Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Dream

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

[Today, I'll turn the floor over to some guest bloggers.  Tate McDaniel, John Clark, Dave King,  Gary Burton, and Lee Perry.

Tate wrote a very moving post for the Westsail Owners Association site. The others responded to Tate's post on the forum. Their words were 
very moving.  Then it struck me; I can no longer contribute to that discussion.  Heck, I can barely remember the years when we dreamed about cruising instead of doing it.  That disqualifies us.  Therefore, I'll let you hear from more qualified people.]

The Dream
By Tate McDaniel

I haven't lived the dream yet, but I've already done what you said... I turned it into a goal. I wrote it down, I set a date, and I objectively listed all the things that HAD to be done before leaving. I then listed the "nice to haves". And then my wife and I made a budget. That was 5 years ago. We intend to slip the lines in January. We haven't lived the dream yet, but we've "grown" it.

Growing your dreams

We bought a boat. A W32 that was a worn out old war horse ( 3 circumnavigations) and being neophytes didn't understand how much would have to be done. It didn't matter, we were in love. And so we've labored for years, spent many dollars, and countless hours on her rehabilitation, or at least as well as we could as amateur carpenter/painter/mechanic/riggers/etc.

As the time to leave approaches there is a mix of excitement and trepidation. We're younger than most cruisers we know of; [definitely] not retirement age. We'll be quitting lucrative careers in the middle of our prime earning age. My wife has never traveled outside of the continent. All we have are photos of far away places and some maps to assure us that this must be okay. Is that photo of a smiling brown face in French Polynesia really enough to turn your life upside down? What about the picture of coconut trees? Or is it the idea that the sea might be able to save our souls from the modern machinations of consumerism in the West and oppression and war in the East? I don't know, but like a moth to the flame we fly.

Rugged map with compass

We're moving out of our apartment and onto the boat this weekend. How will living aboard work for us? We don't know yet. Every day is something new to think about from getting all our vaccinations to handling mailing arrangements to keeping in contact with our families. Its sort of a controlled chaos. Its scary. Its violent. Its part of the "dream".

I don't know what the reality will be, but I refuse to go through life without having found out.


[The following are replies on the forum that Tate's post stimulated.]

By John Clark


I was raised with strong Asian superstitions so very few of our friends know of our dreams. I wouldn't let John talk of our dream lest it fly away with the wind. Our families have watched us for the last 6 years preparing for our new dream.

Though, I'm sure some of them question our sanity sailing on the open ocean, we proved the WS capability and safety as we bucked like a wild bronco across the infamous Columbia Bar and up the Washington coast last summer,

I was amazed at my own ability to overcome the fear as I steered Konami across the bar all the while repeating under my breath "she can take a lot more than I can".

I recall sitting at the beach when I was 8 years old, watched the sun drop below the horizon and envisioned being in Japan watching the sun rise all in the same hour. My dream to sail to Japan has never left me. John knew he was destined to keep moving when he recognized the intense freedom when he drove away in his first car.
We're so lucky to have found each other and share the same goals.

We've been blessed with 6 sons, 3 grandsons, great careers, chased cows and shoveled the barn, flew airplanes and gliders at 18,000 feet above the desert, and sailed our little sailboats on the lake. We've worked our butts off to achieve everything we have accomplished.

We have lived on Konami over 3 years. We miss the bathroom, the standard bed, the washer and dryer, but some of our hobbies will travel with us.

I retired ahead of John, he has 8 months of nose to the grindstone left. Go Honey!

Dick and Libby have been a great inspiration to us. We want to be in our wisdom years and still sailing. The younger generations like Tate and Dani have been fun to follow, sharing the pride of similar accomplished projects.

All the single handed transpac WS sailors, Dave King on Saraband (twice), Joshua Siegel on Sunquest, Randy Leisure on Tortuga, Gary Burton on Elizabeth Ann have been our heroes overcoming solitude and challenging their skills on the big Pacific Ocean. We continue to follow other WS cruisers in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Our WS32 will take care of us also.

We are planning our departure sometime next summer. Won't say the date and destination yet, but we're busy getting the boat finalized, spending precious time with our sons, parents, grandchildren and close friends. We hope there is enough of us left to steer the boat!

Please watch for our blog in the next few months.

John's version:
Our dream is to leave next summer, it really is an awesome boat. No drama, no passionate expressions.
Diane: "Hmmm, must be a Mom thing."
By Douglas Tate

The DREAM! When did it start, when did it change, and will it be a reality when I (we) wake up? I remember the moment vividly when my parents' friend gave me the wheel of his 30 foot wooden sloop in Long Island Sound. The electricity of adventure was intoxicating. I was all but 5 years old and had no idea what those previously written words meant. However, I do NOW!

