Saturday, January 30, 2016

Better than the glossies

Kintala is in Daytona and on the  dock for a week, waiting the arrival of Daughter Middle and family. They have only seen the boat once, and that was several years ago. I am sure the visit is going to count as among the best of times, but I fear they are not going to find our Tartan to be too impressive. For, you see, lying parallel to our 42 foot sailboat, just across the dock, is a boat so big that Kintala looks like its tender. Sitting here at the salon table, looking up through the hatch in the overhead, and I am looking up, way up, at her flying bridge. It sits about two thirds of the way up our 60 foot mast. It looks, for all the world, like we are parked in the middle of a major city looking up at a building.

Not only is this as close as we have ever been tied to a mega yacht, this is the most protected dock we have ever been on. Fifty knots worth of wind could blow through this place and we would barely feel it. Total fetch is about 60 feet, with mega boats blocking one side and the Florida peninsula blocking the other. And you can believe that I crept into here with all of the skill I could muster, not wanting to even imagine how embarrassing it would be to bounce off of something like that thing.

Even though we had a reservation, we were a little unsure of the reception as we turned down the channel. Once upon a time in my other life I flew a corporate jet for a living. It was a little corporate jet, and when we pulled into a place full of big corporate jets they would often park us out in the back 40, maybe send a golf cart out to pick up the luggage. After all, we were only going to buy a couple of thousand bucks worth of fuel. Peanuts compared to that flowing into the G-Vs, Falcons, and Challengers. I'll bet there were times when the catering bill on one of those things was bigger than the fuel bill on the Citation. So really, what are the chances that my tired old sailboat is going to garner much attention in a place like this?

Well, it turns out when the “place like this” is the Daytona Marina and Boat Yard, the chances are pretty good. Dock Master Dave met us at the pump out dock, where we pulled up right behind another mega yacht. He was laughing and friendly, catching our lines and handing the poop hose over the life line. Then he walked us down the dock to show us where we would be spending the week. It is pretty much the Number One spot to be, just steps away from the facilities, and the facilities are some of the nicest we have seen. In fact we are parked bow on to the boat that he lives in. The Dock Master is our next door neighbor, and he even had some nice things to say about our Tartan. (I think he really meant them!) And before you ask, the price isn't even scary.

The kids are not even here yet, and it is already a visit worth remembering. Even better, the motor sail from Titusville was about as nice a motor sail as one can have. After three days of relentless rain the sun came out. By mid afternoon I was down to wearing just a t-shirt and jeans, the first time that has happened in weeks.

The Haulover Canal. Deb's least favorite place. An opening bridge and dozens of fishing boats parked in the
middle of the channel. Pin ball anyone???

So here we are, as far north as Kintala is likely to be for the next year or more, waiting for family, in an interesting place, and being treated a bit like boating royalty. Sometimes living this way is even better than it looks in the glossies.

Our sunrise this morning in Titusville

One of the joys of sailing Kintala. The staysail sheeted inside the stays with the lazy
sheet used as a barber hauler. You can sail this configuration 25° off the wind.


Some Vero Beach Catch-up pictures

The live oak trees in Vero are amazing. They are like something out of The Lord of The Rings movies. This is a
single branch dipping down from the main tree. I took this picture because my grandkids would love to sit on this
one and even the littlest could reach it!

Deceiving picture. Looks like a warm sunny day but it was actually pretty chilly. Still wearing foulie jackets
and sweatshirts at this point.

This guy was supposed to be in the picture above, but he departed early. When I
finally got him perched on the railing he let me know in no uncertain terms what
he felt about being in a picture. I think it was the same bird that tried to steal
Tim's ice cream right out of his hand the day before.

This is a terrible quality picture, but it was the first pink flamingos I've ever seen live outside of a zoo.
The picture was taken from 1/4 mile away with my camera zoomed all the way out and then cropped
so that's the reason for the lousy quality.

View out my galley window as we got ready to leave Titusville this morning

Another interesting water flow picture. The patterns in the water as it rolls away from the boat are amazing to watch.

