Thursday, January 30, 2014

Living Small

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL

Small scale housing is a fad.  Up in Vermont there are lots of people designing and building houses with only a few hundred square feet.   But you can do better than that.

The next two pictures show a garbage truck that has been converted to a marvelous land cruising house.  The pictures were sent by a blog reader.

The picture below shows someone who did it with a shipping container.  It looks nice, but only for places with warm climates.

But I always thought that they go to far too much trouble and expense.  A cruising boat like Tarwathie is a wonderfully functional and comfortable living unit. Libby and I are very comfortable in our 150 square feet (actually 300 square feet including the head and the v-berth).   The design has been refined by choosing the best ideas from thousands of previous boats over many decades.  The functional equipment, electrical, cooking, plumbing, heating, refrigeration, lights, are all suited to the application and not borrowed from conventional houses.

The smart thing to do would be to visit boat yards in the south after a major hurricane.  There are lots of boats there too damaged to float, but still pristine inside.  You can buy them for next to nothing.  Move one of those to the lot of your choice, then dig a hole and bury it nearly to the level of the top deck (for insulation purposes.)  Make connections for water, and sewer.  Mount a few solar panels, and forget the electric grid.  That makes much more sense than custom designiung and building a conventional, yet little, house.


Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Please excuse the fuzzy picture above.  It was taken at 100x zoom from the deck of a moving boat.   What you see appears to be a plastic shopping bag that blew in the wind and managed to snag on the top of the mast of a sailboat.  Imagine how improbable that was.

The bag would interfere with instruments up there, and conceivably could break the radio antenna.   The owner of this boat is old and heavy and unable to climb his mast.  He had to ask for help on the net.  (Help which he got within 10 minutes, more cruisers helping cruisers.)   My point today though is that this skipper was unprepared for this contingency.

Some bad things happen so often, and some equipment breaks so often, that most of us are well prepared to deal with it.   Other things happen less often.  Given enough time, even wildly improbable things might happen to you.  The best seamen are prepared for even unlikely things.

I just bought new navigation lights for the dinghy.  But then I realized that they could provide backups in case Tarwathie's navigation lights fail at sea.  That contingency has happened at least twice that I can think of.  I was able to accomplish repairs in both cases, but now I have another trick in my bag for that remote contingency.

I just put on a new tiller and blogged about that.  But while the tiller was dismounted for work, it made me think how difficult it would be to make a backup tiller if the first one broke.   I discovered that two 2x4 pieces of wood, 6 feet long will do the job.  I carry those 2x4s on deck, I have no other place for them.  

I also bought a new product at Home Depot, called Flexseal.  It is a high-tech fabric wrap using carbon fibers and epoxy.  It claims to be super strong and useful for repairs.  It might splice a broken tiller, or a bowsprit, or a spinnaker pole, or even a mast.  I'm not really sure how strong it is.  But I will carry it on board as part of my kit of tricks for meeting unforeseen contingencies.

What happens if you can't cope with a contingency?  Perhaps only inconvenience, but also perhaps you could lose your boat or lose your life.   I'm reminded of two stories that I've heard in the past two years of cruisers who got their rudder stuck full to port or starboard while in the middle of the ocean.  If you are unable to deal with that, perhaps by diving, then you are really screwed.  There are numerous tricks for emergency steering but none of them work with a stuck rudder.  Fortunately, nobody died in either of those cases, but one yacht was abandoned at sea.

Are experienced cruisers better at contingencies than newbies?  Presumably yes, but not necessarily yes.  Imagination and courage are the main ingredients.  Experience allows you to use your imagination over a longer period of time to build up your kit of tricks.  Experience also teaches you the real meaning of the word seaworthy. But most imagination and courage are qualities that come at birth.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LBB: Libby's Better Baskets

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Libby's skills keep improving.  I like this one she just finished.   I've challenged her to make me one that is kidney shaped.  That is proving difficult for her to do, but the challenge is fun.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cruisers Helping Cruisers

Boot Key Harbor, Marsthon, Florida


Cruisers helping cruisers. That's a phrase we hear often on the daily VHF cruisers net here in the harbor. It is very true and it contributes greatly to the benevolent community we enjoy down here. All of us, Libby and I included, both offer help and accept help pretty frequently.

