Saturday, August 29, 2009

Returns to Jacksonville

We had a great visit to Fort Jackson, the pleasant surprise was that Private Steve is actually Private First Class (E-3!) Steve!

E-3 took me a whole year to attain. Good for him!

Steve took us up on the offer to visit Jacksonville, so last night was Filet Mignon and a video, "Captain Ron". The dessert was watching the shuttle launch from the front yard.

I guess we can say that Friday was a pretty full day for our new Soldier.

Today is a trip to the Barco Sin Vela and some river cruising.

My only advice to Steve has been to take some of the big pay and drop a couple thousand into an IRA. This way he will have something for his old age. I expect his Uncle (Who is a reader) to help me on this point. WE can't count on Social Security, and an IRA at eighteen will be a powerful tool to show the miracle of compounding interest.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday gotta go to work blues

Back at my favorite office.

There will be a shortened week, I will be loading up the family truckster and heading North to Coumbia, South Carolina.

Fort Jackson, that is.

Spousal Unit has a nephew graduating from Army Recruit Training, Friday. So we shall be there to provide encouragement and what ever to the newly minted Soldier. Allegedly, said Private may be traveling back with us to Jacksonville for a week's break.

I tried to get him to consider the Navy, but that side of the family has Army on the brain.

The Navy has airconditioning, says I. Of course, nobody gives any consideration to the years of experience I have in the Service. I can't wait to ask about a hot summer in Fort Jackson.

This nice young man (Who turns eighteen this week) is country born and bred, hunting before he was five, who lives for the free space and peace of wild forests and spends weeks alone out in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He will graduate from Calumet High School, most notable graduate being George Gipp. So it is natural that he would want to be a Soldier, especially one who spends time in the field and likes it.

Did I mention that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has only two seasons? Winter and next winter. This is why I thought about that airconditioning thing. Fort Jackson has got to be like Jacksonville, hot and humid.

See? The Navy makes alot of sense, to me.

Back to our new Soldier;

There is nothing like graduating from any boot camp. It is the first step of Military Service, and anyone who has been there remembers the day of graduation, and the feeling of accomplishment they carry from that day forward. Plus, most of us graduating have the expectation of serving in a military that is going to mirror our experience in Recruit Training. Not.

The reality of Military Life after Boot Camp is what causes most problems for new service members. Military life is never what they said it would be like in Boot Camp, in fact, if we were to keep the discipline as tight as recruit training, everyone would make it through their first enlistment.

It has been over thirty years since I had that experience, and it is still fresh in my mind.

Youth is wasted on young people, right?
Congratulations, to PVT Steve. I hope you have more fun than I ever had.

Me in 1979

Friday, August 21, 2009

4U 2 NV

Barco Sin Vela crew will travel to South Beach in spirit for a Wine Tasting Dinner at the Club.

There will be feasting tonight!

Friday, August 21st, 6:30 pm
River Porch
$65++ per person
Join us as we hit the strip in South Beach again, looking for this
year’s hottest restaurants in Miami! This wine dinner is sure to
make your taste buds sizzle with menu items from the popular
restaurants for which South Beach is known. This unique dinner will be paired with wines to complement the flavors of each dish. As always, our wine dinners fill up fast, so be sure to call today to ensure your spot at this steaming event!

Have a safe Friday night and I look forward to returning to the Sailing thing, this weekend.

Cuba Libre!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When you least expect more good news out in the real world...

Photo; US Navy and Florida Times Union

This happens.

These dudes went fishing and found themselves floating for four days on their overturned boat. A Trident Submarine (HUGE MO' FO" vessels, trust me) surfaces and rescues the unlucky anglers.

The Commanding Officer was quoted;
"There is only one choice when it comes to rendering assistance to vessels in distress," said Mooney in a statement provided by the Navy.

"I am glad that we were in the right place at the right time to help these fellow mariners. I couldn't be more proud of the professionalism and performance by my crew."

"There is only one choice when it comes to rendering assistance to vessels in distress," said Mooney in a statement provided by the Navy.

"I am glad that we were in the right place at the right time to help these fellow mariners. I couldn't be more proud of the professionalism and performance by my crew."

Click on the link below the photo for the print version of the story.

Really nice ending for all involved.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to trip planning

Time was indeed moving forward, late in 1998. We were suddenly looking at nine months to go, and all of the little ends were suddenly coming together.

