Saturday, December 31, 2016

Asymmetric Cyberwar

From today's Washington Post:
While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.

Officials in government and the utility industry regularly monitor the grid because it is highly computerized and any disruptions can have disastrous implications for the country’s medical and emergency services.

Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.

The facts do not come out until paragraph three, preceded by very scary headline and paragraphs 1 and 2. The laptop was not connected to operations. It could have been infected by an employee viewing porn sites. The infection contained at least a snippet of code attributed to Russian origin.

I'm willing to believe that the malware found was of Russian origin. But hackers share malware freely and excerpt and morph it to fit their needs. The Stuxnet virus, supposedly of US Government origin is like that. Finding a snippet of Stuxnet code on an infected computer today is very weak evidence that the US Government put it there.

Here is my central point. Bad guys can very simply and cheaply use hacking to spread fear in out country, and to erode trust in our institutions, and to cause us to spend our money foolishly. Measured in terms of money, it is asymmetric to the extreme. Security vendors salivate over prospective sales of $100-$150 billion in smart grid or cyber security hardware and software. It might have cost the bad guys less than $10 to get the malware on the Vermont computer. That suggests a leverage of 10,000,000:1! Readers may wish to argue for a lower number, perhaps 1,000:1. But we should all agree that the gain is very much bigger than 1, thus asymmetric in favor of the attacker.

Next, I think back to the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan years (known as Star Wars). It has been said that Star Wars was the straw that broke the back of the Soviet Union. Perhaps Star Wars was genuine, or perhaps it was an insanely successful ruse. No matter. That little packet of information, true or false, achieved what 30,000 nuclear warheads over the span of 40 years did not accomplish. It was asymmetric to the extreme.

It seems entirely plausible that the Russians, North Koreans, Iranians, or other enemies can have a field day practicing asymmetric cyberwar with the USA. The beauty of the scheme is that they do not need to ever succeed in causing a blackout or anything else with physical reality. All they need to do it to destabilize our society with anxiety. If we accept that the Russians did meddle with the US election, then destabilization rather than electron of Trump seems to be a much more believable motive. Hundreds of millions of Trump opponents, still stinging with disappointment, are willing to jump on that destabilizing wagon at this moment in time.

It may be true that the USA is much more skilled than any other country in offensive cyberwar capability. But it is also true that we are more vulnerable because (a) we are so computer dependent, and (b) because our free speech traditions allow the media megaphone to amplify fears and concerns. The USSR in the 1980s was vulnerable in different socioeconomic ways. Star Wars was merely the trigger, not the total cause of Soviet Union collapse.

What can we do? We can't repeal the 1st amendment. But we can and should solicit the cooperation of the media. Using today's Washington Post article as an example, all that would be needed would be to to make the raw facts appear first. Make facts the first paragraph and the headline. The authors would still be free to embellish the facts with speculation about scary possibilities, but the editors could simply move those to paragraph 20 of the story. It is ironic to note that other countries with weaker free press traditions (including much of Western Europe) would find it easier to do than we would.

It is my opinion that if we could accomplish that simple change in how we emphasize and highlight information, that the USA.

There are also other things not related to cyber security that we can do to make ourselves less vulnerable, but I'll leave those for another day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Radical Changes We Can Agree On

Umatilla, FL

Love it or hate it, Donald Trump will be President and he intends to make major changes.  Most of his changes will be loved by some and hated by others.  I would like to focus on two really big reforms that he could do that I thing most of us, liberal or conservative, could agree would be improvements.

Move agencies out of DC
Trump promised two things, first to “drain the swamp” and second to put the coal miners in WV and OH back to work. But many coal burning power plants have already shut down permanently, and no government actions will re-open those coal mines. One small step we could take would be to move EPA to West Virginia. Presumanly, many EPA employees would refuse to move there, so we could hire WV and OH people to take their places.

In terms of making government accountable to the people, it makes perfect sense to staff the government with people who are closest to those directly affected by government actions. I think that sentiment should appeal to liberals and conservatives alike.

But don't stop with EPA. Trump could move all executive branch offices to locations around the country other than Washington DC. That would naturally lead to staff profiles that reflect the public, and not an overreaching ruling class. I believe that it is pretty obvious that much of today's resentment of government rests on the public's perception that federal employees have been evolving into an arrogant and privileged ruling class.

Make the law WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)
For 230 years, our system of laws more-or-less works like this. Congress drafts a law using lawyer's language and passes it. Laws are seldom repealed but new laws add features or override meanings of older laws. Then courts interpret what the laws mean and at times strike down portions of laws. The court's product are decisions. Then regulators create regulations which are supposed to put flesh on the skeleton of laws. For a citizen to know what he is or is not supposed to do, he is required to read and understand the entire history of laws, court decisions, and regulations. No mortal can do that so we need armies of lawyers.

