12 September 2014

I put this post up some time ago but want to repeat it for those who missed it. In my small world it has "gone viral", having been reprinted in Active Captain Newsletter, the NordHaven Newsletter,, PassageMaker Magazine, under the title Down Shift" and originally the DDCA Bulletin. If you missed it the first time, take a gander.
SEVEN SEAS CRUISING ASSOCIATION, INC.
2501 East Commercial Blvd., Ste. 203
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 USA
Phone: (954) 771-5660 Fax: (954) 771-5662 Website:
www.ssca.org Email:office@ssca.org

Cloverleaf – 61’ Trawler – 5.5’ draft – Nov. 2013

Subject Area: 
A Different Kind of Cruising for the Young at Heart
but Over-the-Hill Crowd and the Nervous Newbies
Dear SSCA,
This letter is not just for the over-the-hill cruiser, but could also be very appropriate
for you newbies who are a little uncomfortable about casting off, or the wannabes who might be hesitating to take the plunge off the end of the dock, especially if you are hesitating because youthink you are too old for something so different. Dave and I are octogenarians, who have been sailing, motoring, and cruising around for over 60 years.
After many, many miles, and about 25 years of racing around lakes in small, fast, tippy, boats, it hit me that I needed a more stable platform that could take us exploring over the horizon, with room for our large family, while still doing our favorite thing in life, sailing. That change in attitude was good for over 21 years, when again I had an epiphany. It was time to make the cruising life easier and move to the dark side: time to move aboard a trawler. We have been aboard the latest Cloverleaf for 13 years, but still follow our old style of living at anchor, and constantly exploring new harbors and even new countries.
This summer we moved into phase three, still on a boat, still cruising, but with a whole different attitude. We are doing a different kind of cruising, something gentler, kinder to one who needs less stress and it’s probably as appropriate to a nervous newbie as it could be to other old-timers.
So what are the differences in this new cruising? Top of the list is more time at marinas. What does this accomplish?
  1. First and foremost, a chance to get off the boat and walk around. This is really essential to us actually old, old-timers. Endless days of sitting on the boat are simply not good on the body.Where I used to compensate by swimming almost every day, I no longer care to dunk in colder, murkier, often times fast-moving waters (often laden with stinging critters).
  2. A chance to more easily meet fellow cruisers. Ask any cruiser what is the best thing about the lifestyle and they will always answer, “the people you meet.”
  3. A chance to explore what the area has to offer, whether it is a unique restaurant, a chance for local entertainment, learning about the history of a place, or visiting its historical places. Have you been to Brookgreen Gardens south of Myrtle Beach, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston or the book fair in Miami? Have you seen the wonders of Washington, DC, the Visionary Art Museum or the Aquarium right on the harbor in Baltimore? Have you experienced the theater in New York City or the great fishing that’s everywhere? There is no end to the possibilities, but you do have to stop and go ashore to smell the roses.
The downside for us is that anchoring is quicker and easier than hauling lines, cords and fenders. In the past, anchoring out in some remote place was more exciting, more adventuresome, more like really living the cruising life. But—been there, done that—thousands of times. Now I need the chance to relax and enjoy what’s ashore and take the stress level down
If you are a wannabe, or about to change your boat, I must insert here how having what we used to call a marina boat can simplify what the boat you buy must have. Marina boats, like the majority of sportfishing boats, even the larger ones, do not need the amount of anchoring gear, the size of dinghy and motor, the amount of storage space for food or parts, or even the number of guest cabins that a cruising boat that goes off the beaten path and spends the majority of time at anchor must have.They can carry smaller anchors and smaller windlasses, smaller dinghies and engines, have smaller batteries and don’t need watermakers. Food, parts and mechanical help is always available. Guests can always sleep ashore, so even a smaller boat is fine. We all know smaller translates into less expensive and less fuel costs, which helps cover the extra expense of staying at marinas. This brings me to big difference number two in the cruising life.
Big difference number two:
  1. Staying longer in one place. If you haven’t learned this yet, you should know that staying longer is really much cheaper. We have been in marinas where the price of five nights covered your costs for the rest of the month, where the whole six months winter rate was half to a third of what one month in Florida in the winter would cost. We aren’t going to take advantage of staying north for a whole winter, but we are doing the month or longer reservations.
  2. Staying at least a month or more we can really relax and see things at our leisure, since we are really only good for one big thing a day, maybe every other day. We can get involved with the local scene and meet local people. We can afford to ship our car (the first one owned in over ten years) to where we are staying longest in the first place and then move it ourselves to the second or third place nearby, if we choose to visit more places. If our glasses break, or a tooth falls out, all of which has happened in the last two years, we have help nearby. We do not get out of phone contact. We are again dropping the stress levels, enjoying what we can, but practicing the K.I.S.S. principle.
       3. By sitting still longer, we can also take more time to fix things, (yes, it’s a boat and things still need fixing) without Dave missing meals or sleep over it. I also have more time to plan the what, where and when, and to read and write. It seems like a win/win situation to me.
As an example of how this played out, here are some of our highlights for July into October.
While on Long Island we got to spend three afternoons at Brookhaven Labs, for their Science Sunday programs on the Synchrotron, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Functional Nanoparticles. I can’t take the space to explain what phenomenal things these studies are leading to—you will have to Google them yourselves—but only yesterday I read about big advances in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and it involved just the studies we heard about at Brookhaven on our Nanoparticle visit.
The stand-out star in New York City was Pippin, with Patina Miller in the lead, and I don’t know if I have ever seen such a stellar performance. Was it because we were about 10’ from the stage and we could see every sparkle in her eyes? Don’t know, but it was the best ever. Then there was the James Turrel light exhibit at the Guggenheim, like nothing we have ever seen. This wasn’t just looking at something, it was living and feeling it and being immersed in it. We saw paintings at the Metropolitan I had never seen before, and we went to the 92 Street Y where we heard Martin Amis and Ian McEwan read from their latest books (cleverly introduced by Salman Rushdie). Of course, they all talked about their great friend Christopher Hitchens. Can you imagine the sparks flying from great minds like these? Naturally, around every corner is an amazing restaurant, most at very reasonable prices.
Out on Long Island there is a lot of community theater, but usually with casts from Broadway. We also ran into some film festivals. My best picture award goes to Disobedience, a French-made film about Aristedes Sousa Mendes. I had never heard of the man and most of us haven’t, to our shame, because he was one of the greatest heroes when it came to saving lives during the Nazi era. You would have to find it on Netflix, but it is as good as it gets and so important.
Long Island is also full of gardens and stately mansions open to the public.This year we visited the Phipps Estate at Old Westbury Gardens and the Guggenheim Estate. Last year it was the Vanderbilt Estate. We will never be able to see them all or to take part in all the special happenings that go on at all of them during the summer.
The buildings in NYC never stop amazing me. There is the Battery, at the foot of Manhattan. You have to pay attention to your boat going up or down the East River, but there is always time for some picture-taking of the bridges, the boats or the buildings.
We ended our summer in Maryland, first at Annapolis, in a super marina called Chesapeake Harbour Marina, with all the amenities of a country club. Being on the doorstep of Washington, DC, we got to go to their big Book Fest on the Mall and had a chance to again see an excellent production of Miss Saigon. Next year we want to spend much more time in DC This is another area with so much going on that a whole summer could easily pass away and you would have only scratched the surface. We ended with the SSCA Annapolis Gam on the Rhode River, another winner for Judi Mkam and all those who helped her. Now, after our annual haul-out, the last socializing days are at the Krogen Rendezvous at Solomon’s Island. Then it is back to heavy-duty traveling on our way to Ft. Lauderdale, but I hope I will be able to stick with the plan of stopping at marinas to take a break, take a walk and keep the pressure down. Wish me luck.
COMMODORES BEV AND DAVE FEIGES 