Friday, January 29, 2016

No need for Speed

I used to like to go fast, really fast. My personal “best feel of speed” came from flying inverted at somewhere around 150 mph, just a few feet off the ground. (Not sure how few, more than 10, less than 20.) I once did mac 1.5 inverted, just feet above the ground. But that was in an FA-18 sim so, though the sensation of speed was pretty real, it doesn't really count as moving at the speed of heat. (I'm not a big fan of the military but I will say this, they have some of the world's coolest toys.)
A close second was 160+ on a motorcycle. Third was any speed through a corner fast enough to get a knee down close to or on the road, again on a motorcycle. (I wonder if anyone has done that on a bicycle, maybe at the bottom of a steep hill?) Oddly enough, flying a jet at 500+ mph never felt that fast. Still, once upon a time on a flight from Little Rock to Chicago in a CRJ700 with its mach .87 cruise speed, and being pushed by a jet core of nearly 200 knots, we were crossing the ground at better than the speed of sound. Chicago sure came up in a hurry that day.

But sailors don't go fast, measuring trips in days. We measured three days of travel to get from Vero Beach to Daytona, though it looks like it will take five. After the first day the forecast turned a bit sour, with heavy rain, thunderstorms, and tornadoes...again. It seemed prudent to put some land between us and the wind, so we nestled into a place called Eau Gallie NW. The Mantus went down at the end of nearly 100 feet of chain and was set hard. Day one and the weather faded with a stalled front. Lots of rain with just a bit of wind. Day two has been more of the same. We hope to be on our way again tomorrow. Estimated time of arrival in Daytona, sometime on Saturday.

I have gotten used to moving at human speeds rather than machine speeds. In fact I've grown kind of partial to it. The fact is most of us are not really going much of anywhere. The journey that we make through life is one of the heart and the head, not so much the feet. And to get anywhere important in the heart, or the head, means being connected with the world, taking time with the people, being passed by dolphins, and moving in concert with the weather. In the journey that matters, the more we hurry the less distance we cover. 

It is impossible to hurry on a sailboat.

The Sailing Rode - Part 2

For those of you stuck inside from all the bad weather, here's Part 2 of the interview we did with Steve and Brandy on Be sure to add their podcast subscription to your podcasts on your iOS or Android device. It's a young podcast but already shows a tremendous amount of promise. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

King of the weather apps

(Ed Note: As of May 23, 2018 the Storm App is discontinued and replaced by the Storm Radar app, a severely substandard app.. The story on why this happened as well possible replacements is in the new post, The Thrill is Gone)

By now, I suspect that there are very few of you that don't know that Tim and I are both pilots and, as a result, are complete nerds when it comes to all things weather forecasting. When you're a pilot, weather forecasting is the core of all flying decisions. It rules flying as much as it rules sailing and cruising. Since we always make our own go/no go weather decisions, we surround ourselves with all sorts of weather apps and cross-check them religiously. We've done lots of posts before about various weather apps that we use like Pocket Grib, NOAA Now, Aviation Weather, Marine Weather, Deep Weather, WindyTy and Predict Wind. We also occasionally use Passage Weather, Weather Underground, and for regular daily sit-still forecasts, Weather Bug.  So it may come as a surprise to you that we may, just may, have found a single-source weather app to replace them all.

During this week's extensive coverage of winter storm Jonas on the Weather Channel in the lounge at Vero Beach, one of the anchors just briefly mentioned in passing an app that he was using on his iPad for the show called Storm. It's a Weather Underground app, but a separate one from their regular weather app and is, unfortunately, only available on iOS at the moment. It has so much information in it that it could easily overwhelm a weather newbie, but to old pilots like us it's like opening a big stack of Christmas presents. Last night there was a whole lot of, "Wow - look at this!" and "Hey if you touch this symbol look what you get!" I told you we were serious weather nerds. So just in case you happen to be one of the aforementioned weather newbies, or just in case you don't want to spend most of a day figuring out the app yourselves, here is a tour. I was fortunate enough to have winter storm Jonas to help with all the screen details.

When you first open the app you have a page that is ready to customize, but before you do, click on the settings menu in the upper right hand corner and set your units. The settings menu is the three dots that the yellow arrow is pointing to.

After you have your units set, click on the down menu in the upper left hand corner and set your location. You can either pick a location or you can choose the follow me location. Once you set a location, the data for that location will appear in the lower section of the screen.

Next, you'll start to build the layers that you want to see represented on your page. The layers menu is the toolbar on the right side of the page.

On my page, the layers I have selected that you see in the screen shot below are:

Enhanced Global Radar, Storm Tracks, Windstream, Fronts, Severe Outlooks, Tropical Tracks, Tropical Model Tracks, Tornado/Severe Storms, Tropical, Winter, Marine
There area other choices available to you as well, so poke around and try different things.

