Showing posts from 2009

Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation

Reboot is equipped with a single sideband (SSB) radio.  This gives me the capability of talking much longer distances than the marine VHF (very high frequency) radio.  Since I live on “cruisers hours”; to bed when it gets dark, up at dawn, I have gotten into the habit of turning on the SSB radio as the sun comes up.  The SSB radio depends on ionization of the atmosphere for long distance communications.  At sunrise and sunset (the grey band) one can sometimes get amazing distances even though in general the lack of sunspots (think ionization again) has made long distance communication difficult for the past several years.  This morning without much effort I talked to a ham in Uzbekistan and two hams in the Russian Federation.  That is a distance of about 6,500 miles.  Not bad!

Project Days

The seas laid down today and the winds moderated so it was a good project day. I started the day continuing to hook up the solar panels in test mode. By the end of the day I had one panel sitting on the deck generating about 4 amps of current. Considering that it was later afternoon and the sun was behind clouds this was not a bad outcome. I have moved the panel so that it catches the morning light so we will see how that goes. I also made some progress on reconfiguring the house and starting battery setup. Ultimately the 4D I use as a starting battery will become part of the house bank and a new 800 MCA starting battery will provide the power to start the engine. They will be hooked with an automatic charging relay so that when the engine comes on the house batteries will charge without me having to throw any switched.I spent a good part of today up on Gypsysails mizzen mast mounting and wiring a new radar head. You may remember that Maury helped me do the same on Reboot a co…

Transit, Transit, Transit

Sunday 20 December 2009
Sunday is a big cruise ship day. There were five of them in "Government Cut", the main Miami channel when we left this morning. That meant, of course, that we could not use the channel. I guess it is a 9/11 thing. So we used the alternative channel and headed out to sea.
As an aside, cruise ships have certainly changed a great deal in the many years since I have been on board, Most people are aware that they now have many more staterooms than before. But what about the large screen TV, the size of a baseball scoreboard, on the top deck. Not only that, but the old fashioned "we are getting underway" and lifeboat drill has been replaced with a full scale disco blaring almost as loud as the ship's whistle to the accompaniment of a woman screaming to the crowd to "get it on." Quality!
I have been in a parade of boats today, but I have yet to see any but Capbam and Gypsysails. A group of 5 other sailboats left Miami Beach this …

Ups and Downs

After taking advantage of the proximity of the marina to a West Marine and Publix we (Gypsysails and I) left our $90 per night marina slips and anchored south of CausewayIsland to get ready for the next leg of the trip to Key West.I finally got to do something that I have wanted to do since Milwaukee – jump off the stern into warm water and swim.  It was delightful, and weather permitting will be a frequent occurance.We took off from Ft.Pierce in south winds and beam seas.  There was just enough veer that I was able to sheet in about 105% of the jib right against the spreader.  This made for a much more comfortable ride.  In addition to beating to windward we also had to cope with the Gulf Stream.  It comes very close to shore on the Ft.Pierce to Miami coast.  We spent most of the trip on the 50 foot depth curve.  That meant we were about ½ mile off shore.  There were two other sailboats paralleling our course but further out in the stream.  We tired to raise them both on the VHF but …

On the way to Miami

Leaving today from Ft. Pierce on the outside to South Beach and Miami.  It will take about 24 hours.  I will check back in when I arrive.

From the top to the (near) bottom

I left Jacksonville in the company of Gypsysails and headed for Ft.Pierce.  We went outside with a following strong wind and seas.  We arrived at Ft.Pierce after dark and anchored just off the main channel in the inlet.  Both Gypsy and I have to go back to “stow for sea” school, we had stuff sliding all over the cabins of both boats!First story:  I could not get my anchor up to move the boat.  Reboot had sailed around the anchor chain during the night and wrapped the anchor rode around the keel.  After several fruitless hours of waiting for the tide and wind to change I finally called Towboat US.  (Thankfully I have Towboat insurance so it was covered.)  It only took a couple of laps around Reboot by the towboat and then I was able to raise the anchor.  Off I went to join Maury and Ginger at Harbortown Marina for the night.  We decided to take a night in a marina so that we could go to the local West Marine and the food store.  Both were a short walk.  Interesting coincidence, after I…


When I got Reboot she had a Raymarine ST-50 radar unit.  This was a LCD black and white unit that I had previously had on the original Reboot, a Catalina 30 that had been built in the 1980's.  Yesterday with the help of Maury of Gyspysails we got the new 18" Garmin HD radar dome mounted.  We also moved the radar dome location from a pole on the stern to on the mast between the first and second spreaders.  This should give us a lot more range for low lying targets.  Today we are shifting locations again so I should have an opportunity to see how it works out on the water.