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COMMODORES BEV AND DAVE FEIGES
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 The Battery, NYC                                                                                                Balthus Therese Dreaming at the Met




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Phipps Estate at Old Westbury                                  Guggenheim Estate                               heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven Labs





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Bev and Dave Feiges
Aboard Cloverleaf
2525 Marina Bay Drive West
Ft Lauderdale, FL 33312

847 363 4905

opinions on everything marine

http://beverlyraespeaksout.blogspot.com/
opinions on everything else

04 July 2014

                            THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING RADAR

We have had radar aboard our cruising boats, sail and power, and anyone who prefers to live without radar is a masochist. They may be sailing around in the fog thinking they are avoiding everyone with their skills at listening, and not giving credit to all the boats our there avoiding them, because these boats have radar. Our closest call in the past years was a target on our screen that kept coming at us, no matter how many degrees off course we turned. We were putting out our loud fog signal, but he kept coming at a fast speed. When he finally emerged, close up and personal, it was a small, fast boat with no radar, obviously pursuing us because he must have thought we were a sound emitting buoy. He did a quick turn and disappeared back into the fog.

25 October 2013


 Watch for this one in an upcoming SSCA Bulletin.


                                    A DIFFERENT KIND OF CRUISING-FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART BUT OVER THE HILL CROWD AND THE NERVOUS NEWBIES

It is an extension of my summer letter on a different kind of cruising and if you are part ov the over the hill crowd, a wannabe or a newbie, this is for you.

If you don't know about SSCA, google it, talk to fellow cruisers, and join. It is top notch for socializing, for information gathering, and to make you a wiser cruiser faster.




                  A DIFFERENT KIND OF CRUISING


What's different about this summer's cruising? It is a hurry up so you can sit still kind of cruise, something we have never done before. We hurried up, all the way from the Bahamas to NYC, and now we are in phase one of the sitting still part. Phase two starts in about three weeks, when we hurry backt to the Chesapeake to sit still there n Annapolis and Solomon's Island for about six weeks, when we will get back in hurry up mode and point our bows south to Florida. Meanwhile, we are really enjoying this non cruising part of the summer, so here are the highlights.

The stand out stars, so far have been Pippin, with Patina Miller as the MC, and I don't know if I have ever seen such a stellar performance. Was it because we were about ten feet from the stage and we could see every sparkle inher eyes? Don't know, but it was phenomenal. Next was the movie Disobedience, part of a Jewish Film Fest at the Suffolk JCC. A long drive, but so very worth it. the story of Aristedes Sousa Mendes, a name I had never heard of , but probably more deserving of the Yad Vashem award as Righteous Among the World for the lives he saved as anyone. It is a French film produced for TV, stunningly told, and one I guarantee you will never forget. What a man he was! Net Flix is probably the only way you will get to see it, though it should be shown everywhere.

Other great things we have seen or been to, in no particular order:
Brookhaven Laboratory, always a favorite, with a visit to their old and new Synchrotron, where light is speeded up to reduce a beam of light to something so powerful and small that scientists can look into the inner working of proteins and polymers and even computer chips. Last Sunday it was Center for Functional Nanomaterials, with its multimillion dollar electron microscope that can look at things one hundred times smaller than an atom, and next week it will be the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, something very new at Brookhaven.

Old Westbury Gardens and the Phipps estate. I always love gardens, and tours of famous houses are always interesting.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, an afternoon spent in the city with Holly and Fritz, followed by dinner in a very nice Turkish restaurant close to the 92 street Y where we went to hear Martin Amis and Ian Mcewan read from their latest books and cleverly introduced by Salmon Rushdie. Of course they all talked about their great friend Christopher Hitchens, also a favorite author of mine. 

Another movie at Suffolk JCC, Hava Nagila, just for fun history of the song, and we found a Japanese restaurant nearby that had the most spectacular Sushi I've ever eaten. Place is called Izumi, just north of Commack. Worth the drive.

Yesterday we went to the Syd jacobson JCC for their Monday morning News Behind the News discussion. Moderator was brilliant, and the discussion was most informative. 

Today Dave was busy installing a new radar to replace the Broadband radar that was injured in our nearby lightning strike in Palm Beach. Since I did not want to spend money repairing something I have never liked, we got a new open array radar that will display on our chart plotter like the broadband did. You live on a boat, there is always something to fix.

All of this has been packed into the last ten days since the first ten we were "under the dome of heat" that made just walking to the swimming pool here in the marina almost too much. Thank goodness the heat broke when Holly and Fritz arrived so we could do what we did without melting.



  

Bev and Dave Feiges
Aboard Cloverleaf
Manhasset Bay,NY

847 363 4905


http://feiges.blogspot.com/
opinions on everything marine

http://beverlyraespeaksout.blogspot.com/
opinions on everything else

25 June 2011

GARMIN MYSTERY MAPS

As an addendum to my previous post, GARMIN CHART PLOTTERS, HAVE THEY LOST THEIR WAY, I thought I would post some pictures of exactly how these charts look, what I call the Garmin mystery maps, to illustrate the point I am making. The purpose of this is to bury Garmin with complaints, so maybe they will do something about it. A pity to ignore a great piece of equipment because they seem to have forgot how to make a navigation chart.








Do you recognize any of the names on the chart? I don't. This is the main port of the whole west coast of Florida, Tampa Bay and further south. This is the main cruising area of the west coast of Florida. Here is an example of how a normal map would look.



I am sorry the pictures aren't as large as I thought, but you can still see Tampa Bay plainly marked, and below that Sarasota Bay and further south Charlotte Harbor and Punt Gorda, the places you would be looking for as you plan a cruise of the west coast. I am sure the names Bird Key or Whiskey Kay, or Perico Island, would mean as little to you as they do to me.

Get on the ball people and write to cartography@garmin.com. If you want more illustrations, I have more, just write and ask, but believe me when I say, this same thing is true of any place you look.
















24 June 2011

Dolphin Encounter 2

Tom Hethrington, the "shooter" of the dolphins playing under our bow, tells me this is a later edited version.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqYhnbgWgRc

04 June 2011

Refrigerator for the Cruising Boat



Our refrigerator/freezer on the Cloverleaf, like the Cloverleaf, is 21 years old. We have owned the boat for the past 11 years, and it has been 11 years of constant appreciation for this super piece of boat equipment. It is a Sun Frost, designed and mostly sold to people who live "off the grid", people, like boaters, who must supply their own power to run electrical appliances. It is not the most beautiful of refrigerators, or one full of great gimmicks, so what makes it so perfect? It is its minimal power drain. We run the Sun Frost off our batteries, and it adds no extra time to our generator charging time, which runs from almost nothing on the days we are traveling and our alternator on the engine charges the batteries, to about two to three hours a day, when we are sitting at anchor. The unit is air-cooled and uses between 60 to 90 amps per day, depending on ambient temperature.

