Thursday, December 7, 2017

A new boat name?

The boat's current name is "Keeling Time". This feels too.... silly and frivolous. Besides, I am about seizing the day rather than wasting it. I'd like to have a name that expresses more a sense of refuge, freedom, adventure... 

Any thoughts? First thing I thought of was "Albatross", despite miasma created by the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner".


Monday, December 4, 2017

A new beginning: new boat, new adventures...

A week or so ago I received a call from the Coast Guard saying Dorado needs to be moved very soon as the mast is touching the power lines! It certainly wasn't when I was there, but the linemen tightened things up and brought stuff into contact. *sigh*. Working on getting THAT handled long distance is not fun, but I hope to return in late January to find her with a temporary patch, on a mooring, with only a small bill due. Crossing fingers.... so much unknowable!

Speaking of stepping into the unknown, I recently woke up with a new boat...

and realized I don't even know her name, just her make (Formosa 41, center cockpit). If I do NOT keep her in the danger zone in hurricane season, insurance will be reasonable and she is a beauty and will be, I hope, a joy. Cynthia and I plan to drive to North Carolina Monday 12/11 (to Wayfarer's Cove Marina), handle various repairs and load her with gear, go back to MI for Christmas, then fly down about Jan 1 and sail her out of the bay, across the Gulf Stream, and down to the Bahamas for a week of exploration and running aground. This passage will be our longest ever!

After she flies home (about Jan 18), I will set sail for even longer, a week or so, across the open Atlantic to St John. I cross fingers that the autopilot I install will work well, that winds will be fair, skies will be bright and starry, and that the boat will sail as I've read (smooth and relaxing rather than jerky and exhausting like lightweight Dorado). We shall see. I'm sure wisdom would suggest I bring extra hands for the passage: anyone interested?r

(PS: 12/6/17 Cynthia is now planning to sail the whole way with me. We will spend eight to 12 days on board between landfalls, skirting the Sargasso Sea, fishing for Dorado (aka mahimahi or dolphin fish), reading, improving the boat, etc. Neither of us has ever spent more than a day away from land, so this will be very memorable.)

What then? Put her on a mooring pro tem, take care of Dorado details, pack the autopilot, and fly to Florida to help my friend Larry sail Gigi II (a CSY44 to replace Gigi, his CSY37) down. He wants to take the scenic route: two weeks, several ports, lots of shoals, several countries.


Current issues? 1) I am heartbroken not to have bought my friend Chris' similar boat in CA as it had wonderful projects to do and delightful improvements to make and great amenities and price, but the layout just didn't work for me. 2) I am going through the delightful experience of a burst eardrum, ear infection, etc. With luck, the vertigo & hearing loss will be temporary and the infection will resolve...and, in a half year or so, I'll be able to dive again. I finally feel as though this sinus/ear issue is being tackled after suffering with it and ineffective doctors for a decade! Perhaps this is the beginning of a good resolution. And, yes, this may affect the trip timing, but I'll probably survive a delay.

PS: Funny story: a couple months back, seeking boats on the web, I ran across one I'd seen before: a CT41 ketch with a missing mizzen (aft) mast. I called the number, told the fellow that I might swap my mast onto his boat if I bought it, that Irma had taken my boat.

“Oh, he replied, I lost a boat in Santa Cruz Harbor in the tsunami.”

This sounds familiar, I thought to myself. “Is this Chris?”

“Um, yes..... DUSTIN?!” (Yes, my California name)


Anyway, he was my instructor for six of the eight days I learned about sailing larger boats! Small world!

Monday, November 20, 2017

A good dog

Dogs are our best friends. You cat people don't know what you are missing....unless you also have dogs and then you aren't missing a thing. Dogs are good people...yes, perhaps a bit “on the spectrum”, but that simply means that they, like little children, don't understand the lies that people use to get through life. This is a roundabout way of saying I miss my lifetime of old and dear friends: Christie, Benzer, Sugar and Trolley, Steamer, Rex, Teddy... and, now, Tio.

