Non-cruising Life Onboard

We have several family members with serious health issues so we have been unable to post for a while.  The issues are not resolved but I thought blogging about something totally unrelated to healthcare might be a nice respite.  This is the first time we have lived onboard SYL without immediate plans to cruise.  Due to family health issues not to mention a wedding we are unsure when we will be able to head to deep blue water.  I am finding our needs and therefore our space allocations are very different now then when we are cruising or preparing to cruise.

In the Exuma’s, except for Georgetown, if you want something you best bring it with you and this includes food and drink.  Therefore, we carry enough food to last us several months as well as paper supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.  We also carry more sails and equipment than we use state side.  Having SYL “fully loaded” is not as much as a problem when you live in shorts, bathing suits and are off the boat enjoying the water, beach etc.  However, I am finding life onboard tied to a dock is a very different life style then preparing to cruise and cruising.  Having a boat loaded for cruising does not work when you are tied to a dock.  Just your clothes requirements alone make a huge difference.  I am in the process of deciding what we can off load and how to reconfigure SYL.  I am finding living on SYL tied to a dock is not as much fun……Rusty’s response of course would be “Ya Think”.

With everything you could possibly want a short drive away, there is no reason to have a stockpile of anything.  What we do need more of is “civilian clothes” and much of these “civilian clothes” needs to be on hangers ( mine at least).  This does not sound like a big deal but trust me it can be.  More than once I have had my freshly laundered hang up clothes in a heap and wrinkled because I don’t have a place to hang them.  Can I be a little OCD?……hum….yes.  In the scheme of things these issues are not a biggie…..  But for me right now with so many BIG issues I can do nothing about, it is nice to concentrate for a little while on “problems” I can fix.

Rusty took a Boy Scout sailing troop out on Saturday and they had a blast.  It was about 7 scouts and 2 troop leaders.  I will let Rusty write about their little excursion.

Sea Yawl Later!!


 Rusty Here… on the weekend.

This weekend was fun.  Since I’m working short hours (for me) only 40 hours a week I have time to do stuff… since I’ve had three days off a week lately.  The weekend highlights included a comfortable visit with friends here in Baytown and a Saturday sail with the local sea scouts.  The energetic band of 14 to 16 year olds is lead by some very nice folks that give their time and effort for a great cause.  Excuse me while I step up on my personal soapbox here for a second……. for those of you not interested in my personal opinion please skip down to the big Asterisk * below where you may resume reading the useless stuff I normally put out… lol.  Feel free to abandon my opinion below at any point~>

What America needs isn’t more government “help” in the form of social programs.  We need more people like Kevin and the other leaders of the sea scouts.  Normal everyday people that care about kids are the right answer to America’s social problems.  I know the economy is tough right now, many young couples and single parents are working hard so “kid time” falls somewhere behind food and shelter…. churches and time generous individuals like our unpaid, unheralded unappreciated youth leaders positively affect children like no government project ever even should.  For the government to do a good enough job of raising our kids for us… it would be so expensive we couldn’t afford it…. Here’s why.  Always remember this…..

A government can never give us anything they didn’t take away from us first, then take their share out for the mismanagement fee, then redistribute the leftovers to us in underfunded ways that usually don’t work.  To prove my point let’s do a little experiment:  Say all you readers need to buy gas for your car every week.. and you decide the government ought to pay for your gas…. OK…, I’ll be “Gas Governor”

So.. everyone start paying me $50 a week (not for gas, but as a vehicle tax)… that way the government can pay for your gas.  Here’s what will happen:  What I’ll do is take a part of what you pay in right off the top as my salary, then I’ll hire a staff to figure out how much gas you really need, then hire secretaries to write you a check each week then if there is anything left I don’t use up figuring out what you need…. I’ll send you money for gas.  THEN, if somehow there not enough money to pacify the now all powerful “Gas Governor’s” constituents…. I’ll either print more money making yours worth less than mine, or borrow from somebody (on your behalf) to keep this scheme afloat.  That’s actually illegal for everybody BUT our government but that’s the way it works folks.

