Friday, March 29, 2013

New Tiller

Zebulon, NC

I heard that Bud Taplin had 5 tillers remaining made the original W32 specs.  I rushed to order one because mine started to delaminate a little bit.  It arrived this week.  Good thing.  I looked again at the old tiller today.  OMG   Over the winter in New Bern it delaminated the rest of the way.  Thank God I ordered that from Bud.  On a boat like ours, the hull, the mast and the tiller/rudder are the three most critical of all components.

Here's the new tiller laid out on Dave's dining room table.  It's a beautiful piece of work.  It is made of laminated ash and mahogany. 

My job this weekend is to add the decorative knotting like we had on the old tiller (See the second picture below.)   Libby and I are very fond of that knotting.  It is very comfortable on the hands.  Considering how many hours per year we spend holding it, that's a big deal.

I've never done decorative knotting before.  This style is called overhand grafting.  The ends are concealed by turks head knots.  I've been practicing turks heads all week.    I'll photograph the final when the new tiller is installed.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Deck Project Prelude

New Bern, NC

Anonymous wrote: Seeing your sanded decks and cabin top reminded me of your previous post about painting and paint selection. Have you made any progress deciding which paints to use? 

Yes indeed, I have neglected blogging about developments on this project.

Dick from the vessel Harmony II spoke glowingly about, Dave Simeon a local man who resurfaces decks.  I'm a DIY person myself, but I decided to go have a look.   I met Dave and he showed me a boat he had finished.  He also explained the process to me.

  1. He starts from a clean deck, bare glass.
  2. He lays down a nylon net (see the picture above) that will create the waffle pattern.
  3. He puts down a coat of epoxy resin.
  4. Sand the resin, choice of more or less aggressive non-skid depending on how smooth it is sanded.
  5. Add two more coats of epoxy resin
  6. Add four coats of gel-coat.

Holy mackerel!  As I listened to Dave, I realized how inadequate my plans were.  Just a coat or two of paint, or one coat of gel-coat   I would have continued having deck problems for years if I persisted with such inadequate remedies.    Dave's work does not come cheap, $3,600 for Tarwathie, plus boat yard charges.   After inhaling deeply, I decided to accept Dave's proposal.

Dave's company Dawson Creek Boatworks, is located at Wayfarers Cove boat yard in Minnesott Beach, NC.  It is next door to the USA headquarters of Beta Marine, where the Beta Guru Stan works.
The boat yard appears to be well sheltered in case of hurricane.   That is a concern to Libby and I, we've never left Tarwathie unattended during hurricane season before.

Of course I'll blog again about the deck project in the fall when everything is complete.  Hopefully, we will be delighted customers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Caprail Repair

New Bern, NC

One of this winter's projects was to repair our caprail.   It was damaged by a nighttime collision with an unlit bouy in the vicinity of Sandy Hook, NJ on the way down here.   The teak caprail on a Westsail 32 is one of her most attractive features.  On some boats it is also their worst headache because the cap rail can conceal the source of water leaks.   Tarwathie has never had a caprail leak, knock on wood.

The following were the steps to this project.