Now, if Trump is making radical changes, especially in this digital age, imagine this:
  • The Law of the Land (TLOTL), should be written in plain language that every citizen can and should read and understand without assistance from a lawyer. It will be posted on the Internet, and fully searchable.
  • The online version should include revision marking. For example, that previous versions of the law can be made visible in red strikeout fonts green underline text . Proposals for future changes can similarly be identified by color and font in terms of proposed changes in text wording changes.  
  • The Internet site displaying TLOTL will also provide for citizens to comment on passages, and to start discussions.  People viewing TLOTL can choose to see or not see the comments.  Comment management will be difficult.
  • We will not pass additional laws, we pass edits or revisions to TLOTL text.
  • Regulations and court decisions are not in addition to TLOTL they modify the text of TLOTL
  • We will no longer allow district or regional courts to make local decisions that have the effect of making the law of the land different in different places in the country.
  • TLOTL repeals and supersedes all prior laws, regulations and court decisions. TLOTL will be the one and only place to look to see what is and is not allowed or required. No documents, other than The Constitution and TLOTL, will have force of law.
  • IRS and the tax laws plus 70000 pages of tax regulations are too complex to translate to plain text. Repeal and replacement of all existing tax laws will be reuired, not just in words, but also in detail. We need to re-think taxes from the ground up and to put millions of tax lawyers out of business.
  • Expressing TLOTL in plain text will have the profound effect of ending government micro-management of its subjects simply because it can not be millions of pages long. The law of the land will have to be more general and less specific than existing laws and regulations. All three branches of government will have to adjust to that. On one hand, that seems to give government more power, but on the other hand it will greatly reduce government interference into the daily lives of everyone.   
  • Transition from the status quo to TLOTL will be very difficult. The easiest way to start would be with those agencies that relocate from DC and who re-staff.  Instead of undoing existing regulations one at a time, they would focus on the TLOTL expression of what they think the agency should do.  Achieving that for a few agencies within the next 4 years would be a major accomplishment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Local Nature

Umatilla, FL

Last night was the first rainstorm since we've been here.  I never heard of rain coming so fast and forceful as it did.  Even though the storm lasted only 20 minutes, we got 1.5 inches of rain.  I think 1.0 inches of that in 5 minutes.   The lawn was a mess.   At one of the buildings I saw a delta of 3/4 inch crushed stones moved more than 3 feet away from the bottom of a downspout.  Man when it rains here it really rains.

Here are a few shots of the delightful local nature.   The first three were taken on the Florida National Trail in Ocala National Forest.  This area is quite unlike southern Florida.

This is Lake Pearl as seen from this RV park.  It is on the shore of the lake where I go before dawn each morning to do my workout.  Watching the sky redden then brighten is a delight.   Sometimes the lake is like a reflecting pool.  Other times, the mist rises from the lake surface to create fog.

Libby shot this pic of me working out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Dilemma

Umatilla, FL

Regular blog readers already know that Libby and I are spending much less time on the boat than before.  Also, that we are extremely reluctant to admit to ourselves or anyone else that we are giving up the cruising life.

I said that this winter's stay in the RV park is only an experiment.  Well, the experiment is successful.  We both like it here very much.  To me, it is especially pleasing to see Libby enjoy the pleasures of gardening, decorating, cleaning, and cooking.  It would be fair to call it nesting.  Merely having more space and also being on land offers much more opportunity to do that kind of stuff than living on the boat.  On the boat there is no real gardening, there is no furniture to rearrange, there is very little wall space to decorate, and so on.

We plan to sail to the Abacos next spring with Waves of Grace and Vixen.  What happens next?   Libby very sensibly suggested that we make Lake Champlain the year round base for Tarwathie, and that we find winter storage space for the boat up there.  That allows us the part of cruising we love most; on our home waters of Lake Champlain.

But if we do that, it becomes clear that we will cruise only 3 months (maybe 4) of the year, and leave Tarwathie on the hard for the rest of the time.  That is the part that has me worried.

Any cruiser will tell you that a boat begins deteriorating the first day you place it in storage.   Storing it in freezing temperatures during the winter magnifies that problem many fold.

Recently we've hear from friends on W32 Calypso about major projects that they are working on because of leaks.  Ditto our friend Jay on W32 Pygmalion.  Jay too had a leak which caused damage forcing him into a major renovation project.  So far, on Tarwathie, we have been blessed by never having a major leak.  We have never removed the chain plates or port windows for re-bedding. Tarwathie really has been an exceptionally fit vessel.

The reality I foresee is that 8-9 months storage in cold weather for several will undoubtedly lead to leaks, rot, and major renovation projects for Tarwathie.  In addition, in the next 5-10 years we will probably need new standing rigging, new main sail, new electronics, new barrier paint.  It would also be wise to replace the bowsprit and boomkin  with stainless steel upgrades before rot sets in and we are forced to do it.

I'm also humbled by the extent that our recent major project to paint the topsides, exhausted us.  The fact is that we are getting too old to handle major projects ourselves, nor do we live close enough to a boat yard where we can pop over there and do work on the boat once or twice a week.   If we keep Tarwathie in Vermont, and can use her only 3 months per year, we will not be happy to fit in occasional 1-2 month renovation projects.   When you live on a boat for 12 months, 1 month of maintenance work is not such a big fraction of your time.   That makes maintenance easier for full-time cruisers.

If we sell Tarwathie now, she is in excellent sail-away condition.  If we continue for 5-10 years with long annual storage periods, the eventual sail will be a distress sale, and with or without sale we will be distressed for allowing her to deteriorate.

My head is pulling me one way.  My heart is pulling the other way.  Libby's heart also pulls the other way, but she does not appreciate the future problems I foresee.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Wind Scales

Umatilla, FL

I presume that you have all heard of the  Beaufort Wind Scale.  It is a practical scale that allows you to estimate wind speed based on visual clues while at sea.

For example,

We never got used to the Beaufort Scale.  I guess the reason is that we spent most of our sailing time in force 3, 4 and 5 condisions.  Tarwathie's former owner told me a story of being out there in Force 10 with the wife and children on board.  No thank you.  

The highest winds we have seen at sea is force 7 (28-33 knots).  That can be terrible or comfortable depending on the circumstances.  For example, we once sailed from Fort Meyers to Marathon in 30 knot winds.  The whole time we were in the lee of the land, so waves were small.  The angle of the wind on the beam was also just right. We just flew with no discomfort at all.

On the other hand, both Libby and I have become experts at reading the water surface in the range 7-20 knots.  I believe that we can name the wind speed in that range with an accuracy of 2 knots 80% of the time, and with an accuracy of 1 knot 50% of the time.

