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Showing posts from 2015

Fireworks

Here in Charlotte Amalie, USVI waiting to see if I have to move Reboot tonight. They are doing fireworks in the harbor and have established an exclusion zone. No one is exactly sure where it is, nor will we know until they actually anchor the barge. Such a pain.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The end of an era

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It had to happen sometime. My odd Asus eeePC finally bit the bullet. Actually it succumbed to me spilling an entire cup of coffee on the keyboard. This was a tragedy. It could have been worse. The machine was 8 years old, could not be upgraded from Windows XP, and more and more applications were saying "no way" when I tried to run them. RIP

I decided to purchase a small tablet - and Amazon Fire. I was surprised to find that they would not ship it to the Virgin Islands. Apparently some licensing issue. I have to pay to have it shipped to my PO box in Florida. Then they will send it to me here. What is particular stupid is that it will get shipped by the US Post Office from Florida to here. Dumb.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Christmas Winds

First, since it that day Merry/Happy Christmas.

From late December to mid-January the winds in the Leeward Islands pick up. This happens every year. At the same time the temperature goes down (a little, lets say 5 to 8 degrees on average.) This creates a problem for anyone who wants to head East - the normal 4 to 6 foot waves can reach 10 feet or more, the normal 15 to 20 knot winds can reach 30. So what we mostly do is just hunker down. make sure we have a lot of rode (I have 200 feet of chain and 25 feet of rode) and ride them out. Because I hate to drag I have a lot more out than everyone else. This puts Reboot way out of the cluster of other boats. In fact, frequently there is a boat or two that is anchored somewhere between my anchor and my bow. As long as they haven't dropped on my chain I don't care since I don't plan to leave for a bit.

More at http://www.doyleguides.com/caribbean_weather.htm

Fair winds and following seas :)

Norwegian Spirit

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I mentioned the other day that the Norwegian Spirit came in and anchored out. I was surprised. I ran into Forrest at Fat Turtle yesterday. He told me that several of the cruise ships had diverted due to the heavy seas.

The Fat Turtle is a restaurant/bar on the property of Grand Haven Yacht Marina. It  is about the first thing the Yachties hit when they get off their mega-yachts. So it can be quite the place, particularly in the evenings.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Cruise Ship Misery

I have complained before about how cruise ships have ruined the Caribbean - particularly the smaller islands, It is not unusual to find everything closed as soon as the cruise ships depart. Nights spent with live entertainment in beach bars seems to be a thing of the past except in a few isolated places like Jost Van Dyke in the BVI.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the trades people here in the USVI don't like the ships either. At first I thought it was just the problem of being the servants to large groups of people you know you will never see again. Was I surprised to find that the problem is deeper. The people off the ships are characterized as cheap, don't tip, and don't buy stuff. I was in a store the other day talking to one of the clerks. She told me that people come in and take pictures of their stock and walk out. Apparently if you show the cruise ship staff proof of the cost of something on shore they will match that price on the boat. She said that sh…

The view from the cockpit

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We all try to coexist here in Charlotte Harbor. The cruise ships come and go. The harbor pilots and ferry captains try to keep us from anchoring in the wrong place. (This happened when we first came in, we were advised to move, good advice.) Reboot has an established position clear of the cruise ship transit zone and off the line of the range lights used by everyone who enters the harbor.

Imagine my surprise when I heard loud noises and walked out into the cockpit only to find the Norwegian Spirit about 200 FEET from Reboot. The next thing I heard was the rattle of the anchor chain as she lowered her anchor. I dialed up channel 14 and called the VI pilots. They told me not to worry, I was not in the way, they were just going to stretch the anchor chain. Slowly the Spirit backed away. But not very far.

Charlotte Amalie harbor has an interesting characteristic. The US Virgin Islands are right in the Easterlies zone and this time of year the Easterlies are well established. The wind is …

Yacht Nero

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This beautiful yacht came into Yacht Haven Grand the other day. It is built along the lines of a 1920's motor yacht. Just drool like I did

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wet again

The dinghy engine is acting up again. Not to big a surprise. It has been raining on and off the last couple of days. My guess is that moisture has been getting into the fuel tank as the air vent does not screw down tightly. So its putt putt and occasionally buzz buzz. I stopped in the Yacht Haven Grand marine store to get some SeaFoam. They have every cleaning product imaginable, wine starting at $90 per bottle, and cases of water at $19.99. Do they have SeaFoam? Or any other useful product? Of course not!