  1. Photo document the damage before starting.  Sorry, I blew that.  Can't find those pictures at all.   In any case, a section of about 10 inches of the rail was crushed.  Below the rail, a section of the fiberglass hull about 3 inches long by 1/2 inch vertical was also crushed.  The crushing followed the curved lines of the buoy I hit.
  2. Remove the ruined section of rail to replace.   Unfortunately, I used a saw to make cuts at each end.  I popped out the teak plugs and removed the screws.  Unfortunately, the wooden rail was still stuck to the bedding too tight to lift.   I used a chisel,  that worked but it fractured the wood into splinters.   Too late, I thought of using my electric multitool with a vibrating flush cut blade.   That worked very well and it let me remove the remaining wood without damage.  But it was too late as much of the wood was already splintered.  If I had been able to remove the whole thing almost intact, I could have used the old wood as a shape template.
  3. Scrape off the old polysulfide bedding, and repair the fiberglass.  I used epoxy resin for the repair.  I was able to use duck tape on the hull to make a nice mold into which I could pour epoxy resin.  That took care of the vertical damage.  Then I poured epoxy all over the entire exposed rail.  I let it soak in to the crushed parts.  That made me reasonably certain that the rail is strong and water tight even without the teak cap.
  4. Next, I needed a suitable piece of teak to make the replacement.  Genuine teak is very expensive and very hard to find nowadays.  Fortunately, I lucked out in this department.  3-4 years ago, I spotted a piece of teak in a trash pile at some marina or at a boat yard.  It appeared to be a rudder cheek plate.  I've been storing it on board Tarwathie for years, thinking that it may find use.   What a miracle!  It was almost exactly the size and shape for what I needed.  Even more, I didn't remember that I had the cheek plate until the old section of rail was cut out.
  5. The next task was to make a template out of cardboard for the replacement piece.  The ideas sounded simple, but execution was difficult.  The sides are curved.  The ends are straight, but both at crazily skewed angles.  No 90 degree angles were involved anywhere.  Therefore, the template had to match in three dimensions, not just two.
  6. Next, I took the board and the template over to my friend George from the vessel Traumeri.  George has a full woodworking shop.  He also has much experience in woodworking.  I have none at all beyond one year wood shop in Junior High.    George let me use his tools for a while, but in the end he had to step in and do the last steps himself to prevent me from ruining everything.   The number and types of tools used in such a project are amazing.
  • Drill press
  • Twist bits
  • Plug cutters
  • Screwdriver
  • Chisel
  • Flush Cut Saw
  • Epoxy resin
  • Jig saw 
  • Band Saw
  • Belt sander
  • Table Saw
  • Several clamps and stops
  • Hole bore
  • Orbital sander
  • Spoke shave
  1. In the end it worked well.  Back on the boat it took just a bit of sanding before the board slipped into place.  It left a gap of 1/16 to 1/8 inch at each end -- just right for bedding.   The edges stuck out about 3/16 inches on each side, and the thickness of the board was about 1/8 inch thicker than it needed to be.
  2. I was able to lay down a new, and generous, bed of caulking material and to screw down the board to hold it in place.   After that dried for a few days, I put in teak plugs that we had cut from the same board with plug cutter tools.
  3. The final step was to sand the sides and the top to comply with the curves and thickness.   The end result is seen in the picture.  In my book, pretty good.  (Of course the original carpenter was able to lay down and butt the planks with almost no visible seam at all.
I owe a huge thank you to George.  Without his tools and expertise, I would have never succeeded.

From upper left:

  1. The damaged section with the cap removed.   Damage to the outside of the hull is not visible.
  2. The scrap wood rudder cheek plate laid on top of the removed section.  Note how close it is to an exact fit!!!
  3. My cardboard template.
  4. The plank during formation on George's work bench.
  5. The fit with the new board back on the boat.  
  6. The finished job.  The seams of white caulk are visible on each end.
George, as the Swedes say "a thousand thanks."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Florida Fauna and Flora

New Bern, NC

On the way back during our recent Florida trip, we stopped at two very photogenic places.  The first was  Everglades National Park near Homestead, FL.    We didn't see many alligators, but the birds were wonderful.   (We also didn't see many alligators in the usual spots along Alligator Alley.   We heard that they appear mostly during times of drought.  When water is more plentiful, they disperse to other places away from people.)

Then we spent a day visiting with cruiser friends Ray & Pat in Bradenton. They took us to Shelby Gardens in nearby Sarasota.   That was great fun.

Enjoy the slideshow here with pictures from both places.  The best pictures are of the many species of orchids, which come near the end of the slide show.  Some samples are below.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More Baskets

New Bern, NC

Uh oh.  We've gotten complaints.   Jenny complained that we have become lax in photographing and posting pictures of Libby's baskets.   She's right.   Libby hasn't slowed down in making baskets, but we've neglected taking pictures.  To make up for that, here are her latest ones.

Not a nest egg, but an egg nest.