One way I could see the time growing short was from riding the 15 bus every morning, passing Piccadilly and looking at the Millenium countdown clock by the Coca Cola sign. It had spun from 1460 days to the Millenium celebration (back in early 1996) down to about 400 days.

There was the issue of that boat loan I took out in 1996, for 75K from Navy Federal. At 10.9% interest, for twelve year term.

Add in the 16K it took for delivering the boat from Jacksonville to Southampton. Oh, and the almost 12K for sails, which were arriving any minute, you can see that we had quite a bit of fortune invloved in this little sailing fantasy.

About the boat loan payments; It was about $963.00 a month, not counting the insurance. Back in early '97, I felt quite overwhelmed by the costs, especially at the interest. I think we were at $22.39 a day in interest, or $671.00 a month.

How the heck can you get something paid off like that?

I was scared. It took until about March of '97 before we had the loan amount below the original 75K. I became a fanatic about dumping every spare dime onto that usurious loan.

Spousal Unit had a great job, working for an American Health Company called "Foundation Health", at the Conoco Building near Oxford street. She says that if you can picture Edina and Patsy from "Ab Fab", then you get the picture of how this company had been run into the ground by its Management Team. The director had hired her Lover (who had no sales skills) to be the sales director. Naturally, all this came to a screeching halt when the California folks came out to audit and find out why things were not working out.

Come August of '97, Foundation closed its doors and we were in a pickle; We really needed the paycheck.

Fortunately, the National Health Service at Moorefields Eye Hospital needed a manager, so the day was saved.

Back to bills; We put every spare penny on that boat loan, and like magic, we had all of it paid off by December of '98! In view of this achievement, we invited all of our local friends over to Friern Barnet for a Thanksgiving party. Tom Davey kindly allowed us to use his manse, and we moved right in, we used his apples from his orchard for apple pies and cooked two turkeys on weber kettles in the back yard.

Lucky for me, I had a tooth infection which made my back molar feel like it was about to explode from my jaw. I used cold water to help keep the pain down and wound up being the only sober person at the party. (I went in on the following Monday ant the nice dental team at Blenheim Crescent did a rapid root canal which alleviated my suffering). Staying sober at that party would have been impossible otherwise, so I was indeed lucky because the pain made me be a better host.


That party was a great way for thanking all of our British and European friends for treating us like family over the previous three years and also their support which kept us focused on our goal of sailing away.

Our sails arrived and were installed, uninstalled and reinstalled. Adjustments were made to our equipment and the boat was slowly made ready for a final visit to Calais.

What were we going to do with the Kitties?

I dragged them to the vet in West Ruislip, got a health certificate and brough them to British Airways, where they flew to San Francisco to stay with my Mom for the next year, or two.

They were not amused.

We cleared out of St Katherines for the final time, heading East for France, Memorial Day weekend of '99. The plan was to bring the boat to Lymington to the Berthon Boatyard for refit and self steering installation.

I will cover the trip and the visit to Berthon is coming days.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Ready..... Two!"

Salutes rendered and honors completed. The rain waited respectfully, until the procession had come to an end. Jacksonville did her self proud, the way the route was lined with well wishers and proud Americans.

The monsoon began at about 1430, and is still going strong. I am feeling completely bummed out and the news today hasn't helped.

This calls for Bluegrass music, we'll break out the special forces grade of Blue Grass; The Del McCoury Band.

This is a 'Lovin' Spoonful' Tune called "Nashville Cats"

And to wrap up the patriotic day, we will have another selection from the Del McCoury Band, "My Love Will Not Change"

All done while wearing a suit and tie. I really enjoy some expertly played Bluegrass.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Attention on deck!

(I placed a photo of my old ship, Deyo for this occasion)


Procession will depart NAS heading to Downtown at 0845, leave for
Forrest High passing the Speicher family Church, Lakeshore Methodist (The sign at the church has a nice memorial for Scott Speicher) People will be standing in silent salute to very local boy who is finally home. The procession will pass through the former NAS Cecil Field and terminate at Jacksonville Memory Garden Cemetary, near Argyle.

A friend from two boats down was on base when Scott Speicher's remains were flown in to NAS Jacksonville, he said the entire base closed and the streets were lined with Sailors, Marines and civilians rendering honors.


Like the sign says at the Main Gate; All salutes are rendered and returned with pride.