Often it is small things like borrowing a tool, or giving someone a yard. A few years ago we ran aground trying to enter this harbor and four people came out in a storm on their dinghies to help us.

Sometimes, it is more than a little help. Recently, a nice woman and a resident of this harbor had her mother fall gravely ill, then die. She was extremely distressed because she didn't have the funds to travel to be with her family. Well, a number of cruisers, including Libby and her friends organized a raffle for the benefit of the woman. The City Marina offered to sell tickets. They raised $930 for the benefit of that woman.

Today, I got a chance to help and be helped at the same time. On the net, I heard of an inflatable kayak for sale for only $35 dollars. That's an extremely good price. I rushed over to the seller's boat right away and bought it. Thirty seconds later another wannabe buyer came along in a canoe. He was disappointed that I got there first. He said that his so was coming to visit today, and he needed the kayak to transport his son to the mooring. So I lent him the kayak I just bought. Cruisers helping cruisers.

I guess it is the same on land. My mother and father found a wonderful neighborhood in Oran, New York where neighbors helped neighbors all the time. Not all neighborhoods are like that. Not all harbors are like this one, but the good will of cruisers helping cruisers applies 90% of the time.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Small Projects Lead to Large Projects

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Boaters are fond of saying that starting a small project leads to complications that lead to further complications, that end up being large projects.  They say that for two reasons.  First, it is true.  Second, it is a great excuse for procrastinating on the start of small projects.   Recently, I had three such small/large projects.

First, was replacement of a cracked window glass in a small 6 inch port light in the V-berth.  We have no idea why it cracked.  The glass is 3/8 inch thick tempered safety glass; very tough stuff.  But the glass is held in the bronze housing by a bronze threaded ring.  I have been unable to get that ring out.  Bud Taplin suggested that I would have to break and remove the old glass first to loosen the ring.  I did that with no success.  I did however commission a new piece of glass to be custom cut and tempered (that cost $50, ouch!)  However, I still don't know how to unscrew that ring to finish the job.

Second, was replacement of the sight glasses on our diesel fuel tanks.  The old sights had become so opaque that I had to use a high power light and 60 seconds of peering to see the actual level.  Starting way back in 2005, I sought a source for replacements.  Finally, in 2008 a blog reader told me to look for "boiler tubes"  Finally this year I found "boiler tubes" and bought some.  But then I had to cut them to the exact length needed.  A saw wouldn't even scratch the glass.  I borrowed a glass cutter tool from Bob, but that was unsucessful and shattered a tube.  A second tube shattered when it was bumped by a tool while laying on the desk. Uh oh.  Fortunately, I had bought spares.  A local glass shop was able to cut them for me. Now they are installed and marvelously transparent. See the picture.  Success!

Third, we decided to give up on our trusty Wilcox-Crittenden Skipper head.  This head was famous as the Cadillac of marine heads.  Built of solid bronze and china it was built to last a lifetime.  It cost nearly $1000 when it was last sold.  I met a megayacht captain who told me that he had 8 such heads on board his yacht.  Unfortunately, it is 39 years old.  It is no longer made.  I can't buy replacement parts, and it leaked.  We decided to buy a modern plastic toilet.  Buying it was simple. The had one at the local West Marine for $200.  Installing it took only 3 hours.  But alas, the old "throne" was 19.5 inches high at the top of the bowl and the new one only 15 inches.   It makes the saying "how low can you go" a real literal problem.  See the picture.  It feels like floor level when you sit on it. So now I have to build a platform to raise the new head 4.5 inches.  That's not all, the new head is much wider at the base than the old one and it will block my access to the sea cock below the floor. I may have to uninstall the whole toilet every time I need to close that sea cock.  What a pain.

A fourth project, replacing all remaining incandescent lights with LEDs was relatively benign.  The V-berth, the head, and the stern light were all that remained.   All went well except the stern light.   I had an LED bulb in that before, but it failed in only two years. A spare incandescent festoon light I had on board drew 3.5 amps!!!; far too much.  I tried twice to buy a replacement LED bulb but failed.  The first bulb (for $53) was far too dim.  The second bulb (for $43) was the wrong voltage.  The stern light needs to direct the light back and to the sides, and the Aqua 25 fixture I have has no reflector.  Therefore the bulb itself must orient the LEDs correctly.   I may give up and buy a whole new Aqua 25 fixture for $29 what includes a 10 watt incandescent light.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

E-spying Remedy?