Being raised by conservative non-sailors, the dream took years to germinate, but after the inoculation at 5 years old, it really took hold when my dad bought our family (perhaps me) a $150 Styrofoam Sea Swinger sailboat at the Hartford, CT, winter boat show in the mid/late 60's. While I only sailed a small lake, that boat would take me across imaginary oceans.

The dream grew in slow waves and spent many years particularly during High School and College in remission. A dear, but now passed on, buddy kick started the dream in 1975 by building a 34 foot trimaran. Who knew you could build your own boat! That started the adventure that we now are close to realizing.

I met Dick Newick, Phil Weld, and many other sailors of legend and most gloriously, the Pardey's. I read Ferenc Mate's books until the bindings disintegrated. Multi-hulls, while exciting to sail, didn't pull on the shippy heart strings like the designs of Rhodes, Hess, Colin Archer, and, yes, Crealock. I needed, of course, a world cruising monohull like a Westsail: wanting is such a inarticulate word when referring to sailboats!

The dream was to sail around the world with family teaching ourselves the beauty of the world. How idealistic, but romantic, too. However, the realities of life crop up like speed bumps on the road of life. Living and dreaming often are strange bedfellows, but perhaps its the dreaming that makes our living so rich.

One of my favorite quotes captures the coexistence of dreaming and living: "The fun is in the striving not the arriving!" Beth and I have walked a meandering path toward our dream balancing living and dreaming as best we could. While we haven't released our proverbial dock lines yet, we are closer than we have ever been.

We built our first boat from plans: was it an engagement ring or the blueprints that got her to say yes? A 20 foot sloop that taught us the art and science of boat building. We realized that a 1000 pound piece of foam gets really beat up on Buzzards Bay, so traded up to a Pearson Vanguard and tore that boat apart and rebuilt her into a beloved vessel. While it wasn't a Westsail, it was close enough to move us closer to the dream.

There was a boat that we spied while building our 20 footer some 25 year ago: a Westsail 42 Ketch named Harmony moored in Marion, MA. Beth remarked those many years ago, "maybe we'll have a boat like that someday". Well, life was lived and dreams were chased, but our opportunity to have a boat of our dreams (a Westsail) presented itself when least expected or perhaps desired.

Harmony, that beautiful Westsail 42, was for sale. What to do? Well, of course go look at it, if only for a temporary fix. Sadly, the vessel was a wreck and needed a lot of love. The dream overpowered logical living and we bought Harmony and have spent the last 3 years on a total restoration.

While the project is not done, we sailed her this Fall for the first time and OH what joy! The DREAM lives, although the years have refined the clarity of that dream. Circumnavigation has been replaced with coastal cruising with a planned jaunt to the Islands. We hope to release the dock lines in 3 years or so, once the boat is done and the bank account is full: yes, ever the practical. Dang, we're so close!!!

However, we are still striving and have a long passage to get to arriving. Yes, that path is certainly on the RUM line, if you know what I mean. Seriously, the DREAM has been a motivating and energizing force in our lives. It keeps us striving and away from the lee shore of arriving. We are ever thankful for the energy that Westsail vessels contributed to our dream.

Fair Winds and Following Seas!

By David King

Jan. 2, 1981 The Dream

The Columbia's a river of endless flow, and as I sit at anchor,
I dream the day that I may go, to satisfy this hanker.

I picture my boat a sailing, bound for a tropical isle.
Under a full moon paling, drifting towards time's exile.

Together we'd cross the ocean, to anchor off the idyllic shore.
My life would express the emotion, of one who desired no more.

A life of complete satisfaction. That's how I dreamed it to be.
And my boat can feel the attraction, as this river flows to sea.

Oct. 24, 2014 The Dream

Thirty four years have passed since that dream of "81". Much has changed in my life, yet much has remained the same. The Westsail has been under foot now for over 70,000 nm, with 26 years spent living aboard. Three round trips were made to the South Pacific with my wife, Ruth, and 8 round trips to Hawaii, amongst other things. But that "Life of complete satisfaction" has not occurred. Nor am I the "one who desires no more".

The dream and it's accompanying desires are as intense and debilitating as ever. However, a few technical details are different. "I picture my boat a sailing", is now replaced with "a 72 hour, 8 knot, Screaming, Spinnaker Reach". And no longer is "anchor(ing) off the idyllic shore", good enough. Now the dream is to meet your best friends, with whom you've been buddy boating, and share that anchorage with them. "Drifting toward time's exile", must now be paraphrased to include" with the woman you love".