On my main map page, the red pie-shaped storm indicator that you can see on the right side of this screen shot in Florida represents a tornadic signature. if you touch the red pie-shaped storm track indicator on the main map it will bring up this little window. It will tell you what cities are in the track of this cell for the next 60 minutes. At the bottom of the window it will also tell you what other things apply. This storm track was in the purple shaded area off the east coast of Florida that was under a Gale Warning as well as a Small Craft Advisory. In the main black middle section, notice that there are five white dots. There are five pages of information that you can access by swiping that middle section.

This is the second page of the middle section, which shows you a list of indexes. You can learn what each index means by clicking on the blue question mark in the blue circle, but in this screen shot you can see that the tornado impact is a 4 out of 10.

The next page is more data about shear and freezing level and several other indices.

The next page tells you probability of hail and approximate size as well as several other indices.

Sorry, but I'm missing a photo of the last page.

If you notice the colored, shaded areas along the coast, those are different weather alerts for the coastal area depicted. If you click on the purple one just south of Talahasee this box pops up which shows you that the area is under a Gale Warning.


 The blue pie-shaped markers are for Hail threat. The blue markers also have all five pages in the center black area.

The green pie-shaped markers are for strong thunderstorms. They also have all five pages of data in the middle black section.

If you touch the white area (from the winter storm Jonas yesterday),
it will bring up a Winter Storm Warning.

If you touch anywhere in the bottom section of the main screen where the local forecast is, it will open to a full window. At the top it lists all the basic info like temp and wind speed and humidity, pressure, etc. If you go down to the middle of the page where it says Daily|Hourly it lists the forecast for the next 10 days. If you look to the right you will see three icons. The first is the list view currently displayed.

If you click on the middle icon it brings up the graph view. In the graph view you can touch and slide the line with the temps along the graph line. If you go to the hourly, you can touch and slide the hours of the day across and the graph below will reflect the hours visible on the screen at the time.

 The third icon brings up the forecast discussion. This is the information that we used to go to the Deep Weather app to find. We really like the discussion because it gives you a chance to hear if there's any uncertainty in the forecast.

 If you go back to the list view, you will see on the far right a plus sign. If you click on that plus sign it will expand each day to give the basic forecast for that day.

 Back on the main screen, in the bottom left hand corner you can see a little icon with a ruler and pencil. If you click this icon and choose ruler, you can touch the screen and draw a line to a storm cell from your location or measure anything else you want. On this screen shot you can see that it was 128 miles from my location to the tornadic storm cell. If you choose the pencil you can write notes on the screen, something that might come in handy if you were doing a screen print to print on a blog or Facebook page.  

 In the lower right hand corner you can see the drop down menu for the windstream. You can choose surface or jet stream. 

You can also choose to see the severe outlooks for today, tomorrow, or three days away in the drop down menu in the bottom right corner. 

 If you choose Wind Speed on the layers menu, it will disable the radar and give you t his screen instead. At the top it has the wind speed color gauge and each of the moving specks of color correspond to the key.

It also has water temperature as a layer possibility, which also disables the radar and gives you this screen corresponding to the key at the top.

Weather Underground absolutely nailed it on this one. The developers deserve a huge attaboy. Hope you find it as useful as we have so far. There are a bunch more layers to play with in the layers menu, so have at it and if you happen on any neat features that you find useful or that we missed, please leave a comment. Have fun!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Yesterday was water day, humping 50 gallons to the boat 10 gallons at a time. Normally that would sound like “one of those days that comes with living on a boat”. But not all days end up like they sound.

The weather in these parts, while much more comfortable than it has been in other parts, hasn't been all that good for these parts. Rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, then cold. Cold that is, for those of us who live without central heat or, for that matter, any kind of heat at all. Add the relentless wind ruffling up the water thus turning every dink ride into a cold shower, and one is soon chilled to the bone rather than chilling out. The norm for several days.

The winds faded away yesterday and with them the clouds, but I had gotten so used to being cold under a cloudy sky that I didn't really notice it much at first. It was just a better day to hump water than the day before had been. The first water trip didn't go so well, the common hose splitting open and pretty much soaking everything within range, including me. Par for the course lately, get on with it already.