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Like it or not, Edward Snowden surely stimulated debate and introspection on this vital issue.  I wrote in praise of the President's Commission report yesterday, but I don't think any of their recommendations will make much difference.

The thing easy to overlook is that the problem is not just political, moral, or philosophical.  It is a problem being created by and inflated by technology.  Today our primary worry is NSA.  But even if we restrain NSA, other governments could do the spying on us.  So could giant corporations like Google.  But technology marches on.  Your smart phone has 100,000 times more power than VAX computers in the 1980s that caused panic when their details were leaked to the Russians.  If the future, small governments, small companies, and even affluent individuals will all have the technical ability to do what NSA has been doing. Imagine spy devices smaller than dust mites and released into the atmosphere, so that they penetrate every room of building, every ventilator, and which gather information that all Internet users can view.  That's science fiction today but it won't be for long. It is less different than today's' smartphone is different from 1983's VAX.

We need to look beyond NSA, beyond our government, beyond the present for a real solution.

I thought long and hard about this problem and I concluded that the answer was transparency.  Congress should spy on NSA and citizens should spy on Congress to level the playing field. Nobody should try to turn the hands on the clock backward, but we should all embrace technology to achieve our goals. But then I read an essay by Bruce Schneier.  Bruce is a deep thinker.  His is one of the best intellects I've encountered in my life.  Bruce has a better answer.

First, Bruce identifies The Internet as the key to all these problems.  Non-electronic communications are hardly relevant in today's world.   Bruce says,

Our choice isn't between a digital world where the NSA can eavesdrop and one where the NSA is prevented from eavesdropping; it's between a digital world that is vulnerable to all attackers, and one that is secure for all users.
What we have today is vulnerable to all attackers, not just NSA but also thieves who steal credit card numbers from Target.  A net secure for all users means secure for NSA users, computers that secure our power grid, battered wives, protesters in China, and yes the computers of criminals and terrorists.  We must cease trying to make it secure for good guys, yet insecure for bad guys. That will never work.

Bruce's remedy is:
Securing the Internet requires both laws and technology. It requires Internet technology that secures data wherever it is and however it travels. It requires broad laws that put security ahead of both domestic and international surveillance. It requires additional technology to enforce those laws, and a worldwide enforcement regime to deal with bad actors. It's not easy, and has all the problems that other international issues have: nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon non-proliferation; small arms trafficking; human trafficking; money laundering; intellectual property. Global information security and anti-surveillance needs to join those difficult global problems, so we can start making progress.

I bow to Bruce's superior intellect.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Principles of e-spying

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I read the whole 308 pages of "Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies"  I must say, I'm impressed.  They did a very good job.  The best part was in the preface where they outline the guiding principles, which are never mentioned in the mass media, yet which are the most important thing of all.  They are brief, completely non-sensational, and very true, please read them.

We suggest careful consideration of the following principles:

1. The United States Government must protect, at once, two different forms of security: national security and personal privacy.
In the American tradition, the word “security” has had multiple meanings. In contemporary parlance, it often refers to national security or homeland security. One of the government’s most fundamental responsibilities is to protect this form of security, broadly understood. At the same time, the idea of security refers to a quite different and equally fundamental value, captured in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . ” (emphasis added). Both forms of security must be protected.

2. The central task is one of risk management; multiple risks are involved, and all of them must be considered.
When public officials acquire foreign intelligence information, they seek to reduce risks, above all risks to national security. The challenge, of course, is that multiple risks are involved. Government must consider all of those risks, not a subset, when it is creating sensible safeguards. In addition to reducing risks to national security, public officials must consider four other risks:
• Risks to privacy;
• Risks to freedom and civil liberties, on the Internet and elsewhere;
• Risks to our relationships with other nations; and
• Risks to trade and commerce, including international commerce.