The Marina at Ortega Landing - Going Upscale

As those of you who follow my blog know I tend to be on the cheap end of things.  I anchor out rather than paying for an overnight slip.  I find the free docks provided  by municipalities for transient boaters.  I frequent military marinas not only for the company of my fellow comrades-in-arms but also so I can use the commissary and post exchange.

This weekend was a major change of pace.  Gypsysails and Reboot left Jacksonville Landing where we had gone to wait out strong south winds and headed for the Ortega River and The Marina at Ortega Landing.  This is a very beautiful high end condominium complex and a beautiful high service level marina.  It is the first facility on the north side of the Ortega River just beyond the Ortega River bridge.

The pampering started even before we arrived.  Rather than the normal procedure of calling a marina several times in order to get them to respond they called me as I was clearing the bridge!  Again, instead of the normal "count this many d…

Reboot's New Crew

We are cycling up for our next offshore trip.  This morning I discovered that I had a group of volunteers who wanted to come.  See picture below:

Cruisers Lunch

Reboot and I are back at Jacksonville Landing waiting out strong South winds and rain.  Today we were just hanging out waiting for the weather so I decided to invite the other boats at the dock to a Cruisers' lunch.  We had Maury from Gypsysails, Connie and Bob from Meredith, and Don and Betty from Ram-sea.  I picked "The American Cafe" here at The Landing as the meeting place.  We got there only to find that half of their kitchen was not working - they were having gas problems.  Of course as cruisers we are all used of something not working on our boats so we made do with what they could prepare. In fact, that was quite a bit of their menu and I think we all had a good time.

Two Boats before the mast

Today was climb the mast day.  I started the day on GypsySails.  Here is a shot of them coming up the St. Johns River the other day.  We were both at the St. Mary's Thanksgiving dinner and came down together on the outside.  For whatever reason the radar has decided not to work so I when up the mizzen mast and did some testing.  We finally decided that we needed to bring the radar head down for repair so I went up a second time and disconnected it.

The next step was to go up the mast of Reboot and start the process of installing the new radar head.  While I was up doing that I got this shot of Ginger and GypsySails.

Of course every project of this type needs to have people on the dock watching and offering advice.  This project was no different.

One last picture.  I am working about 1/3 of the way to the top of the mast.  Here is the view of Naval Air Station Jacksonville from there.  I promise some shots from the top of the mast when I do the wind instruments next week.

St. Mary's Thanksgiving

Once a year cruisers gather in the St. Mary's River (Georgia) for a Thanksgiving feast.  (They also do this in other places, but I wasn't in any of them!)  This year there were 90 boats in the anchorage on Thanksgiving morning.  The Riverview Hotel (c 1916) closes for the day and opens all its spaces for the Thanksgiving dinner.  And what a dinner!  Members of the town (I was corrected - this event is put on by a group of people that live in St. Mary's, not any official body) provide the turkey, ham, paper goods, drinks, and utensils.  The cruisers provide the "Fixin's."  And oh what fixings.  From salad to main course to desert there was more variety then I have ever seen in my life.  And enough food to feed not only all of the cruisers and towns people but the entire Kings Bay Submarine Base!  After the big meal we adjourned to the local park for dancing under the stars.  Of course supper was left-overs from the Thanksgiving dinner.  What a great event.

I l…

83 Cruising Boats

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. At the oyster roast tonight a total of 83 cruising boats were represented here for the St. Mary's Thanksgiving dinner. We all retired a bit early so that we can be prepared to both enjoy and help out on Thanksgiving.