On Valcour Island, we learned a different scale.  Sitting at anchor in sheltered Sloop Cove, we could hear the wind howling in the tree tops.  I think I can tell wind speed from that sound with 10 knot accuracy.

Now in the RV park, I'm learning a new scale.  The acorn scale.  You see the park is full of live oak trees.  Yes, those big majestic trees, often with spanish moss or other epiphytic plants. Well, live oak trees have acorns, thousand of acorns. RVs have tin or hard glass roofs.  When a acorn hits the roof it makes a sound like a gunshot.  All day and all night we hear those sounds from all over the park.  Each 24 hours, the lots directly under the trees are covered with about 2 freshly fallen acorns per square foot.  Some neighbors sweep them up every day.  We are not directly under at tree, so we don't have that chore.

Most interesting, when a gust of wind comes along an extra quantity of acorns drop.  I'm still working on calibrating my acorn wind speed scale.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Danger of Ocean Inlets

Umatilla, FL

A headline in today's news, prompted this post. It was,
7 dead, 1 missing in New Zealand fishing boat disappearance.   It was a story about a charter fishing boat that sank while trying to come in the inlet of a very big harbor.

As you know, Libby and I had 30 years of sailing expierience before setting out on Tarwathie.  We did mostly lake sailing, but I also sailed a lot in the Baltic Sea, and we chartered boats in the British Virgin Islands three times.  One would think that is plenty of experience.  Wrong.

One of the many things we learned the hard way in our first few years, was how dangerous ocean inlets are for boaters.  In most cases, we advice newbie cruisers to, "Just get out there and do it."  Inlets are an exception.  We advise them to avoid almost all inlets except in the mildest possible conditions.   No amount of inland sailing experience can ever prepare you for what happens at inlets.

The biggest and most destructive danger at inlets is the waves.  Waves build up at inlets because the water is becoming more shallow.  That is magnified greatly by sandbars which preferentially form exactly at the inlet where ocean waters meet harbor waters.  It is doubly magnified when strong tital currents are funneled in/out through narrow inlet openings and the wind is in the opposite direction.   That combination creates huge standing waves.

It sounds as if today's report from New Zealand was a case of the boat being swamped by a wave as it tried to cross the sandbar. 

In the Bahamas, when the waves at the inlets are big, the locals call it "the rage."  Almost any vessel and any crew experienced or not are in danger of being destroyed or killed by defying the rage.  

Tarwathie is a Westsail 32, one of the most rugged and seaworthy boats ever made.  She has been tested to the limit by conditions we encountered at inlets.  There have been several other occasions when I reversed course and refused to challenge conditions at an inlet.

So what do you do if you are out at sea, and you want to enter a harbor?  You must pass the inlet to enter the harbor.  First choice, is to choose one of the safer inlets.  In the USA we call them class A inlets.  They are wide enough, and deep enough, and many have jetties, to mitigate the worst effects.   New York City's outer harbor is the best example I know of a safe inlet.  For years, we used only Class A inlets.  In later years, we used lesser inlets, but only in the right conditions.  Read here about one of the times I chickened out.

When you travel up/down the ICW, every inlet you pass is a source of shoaling, and shoals that change a lot from week to week.  The Corps of Engineers dredges the shoals ceaselessly, but it can't keep up.

A contributing factor is that GPS chart plotters and paper charts, usually don't show any details at the inlets.  It is a blank area on the chart.  They do that because the details change so fast.  An outdated chart is worse than no chart.  We found one book, 
Inlet Chartbook to Southeastern United States, that is an enormous help for the SE. We have not seen similar books for other areas.  But even that book appears to not be updated since 2005.

Advice to cruising sailors.  The seamanship of your vessel and crew will likely meet their maximum challenge at inlets.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Touring Central Florida

Umatilla, FL

Yesterday, Libby and I did some touring of the surrounding areas.
  • Central Florida is a jewel.
  • Ocala National Forest is a jewel.  I think we'll do a lot more exploring there in the next few months.
  • Most of the 200 mile trip, was on rural or wilderness roads.  The amount of non-swamp wilderness areas in Central Florida are mind boggling.  Unlike the vast stretches in the West, this land has lots of fresh water available.
  • Large scale agriculture here is also impressive.  It reminds us of California's Central Valley.
  • We also passed through Palatka and Deland, FL.  Both of those are urban as heck, resembling the overcrowded coastal cities.
  • Our "goal" for the day was Blue Springs State Park.  We are very glad we went there.  There were 101 manatees there yesterday.  I think our friends Jeff & Wendy brought their Westsail 32 up there one year.  That would be a marvelous adventure for Tarwathie if only we could get under one 45 foot bridge.
  • Below are some pictures from the park.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Single Handed but Tweeting, Part 2

Umatilla, Florida

I'll offer some 5 cent observations on Peter's tweets.

  • It is my theory that blue water sailors are subject to roller coaster emotional swings, with hills in good weather, and valleys in bad weather.  Single-handed sailing amplifies it. When Libby and I are offshore, one of us is always on watch while the other tries to sleep.  We barely have a chance to talk to each other.  The effect is that it seems very lonely to me, when it is just two of us.  Three or more crew are needed for social interaction.

    Peter mentioned hallucinations at one point.  Joshua Slocumb did the same.  Just thinking about that is a sign of depression. Reading the tweet's you can see Peter's mood shift toward the darker as bad weather caused fatigue, then rebound again after the weather improved and he caught up on rest.

Many people like to describe "heaving to" as an oasis. A picnic on a white sandy beach. It is not. You are in the soup. Ok it is a lot better but it is noisy.