Let's also remember those others who are still captive or missing. Our Nation must never rest until all are accounted for.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I worry that we are all missing the little things

I normally don't read the Washington Post, but this link takes you to a interesting tale of ignorance and of an experiment where,
"Joshua Bell is one of the world's greatest violinists. His instrument of choice is a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius. If he played it for spare change, incognito, outside a bustling Metro stop in Washington, would anyone notice?"


I find most buskers to be either very, very good or not. So I can admit to trying to avoid them when bad, but we do need to take the time to see the smells and hear the colors in life. There really is much going on around us as we try to hustle and bustle our way to the goal.

Whatever that is.

This goes for all of us, except Buck.
(Buck's already on about enjoying the little things)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I have been digging around for pictures

This is the nicest cat ever; DC Kitty. She lived about twenty years and feared no mere dog. She knew that everyone loved her, so nothing ever startled her. DC used to slap Pit Bulls around in her youth. No fear at all.

The Akita is Kuma J. Dog.

There are a number of pictures I found, most of which are from my time on the Deyo. These are from the sailing trip in Curacao that I chronicled a couple months ago.

Captain Ron Voice; "Yep. Night time, comes around same time a day, just about sundown."

The photo above is us meeting at a cafe right before getting underway. You can tell that the fellows on my left are not too sure, but what the heck!

They will see.

Start heaving with a will!

This is the cove that was our destination for lunch. We had to swim ashore to reach the barbecue.

There are more, but it is getting late.

We can always remember the fun left in our wake, right?

I saw the name of the sailing vessel "Insulinde"

Insulinde is still in Willemstad doing the charter thing in Curacao. The website has great pictures, and I recommend a charter of this grand boat if you happen to be in Curacao!

I was thinking of the Kings Head Pub

In St Augustine. The Kings Head is a nice little place just up the US-1 from the Grumman works, by the airport. They have British beers and Ales and Pub food that is the same quality as in the UK.

Brings back a memory of a time in Brighton, England. We spent a weekend at a bed and breakfast (I don't really care for those places, but whatever) near the famous pier and had a grand evening.

The next morning we were hiking around and noticed the "Queens Head" pub and thought we might go in.

Some dude with a mustache, smoking a cigar and wearing a white frock greeted us at the door.

Too much, too early! Not ready for Freddy...

Grand times, indeed.

Today, I had to spend the morning at Nas Jax, helping movers bring a sailboat mast back to the Barco Manor. $250.00 bucks later, it is safe in the back yard.

I wonder if this is a omen of future occurrences?

The chase vehicle photo of the mast stowed in the moving truck, passing through the NAS Jacksonville main gate.

I gave the nice movers a 20 dollar tip. So Phil will owe me $270.00. Your mast is now a hostage.

The nice reader might ask about the stair machine, and whether I have forgotten all about the tonnage reduction plan?

Most exercise machines are merely road blocks that keep bumping ourselves as we head to the fridge for a fudgesicle. But not at the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge!

Over the past two weeks I have lost a half inch off the waist and about four pounds. I exercise about twice a day on average, not including the morning walk.

So there.

Have a fine tuesday.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Now that I have thrown my hat over the fence...

I had better get cracking!

We had gotten to where we knew the countdown numbers and we were amazed at the compression of time that seemed to sneak up. T-Minus twelve months and counting, there are no holds on the countdown and come August of next year Wildebeest III is going to be somewhere else.

At first it was almost euphoric, but reality set in harshly. Here is what we needed to accomplish:

1. New Sails;

Our mainsail and genoa (genoa is a big front sail, in our case it was a 150 genoa, huge for Europe, but average for the light winds of Florida) were about thirteen years old and stretched out, making them inefficient. We needed new sails which would help increase boat speed and make the boat sail closer to the wind.

The decision was made that we would get a new main sail, a 130 genoa and a assymetrical cruising chute. The cruising chute would be like a spinnaker, but without a pole.

I made a trip to the Oakland boat show in California and spoke with a couple of sailmakers and decided on Hood Sails. It was going to cost $11K for those sails and they had them cut and sewn in a matter of a week. They sent the sails by mail to the Heathrow airport where I had to clear them through customs.

We installed the sails and discovered the main sail was not right so that took a local Hood sail technician to visit and make the adjustments. The UK Hood representatives worked hard to make us happy with the Hood product and they came out no less than four times. Hood is/was a great company to do business with and I would recommend them to anyone who was looking for sails.