If that scenario makes sense to you I’ll give you my address so we can quickly set up a payroll deduct.  I’ll buy a big new desk and we can all be happy.  That way I.. the “Gas Governor” can take care of YOU and you won’t have to worry about it yourself anymore! 

Hmmmmm… On second thought I think Individual needs are best handled by the individual that needs it don’t you agree?  If that doesn’t work, you can see how things get more expensive really quickly when you “hire it done”.  Now if you still believe in Santa Clause and want me to be your “Gas Governor” to help you because I have convinced you.. the voting public that I will surely take from the rich and give you something you didn’t earn and everything will be better for YOU….. my email address is Send checks immediately, I take paypal.

What America needs is less “personal government” and more good folks that have the time to pinch hit for tired parents with an empty tank.  NOTE:  I said tired not lazy…..  Often parents just plain old need some temporary help.  When a kid reaches the “break away age” in their mid teens.. I’m here to tell you parents need help from grandparents or good folks in the community.  I don’t care who you are.. Parents of a teenager need help.  And parents… don’t be too proud to ask for help from someone you respect.  If you’re paddling as fast as you can and it’s easy to see that by the sweat on your brow and the wake behind you… people will help you.  Now if it’s not vividly clear that you’re doing all you can… don’t expect others to do it for you. 

It may be that your paddle is broke and you need a new opportunity.. or it may be that YOU need help… your stroke needs to be adjusted so you can balance the canoe and actually move forward… lol.  Whatever it is you need… the government isn’t your answer…… 

Isn’t it funny that the very ones that need the help are the only ones that think they don’t…. right?         It’s like 5 guys sitting around the poker table… each one sitting there looking at the other… looking to see who the sucker is that is going to lose all his money… I’m here to tell you if you don’t see the sucker sitting across the table from you … GET UP AND LEAVE…  YOU’RE THE SUCKER.  The first thing someone off their game needs to know is that they are off their game… when you realize where you are… the road leading up has been found.  There are certainly enough good people out there willing to change a young life… small things effect small people in big ways, making a positive impact is much easier than you think.

I know.. I know… some people you can help to death.. the more you do the less they do… don’t let black holes suck you in and drain all your energy.  My advice on that is only pitch to the ones that are swinging.. willing to hit the ball.  What good is it if you give money or time to someone that doesn’t respect it or you?  Sometimes your best pitches are to the kids of a no-hitter.  Show that kid the possibilities of life, so he can break the string via a different example… kids don’t know what they don’t know.

I’m no anarchist; don’t go to the extreme on me here thinking I don’t appreciate infrastructure and the need to pay for it corporately.  I greatly appreciate electricity that flows to my home, police that keep the peace, the big stuff that makes life easier… But let’s reach out and be a neighbor… and parents….for our personal welfare, don’t expect someone else to raise your kids.  There has always been a small percentage of people that just plain ol’ shouldn’t be parents.  It seems that percentage has become ashamedly high in today’s society.   Sometimes you can help someone to death and the government is blind in that regard.. The bigger the entity unfortunately the harder it is to have eyes to see the difference between those swinging the bat and those working the system.  Individuals are best helped by individuals.

Government’s job should be to build roads, maintain defense… do the “big stuff”.  We shouldn’t look to government (or even our schools) to educate and raise our kid…. Raising a kid takes loving parents and a community of good people willing to expand the opportunities and minds of our neighbor’s kid by showing them our best side… volunteer.  Be a Kevin.

*OK.. I’m done… I’m stepping off my soapbox.  Readers that don’t need something else to worry about…. resume here… lol.