A bit of rescue tape let the second loading proceed without the shower. At the boat, draining the water from the jug to the tank, the quality of the day finally seeped through to my jaded brain. There was just the gentlest of breezes wafting out of the north. Still cool, but also dry and perfect for the task at hand. Light danced on the wavelets in the way that only those who live near the water know. There were no flying little critters gnawing on my hide.

The mid-morning mooring field was quiet, just the soft putter of a dink or two making way. Pelicans coasted by just inches off the water. A manatee broached a few yards away, puffed a breath, then left the customary circular wake behind as it dove away. 

The magic had slipped in for a few moments.

Later that evening we were in the lounge chatting with a few other cruisers. As usual when I am around, the conversation torched American politics, lit into the marine industry, and touched on the struggles that come with living on a boat in a society that doesn't approve of anything “different”. (I didn't start it, honest. There are a lot of you out here.) Our new friends have just started out. They also got burned at the boat purchase and, as a result, found a job in Vero for the winter to offset the damage done to the cruising kitty. They seemed encouraged to find that they were not alone, that we were also headed for a job that will keep us in one place for many months. It was good for them to know that thunderstorms really are scary for those living at the base of a giant lightning rod, 30 knots of wind cannot be ignored, and a bad day to be out in a dink for one, is a bad day to be out in a dink for all.

Then one of them asked, “Why do you do it? Why do you stay on the boat?

It was a good and honest question from someone finding the reality to be much different than the promise. And I gave them an honest answer.

Some days I wonder why I live on a boat too. But I can (almost) afford to live without taking orders. And it turns out that, no matter how good a job one has taking orders from another, not taking orders from another is much, much better. I like being mobile and living at the edge of society, where it is harder for the lunatics to lay a hand on me. I like being away from the propaganda, the violence, and the relentless fear mongering. I like that we are leaving some resources behind for grand kids to use, and living in a way that throws a spotlight on the excess that is “America”. My deepest hope is that my grand kids will see that there are options, different ways to relate to the world, different ways to live one's life.

But, honest as my answers were, they were not the real ones.

The real reason I live out here is the magic.

The magic isn't exclusive to sailors of course. It exists deep in the flight levels on a night full of stars. It can be felt it in the deserts of Arizona and the deep forests of the central PA mountains. It will even flash by, just for a moment, as a knee touches down at the apex of a corner taken at the limits of speed. But out here, on the boat, it will linger in a way unique.

I don't know why that is, the magic never explains its ways. Maybe being surrounded by water is the secret, the ocean long rumored to be the well from which life sprung. Maybe we are better at listening without schedules to interrupt, or after being away from the crush of others for hours, days, or weeks.

Or maybe, “out here” is simply where the magic lives. Hard as it is to live out here as well, I hope to stay awhile. Being touched by the magic is worth it.

The Sailing Rode

If you haven't had a chance to download any of the podcasts from, this might be your chance. We were invited by Steve and Brandy, the purveyors of The Sailing Rode, to do a podcast about how we realized the dream of cruising and a bit about our book.

Not being familiar with Steve and Brandy's podcast, we headed on over to and listened to some of the podcasts that they had already published. They released their first podcast in August of last year and, even though it's a young podcast, we found the podcasts to be well crafted, educational, and very entertaining. We signed on, and did the podcast interview last week. Part One was released today, and Part Two will be released next week. So if you're downloading podcasts for your overnight passage, or one to listen to while being parked during the many cold fronts this season, go on over to The Sailing Rode and check out their content.

Steve and Brandy from The Sailing Rode

Sunday, January 17, 2016


I am not a big fan of zombies, finding the whole idea a bit grim. I don't care for zombie movies, wouldn't want to meet one in person. Well, not the movie version of a zombie anyway. I suspect there are a lot of zombies in the world, only they wear normal clothes, don't have body parts rotting and falling off all over the place, and don't bite people. A couple might be running for President and, come to think of it, I wouldn't want to meet any of them either. But I am feeling a bit like a zombie today.

A cold front went though Vero last Friday morning. Before it came, we added a couple of mooring lines to the two already holding the boats, and were glad we did. (We are rafted two to a ball here in Vero.) The wind honked, the boats danced, and it rained hard enough to fill the Dink like a kiddie pool. Even as that front headed out to sea the gurus on the Deep Weather app started talking about the next one, due very early Sunday morning. All of this in the middle of January, in Florida.