But $11,500.00 for sails! And they were less than some of the sailmakers. Ouch.

2. Navigation Equipment;

There was my Garmin handheld and supposedly we had a Loran (Huh?). We were taking Norman's Open Ocean Yachtmaster class which placed high emphasis on celestial nav using a sextant and chronometer.

I acquired a Celestaire Sextant and after the course felt ready to conquer the oceans!

That celestial nav really kicked my butt. The heart of the skill lays in having a relatively accurate timepiece, which nowadays, your thirty dollar Casio is accurate to a second per month. (Funny, I bought one of those Casio's and it still works like a champ.) Using The Nautical Almanac and the tables therein, you sight a Planet/star or the Moon with your sextant, bring the visual image to the horizon and note the time.

Sounds easy and with practice it is. I never used it, after all the hassle of passing the course I decided I did not trust my skills so I bought a better GPS to use. We had three GPS's receivers, one of which was kept wrapped in plastic and foil and it stayed in the "bailout bag" along with extra flares, VHF radio, water maker and fishing kit.

3. Communication Equipment;

There are many knowledgeable sailing cruisers out there and most think that there is a need for long range communication. I agreed, until I saw the cost of a Single Sideband radio, antenna tuner and associated equipment. Not to mention the hassle of getting licensed for all that. If it was as simple as installing a Citizens Band Radio, I would be all for it. Who would we talk to?

We had two VHF radios and a handheld. That was all we needed.

4. Self Steering;

Now we get into some crazy stuff. Most of the time while sailing, people use some sort of autohelm. There are mechanical, electronic and a hybrid of electro-mechanical. There was an Autohelm 4000 wheel pilot currently installed, but it was unable to handle seas. The Autohelm 4000 was designed for smaller boats used on smooth waters. Not a 27 ton 43 footer.
I got these photo's of a Autohelm 4000 which is for sale here.

Clearly, this system was not going to handle steering our boat. I studied the internet and all periodicals, trying to find the right system for helming our boat. Our unique problem was that we had a center cockpit, which means we are about ten feet away from the stern where most of your mechanical self steering systems operate.

Here is a great vid of a Servo-Pendulum system which would have been great, but the distances of the line going to our wheel.

Roger of Beaujolais suggested we lead the lines into the hull directly to the steering quadrant. Good idea but that would mean losing the aft lazarette storage area through which the lines would travel. Not gonna happen.

Here is the ScanMar brand of self steering, it has a wonderful reputation;

ScanMar has a good price/value. But we were looking at lines being attached to the helm, and lines fail.

So we came onto this product;

Windhunter Self-Steering.
This is a most novel development and if the claims made by the designer and manufacturer are justified, then this is just what the cruising catamaran needs.

The system works by towing a drive rope with a small propeller at its end, this in turn is connected to a hydraulic torque converter system which provides fluid power to the control rams operating the rudders. A wind vane is trimmed to the wind and controls the direction desired. A later version does use a flux-gate compass, but this is still under development.

The clever bit is that the unit is designed to provide battery charging as well. The moment the control rams are not actually being operated, the unit switches automatically to charging in a split second, delivering a substantial amperage. Sufficient to run fridges etc at quite modest boat speeds

The loss from the towed propeller is said to be less than 0.5 knots. A major catamaran manufacturer is currently conducting sea trials and may include the Windhunter as standard equipment following the successful conclusion of these tests.

Your Association is also planning to repeat these trials with an Iroquois as a test bed and we will report at a later stage. Check out the ad. on the back page. (see below - Webmaster)



This most important development in marine engineering technology naturally provokes repeated questions as to how an autopilot can PRODUCE power instead of CONSUME power. Further, electronics are the foundation stone of logic processing and if we require push button remote control conveniences it not so that we must live with the shortcomings of questionable reliability in a marine environment and the unlikely hope of electronic fault rectification at sea.

An autopilot without electronics ?
Push button fingertip control?
Windvane self steering?
Charges batteries?
Powers itself?
No such thing as magic.
Just too good to be true. Windhunter Tec. Advice Service
P.O. 80
Ilford Essex
24Hrs.Help Line
081 500 0180
24Hrs. Brochure
081 501 0050

Note: There is NOTHING on the internet talking about this system anymore. They have vanished. Never existed.

We paid about six thousand dollars for this device and spent another four thousand having a custom installation. We wanted this thing to work.