  • Fatigue robs you of good judgement.   Peter seemed to hold up well in this respect.  No major mistakes were reported.

  • Note that in the first two days, the posts mostly anticipated that to come.  In the last two days, the posts mostly reflect on what happened.  To me, that indicates a profound life experience that Peter will never forget.  Libby and I experience that anticipation/reflection swing every time we put to sea.  Departure is marked by exhilaration, and arrival by relief.  Rarely, the reverse happens; departure is marked by dread, and arrival by disappointment that it will end.

  • Things break and you repair them on the fly.  I think that happens on almost any passage.  That is one of the major differences between offshore passages and day sailing in protected waters.

  • Peter's $379 Inreach gadget certainly proved itself useful.  I can see that if we used it, that the message conveyed would be subtly different than a daily blog post.  It is certainly more fun for people like me who followed Peter on the map, and who sent and received messages from Peter during the passage.  I should note that Peter also used his SSB.

  • I was very impressed by the following.  My limited passage planning skills would never have led me to a tactical plan anywhere as good as Chris'.

    Day 7 , 1.6 knots: I just spent the last 2 hours slowing the boat down by pulling most of the sails down and heaving to. Chris Parker, the infamous weather guru sent me an email. He explained that x slowing right down,i should be able2 sail2the BVI but if I kept going I will get stuck in Puerto Rico because of the direction of the wind
  • Peter's AIS receive and transmit did not provide as much protection as anticipated.  There is a good reasons why maritime laws everywhere require a sharp watch at all times.  Single-handed vessels can not comply, and electronic aids will never completely compensate for that.

  • When we are at sea, Libby always provides me with hot meals.  I underappreciated that until I read about Peter's diet   Thank you once again Libby.

  • Peter mentioned nausea, but he never got violently sea sick.  If he had, he would have been in much more peril IMO, because of the added fatigue and decreases in good judgement.
Below is a screen shot from the Inreach page tracking Peter's passage.  It also shows Peter's passage last year from Florida to Bermuda to Maine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Single Handed, but Tweeting, Part 1

Umatilla, FL

My friend Peter Ryan on his Westsail Onapua, just completed an 11 day single-handed passage from Hampton, VA to Virgin Gorda in the BVIs.  He had a modern gadget called Inreach that allowed him to "tweet" during the voyage.  I think that Peter's tweets are very interesting.  The dynamics of tweeting are subtly different thatn blogging.

Peter gave me permission to post his tweets here.  I'll comment on them in my next post.  For now, let Peter's words speak for themselves.

Day 1 , 4.9 knots: Am heading out of the Chesapeake in 25 knots with Mystic which is an Allergy 35 and doing 6 knots. Woohoo!

Day 1 : Snacking on flat bread crackers just so my stomach stays settled in this rough weather

Day 1 : I have so much good food on board the boat it is hard to decide what to eat. Am picking at the moment and just had a tomato. I need to eat food that will rot

Day 1 : I hadn't realized that my tracking wasn't turned on and I don't know where all those messages went

Day 1 , 4.9 knots: Books fruit and bits and pieces are littering the sole. I thought I had buttoned up everything well but I was mistaken. Wave height is starting to subside

Day 1 : It's turning chilly and I have had to put on some extra layers. Sun is no longer shining

Day 1 : So far today, I have completed 57 nautical miles at an average of 5.7 knots in 8 hours with just less than 300 to go. Whew!

Day 1 : I started out with Mystic, an Alberg35 and I was really hoping that we could stay together during this voyage, but unfortunately they are going a lot slower

Day 1 : This trip has a couple of serious consequences in that not only do I not have internet access for 2 weeks but also I will miss the presidential election

Day 1 : Because I left a day ahead of most of the boats in the Rally, I am going to be missing the Halloween party but having this great wind to sail is worth it

Day 1 : It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep because it is so exhilarating watching the boat tear along at 6 knots in complete darkness cutting the waves

Day 2 : I finally got some sleep. Even though it was only an hour at least it will help my sanity. It's still blowing 15 knots and boat is doing 6.5 knots

Day 2 : Even though it is still mostly dark I had a yogurt. I don't feel that I can get back to sleep at this point even though I only had 2 hours of sleep

Day 2 : I have my sails up and my engine full on and I am still only making 3 knots speed over ground. I have a log measuring speed through water and it says 6.5 knot

Day 2 : Tried to sleep but the boat keeps on wandering. Have been going over in my mind of how to deal with the storm that is due Friday

Day 2 : The water temperature here in the middle of the gulf stream is 77 compared to yesterday in Hampton of just 61. I am hot today and was shivering yesterday.

Day 3 : Slept very well last night with my last one for 2 hours. A little dawn is just starting to appear and so the magic of sunrise begins

Day 3 : Well it turns out that my second day wasn't so bad after all with 110 miles. I thought that the gulf stream would slow me down a lot more.

Day 3 : I just transferred one of my 6 five gallon diesel jugs into the fuel tank using my new syphon hose. Much easier than using my Baja filter.

Day 3 , 6.6 knots: I have 1000 miles to go and I have already sailed 260 miles. if I get good winds like I have had it would be feasible to assume I could make it in 8 days.

Day 3 : My sail repair tape didn't hold the tear so I have resorted to using guerilla tape. Lots of it. I have another genoa if this one gives out.

Day 3 : Both my solar panels were caked in salt so I gave them a good clean. Because I do not have the motor running, I rely on them 4 my radio, autopilot and fridge

Day 3 : Often safety on a boat is a matter of keeping yr eyes open. The end of my autopilot was sticking out a little and when I looked closely it was about 2 fall of

Day 3 : I think I was a bit overzealous in the fruits and vegetables provisioning department and so to help I had tomatoes, celery, carrots and an Apple for lunch

Day 3 : Except when I am down below in the cabin, I always wear my life jacket. If I go forward I also clip on to my jacklines.