Yesterday was Saturday, a break between the storms. The crew of Kintala took advantage of the nice weather, taking a long walk into town to find some ice cream. Back at the boat in the afternoon we started watching the weather as it got organized for its assault on Florida. At Deep Weather, the conversation grew animated. That was a pretty good trick since Deep Weather is a text discussion between science types, people who generally talk of lifted indexes, instability, pops, and percentages. In spite of the tech speak, the underlying tone was clear. Florida was in for a serious bit of weather.

As the evening wore on, Deb started getting restless. Deb doesn't get restless. To most people even a restless Deb would appear to be moving quietly through the world. But we have been together for a long time, and I noticed.

“I think we should check the mooring lines.”

Mind you, I am all for checking mooring lines. But it was now dark, quiet, and I was comfortable on the settee. We had added two lines barely a day before, and I had checked them after the first front had gone through. All was well with our world.

“I really think we should check the mooring lines.”

Okay then. Up off the settee, on with the jacket, flick on the deck light and, what was this? The mooring ball lay between the two bows. Two lines, though still attached, lay limp and sagging in the water. One line was taunt, holding both boats from running even further over the ball, pushed by the current. And the fourth line was looped under the mooring ball, a tangled mess with the other three. We had to launch the Dink to get it all straight. There were half dozen razor cuts on my right hand after working the jammed line out from under the mooring, courtesy of the little critters living on the ball. Under a wind load and getting worked, the line would have been shredded in minutes. Sure, there were three other lines, but the thought was disquieting.

The wind was forecast to reach 40 knots. Vero is well protected, but 40 knots is 40 knots. With the lines reset it seemed a good idea to take a look around the deck. What was this? The staysail was wrapped in but a single loop of sheet. The jib had a nice bit of canvas hanging out, just waiting to catch wind. Sheets still ran back to winches. Both sails got rolled up tight in several wraps of line, and the sheets were tied forward. When big winds are in the offering we normally add a few ties to the main sail and cover. Big winds were in the offering, and we were already out on deck.

The generator sat on the helm seat, its normal location when being used. But it would be hard to steer the boat with the gen in the way and, who knows? If everything turns to manure we might have to steer the boat. The little Honda was moved and the shore cable stowed. All in all nearly an hour passed before I got back to the settee.

At 0130 I did a final check of the radar and climbed into the v-berth. At 0530 lightning woke me up and I climbed back out. The radar was ugly. A thick, deep maroon python snaked across Florida, heading our way at a reported 60 knots. There were hook echos in there as well. Somewhere people were getting hurt, property destroyed, and lives upended.

I got dressed to go on deck, prepared to do whatever might need to be done. I was thinking of the things that could go bad, what to do in response and, should the night fall completely apart, how to get off the boat in one piece. It is a mental thing, like getting ready for race...or a fight. There is a certain grimness about it.

I used to teach high altitude flying and weather at a university. At the beginning of the class we would talk about what it takes to have a long life in the sky. I told them, when things go to hell, sharing the cockpit with the person who got 100% on the tests or made the softest landings, would not matter. No, the person you wanted in the cockpit was the mean bastard who simply wouldn't accept dying that day, the one who would be working the controls and power levers even as the wings bent and Mother earth filled the windshield.

By 0630 radar showed us on the back edge of the rain. It had been a non-event in Vero. The storms had spent their energy to our west. I went back to the berth for a couple more hours.

Living on a boat is safe, or so they keep telling me.“They”, in this case, mostly being the boating industry whose main job is to sell more boats. But we live very close to the weather out here, and the weather seems to be copping an attitude. Sometimes, particularly in the dark with maroon pythons heading my way, I wonder if the day will come when choosing to live near the weather will mean choosing to live with an unacceptable level of risk. Four reinforced walls and a stout roof, all sitting on a stone foundation, will not protect one from everything. But it is a damn sight more secure than a plastic hull tied to a ball with a few ropes.

Such thoughts fade as the day dawns and the sky clears. It is sunny now, the air dry and cooling. By evening the winds should fade. It will be a nice night for sleeping. Good that. The last 18 hours have left me tired, sore, and sleep deprived. The older I get the longer it takes to shake off the “grim” of an uncertain night.