By the way, the basket below is not Libby's.  It was made by Libby's friend Sharon.  Isn't it nice?  Even better, they are Sharon's very first baskets.   Wow!   Sharon did two things Libby hasn't tried yet.  She used a single stitch rather than the "wheat stitch" that Libby likes.  The single stich is much faster and easier.  She also used beads creatively.  Libby says that after the batch above, she too will try some of those techniques.

Sbaron's Baskets

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Sergeant Mills

New Bern, NC

Our son John chose a military career for himself.   He did well, and continues doing well.  John started with The Green Mountain Boys, the Air National Guard component stationed at the Burlington, VT airport.  After a while he transferred to NEADS at Griffith Air Force Base in Rome, NY.

NEADS is the northeast component of NORAD.  NORAD (NORth American Air Defense) are the people who watch the radar screens for signs of foreign invasion.  In extreme times, such as 9/11, NEADS assumed control of the entire US airspace.  The point is that NEADS has a steady peacetime mission, not subject to war/peace boom/bust cycles.

Yesterday, John called to tell his parents that he has been promoted to First Sergeant.  As I  understand it, First Sergeant is the highest rank he can attain within his NEADS unit.  He has about 300 enlisted men to shepard.

Parents are always pleased and proud to see their offspring succeed.  That's certainly true in this case.

John, your Mom and Dad are very proud of you.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

To The Editor, Analog Science Fiction

Dear Sir,

I often think of the many SF stories that assume FTL starships. How
sad it would be for our future if the light speed barrier cannot be
broken. To reach the nearest stars at sub-light speeds would take
many years, and we would likely have to travel much further than the
nearest stars to find a habitable planet. To take advantage of time
dilation, ships need to expend prodigious amounts of energy to
accelerate to high fractions of c. What society would bother to build
interstellar ships? Isn’t there a way to spread through the galaxy at
near-light speed, and without building space ships? The solution, I
think, is to avoid sending people or even mass objects through space;
send only information. Send information about our DNA.

We need only to establish contact with a near neighbor species, learn
how to communicate, and then transmit instructions for how to grow a
human in a test tube. Presumably, the other species would
reciprocate, so that we could grow specimens of their species here on
Earth. To be sure, the specimens would have no memory or culture from
their native worlds, but they would have tendencies. I’m sure the
aliens would be very interested in studying these specimens. We could
also send some “I Love Lucy” episodes to teach our expatriate
relatives what it is like to be human.

Hopefully, the neighbor species would eventually find other near
neighbors, and transmit their DNA instructions plus our DNA
instructions to them. In that manner, hop by hop, our DNA would
spread across the galaxy. How fast might it propagate? C/2 is a
believable number. Figure 100,000 years transmit time, plus 100,00
years of those instructions sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to
dare execute them. To be sure, creating alien DNA would have risks,
and many would deem those risks unacceptable. Yet, given the passage
of thousands of years, it is a virtual certainty that someone will be
curious enough (or foolish enough) to do it.

It might be difficult and expensive for aliens to reproduce the
environmental conditions needed for specimens of our species to
survive. Therefore, it would be convenient for them to modify our
genes to create specimens that aren’t 100% human, but which can
survive in the unmodified alien environment. As the DNA instructions
get transmitted and retransmitted to more and more places, the genetic
engineering would become tedious. Therefore, it would be easier for
everybody to use genes capable of surviving in nearly any environment.
In other words, they could settle on a galactic standard gene set.
I imagine something like the genes of a water bear (Tartigrade),
grafted onto the genes that give us intelligence. The result would
not quite be a pan-galactic-species but perhaps a pan-galactic-phylum
of intelligent species, with each world populated by a mixture of all
those species.

Water Bear (Tartdigrade)
Image Credit & Copyright: Nicole Ottawa & Oliver Meckes / Eye of Science / Science Source Images

The whole concept could be viewed as the next phase of evolution. How
long might it take to evolve a galactic phylum? Just plucking a
number out of the air, let us say 100 galactic transversals at and
average speed of c/2, or twenty million years. That is damn fast on
the evolutionary scale.