3. The idea of “balancing” has an important element of truth, but it is also inadequate and misleading.
It is tempting to suggest that the underlying goal is to achieve the right “balance” between the two forms of security. The suggestion has an important element of truth. But some safeguards are not subject to balancing at all. In a free society, public officials should never engage in surveillance in order to punish their political enemies; to restrict freedom of speech or religion; to suppress legitimate criticism and dissent; to help their preferred companies or industries; to provide domestic companies with an unfair competitive advantage; or to benefit or burden members of groups defined in terms of religion, ethnicity, race, and gender.
4. The government should base its decisions on a careful analysis of consequences, including both benefits and costs (to the extent feasible).
In many areas of public policy, officials are increasingly insistent on the need for careful analysis of the consequences of their decisions, and on the importance of relying not on intuitions and anecdotes, but on evidence and data. Before they are undertaken, surveillance decisions should depend (to the extent feasible) on a careful assessment of the anticipated consequences, including the full range of relevant risks. Such decisions should also be subject to continuing scrutiny, including retrospective analysis, to ensure that any errors are corrected.

Tomorrow: E-Spying The Remedy?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fitness Fad

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I'w writing today about something that most blog readers knew about for many years -- life at the gym.

During our road trip last year, I became aware of how poor my physical condition had become after wintering in New Bern.  For example, when we went to Bryce Canyon, I was afraid to walk the trails down to the bases of those magnificent hoodoos.  I was afraid that I could not walk back up without help.   Well, resumption of our cruising life improved that some, but not enough.  I've always eschewed the idea of gyms in the past, but now I threw in the towel.

I joined Keys Fittness Center and have been going there for the past 5 weeks.  Being a Scotch type of person, if I pay a fixed price for use of the gym, you can bet that I'm there every day using it to the max.  33 of the past 35 days I worked out for 90 to 120 minutes per day at the gym.

I typically work 1 hour lifting weights on the various Nautilus Machines, then 40 minutes on the treadmill and spin cycle.  Is it working?  Yes.  I've noticed steady improvement.  I increased the weight lifted day by day.  Those areas where I was initially weakest, showed the biggerst improvement.  Then I added more.  After 20 repetitions at regular weight, I added 1 additional repetition at the maximum weight I could manage.   I got so strong that I could do 420 pounds on the leg press, and I maxed out the weight capacity of the hip abductor.

My goal was not strength, but rather cadio-vascular.  Still, it is hard not to get caught up in the game.  How much weight could I do?  On the 2nd of January I felt especially strong and energetic.  I stepped up all my routines and set new personal weight records on nearly all the machines.  On January 4th, it caught up with me.  I felt that I had strained muscles in one foot.  I also felt a sharp pain in my belly that almost shouted HERNIA at me.  Then on the treadmill, I got a big leg cramp.  Reality set in.  At age 69, constant escalation of weight could only lead to one result; overexertion and injury of some kind.  Since then, I've leveled off on the amount of weight, and focused on more repetitions.  I'm very very sure that I don't want a hernia.

The people you meet in the gym are fun and easy to stereotype.  Along with ordinary unremarkable Joes like me, there are:

  • Muscle heads: That's what Jen calls them.  People who have been body building for a long time.  The things they can do make my eyes pop.
  • Babes:  Beautiful young women who obviously feel that fitness and trim are an essential part of their beauty.  Besides being inspired by their sexiness, I also feel sorry for them.  Their battle is a loosing one.  Unless they are blessed with very good genes, their beauty will fade no matter what they do.
  • Hunks:  Young bulls could be compared with babes.  But I believe that babes are motivated by how they appear to men, while hunks are motiviated by how they look in the mirror. In other words, they are narcissistic.
  • Personal Trainers: are almost always of the opposite gender, younger and much sexier than their clients.  It's not hard to imagine what psychology is going on there.
I'm not the only one on a fitness fad.  Libby and several friends have been going to Tai Chi several times per week.  I'm kind of fuzzy on exactly what Tai Chi really is, but I believe that it is related to Taekwando which in turn is related to what we do in modern rest rooms.  Wetkwando gets water from the sink, and Drykwando gets a paper towel.

Below you can see recent photos of me and Libby with our new fit looks.  Amazingly, working out has also made our gray hair go away.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Different Strokes

Boot Key Harbor

It seems trivial to say , "Different strokes for different folks." We shouldn't be surprised when cruising friends have very different choices about where to cruise, when and how. It shouldn't be surprising but it is.