And though we didn't need them much, I am really glad we checked the mooring lines.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Diverging Paths

Mizzy and Brian and the Cooley's Landing gang during Kokopelli's renaming ceremony

Tonight we said goodbye to our good friends Mizzy and Brian for what is probably going to be at least a long time, if not forever. Their plans take them to the southern Caribbean and then on to Mexico and back through the Panama Canal and returning to New Zealand in a few years. Since we pretty much have no plans to get that far away from grandkids 9, it's likely that our paths have diverged for the foreseeable future.

Some cruisers complain about the goodbyes being the hardest part of cruising and, while they are indeed difficult, we take so much away from these fast, deep, rich friendships that we have no complaints. We met Mizzy and Brian the summer of 2014 in Cooley's Landing Marina. They had just bought their new-to-them Hylas 46 and were beginning to unravel the truth about "cruise-ready" boats. We were there with our kids helping them to survive the Floating Bear disaster (if you're a recent reader and unfamiliar with the story, you can play catch-up by reading the posts around May 2014 to September 2014). We were both suffering from boat-inflicted physical, emotional, and financial wounds and were able to support each other with the occasional laughter, sundowner, and hug when needed.

Even after parting ways at Cooley's, we kept in touch and frequently ran into each other. We spent a good bit of the summer together at Oak Harbor sharing boat projects and introducing them to new friends there - David and Nancy and Sue and Wayne - with whom they would go on to become deep friends in their own right. The eight of us blend well and have continued to spend time together whenever we can.

Us with Wayne and Sue of S/V Skimmer
Some of the Oak Harbor gang
If I had to qualify cruisers with one word, it would be easy: generosity. Mizzy and Brian have opened their hearts to us without hesitation. We have shared meals, buddy-boated, rafted up multiple times, worked together and laughed together. They have come to typify the relationships we have found since going cruising. Always the cruising community is ready to give whatever is needed. Someone's dinghy goes drifting in the anchorage and it is immediately scooped up and returned to the owner. Need a tool? A quick trip around the anchorage and you'll likely find the one you need ready to borrow. Need some help along with that tool? No problem. And in times of much, much more duress like the recent passing of Tim's father, the cruising community comes together like a well-oiled machine as evidenced by the transportation miracle that got us to Pittsburgh for the funeral. I could tell countless stories of cruisers helping other cruisers, of cruisers coming together to help the people of the Bahamas hit hard by the hurricane this past summer, of cruisers coming together to help with the Syrian refugees, or to volunteer time to tutor kids in a Bahamian school. Always, generosity without a thought, without any need for recompense, with a smile. It is an amazing gift, and one we have been privileged to receive time and time again. And while Kokopelli  and Kintala may not share an anchorage for a very long time, the crew of Kokopelli will be carried along in our hearts.

Thanks, Mizzy and Brian. Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Kintala has been sitting at her anchor for several weeks. There are a half dozen other boats scattered around, also riding to their anchors. It is a big anchorage so the boats are not all that close together. Still, there is no missing the fact that it is an anchorage.

It is a breezy day, winds solid in the low teens with gusts above 20. It is also overcast and gray with cool temperatures and rain closing in. It has rained a lot since we have been here. There are friends here with us now, friends we may not see again for a long time. Soon we will be heading north for a week's visit with Daughter Middle and Grand Kids Five. With them will be Son-in-Law and his folks, who are good friends that we miss as well. All in all good reasons to have been in Stuart for lo these many days.

Still, I must admit to being a bit restless. This is not my favorite anchorage. The water isn't very clear. The weather has been less than stellar. Last night was yet another where much sleep was lost to blowing winds causing the boat to slew around and pull hard on the anchor snubber, which provokes loud moans of protest that echo through the v-berth. There is very little wildlife; a stray dolphin once in a while and a few birds is about it. There are train noises and bridge noises and sirens, power boat wakes, jet ski antics and, today, a crazed fisherman.

As mentioned, Kintala's deck monkey has been feeling a bit confined. So early this afternoon, trying to fend off a growing boredom coupled with a bit of a headache due to too little sleep and too much motion, I settled onto the settee and popped a newly acquired CD of ALIEN into the Dell's drive. Just as crewman Cane was sitting down to his last meal a loud “clunk” shuddered through Kintala's hull and past my ear buds. (The Admiral, also boat bound, does not care for ALIEN.)

"What the hell was that?”

It didn't sound particularly destructive so I hit the “pause” button before scurrying up the companionway. And there, drifting inches from our port bow, was the pontoon boat that had just bounced off of us. In its bow (Front?) stood the only occupant, fishing pole still in hand. What the hell?