My blood still runs hot - but a little less so. Some dreams were met head on and some chips were wiped from my shoulders. The sailing will continue but changes will be necessary. Ruth may have made her last 2000 mile crossing with our Raiatea to Honolulu beat last year. She has left a 40,000nm wake though, and has never left any doubt as to her prowess on the boat and ocean.

The Dream still includes those long crossings and all that they demand. The Dream destinations vary little from the "81" era. At present there are no plans. There are, however, no less than 3 "thoughts" that are traipsing around in my dream world. Three adventures that SARABAND is fully up to, are still undone. SARABAND, a Westsail-32, has , so far, done everything I have wanted to do on a sailboat, and will continue to be the boat that continues this Dream.

Dreams, of course, are primarily future oriented. They can also be past oriented. Referencing this dichotomy, I give a special mention of thanks to those in our family that have helped me along the way, and will also be helping me in the future: First, of course, Ruth, and Diane & John (Konami), Shalline & Chuck (Saraband), Anthony & Terry (Gamen), Steve & Carmen (Solstice), Kate & Dan (Mithrandir), Joshua & Becky (SunQuest), Jim & Julie (Worldwind), Duke & Denise (Amable), Gary & Charlotte (Elizabeth Ann), Dan & Jean (Hunter), Randy & Dani (Tortuga), Art & Rose (Summer Rose), Lee (Patience), Bill Andrews (Quest), Just to name a few.

Thanks again, Dave
By Gary Burton,
he Dream... hmmm.

Its always been there in one way or another, break away and live a life free from the grind. This first came true when I worked in the Namib desert in west Africa as a ranger after serving my National service (conscription) in the Marines and then later when I left the country of my birth with a backpack to eventually end up in Oregon after wandering through Egypt, Israel and England. Raising a family brought a demanding job and all the trappings of security, a mortgage, a car payment, etc etc. Life became a race for the weekend when the job could be forgotten and dreams could be rekindled walking the trails along the Oregon coast and wondering about the distant horizon.

The Westsail captivated me, A whole new Dream in a new form, to sail my own boat somewhere exotic. Found in the desert, a kit boat that had never made it past the back yard. Inside was like a time capsule from the Westsail brochure, a new Westsail 32. We had to remove a carport and shovel away 35 years of soil and growth to get her out of that yard.

What followed was many dollars, and hours of work. Lee Perry and Dave King helped to get her in the water.... and then some. I'm sure there were times when they wondered what they were doing helping someone who probably wouldn't get past the bar in Brookings, a complete neophyte. But they did help and I'm indebted to them. I learned a new work slogan

"We will do something even if its not right" hahahahahaha

It must have been frustrating trying to help me sometimes :)

I dreamed of the Single Handed Transpac. Could I really sail to Hawaii on my own? Yes. And I could quit my job and become self employed? Yes.

The Westsail has enabled these recent dreams. It is my Dreamship and my place to dream. My refuge and my sanity.

This winter a new dream has begun. The Westsail will once again feature.

Dreams do come true.

By Lee Perry,

Thanks to all for responding. Without our dreams we would all be dull clods just going through the motions.

For me the Dream started in the 70s reading Woodenboat magazine and anything I could find on singlehanded sailing.

In the 80s the dream was forming and kept safe on a shelf. Part of it was to build my own ship to sail in. The south pacific was the place.

In the 90s my Westsail Patience became a reality. Taking a 3 month leave from work to sail to Hawaii was my first taste of total freedom.

Retirement in 2003 allowed more passages- 2 to Mexico and another to Hawaii. The Dream was still there.

2014 forty years after the Dream started Patience arrived in the south pacific. No some of it is not like it was forty years ago. You can no longer anchor in Papeete harbor off the quai and the French do not take kindly to you overstaying your visa. The beauty of it all is still there with unbelievable clear water and green valleys. The Tahitian drums still carry a fast beat and the dancers keep pace with them.

Thanks to my wife Nancy for helping me along the way to keep the dream alive. She is the smart one that flies to meet me at the next port.

Patience waits for my return next spring on the island of Raiatea. Yes the dream was worth waiting for.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Extra Special Sunset

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon

It hardly seems necessary to mention that we have beautiful sunsets in The Keys.  The Keys are famous for that.  But Sunday night's sky was unique and fantastic.  We had company, but we were all distracted by looking at the sky and snapping photos again and again.

By the way, my friend Bev told me the name for this is mackerel sky.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Boom Garden Update

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Last night we had Monty and Carol as guests for supper.  As a special treat, Libby included the first crop from her boom garden.   We had lettuce, oregano, and basil in our salad.