St. Mary's Thanksgiving preparation

Last night I arrived at the St. Mary's River on the Georgia - Florida border. Many cruisers can not cross the line into Florida until after December 1st without paying an extra premium on their insurance. They have gathered here is St. Mary's waiting for the clock. Since the end of November is also Thanksgiving the people of St. Mary's, starting in 2001, have hosted the visiting cruisers for Thanksgiving dinner. The town provides the place, hams and turkeys; the cruisers provide the "fixens." This morning there are 27 boats. The expectation is that number will grow to over 100 by Thursday. This is my first big cruiser "Gam" and I am looking forward to the experience. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next couple of days is rain. Since everyone travels by dinghy this will put a damper (pun intended) on the festvities for the next couple of days.

Current Position

At 6:41 PM on 11/20/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°19.46' 081°39.71'W heading 143T at 0.0.
Anchored in the St. Mary's River for the Thanksgiving festivities

Thursday, November 19, NAS Jax

I have been remarkably productive the last few days.  This said by the man (the family in Trevor and Spencer’s opinion) that has made procrastination an art form.)
Yesterday I did my laundry and realized what a difference water quality makes.  The Jacksonville water must be very soft.  My clothing has not been this soft and smell this good in a long time.
But more to the point I finally got the radar display/chart plotter mounted at the helm and hooked up.  I will no longer need to run down inside the cabin to look at the chart plotter and then run back up to the helm to steer.  It would have been really nice to have when I was navigating some of the more shallow parts of the Intracostal.  I also removed the flaky AM/FM radio and replaced it with a new radio.  I now have more music choices that I know what to do with: XM Satellite (which also and more importantly provides my real time weather data), AM/FM and IPOD.  At the moment I am listening to Sinatra.  It takes me back to great ste…

Shuttle Launch

I got to see the shuttle.  It took about 30 seconds to get high enough to see from Jacksonville.  We did get to see the solid fuel rockets drop off and the second stage take over before it disappeared from sight.  Cool!

Jacksonville Landing and Global Warming

I moved Reboot to Jacksonville Landing, Jacksonville’s answer to the Milwaukee Ale House.  It is set in the heart of the downtown area with river walks on both sides of the St. Johns River. The city provides free dockage for up to 72 hours but no services.  The “Landing” is a retail complex with restaurants, clubs, stores and a central outdoor court.  On the weekends there is free music in the courtyard.  It is also event driven, tonight the local animal shelter was having a fund raising effort.  Everyone (except me of course) brought one or more dogs down to the festivities.  The dogs remarkably were well controlled.

This morning I took the runners loop, a 1.9 mile trip.  From the Landing one travels across the main street bridge, walks up the east side of the river, comes back across the high rise bridge and back to the landing.  I got a decent workout and some pretty pictures.  The past couple of days it has finally become the Florida of my expectations, sunny, clear and hot.  It wa…

First Times - November 9, 2009

The wind is calm.  The waves, all 6” of them, flow past Reboot quietly.  The anchor rode hangs down from the bow.  It is dusk, and everything is quiet.  Quiet is strange.  Sailboats are always making noises.  The slap of the waves against the hull; The sound of the wind thru the rigging; Pumps, refrigerator, radios, there always seems to be some noise.  It is so quiet that I can hear the propane flowing out of the stove as it heats water for my dinner.Why is this remarkable?  For the last 48 hours I have been stressed out waiting to see if Hurricane Ida would chose to take all of my possessions.  I have been checking the weather, conversing with other sailors, getting Reboot ready for strong winds and high seas.One thing was certain.  I could not stay at Mulberry Cove Marine, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.  I have been docked on the face dock, a location for transients and also the only place deep enough for Reboot.  With a 22 mile fetch the face dock is not a place to be with heavy …

Current Position

At 10:27 AM on 11/9/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°12.60'N 081°38.28'W heading 003T at 0.1
Anchored, riding out the winds from IDA

Current Position

At 10:27 AM on 11/9/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°12.60'N 081°38.28'W heading 003T at 0.1
Anchored, riding out the winds from IDA


I post the photos on the Reboot Racing pages of Facebook.  Follow the link below

NAS Jacksonville

I have arrived at Naval Air Station Jacksonville FL. I expect to stay here for a few days. Hopefully I will get internet access and be able to upload some of the pictures I have taken on my trip.

