Now What?

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

I'm surprised by how fast the passage was.  We sailed from Lake Work Inlet in Palm Beach to Marathon.   The distance was 156 nautical miles.  The passage time was 27 hours.   Average speed 5.7 knots.   We didn't have to take evasive action to avoid other vessels even once.   We think that sailing the Hawk Passage here in the keys is one of the most enjoyable sails anywhere.  At least when sailing southwestward.  Don't ask about the other way.

We're planning on staying here 3-4 months before departing for the Bahamas.   That leaves me with a problem. I have to come up with more than 100 fresh topics for blog articles.  Usually when we're traveling that's not a problem, but here in Boot Key it's the same day after day.   One thing I've been considering for a while is to interview other cruisers and characters that we meet in the area and to write up their stories.   I'll give that a try.  Aside from that, it is time for me to ask for suggestions from my readers.  What subjects would you like me to write about?  Please send suggestions to my email

Friday, December 10, 2010

Night Passage

At Sea
24 46.20 N 080 50.41 W

The sky cleared up last night and the sky became beautiful.   The stars were bright and there is a meteor shower in progress with lots of bright meteors.   I was able to navigate most of the evening by pointing the bow at Sirius.  Cool.  

Now dawn approaches and we can see a big thick bank of clouds over the Gulf Stream 15 miles south of us.  Libby just relieved me.  

We have settled on watch schedules that fit Libby and I.  During the day, we stand one hour watches.  Then I watch 1600-2000, Libby takes 2000-2400 and I take 0000-0600.   The division is not exactly equal, but it seems to fit our individual capabilities best.

Out progress is better than I expected yesterday; we'll be in Marathon before noon Friday.  Cool.  The winds have been very favorable.   It seems like is is always easy to sail from Miami to Marathon but almost  always impossible to sail back.  That's because of prevailing winds in the Winter.

This morning at 0255 I texted a happy birthday greeting to Jenny. I expected her to see it in the morning. She replied immediately.   I was amazed.  Was she up?  Did I wake her with my message?   I'll have to find out.

p.s. As a matter of good seamanship, I make it a policy to avoid reading or listening to anything while on watch.  The watch need full attention and alertness.  I confess though that the Droid makes it easy to cheat.  I can pull it out, do something and finish within a minute or two.  It's  great toy.   It helps keep me from getting bored and nobbing off.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Miami Lights

At Sea
26 04.64 N 080 04.39 W

It has been quite a while since I posted a blog with "At Sea" byline.  The previous time was that awful night when we feared losing the mast.   This passage should be nicer.  Soon after leaving, we were joined by a pod of 50 or more dolphins.  They stayed with us for half an hour.  What a delight to see them, daddy, mommy and baby all swimming close to Tarwathie.  Anyhow, that is considered to be a good omen.

You know how nice Miami and Miami Beach look.   If you watch CSI Miami on TV, you see wonderful scenes of Miami and Miami Beach both day and night. Well, we're going past Miami today but we're not going to get to see much.   The weather is cold, rainy and foggy.  In fact, today's weather is more appropriate to Maine than southern Florida.  Oh well, we're heading warmward; that's what I tell everyone when they ask where we're going -- warmward.

Actually, we just passed Fort Lauderdale at 1400 and we'll pass Miami around 1730 so it won't be dark when we go by.

As I write, Libby just called me up to the cockpit.  There's a boomer submarine just 1/2 mile east of us.  First time I ever saw one this close.  There's also a red zodiac security boat with a machine gun just itching to shoot us if we get too close.  He doesn't appear to have his finger on the trigger though so I guess we're OK.

The good side of this weather is that tonight won't be much colder than the day.  The clouds prevent drastic nighttime cooling.  The other good thing is that we have favorable winds.  We've been able to maintain 6 knots or better since leaving Lake Worth Inlet this morning.

If things go well, we should be in Marathon by Friday evening, Saturday morning worst case.  That's good because there's a nasty cold front heading our way with arrival forecast for Sunday afternoon.  By then we should be securely moored in Boot Key Harbor.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Getting Away With Murder

Palm Beach, FL
26 45.45 N 080 02.61 W

Today we motored down the ICW from Peck Lake to Palm Beach.  We passed through a region densely populated by power boats, an we encountered unusually many boats that passed us at high speed making big wakes and refusing to slow down.  That reminds me of our friend Chuck (not his real name).   Chuck is a genial guy, lightly built and I guess 65-75 years old.  Like me, Chuck is a cruiser.  Unlike me, Chuck cruises single handed on his sailboat.

This year, while heading south on The Chesapeake Bay, Chuck was overtaken by a power boat going very fast.   He never got a good look at the boat.  Chuck says that all he saw was a wall of water from the boat's wake heading towards him.  The shock from that wake knocked Chuck out of his seat.  He fell in the cockpit and hit so hard it knocked him out.   When he awoke, Chuck was glad his boat was on autopilot because he couldn't get up. He was hurt so badly that it took him 30 minutes to climb back into his seat.

Now, months later, Chuck's health hasn't recovered.  He feels weak and sick all the time.  I fear that he has internal injuries that could be serious or even fatal.   I really hope he gets better, but it would be improper for me to pry into why Chuck doesn't seek medical help.  

What about that other boat?  Isn't there a way to track down and prosecute that skipper who could have committed murder?  Sadly, no; not to my knowledge.  Without an eye witness report, there is no way to identify that skipper.