  • Several cruising friends like to spend time at Diner Key in Coconut Grove. We stopped there last month. We spent two nights and one day exploring, then left because we saw nothing appealing or interesting about that place.
  • Several cruising friends like to spend time at Miami Beach. We stopped there once. We spent two nights and one day exploring, then left because we saw nothing appealing or interesting about that place.
  • Ditto for Charleston, SC. Ditto Fort Lauderdale. Ditto Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth VA, and Savannah.
  • We like Vero Beach. Part of the attraction is the great friends we make because the marina makes people raft together. But many other cruisers refuse to stop at Vero ever because of the rafting.
  • We (and 250 other boats) like Marathon where we are right now. But 400 boats prefer to winter in Georgetown, Bahamas. The things we hear about Georgetown make us say, "No Thanks."
  • The most famous stop in The Abacos is Guano Cay and Nippers Bar. We chose to not stop there numerous times.
  • Our very favorite part of the ICW is The Dismal Swamp Canal, Elizabeth City, and the upper Pasquotank River. 90% of cruisers choose to go the other way and have never seen those things we love.
  • We don't want to sail in the cold. Therefore, we rush each year to arrive in Florida no later than November 1. Many of our cruising friends do it very differently. They average only 20 miles per day on the ICW and take two months to get from Norfolk to Vero. By the time they arrive, they have seen much cold and many storms. If they want to cross to The Bahamas, winter weather patterns set in making crossing windows few and far between. On the other hand, they find places and things en route that we miss.
  • We took the inside passage from Biscayne Bay to Marathon this year. We made one stop in Key Largo, and did the whole thing in 3 days. Other friends doing the same made numerous stops and took 3 weeks on the same passage.

Every time I hear of friends enjoying things we shun, it creates self doubt. Maybe we could increase our fun if we hadn't made up our minds what we like and don't like. Hey, welcome to real life. At this point I should cite Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Sad Story

Boot Key Harbor

Westsail 32s are pretty rugged boats. Most of them built in the 1970s are still in use. Tarwathie's 40th birthday will be next year. If I can keep up with the maintenance, she'll last indefinitely. But they aren't invincible. Though my connections with the Westsail Owners Association, I hear about most incidents involving Westsails. Such was the case today. Here's an excerpt from The Tribune's article.

The sailor recently purchased the sailboat and departed from the Bay Area, headed for Morro Bay, using diesel engines for propulsion.

Guided only by his cell phone’s GPS through the dark, moonless night, the first-time sailor mistook Piedras Blancas Lighthouse for San Simeon Point and steered his craft eastward.

The sailboat narrowly missed the landmark large white rock at Piedras Blancas and ran aground on the rocky shore just north of the lighthouse. The jarring impact snapped the craft’s mast and disabled its radio at about 3 a.m. The mast struck a glancing blow on the sailor and jarred his cell phone out of his grasp. With the mast down, the marine radio was no longer functional.

Read more here:

The story continues to say that the owner will try to patch the hole (singular) in the hull, and refloat her on the next tide. I wish him well.

What can I say about this? First, and obviously, the inexperience of the sailor is the prime suspect for the cause. Second, rocky shores along oceans with large swells are far more hazardous than a muddy shoal. Third, a less worthy vessel would have probably been ground to dust in that incident. It took a mighty hit; note that the bowsprit is broken right off and the wire rope stay that holds the bowsprit is snapped. It appears that the stainless boomkin is also bent and broken and the wire stays holding it are gone. It takes big forces to do that.

Fourth, it is sad to see a worthy vessel die.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Salty Project Finished; Finally.