2 November 2009 - Amelia River (FL? GA?)

I am anchored in the Amelia River on the Georgia - Florida border. For some cruisers this is a major line of demarcation. Their insurance coverage does not permit them to enter Florida until after hurricane season is over (December 1st) without paying an additional premium. I have been told that there is quite a gathering of cruisers in St. Mary's, Georgia for Thanksgiving. That is just about two miles from my current location.I am headed for the Jacksonville, FL Naval Air Station about 30 miles from here. I was originally going to go direct from St. Catherine's Sound in Georgia but decided there was not point in staying up half the night to get to the St. John's River so I ducked in here. As I was looking for a place to drop the hook I found the local anchorage of choice - at least for the 10 to 15 other boats already anchored here. We will find out this morning how many are passing thru and how many are holding for insurance.Not only are we not longer in daylight …

Current Position

At 9:34 PM on 11/1/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°40.44'N 081°28.02'W heading 119T at 0.1

Current Position

At 6:54 PM on 10/31/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 31°40.00'N 081°09.73'W heading 306T at 0.1

Current Position

At 6:53 AM on 10/30/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 32°33.59'N 080°24.11'W heading 190T at 0.2

Current Position

At 5:17 PM on 10/27/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 33°31.39'N 078°31.95'W heading 228T at 6.5

October26th - Beaufort NC to Wrightsville

My care package arrived at noontime today.  I don’t usually wait as late in the day to depart but I had to move Reboot out of the marina or pay another hefty sum to spend the night.  Since I am on a very tight budget moving won out.

I had a so so weather window.  The good news was that the wind was from the NW at 20 to 25 with seas of 3 to 5 feet.  The bad news was that it was overcast with the possibility of rain.  Net net, as we used to say, it was a very fast sleigh ride down the coast to about 20 miles north of CapeFear.  I tried to round Cape Fear and keep on going all night but the wave action was rolling Reboot quite a bit and I did not want to venture further offshore to get a stable boat when I could duck in at Masonboro Inlet, pick up the ICW to go around Cape Fear, and then go back outside to travel direct Charleston, NC.

On the way down I ran into two large and several small US Navy ships engaged in military exercises off CampLejeune.  I can remember the day when I used to b…

Oriental, NC

I ducked into Oriental, North Carolina to avoid a bad weather forecast.  I was glad that I did as my two day stay was great fun.  As I was coming in I became aware that there was a free town dock with a 48 hour limit of stay.  There are only two slips and fortunately one was empty so I slid on in.  Of course my depth sounder read 0.0 feet but it seemed like Reboot was still floating so I tied up,

I had stopped at the fuel dock to refuel. Since the fuel in the jerry cans was about 2 months old I refueled from the cans and then had the marina refill the cans.  That was when it became apparent that I could scoot over to the public dock.  Since it gets occupied very quickly the marina manager suggested I take the boat over and come back for the cans.  So I did.  On the way back to pick up the cans I discovered a tent being erected for a pig roast and talked to “Tennessee Bob.”  He told me that the roast was a benefit for “Girls on the Run.”  Tickets were only $10 so of course I purchased o…

Nautical Silks

A great gift idea from my friend Laura …

Nautical Silksfor more information Contact:

2976 N. Cambridge Ave.

Milwaukee, WI53211





For Immediate Release

Get wrapped up in a work of art. Nautical Silks is a new line of original, hand-painted silk scarves by Laura Livermore, featuring nautical artwork.  Each scarf is made to order.  The designs, painted with French dyes, are inspired by traditional nautical signal flags and can be customized with your boat name, club name or other personal message.

Laura, the designer, felt there was a need to have a stylish and feminine touch to women’s sailing attire.  Somehow the polo shirt and matching team hat just weren’t cutting it.

A Nautical Silks scarf is an elegant, easy-care fashion accessory that lets you step off the boat in style. A perfect gift for women who take their fashion as seriously as they take their boating. 

 (Pictures here, having trouble showing, plea…

Peeps is Back

Peeps the autopilot is back!

Mile 159.7 Anchorage

October 2009

On west side, saw one sailboat at anchor

Mile 154.1 ICW - Anchorage

October 2009

Anchorage on the west side, approximately 8 – 10 feet of water.  I shared it with 6 other boats.

