Showing posts from September, 2015

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)

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)

The Seven Seas Cruising Association 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)

[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)

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.)


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 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

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…

Use It or Lose It

Like many cruisers my life is a succession of several weeks in port followed by one or more transits to a new area. As I cycle up for my transit South for the winter I have once again started my daily "pretend you are at sea" I cycle on everything that I would normally use at sea - multifunction display, radar, AIS, sonar, water maker. I use RMS Express and my SSB to send test messages over the RF link. I turn on my Sat phone and make sure it can register with the network. I turn off the shore power breaker and live on solar panels and battery power for a few hours. I do this not only because the repetition reminds me how everything works, but to make sure it works. Getting out to sea only to find that your Sat phone contract has expired, or the corrosion (which is always with us) has taken down some piece of equipment is not fun.In my experience things on sailboats, particularly electronic things, start acting wacky before they actually fail. Using them every day as if I wa…

Eternal Vigilance is the Price for Finding Things that Broke

Actually in this case it was just washing the anchor chain! I had anchored out in Cambridge MD. When I picked up the anchor I also picked up a lot of mud. When I got to Solomons I hosed the mud off the chain only to find a couple of big chunks that were not mud but rather pieces of the anchor roller.

I got a replacement roller and took time yesterday to install it.

One of the lessons I have learned in my full time cruising experience is that things break. They seem to break a lot more frequently then when I was just socially cruising. Of course this is a function of distance and wear and being in salt water rather than fresh.
I sail a great deal more than I did when I was a weekend warrior. I have learned to go over Reboot very carefully before departing on a long voyage. I also pay attention to what has fallen on the deck. I use tie wraps a lot. They are very prone to failure from UV. When I find one on the deck (broken of course) it sets off the quest to find out how many others ar…

Do I need Pub 117 (Radio Navigational Aids?)

I spend a good bit of time while in port searching the Internet for valuable information. Of course I also spend a lot of time watching all my installed software, charts, etc. updating themselves. Recently I revisited the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency "Maritime Safety Information"web portal. Click me to go to the portal! NGIA is an intelligence agency that is part of the United States Department of Defense. Their mission:

"The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a responsibility to provide the products and services that decision makers, warfighters, and first responders need, when they need it most. As a member of the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense, NGA supports a unique mission set. We are committed to acquiring, developing and maintaining the proper technology, people and processes that will enable overall mission success.

Geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to …

Windows 10

If you are like me you decided to upgrade to Windows 10 while it was free. My second motivation was the availability of high speed internet connection since it takes about 3 hours to download the update. Anyway, there is a lot to dislike about Windows 10. Particularly the fact that Google Chrome keeps crashing. However, a couple of things:

1) Google "windows 10 privacy." You will discover that in its default state Windows tracks your every move - mail, notes, calendar, etc... I turned it all off. Your mileage may vary.

2) The biggest frustration is that everything has moved. When you are trying to debug a problem all the old tricks (like right clicking on my computer to get to the device manager) are unavailable. The trick is the "windows key" plus the "X" key. This brings up all the "good stuff" that you have learned to love - control panel, device manager, the run command, etc. It has saved me hours.

3) I was having trouble with my computer. T…

New ID

With XO deciding to make unauthorized shore excursions I decided I better get him some ID. So now he sports a little heart on his chest. Too cute!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Marine Insurance

Excellent blog post on marine insurance:

Fair winds and following seas :)