It is when another boater comes aboard and complains about the hours and hours a day, sometimes half the day or more, that he must run his generator to keep his refrigerator happy, that we really realize what a gem we have. We have had to replace a few minor items, like the gaskets around the doors, and recently a glass shelf that Dave broke while cleaning. It is not self defrosting, and we had to make our own "drawers" using inexpensive plastic storage boxes, but these are small trade offs for the freedom of not running the generator any more than we would, if we just had an old fashioned ice box.

You can find Sun Frost at www.sunfrost.com or write to them at info@sunfrost.com
Hope this information will help you choose refrigeration you can live with, on your motor boat or sailboat.

14 May 2011

GARMIN CHARTPLOTTERS: HAVE THEY LOST THEIR WAY?

GARMIN CHART PLOTTERS: HAVE THEY LOST THEIR WAY?

I have owned a Garmin Touch Screen Chart Plotter since late 2007, and thought it was god’s gift to boaters. No more, since my original was switched for a newer version recently, when I had locking up issues. I want everyone who has a Garmin, or everyone considering buying a Garmin to look at the pre-loaded charts and see if you see what I see. If you see what I am going to describe, then be forewarned before you buy, or if you own one, complain vigorously to Garmin, and maybe this once fine product can be turned back into a proper chart plotter. If you are only planning to cruise inside the Intercoastal Water Way, you will have no issue, but for those of you planning offshore hops, or long range planning to islands in the Bahamas, there are serious issues.

Let me describe overall what I mean, and then in some detail. When I look at a map, one that covers anything from the whole coast line of Florida, or from Florida to the Chesapeake, I would expect to see major cities on the coast, and major harbor entrances. For instance, going up the coast of Florida, Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Ft. Pierce, Jacksonville, Fernandina, all having first class entrances, should be named. When you zoom in another level, more of the minor entrances, still reasonably safe, should be named. The closer in you go, the more detail it is possible to put on the chart, the more harbor entrances of lesser quality can be detailed, along with smaller towns, bridges and their details, until you get down to the information critical to those traveling the waterways. But lets stick with the major maps, the ones I have issues with.

I will pick just a few places to illustrate the point I am making, starting with Palm Beach and Lake Worth Inlet. Starting at the 30 mile scale, which shows the whole east coast of Florida from Miami to Jacksonville, both on the chart in the smallest letters possible, you are also given, Delray Beach, Pine Island, Kid Creek, Landing Strip. That’s it folks for a whole coast with four more major entrances left unindicated.

At the 20 mile scale, from Miami to 230 NM north you now see, Miami, in small letters, Ojus, large letters, Boca Raton, large letters, Lantana, even larger and in all caps, Everglades I. and Munyon I., in large letters as is Corset I., John’s I., Troust Creek, small, Tortoise I., large, then Cocoa, all caps, and Titusville-Cocoa Airport. Nothing else is indicated from there north to Jacksonville, written in very small letters.

At 12 miles, zeroing in on the Palm Beach area you still have Lantana, in caps, and Munyon I. north to Corset I.

At 8 miles Lantana has disappeared, instead you have Boynton Beach, in caps, Airport, then five miles north of that, Palm Beach International Airport, then on the coast in small letters some details on a red bouy and a red and white marker. North of that is Munyon Island.

At 5 mile scale, Lantana is back on the map, still in caps, Hunters I, Palm Beach Internatinal, and then Little Munyon I.

At 3 mile scale, going 9 miles north and south of Lake Worth Inlet, still unnamed, you have, Bascule Bridge, 33 Ft. at Center, in caps, West Palm Beach, in caps, Tarpon I, , and then small notes, such as Foul, Dump sites anhorage area, Wks PA.

You cannot check on these notes by zooming in since there are more and more of the I signs indicating info, and so often, what is on one scale is omitted on the next. Note the place names, which come and go.

At 2mile scale, going from 5 miles south to 5 miles north, you have Everglades i. , medium size, Royal Park Bascule Bridge, Flagler Memorial Bascule Bridge (at Center), all in caps, Lake Mangonia, small letters, then the notes at sea surrounding the entrance, still unnamed, Wks PA, North Palm Beach Waterway, very small, and Signs.

A mark with LW shows at the 1.2 mile scale, and the name Lake Worth Inlet finally shows in very small letters at the .5 mile scale but not near the inlet. The name shows, right in the inlet, at the .3 mile scale.

If you go to the west coast of Florida it is the same story, islands you never heard of which will come and go at different scales, and the only recognizable name is Sarasota. Tampa Bay, great and mighty Tampa Bay, or Tampa/St. Pete, Naples, Charlotte Harbor Ft. Meyers, Marco island, don’t show up until you are in a very small scale. You have to go to the 2 mile scale to find the names of Tampa and St. Pete, It is worth going in step by step on Tampa Bay to see what I mean.

Even the Bahama islands will leave major islands unnamed, like Long island, Crooked Island or Acklins Island. Pigeon Cay is the only identifier on Long Island at the 30 mile scale. I suspect this wide spot on what looks like was part of the salt pan dyke system was some one’s idea of a joke. The major town, Clarence Town is not named until the 800 feet scale, and Salt Pond, the other major settlement is never named, although Salt Pond Cay is, and Thompson Bay makes it in in small letters at the .5 mile scale.

If someone could make sense of this for me, I would appreciate hearing. Why one area is given multiple names, but not the initial important one you need, I will never understand. Final example, Final example, Port Royal Sound, a major entrance is marked at first Otter Island, then Hunting I on the 30 mile scale. Then it becomes Morgan Island on the 20 mile scale, then Lemon I. and Bay Point on the 12 mile scale, then Morgan, Hunting and Lemon I. are all on the 8 mile scale, Beaufort County Airport shows on the 5 mile scale, so you get a cue of where you are, Port Royal Sound finally shows on the ,8 mile scale.

Please protest to Garmin for me and for your own sake, if you want one of the best, most inexpensive chart plotters, but loaded with proper maps. As cruisers, we don’t need local airports before harbors, or islands reachable only by kayaks or canoes. If you only do the ICW, as I said before, this is not an issue, but if you are a stranger in a strange land or planning off shore jumps, it sure is.

25 January 2011

A COLLECTION OF THINGS WE'VE LEARNED

BOATER BEV’S BLOG

A COLLECTION OF THINGS WE’VE LEARNED

It took a long time for us to realize that running our boat at normal cruising speed, seven to nine knots, in shallow water, under nine feet, not only caused a distinct rumbling sound, serving as an excellent depth sounder, but caused the back of the boat to sink, so our swim platform submerged. We found it was common knowledge among tug boat captains, but it was a slow learning process for us.