Below are some pictures of the boom garden.

And below is a picture of Libby's stern garden.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pleasures of the Pre-Dawn

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida
This season in Boot Key Harbor, I've been enjoying something that I don't usually get to do. I like to get up, and go outside in the cockpit about an hour before dawn.
Why is this unsual? In real life there are lots of obstacles to enjoying that particular pleasure. It might be too cold, there might be too much morning dew, there might be mosquitoes or other insects. Even the hour of dawn changes throughout the year and with lattitude. In Sweden, I used to like reading the morning paper on my patio in the early morning in summer, but up there the Sun had been up for 5 hours already. Or maybe we don't wake up that early in the first place. But this seaon in this place, none of those obstacles are present, so I'm enjoying it.
What's to enjoy? For starters, there is the tranquility of the hour. Very few pepole are up and around so background noise is less. (On land I used to like the pre-dawn songs of birds, but out here we never hear any song birds.) When there is noise, I can isolate it and identify it in my mind. I hear the cough of an outboard motor somone is trying to start far away. I hear the swish as someone rows a boat or paddles a kayak close by. I hear whistling kettles, and barking dogs. I hear jumping fish, diving pelicans, and occasionally breathing dolphins.
More to enjoy. The pre-dawn traffic. There are a surprising number of people who go ashore in thier dinghys at first light, or even before first light. At first I thought these were people going to work, but I gradually came to understand that most of them are dog owners. When the dog has to go he has to go, and the owner has to accomodate or risk the consequences. I know that even when I don't see the dog because these people make round trips pre-dawn. Anyhow, it is pleasant. I've come to regognize certain people who pass by Tarwathie every morning. We smile, wave, and sometimes call "good morning" to each other. That is reminiscent of sitting on ones front porch and exchanging pleasntries with passers by.
Sill more to enjoy. The sky. The dawns here are spectacular; just as good as the sunsets. The experience is slightly different because from where I sit, I see the western horizon clearly, but the horizon to the east is blocked by buildings and palm trees. Therefore, I can see the dawn sky becoming brighter and brighter, but most spectacular is the moment when the light streaming through the gaps in the palm fronds suddenly surges in brightness. I see graphically that that is the exact moment of the actual dawn.
We frequenly have clear skies here except for a few clouds very high in the atmosphere. Because of that, the pink clouds of sunrise and sunset often go all the way from east-to-west. We are used to seeing red sky in the west evenings and red sky in the morning in the east. But having red sky in all directions is special and magical. (I've been thinking of trying to get a still photo that shows that, but I've been stumped. Neither panorama nor fish-eye would do it well.)
While all this is going on, I'm using my computer to read the day's news. (Remember I'm a news junkie.) I'm also gulping down 32-48 ounces of coffee. By 0730, I'm ready to go below, spend some time on my physics course, and have something to eat. By that time, Libby is up too. By 0800, all of that morning stuff is done and I'm energized to tackle the activities of the day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Things They Never Tell You

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

We have an extraordinary crop of freshly retired new cruisers this year.   They remind me of things that I (and they) would have liked to know about cruising before starting.   That includes things that I may have heard about but never paid attention to because I didn't understand how important they are.

  • Draft of your boat:  In many parts of the world (including almost all of The Pacific), waters in the anchorages are deep.  Therefore, your boat's draft doesn't matter much.  Sailboats optimized for those regions have deep keels designed to maximize the righting moment per pound of ballast.   Here on the East Coast, draft is a big deal.   A shallow draft boat (say less than 3 feet draft), a medium draft boat (5 to 5.5 feet draft), and a deep draft boat (6 feet or more), all have very different restrictions about where they can go.    We met one man with a 9 foot draft on the Indian River in Melbourne.  He was afraid to ever leave the marina for fear of running aground.
  • Beam of your boat.  For most monohulls, beam doesn't matter much.  Catamarans however, can have 20' to 25' or even wider beams.   The boat salesman will not volunteer the information that most marinas have little or no capacity for boats so wide.
  • Length of your boat.  The bigger the boat the more difficult everything is to handle, and the more expensive everything is.  The number one reason circumnavigation quit their voyage before completion is "Too big a boat."   It seems like such a no brainer to beginning cruisers.  The bigger the boat the more comfortable you will be and the more room you have for company.  The disadvantages of bigger boats are less obvious.   (By the way, displacement is a much better way to express "bigness" than length.)
  • Height of the mast and rigging.   Here is another thing that the boat salesman will never mention.  The standard bridge clearance on the ICW is 65 feet.  There are several 55 foot bridges along the way.  The Okeechobee Waterway has a 49 foot RR bridge.   The taller your rig, the fewer places you will be able to go.   Even if your rig is less than 65 feet, if it is more than 60 feet, you will agonize about every bridge you come to.  How high is the tide.  Is the listed bridge clearance accurate?  Many bridges have handy gauges in the water showing the current clearance, but how accurate are they.  A famous incident a few year back was that the State of Florida changed the gauges on a whole bunch of the bridges to show 63' when the true clearance was 65'.