You tow a propeller and shaft about three hundred feet astern which spins as the boat goes forward. The line transfers the energy to a pump/generator which creates about 1500 psi hydraulic power which operates a left/righ ram which is connected directly to the rudder. The generator creates about eight amps of DC power which is transferred to the boats battery bank.

Win/win, right?

We lost about a knot of forward speed due to the drag of the turbine, which was fine when we were in high winds/high seas conditions. It helped keep the boat in control.

Here is the windhunter with the red vanes off but in the electrical generating mode, twirling away;

5. Barometer. We picked up a large brass one used. It looked and worked wonderfully. I figure an old barometer is as good as a new one and until we can figure out how to afford a weatherfax (See Single Sideband radio, above), it will have to do.

Ok. We have gotten all the equipment, all we need now are stores and to finalize water and cooling issues.

This is getting to be fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

We got the training started time is running out!

We still owed money on the boat and time was running up on us like Hockey attackers approaching a Goalie!

The Coastal Skipper course was completed and we now knew better at how to be a hazard on the water. This included a better appreciation of weather systems and how they behave.

Example; Warm front comes in, you get wind and rain. As the warm potion passes over you, the winds will clock around to the (put your back to the wind!) left and then the cold portion of the front. Crazy winds from your left and cold rain. When that passes you get the dry cool portion with winds veering to the right of what they were. This is all England weather, and these fronts pass with speedy regularity.

The important thing to remember is that I was talking about RAIN!

I would whine like a red headed step child about the crappy weather, but your British sailor loves his home weather.

1998 was nothing but rain. Every time we were on the boat? Rain. It got so that we expected rain if I got anywhere near the barbecue. WE figured I could do a lot more good for the world famine problem if I could set sail for Somalia and Ethiopia, open a barbecue joint on the water front.

A tarp was put up over the entire boat to help keep us dry. Most boats have a little leak, here and there. We had a couple of annoying leaks, but the prescribed method of using a topical filler was inadequate because there never was time to dry!

A routine started in late 1997, where we would rent a car from the Navy Exchange every other Friday; It turns out that the contracted rental company was based at the basement of the Tower Hotel, so it was really convenient to get our car when we got home from work. The cost was about $45.00 a weekend, so why bother with owning a car.

The biweekly plan was to get car, drive on the A206 (North Circular)until we got to the M11. Once on the M11 head towards Cambridge and get off on the A11 towars Norwich Newmarket, got to A14 blah blah.

I still can drive it instinctively.

View Larger Map

We would go to the Mildenhall RAF and stay at the Visiting Quarters. A weekend would run about 60 bucks. Once we got to the room we would spread out, switch on the cable (Woo hoo!) and start laundry. We would do two weeks of laundry and watch tv.

The Air Force lives very well, let me testify.

After laundry, we would go by the Officers Club or the NCO Club (We were actually members, members were given a Platinum MasterCard which could be used for anything. I kept a zero balance).

Once at the club, you asked for a reservation and if there was a wait, you could go to the convenient Casino which just happened to be ten feet away. Hmmph.

Spousal Unit got into slot machines, although she would only use one roll of quarters. Frequently, dinner would be on the casino because of her fair record of victories.

The Starlifter Restaurant was pretty good; Steak dinners were about eight bucks and a bottle of Korbel bubbly was an incredible ten bucks!

We would order the California champagne and the servers would usually treat us like we were doing a special occasion, like an anniversary. It got embarrassing when we would just say, "No, nothing special, just celebrating Friday".

This would usually be disregarded as us being unnecessarily bashful.

After dinner, we would go into the lounge for drinks and dancing. I really liked the Reggae nights.

The Air Force folks had all the comforts and trappings of the USA, all on a two-base American archipelago called Lakenheath and Mildenhall. Since they had all of the American luxuries, the people stationed there received just regular pay.

London was considered very, very expensive (it was) and those of us actually working and living there were looked at with pity.

But living in London got me double pay. Even the folks living in Navy housing at West Ruislip and out west of the city were given extra pay, since commuting cost over twenty bucks a day just to get to the Grosvenor Square.

So given all that, renting a car and living in spartan conditions made us relatively well to do, compared to my peers in the Air Force.

I sure liked the washing machines, though.