The sad part would be the havoc it rains on the heads of science
fiction writers. How constraining, if no individual is ever
transported to an alien world. How unsatisfying it would be to never
having culture clash with culture. Instead having them all
semi-independently evolving into a monoculture while never once
meeting face to face, and never once launching an interstellar space

Dick Mills
Sailing Vessel Tarwathie

Friday, March 15, 2013

To Sun Or Not To Sun

New Bern, NC

I heard news on Radio Sweden yesterday that really jolted me.  They said that melanomas in Sweden were up 18% in one year, and that the government was strongly advising all Swedes to avoid the sun.   WHAT!!! Asking a Swede to avoid the sun is like asking men to avoid women; preposterous.  When the sun comes out, Swedes act like they are doing sunflower imitations.

Years ago, I took my family to the local pool on a hot summer day in Sweden for the first time.  After my brain cooled enough to notice things other than topless women, I detected something very strange.  My family instinctively sought a place in the shade, whereas 100% of the Swedes chose places in the sun.  

The sun is not strong at 65 degrees north latitude.  Even at noon in Sweden, the sun's rays were not strong enough to make my photo-chromatic eyeglasses turn dark.   But down here in our sandbox, 25 North to 45 North, the sun is a lot stronger.  Boaters are like farmers and other people who spend much of their lives outdoors.   We get lots of sun exposure.   Skin cancer is a genuine concern for boaters.

Should we wear sun block 365 days per year?  We have been advised to do so several times, but we don't.   It seems to violate the principle of "all good things in moderation."  We don't believe in popping a handful of pills every day just as a precaution, nor do we use sun block all the time.  We do use it on days where we will be out in the cockpit under the sun for extended periods.

There is also a common sense health effect that I never hear discussed  The health advice we hear in the popular press is often not age-adjusted..  Many diseases are cumulative or they take many years to develop.   As one approaches end of life expectancy, one gains effective immunity to such diseases.   At age 68, I could volunteer to help clean up radioactive debris at the Fukushima plant in Japan, with almost zero health risk because of my age.  Ditto for ultraviolet exposure.   A decade of exposure to the sun at ages 15-25 is more likely to cause trouble than similar exposure at ages 60-70.  Continuous exposure from ages 15-70 is very much more dangerous and the popular press health advice is directed at that group.  If I am ever handed the unwelcome news that I have a terminal illness; my first reaction will be to start smoking.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Duh! It's The Life Style Dummy

New Bern, NC

I can't remember how many times we were scolded by cruiser friends when we visited Marathon.   "What were you thinking, Dick? [when deciding to stay north for the winter]"

We sort of laughed it off.  After all, we are getting projects done and we did have much better family contacts during and after the holidays.   Seeing Dave and Cathy, and Jenny and John, Nick, Sara, Katelyn, Victoria, and Marilyn was very much appreciated.  So we put up with a little cold, so what?

Today came the head-slapping dope moment. We overlooked the biggest price paid for our winter layover.

Both Libby and I have suffered from two bouts each with debilitating sickness.   In addition, we have aches, pains, weaknesses, appetite and fatigue problems with frequencies unheard of in our pasts.   As I was pumping ibuprofen this morning for a persistently sore knee, the light bulb went off.  Is it just because we're getting old.   No!  It is because our life style in the past 5 months has been much less active than in the past 8 years.  Our bodies are atrophying!

Normally, we each walk a mile or two each day, and row the dinghy another mile or two.  I ride my bike about 4 miles per day.  We carry clothes to/from the laundry.  We carry groceries to/from the store.   When we're sailing, or even motoring in the boat, there's a ton of activity there.

In New Bern, exercise is sporadic.  We have a car, so naturally walking and cycling have declined precipitously.  No wonder our heath declined!!!

Fortunately, we have only one month remaining here.   Then we're off for a summer of travel and camping.  We can make sure there's lots of hiking, swimming and climbing during that time.   Next fall, we'll sell the car and resume cruising.

There is a reason why cruisers of any age look healthier and fitter than their non-cruising contemporaries.  How careless of me to forget that.    At our age, atrophy could be non-reversible so we should be extra careful.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When Your Chart Plotter Fails, Part 2 of 2

New Bern, NC

The old fashioned skills of coastal piloting are still valid. You will need binoculars with a built-in compass, or a hand bearing compass. You also, need dividers, pencils, parallel rules and a triangle. You need a little practice taking bearings on two or more known objects on shore to estimate your position, and to lay a course from that position to where you need to go, and to calculate your distance from shore.