    Yawls, ketches, and schooners have multiple masts for two primary reasons.  They require less vertical height, and they make each sail smaller, lighter, and easier to handle.

    Even motor vessels have vertical clearance problems in places like the Erie Canal.  The canal lists 15' as the clearance of the lowest non-opening bridge, but in times of flood I've seen real life clearances as low as 9'.
  • Towing a dinghy is bad.   In Sweden almost nobody has a dinghy.  They don't need them.  OK, here in the USA, I'll presume that all would be cruisers know that a dinghy is required.  But many of them, do not understand that you need to carry the dinghy, not tow it.   Either davits, or some kind of on-deck stowage is required.   Anybody who crosses The Gulf Stream towing a dinghy risks his life.
  • Tankage.  Besides displacement, the main difference between day-sail, or weekend-sail boats and cruising boats is the capacity of fuel and water tanks. People can and do cruise in otherwise excellent weekend-sail boats, but they soon find that their tankage is inadequate.

    Cooking fuel is another tankage issue, both capacity and type.  Not all fuels are easily available in all places.
  • Refrigeration and battery charging.   Once again there is a difference between weekend sailing (and returning to shore power at the end of the weekend) and extended cruising.   The type of refrigeration (or ice box) and it's efficiency are critical to cruisers.  The type and efficiency of the system for charging the house batteries are critical to cruisers.
  • Towing insurance.  It sounds like a lot of money ($169 per year) for something you may never need.   Believe me, on the USA East Coast it is a bargain.  Don't skip it.  I'll write a post on towing insurance soon.
  • Doing your own repairs and maintenance.   Even if you are so rich that money doesn't matter, you  need to learn to do most repairs and maintenance yourself.  Not everything, but most things.   If you don't you'll find yourself at the mercy of of trades people and suppliers living on "Island Time"   You will also find that your confidence for going offshore is (deservedly) diminished if you can't do it on your own.

    I do not mean you must be prepared to fix every possible fault. Stuck rudders, for example are a devastating fault, but very rare.   I do say that you should expect for several more common things to break on every single passage, and that you need to be ready to handle that.
  • Barnacles, slime, and zincs.   People like me who come from colder climates have a hard time imagining how fast barnacles grown in tropical and sub-tropical waters.  Here in Marathon, you need the bottom and the propeller to be cleaned once per months.   Zincs, in my experience last from less than one month, to more than one year, all in salt water.   Predicting the lifetime of zincs doesn't work well.  Be sure you can inspect them often and replace them yourself if needed.
  • The one thing that no salesman, no cruising magazine, and most books will never mention is dealing with black water.  If you live on a boat long enough, you will eventually be forced to personally deal with black water.
  • Currents.  Lake sailors can have a lifetime experience, but have no idea about tidal currents. The biggest shock is when you first realize that the direction that your boat is moving and the direction that the bow is pointing are not the same.
  • Using marinas for bad weather refuge.  When the weather is really bad, you may not be able to safely enter the marina of your choice.  When it is time to depart the marina, weather may be good enough to travel, but not good enough to exit the marina safely.
I'm sure that I forgot many other things that could be on this list.  Feel free to comment.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A DIfferent Spin

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

The other day, I posted a blog about privacy.  Imagine my shock when I saw this headline today.

Privacy is dead, Harvard professors tell Davos forum - article here.
It turns out that the professors pretty much agree with me, except for the significance of it all. Anthony Goldbloom said:
"Anyway, people often behave better when they have the sense that their actions are being watched."

I feel like Desi Arnez, "Ay ay ay ay ay."

Fascinating Maps

Thanks to my freind Gerry for sending me this in an email.  I am so intrigued, that I'm reposting it here. 

1. This map shows the world divided into 7 sections (each with a distinct color) with each section containing 1 billion people.

2. This map shows (in white) where 98 percent of Australia's population lives.

3. It may not come as a surprise but more people live inside the circle than outside of it.

4. This map shows what is on the other side of the world from where you are standing.  For the most part it will probably be water.