We know nothing about Tio's beginning as he was, we understand, brought north at around 5 years old as a semi-feral dog from east Texas. We have no way of knowing exactly how lead airgun pellets got embedded near his spine, too close to remove, but can only speculate about humans and feral dogs. And I envy his end, falling into the darkness of sleep... and then farther... away from pain, while in the company of the woman who had rescued him as he had rescued her.

Why did he die? Well, short answer is he got cancer and the chemo treatment failed. We could talk for hours about the details or speculate, but in the end, we all gotta go: at least we can offer our dog friends an easy out. I've sat with Zinger (a neighbor's dog who adopted us), Steamer, and Teddy, comforting them as they lay in pain... and I felt their relief and peace,… and felt them fade to black.

The important thing is Tio's life. Once he came to Cynthia, I think that it became rather wonderful....although I wasn't there to document it at first. She says that she told him, a probable chihuahua/pug mix, that he had to be a real Cape Cod dog if he wanted to live with her.... so he rode in bike baskets, rowboats, kayaks, canoes,
motorboats, and paddleboards, etc.

He walked in the snow, despite cold feet (hoping here to find mice!).
He chased cast lures... to the point his paws got damp... then stood at water's edge and barked. He LOVED to roughhouse with far larger dogs and would head straight for the largest crowd in the dog park. When Lucy came along, he chased the skunks she would find... and got hit right between the eyes at least three times. And, once I came along and we sailed on a Hobie Cat, he found that laps were not just the only dry spot, but cuddling with Cynthia could be tolerable.... or even nice... and he began, more and more, to abandon his bed for the big one containing his favorite human.

Tio: good natured, independent, a lover of spots in the sun and good walks,
always up for an adventure, and a good and loyal friend. He will be missed.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Visiting the scene of the Irma/Maria attack... and finding some good.

Here I am, back in MI with Cynthia and the little monsters. Lucy is trying to get into my lap (and I don't mind), but she insists on both my hands being on HER rather than typing and will not give up, so I have sent her off. I love her affection, but, well, "time and place".

I arrived back in MI last night at around 9pm. Wonderful to be back where there are NO mosquitoes and midges and I can enjoy cuddling with my gal and her pups rather than sweating under bed nets and layers of DEET, itching from the mosquitoes and midges that have managed to enter, thinking of going indoors where rain can't follow (but where it is even warmer).

Going to St John was hard. It brought to mind times as a teen when I used to take bees from their hives in fallen trees: they always seemed depressed amidst their fallen home, as if not quite knowing how to deal with their world turned upside down, but trying to keep on and rebuild a life. There is SO much destroyed and damaged that it is really hard to know where to start. The curfew, from 7pm to 5am, makes sense to to keep people from crashing on the somewhat navigable roads.... and I certainly had times that daylight was the only thing keeping me from hitting a telephone pole across the road or some other obstacle.

Visiting our boats was even harder. Larry and I had hoped that our boats might be salvageable, but each of us found the damage far worse than we had expected.

We first visited Gigi, hoping for a neat hole that could be repaired without too much trouble..... but found everything on the starboard side had been ripped loose: bulkheads, doors, counters, tanks, ice box, cushions, and a large piece of the hull... all floating and jammed into a mass that resisted efforts to find his new stove and mainsail, items he had never laid eyes upon.. and was unable to excavate on this final visit to Gigi.
Even the Rtic cooler he and I had bought together had been smashed. In the end, after hours of work, we managed to salvage a fender, solar panel, a couple halyards, and a portlight. We hope Eliot, a salvager Larry spoke with, can dispose of the boat, taking the mast and rigging as payment.

Dorado, her red bottom high and dry on the gravel beach, looked like one of the best prospects for an easy salvage...
but I opened the fore-hatch and a stench greeted me: although the hull is watertight, she filled through a couple high holes and sat for a month or so with four feet of stagnant salt water inside. I stuck a foot into the nasty water and snapped off the new pump I had installed last spring on a through-hull and let a couple feet of water out, then did the same with a deeper outlet the next day.
Eventually I DID manage to find my dive fins, stanchion bases, safety harness, many tools, epoxy, Rtic cooler, french knife, and dive socks... and "The Buddha's Brain". Also found Cynthia's dive camera, weight belt, mask, underwater flashlights, wetsuit, reef books, and some clothing.