During '97 through '99, there was that little bother in the Balkans. Spousal Unit and myself would notice the dirty, grimy Infantry types who looked like they got off a transport from Bosnia, landed for the night on the way home, without civvies. Since beer was just about three bucks a pitcher, I felt it was my duty to call the attention of a waitress, and direct her to bring five pitchers of beer to the table with the ten dirty guys. Keep the change.

We did this everytime we were there, and yes, we always did it anonymously. We insisted that nobody knew that the clean cut squid in the corner with his wife, was quietly thanking these guys for a job well done. It amused us to watch them eyeballing the room warily, trying to suss out who would do this random act of kindness.

The wait staff always kept cool, since they liked the five buck tip.

It wasn't like it was our money.

Sunday morning we would wrap it up and make the drive back and drop off the car at the Tower Hotel. With a stop to the Class Six store and the Commissary on the way!

Twelve Packs of Grolsch were $4.50. I would usually get fifteen. Same with wine.

We had friends that would stop by and it wouldn't be nice to not offer a beer or wine, would it?

Barbecue and party on 'Beest:

This is the exact moment I discovered that I was going to be leaving the Navy. During our Summer Party, advancement results came out and I was not selected.

I got a call from the Command Center and they said the results came out, and that there must be a mistake, my name was missing from the list.

I am intensely disappointed, and lucky for me, Roger, Tom Davey, Norman Hummerstone and a number of other friends from the Little Ship Club were there to keep me from feeling worse than dirt. I had very influential people from the local sailing community, nobody else had such friends.

There was one more promotion cycle to come and the '90's had been very sparse for advancement.

But I had a trip to plan for. There could not be the chance that I strive hard for advancement, filling in more blocks (Meaning deploying down range to the Balkans) while boat planning, work, and stores had to be accomplished. On the chance of promotion which may not happen.

That decision was made at the instant of this photo was taken.

Note the little rag catching rain leaking in through the portlight.

Background; I had been through a board six months before for Sailor of the Year. Naturally, I blew that board away with my knowledge, background and public speaking. I knew the other three candidates completely. None had the experience or qualifications that I had. None had deployed for supporting the Balkan Initiative "**". I looked in the eyes of the seven people on that board and each silently acknowledged my passing their board.

But, I did not receive that award. They called me back in later that day and all seven said that I was the more qualified candidate, it was just that they wanted to help the other fellow (A Cryppie with no sea service) who was looking at having to retire if he didn't get promoted, so I should understand...

That person did not get the promotion and he retired two months later. Note: That nice person knew what had happened to both of us and offered to help me get a job with SAIC in JAC Molesworth, which would have been really cool...

So every person in my job specialty who had been promoted that year, each had been the Sailor of the Year at their commands.

That Monday after the party, I walked in and dropped my request for retirement. My bosses were stunned, since they thought I had only about fifteen years in the Service and was ineligible.

Nope. I had one year to go.

There was a new life to be planned for and I was not going to wait for anything, again. I made myself ineligible for the next promotion cycle by requesting retirement. There has been many nights that I have agonized over the hasty decision, since they promoted everyone the next Summer.

This was my plan and this is how it was executed;

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thinking about the sailing and the training

Barefoot Man:

So this is what I had in mind when sailing; The End of the Journey. And Rum, reggae and relaxation.

Before we could actually go anywhere, there would have to be some training.

This is the Royal Yachting Association's recommendations for anyone who would like to go sailing and the costs of the courses, in 1997:

Looked like we had a lot of catching up to do. No wonder most boaters we met in Europe were old as a stump. It takes five years before you can ever become a skipper!

Not really. It does take an investment in time, and the British are vary patient. They are willing to wait and learn properly. That's why they don't understand Yank's.

For instance, besides important stuff like "Rules of the Road", Weather, and Navigation, there are things we need to know like "How to read a Map" (No, no, it's not a Map it's a Chart) and how to mark on the chart. With pencils.

Using this tool. It's called a Portland Plotter in the UK and a Breton Plotter everywhere else;

Here is an example of getting a boat's position by referencing known objects on shore;

What you use is a compass, find a light house or some prominent object. Get your bearing from object, draw a line on your chart. Then check another object, but make sure for accuracy that the second line is at least 90 degrees off of the first line. Usually that would be it. A third line is a luxury, but I find that we have moved so I will wind up with a "Cocked Hat".

Once you get a good position marked, use a circle as the position mark. A circle represents a Fix, which is considered accurate. An "X" will be used to represent a assumed position and may or may not be accurate.