Underway Visit from the Coast Guard

Since the weather was fine but going to get worse at the end of the week I decided to leave ElizabethCity a day early.  So did everyone else.  By the time I got up almost every other southbound boat had already departed.  ElizabethCity is the home of the largest Coast Guard Air Base so it did not come as a great surprise to see USCG Helicopters and small boats driving around in the ElizabethRiver.  I was also not surprised when I heard a Coast Guard small boat hailing several of the sailboats that had been at the dock on the previous night.  In fact, there was a certain level of relief when they boarded the sailboat that had left right before me.  I figured that they would be tied up with her and I would just ease on down the river.I am sure you have anticipated the punch line. They were more than happy to zoom on down to where I was and invite themselves aboard.  The visit was short, friendly and professional.   It was also obvious that the ElizabethRiver is a great training aid for …

Happy Birthday Trevor!

Today (October 22, 2009) is Trevor’s birthday.  And in celebration a pod of dolphins greeted Reboot this morning in the AlligatorRiver.  Cool!


Much of the ICW in Virginia and North Carolina passes thru swampland.  I expected to have the same experience that Jerry and I did on the Erie Canal passing thru the Montezuma Refuge – lots of aloe and Benadryl to deal with numerous bug bites.  In fact every residence I passed had a screen in porch.  Why am I telling you this now?  It seems I have made it far enough South that there has not been the cold nights or killing frost that suppressed the insect population.  Last night I was visited by mosquitoes for the first time since the Montezuma Refuge in upstate New York.Then again, it is nice that it is getting warm at night time again.

Mile 28 Dismal Swamp Route - ICW - Uncharted Hazard

October 2009

Mile 28

North CarolinaWelcomeCenter

150 Foot dock on East Side

Water at North end of Dock, Faucet is hard to find, on face of dock about 8 feet south of the north end.  Not the faucet at the water fountain.  Rest rooms, no showers, pump out or electric

People in the welcome center are very friendly.  Free internet access on WelcomeCenter computer.  The welcome center staff will give you the boater’s packet of information when you walk in.  They are very friendly.

Uncharted Hazard

North Carolina has constructed a bridge across the ICW just south of the welcome center.  The structure takes 3 ½ minutes to open from the closed position.  It connects the welcome center with a State Park on the opposite side.  The bridge tender on duty said that they watch the canal and open if they see a boat.  There was no telephone number or horn signal posted.  If closed I would suggest the normal long – short horn sequence to get their attention.

ICW October20th - Even a Stone Heart can Break

I woke this morning to 43 degrees F in Reboot.  Burrrrrrrr.  I set out at about dawn.  At 10 AM it was still cold.  The Dismal SwampCanal is lined by trees on both sides so until the sun gets way up in the sky it really does not warm the canal.I am used to being worried about hitting bascule bridges as I pass thru.  I was not prepared to have to pay attention to the tree branches that hang over the canal.  It is pretty easy to pay attention to the first 10 feet up, but my mast goes up 60 feet!  I learned the hard way when I trimmed a tree.  The branches were thank goodness small so I just got a shower of old dead branches with no harm done to Reboot.It feels strange to see the depth gauge reading 1 to 3 feet all of the time.  Normally that would have me concerned but of course the canal only guarantees a 6 foot depth and I draw 5 feet.Once clear of the SouthMillsBridge and Lock the canal continues for a couple of miles.  It is a canal, narrow, shallow, tree lined on both sides.  One h…

Mile 11 Dismal Swamp Route ICW

October 2009

Tied up just south of the DeepCreekBridge which is 500 yards south of the lock.  Approximately 55 foot dock on east side.  I tried a U-turn but failed as the canal is narrow with a strong current and I could not get the bow around.  If I had someone on the bow to tell me how much room I had left I might have accomplished it.  In the end backed into the dock.  Since I was set up for a starboard side tie for the lock everything had to go over to the port side.

Hardees across the street.

Mexican restaurant next to the dock

Rite-Aid pharmacy and 7-11 across the bridge – a short walk.