For those of you who bring an anchor into a hawse pipe, and the anchor must be brought up and face the right direction to house it, rather than try to lean over with a long pole poking at it to turn it about, just back up as you bring it aboard, and it will automatically turn facing the way you need it.

Here’s how to clean your anchor quickly, when it wants to bring a big sample of the bottom aboard with it. When it comes off the bottom, and has come up a few feet, give it a quick drop. This assumes you are in clear water where you can see what is happening, and you are not moving. If any thing remains on the anchor, backing will help clean it, without banging it on the hull. Of course you must have a wash down on the chain as it comes aboard, and it still pays to stand by with a hose in hand. Best of all, if your boat didn’t come with an enclosure that keeps the dirty water from running down the deck, you can often build your own, and cut some scuppers in the toe rails at the low point of the blocked area, so the dirty water runs overboard.

Don’t mix metals in your twelve volt wiring, such as using a stainless washer on your battery terminal bolts. Use a copper washer to match the copper wiring. If possible, use copper or bronze bolts on the battery terminal. This is really important with your major twelve volt wiring, not so much with the minor wires, although you may lose some power. Check for the extra heat generated, with your infrared thermometer.

Buy an infrared thermometer, if you don’t have one. Any good hardware store has them. They have multiple uses, such as measuring the changes in temperatures in your water and oil in your engine, and your exhaust temperatures. Remember the water temperature in your engine will change, as you go from area to area with sea temperature changes.

Get all the manuals for all your equipment. Know who made the components. Most equipment you buy, from your engines to your watermakers are assembled of other manufactures equipment, not built by the name of the company on the item. When you need a replacement part, it can be quicker and always cheaper to buy from the manufacturer of it, or a major parts supplier such as Grainger, rather than the company who assembled the item. Be sure you have aboard a Grainger catalog, a West Marine catalog, and a Defender catalog.

With very few exceptions, never anchor with two anchors. The exceptions are anchoring in a tidal sluice way, where you place one anchor upstream and one down stream, or if in a heavy gusting situation where your boat is being batted from one side and then the other, and the motion is miserable. This happened to us just once in thirty two years. Last exception is a very tight anchorage, where those around you have two anchors out. Best is to avoid these places, the risk is too great. Most times when we see someone anchored with two anchors, we know he, or his anchors, are not to be trusted, and we move away.

Get some means of communicating with your partner that is hands free, to be used when anchoring or going into a slip. We bought the combination microphone and ear phone set, the first ones at FAO Schwartz, the second set at an SSCA Gam. The two sets were the same equipment, but the first ones were half the price. Both have proved invaluable. Best part of the second set is the soft case that came with it, which keeps the off switch from being moved to on accidentally. Doesn’t help if we just forget to turn them off

It is important to have your name on your boat so it can be read, by either a boat along side of you or astern, if you want other boats to communicate with you. This is really necessary in passing situations. It doesn’t help if it is on the stern and then you put your dinghy blocking it. It doesn’t help to have these pretty varnished name boards with the lettering in gold, only okay for someone strolling by your boat while it’s tied to a dock. Forget fancy lettering, just get that name big and bold, two places, on the stern and somewhere on the side of your boat. The test is, can it be read by anyone a decent distance off.

Next important thing is to have your radio on and where you can hear it while you are traveling. All this is really vital when you are traveling in close quarters like on the waterway, and it might save your boat someday when someone is trying to warn you of your proximity to danger. This happened years ago off Long island in the Bahamas when John McKie from his perch overlooking an eastward reef could not reach the boat heading for it. There is no excuse these days not to be able to communicate right from the cockpit, but I can’t believe the boats who still do not respond to calls.

Last resort to communicate your intentions in a passing situation is to use the horn. I can almost guarantee that when I do, like give a one toot, meaning I am putting my bow to starboard, the boat in front of me will move to starboard himself. Learn your passing signals and signal back to show you understand. I hate to use horn signals because of that, I hate going past someone at full tilt, but if I cannot get their attention, I have no choice but to pick the side I want, maintain a speed that gets me past as quickly as possible, and hope they don’t do something incredibly stupid. If you want a slow pass, you have to slow down yourself, and you have to be able to hear the request.

I have said this before, but it’s been a number of years. If you want to really sail your sail boat, you must have a downwind pole for those wonderful downwind days. If you can’t wing out your jib, or really effectively pole out that downwind sail, you will be rolling around with just a main or just a jib, not making enough speed to get where you want to go. Sails set on both sides of the boat keep you from rolling and keep you moving. If you want to sail upwind, you must get a well cut sail, use new technology like full battens, and learn how to set your sails. Get some sail boat racer, or a sail maker to go out with you and help you get the maximum potential from your boat, for those lovely light wind days. Know how to reduce sail on those days she’s really honking, so you’ve got the speed but can still be comfortable. You are not just a trawler with a high antenna. if you paid all that extra money for a sailing rig, learn how to use it. Too much effort? Save the money you would spend on a sailing rig, and buy a trawler, more space, more comfort, and the extra money buys you fuel.

If you really lust to live aboard for long stretches, away from marinas, make sure the other part of the crew shares your enthusiasm, and they have what it takes to keep them comfortable. They must be able to go to bed at night knowing their chance of dragging is all but nil. Twice in ten years is once too often. Keep them warm and dry, keep them out of extreme weather unless they are really up to adventure, let the one least comfortable make the decisions of when you go, and where you go. Both people must have the tools they need to make their jobs easier. A well equipped galley for the cook, the latest in navigation tools for the navigator, everything the chief engineer needs to keep things running, ways for everyone to communicate, room for the fun stuff, like books, music, and sports equipment. I’m learning life goes on without TV, since ours died, and maybe even better. The boat must have power, who wants to live without lights, refrigeration, or hot water for long periods of time? Figure out what each person must have or can learn to live without before you commit to long term cruising. Sometimes one person must have their time away from the boat, or they don’t want to make the long passages; you would be surprised how many boats are out there cruising for years, but making the accommodations so each stays within their comfort zone.

We have learned that equipment keeps improving. We all know that it is hard to keep up with the advances in computers and cell phones. The same is true of so much of our major equipment. I wish we had never spent the money we did trying to maintain our old windlass, and having the two years of aggravations we had in the process. At its best the old one was half the tool the new one is. Same was true of our old generator; years of putting up with soot and smell, and repeated failures to find all the money spent trying to keep the old one going might as well have gone immediately into replacing it. The only time we were smart was when we listened to someone older and wiser tell us we didn’t have the time to be messing around with an old main engine, and we replaced it after the first big failure. We’ve had ten years and about 40,000 miles of trouble free running. We are about to replace our autopilot, probably designed 15 to 20 years ago. It’s beginning to have some faults, and we know a new one has got to be so much better. Beside, getting parts for older equipment no longer made only works for antique restorers.

Get rid of everything you aren’t using, or are carrying because someday, you might need it and maybe it will work. Usually it won’t. Nothing makes living easier in tight spaces as getting rid of the clutter. How many small boats do we see carrying a small hard dinghy, the one they never use, and a small inflatable they do use. Better one good inflatable, and one good storage method- out of the water. Unless you really make long offshore passages, you don’t need extra sails. Keep the ones you have well maintained, check them out with a sailmaker every year, treat them right. Give the clothes you haven’t worn in years to someone who needs them. Don’t keep foodstuffs you aren’t using around for long periods of time. It isn’t that they get bad, though some do, but they lose their food value, just like old medicines can lose their efficacy. As Dave always says when asked by someone what their needs, “A dumptser.”