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!

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Unless of course you have a water maker.Usually regarded as one of the most troublesome devices I recommissioned mine yesterday. In short order it started making nice clean water. And then it stopped. As it turned out all I needed to do was replace the filter on the intake. This morning it is chunk chunk chunking away again (I always run high energy using devices in the morning to give the solar panels the maximum time to refresh the batteries.

My water maker has a long history of being problematic. Until Katadyn discovered an internal problem with the unit and fixed it. Now it works quite well. The most important part is to "pickle" the osmotic filter if you are not going to use the device for a while I did, and it started up again after several months of "storage" quite easily.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Life on the Edge

No. Not about solo sailing. Rather about quantum biology. Click this for link! A short excerpt from the introduction on Amazon:

Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation?

An amazing book.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Slow but steady progress

Back to being a solo sailor. I have been working on a number of small projects. I did get a ride to Home Depot and was able to purchase some snaps. So I have revamped the mechanism for holding all of the dock lines up in the air so they dry out. I also purchased some clips that I have used to secure a couple of the doors that keep flying open under sail. I continue to add "hard points" to secure various items underway. We ended up with a bunch of stuff on the floor in the forward bedroom on the last transit as it kept slipping off the bed. Now it will be possible to tie it down.

I received my first mail in about 2 months. Enclosed was the replacement Garmin wind vane. It will require a trip up the mast to reinstall. I also received a nice letter from the Federal Government telling me that all of my background information from my security clearance had been hacked. Way to go Government! I am so motivated to give them even more power! NOT! They have offered me free monitoring.…

Just another day in Paradise

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Forrest and I are sitting in "Bad Ass Coffee" on the Yacht Haven Grand Marina property. At the edge of the property is the free dinghy dock. We, and most likely everyone else out in the harbor uses this dock. The fun part is that we motor in between the cruise ships and Rising Sun. Two walls of steel on the way to the dock.

Yesterday we made good progress. I talked to the folks at Neil Pryde sails. Feeling my pain they promised a new main sail in 2 1/2 to 3 weeks! Super. They will deliver it to their agent in St. Martin. That is great as it is a duty free port. The sail is also about $1,000 cheaper than the quote from Quantum. My current (now destroyed) Neil Pryde main was just fine.

We took the main down off the mast/boom yesterday. On the deck it didn't look as bad as in the air but the upper third was still pretty messed up.We cut it into two pieces to make it easier to handle into the dink. Forrest wants to keep it so when Jeanna can come over with the car we will l…

//WL2K At anchor, Charlotte Amile Harbor, St. Thomas, USVI

We spent yesterday sorting out our engine problems. We spliced back the leaking hose. We added anti-freeze to the closed loop system. Since by the time we were done we were already committed to pay for another day at Yacht Haven Grand Marina we spent the night. This morning I went out and picked up more anti-freeze. I brought back two gallons only to discover that we were only about one cup short! Oh well, now we have lots of spare anti-freeze.

All in two nights at the Yacht Haven Grand Marina - $388.78. A mere bag of shells. Of course this marina is not set up for people like us (poor) but rather for the mega rich. Standing out among the other mega-yachts in the harbor is the 5th largest privately owned yacht in the world (Rising Sun). The 150 to 200 foot mega-yachts pale by comparison.

Much more interesting is "Artic". She is an icebreaker converted into a private yacht. Painted gloss black she has tenders that would make a drug runner jealous. Forrest pointed out the rang…

TWIC Cards - Hair Color

Forrest has been filling out the application for a  Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card from the Transportation Security Administration. We got a laugh when he opened the pull down list for "Hair Color" His choices were:


BaldBlackBlond or StrawberryGray or partially GrayRed or auburnSandyWhiteBlueGreenOrangePinkPurpleUnknown Now I admit that finding some of the lower colors on the list was quite a surprise. But "unknown?" How could you not know your hair color?
Fair winds and following seas :)

E & S - The "Door Prize"

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When we were transiting the Gulf Stream the panel door between the forward stateroom and the salon broke loose from its cleat by separating into two pieces. All that was necessary to repair it was removing the 40 screws in the piano hinge and then gluing and clamping the door. Since we could not glue and clamp on a flat surface we took it down to E & S in Nanny Cay Marina. They did a nice job of getting it back together so we now have a working door again.

