A “God Thing”

My past two posts represent only a factual summary of recent life events.  Sometimes when things come at you quickly… facts are all you can share.  The further you get from the situation, the easier it becomes to share the emotions of it.  I’d like to take a moment to add some color commentary if you will….  do some word painting in an effort to provide a better feel for what really took place.  As Paul Harvey would call it “the rest… of the story”.

I have a tale to tell about my personal life experiences during hurricane Maria’s attack on Puerto Rico.  This story is what most would call “A God Thing”.  I’ll let you be the judge.

My nerves were still a wreck, I was outside of my own skin worrying about my son who was going through hell and I couldn’t help.  Hurricane Maria had just hit Puerto Rico in full force… and my boy was at ground zero on his 33 foot sailboat.  He was prepared wonderfully, but mother nature decidedly won the battle and wrecked his whole world.  Winds blew over 180 miles per hour across the water… and lasted through the night for 12 straight hours.  I have seen video from his phone and heard his recorded logs during the worst of it.  The word spectacular comes to mind, but not in a good way.  He witnessed a spectacle of destruction that had his father worried silent… beyond words.

Jono wisely took refuge ashore in a two story cinder block building.  He and his cat “Fishbait” spent 12 hours with a local man named Pepe’ watching the door of his refuge bulging in and out… their clothes pulsing against and away from their bodies with the abrupt changes in air pressure.  It was like being inside a drum, but in this case the drum was solid brick.  His small dinghy was lifted by the water making circles in the wind outside the window (it was on dry land before the storm) nothing to do now but watch, as it eventually ruined itself thrashing against a metal fence and sunk.

“Miss Adventure” Jono’s boat had three large anchors set hard to the bottom.  The rain obstructed his view as she slowly… eventually.. lost her battle to the onslaught of 180 MPH wind driven waves.  It wasn’t until the next day that Jono knew the fate of MA.  He found her careened into the mangroves on the East end of the bay.  What the wind left, looters quickly stripped from her bones.  Alone now without a home, sacred dirty and tired Jono spent the next few days trading his labor to help the marina owner recover from the storm, in trade for a place to stay.  We had no direct contact but knew Miss Adventure was lost.  I could only imagine what my boy was going through and as it turned out I was spot on with my fears.

During the day Jono worked on the docks with 2 new friends as he traded labor for shelter.  They slept in 3 to 4 hour shifts, one always standing guard outside with a flashlight and machete warning off looters.  I can’t imagine what it was like crouched down in a swarm of mosquitoes, always mosquitoes waiting for daylight to break.  Day after day a strong sailors fortitude was whittled away piece by piece.  Ingeniously Jono rigged the solar panels he removed before the storm to some old batteries to charge his and others cell phones, hoping one day soon service would return.  Food and water were scarce, Jono made trips to his disabled boat and ferried fresh water from her tanks back to land.  When I finally heard every third word of his voice on a passerby’s cell phone that happened to work, he was spent.  Out of ideas and out of gas mentally.  His crying words “I don’t know what to do dad” crushed my heart… and I couldn’t get to him.  I couldn’t touch him.  It was hard.

I said all that to set the stage, give you an insight into my mental state.  Here at home I was going to work, but not working…. fretting and looking for a way to help, panicking every time my phone made a sound.  Linda beat the bushes, trying to find him a way home.  Emailing senators, looking into every resource to get that boy home.  Nothing was working.  I knew he survived the storm but he was far from safe.  Bad people were doing bad things and he was right in the middle of it.

Linda said we needed to get that boy another boat.  As a distraction I spent my time searching the internet for his next home.  That boy finally found his groove in life and at no fault of his own, lost it to a storm.  Jono removed a lot of his big money items from MA before the storm.  New sails, boom and stack pack etc.  In my search I hoped to find a boat his stuff would work on.  As luck would have it, I found a boat exactly like his for sale cheap in my home town!  I wanted a bigger boat for him but I had to call and see about this boat.

It was Thursday just after lunch when I called the owner of the boat like Jono’s.  Oddly enough she told me yes, it is for sale but she really couldn’t talk to me right now because she was on the boat, moving it from one marina to another in New Orleans and was broke down in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain.

After discussing the problem (having 50k miles of sailing experience) I tried to diagnose the problem for her but she was too concerned about hurting the boat to run it any further.  There was no wind on the lake so she couldn’t sail in.  On the phone she told me she had tried to contact someone to tow her in but it was going to be horribly expensive and almost dark before they could come so I told her I’d be there in two hours.

My plan was to get on my sailboat and pull her in.  The boatyard she wanted to go to is just past my boat anyway so that worked out.  I left work early and talked to her again on the drive to the marina, no wind so she was still stuck.  When I got to my boat the shore power cord was disconnected so my batteries were very dead.  As I worked a man walked up, I assumed from the boat ahead of mine at the marina.  The boat had been for sale for years, it is a huge 100’+ dinner cruise boat that was converted for private use.  This gentleman had bought it and wondered who owned the catamaran behind him.  Normally I love to talk boats but I was visibly in a hurry and I apologized about it, telling him about my urgent business to go pull another boat in.  Graciously he understood and walked back to his boat.  I had my flame retardant suit on from work, it was blazing hot and here he comes back with a pair of shorts (that fit me fine) and a bottle of cold water.