The learning process never ends, I am sure a month from now or a year from now, I could add a host of other things, which I will try to do, if I can remember.

25 December 2010




NEW ANCHOR WINDLASS

After three frustrating years of anchor windlass problems, involving money spent at marinas when we normally would have been anchoring, and money spent trying to fix the problems, even taking the boat to the door step of Ideal Windlass in Narragansett Bay, we finally got smart and put the money and effort where we should have in the first place, and bought a new Maxwell Windlass.

Any anchor windlass is going to get a major work out with our life style, which means moving constantly, usually a new anchorage every day or three, and anchoring as many times at it takes in any one spot to satisfy us that the anchor is truly and properly set. Our anchors weigh 200 pounds each and the chain is very heavy, and the boat is even heavier, close to seventy tons, so our windlass must be a workhorse.

We looked for a model that fit as closely as possible our existing holes in the deck for our hawse pipes, where the anchors are pulled in and the chain goes over the roller and travels forward to the holes where the chain runs down into the chain locker. This is contrary to how most systems are run, so we had to check out everything. We also wanted to deal with a company that was not just a one man operation, a lesson learned form our past experience. Doesn't matter how good the product is or was, eventually the one man can't keep up.

We met the salesman for Maxwell at the 2010 SSCA Gam in Melbourne this November, and his product looked like a good fit both for our existing structure, and had what we desired, a separate horizontal gypsy for each of our different sized anchor chains, and a rope windlass to sit on top of the housing of the horizontal motors. His firm, Florida Rigging was based in Riviera Beach Florida, and we decided to go Cracker Boy Marina there, and let them do the installation. Having someone experienced with the product is bound to save time and money.

While we waited for the windlass to come, we shipped off our anchors and chain for re-galvanizing. That went slick as can be, and saved a lot of money over buying new chain. So what is the outcome?

We are pleased punch! The speed of deployment and retrieval is so fast compared to the old windlass, 44 seconds instead of 2 minutes for 50 feet, that the job seems over before it's really begun. The re-falvanizing has eliminated most of the clean up. Now if we can just have a couple of trouble free years. so I can relax like I did for the eight years of infallible service, (add this to the 10 years it worked for the previous owner) we had with the old Ideal. I think this is also an example of how most all our equipment improves over the years, and if you can afford to replace any of your old stuff, chances are you will be glad you did.

PICTURES ON TOP- NOT WHERE I WANTED- ARE OF THE DECK PREPARED, THE WINDLASS BEING LIFTED ABOARD, AND DAVE AND THE INSTALLER FINISHING UP THE JOB.



23 August 2010

SURVIVING AND ENJOYING A MAINE CRUISE

I seem to be alone in this, but Maine is not one of my favorite places to cruise. I have always had three objections:
1. The water is too cold for comfortable daily swimming. Since this is my favorite form of exercising, swimming is important to me.
2. Fog. I have never enjoyed the adventure of groping through the fog, and now it is even more stressful.
3. Lobster pots. While I enjoy eating lobster, weaving between the swarms of pots that now exist, means there is no relaxing, no chance to enjoy the scenery, just total concentration on what is immediately ahead of you.

Why go to Maine at all? You may be the one among the multitude that falls in love with the scenery, the uniqueness that is Maine. You may want to spend a cool summer and not battle the heat. You may enjoy the challenges of navigating in fog and dodging the obstacles. You just might want something different. Why do I go? Because so many friends are cruising there, Because my son and family, which includes my youngest grandchildren spend two weeks there every summer. Because the local people are simply wonderful, and I do love lobster, especially when the price is so right. I certainly suggest you give a Maine cruise a try if you have never been, and here are my suggestions for surviving the challenges that can make it all too much if you are like me.

THE COLD WATER. It's cold for sure, has averaged 62 degrees most of the time we have been here. There are differences in locales; far up the rivers or n shallower pools, you may find warmer water, water that makes it up to 68 degrees, my lower limit. Have a wet suit of some type if you are totally determined. Find a resort with a heated pool, like Linekin Bay Resort, where you can anchor and pay a day fee, or take a mooring, if you prefer. Not too many places like this, but they do exist, enquire around. Substitute walking in the comfortable weather as your major exercise.

THE FOG: The first law for cruising in foggy country, if you are a wuss like me, is AVOID WHENEVER POSSIBLE. The weather in Maine is mostly fine, mostly light to no winds, never too hot, but fog can form. Listen closely to the forecasts; when you hear those words patchy fog or fog possible, stay put, or move during the part of the day that they are not calling for fog. Prime rule for surviving the Maine cruise and enjoying it, is be flexible, and do not have a tight schedule, so you can wait for the sunny days to travel. If you do get caught, and sooner or later you will, have a radar, and know how to use it, have a fog horn and have your radio tuned to 16, so you can broadcast your position, and listen to those who are giving theirs. Plot your course as far off the beaten path as possible to avoid the majority of traffic, skip the wiggling through the island obstacle courses that can be fun on a clear day, and try to plan your passage to stay as much inland as possible, since it may be clear there. Go slow, have two of you at the helm, one running the boat, the other the radar man, with his, or her eyes glued to the radar set. If you go ashore in the evening, leave plenty of lights on in the mother ship, know what direction you took going to shore, and have a compass in the dinghy if you find yourself groping your way back. A radio is a good thing also. Nothing beats just waiting out the fog, plan your cruise so this is possible.

THE LOBSTER POTS: If you enjoy lobster where the price is right, then you have to have a positive attitude toward most of the pots. I see no excuse for placing them in a channel going under a bridge, or a narrow, tricky passage, but they are usually there. So start by protecting your boat. A long keel with either a small space between the back of the keel and the rudder, or a shoe that runs from the keel to the rudder post will prevent most lines from getting wound up in your prop, the worst scenario. If this does happen to you, I've been told reversing may back the line off. Don't know for sure, never happened to us so far. If you have stabilizers, put something in front of them to keep the lines from getting between the stabilizer and the hull, and then keep the stabilizer in standby if possible. This has worked for us. We did catch pots on our stabilizers three times in the past. This year our score is zip. Thirdly learn to use your binoculars to look ahead, and figure out where there is a clear channel, though it may be narrow, or the area with far fewer pots than others. Sometimes this is along the shore, sometimes it is close to a course around a buoy that everyone must round, and sometimes you simply get out of phase and can't find anything but a web of pots. That's where you press on regardless, and hope for the best.

A big change in cruising Maine from our first time thirty years ago is the impossibility of anchoring in so many places, because of the proliferation of moorings and pots. Study your guides, pick brains, use internet sites and identify where you can anchor, if that is your preference, or where there is a possibility that you can get a mooring, or a marina berth if the pocketbook allows. It really helps to do some planning. It seems to be a routine to take any empty mooring, and if the owner comes along, you relinquish it. We don't do this. You never know what size boat the mooring was designed to handle, and how well it has been maintained. Granted it is calm about 95% of the time at night, which is why most people get away with this.