5. Apparently you can't get Big Macs everywhere.  This map shows (in red) the countries that have McDonalds.

6. This map shows the countries (in blue) where people drive on the left side of the road.

7. This map shows countries (in white) that England has never invaded.  There are only 22 of them.

8. The line in this map shows all of the world's Internet connections in 1969.

9. This map shows the countries that heavily restricted Internet access in 2013.

10. This map shows (in red) countries that were all Communist at one point in time.

11. This map shows (in red) the countries that don't use the metric system.

12. This map shows (in blue) places where Google street view is available.

13. This map shows (in green) all the landlocked countries of the world.

14. And this is what the world would look like if all the countries with coast lines sank.

15. This is a map of the all the rivers in the United States.

16. And these are all the rivers that feed into the Mississippi River.

17. This is a map of the highest paid public employees in the United States.

18. This map shows how much space the United States would occupy on the moon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thievery While Cruising

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

This weekend I saw a post on the Westsail Forum talking about how to chain your dinghy and motor to your boat at night to protect it from thieves.  "WOW!" I thought, "That concept is so alien to us that it never occurred to us that we could do that."  What makes it so different for us?

  1. To begin, let me say that we are not totally immune to theft or illegal acts.  
  2. In 2001 at Burlington some kids (we think) stole our dinghy from the public dock.  It was recovered at the Burlington Boathouse with a broken oar.  If that oar had not broken, or if we had the motor on board, that dinghy may have disappeared forever.   Read about it here.  
  3. In 2012, someone stole the lock and chain from my bike in New Bern (They stole the chain and left the bike.  That's almost insulting.).  Read about it here.

Neither Libby nor I can think of any other thing stolen from us in the past 10 years.

Another time in 2007, we had three drunken soldiers swim out to where Tarwathie was anchored at 4 AM.  Then they knocked on the hull to see if anyone was there.  It makes an amusing story.  Read about it here.

That's not very much trouble in ten years.  To what do we attribute our success?

  • Luck. A friend Doug had his W32 boarded by thieves one night as he slept on board.  He was anchored in Gloucester Harbor in Mass; a place were we've been with no trouble.   We were lucky, Doug was not.  Read about the "pirate attack" on Doug here.
  • Avoiding certain places.  The north end of Lake Worth in Florida is reputed to be a trouble spot for dinghy theft.  We always skipped that anchorage.   Key West Harbor, ditto.   The end of Boot Key Harbor west of the bridge, ditto.  That's about it.  The places to avoid here on the east coast are very few.
  • Anchor out rather than using marinas.  Whatever thieves are around, 99.9% of them are not going to swim out to your boat at anchor.
  • Don't own anything attractive to thieves in the first place.  If your belongings are old and beat up, they make poor thief bait.
  • Securely lock everything, NOT.   We are very careless.   In the Bahamas I locked the dinghy when ashore, because I heard that it is needed there.  In some marinas (but not all), we lock the companionway door when we are away from the boat for a long time.  But almost all the time, we lock nothing.  Before cruising, I used to brag that I never even carried a key to any of the houses we ever lived in.   It is much the same now.   The only thing I habitually lock is my bicycle when ashore.
The only reason we get away with so few losses while being so careless with our stuff, must be explained by our choices of where to go and where to live.  What else could it be?   We should drop to our knees and give thanks for being so fortunate as to have the opportunity to choose that life.

So, if you're looking for a cruising blog with good tips on how to secure your belongings, this isn't it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Captain's Table: Privacy

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

Since the 1980s, privacy has been my number one political issue. I join activists groups, and I read and opine on several online privacy forums. .I refuse to tell Facebook my real name.  I refuse to fill out questionnaires in the doctor's office truthfully.  If I could use a false name at the doctor's, I would.  In this post, I’ll skip outrageous examples of privacy invasion; you all have heard of some.

The problem with privacy in the USA is that it is based on a flawed premise – “reasonable expectation of privacy” first articulated by Samuel D. Warren & Louis D. Brandeis, “The Right to Privacy,” 4 Harv. L. Rev. 193, 198 n.2 (1890). I say it is flawed, because it is a one-way ratchet. Every time privacy must be “balanced” against other interests, privacy rights are permanently reduced. Every time the news carries a story of widespread privacy violations (even if illegal), that particular expectation becomes unreasonable in the future. Thus illegal privacy invasions become automatically legalized as soon as they are revealed.  Think of NSA gathering all of our phone metadata.  Now, we all know about it and we can't expect them not to. As mighty mountains become mere piles of sand, so goes our reasonable expectation of privacy.

For 30 years, I dreamed of forming constitutional amendment that would protect privacy as the first amendment protects speech. After 30 years of agonized attempts I realized that I cannot, and never will, be able to define what privacy means in a sentence or two.