Day 3 : Just had a very refreshing nap but got woken up by my AIS alarm from a ship 8 miles south of me

Day 3 : I am trying to decide what to eat tonight. I've had enough of salads & have a hankering 4 some beans & rice and some brussel sprouts that I could roast. Mmmm!

Day 3 : 1 neat thing about this trip is that I have sailed all the way with a little motor sailing across the GS What cruisers never let on is how much they motor.

Day 3 : I have been having problems with Bluetooth connectivity between my satellite device and my smartphone and I think I have narrowed it down to the refrigerator

Day 3 : I decided to trim my beard while I was cooking the brussel sprouts and nearly burnt them. You'd think I'd learn. Never ever leave a propane stove cooking. Grr

Day 3 : Does anybody know what time it is? I am supposed to listen to the evening chat for the SDR at 8pm AST but I don't know if it changes with daylight savings.

Day 3 : Listening to the band "Lady Hawke" while I am eating dinner. One thing about single handing is that crew or neighbors never complain about my music selection

Day 3 : Just listened to the SDR SSB net on 8107 and heard a couple of boat reports just north of me where they reported little wind. am still getting NE at 10 knot

Day 4 : I have been sleeping in the quarter berth so far on this trip. Normally if the boat is rocking a lot, I will put a Cushion on the sole and sleep there.

Day 4 : The wind lightened up considerably and started coming from my Port stern quarter so I turned the engine on. I want to be as far SE away from tomorrow's storm

Day 4 : I woke after a hour sleep and the wind had got back up so I switched the motor off and now I am making a healthy 5.5 knots. It is cold away from the GS

Day 4 : Boat is making a steady 5 knots and when the boat is happy, I am happy. It is amazing how noisy the way is in the dark especially sitting in the cockpit.

Day 4 : I saw another ship, just the 2nd one on this voyage. I haven't read any books yet cos I have been focusing on getting the boat working well but I will today

Day 4 : So far today I have averaged 5.2 knots so I should have a healthy 130 mile day which will bring me up to near 400 miles for the first 3 days of the voyage.

Day 4 : Even though I have not felt seasick, I have not felt like eating after dark & I have 2 make an extra effort. U do seem 2 need very strong sea legs 4 this trip

Day 4 : When I left VA I didn't change my clocks for daylight saving so now I am automatically on AST. It's not like I have to be anywhere at a certain time.

Day 4 : Just had a small squall come over the boat with wind on the nose and rain. Thank goodness I was awake.

Day 4 : Feeling nauseous so I ate yogurt and muesli. It could be to do with my sleep routine being out of whack.

Day 4 : Am motoring into a light ESE breeze. Have pulled the genoa off completely to sew it even though the guerilla tape held it just fine.

Day 4 : Am trying to prepare myself mentally for what is going to be coming tomorrow night and Saturday. The most important thing is safety. Making headway comes 2nd

Day 4 : Another small sparrow hitched a ride and tried to eat my mainsheet. I fell asleep in the cockpit and missed listening to the cruiser's SSB net this morning.

Day 4 , 3.8 knots: Been motoring all day into slight headwinds. Blue sky and hot. Definitely T-shirt and Short weather. Been sleeping off and on most of the day to catch up

Day 4 : Wo fishing. I very rarely throw a lure overboard because it is too much to manage the boat and fish at the same time. Plus a fish is usually too much to eat.

Day 4 : I have a problem with my refrigerator stopping my Inreach satellite device from working. Not sure how to solve the problem.

Day 4 : I had my daily statutory ration of salad for lunch today and I am about to make zucchini, onion and Mac and cheese for dinner.

Day 4 : A ship! A ship! I see another boat. Just the 3rd boat I have see in 3 days

Day 4 : Just had a long chat with the ship nav officer and he said that he picked up my AIS signal from 10 miles away. He also said 2 expect 25knot westerlies tomorro

Day 4 : I heard that the boats that left yesterday are having bad weather and 2 had to divert. I am counting my lucky stars with fabulous sailing conditions.

Day 4 : The chocolate rations are going well. One piece a day sort of like the rum rations in the Navy for morale however the odd piece may disappear like things do.

Day 4 : I actually ate dinner tonight in the formal dining room which meant I had to put on a new T-shirt & change out of the 1 that I have been wearing since Hampton

Day 5 : I have Lee cloths for constraining u while sleeping but I never use them. I like to get up&look around the boat&get back 2 sleep with minimal interruption.

Day 5 , 3.3 knots: A nice little breeze has sprung up. Is it the real deal or is it just a passing phase? Do I raise my sails and head off in a new direction or do I wait and see what comes of it? I waited and half an hour later it died. Frustrating.

Day 5 : Clear starry sky tonight from horizon2horizon. There is no moon so it is pitch black but you can see a slight mist all the way around the boat. Quite magical.

Day 5 : There is a counter current of about half a knot that I have been fighting for a few hours now. I have a speed log on the hull that measures my speed  through the water and I can compare it to the GPS SOG (speed over ground)

Day 5 : Even though it is not cold, i like to use a heavy wool blanket to sleep under because it is comfortable and cosy. Sleeping on a boat is difficult anyway so  you need as much help as you can get.

Day 5 : I have 100 gallons of diesel on board which can get me 600 miles or about 5 days of motoring. I have probably used about 15 gallons so far and have come a third of the way so I am in good shape

Day 5 : I slept well last night in preparation4the forecast bad weather. I got up a half dozen times&each time slept for about an hour or two. I don't set an alarm.