I plan to come back when enough boats are out of the way that I can get mine off the beach. Maybe I will salvage the mast and winches for another boat. Maybe I will fix her up so someone else can enjoy sailing her... but the price of a new engine alone makes this unlikely. We shall see....

I left some stuff aboard Dorado, brought some home, and left the knife and cooler with Ted as he will probably really enjoy them.... and will be staying on the island for the foreseeable future with his delightful pup, Ophelia.

Ted was kind enough to put us up, along with his friend Kim. We helped him out a bit on cleaning up a house he cared for and enjoyed chatting and cooking and hanging out. Things I enjoyed were coffee & sunrises,

nice starry nights, dark nights and wide beaches (thanks to the storms), beautiful views,
and warm swims.

The high point of my trip was getting to know these three great folks better. Turns out we are ALL left-handed, so I like to call us the sinister quartet...

Current plan is to move on and get another boat and sail back there, living aboard and sailing north in the spring and back south after hurricane season. We shall see: plans change.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Harvest time!

OK, I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight to St Thomas: good time to write a post!

'Tis the season for fall fruit, the season of harvest, the season of plenty, whether we are talking kiwi fruit in a Berkeley back yard
or, here in Michigan, giant pumpkins
or wild (and very tasty) pawpaws we found growing near a river (granny smith apples for comparison).

There is a certain delight in seeing all this abundance and, especially, in the stuff we forage, like the tasty apples that drop, untasted, from a tree on Cape Cod and which make a wonderful pure apple sauce, even without a touch of sugar or cinnamon or other any other adulterant. Too bad we missed out on the cranberries on Cape Cod this year....

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A photo essay of Coral Bay as it is after Irma and Maria

I see so many familiar boats, places, people....but as if after a war that has turned it all upside down. "Gone with the wind."

You can see Dorado, with it's bright red bottom, Gigi and her big sister aground on the point, Silver Cloud still miraculously afloat with Elliot, Sarah, and the dog aboard.... but no rigging. So sad.

Here are some photos that she took that touch me a bit.....
Breathe (the one farthest right, with the yellow stripe and wooden mast), a sweet boat that has always been moored near me...

My friend Rob's boat (the blue on with the stern underwater), on which he has been working since I met him.... and making final touches last winter.

Marty's boat, with the green bottom and, miraculously, the sailcover still in place... (and mine right behind it)

Angels' Rest (all that I can see are the blue pontoons)

Gigi, my neighbor Larry's boat..... along with the ONLY other CSY in the harbor...

And, of course, Dorado. How in heck will I get her off the shore? And will she float? And do I need to pay to pull the others out of the way? Hmmm...
Well, we shall see if I amend this post farther...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dorado found!

This morning Cynthia spotted Dorado ashore in this satellite pic (from She spotted the bright red bottom.... and the unpainted rudder is proof that it is the correct boat. Exciting!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Link to my facebook page

This blog is for cool, interesting, and inspirational stuff. I'm posting the whole sad St John, Coral Bay, Virgin Islands stuff on facebook instead.

Happy birthday to me. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Some scenes of carnage from Hurricane Irma

Apparently this is a before and after from Jost Van Dyke:

And this is a fleet of catamarans in a hurricane hole. This did not protect as well as hoped, clearly..


Probably could have been worse if it had tracked just a bit farther south...

The hurricane has tracked about 40miles south of the expected track and they eye is just barely north of Coral Bay on St John. If it had gone another ten miles south the north edge of the storm, with the strongest winds, would have blown straight into the unprotected entrance of the bay. Even so, we expect our boat, any others on moorings, and many in hurricane holes are probably all trashed.