We talked a bit as I gave up on getting my big boat charged and running in time.  Had a short but friendly conversation and I ended up dropping my 10 foot rubber dinghy in the water to serve as a tow boat.  It has a 20 Horse four stroke on it so it had plenty of power.  To make a long story short I pulled the 33′ Irwin past my boat (and the big 100’er) a few hours later on the way to the boat yard and that was that… or so I thought.

Sunday I went back to my boat to get things up and running like they should.  I hung the shorts on his boat at the doorway and proceeded to work on “Sea Yawl Later !!”  Shortly Ken walks back over and made me keep the shorts… he said he saw me come by pulling the Irwin and wondered how that worked out.  I told him I had always wanted to look inside that big old boat in front of me at the dock and he immediately said “come on”.  My new buddy Ken and I had a great conversation onboard his ship.  I enjoy talking boats and shared ideas about his 3 story cruiser, we talked about family and of course I told him about Jono.  I mentioned that we were trying hard to find him a way out of Puerto Rico but hadn’t found a way yet.  He immediately said “I’ve got a Learjet lets go get him”

My jaw might have dropped, I’m not sure but after a second I told Ken “wow, that’s too much to ask” I won’t turn you down but if all else fails we will talk.  I had several avenues working at the time.  We talked some more and as I walked out I told him that he runs in different circles than I do and if one of his buddies was making a relief flight over there I’d like to find Jono a jump seat back home.  He told me sit back down a second and walked away, I thought he may have a name for me or something.  Ken came back after about 5 minutes and said “I can’t find my checkbook but I want to help that boy get a new boat”  call my secretary tomorrow and I’ll have her make you a check out for $10,000 dollars to help that boy.  I must have looked pretty strange, I didn’t know what to say…. right?  who does that!?

Sure enough the check came in the mail!  What if I hadn’t chosen to go pull that disabled boat in that day…. I’d have never met Mr. Ken.  He said he donates large amounts to many charities each year and this sounded like something he wanted to help with.  Later he told me as we exchanged texts that his dad told him the more you give, the more you get and he believed that.  There’s my “God Thing”  I told Ken he didn’t have to do that….. and his reply was grand.  He said “I haven’t done anything I had to do in a very long time”  It’s something I want to do.  How do you act, what emotions could I feel in a moment like that.  My nerves were shot, my boy was out of reach and then this happened.  Suffice it to say I was still a man, but my eyes leaked.

Oi Vey Maria !!!

This has been a very active hurricane season on the Texas gulf coast.  As many of you know my son Jonathon lives on a boat and was currently in Puerto Rico when Maria came through!  Long story short Jono lost his home / boat to the 180 mph winds.  She was blown sideways into the mangroves dragging all three anchors with her.  He did a very good job of storm preparation, but mother nature just…. won.

Jono rented a second story room on shore to ride out Maria off the boat, which was basically a 12 hour tornado.  “Miss Adventure” his 33′ Irwin sailboat didn’t stand a chance… but endured better than some that went to the bottom sometime during the night.  Jono had taken as much gear off the boat as possible before the it got bad, but looters got to her before he could get her re-floated.  They tore off the hatches and stole everything they could carry or unplug.  The batteries, the anchors that were still tied to the bow, radios, etc.  Hurricane Maria was utter chaos for Jono and vile uncertainty for me, not being able to contact my boy for over a week.

Jono carries a satellite locator device on his boat called “spot” that is capable of transmitting his location every 10 minutes.  The “ping” or location is available for viewing online, it shows where he is, as well as the date and time of the mark.  Wisely we devised a plan of “communication” before we lost all contact.  Knowing all services would be down, Jono was going to physically turn spot on and off during the storm so we would know he’s OK and capable of manipulating the switch.  The day after it passed he was to turn it on before lunch if his boat made it, or after lunch only if she didn’t.  As you know she didn’t so we were able to understand he was OK, but his home was destroyed on that second day after the storm.

For days Jono kept us semi sane by cycling spot on and off.  It also showed us his movement from the marina to a home several blocks from shore, back to the marina etc. so that was encouraging.  It was almost a week before Jono was able to get us a text from someone who had a cell phone signal.  Nobody had a signal on the coast where Jono was, but a new friend let my boy type me a text… then went back home so the message could transmit.  Poor communication but at least SOMETHING…  While it was great to see text evidence in his own words that he was mostly OK, a daddy needs more than that.

Jono had taken the solar panels off his boat so he set them up onshore and found some old batteries that worked well enough to charge cell phones.  He was the only resource for electricity for days, he had the only way to have 12 volt lighting or charge anything in the little torn up fishing village near Salinas.  Soon his food got low, but luckily he had stored fresh water in the tanks of his sailboat.  He could fill jugs and bring them ashore for drinking water.  We knew none of this when it was going on.. my fears of how hard his life were during that time were pretty much spot on.