Don’t forget your depth sounder as a valuable adjunct to coastal piloting. In New England, the bottom is sufficiently featured that you can follow a line of constant depth to your harbor. In the south Pacific, I read that it was good practice to set your depth alarm at 100 fathoms to give you ample warning that you approach shallows.

I carry a placard on board called Emergency Navigation. It was designed to be used in a life raft, but it can be very useful on your primary vessel if you are way out in blue water and you lost all other means to navigate.

Use your VHF radio to query nearby vessels. In a genuine emergency you can ask the Coast Guard to triangulate your VHF position, or ask a ham radio net to triangulate your SSB position. Just make sure the emergency is real before you call.

Don’t panic. A rough position is much better than no position. Say you were returning to the USA from Bermuda when all your GPS died. Simply head due west toward Charleston. Your rough estimate of latitude only needs to be accurate enough to let you avoid Diamond Shoals off Cape Hatteras and Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear. If your uncertainty in latitude is two degrees or less, you can stay safely away from the shoals until you approach shore close enough to use your VHF and/or cell phone. It is probable that you will come within VHF range of another vessel along the way who can verify your fix.

Of course the classical backup is to carry a sextant, and to maintain the skills to use it proficiently. I’ve carried a sextant for more than 5 years, but I’m ashamed to admit that I never practiced enough to be good at it. Using a sextant and reducing the sights to lat/lon requires a lot of skill and practice to maintain. Although it is a recommended skill for all offshore sailors, I expect that many if not most of us fall short in proficiency even if we have the equipment on board.

Perhaps the most surprising, a new crop of smart phone and tablet apps are beginning to appear that let you use them to perform primitive sextant functions, to produce estimates of lat/lon without the Internet and without GPS. Some of them use internal storage of a sky map, and then compare the map with the image of stars seen by the built-in camera, add to that data from the gravity and magnetic sensors and the computer can calculate a sophisticated estimate of position. I’m dying to try out the app Star Struck Navigation that I downloaded to my Android phone. It has you tape a soda straw to the phone and sight stars through that. A major advantage these electronic methods have over a sextant is that they do not use a horizon at all. You can use them to sight stars late at night and far above the horizon when they are much easier to find. Expect major advances in such apps in the next few years.

Monday, March 11, 2013

When Your Chart Plotter Fails, Part 1 of 2

New Bern, NC

Are your piloting skills up to snuff? Have you become overly dependent on your GPS chart plotter? Those gadgets are so seductive, that it is hard to imagine being without them. Here are some common sense tips to avoid getting caught short.

Backups: We use a Lowrance chart plotter as my primary navigation device. I also have an Android smart phone with GPS and Navionics Chart Plotter software. I also kept my old smart phone that no longer receives cell phone signals, but the GPS and its chart plotter app still work. My wife’s iPad also has a GPS navigation app. In our ditch kit, we carry a Garmin 76 hand-held GPS, plus spare batteries. Five independent GPS units should be enough to assure that we never lose GPS function; right? Wrong; there are several ways to lose all backup GPS’ at once and some tips for what to do about it.

Lightning: In 2006 we were struck by lightning. It did a lot of predictable damage, but I was shocked to see that even some hand-held devices were fried by the EMP (electro-magnetic pulse). You could lose every single electronic device on board in a flash. The defense is to store electronic devices not in active use in a Faraday cage. The oven in your galley stove is a good place. Don’t do what I did though. I once forgot about the laptop and turned the oven on, resulting in laptop fondue. I also use cookie tins. They make good Faraday cages and come in many shapes and sizes.

Degredation: From 2005-2010 I used the anchor dragging alarm on our Lowrance chart plotter almost every night. But since then, hardly a night goes by without a false alarm. I learned that because of some launch failures and some budget problems, we have fewer than the full compliment of GPS satellites in the sky. They can’t cover every point in the globe every minute of the day. The practical effect is that my GPS sometimes calculates a position wrong by 300 feet or more, and that the error may persist for minutes before it snaps back. I’m told that the problem will get worse before it gets better again in future years. The more modern and the more expensive your GPS unit, the less vulnerable it is to degradation.