Boot Key Harbor

Way last spring, I ordered a new tiller from Bud Taplin.  It was a bargain.  Only $250 for a massive 6 foot long piece of laminated ash and mahogany shaped to the original W32 specifications.  So, when the tiller came all I needed to do was install it; right?  Wrong.  I wanted to add a decorative knotting hand grip like the one we loved so much on the old tiller.
  • The first issue was materials. I bought 100 feet of 1/8 inch Dacron cord.  The hand grip on the old tiller was soiled from skin oils and could not be cleaned.  Therefore, I bought some waterproofing liquid from West Marina and soaked the cord in this before use.  I'm hoping it will act like semi-permanent Scotch Guard and keep it clean and oil repellent.
  • At Dave's house last spring, I started the decorative knotting project. I have a great book, "The Art of The Sailor" by Harvey Garrett Smith that shows how to to it.  I mentioned it on my blog, then a blog reader reminded me that the factory varnish on things like that as they come s very inadequate.  Whoops.  I was ignorant of that.
  • So I took off the partially finished knotting.  Then I sanded off the factory varnish. (It was indeed thin.)  I put on two coats of epoxy resin, and 6 coats of varnish.  By the time that was finished, Libby and I were leaving on our summer's road trip, so I had to set the project aside for 5 months.
  • When we got back to the boat in the fall, I installed the new tiller sans knotting.
  • Our friend Terri volunteered to make us a Sunbrella fabric cover for the tiller so that it would be protected from UV.   Thanks so much Terri.
  • Now, down in the Florida Keys with time to spare, I finally restarted the knotting project.   I'm a beginner at decorative knotting so it took me 4 days labor to complete.  I kept making mistakes, and had to pull it out and start over a half dozen times.  Most difficult were the Turks Head knots that anchor each end.  I had to try each of those maybe 15 times each before getting it right.  I find Turks Heads very confusing.
  • Before leaving Marathon next spring, I'll add a new coat of varnish.
The three pictures below, show the knotting in progress, the knotting finished, and the tiller covered with Terri's canvas and tied securely while here on a mooring.  If this story had begun with "Call me Ishmael."  I'm sure I would not have been allowed 10 months to complete this salty project. But what the hell, I'm not a seaman, I'm retired.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Glad To Be Here

Boot Key Harbor

You may ask why we come to The Keys year after year. There are two main reasons. First, the lively cruiser culture that I've written about. Second, the excellent winter weather.

Our other favorite place to sail is on Lake Champlain. Jenny sent a recent picture of Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont. Much of the lake is frozen already. We don't want t be there in January.

Our friends Darrick and Sharon just returned from Wisconsin. It will be 4F tonight there, and in recent days it has been well elow zero. We don't want to be there in January. Other friends Bob&Sandra are in Virginia and they write complaining about the cold. We don't want to be there in January either.

We spent last winter in New Bern. It will go down to 17F in New Bern this week. Don't want to be there in January.

Our friends Jeff and Wendy are in Bimini, Bahamas. They sailed there 6 days ago, but have been stuck there ever since because of weather. They are cold, wearing winter clothes, and they are being rocked and bounced around by gale winds and high seas. (Bravo to Jeff&Wendy for managing to have a great time exploring the island of Bimini despite the weather.) Don't want to be in Bimini in January either. Indeed, we usually wait until mid April to go to The Bahamas when the weather is much better.

Our friends John&Mary Ann live in idyllic Sedona, Arizona. They will see 24-62F next week. We don't want to be there in January.

What about the rest of sunny Florida? Well, Vero Beach will see temperatures as low as 45F And highs 60-70 next week. On the average, it is 10F colder than here, day and night. Brrrrr.

Here in the keys the lowest temperature will be 56F, most days the highs will be 75-80F and lows around 65F. Winds are 10-15 E-NE most days. So the short answer is, "It's the weather, stupid."


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year

Boot Key Harbor


Well, 2013 was a memorable year for us. We did lots of once-in-a-lifetime things in 2013.

The year ended with a New Years celebration onboard Ookpik with our Canadian friends. Even that celebration began adventurously. It was very windy, and we had to make our way upwind a half mile or so. Anyhow, we all got soaked by the spray so we started the party all wet. That is just part of being a boater. Boaters learn that getting wet is just part of everyday life.

Our outboard motor is on the fritz, so we have been rowing. That's fine unless the winds are too strong like last night. Besides the exercise, there are other advantages to rowing our Fatty Knees dinghy. It has higher freeboard than most dinghies. That means that we ride higher and dryer. If we had rowed to last night's party, we would have stayed dry.

Another advantage is that we receive compliments every day from other cruisers who admire how well we row. Libby in particular rows like an Olympic athlete and she attracts attention. Many of them remark that rowing makes more sense than motoring and they wish they could do the same. Unfortunately, most if them have inflatable dinghies which are horrible for rowing.


Our Fatty Knees dinghy is very old, beat up and unattractive, but she rows better than other dinghies. We also use very long oars (7.5 feet) which is another recreation to rowing well.

For several years I have been hoping to find a friend with a one-man racing shell that I could borrow and try out. No connections yet.

2014 holds the potential of being an excellent year. Lets all resolve to enjoy it.