Another enormous problem is technology. When the day comes soon that a large fraction of the public takes to wearing body cameras all the time and streaming the scenes to the Internet, it will no longer matter how we restrict government and industry. Because of Moores' Law, the massive surveillance capabilities of NSA's technical infrastucture that cost $10 billion today, will cost only $94 in only 40 years.  Similarly, a body camera that costs $50 and weighs 98 grams today.  In 2045 we will be able to buy 2 million such cameras per dollar and they will weigh less than one billionth of a kg, and be able to float in the air like grains of dust.   Every private citizen will be able to afford his own NSA. Therefore, political activism, laws, rules and regulations will ultimately be futile.

No, I have come to believe that privacy is but a subset of a more basic problem. We live in The Information Age. The symbolic gold of the future is information, not physical things. We have countless laws and customs regarding personal property that date back to English Common Law. The only laws we have for information are patent, copyright, trademark, and classified secrets. We will continue to flounder until we learn how to define information (such as your personal data) as personal property, protected by property rights. That is exceedingly difficult because information is not like physical things. If I sell you my car, then I no longer have that car. If I sell you my information, then I still have the information. If the police or a court demand information from citizens, is that seizure of personal property. We are very far away from coming to grip with such issues. Much more important than privacy, the entire economy will rest on shaky ground until these issues are addressed.

So, what is the most beneficial thing the public can do in the meantime? I believe that we must fight for the right to use modern technology to level the playing field. Instead of trying to restrict law enforcement, the intelligence community, and corporations from gathering and using our data, we should fight for the the right of overseers to gather and use information about authorities. The Senate intelligence committee for example, would not need to ask CIA what they are doing. They would have tapped the computers, and bugged the offices of every CIA employee. In turn, the public needs to be able to bug the caucus rooms of Congress, the Oval Office, and the offices of the local DA. In short, lack of privacy must be a two-edged sword.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

There was a discussion on Slashdot the other day about the subject of fixing things.   The premise was that the younger generation never learns how to be handy or to fix stuff because today's thinks (like iPhones) are not meant to be repairable.  I posted a comment about the days when Libby and I used to fix the voltage regulator on or Ford via a whack from a tire iron.   A whack on the side of the TV was also the universally known fix for any and all TV problems.  

Just now, I started off this laptop computer.  (The one I'm typing on now.)   The screen showed bright red circular interference patterns.  Uh Oh.  Those patterns area the unmistakable sign of a broken screen.  I really don't need another malfunction right now.  We had two iPad malfunctions already this month.  

I rebooted the laptop.  No effect.  Double uh-oh.   Having nothing to loose I gave it a solid WHAP.  That fixed it (at least temporarily).  It is gratifying to know that some old fashioned skills are still useful.

You Are What You Eat`

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

I like the old saw, "you are what you eat."  But I like it with twist.  Instead of what I take in with my mouth, I measure myself on what I take in (and put out) by eye and by ear.   It would be fair to call me a news junkie.

[Editor's note: I just reread this post and it might sound pretentious to some.  I'm not trying to be pretentious or condescending, but I don't know how to write it differently.  Apologies in advance.]

Here is a list of the sources that I check every day (in chronological order, because that is my daily habit to listen to these things in strict order)

Of all the sources above, the Wall Street Journal is the most professional IMHO, and the NY Times is the most biased IMHO.  Fox News Daily is also biased, but not as bad as the NY Times.   I judge bias more on the basis of what the news organization chooses to ignore, than by what they say.  Drudge Report headlines are fun to scan, because again and again what I read on Drudge becomes front page news in all the mainstream media three days later. 

Other things that I consult regularly, but not daily are (in random order):

SCOTUS oral arguments work wonderfully to put me to sleep.  So do Federalist Society panel discussions.  Lawyers are very long winded.

Lots of people trash talk Fox News or The Intercept.  I hate being told what to think.  When there is something controversial, I read it first hand and make my own opinion.  I try to follow the advice of William F. Buckley Junior.  He once said, "I spend my time reading what my opponents have to say.  I already know what my side says."   IMHO, we all should follow Buckley's advice.

I'm not much of a joiner, but below are some organizations of which I am a present or past active member. I am not, nor have I ever been a registered member of, or a donor to, any political party.  Ditto for Libby {except that Libby once registered Conservative, and got nominated (without her permission) and I think elected to an Albany County NY supervisor's seat. But she never took the seat, and she never registered with a party again}.

I also spend about 30 minutes per day writing posts for this blog and another 30 minutes commenting on online forums and about 60 minutes per week writing Op Eds for national newspapers (which almost never get published)

When we are out at sea and cut off from Internet and Radio, I listen to podcasts that I have downloaded to my phone before departure.  I can hold 30 hours of podcasts on my phone.