Malice: You may have heard that GPS signals can be easily jammed in a local area. You may even know that GPS signals can be spoofed giving inaccurate positions. It’s worse than that. Recent research shows that it is possible to attack GPS units via RF signals in ways that exploit bugs in particular makes and models. For example, there could be attacks specific to Garmin, or Raymarine, or any other brand. It is analogous to evil web sites that exploit bugs in the web browsers and the underlying operating system. We all know how unsuccessful all manufacturers of software have been in eliminating vulnerabilities. GPS units are no different. Still worse, hackers are closing in on ways to attack WAAS ground stations, and even the satellite uplink stations that support GPS. Also, need I mention cyberwar? The bottom line is that regional or even global GPS outages are not unthinkable in the near future.

But the prudent skipper doesn’t need a reason to plan for credible failures. So here are some ways to do that.

Always have paper charts for your cruising grounds on hand. Keep track of your current position on the chart or in your log. On the ICW, my wife notes the passage of every day marker, and moves a place marker on the chart to record that position.

On the ICW in normal daylight, you can always see the next day marker. You don’t need instruments at all as long as you keep your eye on the paper charts. If it is dark or foggy, drop your hook and wait. With our without GPS, it is too dangerous to navigate the ICW if you can’t

If you are inshore, or near shore where you can get a cell phone signal, your mobile devices will give a fair position estimate even without GPS. If you don’t have chart plotter software on your mobile device, you can still get raw lat/lon data. Google Maps or Apple maps will give you a pretty useful picture of your current position even without GPS. If you are near shore, learn to plot a bearing and distance to the nearest harbor entrance.

My phone tells me the time on shore, and the GPS tells me the time on board the boat, so who needs a watch any more? But in case of loss of GPS, an accurate watch becomes a critical part of your backup equipment. Carry one in the cookie tin.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


New Bern, NC

I was trimming my beard last night when I made a slight slip. Whoops!  The result was a disaster that could only be fixed by shaving it all off.  Therefore, here is my new look.

This is the 3rd or 4th time in the past 8 years that I grew a beard and shaved it (regular readers of this blog can verify that count.)  My reason for growing a beard is that I don't like shaving.  My reason for shaving it off is that it can be scratchy. I have so little personal vanity that I almost never glance at a mirror to notice how bad I look.  So be it.

So, the next question is should I grow a new beard?   I added a poll widget with that question.  You should see it in the upper right corner of this page.  It will stay open until 3/17/2013.  Weigh in.

Friday, March 08, 2013

8 Years and Counting

 New Bern, NC

Eight years ago today, we took possession of Tarwathie and started our cruising life.   We continue to believe that was one of the best life decisions we ever made.  We can't imagine being any happier with any other form of retired life.  So, what are our major observations and lessons learned after 8 years?

  1. It took two years to really get into it.  We heard the same figure, two years, from other cruisers.  By the end of two years you really know, yes or no, this is the life for us.
  2. Our skills improved, peaked, then started declining as we became overly complacent, less scared, and thus less vigilant.  The decline is the reason behind this hiatus from year 7.5-8.5 in New Bern and on the road.   Safety is critical and it takes effort.
  3. Life as Nomads is in our blood as much as life on a boat.  We have perpetual travel lust.  A week in one place is enough; after that we get antsy.  That was evident even last week in the keys.  Libby was letting loose on pent-up wanderlust and she just wanted to go and to in every direction.