Nofolk to Deep Creek Bridge via the Dismal Swamp Route

I left Norfolk Naval Base mid-morning to head down the ICW.  Wind was out of the North and had been sustained enough for the waves to build.  As forecast the wind clocked around as I was heading down along the piers and the sun was a welcome sight after three days of wind, overcast, and rain.Securite – Securete – Securete …They do it differently down here!  It is followed (sometimes) by “This it the Coast Guard vessel “name” escorting a Navy Submarine.  Please maintain a 1000 yard security zone around the submarine.  The use of force, including deadly force is authorized.”  Then they call out ships (including the big container guys) and tell them what to do – stop, turn, go backwards.  It is a far cry from the tour boats in the MilwaukeeRiver announcing their intentions.I am headed south along the ICW using the Dismal Swamp Route.  Like the Erie Canal it is tedious.  The channel is narrow and shoals often so you have to pay attention.  Unlike the Erie Canal I have found myself with b…

Clear Channel

Back in the early days of broadcast radio the Federal Communications Commission issued “clear channel” AM broadcast licenses.  The idea was that local broadcast stations could share the airwaves with certain generally big city radio stations but at night the “clear channel” stations had no other competition.  Supposedly big city stations had better access to news and public opinion than the small local stations. At least that is what their lobbyists convinced the FCC over 3 martini lunches.  Several of the New York City Stations – WOR, NBC, ABC, CBS, and WINS were clear channel stations   Most of the clear channel stations had very high power output e.g. 50,000 watts so that they could cover large areas of the U.S.  Since I have an SSB radio on board and the antenna is a long wire (the backstay) it turns out I have a great rig for listening to the New York City broadcast stations.  Of course they don’t play rock and roll any more (“This is Murray the K on the swinging soirée”) But I g…

Autopilot installed at last, waiting for a weather window

Of course, not only were the wires on the new autopilot control head different.  The mounting was different.  So I had to drill out part of the cockpit dashboard to get the new control head to fit.  The circle drill was under about five other boxes way in the back of the stern cabin.  And the soldering gun was in another box somewhere in the same area.  And the electrical tape … well you get the general idea.  Now I have to figure out how much of the “commissioning” is actually necessary.  Commissioning is the process of setting the operating parameters for the autopilot.  The computer is the same; it is just the display that is different so I am not exactly sure how much needs to be set up again.If it works OK I will be on my way to Key West.  I figure it will take a couple of months of taking it easy each day and exploring along the way until I get there.  Now I go from waiting for parts to waiting for a weather window to depart.  I could actually leave today or tomorrow, the boat c…

Am I crazy

Thanks to Dan – if you every wonder if I am crazy please enjoy the following:

New Autopilot Control Head!

It arrived – of course in New Jersey.  But Ace and Bill were up for an aviation boondoggle so they flew it down to me in Norfolk.  Of course this was supposed to be a visit but as the weather continued to deteriorate I got a “Hi, we have to leave, here is your mail and the box” and off they went back to NorfolkAirport. I got back to Reboot and opened the box.  I had been warned by Raymarine that this was a slightly different model then the one I had sent in, and mine was not repairable so they were going to replace it instead.  Slightly different meant that the wire pigtails that were attached to my old unit were not attached to the new unit.  Raymarine had changed the interconnect cables!  So of course I could not hook this one up to see if it worked.This morning I called Trident, the local Raymarine repair shop.  Joy of joys he had the parts I needed to hook up the new control head.  Of course it is raining cats and dogs here and the control head is out in the cockpit so I am deferr…


Today is the Navy’s Birthday.  It celebrates the Act of Congress that gave General Washington, who was busy fighting the Revolutionary War – in particular in the area of BostonMA, the ability to commission ships to fight for the United States.  So raise your glass and toast the US Navy!  (West Marine carries a great book George Washington’s Navy.  I am sure Trevor could send you a copy.)I received my West Marine “care package” today.  Thank you Dan for getting it shipped to me.  I was looking for a couple of boxes but Dan put all the little parts inside the big housing that I had ordered.I left JEB Little Creek Fort Story at about 1:30 this afternoon and headed for Navy Operating Base Norfolk.  I had been in Little Creek for almost two weeks and other transients were in need of the pier head where I had been docked.   Rain is forecast for the next couple of days, it was a gorgeous afternoon of light winds and calm seas, so I headed over to Norfolk Naval Base, a trip of about 7 nautica…