Like many cruisers, I'm libertarian in spirit.  I don't want big brother watching everything I do.  However, I wish there was a way for government to track down and arrest criminals like that power boat skipper.   I don't know what technology might enable that, but if it did exist, I would support mandating its use.  Boaters need to be free, but they don't need to be free to commit murder.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

On The Move Again

Peck Lake, FL
27 06.87 N 080 08.62

Well, finally we left Vero this morning.   Hooray!  Sad!  It's always bittersweet to leave Vero.   We didn't leave early though because at first light the temperature was right about freezing.   Brrrrrr.  It's nice and sunny, but the night sky is also clear and the north wind is blowing.   We could have used it for an excuse to stay a few more days.  However, the weather forecast says that next Monday will be nasty and I want to be snug and secure in Boot Key Harbor by then.

Peck Lake sits between Port Saint Lucie and Jupiter.   It's a very pleasant place if you're staying a day.  One needs only to dinghy over to the ocean side shore, walk across the barrier dune and bingo, there's a beautiful and isolated beach.   Of course, tomorrow we're leaving early and it's far too cold for the beach anyhow.   It is one of the first places where I wrote about the veneer effect in past blogs.  We see only lovely nature here, but just behind the trees is a dense mass of humanity.

The winds and waves were perfect today for going outside at Fort Pierce.  However it's too cold.  I'm not going to expose Libby and I to offshore conditions in such bitterly cold weathler.  We're too old for that stuff.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ferrari For Sale

Vero Beach
27 39.51 N 080 22.27

1986 Ferrari For Sale   That's what the sign said on the red convertible car that sat across the street from the marina this afternoon.    3 hours later it was gone.  Sold already?   Actually, Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Bently cars are common around here.  Here's one of them.  Not shabby huh?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

No More Excuses

Vero Beach
27 39.51 N 080 22.27

Well, all of our packages have come.  The new computer is up and running just fine.   We're going out to dinner tonight on another boat, but most of our friends have left already.   We're running out of excuses why we have to stay in Vero, so I guess we'll have to leave.   Tuesday sounds like the best day to leave weather wise.

This new computer is sweet.  After a snafu with the first computer, Best Buy exchanged it for a new one without argument.  Kudos Best Buy for good customer service.  

My new computer is a Samsung notebook sized PC.  Here's what I like about it.

  • The keyboard, although small, is crisp and has a good feel.  I can type full speed on it.
  • It has an instant on feature.  Just open the cover and presto, the screen is lit and the computer resumes where it was.  No waiting for reboot or for long hibernates.  It seems like I've wasted a good fraction of my life waiting for computers to start up. No more.
  • The battery lasts 5 hours.  That's great.
  • My previous laptop was very big and very heavy, this one is the opposite.
The only down side I see is that the screen has fewer pixels than my old computer so the text images are coarser.   

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Bigger Boat

Vero Beach
27 39.51 N 080 22.27

There's an old saw that says, "There's always a bigger boat."   It applies to people who like to think that they have the biggest, fanciest boat around.  I heard that it applied to Paul Allen and Larry Ellison.  Word was that Ellison was having a 380 foot mega yacht built when he heard that Allen was going to build a 400 footer.  Ellison reportedly called his architect and directed him to change the design to 420 feet.

Today, I think I heard of the ultimate (for now) big boat. "Time Magazine reports that just in time for the holidays, the British Navy has put the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible up for sale on an eBay-like website. The proud 690-foot warship sailed Her Majesty's seas from 1980 to 2005, and took part in the Falklands, Balkans and Iraq campaigns."

Wow! Suppose we traded in Tarwathie for HMS Invincible.   Not only would we have the ultimate bitter boat, but there are many other advantages.

  1. I'd be compelled to rename her USS Big Dick (uh oh, Libby will be mad when she finds out I wrote that on the blog:)
  2. We could invite friends to visit by flying in on their private jets and landing them on our deck.
  3. We wouldn't have to worry about per foot charges at marinas either; no marina has a 690 foot slip.  
  4. Instead of a dinghy, we would use a helicopter.  
  5. I presume that the Invicible is nuclear powered, and that there's enough remaining energy to last my lifetime without refueling.
  6. I just happen to have an excellent background in nuclear reactor operations, so I could crew her single handed.
  7. If we got low in cash, we could charter her out to countries or cartels looking for a means to project might.
I think I'll log into Ebay right now and place my bid.

p.s. Best Buy has agreed to let me exchange the netbook for a like model.   The old one runs the Chrome web browser fine, but it won't run any Windows utilities (including the System Recovery Utility that I could have used to fix it.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Oh My Aching Head

Vero Beach
27 39.51 N 080 22.27 W

We received all the packages we were waiting for. All we want to do now is to finish my work editing the next issue of the Westsail newsletter, then get on our way to Marathon. Obstacles keep getting thrown in our path.

I wrote yesterday about how Radio Shack screwed me by reneging on an order for a laptop, and that I cancelled the order and went out an bought a different computer. Guess what? After posting that blog, I stopped in the marina office. There sat a package for me with the laptop from Radio Shack! Oh no, what now? I called Radio Shack again. Their computer files still showed my order as "pending" status. Oh well, they agreed to refund all my money if I send it back.

The new computer: Yesterday I had it working just fine. I dumped IE10 and installed the Google Chrome brower. It worked just fine on WIFI and via a USB tether on the Droid phone. I was very pleased. The last thing I did was to run windows update.

The update was a disaster. It downloaded and installed 33 updates. Then it asked me to reboot. I tried. It said, "CONFIGURING WINDOWS UPDATES DO NOT RESTART YOUR COMPUTER" I waited a long time. Finally it said, "UPDATES FAILED REVERTING" I waited a long time. Finally it gave up and rebooted anyhow, but failed to boot. It went through 3 cycles of CONFIGURING/REVERTING/REBOOTING before it booted sucessfully. But now, I have a seriously damaged Windows. It can't find RUN32DLL.EXE, it can't sucessfully run System Restore or any other system utlity because of missing environment values. I'm in a quandry about what to do next.

Arrrgh. I seem to have a black cloud hanging over my head this week.