I would recommend them for your woodworking needs in Nanny Cay, BVI.

Fair winds and following seas :)

B.V.I Marine Management Inc.

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While in Nanny Cay Marina we had need for some machine shop support The tube that locks the swing door for the Monitor wind vane had become distorted. After disassembling half the Monitor we got it loose. The distortion needed to be ground out.

Enter B.V.I. Marine Management. They did a nice job of getting the tube back to round.

The next day we were checking the rigging and found one of the shrouds very loose. Alas the turnbuckle was jammed and would not respond to multiple applications of "Blaster." We managed to get the clevis pin loose and detached the turnbuckle from the shroud. Down to B.V.I. Marine again. They were able to get it loose and return it to Reboot the next day. I would recommend them for services in the BVI.

We missed again!

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We set out day before yesterday for St. Martin (French side.) It was a uphill slog all the way - some 90 NM planned. When we were about 40 miles from St. Martin (past the point of no return) the engine decided to overheat again. Not to worry, we knew what to do. Sure enough, there was an air lock in the exhaust. Popped it open and got good water. Yea! About 2 minutes later the engine overheated again. Further investigation showed that one of the cooling hoses as a small crack - just enough to evacuate all of the anti-freeze (its a closed loop - open loop system.) We put up the sail (remember no mainsail) and sailed along for about an hour waiting for dawn. Since St. Martin was dead down wind we of course could make no progress in that direction.

We decided that taking the engine further apart while in the middle of the ocean was not a good plan. Upwind were the British and United States Virgin Islands. Since we had just left the BVI and Forrest had good friends in Charlotte Amile (USV…

//WL2K Reboot Float Plan 12/4

Departing Nanny Cay Marina BVI for Saint Martin (French Side)
2 POB, 1 Meow
Fair winds and following seas :)

The Yowling Competition

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Yesterday at 4:30 AM we were greeted by XO yowling. Now XO is quite vocal, he lets us know when he wants attention, food, water, or a clean box. But this was a new and very different noise. After a few minutes of trying to wake up and figure out what was going on I made it to the bow of the boat (inside) to find XO on top of the refrigerator and a Calico  (hence female) leaning into the open hatch yowling back. Forrest took issue with being woken up and took the water spray bottle to the bow. This dissuaded the Calico and she departed down the dock. XO was not mollified.

It seems as if there are a number of cats here in the yard/marina. They are not feral, they all get fed by someone on a regular basis. They are clean, friendly (for cats) and well fed. They have the run of the place and will not only get on boats but go down inside to explore! I guess they know the boats that have dogs aboard.

It is warm here in the evenings so we like to keep the hatches open. With the local conting…

The Death Spiral

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Today we escaped from the Death Spiral. It works like this. When offshore one does not have access to normal things, like laundry. Throw in that every once in a while a wave will board the boat. This results in one's clothing being soaked in salt water. Since clothing soaked in salt water doesn't like to dry one changes into clean clothing. Of course since one has not bathed one's body is pretty ripe.

End result. Come into port with dirty hair, a beard, no clean clothing smelling like a goat. Find the laundry lady to do the laundry. There is no point in washing up as there is no clean clothing to put on. Wait for the laundry to be done. Take shower, shave, etc.

"You clean up pretty good!"

Fair winds and following seas :)

Gorda Sound to "The Bight", back to Nanny Cay

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We left Gorda Sound yesterday morning for a 4 hour sail  to "The Bight" on Norman Island. This is the home of the famous Willy T restaurant. It was downwind most of the way so it was a very pleasant sail.

We went and picked up a mooring ball in "The Bight." The weather was very blustery so we spent a lot of time swinging back and forth. We (Forrest and I) decided to wait until later in the evening for the mandatory visit to the Willy T.