So back to the planning board, the backbone of your survival tools for your Maine cruise. If you want to anchor, know the places where anchoring is no problem. If there are places you just must go to and can't anchor, make sure you can get a mooring or a slip. Plan your cruise to stay longer in fewer places, so you have plenty of time to wait out bad conditions, and less time spent traveling. It is not the joy of relaxing and appreciating the scenery it once was, so make what is is, work for you. Join a group cruise of some sort. We were part of two groups, and participated in two rendezvous. The planning that goes into these cruises multiples your enjoyment, and the sociability can't be beat. We would never have known the pleasure of seeing the Maine Botanical Gardens, or enjoyed an evening at the Acadia Theater at the head of Soames Sound, or found some of the great restaurants we did, if someone else hadn't done their homework. If we come back next year to join friends and family, I will enjoy it more knowing what to expect and how to plan where we will go and how to keep the frustrations to a minimum.

.

11 May 2010

CRUISING INTO THE GOLDEN YEARS: PART TWO


                  CRUISING INTO THE GOLDEN YEARS:  PART TWO

                           Compensating for Health Issues

Okay, we are on the downhill slide, but think of these as your “coasting years”, like with sledding or skiing, coasting, going with the flow, can be the easy part. You just relax, take the bumps when they come, but don’t stop going. You do have to dress for the weather, choose the easier path, and keep you equipment, i.e. your body, in as good shape as possible. All these things are related.

One of the things we do as active cruisers, always on the move, is practice “catch me if you can” medical care. We would drop in to see our doctor, and I can’t tell you how many different doctors in different places, tell him or her we would be in the area for anything from a week to a month, and let them give us a hurried up exam to make sure the sword of Damocles wasn’t hanging over our heads. If you are a likely candidate for a heart attack or stroke, something that would leave your partner or crew in a potentially dangerous situation, you want to know about it, and choose where you cruise differently, (the easiest path). You want to tend to things you can help, like joints that may make you more prone to falls, and for sure you want to get really serious about how much, and what you eat and drink. This is the voice of wisdom learned a bit too late. Be very serious about this; my favorite self help book on the subject, Mindless Eating.

 As you grow older, and if more things crop up, you will have to give more time to taking care of yourself, just like you do your boat, as it ages. But like the boat, know what your doctor is recommending you take, why, and what are its downsides. You are your own best defense, against bad work on the boat and bad advice from your doctor, especially if you aren’t on the scene for the follow up exams. It isn’t his entire fault when you are asking him to do things in a hurry. If things get more serious, you may have to cruise with a short leash, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still roam the world, just not all at once. The cruising life is by its nature about as healthy a life style as you can choose.

You have to think of medical issues even harder the further you go from home waters, especially if you go foreign, but as Dave loves to say, “You don’t fall off the edge of the world when you leave the United States.” All over the world you will find medical care on a par or even better than our own. If you are on Medicare, or insurance that will only cover you in the USA, you will find yourself weighing the decision of which costs more, a standard check up somewhere else that may be less than your air line ticket, or pay for the ticket and see the kids and grandkids at the same time. If it is an emergency, requiring long time care, it is very nice to have bought DAN insurance, an acronym that stands for Divers Alert Network. Look into what they have to offer, in terms of transporting you back, or what else might be out there. You have to think about these things, and be prepared for more things possibly going wrong; just think of it as part of the adventure. To quote from Ulysses again:

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!


I know you are familiar with “Use it or lose it”, and it’s true of our minds, our bodies and our boats.
                    
                     Choosing the Easier Path


To get back to choosing the easier path, where are you going to cruise? I don’t think too many of you are thinking of motoring yourself around the world, and chances are very good, you shouldn’t. But that does not mean you can’t see the whole world. That is the function of yacht transporters, like Dockwise, or Yacht Path, to get you to those far off places, that are so fascinating, where you can see a whole other part of the world, while still staying in more protected waters, needing only short passage times. To me, short used to be 48 hours; last year I decided 36 hours was a long enough stretch. We can travel three hundred miles in thirty-six hours.  A lot of territory can be covered in these short chunks, more than is required in most of the great cruising grounds. That is what defines great cruising grounds, lots of places to explore, close together, minimal passage time between protected anchorages or harbors. We crossed the whole Med with just two overnights. We could get all the way to Trinidad without any passage being as much as twenty four hours, and only a few of those or do it the easy way; ship it down and come back with the seas behind you. Years ago a book was written about doing just that called Isles to Windward, the author, a great sailor, but still looking for that downhill sleigh ride.

As we get older and everything seems to take more time, a very simple day can be exciting enough.  We can keep the tire out of the re-tire-ment years. Unless we have company, we often lie in bed until eight, listening or watching the news, (our favorites, Morning Joe and NPR, then a leisurely breakfast, usually on the back deck, admiring our container grown flowers, and reading aloud a chapter in a book. Right now it’s one of our David Sedaris books, the second one this month. By ten we are ready to go to work on whatever projects are at hand. Today was a writing day for me; it was an all day Labor Day for Dave changing the watermaker membranes.  Yesterday it was a second round of coffee with old cruising buddies, and then some simple projects, and a lovely snorkel on the reefs on the outside of our island anchorage. The day before that was a minimal work day, fixing the wash machine for Dave so I could get some laundry done, and then a long afternoon’s lunch in a new and lovely setting ashore with a group of sailing friends, old and new. Each day has been a joy, in a quiet and relaxing manner. Mix these up with company weeks, weeks with children and grand children, and old friends, 18 people so far since the beginning of the year, when days are much more adventurous, seeing and doing whatever is interesting, wherever we are. Then there are the longer distance traveling days, the days spent playing motorboat captain and crew as we travel our usual couple thousand miles a year, and then the time spent exploring areas new to us.
In hindsight we realize we had a great winter just staying at the marina in Florida last winter, in spite of the health issues that kept us there, and the cold weather that made even using our heated pool impossible. There is just so much on offer in a larger, vibrant community, when just walking beaches hunting shells has lost its luster. No matter where we are, on a boat, life is always interesting.

                                    DRESSING FOR THE WEATHER
By dressing for the weather I mean, keeping yourself comfortable. Another favorite Dave expression is, “To me, well dressed is warm and dry.” I covered a lot of this in section one, the need for heat of some sort when it is cold, and air conditioning when it is hot.  Your tolerance for weather extremes goes way south, as you should, when you grow older. You know how you used to make fun of the old ladies saying they have to change seats in a restaurant because they feel a draft? Well now, we are they.

We get by comfortably on our boat with a reverse cycle air conditioner, and a couple of heat cubes. Most times we are at anchor so if it is a hot, sticky time, we save our generation time, usually two to three hours daily, for the evenings, when we can keep the bugs out, (especially no see’ums) we get the boat cooled down and dried out, and often with the edition of fans, this will keep us comfortable most of the night. Most times when we have needed heat, like our winters aboard in the Med, we have been in a marina with power, so the reverse cycle worked great to give us a quick shot of heat in the early morning, and then our heat cubes would keep us warm enough during the day. The point is, if you aren’t comfortable, you are not going to enjoy the life style, or you will not want to live aboard full time. This is a perfectly acceptable option, and actually the choice most people make. Even my mother would never give up her condo ashore to live full time on their boat. It was her safety net.