The “marina” owner allowed him and two others to stay free in the room he rode the storm out in, they traded their labor rebuilding the docks for the room.  By day they worked hard outside, at night they took 3 hour shifts sitting out in the night heat among the swarms of the relentless mosquitoes with a flashlight and machete running off looters.  After days on end of that routine Jono was mentally and physically drained, now with no home, no contact with the outside world, no way to get money to buy food or travel.. he was just stuck.  Strong resolve slowly dissolved into despair.  When we finally got to talk over a sketchy cell connection where I could hear every third work, he was totally wiped out.  He didn’t know what to do, and for a competent sailor that’s saying a lot…

Over the next few days I got him a message via text to salvage all he could off MA and that we would see to it that he got another boat.  I’m sure that raised his hopes again.  He finally got a ride to San Juan where we could text him directly for short bursts.  Linda kept calling the airlines trying to arrange a flight out but everything was booked or cancelled for weeks.  We were working all avenues trying to get him out of there with no joy, finally Linda lucked out and got a flight confirmation for this past Friday 10/6/17 to Atlanta Georgia.  I was waiting at the airport in my car when he landed.

Jono severely injured his back during the event in Puerto Rico.  I’m glad we didn’t know that until I could physically touch him in person.  The injury was caused by heavy lifting, and exacerbated by the constant stress he was living under.  With no meds to fight the inflammation he was a ball of pain when he walked out to the car in Atlanta.  Jono literally fell into my arms… he was home.

There are many side stories to tell regarding our efforts to get him home that I’ll post at some point.  We drove through the night… straight home from Atlanta only stopping for gas.  I was a tired puppy by daylight Saturday morning but that was just fine by me.  He slept some and we talked some on the way.. it was worse than we knew.  But finally I was able to feed my boy real food, clean and comfort him at my home.  Unless you have been denied that possibility like I was.. you don’t know how good that felt to dear old dad to have Jono back.

Karen, Jono’s sister put up a paypal link because some of his sailing buddies wanted to throw something in the hat to help get him a new boat, so that’s going on.  Jono had finally found his groove in life with the sail boat, and through no fault of his own lost that dream… but we are going to fix it.  Boat shopping has had it’s highs and lows the past two days.  So far we have looked at two boats and ruled them out… too much work to be done before heading back out to PR.  We have some possibilities working but it will seemingly take everything we have allotted to make it work, leaving no buffer for the unexpected… so we are working that out.

I’m “back in my own skin” with my arms and heart around my prodigal son… Daddy is adding plus’s to his days now rather than dreading the unknown minus’s.  Not all parents got that lucky, I’m thankful.

Jono has witnessed true desperation.  Political correctness means ZIP to the boy, it’s all about “actual correctness” these days.  Jono was never political but he was distracted by now trivial thoughts and events that steered his life.  He is different now… It is my belief that you’re not truly grounded in life, until you embark on an adventure that carries at least a slight risk of unintended bloodshed.  What we deem important (that seems all encompassing in the moment) often turns out to be something really silly doesn’t it?  When the worst thing in your life is getting the wrong color nail polish at the manicurist…. that just wrecks your day.  uhhh, yeah…..? no..  not even close.

Hurricane Harvey

Life has been coming at us like bowling balls lately…  I’ll try to catch you up.  This whirlwind version will leave out many emotions and details, but you will get the gist of it.

Houston and Beaumont got record rainfalls during Harvey, many areas got a full years rainfall in 3 days.  Houston’s heavier areas got over 50″ of rain, Beaumont / Port Arthur got as much as 60″.  No drainage systems in the world will handle that much water.  Suffice it to say the news channels didn’t have to hunt to find that one house that was flooded, or the one gas station sign that blew down in order to feign disaster, this was a catastrophic event where as many as 50% of the houses in several Texas cities went under water.

My immediate family had 8 households in the direct path of Harvey.  One of our kids was in the process of moving from one part of Houston to the other so she had two houses at risk.  The old house was 2 story and everything they owned was in boxes on the floor of the first story ready to be moved!  They did lose a car in the driveway, but water lapped at the front door sill and didn’t come in.   It wasn’t within inches of coming in, it was within a fraction of ONE inch!  The garage was lower so it got water but all her things boxed up on the floor were OK.  The New house…. like the old place had neighbors two doors down that flooded but she was high and dry.  None of the 8 homes in my family took on water other than Erin’s garage.

Friends weren’t as lucky as family.  My best friend in Baytown got 56″.  Linda and I had a weeks vacation planned with the RV in Branson Missouri but I ended up spending that week in Baytown.  At the end of that week we moved Erin and Michael into their new place.  The flood relief work was much easier than the moving!  Even though the kids did the heavy lifting, my old man back took a licking…

Harvey definitely “Messed with Texas” thousands of families are still displaced.  Most of the flooded homes are sitting empty totally ripped apart to the frame, letting the studs dry before starting back with sheet rock.

OK, that was Harvey…. see the next post for hurricane disaster Phase II “OI VEY MARIA“.  The hits just keep on coming……..

Houston is flooded, Beaumont is next.