What we found was disappointing. Rather than the crowds and party of yore we joined a group of 6 other people (not counting the staff.) What was particularly surprising was that we had stopped at the beach bar (Pirates Bight I think) and there was no one there. This with almost every mooring ball taken, mostly by big catamarans. One would have thought there would be a big crowd, but apparently everyone else had succumbed to "cruisers midnight." In a way it was sad - how can tell stories of great parties when they are not …

//WL2K Reboot Float Plan 11/30

Gorda Sound to Norman Island (Willy T(

//WL2K Gorda Sound, BVI, 29 November

We have been experiencing a number of line squalls all day. We decided to stay here as the weather forecast suggested rain and strong gusts and nature delivered. Forrest has started to review his material for his 6 pack marine license and I have been reading from my Kindle library. After almost getting the batteries down to 25% due to bilge pump action in the Gulf Stream we are back up to where we can use our electronics pretty much at will. The batteries are recharged by about 10 AM even with the computers running.

I have noted the lack of decent WiFi. On the one hand makes one feel a little cut off. On the other hand we do spend more time watching the RC44 races and paying attention to the goings on in the mooring field. One nice thing about Paradise, when we get hot we just jump off the stern nd wash and cool off.

We changed the propane line over from the cabin heater to the grill at lunch and celebrated by cooking up some hot dogs. Now that we know it is working we will get some w…

//WL2K Reboot Float Plan

Planning to stay in Gorda Sound today

//WL2K Another Day in Paradise

We are still sitting on mooring ball 44 at the Bitter End Yacht Club, Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda, BYI. Today it has been raining and squally so we have stayed on Reboot and vegetated. Tomorrow the forecast is more of the same but we should get some boat cleaning and minor projects done. Forrest has just made black bean and rice burritos so life is good.

We are taking advantage of the good propagation to update the blog. Two big events today. A seaplane landed, taxied over to within 100 feet of us (to the seaplane dock,) discharged its passengers and took off again. And the biggest mega yacht so far has come into the sound and anchored out about 500 yards from us. It is very sleek with a very pronouned sharp bow. It looks like a designers rendering rather than something in real life.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is more of the same. On Monday we intend to head down to the Willy-T for the night, then back to Nanny Cay to visit a machine shop, check out, and head for Sint Maarten.

Fa…

//WL2K Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI

"Listen to the sound of the rain falling on my window." It is about 4 AM Atlantic time as I write this. We were awakened by the sound of rainfall. We are sitting on a mooring ball about 300 yards from the resort and about 100 feet from the seaplane dock. I am so used to standing watch that I am wide awake. After a couple of attempts I decided to write this blog entry.

The Bitter End Yacht Club is a complete resort. That means they want to completely empty your wallet before you leave. Mooring? You pay. Showers? You pay. Exchange oxygen for carbon monoxide? You pay. The store has the smallest possible sizes of products at the highest possible cost. Beer is $7. Since Forrest races Lasers we thought it would be fun to rent a couple and have an impromptu race (I expected to lose!) At $60 per hour per boat its not going to happen.

The last time I was here was in the 2002 - 2003 year range. I came with a wife and had a job. It was a bit different. Forrest has been running &quo…

BVI Bitter End Yacht Club - Gorda Sound

We left Jost van Dyme for Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola. We had a peasant motor sail Forrest drove Reboot into the slip for the first time. He did a very good job.
We had thanksgiving dinner at the Marina. This morning we departed for Virgin Gorda. We arrived midday in time to watch the RC44 match race. Big fast sailboats! We headed in to the Bitter End Yacht Club home of $8 boxes of 10 garbage bags and $7 beer. We were not impressed.
Fair winds and following seas :)

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//WL2K Jost Van Dyke (BVI) N 18 26.5 W 064 45.1

Yesterday we had a very pleasant motor (upwind) sail (reach and downwind) from Charlotte Amile (USVI) to Jost Van Dyke (BVI.) So we made it to the BVI. We got the dinghy in the water and headed into Customs and Immigration to check in. As usual the process required a lot of forms to be filled out. The people were nice (they usually are) and we got through it all in about 1/2 hour.