Keep in mind the devastating effects of too much sun. Sunscreen, hats, sleeves and pant legs, (they also protect from bugs) are your friends. Also awnings, and mesh sunshades covering whatever windows they will work on, and as drop down shades on your covered decks. Please remember to put UVA and UVB blocking film on your large inside windows, even if they are tinted. You can’t believe the difference this can make, in terms of protecting you, your furniture, and just keeping you cooler.

Choose your clothes wisely. Keep them simple, preferably not needing dry cleaning or ironing. If at all possible, have a washer and dryer aboard. Impossible to calculate how much time and energy that will save you. Choose clothes that can be layered up and down, and as few as possible. The space you can save in a hanging locker can be used for that washer /dryer. Don’t forget to have aboard that one item that will take you to a funeral, a sudden meeting, or anything else where you won’t have time to shop but must make a nice appearance. Unlike shore life where you don’t want to be seen in the same thing over and over again, the same people will rarely see you over and over again, and they won’t care anyway. Forget the foul weather gear you associated with sail boating. You are going to be steering from inside some sot of shelter, whether up or down, and if up isn’t protected now, make it so.

Protect yourself from insects. Their bites may make you very uncomfortable and also spread some nasty diseases. Have screens for all openings, use bug repellant where you must, learn some tricks for keeping them away, like burning mosquito coils when you want dinner on the back deck, or burning a bit of coffee in a saucer as a deterrent to bees. Amazing how well this works. If you like to get in the water as a daily form of exercise, and you are going to be where there are “stingers” in the water, get s fully covering nylon suit, or “skin”. Mine unfortunately is not quite thick enough, and the nasty flies that like to attack me can bite right through it. I would also look for a lighter color, mosquitoes and flies like darker clothes.

Most of what I am saying applies to boaters of any age; it’s just even more important when your tolerance levels, and your energy levels go lower, and everything requires more effort. You are cruising for adventure, for a chance to see and experience and taste new things, and don’t forget, for the FUN OF IT. If you have to give up all the things that made life easier and comfortable back home, you may quickly lose the fun of it, and this is even truer in the golden years. Keep compensating, the Golden Rule, for what you’ve lost, so that you can keep on cruising, keep on enjoying, keep on living.

01 May 2010

CRUISING INTO THE GOLDEN YEARS

                           CRUISING INTO THE GOLDEN YEARS

Who says there is a time limit to when you can start or must stop cruising? It’s like anything else in life, if you feel like doing it, if you are willing to compensate for whatever handicaps age has brought you, you can go cruising. You can do it well and comfortably, you just have to make the right choices.


First thing is to be realistic about the changes that living long years have probably dealt you. In the words of my favorite poem, Ulysses by Tennyson

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
You are not going to be as strong, or as agile, or as indefatigueable, you are not going to see as well or hear as well, you will not tolerate extreme heat or cold, or too much sun. You want and need more of your creature comforts, so how do you compensate? Just like you don’t sleep on the ground in a pup tent anymore, but can still enjoy being in the great outdoors traveling in an RV. Forget you were passionate about sailing, unless you have a full time crew, or an occasional berth on someone else’s boat. I went into detail about this in an article in PassageMaker  magazine, but it boils down to your inability to handle a mast that fell over and is trying to punch a hole in your boat, or going up to the top of the mast to change a necessary light or repair a halyard, or scrunching into the essential mechanical places that always need maintenance and repairs. If you do scrunch and bend and spend long periods on your knees one day, you are going to be shot down for the next three. If you already own a sailboat, you can compensate by motoring, which is what so many sailors do anyway. My good friend Ruth, whose husband is ninety says, “Just think of us as a trawler with masts”. But what I am saying is, if you are buying a boat, BUY YOURSELF A MOTOR BOAT!

In cruising, it doesn’t matter how you got to paradise, and the great cruising grounds are truly paradise, it’s the fact that you are there. You could have sailed all your life, and loved nothing more than the “wheel’s kick, and the wind’s song”, but there is a life, a cruising life, a messing about in boat’s life after sailing. Most of us on trawlers are a case in point. You will have more space, at a time in life when you need more space, you will have more of the creature comforts, when these can become necessities, you will have a dedicated engine room, and don’t cheat on the size of the engine room or cram it full with more than you need in an engine. Remember scrunching days are over. You will not have to risk your life going out on deck to reef a sail in adverse conditions when your sense of balance is less than it once was, you won’t have to be wet, or cold, or too hot, or swatting flies. Instead, you will sit in your dry, heated or cooled pilot house, turning on the wipers if it rains, all your controls at your finger tips, and life, your cruising life, goes happily on. When it’s dinner time  you won’t have to dumpster dive into your top loading refrigerator, and when it’s bed time, you won’t have to hoist yourself up into a small bunk, or crawl over your partner if your lucky enough to still have one. Your engine room will be easy to get into, around and about and out of, as you do your daily checks, and you should be able to see all sides of your engine. Granted, you will have more of all the goodies, meaning not just a nicer life style, but more things to maintain and fix, but it will be so much easier to do.

I hope I have convinced you, that if you are into the ‘golden years”, over 65, to think only of what kind of motor boat  you are going to get. I know at 65 you can be quite capable of the sailing life, but if you look ahead, by 70 to 75, it will be difficult, and changing to another type of boat at that point is really tough. Don’t think a motor boat is necessarily simple. Generally speaking, you will have more mechanical features, meaning more stuff to learn how to use and to maintain, although the maintenance does not require strength and agility, just keeping your mind nimble.