Whenever I mark a fix, I always add Course, Speed in Knots and Time. This way if we lose power anyone can back track to last position and somehow figure out where we are located.

One thing that I had learning about was the physical forces that affect a boat's navigation. FIrst is water. That water is flowing and the flow is usually related to tides. Every six hours the tides will change. Some places are heavily tidal; Like Northern Europe and South Carolina. Others have a tide, but the tide is only a foot or two, Like Jacksonville.

Ahhh, Bach! (Gratuitous M*A*S*H reference)

Here is a look at the tidal effects at Dover:


The wind is another force to consider, like you don't have enough to consider while underway in the English Channel. The winds effect is called "leeway", lee being with the wind. You can estimate your leeway by taking an angle of the wake in relation to the boats forward movement.

By 2200 of those class nights, my brain was going to explode!

Here is an example of a course line and some fixes. Note the circle that says' Avoid this" and notice how my fixes got very close to the avoidance area. The time was 0355 and 0422.

I was seasick and very tired. Two things that lead to piss poor performance and fatalities at sea.

Now, I take this when I am starting a trip:

So far, Cinarizine, the active ingredient in Stugeron is not allowed by the FDA in the United States. But I can get all the weird and creepy drugs that are supposed to make me want to sit in bath tub in an open field, or play "Viva Las Vegas" with my dysfunctional musically talented friends. I feel better, already.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another wicked cool sailing blog


The photo above is from the front page of Moana Sailing; Go to Moana Sailing This is the most well written and documented sailing blog, and I am really getting that urge to get across the Pacific. They really rock the story!

They start with a little six monther to Mexico, and decide to zoom across to Marquesas and New Zealand on a 32 fot Downeast Sailboat.

The thing I like best is that there is no rush to get anywhere, unlike when I was doing my trip.

I will post more later...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Monday to all


Welcome 'Phibian Phans!

Another weekend down and back to the fun and frivolity of the work week.

Some news came out of the Navy Jax Yacht Club; CDR Bob Woodside,USN Ret. Founder of the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Yacht Club in 1956 passed away, recently. He was 89.

He was an avid sailor and Coach of the Naval Academy Sailing Team, and inspired thousands to take up the sport of sailing and boating in general.

I went to the USS Providence website and pulled this video off, it is Bob Woodside describing fixed wing flying operations off of a Cruiser in World War II.

This Obituary is from the Glen Burnie news site (They could have done a word check for Prostate vice Prostrate):

Robert Woodside

Retired Navy Cmdr. Robert Custer Woodside, 89, of Clarksville, died July 27 at his home of prostrate and bone cancer.

He was born July 9, 1920 in Philadelphia, Pa.

Cmdr. Woodside was a WW II

Veteran, founder of NAVJAX Sailing Club, SCOW, and

USNA Sailing Coach for 50 years.

Survivors include one son; two daughters; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and one great great-grandchild.

A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, Aug. 10 at the United States Naval Academy.

Donations can be made to U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, 25 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401 or Gilchrist Hospice, 11311 McCormick Road, Suite 350, Hunt Valley, MD 21031.

I hope I can live as interesting a life. We will have to keep working on it.

Today there will be insurance sales, and I hope to get in touch with a repair bubba with the hope of repairing our ignition issue with the portside engine.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Installed fifty dollar ignition switch

All righty, plugged all plugs on the eight posts. Moment of truth; I walk to the door to the back deck and ask everyone to be ready for the mighty roar of the Perkins Diesels which will come to life presently!

Turned the key, the squawk of the oil/coolant alarm is heard... twist to the second stage waiting for a mighty rumble ... which doesn't happen.

Just the pathetic squeal of the oil and coolant alarm, wailing petulantly in the foreground.


I suppose this will mean experts will have to be brought in to make repairs to the solenoid or starter. I am thinking the solenoid, and I happen to have a spare starter/solenoid set.

Forget about tearing anything apart; Let's just have a beer. Or four. Begin relaxation operations on the sundeck and why don't I break out the fish killing sticks?

There is shrimp in the fridge, so there is bait for fish and a hook to catch them with. There is an audience of hopeful fish feeders, namely the Hyacinth Kitteh. The Kitteh has faith that I can bring home fish. Spousal Unit is doubtful on my fishing skills and she knows that we are eating at the club tonight.

But the Kitteh paces around my ankles, giving a positive chirp every few minutes to make sure I know she is my fishing buddy.