We adjourned next door to Ala Babbas for a cheeseburger and beer. Yes, Jimmy Buffet was right - a Cheeseburger in Paradise does hit the spot. Since the dinghy engine was giving me fits we took a cab over the hill to the Soggy Dollar Bar - a "must do" spot on Jost. When we arrived in White Bay we agreed that we had made the prudent choice of anchorages. There were no mooring balls and all of the boats were shallow draft - runabouts or catamarans. There was a decent sized crowd drinking and swimming in the 82 degree water. We settled in, made some new friends, and had a nice time. Cam purchased some …

//WL2K Norfolk to BVI

At anchor, Charlotte Amile, USVI. We missed the BVI by a bit.

Fair winds and following seas :)

//WL2K Norfolk to BYI 11/22 Boat Dreams

Most adults have experienced getting caught up in their bedding. This frequently results in strange dreams. The same is true when voyaging on a sailboat. We (Cam, Forrest and I) have been laughing about the weird dreams we have all been having. The fact that Reboot is always moving plus the realizty that our sleep wake cycle is very disrupted by the need to stand watch seems to make sleeping more interesting.

Fair winds and following seas :)

//WL2K Norfolk to BVI 11/21

We are due North of Virgin Gorda and running South for the next 220 NM. This will take us about 2 more days. The excitement for today was the discovery of chafe on the vane steering control lines. We switched over to the electric autopilot and replaced the lines. Cam got the entire process on his HERO 4 and will post it when we get it.

It was actually fun to sit on the stern swim platform and do reparis. Its warm, the sea is blue, the boat motion was kindly, and we had a good time. Thank goodness it didin't let go at night!

Fair winds and following seas :)

//WL2K Norfolk to BVI Nov 21 (UTC)

We have made almost as much Easting as necessary and have turned our attention to heading South. This has shifted the winds and the waves from the bow (close reach) more to the stern. Although we are now going faster than before the ride is much more pleasant.

It is a slightly overcast night. The moon is out so the stars are obscured. The water has turned to that beautiful blue color for which the Caribbean is known. The air temperture is about 80 F.

We have been making about 95 miles per day toward our destination (we have been running at an angle to get East) and are now making good almost every mile directly to Virgin Gorda. We are 300 nm from the entrance to Virgin Gorda. We expect to get there in about 3 days.

Fair winds and following seas :)

N 23 33 W 065 02
Virgin Gorda is at N 18 31 W 064 22

//WL2K Norfolk to BVI Nov 20

When we last reported in we had just completed a miserable passage of the Gulf Stream. As we gathered ourselves together we found that the bilge pump had cycled 103 times getting rid of all of the boarding waves. As a consequnce our battery power was at a minimum. Shutting down everything eletrical on Reboot we waited for the batteries to recharge from the solar panels. With several consective days over overcast this was a long slow process.

Finally we got a couple of days of sunshine and were able to start to use some of the equipment (for example this computer and the radio.)

We have had a mixed bag of weather. Winds up to 30 knots gusting 35, waves up to 15 feet. Then we get a couple of days of nice sailing weather. We are now about 350 miles from Virgin Gorda BVI. We have traded off maximum speed for comfort. As a result all three of use have had a couple of sessions of deep REM sleep. Good news for the crew. We are making about 100 NM per day, so we still have a bit to go.

Fair w…

//WL2K Norfolk to BVI 11/14 N 33 29 W071 53. 00

Reboot has had a far too eventful trip so far. Leaving Cove Marina early in the morning watching the Shore Patrol dealing with the people who wanted "one more day" we proceeded to Baypoint Marina. As soon as we throttled up Reboot began to shake. Knowing that Little Creek is well known for a very active biological environment we summoned Dockside Divers (who came to our aid by altering their schedule) to clean the bottom before departure. They took off a lot of stuff and changed the zincs. Good to go! No, when we departed the next morning the vibration was still there. We limped down to Cobbs and diagnosed that we only had one very loose bolt in the transmission - tailshaft coupling. It fell out durning investigation. With four (count them 4) bolts in the coupling and the packing gland reset we were on our way. Nice wind, played with a few ships getting through the bridge tunnel. Then out to sea! Well, sort of. The wind died for about 6 hours and we floated around. Not to wo…

With a Bow to Fozzie Bear

From a recent email exchange:

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"It looks like there is a window at 0000 UTC Sunday (midnight Sat night.) Our plan is to go due East about two to three days, as the wind clocks establish a vector direct BVI. The wind is predicted to shift to the N so it will be a downwind sleigh ride.