    The only exception to that is Marathon, where we are content to say for months before moving on. The summer of 2013 we'll be touring by car instead of by boat, but we'll be nomads anyhow.
  4. We are just as much attached to Tarwathie as our home as anyone is to their house.  The difference is that we take our home with us when we go.  If fortune should offer us a bigger, nicer, more affordable boat, I think chances are high that we would decline the offer.
  5. We have many cruising friends, but few full-time cruising friends. For the first 7.5 years, we were full-time cruisers.   We were away from the boat and sleeping on land less than one week per year.  Very few of our cruising friends are full-time cruisers.  They might cruise 75% of the year, but not 100%.  Many of them own cars and houses or slips.   Few of our friends average 5,000-6,000 nautical miles per year as we do.   To be sure, there are circumnavigators and cruisers who travel further and longer than we do, but none of them are in our inner circle of friends.
  6. We have every intention of continuing to cruise as long as our health permits.  I'm antsy already to sell our car in September because I see it as a life-style spoiler.

Advice for would-be cruisers?  Short and simple.

  • You must have good health.
  • You must have a solid marriage.
  • Wealth is not necessary.  Indeed, scaling down your life style brings much happiness.
  • Don't delay.  Do it ASAP.  Carpe Diem.  Tomorrow, the opportunity may be snatched away.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Back on the Boat At Last

New Bern, NC

It is cold and very windy here today.  Nevertheless, we're back and glad to be home again.  Tarwathie is home.  Tonight we get to sleep on our own bed once again.   It seems like a very long time we were away.  First, I got sick, then Libby got sick, then to recover we jumped in the car and headed for the Florida keys.

Our trip was a great success.  

  • On the way down, we stopped to visit with Jeff and Wendy in Labelle.  
  • Then we drove to Marathon in the keys to visit with Bob and Sandra.   
  • God it was nice.  It is so easy to forget how wonderful The Keys weather is in winter.  
  • Our coughs and congestion vanished as soon as we got to the keys.
  • While in Marathon we got to see lots of other cruising friends.
  • Bob and I took a side trip to Miami where I bought solar panels from Sun Electric.
  • After leaving the keys, we visited Everglades National Park.  (our coughs and congestion returned as soon as we hit the mainland()
  • We visited with Ray and Pat in Bradendon.   They are former cruisers.  Pat taught Libby to make pine needle baskets.
  • We visited with cruisers Chris and June.
  • We visited with Bo and Joyce on board Dream Catcher in Myrtle Beach.
  • We even found some world-class trees with very long pine needles along the side of the road.
  • Now, our coughs and congestion are much diminished once again, our skin is less white and our spirits are lifted.  That was a very welcome break.
Thank you everyone.  Now we are ready to plunge back in to projects and preparing for our summer travels.  Only 5 weeks left in New Bern.

p.s. I volunteered to teach a course on Excel at the New Bern Library.  Demand is high.   Three sessions are scheduled.   I love teaching, so it should be fun.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Fun Fun Fun

Champions Gate Blvd, Florida

Boy, we have been so busy having fun that I didn't have time to blog.

Bob and Sandra on Carpe Diem showed us a wonderful time:


  • We had our lobster Reuben at Keys fisheries.
  • We had dinner o board Y-Knot with Darrick and Sharon.
  • Bob and I drove to Sun Electric in Miami where I bought two new solar panels.
  • Libby and Sandra taught four tables of cruising women about pine needle baskets. I was very happy that Libby had the opportunity to do that. She missed it.
On Friday we left Marathon to head north. Along the way we got to stop at Roberts Fruit Stand in Homestead, and to visit the Everglades National Park nearby.On Saturday we stopped to visit Pat and Ray in Bradenton.

  • They are former cruiser met years ago in the Great Dismal Swamp.
  • Also, while in the Bahamas, Pat taught Libby how to make pine needle baskets. We all know what that resulted in..
  • They took us to a local botanical garden which was great.
  • They even arranged for neighbors to come in and play Balderdash last night. We haven't played that in nearly a year.
Today we are heading north along rural roads in Florida's interior. We will stop. In Green Cove Springs to say hello to friends in a marina there. We haven't seen them in a while.Next stop, Myrtle Beach where we will visit Bo and Joyce on board their boat named (I forget)

Our only regret was that this trip missed Florida's East Coast. We would have liked to visit Dave & Jonnie, Charley & Mary, Dave & Pam too. Too bad, can't do everything.

Thanks so much to all our friends and hosts. We are privileged to have such great friends.