I caught a skate. I let it go, there is no need to cut up a skate.

There were a couple of nibbles, I think crabs enjoyed my shrimp. It is fun to drown shrimp, but not as much fun as catching fish.

That was it for Saturday. Sunday morning was nice, I made up some blueberry waffles and coffee, the skates were biting again, caught a total of about three and let all of them go back to do their thing. Wikipedia says that skates are overfished and scarce.

Not in Pirates Cove.

Hope everyone gets a relaxing Sunday, tomorrow we toil.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


After a wet and not so fun week, we find ourselves up and at 'em at 0800, Saturday morning. Last night there was the usual ribeye steak and wine, a very shabby South African Cab called "Paarl".

Unfortunately, our wine had been a nice gift from a sailing friend.

Oh terrible, sweet and soggy it was. Barco One and Two quickly condemned the smell and taste with a will, and down the sink it went. We replaced it with a fine Cote du Rhone called "Natural", and resumed our dining ritual.

The clean up in the kitchen was quickly completed and we retired to the living room for Country music videos. And champagne.

Bad, bad, bad!

Because a second bottle came out when the first had been retired. This went on until about 2200.

Barco Two went to bed and I put some good music on. Ramones "It's Alive". Ahhhh. Much better. I opened a bottle of Newcastle Brown and enjoyed live rock which cleansed my head of sappy love songs.

By the way, after watching Brad Paisley being interviewed about performing for the President, I needed some Hard Rebellious Rock, the kind that wears leather jackets.

I am very disappointed in that nice singer. Never, never bring out your political views when you are a public entertainer, because that will indeed alienate half of your fans. Just ask those brave girl singers from North Dakota, the ones with a chunky blonde feminista who has a derogatory last name of "Chix".

You all know that I am a huge fan of the President, and I can't wait until I am invited to drink Bud Lite at the White House. He is so dreamy...

Are you alienated? I'm not.

This week saw me feeling not a little worried about the J.O.B. We had a staff meeting on a Friday morning, end of the month and payday. Any sentient being in these strange times would imagine that a pink slip, or two was coming out.

End of month + last minute meeting= Adios; Maw Pucker!

In my case it was a ten percent pay cut.
My colleagues, the ones who really need the job were fairly happy at the result.

"At least we aren't losing our jobs", said they.

Too true. I am kinda grateful that there will be no changes in my employment, since I am responsible for boat expense, dockage and Club.

But I was sorta hoping to be a victim of the down economy. The Noble Victim, which in America is a tres cool thing.

A lost job would enable me to do the one thing I have never done; Collect Unemployment. Oh yeah, collectin' the Gubmint Cheese. Nowadays, the Government is involved in bread and circus's. Want a car? No problem, Mon.

Reality would be that I would be quickly at work doing something worse than what I do now. Probably at better pay but without all the free time I currently enjoy.

A fellow Navy retiree came by and took me to lunch. He wants to go into business with me in the worst way. The problem is I can't really think of what I might be good at which would provide a service or good that the public would need. Elmer thinks that we can open a Marine repair business.

Mister Negative Vibes comes back with, "But Elmer, nobody is buying boats today. And those who have boats are not paying for maintenance."

It's nice to have friends that care, and the reality is that nobody is going to make anything out there, unless that nobody works for themselves. When you are putting in eight hours for an employer, you are going to be too busy to take care of your own business.

So I bought one lotto ticket, paying the regressive tax that dangles the tiniest glimmer of hope that unearned wealth will come to the ticket holder. A real solution.

It is a suckers bet. Nobody seems to remember that in the not so distant past, the police would arrest the purveyors of lottery tickets. The crime was called "Running a Numbers Racket".

There was a joke that John Cadley told, ten years ago onboard his London based boat, "Fran";

"There was this Rabbi, he was praying hard and long to the Lord, begging Him, 'Oh Lord, please let me win the lottery...'

"The Lord replies, 'Meet Me halfway, Isaac... Buy a ticket.'"

Today is a install of the ignition switch and looking around for something to do. If the weather is nice I think we should get underway, it will be a nice way to clear the mind of last week's stress.

I wish that all of you could come by and join us on the St Johns river. It would be a great party!

Next week: I will have you all join us in the Wayback Machine, with a return to ten years ago, and begin planning the journey on the ocean. It will start with classes in navigation, a return to Calais and a final departure from London to England's South Coast and the little town of Lymington.