Day 5 : The ocean is huge. You would think that with 83 other boats out here that I would see at least one! But no.& don't get me started on all those stars up there.

Day 5 : I am about to go up on deck and video record the sunrise. I plan on putting all the sunrises and sunsets for this voyage into a video to show how calm it is.

Day 5 : I broke down this morning and made myself a cup of coffee. Now I am sitting in the cockpit, watching a glorious start to the day and sipping my cup of joe

Day 5 , 2.7 knots: Let's just debunk this nonsense about the Westsail being as slow as a wet snail. It just ain't so. Period. Full stop. The 5th day out in the Rally and I am second in the pack of 83 boats. Ok so I did leave a little early, but so did half of the pack. Anyway time will tell. Let's see when we get to the BVI.

Day 5 : My 4th day was not a good day distance wise. Just 90 miles with most motoring against a one knot current and light breezes. 500Nm down and 800Nm to go

Day 5 : Yet another one of those small birds has come to keep me company. And I mean really close. Like inches away from me. The thing is, I am 500 miles from land

Day 5 : I'm having to sail at 170 degrees to overcome this current to get me on the rhumb line at 150 degrees. Plus it is a one knot drag. Frustrating!

Day 5 : I think I have solved my problem with the refrigerator causing interference with my satellite device. I relocated it outside in a Ziploc bag. Here's hoping.

Day 5 : I spent the last few hours getting ready for the rain and gales that are supposed to hit early tomorrow morning. I stored everything loose from the cockpit

Day 5 : I spent the last few hours getting ready for the rain and gales that are supposed to hit early tomorrow morning. I stored everything loose from the cockpit I spent the last few hours getting ready for the rain and gales that are supposed to hit early tomorrow morning. I stored everything loose from the cockpit of 25 knots from behind is a reefed main and staysail. Now if it all goes south, then I will dump the main and run with just  the staysail. If it is lighter than that, then I will raise my smaller genoa and after that, shake out the reef.

Day 6 : The wind clocked around overnight and now it is blowing from the north at about 10 knots. The glassy seas that we had yesterday are now starting to chop up

Day 6 : I got lots of sleep last night from about 9pm until 5 pm in half a dozen one to two hour intervals. I figured I will not be getting any sleep tonight.

Day 6 : I started reading a "Michael Palmer" thriller last night and immediately got hooked. There are some writers who can make mundane stuff so interesting.

Day 6 : This morning I have decided to have a cooked breakfast. Porridge& an egg with my coffee outside in the cockpit watching the sunrise. It doesn't get any better

Day 6 : I have the boat all buttoned up with a very conservative sail plan. I could be going a lot faster but with squalls about I'd rather take it safely

Day 6 : Sometime today I will pass our halfway mark with 700Nm to go and 600 down. We had a 100 mile day yesterday motoring, but today it will be pure sailing.

Day 6 : The SSB net this morning was a bit of a mess with multiple people all talking over the top of others. It sounds like quite a few rally boats have dropped out

Day 6 : Just transferred one of my 5 gallon jugs of diesel into my fuel tank to get the weight down lower. I have 2 left now which means so far I have used 20 gallons

Day 6 : Going into my 6th day, my ship's stores are in good shape. I had2 throw out half a bag of lemons but all the other fruits and vegetables are in good condition

Day 6 : I just realized I had not mounted my running backstays. I even put the leeward one up. The rigging will need all the help it can get for tonight's blow.

Day 6 , 4.3 knots: I'm going all out4lunch because it mightBthe last decent meal I get4 a while. Herring fillets in curry pineapple sauce, couscous, roasted garlic&brusselSprout

Day 6 : I just saw a flying fish. Often times they will fly onto the deck at night and in the morning u use them 4 bait. It's the same as birds flying into glass. Sad

Day 6 : It is a beautiful day with puffy white clouds skipping across the sky, but there is a big black bad looking squall that is behind me that I hope will go away.

Day 6 : Well you never know how these things are going to go and it looked like it would pass me by so I grabbed my jacket. Well big mistake! That squall hit me hard.

Day 6 : Wind starting to build. Grabbed a can of cold tomato soup for dinner. All hands on deck!

Day 6 : Well I am still waiting for some serious wind. Friends on a boat just north of me have 25 knots so it is on its way shortly. This message may b the last 2day

Day 6 : Slept for an hour or so and weather still not bad. Getting along at 5 knots in 15 knots of wind. Very nice ride and warm out. No rain or squalls.

Day 6 : If it was daylight, I would be adding canvas, but I am in no hurry and this way, the ride is smooth and the crew gets plenty of sleep. Will reconsider at dawn

Day 7 : Slept for 2 hours and woke up just in time for a squall. Lots of rain and wind and the windvane handled it with ease. Now the boat is back on track doing 5Kn

Day 7 : I was dozing when my AIS alarm went off&outside was a huge ship 0.5Nm off my stern. My AIS should have warned me sooner&he said he saw no AIS from me. Weird!

Day 7 : Even though it is windy and nasty outside, it is cosy & warm inside the cabin of my boat and the boat has a very gentle motion as it slices through the water

Day 7 : I was told that I could trade with some of the residents of the Caribbean islands so I did bring some items including eyeglasses, DVD's, and kids books

Day 7 : I changed the AIS alarm setup 2 warn me of any ships coming within a 10 mile radius. Usually I have it setup 4 1 mile. Still not sure if that was the problem.

Day 7 : I still haven't seen any gale force winds and right now they are about 15 knots. All the boats 40 Nm to the east of me have been getting 20 knots all night.

Day 7 : 

Day 7 : My experience so far with satellite communications is not good. I tried calling on my spot global phone with out luck because of spotty service and my Delorme Inreach keeps needing to be restarted to connect to the satellite. Grrr!