This historic event created by Hurricane Harvey is enormous.  It’s hard to wrap your head around it, 6 million people (just in Houston) are flooded, many of them tragically.  Being an old guy…. I have some human observations I’d like to share:

  • I’ll be interested to see how many looters survive in Texas.  After Katrina the rats that feast on heartache swarmed New Orleans.  I know, I was there.  Looters are already showing up in Rockport after the water receded, but I predict they will see a different America.  Why?  I believe the answer is twofold.  1. Texans have a long standing history of self reliance and self determination.  2. The political climate is different.  I pretty much guarantee you when those good old boys left home they didn’t leave their pistol behind.  Texans are helpful and warm hearted to a fault but don’t cross one…  Political correctness is starting to give way to actual correctness, words like “common sense” and “reality” are becoming popular again.  I believe there is less confusion between right and wrong because the reality based silent majority is speaking up… the loud mouths with an inch deep and mile wide belief system are starting to hearing us.  I believe this newfound national clarity may lead to stronger law enforcement, from the citizens of Texas as well as those who make their living behind the gun.
  • Catastrophe is an accelerator, it seems to push down the gas pedal of a populations natural human behavior.  During Katrina the good people were doing more good, and bad people felt like they had free reign to pillage.  That’s not a news event that I read about…. I witnessed it first hand.  When it’s easy to see who’s good and bad, when there’s no doubt what evil looks like, life changing decisions come quick and easy.  I think America craves that clarity…  Fake news driven by corporate agendas, special interests and liberal clouds of uncertainty are being “found out”.  I predict (because I’m old) that it will become unimaginable in the near future, that one particular word or another would draw the wrath of the purely emotionally driven non-involved public.  I think “political correctness” is giving way to “actual correctness” again.  Clarity is a rare commodity these days right?  Here’s a challenge to think about- If you truly want some clarity in your life… figure out how to personally participate in the recovery effort from Harvey.  Trust me you will witness clarity of purpose at an alarming rate.  My memories of boat rescues and just the visual scene of cars under my boat, watching multiple helicopters in the air at all times play like a movie scene in my head.
  • Here’s how you’ll know if you need to go:  For Katrina, I didn’t “think” I ought to go help…. there came up a force within me that I couldn’t resist.  It may not be that intense for some folks, but for me it was an uncommon passion like I never felt before.  If you’re decision to physically participate (or not) has the faintest amount of guilt somewhere in it, your not being called.  Trust me if God wants you there he doesn’t use guilt, that flame in your heart to participate won’t have any negative or realized fear in it… anywhere.  Knowing you have the means, equipment and experience coupled with that passion from within is a powerful thing.  When those stars align..  you’ll know it.  Now a word of caution here….. don’t decide to show up unprepared just because your a passionate person… that’s not helpful.  Don’t be “that guy”  If you tend to crave life’s extremes do us all a favor and stay home, I saw him during Katrina too.  Your true decision maker will be an uncommon passion that solidly and unmistakably switches on a light inside you.  You’ll know if you need to go.  I’ve wondered if I would get that this time… I considered heading out for Harvey….. but I can tell you for sure, I haven’t felt that undeniable need this time.  Not to say I won’t… maybe I’m supposed to be right here at this keyboard instead.
  • IF you go and intend to be a frontline rescuer here’s what you need:  Many will disagree but I’m telling you.. don’t go and be a victim.  Wear a gun where all can see it.  Texas is an open carry state, it’s legal.  If you go….bring the ability to survive with you, be totally self contained with water, food, gas, whatever you need.  Don’t go and become part of the problem.  If your going to be a server or part of the protected infrastructure you won’t need a gun, but if you’re out there ranging, rescuing, on the front lines don’t leave home without it.  Don’t make believe your some protected martyr, “if God doesn’t want me to die he’ll protect me”  OK, he is telling you now… If your out there on the flooded plains of Texas and capable of making good decisions, bring a gun… we are going to need you in Houston soon.  It’s time for the good guys to ride.. time to tame those wild Texas plains once again.  We are underwater…..

Having seen this on a smaller scale during Katrina, I can tell you the government will finally show up and relieve you, so three days or so is all you probably need to plan for.  Given what I’ve heard on the news I think our new law and order government might show up quicker than they did in New Orleans.  In a couple days the need for rescue will probably be over, but people still need to be moved around by boat.  I spent one day just moving people out of one hospital without power to another.  That was a big job that needed lots of boats.

Thanks for listening in on my story…

Sea Yawl Later !!

Rusty

Sea Yawl Later !!

Its been a long time since I posted…. what I’d like to advise is that people new to this site look at “older posts” and check out the real reason we started this website. Sailing the Bahamas in our Catamaran “Sea Yawl Later”. Some nice pictures in there… enjoy.

Boat Project

The boat project is going well, there are more hours involved in the re-purposing than I expected but it’s been fun.  Here you can see the box the mattress fits in.20170122_142525I have all the wood on the bottom and 5 coats of varnish laid down now.  Sanding between coats has my arms looking like Popeye the sailor man….  boatbed2I can now turn the boat over and finish out the top.  The bow will be a toy box, the cowl will raise on brass hinges like a car hood.  A motion activated light will mount inside the toy box so when the lid is raised, the light comes on.  I just bought the magnetic hidden latch that holds the hood shut until you push to release it.  You’ve seen those on bathroom mirror cabinets right?  push to close, push again to open….  A hidden latch will work well, not detract from the lines of the boat.boatbed1I love how the wood looks.  The lighter color is of course new wood, the darker wood is the 30 year old highly abused original boat bottom.  Its hard to replicate the richness of old wood isn’t it?   I still have to make a display base for the project.  I’ll stain the stand much darker, so the boat will display nicely.  I think my 3 x 21 belt sander is about to give up the ghost… I should call this build “grind and sand” because that’s what it’s been.  Building a new boat doesn’t include deconstruction, this project is as much about deconstruction as the build out.