Slightly more detail. Be ready to leave around 6 PM Saturday. Wait for the wind to clock to the South. Leave on a broad reach. Might have winds to 25 knots for a day or two - looks like there will be a calm to the immediate South. Clearpoint Weather suggests that there will be strong winds (25 to 30) but as the front passes they will moderate quickly (at the moment Sun 8 1900 UTC. So watch and wait but be ready to go. Plan is to blast due East on West winds, start working SE as the wind clocks. Cross Gulf Stream between 74 - 72 (where the stream seems to be heading East) on a West wind.

Would love to know what the remainder of the fleet is thinking. Also if this seem…

US to BVI 11/4

Here we sit in Virginia Beach while the rest of the fleet is on the way to the BVI. We (at least I, the Captain) feel very foolish as I watch the tracking web site (click here) of the rest of the boats. But when I look at Passage Weather (click here) and Clearpoint (click here) I really don't like what I see. I am also not overjoyed with the morning radio net reporting by the boats already out there. Some of them are not happy campers.

It is possible to sail in 10 foot waves and to tack one's way directly into the wind. It is not particularly pleasant. So here we sit looking at the next week of crummy forecast chomping at the bit to get underway. Fortunately I have the positive reinforcement of my crew who agree that we have the time (and the beer) so why not just wait it out.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Captain works on Mast

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Someone has to be the safety guy!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Mast Climbing

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Every new crew member is required to work on the mast. Cameron and Forrest were no exceptions. We had a small mast project with fairleads and they both got a chance.




Fair winds and following seas :)

//WL2K US to BVI 11/3

Still in Virginia Beach waiting for weather.

//WL2K US to BVI Transit (11/2)

In port Virgina Beach waiting for weather window.

13 Reasons not to date a sailor

Fun post:

http://matadornetwork.com/nights/13-reasons-never-date-sailor/

Fair winds and following seas :)

Re: //WL2K Position Report

PLEASE include boat name!




> On Oct 24, 2015, at 7:26 AM, W2ZDB@Winlink.org wrote:
>
> Time: 2015/10/24 11:24:35
> Latitude: 36-54.78NN
> Longitude: 076-27.39W
> Comment: Cove Marina, Virginia Beach VA
>

//WL2K Position Report

Time: 2015/10/24 11:24:35
Latitude: 36-54.78NN
Longitude: 076-27.39W
Comment: Cove Marina, Virginia Beach VA

First Aid Kits

Over many years I have collected a number of first aid kits on board. Specific injuries have also augmented the collection of first aid materials - primary very large gauze pads for  a "road rash" injury of one of my crew when she was tossed off a scooter. As part of my preparations I decided to consolidate all the various kits into a couple of plastic bags. I pass on what I discovered.

First aid equipment does age. In particular I discovered that much of the adhesive tape had lost its adhesive. In addition (since every boat project requires a blood donation) I discovered that the adhesive on several bandages had also become non-functional.One's memory  of prior purchases is faulty. I went through all of the non-prescription drugs: Dramamine, Imodium, etc. I thought they were fairly current. I threw about 80% of them out. Not only had they expired but they had expired a couple of years ago. I will of course replace them before setting sail. Even so I was left with quite a…

A Sad Day

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After 17 years of being a very loved member of the family Silky passed today. She was diagnosed with liver cancer and had lost a lot of weight and started throwing up blood. It was, unfortunately, time.

Fair winds and following seas :)





















Lithium Grease and Silicone

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When Hurricane Joaquin was bearing down on the East Coast I took the precaution of removing all of the canvas from Reboot. Yesterday it was calm enough to bend the sails back on. Putting an ocean quality main sail back on by myself was not fun. I took advantage of the bare poles to disassemble, clean, and grease the moving parts. Even with the main off dealing with the boom was quite the task. The goose neck had been squeaking and as I started taking things apart I realized that the greasing task was much overdue. I also took the time to replace all the cotter pins holding things together.