Day 7 : Ok. Winds have finally picked up. It is definitely blowing gale force winds now. All I can do at this stage is hope that all my preparations are enough

Day 7 , 4.9 knots: Finally! I finally got some wind! At long last. Doing 6 knots under staysail and reefed main. No rain. Boat in it's prime. This is what it was built for.

Day 7 : I worked out why my satellite phone wasn't working. You need to put a 011 before the one (USA) and the area code and then the number. Whew! Technology!

Day 7 : My 6th day was just another mediocre 100 mile day with 600 miles2go and 700 down. I have only just got gale force winds and the boat is in its element

Day 7 : I'm still trying to figure out what the problem is with my Inreach. At first I thought it was the refrigerator, then the fact it was inside the cabin and now I'm still trying to figure out what the problem is with my Inreach. At first I thought it was the refrigerator, then the fact it was inside the cabin and now

Day 7 : Ok another big ship just appeared off my stern 5 miles away and she(yes it was a "she" with an American accent, which is double unusual) told me that her AIS had picked me up 12 miles away

Day 7 : I have never seen a rogue wave and I hope i never do. Today there are some 15 footers but they r not breaking, their period is 8 secs and they are harmless.

Day 7 , 6. knots: I do not like having green water down inside my cabin so I have a rule to put one of the washboards in the companionway when a reef goes in the main sail

Day 7 , 6.6 knots: Been blowing 30 for most of the day and had 4 squalls coming from the North so I have been on a broad reach and sometimes running before the winds.

Day 7 : Above all else, it is the noise that is the scariest part of a storm at sea. You get used to the large waves but the howling winds are frightening.

Day 7 , 6.6 knots: It was a tough day today and it looks like it will continue through the night and into tomorrow. Boat is definitely being pushed hard and so far all is well.

Day 7 : I have steered the boat off the rhumb line in more of a broad reach and southerly direction to ease the pressure on the rig and to have the most gentle ride.

Day 7 : As bad as the weather is outside, I never at anytime feel unsafe on board. The boat heels easily, but once there it is rock solid and always stays upright.

Day 7 : Dinner tonight was a can of potato soup, some crackers and apple for dessert. It's going to be a long night.

Day 7 , 1.6 knots: I just spent the last 2 hours slowing the boat down by pulling most of the sails down and heaving to. Chris Parker, the infamous weather guru sent me an email

Day 7 : He explained that x slowing right down,i should be able2 sail2the BVI but if I kept going I will get stuck in Puerto Rico because of the direction of the wind

Day 7 : Up at midnight to check on everything and all seems to be well. I am slowly drifting south at 2 knots which should keep me between 25N and 26N Monday.

Day 7 : The idea of staying between these latitudes is that the wind there on Tuesday will allow me to sail to BVI. Will take another look tomorrow.

Day 8 : Many people like to describe "heaving to" as an oasis. A picnic on a white sandy beach. It is not. You are in the soup. Ok it is a lot better but it is noisy.

Day 8 , 2.2 knots: Winds have reduced considerably down to 20 knots but waves are confused albeit lower. Today I am going 2 relax, do some cleaning & wait until the winds change

Day 8 : Decisions, decisions. What 2 do. The problem is that the wind is going to clock and I don't want to go 2 Puerto Rico. So now I'm aiming as east as possible

Day 8 : I am still glad I took the more westerly course compared to all the others. And that is because they got hammered pretty hard compared to my one day yesterday

Day 8 : The first clue that something was amiss was that my reef points were squeaky. The 2nd was my reefing line was on my foredeck. You guessed chafed thru

Day 8 : Winds out of the north at 20 knots, sailing due east @ 6 knots with a reef in the main, my staysail and my smaller genoa. I've been on port tack all this trip

Day 8 : I went out on my foredeck2take some GoPro shots because it is a gorgeous day & the boat is smoking, and had a wave drench me. I won't be needing a shower 2day

Day 8 : So tired of reading and feeling like a bit of activity, I stuck my fishing line out for hour. I'm glad I didn't catch anything because it would be too much

Day 8 , 7.1 knots: I have had hallucinations in the past from sleep deprivation which can be so unsettling so on this trip I have been getting lots of rest.

Day 8 : I am trying to figure out what to eat tonight. I have a yearning for pumpkin and I have a zucchini that I need to eat. Where is the internet when I need it?

Day 8 : "Are we there yet?" Ok I am so ready to get to where I am going, lowering my sails and sleeping for a week in a boat that doesn't feel like a washing machine.

Day 8 : Cooking on a lurching boat can be a little challenging. I just cut up an onion and garlic and it all turned into a projectile landing on the galley sole.

Day 9 : It's 3am and pitch black outside except for the twinkling stars. I feel the warm wind on my face and listen to the rushing water and thank God I am alive.

Day 9 , 6.6 knots: I shook a reef out of the main because the wind had moderated somewhat. I'm still doing 6 knots and aiming north of the BVI knowing that the wind will clock

Day 9 : Broaching in a sailboat is an experience that is hard2forget. Careening down the face of a wave at full tilt with confidence is the reason to have a full keel

Day 9 : After being a week at sea, everything has salt on it. The dodger sparkles with the crystallized NaCl and your hands constantly feel like they need washing

Day 9 : Just 400 miles 2 go & with this wind moderating it probably means a Friday landfall. That will mean just an 11 day trip which in theory should have taken 14

Day 9 : I'm mindful of the fact that today is election day in the USA and I pray that whoever wins, they make Peace their top priority

Day 9 : I decided to get serious about fishing and put three lures out. A cedar plug & 2 squids but came up empty. I've always had good luck before sunset but no time

Day 9 : The wind is slowly moderating and I need to swap out my genoa for a larger one but every time I decide I will go get it, the wind pipes up.