I have some ideas about how I’m doing the dash board, but it won’t be clear until I start holding pieces up where I think they go to make that final decision. … still a little “butt scratching” to do but that’s part of the fun of it too.  If your from the South, you are familiar with my mental imagery.  Some would hold their thumb up and look past it, some might frame the piece with both hands like a movie producer, some would sit on a rock with fist under chin to consider it, others might cross their arms and tap their lip with a one finger to decide.  Here in the south its just butt scratching….  nothing fancy, nothing presumptuous, and definitely not meant to be rude….  Unless you know “southern charm” intimately you might regret my choice of imagery, but I promise it’s well chosen and not meant to be offensive in any way.  Self deprecating southern hospitality should never be misconstrued and thoughtlessness.

I know I’m digressing here, leaving the previous subject, but now that the Superbowl and the Presidency are decided…. I’d like to take this opportunity to say why don’t we all calm down… huh?  It’s simple really, if your an American you are blessed.  If you are an immigrant, simply don’t come here if your angry about what America represents.  Here is the Oath you have to take to become a naturalized American citizen:  “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”  I’m a simple guy, but this looks pretty clear to me.  If you swear this oath to obtain citizenship, shouldn’t you lose that gift if your actions are different than your words?  I’m just a dumb country boy but it seems to me, the contract you made to become a citizen is broken when you don’t entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.  If you don’t defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic shouldn’t you lose the status it affords? 

Yeah yeah… I know the executive order to step back and take a better look at immigrants might have been rolled out better, but what do you do?  There’s no way to stop the immigration process other than to just stop it.  If you warn people it’s like saying OK, all you dangerous immigrants come this week… because next week it will be too late.  Sometimes the best solution is actually the simple solution.  That’s why I voted for a businessman.. and no, I didn’t expect him to be Ronald Regan… we didn’t have that choice did we?  Trump’s a narcissistic duffus, we all know that, but he’s also not stalemated by political correctness like the Washington elites have been for decades.  The only difference between self grandizing Trump, and any of the other self grandizing politicians are that Trump says it to your face and the rest do it in secret behind your back.  A politicians LIFE is self promotion, this one just looks you in the face and you don’t like it.

Action after years of inaction is going to look different…. get used to it.  If your too good to be led by an American billionaire, I don’t know what to tell you, I guess my advice would be to get over yourself, your not that tall of a ruler either.  Trump isn’t going to drop by your house for dinner.  We need major changes regarding how America handles itself and other countries, this latest hooraahh shall pass.  It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass…. and we will all be better off for it.

Consider his unconventionality as entertainment, we might have to if all those Hollywood whiners quit, lol.  Here’s a hint for you too (pssst… those guys on TV… they are actors, that stuff on TV isn’t real.  They lie to your face for a living, they make you believe something is true that isn’t and the better they do it…… the more we pay them.  Don’t let the characters they adeptly portray endear you, or provoke any kind of value decision…. that’s what we pay them to do, actors are just like politicians…. why would anybody mistake them as agents of truth?  Consider that for a while….. am I right, or way off base here?

The only reason I can think of we would want to listen to an actor or politician is that somehow America craves deception.  Is the truth too blunt, too real… do you need somebody to lie to you and make you believe things are OK? while they secretly manipulate us all?  I’m so tired of that covert / subversive norm…. I would have elected Woody Woodpecker over somebody that lives and breathes the Washington elites “rare air”.  The silent majority (which I consider myself one of) finally had to say something about how America is run.  The pendulum that swings from Perceived Truth to Reality was hung up on the left side….  What people perceive as truth has much to do with what lawyers can currently prove in court.  Think about that a while….

Politically crafted social “truth” is designed by those that make money manipulating those rules for their own profit, either in money or in power.  Often social acceptability has very little to do with reality… It’s all about what some lawyer can prove in court.

Reality sometimes hurts… sometimes life causes pain.  If you allow your kids to grow up in an environment that absolutely denies them a scab or mental scrape, they won’t know how to handle themselves as an adult.  They might grow up and decide to give a big speech on women’s rights, forgetting they make their living dancing half naked on stage, putting their womanhood in the face of fans so they can touch it.. women’s rights…. really?  They might decide to protest a pipeline crossings for “ecological reasons” and literally trash miles of the surrounding country when they leave camp.  They might do stupid stuff like that…..  If your kids don’t have a strong sense of reality they are a leaf in the wind my friend.

I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, I vote for who I think America needs at the time so don’t write me off as your opponent, I promise I’m not… I’m just an old guy that had enough scabs and broken bones while I grew up, experienced enough reality in my life to know what’s real… and what’s politically or socially impressive at the moment.

Trump is going to stand there and tell you things you don’t want to hear, OK.  He’s going to shoot himself in the foot from time to time but the man wears steel toed boots, he’ll be fine, get over it nobody thinks he’s perfect.  If you think your going to “help” the situation by protesting Trump, you better do it with reality in hand…. not some left handed ideology that is frankly getting very old and starting to show how far off base you really are.  My humble advice is to quit acting poorly while you are ahead.