When it became time to bend on the sails I got out my trusty can of McLube Sailkote. The can was empty. This happens a lot, the frequent bouncing around seems to destroy the integrity of the seals on cans. With the advent of the newer lighter soda and beer cans it frequently destroys a few of them too. I have even found glass bottles empty with the caps intact. I walked down to the marina office to…

EPIRB's and PLB's

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My strongest emotion is apathy and my greatest skill is procrastination but the calendar is relentless. With only a couple of weeks to go my first priority is to go over everything on Reboot that needs to be fixed and that might have to be shipped in. Emergency equipment is always highest on my list. Reboot has an old Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPRIB) that still passes the self test. However the newer EPRIBs have a GPS function that reduces the search area from a radius of about 50 miles to a few feet. I spoke to the tech at ACR and he told me that even if a unit passes the self test one does  not know how long the battery  will last. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and purchase a new unit. Fortunately the price has dropped to about 1/3 of the cost of my original EPIRB. I purchased an ACR Global Fix Pro GPS for Reboot.

Since I single hand most of the time I was torn between purchasing an EPIRB and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB.) PLB's are functionally e…

The Odd Case of the Group MMSI

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There are three (four) very common numbers for sailboats. The first is the hull identification number assigned by the builder. The second is the documentation number assigned by a government or by a locality (i.e. in the US by a State.) The third is a individual "Maritime Mobile Service Identity" (MMSI) assigned by the government telecommunications bureau (i.e. The Federal Communications Commission in the U.S.)

[The fourth number is the International Maritime Organization (IMO) number. it is assigned to big ships]

An individual MMSI identifies a ship's radio installation. In a sense it is the "digital" embodiment of the ship station call sign (e.g. Reboot's radio call WDB8435 identifies the same equipment as the MMSI 336 958 630.) Since automatic information systems (AIS) transmitters are radios it is also used to identify an AIS transmitter.

In a digital selective calling enabled radio one can "ring" another ship or shore station by using the DS…

Meeting the cruising life

Do you dream of the cruising life? Do you go to Annapolis and look at the boats and equipment? Would you like to know what it is really all about?

From mid-October thru early November what may be the biggest annual collection of offshore cruisers on the East Coast will be gathering in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area staging to go South. Events that will draw them include:

Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous (15-`18 October)
Sail to the Sun ICW Rally (Leaves Deltaville 20 October, stops in Newport News area)
Sail's ICW Snowbird Rally (Departs 23 October)
The Salty Dawg Rally (Departs 2 November, events the entire week before)
The ARC Caribbean 1500 (Departs 8 November, boats will gather the week before)

There will be about 200 boats in the area preparing for their transit South. What a great time to walk the docks and meet people who live the life!

Fair winds and following seas :)


Crewing on Sailboats (Part 3 - Safety)

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In the 1950's Grouch Marx hosted a combination TV and radio quiz show called You Bet Your Life. Of course you didn't. But in offshore sailing you are betting your life. Fortunately the risks are small but every year boats sink and occasionally people die.

The International Sailing Federation begins their Offshore Special Regulations with a call to action for the person in charge of the vessel: “The safety of a yacht and her crew is the sole and inescapable responsibility of the person in charge who must do his best to ensure that the yacht is fully found, thoroughly seaworthy and manned by an experienced crew who have undergone appropriate training and are physically fit to face bad weather. He must be satisfied as to the soundness of hull, spars, rigging, sails and all gear. He must ensure that all safety equipment is properly maintained and stowed and that the crew knows where it is kept and how it is to be used. He shall also nominate a person to take over the responsibili…

KPK Radio (Seven Seas Cruising Association)

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The Seven Seas Cruising Association www.ssca.org was founded in 1952 by six couples on six boats: Shellback, Tropic Bird, Black Dolphin, Evening Star, Norwind and Stardust. Harry S. Truman was the President of the United States. LORAN-A was the long range electronic navigation system - it utilized the same frequencies as the amateur radio (HAM) 160  meter band. There were only paper charts. No Internet. No GPS. These six couples had a dream and a joke. The dream - to cruise the world. The joke - to not be a "stuffy" yacht club. A principle output of the association was the "Commodore's Bulletin." This mimeographed (I'm guessing) monthly document bound the association together. It's most important feature was "Letters from Cruisers." These letters contained valuable information about the voyages and ports of call of the members. Frequently they contained hand drawn charts and contact information for local services. For the first few decades th…

Crewing on Sailboats (Part 2 - Expectations)

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[Part 1 is here]
[Part 3 is here]

My first experience in finding crew was inviting whatever cute girl I could find to join me on my parents Sunfish. It was always a tight fit - I was 6' 6" tall. But at 14  with emerging hormones it was, as my sons would say "All good."