This is sad, but stuff can be replaced. Far sadder is imagining the destruction of the places we have loved visiting and the possible loss of our neighbors' lives. We hope that they have taken refuge in the concrete houses so ubiquitous on the islands. Tomorrow we may see what opportunities are available for helping out.

Coral Bay is right about at the "I" in "British Virgin Islands" at bottom left of the eye.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane butterflies

The wind patterns shown in this website are things of beauty. I love to imagine the flows sweeping me across the oceans: freedom and open vistas! Of course, there are times when little details focus attention: the current one is a counter-clockwise vortex sweeping across the ocean like giant tornado. Here is a screenshot of tomorrow afternoon's forecast:
Coral Bay is above and slightly left of the C in "Christianstead". Anegada hides in the yellow around the eye...
 Hurricane Irma bears down upon the Virgin Islands as a category 5. The boat I own, boats of friends, homes of friends, and lives of friends hang by threads, often almost literally (if you consider mooring and anchor lines as threads). Current forecast has the hurricane passing to the north, but has Dorado, sitting on mooring, experiencing winds of 85mph for four hours tomorrow afternoon and evening. Will it still be on the mooring in the morning light?

If I were still there I might have set sail a few days ago and just sailed south, far from the path of the storm, or south to Christianstead where the winds should not exceed 40mph. If my friends did not have their hurricane dance cards filled, perhaps they could have put it in a safer place....although those are mostly completely full and the forecast winds are not the best for those hurricane holes... so, my mooring line may be better than being anchored in a hurricane hole.

All I can do is ask for my extra anchors to be set (Dickie says he will do it if he has the time) and cross fingers. The forecast winds should not bring big waves into the harbor, so any boats that break free SHOULD be fairly simple to pull free as long as the storm surge does not put them high and dry.

The islands a hundred miles farther east are already feeling winds of 175mph. Tomorrow Anegada, flat and unprotected, will get hit almost directly... perhaps the few hundred residents can go to different islands or find a bunker, but I fear for them if there is a big storm surge as the island is only 28' at highest point.

OK, everyone! Find something solid and hold on! Good luck! See you all on the other side!

9:40am September 6: update: webcams & weather stations all seem to be down. Well, I guess I can't watch minute by minute.... and will probably be the better for it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Water fun in Michigan sun!

OK, I know I spend a lot of time talking about Cape Cod and the Caribbean, but now I'm living in Michigan. Can't I find fun here? Other than sunset walks and swims, playing with numerous dogs, and hypothetical sunrise walks in the dunes? Well, sure...

Just last weekend, for example, Cynthia and I rented a canoe an hour north of here on Saturday and spent a few hours paddling an estuary/marsh/stream. We saw four or five bald eagles, many turtles (including one we caught as it made a dash through the duckweed), many marsh flowers, and a few fish.

On Sunday. we went for a little sail on Silver Lake on a hobie 16. Not much wind, but so delightful to get out on the water on a sailboat again! Cynthia handled sails and tiller, Tio relaxed, Lucy's ears and fur streamed out behind her as she kept watch, and I acted as official photographer. The dogs REALLY loved the walk on the beach on the far side of the lake, but they enjoyed the sailing as well.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Splicing lines

Many, many years ago, when I was a lad of perhaps eight or ten, I spent a week or two at my paternal grandmother's house and, for the first time, spent some some extended time with my cousins Billy and Ted. I mostly spent time with Billy as he was a bit younger than me and still fun, while Ted seemed absorbed by things suitable for his advanced age (he was a couple year older than me!). However, Ted did show me how to make a few simple splices in three-strand twisted lines and I absolutely delighted in it and use it often to this day.

This last visit to the Cape found "replace mooring buoy" on my list. I purchased the buoy and line and snagged my nephew Alex to show him the ropes. One thing lead to another and we ended up rebuilding the whole upper end of the mooring, with Alex doing most of the splicing.

At the end, he even made a dog leash, using a dinghy clip that does not get fouled with sand,

 and thought about setting up a roadside stand to sell them to people walking their dogs.

What a delight to pass this on!