If your one of those who prefer to not look while the political elite lie cheat and steal as a normal part of daily business, lets be fair…. It’s time we expect better.  I lived years regretting the norm, the sliminess of Washington politics, the underhanded political shell games made me so dizzy I was sick…  Now, finally our elected leader is doing exactly what we elected him to do… don’t be mad at him, be mad at me if that helps.  It wasn’t Putin, it wasn’t Comey, it wasn’t even the damaged opposition candidate that put Trump in the white house, it was real people like me.  People that were tired of denying the Christian principles and standards this country was founded on.  Blame me (the silent majority) and quit acting a fool.

Man that got way off subject didn’t it?  Sorry about that… going back in my hole..

Jono in GT / boat project

Here we are, the 3rd day of 2017 and I haven’t heard from my boy Jonathon all year.  Miss Adventure is parked off the beach at the “Chat-n-Chill” inside the harbor in Georgetown Bahamas, but seriously we haven’t heard from him in weeks.  He turns spot on now and then to let us know where he is, but I’d like an update if you’re parked next to the boy…. Lol.

A good friend of ours anchored at Monument Beach on “Cats Meow” sent me a text regarding Jono this weekend. They say he seems happy enough.  I asked them to relay a message to the boy for me.  Jono had his dinghy and motor stolen several weeks back and I’m trying to coordinate a replacement, Jono if you read this check in will you?  Ted and I need to know when your buddy is coming by to pick up your care package.

I hope everyone’s holiday was filled with joy. Mine was, we saw all the grandkids.  Speaking of grandkids I have a garage project going for one of mine.  From 1987 to 1998 I raced 2 cylinder power boats.  Recently I was cleaning out my race trailer that hasn’t moved for almost 20 years, I found 3 boats I had left inside the big 36’ box trailer.  These boats are 10 to 12’ long flat bottom wood boats.  They all had some wood rot, none were salvageable for water service again but my step daughter Erin and her husband asked me if I could repurpose one for the grand baby.  The picture below is of my favorite boat the first year I owned it.

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The photo below is what it looked like when I pulled it out of the trailer.  ↑ This is what it looked like new running in Litchfield Illinois.

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I’m reconfiguring it into a bed frame.  This boat is really special to me, we raced all over the USA from New York to Florida, to California.  Lots of good (and crazy) memories were made in this boat.  As you might imagine driving a 100# boat on your knees at 70 mph is fun enough.. but it’s even more exciting when 11 other drivers in their 100# boats are right next to you, all jockeying to be the first one around turn one in the 3 lap race.  The motor in the top picture is a 25hp 2 cylinder OMC.  With that motor set up for 3 lap racing I would top out in the high 60’s.  On a different (lighter) boat I designed and built, I set the world 2 cyl outboard speed record for the class with that exact motor.  Using a special 1:1 drive lower unit, I went 83 mph at the straightaway trials down in Florida.

I’ve replaced almost all the rotten wood and have reconfigured the decks and cockpit framework to accept a bunk bed mattress. This is how it looked last night.  I did put a few more dash framework pieces on after this photo.

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It needs a good scrubbing inside, after that it’s nearly ready for the inside skin.  I did most of the framework for the dash last night after these pics.  Two year old Shawn will be able to sit on the end of his bed and drive….  The wheel will be higher than in this photo, I was getting some ideas of how the wheel would look in this pic.  The white cowl will open forward for toys, or linen.. whatever mommy wants to keep in the nose.  Much of the frame is new wood, I’ve got about 50 hours in the project so far, not bad.  I bought some nice 5mm birch plywood for the skin, the floorboard will be 1/2″ cabinet grade Birch.  I guess I’ll put the race numbers back on it like they were….  Kinda cool I think.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw this one away… glad to have a good use for it.  Erin is keeping a picture log of the progress on Facebook.

Jono….. email, text or snail mail or carrier pigeon huh!?

“Miss Adventure” and the WalMart of the sea

Hurricane Matthew stirred up everything in it’s wake, from the Southern Bahamas all the way to my son’s location on his boat “Miss Adventure”.  Jono rode out the storm in a shelter at Charleston South Carolina. You can follow him and his and his cat’s adventure as they head to the Bahamas and beyond.  Jonathon just bought his first sailboat, a 33′ Irwin.

He is carrying my spot device, so you can click on “Where is SYL” on this site to see where he is, and if he’s moving.  On Facebook he is Jonathon Sitton.  Jono is a professional photographer so you’ll find lots of cool pictures and a millennial’s take on cruising.  His boat is his home so check that out.  He is currently staging in Florida for the fall Gulfstream crossing.

Jono and I enjoyed remote beach plundering last year when he was with me on SYL in the Exumas.  While hurricanes are never a good experience they do have somewhat of a redeeming value.  Jono is so excited to see what the hurricane dredged up along the 100 miles of remote island beaches in the Exumas he can hardly stand it.  Anytime there is a significant weather event, the beach gets a whole new load of sea fodder, so the WalMart of the Bahamas has brand new stock!