Now what kind of boat will you buy, or what should you do to your present boat to compensate for those years? Let’s start with the second question first., what to do with what you have, to keep you cruising, because these are the same things you may have to add to any new boat you buy.
1.   Simplify: Dave’s usual answer when asked. “What does my boat need?” is short and sweet, “A dumpster.” Don’t make your boat a repository for everything you might possibly need someday. A cluttered boat, cluttered lockers, and cluttered workspace, only makes it difficult to move around, to find anything when you need it, and to keep your boat ship shape. You probably wear less than half the clothes you have aboard, use less than half the towels and sheets, have more books than you can read in a year or two, extra pots and pans that seldom or never get used, and enough food to keep you going for six months. Get rid of what you are not using, get rid of everything seldom used that will make it easier to find what you do need, and easier to keep clean and organized. Really assess your spare parts and tools; whittle to the essentials. Fan belts and hoses have a shorter life span than you think in a hot boat, don’t carry a life time supply. Assess what can break that will put you out of business, and have that aboard. In other words, carry what you need to get to the nearest port that has supplies or a Fed Ex, or a rental car. Chances are you will have no long off shore passages, you will not be alone in some deserted island, (try and find one these days), those were dreams of younger years. Don’t burden yourself as if you were going to be.
2.   Handholds everywhere. Put a grab rail everywhere you find yourself gripping at a wall, or at nothing, trying to gain some support. You may be able to do a balancing act now, even though that is always dangerous in a boat, but we are talking about carrying on when you won’t be able to get out of that dinghy bouncing around off the stern of your boat, without something to easily grab onto on the mother ship, and even to help you maneuver inside the dinghy. Look at my pictures of my “Granny Rail”, in an earlier blog. We even have a grab rail outside the head compartment to steady us as we swing onto and then off the seat.
3.     Get some simple exercise equiment, from bicycle like pedals you sit in a chair to push, to a simple to use swim ladder, rubber bands, even a dance tape you can keep up with. I used to use two canes, then went to Nordic hiking poles, after my second knee replacement and now the light of my life is a walker with four 8 inch wheels and a seat, and a carrying basket. Suddenly I can walk places again, enjoy going sight seeing and shopping, and being the “mule” who hauls home the groceries. We put as much as we can in the basket on the front, and tie one of our big canvas bags loaded full, on the seat. Amazing what I can carry now with ease, when I had trouble just making the walk in the past. You need what ever it takes to maintain physical movement, because like most people in the golden years, it’s a  couch potato life.
4.    To make sure you enjoy the couch potato part of it, I highly recommend a TV and some sort of a dish. Try to limit how much time you spend, never give up a social hour, or a chance to explore, or doing necessary or creative things to watch the tube, but it does compensate for the movies we never get to the theaters to see, and the news and weather, and all the other great programming that is out there. This, with computers for e-mail, Face book, and Internet, cell phones, sattelite adio  and Single Side Band Radio, (less important than it used to be)you will keep in touch with the modern world. You’re going to know more than you need to know, maybe even more than you want to know, but I still suggest, if you don’t already have these things, get them.
5.    Make sure your lighting is improved, not just more energy efficient, but more light. Did I tell you your vision will go downhill along with everything else? We just compensated by putting a long florescent tube above the area where our favorite chairs sit in the main salon. We can now read with ease any time of the day or night. Speaking of chairs
6.    Get yourself some Lazy Boys, or any kind of chairs that allow you to rock, recline and put your legs up. This last feature gets more important if you find your legs swelling, which is so often another gift of the golden years. You do what you can to compensate, remember?
7.    Protect yourself from too much sun. Put ultra violet blocking film on your interior windows where you spend your daylight hours. Ditto blinds; they will save you and the furnishings. Put sunshades you can lower to screen your outside living area, and a bimini top, permanent or retractable if you have open outside seating, upper or lower.
8.    Upgrade your navigational equipment, or if you don’t have some of the newer gizmos, get them. We don’t have one of these magic viewers that let you see at night, but then traveling at night breaks my cardinal rule, “never, never sail at night, always keep the land in sight.” I break the rules a few times of the year, but never plan night time entrances unless to a wide open harbor with no hazards, like Great Sale Cay in the Bahamas, where the radar will show me what I need to know-other boats. I used to use nav programs, but since using C-Maps with their own built in program, and now my touch screen Garmin, which is simplicity itself, I find my old Max Sea incredibly difficult. Get new equipment, you know how rapid the improvements come down the line, keep up with the times. On my wish list is one of the new generation radars that show targets that are up close, (the ones you are more likely to hit) and possibly replace the ten year old auto pilot. Unless you stay very close to home, like never leave the ICW, get an AIS.
9.    Unless your mattress is totally comfortable, get a new one, of either memory foam or one that incorporates a layer of memory foam into the top. If you have stools you sit on, make sure they have a back. Get rid of throw rugs that have any potential of being trippers, and if you have a hatch in the floor to access you engine room, be certain it is blocked off when open. Open hatches are as dangerous as missing man hole covers. A fall in the golden years is to be avoided like the plague.
10.                 Check over your appliances. If you don’t have a washer and dryer, find a place and put them in. Also a water maker unless you spend a lot of time in marinas. Actually spending time in marinas is another compensation to help carry on cruising into the golden years, but one we haven’t turned to at almost 80. One day we will.
11.                 If you are really having problems doing everything but really want to continue the cruising life, make a guest cabin into crew’s quarters and hire crew, maybe just for longer passages, maybe to deliver the boat, and maybe just to make life easier. I will never forget the Hatteras we saw in  Ft. Pierce, with a walker and a wheel chair sitting on the dock next to it. Good on them, I said. What ever you have to do to carry on, if it is your desire, do it.


I am sure there are more things, there are always more things, but this is a s far  as I can go now. I will carry on in my next blog, about what to look for if you are buying, and where to cruise, and dealing with medical issues.

Keep enjoying, keep looking up, as the star gazer likes to say.

15 February 2010

MEN AND SHIPS ROT IN PORT


                                    MEN AND SHIPS ROT IN PORT

We had a friend who you to say this in deep sonorous tones, that lent an air of veracity to what at the time just seemed funny to us. A lot of years have since
drifted by, a lot of water has passed under our keel, and I am now facing the rotting in port  part, and realizing how true it is.

This year we took a break in our normal never stop moving life style, and instead of just rushing into Ft. Lauderdale for instant maintenance on our selves and our boat, we decided to give everyone, the boat yard and the doctors, time to really do their thing. I’m now convinced that you give either one long enough, you let the boat sit still long enough, and the list of things to fix never grows any shorter. And are we really ever any better for the heavy maintenance? I guess we could say yes to many things.

We don’t think Dave will have to worry about prostate problems in the near future, after traveling for years with the equipment and the knowledge of how to take care of a shut down if that occurred in some remote anchorage. I have had to face up to some age and weight related issues that have led to a healthier life style, and I hope a few more years of being able to keep wandering on both our parts. The boat finally has a proper windshield wiper blade and a heavier duty motor to drive it, our transom lockers have been sealed so hopefully we won’t pick up a load of water when we push hard enough to sink the stern,  and we are also hoping some of the paint problems from our Turkish paint job have been finally fixed. The dinghy got some minor adjustments to its ten year old body, like a new towing plate in front and a new internal gas tank, plus the awkward handles that stuck out much too far, and made a smooth landing almost impossible for me, have been replaced. We love our old Carib, and haven’t seen a layout in its size we like any better, so keeping it in great shape seems worth the effort. Niftiest new thing, Dave is most proud of and I most appreciate, are his newly designed door handles for our forward facing wing doors, that make those doors easily have a positive seal, and should last the life of the boat, instead of needing replacing every year like the old Perkos.

So in many ways things are better, but I know, when we start moving again, in just a few short weeks, all sorts of problems will rear their ugly heads. Sit still in one spot long enough and the gremlins move aboard, or so it seems. That’s just another way of saying, “rot in port.” You could also use the old truism, “Use it or lose it”, and that’s true for the bodies as well. So ladies and gents, if you love your boat and love the boating life, keep on moving, as long as you can. Don’t ignore the maintenance, but an amazing amount of things can be done, especially if you’re good at fixing things, on the fly. Either West Marine or Fed Ex is everywhere, and so are good people to help, if you do a little homework. Ditto for good doctors and dentists, not as good as having real follow up care with the same person, just a small price to pay if you want to be a sea gypsy. Keep telling yourself, “MEN AND SIPS ROT IN PORT, even if you don’t tealize it, and keep on moving.