[Some people say I spend too much time on the computer.  To that, I say raspberry.]

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Blasts From The Past, Really Fun

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

The other day, someone on Slashdot, mentioned "The Typewriter Song."  and he asked about other sounds from the past that we don't hear anymore.  The responses (including several from me) were overwhelming and great fun.  Below are some of my favorites.  
  • The Typewriter Song
  • The sound of a teletype machine
  • The Percolator Song
  • Old phone bells
  • Old phone rotary dialers
  • A DECWRITER printer
  • The whirr-clack-clack of floppy disks
  • Steam locomotives starting up. Chug-Chug chug-chug chug chug
  • The tick-tock of a grandfather clock in the hall
  • Clickety-clack of a train on the tracks
  • The 5 O'clock steam whistle telling factory workers it was time to go home.
  • Whah-whah the number you have dialed is not in service.
  • Nerrrrr! Squawk! BONG! BONG! BONG! Scrrrrch! Doot! as your modem connected to the Internet.
  • The sound of a muffler under a car dragging on the pavement.
  • Mechanical adding machines. Chuga chuga chug. Chuga chuga chug.
  • Ka-ching of a cash register. People still use that sound to mean money, but they don't know where it came from.
  • The high pitched tone that came with the test pattern at the end of each TV broadcasting day.
  • Wham wham of a computer line printer.
  • Ding ding ding of a blacksmith's hammer.
  • Clippety-clop of horses hooves on pavement.
  • The drip drip all night long of melt water from the ice box landing in the drip pan.
  • The sound of a VCR machine loading a tape when you first pushed it in.
  • Ding-DING-ding. NBC
  • Snap-ah-ah Shap-ah-ah as you started a Ford motor with the hand crank.
  • The mechanical sounds of an old film projector.Old-fashioned car horns (ah-OO-gah).
  • Roller skates, which have metal wheels, rolling on a sidewalk.
  • Manual lawn mowers.
  • The distinctive "tink" when a light bulb filament breaks.
  • The whine of a C-5 military airplane engines.
  • The musical jingle of PAC MAN
  • The sounds of the original Castle Wolfenstein on Apple ][
  • Push starting a car. Push it, let out the clutch, and the engine goes cough-cough.
  • The thump-thump-thump of a flat tire.
  • The sound of dimes and quarters going into a pay phone.
  • The Space Invaders game
  • The gibberish sounds of a tape recorder rewinding.
  • The sound of a vinyl record when the needle when past the end of the song.
  • CLUNKEY-CLUNK of a key punch machine.
  • Turning the tuning dial on a radio, the sound of all the stations you pass by.
  • The sound of a Polaroid Camera spitting out the picture.  Whirrr-click.
  • Static sound on TV when you were not tuned to a channel.
  • A (real) camera shutter, also the pop of flash bulbs flashing.
  • The three-ring or five-ring signals of calling different parties on a party line phone.
  • The sound of a B52 taking off once every 10 minutes from Sampson Air Force Base
  • The CLACK noise of a TV channel selector as you turned the knob.
  • A slide projector moving to the next slide.
  • The jingle of Windows 95 starting up.
  • Your car saying "Your door is ajar."
  • Cachunk-cachunk-cachink and the smell of a mimeograph machine making copies.
  • Reach the end of a roll of film and it auto-rewinds with distinctive whir.
  • Flip card clocks that flipped a new numbered card down each minute.
  • Vinyl record stuck in the groove.
  • Chalk on a chalkboard.
  • Calculating on an abacus
  • A foot pedal driven sewing machine.
  • "At the sound of the tone the time will be ..." time service by phone.
  • The deep throated sound of a 4 barrel carburetor. 
  • Whooping cough.
  • Glass clinking as the milkman delivered milk in the early morning hours.
  • Screen door spring
  • Winding up a watch
  • Mechanical clapper pedestrian crossings. Instead of white icon lights and a chime, some pedestrian crossings used to have mechanical clappers. Clap slow to wait, clap fast to cross. On a hot summer night when all windows were open (because we had no AC) you could hear those damn clappers clapping from all over the city.
  • Walter Cronkite saying "And that's the way it was ..."
  • The crunch sound of walking on very cold very dry snow.
  • The sound of ice cracking under your feet as you cross the river.  Uh-oh.
  • The TAP sound as the doctor's rubber mallet hit you knee to test reflexes.
  • Metal trash cans rolling after being knocked over by wind.
  • Cats fighting late at night.

No matter what your age, you must have some memories of sounds no longer heard.  Put them on as a comment to this post.