Day 9 : Listening to Louis Armstrong sing you r so beautiful while cooking courgettes, Lima beans, and quinoa with the last of my mangoes for dessert.

Day 10 , 4.9 knots: Well I still have good winds for sailing despite the fact that they were supposed to clock and moderate. I have averaged 5.5 knots for the last 70 miles

Day 10 : I have several different places I can sleep on Onapua but the best one by far for motion is the quarter berth in the main cabin deep in the center of the boat

Day 10 : I am always looking forward instead of enjoying the moment. Rather than thinking about the BVI I should be enjoying the sunshine, the wind and waves, nature.

Day 10 , 6. knots: Well another 130 mile day averaging 5.5 knots. All of my days have been 100+ days except for the one day motoring and the other day when I heaved to overnight

Day 10 : 1 of the noises when I am sailing is the prop shaft spinning. As I approach hull speed at about 7.5 knots the vibrations tell me that I am going fast as poss

Day 10 : I have been going full on with my fishing this morning. Different lures, all 3 lines out, baying to the moon...oh wait it's daylight...ok never luck

Day 10 : Looking back over the voyage so far, it has been so steady and relaxing. The motion of the boat slicing through even rough water is so steady that it has (con

Day 10 : Meant that I have been able to get great night's sleeps. The only time I felt a little quesy was when I was heaving 2 and that was because I was reading below

Day 10 : I have no salads, plenty of fruit but am running low on vegetables. A cabbage keeps looking at me and a whole big pineapple that I don't know what to do with.

Day 10 , 5.4 knots: U wouldn't think that there would be 1 right out here, but I am fighting a 1 knot current. I have a log that measures the h2o speed&I can compare it 2 my GPS.

Day 10 : There has been no blue sky 2day so my solar panels have not replenished the batteries from overnight&right now it is raining. Sailing weather is not all good

Day 10 : You fight for every half a knot when sailing so I don't like the idea of dragging fishing lures behind the boat slowing it down especially diving lures.

Day 10 : I have asked my friend who's an official 4 the Salty Dawg rally 2 please arrange a parade for me when I arrive at the Bitter End town. He said that the  

Day 10 : Bergameister was friends with the brass band conductor too but wasn't promising anything

Day 10 : Some scary looking squalls downwind of me. Too boisterous to do any cooking tonight so it will be a cold can of soup and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.

Day 10 : Had a full suite of sails up today & with 20 knots it made things interesting. I reefed at Sunset & pulled my genoa down which was exciting to say the least

Day 10 , 4.9 knots: I noticed 2 casualties of today's very fast ride. A snap shackle had parted ways on my leeward running backstay. Secondly, the turnbuckle on the bow whisker

Day 10 : Had disappeared. I will fix both of them in the light of dawn. Until then I will stay cosy and warm down below in my cabin while the tempest rages outside.

Day 10 : Woke up after a short while to find it raining with the wind clocking and lightening so I did what any modern sailor does these days..raise the iron Genny

Day 10 : One of the first things I want to do when I get to the BVI's is to go for a run. The problem with being on a sailboat, is that you never get any exercise.

Day 11 : Nothing is certain yet but when I get2the BVI tomorrow, 25 rally boats will b there with 50 yet2 arrive Except4start&finish, I will not have seen 1 other boat

Day 11 : Like me, I suspect that a lot of crew in the SDR are in it for the challenge. For me it was to show that you could take a small old boat and cross an ocean

Day 11 : List of things to do when I get to the BVI'S. Give thanks Call kids Shower Have a cold beer&celebrate Shop 4 salads, yogurt, bananas Get on the internet SLEEP

Day 11 , 6. knots: Easterlies, 12 knots, clear blue sky, doing 5.8 knots SOG (speed over ground)at 160 degrees true. Full suite of sails with autopilot & batteries fully charged

Day 11 : This one bird that I don't recognize, has been flying off the stern of my boat all morning. It almost looks like a penguin and every now and then it rests.

Day 11 : Not catching fish continues. I'm justifying it by saying that I am here to fish, not to catch fish. Friends on another boat are hauling them in every day.

Day 11 : Beans, spinach and mashed potatoes with an Apple for dinner

Day 11 : I think I have finally found a solution to my Inreach satellite device crashing. Now I shut my smartphone app down after sending messages.

Day 11 : Now motoring directly into a 10 knot SE wind. Exactly the direction I want to go. Big squall to windward of me. I'm hoping that it will miss me.

Day 11 , 4.3 knots: This last 100 miles has really knocked the gloss off this voyage. Motoring into headwinds is like riding a bucking bronco and I just had a squall to deal with

Day 12 , 3.8 knots: I have bruises all over my body from banging into things on this trip. My chins hurt, my left shoulder and in particular my hands from holding on so tightly.

Day 12 , 4.3 knots: I have heard some very good things about the Caribbean and in particular the Virgin islands but I can't see myself doing this every year the many cruisers do

Day 12 : I just raised my yellow flag on my starboard stay 2 signal that when anchored tonight, my boat is in quarantine until I can visit the customs, health & I dept

Day 12 , 5.4 knots: Land Ahoy! Even though I am 20 miles away, I can see a big hill peeking through the haze. Anagada is closer 2 me than Virgin Gourda, but all I can see r rocks

Day 12 : Like this place already. Water has changed color from a deep blue to a green. Islands are all around, temperature is perfect & there is a nice breeze blowing

Day 12 : I just had my first hot fresh water shower in 11 days and boy oh boy, did it ever feel good!!!!