I had a great sail Saturday:  Me, two adults and 7 teenage kids had a ball out on the bay with SYL this weekend.  Those of you that have read my blog before know I am big on having lots of toys and having fun… I’m way too “unserious” for most nautical vernacular savvy club sailors.  No white shorts and navy blue striped shirts for me (unless Linda dresses me)  I go for the fun of it in worn out blue jean shorts and tie dye tee shirt… less of a nautical master of the seas… and more of a what can we do next for fun… Being a large one myself, kids and I get along just fine.

I had the boat set to sail by 2:00, engines down – aft sun shade rolled up – sail bag open – lines minimized – instruments on and ready.  We expected a bigger crowd so Kevin was going to pilot the Sea Scout boat and split the crew between us, but some of the troop were otherwise occupied so we all loaded up on “Sea Yawl Later !!” for the days cruise.   Kevin brought the group together and said “OK what do we need to know”.  I gave a quick rundown on the differences between a monohull and a cat for the kids.. what to expect and some basic operating instructions.  I kept it short.  After that I told them the only two rules on my boat.  #1 The Captain is always right.  #2 If your fun gets in the way of someone else’s fun you lose…..  those ground rules have worked just fine aboard my boat for years.

The wind was prevailing… SE at about 10 so conditions were expected to be nice on the bay.  Getting away from the dock with the wind blowing you toward it can be challenging.  Having differential power I did the “bow rotate” trick I like so much (because nobody has to be on the dock).  I pinned my starboard bow to the dock with forward port engine thrust and kept it in place with balanced aft starboard throttle.  Our docks are soft sided so the pressure against the plumb bow was easy to take.  As far as the kids were concerned… all they expected was a boat ride so the day would be easy to make.  The fun part for me was…. I had a few things planned to make the day better than expected for the scouts.

It was great.. the kids lined up on the front of the trampoline like crows on a wire.. sitting there on the front beam behind the life lines waving their heads off at the passing ships and tug boats.  Our first traffic was a large empty tanker about to enter the ship channel.  Coming the other way, from behind was a tug pushing two barges.  We talked with each other on the VHF radio, the tug passed on the green side with us in the middle.. and the ship in the opposite direction on the red side.  Ship channel and ICW traffic runs channel 13 on the VHF.  I talked to both boats early so we were all on the same page.  Radio work on the ICW is definitely something that takes time to understand.  I have listened to many… many hours of ICW tug boat talk.. so all I did was give the big ships a confidence that I wasn’t about to turn unexpectedly or get in the way, and said it in a way they understood because I used their “language”.  You can do it as a beginner, but not without asking questions to make sure you understand.

In those first 2 miles the sea scouts got to see several big ships and barges up close as we passed in controlled comfort….. The kids on my boat extracted a response I have never gotten from commercial traffic before…. lol.  Big ships blew their massive horns as the kids pumped their hand in the air and waved like carefree teenagers do…. It was great.

Stress free sailing is more easily done with lots of elbow room, so after the second green marker we turned right into the open bay…. away from traffic.  We reached out a couple hundred yards into the open before angling back left to set the main directly upwind.  She set easily with no hang-ups, I cranked the halyard down and fell off to Starboard 45 degrees.  Getting a boost we heard the engines gain rpm’s, that told us the main sail was overcoming the less elegant means of propulsion.  I set “Otto” on the new heading and turned off the engines.  I raised the starboard and Kevin raised the port engine cleaning up our waterline rather quickly.. The sound changed from motor noise to wind noise as we sped away toward Kemah.  The wind was great -10 knots as I expected but what was unexpected was the lack of waves for the windspeed.  We had about a foot of waves on our bow… it was great.  Already going faster than our motors were driving us, the apparent wind was in the kids face and we were gaining speed into it….. 