As I transitioned into around the buoys racing and later long distance racing finding crew was still very informal. I raced with friends and friends of friends. We were a pretty cohesive group and the trips were short enough (maximum three days) that the day to day routines were pretty easy. For example, we didn't worry a lot about cleaning or fixing fancy meals.

This all changed when I looking for crew among people I did not know. In my early career I did hire employees but by the time I was in my mid-30's I was the final decision maker. Potential employees were found by Human Resources and pre-screened by my subordinate managers. They only got to meet me for the final hire - no hire decisio…

Crewing on Sailboats (Part 1 - Finding a position)

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As we approach the departure of the Salty Dawg Rally from Hampton to the British Virgin Islands I am once again in the process of interviewing potential crew for the trip. My experiences have motivated me to write a series of blog posts about crewing on private sailing yachts. We will "start at the very beginning, its a very fine place to start,"  finding a boat.

For those of you thinking of working a a Superyacht this post is not for you. The very best source I have found for you is: Work on Superyachts. The specific focus is finding a position on a modest, privately owned offshore sailboat. The duration of your stay might be event driven (e.g. The Salty Dawg  is a commitment of about two to two and one half weeks) or might be a more extended period of time (e.g. nanny to a family spending a season in the Caribbean.)

WHERE TO LOOK

There are three sources of information for available crew positions (beyond a personal relationship with a sailboat owner:)

Crew matching services

Screwdrivers and the 50-50-90 rule

For those of you unacquainted with the 50-50-90 rule it states as follows:

If there is a 50% chance of a good outcome and a 50% chance of a bad outcome 90% of the time you will experience a bad outcome.

To the screwdriver.

When Al was on board he was up on the top of the mast and dropped a screwdriver. It of course went ping, pang, plunk, splash. We joked that he owed me $2.00 for a new screwdriver (I am holding you to it, Al.) In the store the other day I went to purchase the replacement screwdriver. Compared to the cost of the single replacement screwdriver I was able to purchase a set of seven screwdrivers for only a few bucks more even though six of them duplicated screwdrivers in my toolbox. So I did.

This morning I replaced the broken bracket for the hailing horn. I dropped the screwdriver. Ping, pang, plunk, splash. Need I tell you which of the new seven screwdrivers I dropped overboard?

Fair winds and following seas :)

Two out of three ain't bad

I have two confirmed crew for the Salty Dawg. I am still looking for one more person. Let me know (rebootagent at gmail.com) if you are interested or look at the write up on find-a-crew (search for 208909)

Fair winds and following seas :)

One can never have too much weather information

Bill (KI4MMZ) sent me a link to a new experimental product at the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center. It lets you download KML files of the weather predictions. These then load on Google Earth for a nice graphic representation. Fun stuff.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Salty Dawg Rally Fall 2015

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I have decided to enroll in the Salty Dawg Rally. This is a bi-annual (South in Fall, North in Spring) rally of cruising boats from Hampton Roads, Va to the British Virgin Islands. The Rally plans to depart on November 2, 2015. This fits perfectly into my plan to depart on or about November 1st. The Rally is the "free" version of the transit South, it competes (I guess) with the ARC Caribbean 1500. Both provide a variety of services to people/boats planning the offshore passage from the US to the Caribbean. Although the ARC is more expensive it includes things like dockage that are not included in the Salty Dawg. I looked at the ARC and decided that since my boat was in Virginia Beach and I was going to Sint Maarten the particular benefits of the ARC were of little use to me. I now have to make a similar decision with respect to the Salty Dawg. I can become a "member" for $250. Since I don't have a car and most events take place on the other side of town or in…