While cruising does bring a few beach combers to the remote places we go, there are still many truly un-trampled beaches to explore, if you don’t mind the hike over the peaks and through the brambles, the scratchy shrubs atop most of the islands.  Over my 16 years or so of Bahamas cruising I have carted home quite a plethora of flotsam.  I think my most prized objects are shipwreck wood.  I have quite a collection of wood boat parts and planking.  My favorite pieces are some 14′ long hand hewn 4 x 4’s that were once supporting the deck of a handmade ship.  I suspect it was Hatian, I found them sticking out of an extremely remote oceanfront rockslide that happened many many years ago, so the boat had to have been lost in that location long before the rock slide.  The ends are notched where they sat on the gunnels with rust in the old nail holes… the metal of the nails long gone.  Whatever kind of wood it is must be awesome, they are as strong as a brand new board.

Another treasure we covet is fishing float balls that are lost at sea, normally they come from the far east.  They ride the currents of the Indian Ocean for years, the ones that make it to our stomping grounds make their way around the horn of South Africa and up through the South Atlantic.  I like the aluminum balls that were pre-WW2.  It’s estimated that there are 100’s of thousands of these floats at sea right now.  Some are glass, they can range in age all the way back to the mid 1800’s.  Suffice it to say, the Exumas ocean side beaches have a brand new stock and Jono can’t wait to go walk them again.  What’s cool is big storms can wash up shipwreck debris from the ocean bottom as well.  During Katrina, they found doors and hatches from sunken ships along the Mississippi gulf coast.  The block of wood below is no telling how old, probably started as a sapling more than 300 years ago, maybe much longer than that!  It’s some part of an old ship.. you can see the rust stains where it was once fastened in place.  The blue hull section looks to be from a wrecked Bahamian racing sloop.  I found parts of it strewn for a mile along the ocean side coast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA float-balls

I’m still looking for that first load of gold doubloons… ships bells or cannon balls!

Hurricane Matthew

Wow….

Matthew is crossing my stomping grounds in the Bahamas… taking the same path I have sailed many times on SYL.  Right now he’s in the very shallow very warm waters of the great bahama banks.  His path went straight from Long Island through the Exumas and Nassau to the top of Andros, across the shallow banks and looks like it will center punch West End grand Bahamas in a few hours.

I have friends that live along the Florida coast, and my son is on his boat in Charleston South Carolina.  It’s nice to not be directly involved in the storm but many friends and relatives are.  By Saturday evening we will know how Jonathon faired in South Carolina on his new boat “Miss Adventure”  I hope the boat name is not prophetic.

 

Rusty

Sailing Dreams?

I have over 50K miles offshore sailing experience, I often think back to when I sailed that first time, and compare what I knew then versus what I know now.  I often dwell on that perspective so I feel qualified to talk on the subject.  Here you go.. a cruising captain’s version of the ultimate guide to decide “If YOU would love cruising” free of charge.  Cruising for dummies if you will.

There are several levels of sailboat lovers, from what I have seen we all fit into one of them.  When a sailboat dreamer explains his heart felt desire to sell his house – buy a big boat and live in a space about the size of his current garage, with about the same capacity of air conditioning, most of his friends can’t imagine a worse fate.  The nay sayers probably represent 80% of the population.  Most of your friends are what I’d call level 1 enthusiasts, basically they will think you are nuts.  We sailors may be nuts, but I’m here to tell you the unwilling majority will never risk failure or folly.  I now know, any accomplishment without contention isn’t worth the wax to keep it polished.  Level 1 represents the great majority that live out common lives, and seem to be happy enough.

Level 2:  Some folks love the idea of sailing and will even promise to come sail with you (and they mean it) but then they don’t.  When a sailor’s dream finally comes true, we recall the excitement of our friends for our dream so we offer to share it, but they won’t come.  Level 2 friends enjoy the thought of the perfect sail.  They desire some of that “escape” factor sailing into the sunset provides, but will never act on it, even as a guest.  Don’t judge them when your reality doesn’t match theirs anymore.  It happens.  The dream of freedom is still there but you just changed lanes too fast and you should know, they may never come with you.  Level 2 sailors have a fantasy that works well for them, but know it’s a pipe dream… and that’s OK.

Level 3:  Daddy Warbucks – Walk around any marina and you will find trophies that represent achieved wealth lining the docks.  Some owners have cruising dreams but most use their craft as a dockside condo to entice the level 2’s to come by and enjoy a glass of wine.  It works, it’s great entertainment that at least makes you think of cruising, but they never unplug the twin 50 amp cords.  Inside this level 3 there is a very small percentage that do actually leave the dock.  They sail from Yacht Club to Yacht club and remark on who had the best floral presentation at the dinner table.  The only tools they have onboard is a pen and checkbook.  I guess I might fit into that subset if I had the money.. lol.  These rich guys, and level 2’s that made a mistake, keep marinas in business.  95% of the masts you see in any harbor never move.  The ones that do sail, shouldn’t stray far from home or be out longer than fresh fruit.  I’ve met some good Level 2’s out on the water but they are pretty rare.  Most mega yachts you see “out there” don’t fit in this category.  Cruising mega yachts are normally a business venture that changes its boat name based on which corporate occupants are on board at the time.  I have seen the same boat docked at Atlantis in Nassu sport 3 different names.  The big gold letters on the side apparently bolt on and can be changed by the crew without much fanfare.