They were loving it.  I set the jib and stayed 45 degrees off the wind so the sails could get a full bite….. we bumped 7 knots the whole leg.  The more adventurous kids moved to the right side of the tramp.. while the ones that wanted to stay dry moved to the left.  Upwind on a port tack the inside of the starboard bow breaks approaching waves, sometimes they splash up inside the hull.  Every now and then a good one splashes your bottom through the open weave of the heavy plastic trampoline.  Personalities were becoming more apparent.  Some craved all the excitement there was to have… others enjoyed comfortable pants.  I kept the sails loaded up nicely but not in full race mode on this first leg of the jaunt.  I broke out of the channel.. away from other boats… riding the waves listening to giggles from the crew as they talked among themselves now rather than all waving at the big boats.

Reaching our furthest point from Bayland Marina we tacked to port.  This time I drew the sheets in tight and pinched hard to the point of knocking a knot or two off top speed.  I bordered on fluttering the jib to stay slow but still fun into the oncoming wind.  Some kids were asking to go faster, some really didn’t care how fast… some asked could they go swimming, the normal stuff.  In the back of my mind I already had all those answers…. It was yes. 

Before rejoining the channel, I trimmed out nicely and made a short top speed run then fell off 200 yards short of the traffic lanes for the long slow smooth downwind run home.  It’s fun to scream into the wind then turn off completely… the difference is often amazing to new sailors.   Now with the wind behind us the boat was quiet, I turned on 50’s music… the kids took turns hanging their legs in the water off the stern steps.  I passed out bread to feed the seagulls… Life is good.. 

The downwind run lasted an hour or so during the 5½ knot drift I locked in a waypoint that would lead us behind Hog Island – directly across from Barbour’s Cut.  The marina manager had told me about a sandy beach on the backside of the island and my boat is beach-able…. So that’s what we did.  I drove toward the beach until I ran out of water, opened the front companionway and let the bow steps down as my big keels sat comfortably on the sandy bottom.  We set the anchor then the kids immediately scurried down to play in the water and on the long shallow sand bar.  The three adults sat around the decks constantly counting heads.. keeping track of our gaggle.  The troop found all sorts of sea treasure including two short sections of very large rope and countless shells.  I gave out gallon ziplock bags and threw the kayak over the bow for those who wanted to play with it.  

Kevin called time and we all loaded up for the short ride home.  Kids dried off and snacked as we drifted back to the dock.  Once inside the harbor I wondered what the kids in the troop that missed the day trip might hear from those who came.  The leaders thanked me, but unexpectedly… the kids all said thanks individually too.  One of the boys drove the boat the last 15 minutes as I stood behind him.  I picked him because he was one of the quieter ones.  I had little to offer as he skillfully kept her right down the middle…. Good job.

I wish this kind of day for every one of you…. Doing for others yields the sweetest candy you can make.  Hopefully one of these kids will remember the day with enough joy to build a dream for themselves.  Maybe spark a seed of confidence… maybe one of the boys was watching.. forming that dream, inadvertently caught a glimpse of a life they want.  Maybe the key to the culturally expensive “lock of dependency” is simply knowing what you want clearly enough to go for it. 

I remember a pivotal moment for me in the 9th grade… I know where I was standing on campus when it happened.  That one particular day changed my life.  One of the seniors in my very small school drove up to Ag class next to the old gym in a beautiful red ’69 Chevelle SS 396 with a white interior and two white stripes on the hood.  The car glistened and smelled new inside.  With little thought of anything else that day I decided to figure out how he did that.  That one guy who drove the most beautiful car I had ever seen, did his parents have more money than everybody else….. Surprisingly no.  Hmmm, how did he do that?  I asked around and found out, he worked hard every summer, saved his money and bought it himself.  When the opportunity for me to make money came.. I wanted it.. I was ready to go, I had a dream worth the effort.  Maybe one of these sea scouts like nice boats and can dream big enough to go for it.

Let’s not lose sight of the larger picture… I’m not saying a car or a boat is the answer to society’s problem, but when you live without a dream, it’s easier to live under a dark cloud blaming others.  I believe the set of circumstances (whatever it is) that hooks a boy up to become a plus rather than a minus to society is a life changing event that paints his whole life.

Sea Yawl Later !!   Rusty



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