Level 4 Cruisers – These are the dreamers that find a way to move on a boat.  I’d say level 4 represents up to 10% of the people you will see “out there” cruising.  They have the overwhelming desire for freedom but they aren’t good decision makers.  They buy the wrong boat, or they don’t make good decisions day to day.  Level 4 includes everything from homeless people that happen to live on a boat, to the fiscally capable but “mentally moronic” sailors with a desire to live free, especially free of common sense.  It can be a hard life.  Sort of the left wing democrats of the boating world.  Their sense of reality floats with the tide, they survive off what other people give them.  Heck they MUST be Democrats now that I think about it, you know.. feed them fish and you have their vote forever, teach them to fish….. and they might vote for somebody else.  Actually they fit into the cruising world quite well.  These folks are totally harmless, in their happily aimless way… lol.  They are often fun to watch and are – totally groovy man…….   I keep extra starter fluid, and spark plugs onboard for these folks.  It’s nice to have the opportunity to make somebody’s day now and then.

Level 5 Cruisers – Hopefully this is the category I fit into.  Level 5 are the successful cruisers that represent the largest group you will meet if you pull that proverbial pin yourself.  Have you ever been camping or RV’ing?  It’s great when you meet people in the RV park and talk about their equipment or similar circumstances.  You make friends quickly.  The cruiser community is like that on steroids.  If you pull up next to a guy 400 miles from nowhere just off some deserted island, you have a major commonality.  That guy kinda’ qualifies right off the bat.  Most of our best and most devoted friends are cruisers we met in the Bahamas.  We average about 6 months on, and 6 months off the boat so all our time isn’t spent with cruisers… but the best times are.  Even when we are on land, our cruising buddies are hands down the best people.  In March of this year my house flooded, I had a cruising buddy drive 16 hours with a truck full of supplies to help me clean up and get my life back together.  To be fair, another drove 6 hours to do the same and he’s never been on SYL.  “Sea Yawl Later” Sittononthebeach.com  Level 5 is the most successful cruising group of the five, and fortunately they represent the overwhelming majority of who you will see “out there”.

If you generally make good decisions, don’t be afraid to just get on a boat and go. Nothing beats real time experience.  Your love of sailing will drive you to do enough research to excel.  But … If your decision making skills are suspect it might be good to commit to exhaustive study and take it slower, or better yet change your dream to do something you might actually enjoy. I hate to be that blunt but there it is.

Making good decisions (even more than preparedness) is THE foundation for successful cruising. If your generally pretty lucky, and a handy guy.. cruising opens up a door you simply must walk through. You were made to do this.  Conversely if you’re the kind of guy that is hyper-focused on details, relies heavily on product warrantees, and somebody that holds on to the negative longer than you should, if the main tool you use to work on your boat is your wallet… don’t get far from home my friend.  Cruising can be fun for you, but not long term.

When you’re out sailing, some “new” problem presents itself almost every day.  No amount of study will yield the perfect solution to every scenario.  Common sense and how you adapt is what gets you out of a jam.  I’m not saying don’t do your research, I’m saying the smartest thing you can do is check your personal tool box, understand how much of “the right stuff” you possess because that too.. will run low at the worst possible moment.  When you have been awake all night on a crossing, something breaks and the weather gets bad… tools, spare parts or preparedness won’t mean much if you don’t make good decisions about how to use them.

Your first and most important decision is to buy a solid boat in the first place.  One that will take care of you when your skills bump the rev limiter.  The lower your endurance to adversity… the more money you better spend on a boat.

Here’s my take on what you as a top (level 5) sailor will experience on the high seas.  Sailing is 10-80-10. Other sailors may disagree with my percentages but here’s the deal. 10% of your sailing will be idyllic – like you dream of and see on the postcards. Sandy beaches, blue skies, wind on your beam and wine in your favorite glass. Euphoric in every way and totally worth the other 90%. On the opposite end of the spectrum – 10% is sheer terror, something you only brag about after the appropriate amount of time has lapsed. lol. How much skin you lose during a wild experience often determines how long that duration is, but… when you realize that you and your well-chosen equipment can overcome true adversity it grounds you like nothing else. You own something sweet dreams could never purchase.

Sailboats can do that for you. Even though we all hope bad things won’t happen, when they do, that too becomes a talking point to share when you reach that deserted island and anchor next to a guy that just did the same thing. Sooner or later situations that bring the most fear become mental jewelry that most will never own. Now I’m not suggesting you go out and do something stupid or that sailing will eventually render you anemic. While perusing your dreams if you accidentally find a base to judge all things by.. for real…. your eyes simply “see” with higher resolution. Even the worst of times on a sailboat have their merit.

Regarding my math: Given my 10-80-10 scenario if the middle 80% of sailing transports you from one 10% to the other with varying degrees of joy. I know.. I know, you might say my math is flawed.  When I claimed earlier that the best 10% makes the other 90% more than worth it, I didn’t make a mistake… What I’m saying is, the unintended bad times… the 10% that scares the crap out of you eventually become a bonus to be included in the “worth it column”.

And here’s a bit for us dreamers: I totally understand that planning and anticipation is a wonderful part of the journey not to be missed… Dream, and if you find a way.. go for it!