"Sorry, I am trying to land this fish.”

Trying to land a fish? The wind is blowing to 20 knots and this wanker drifted through an obvious anchorage and whacked into a 42 foot sailboat because he was trying to land a fish? If the fool hadn't been standing just feet from me, still wrestling with his line, I would not have believed anyone claiming to be that stupid.

"I didn't do any damage.”

This he offered now drifting away from our stern on a course directly at the boat anchored down wind of us. He would have made it two for two if Deb had not pointed it out to him. Me? I was still muttering something along the lines of, “You bounced your 'tuner boat off my anchored hull in 20 knots worth of wind while trying to catch a fish?”

Now I wouldn't want to disparage all fishermen. My Grandfather was an avid fisherman. So was my Father-in-Law, who was also one of my favorite people as well as being a Dean at Pittsburgh University's school of Electrical Engineering. So I know, as a rule, fisherman have an IQ much higher than that of the wet, wiggling things they are trying to catch. But today the exception that makes the rule was out, unsupervised, blundering around the St. Lucie river, and clearly off his meds. (Or on the sauce, not sure which.)

Pole still in hand he fired up his outboard and moved just far enough across the wind to miss the second boat. Then he shut down and went back to his Santiago-like tussle with his marlin-like fish. In his misfiring mind he must have thought he had a catch worthy of Hemingway on his line, right? One would have to be an epic kind of crazy to bounce off of anchored boats just to land a six inch perch. By this time I had shaken out of my daze. Deb jotted down the boats registration number just in case we need to track down an insurance company, then watched through binoculars as he drifted clear of the anchorage and out into the channel standing, once again, at the bow. Boats went by him, port and starboard, completely unheeded.

It is my experience that most displays of pure idiocy (not counting Presidential elections) are short-lived. This guy though, was clearly in a class of crazy all of his own. After bouncing off of us and just missing a second anchored boat, it took nearly another 20 minutes of drifting through a busy channel for his catch of a lifetime to spit his hook and swim away. (Or maybe a shark ate it.) Then, amazingly, he motored back toward Kintala.

"Sorry about that,” he said as he got closer. “The fish took a turn on me. Shit happens.”

The fish took a turn? Shit happens? What? Am I supposed to think the fish pulled his boat into mine? That it was, you know, just one of those things that could happen to anyone. What color is the sky in the world this guy inhabits, and how did I get dragged into it? But it got even better when I asked for his name and phone number.

I am Dr... phone number...

Doctor? This lunatic is a Doctor? I ended up just staring at him, defeated. Before me was a mountain of inanity so massive as to be beyond my verbal climbing abilities. Clearly, nothing I could say would ever penetrate a skull so thick. Sixty plus years I have walked the planet, spared, fought with, insulted, been insulted by, and traded barbs with knaves, fools, imbeciles, and rouges, only to be rendered speechless by a Doctor who crashed his 'tuner into me because he was trying to land lunch. I may never recover.

I went below and returned to the much more rational universe of a nearly naked Ripley crawling into a spacesuit to blow an acid dripping alien out an airlock.

Da head bone's connected to da neck bone ♫ ♫

There are so few Tartan 42 owners around, I believe only 30 to be specific, that we depend on each other heavily for the exchange of ideas, pictures, and troubleshooting. When we were setting up Kintala we emailed several owners to get the dimensions and photos of various mods they had installed, including our nav seat / storage locker. So when a fellow Tartan 42 owner contacted us for more details on our Cape Horn self steering installation, I was only too happy to comply. Since I had been asked about the install before, I decided to do a comprehensive post of the installation on our Boat Notebook tab in the nav bar above. It was something I had been intending to do, but never got around to it, and now I had the necessary motivation. The holidays got in the way, as did visits with friends, but yesterday seemed the right time to gather the information and do the post.

I confess to having slacked in the progress-photo-taking during the actual installation. We were working on several projects at the same time and progress slipped by without documentation. In addition, the area in which the underdeck components of the self steering are located is unbelievably tight. So tight, in fact, that my claustrophobia does not permit me to get in to take pictures of where Tim got wedged to do the work. I emptied out the lazarette, which is our access to the area under the cockpit where most of the components are located, and took what pictures I could get with my arms extended in the tiny space but without actually doing the kid's-head-stuck-in-the-railing thing. While taking the pictures I noticed that the control lines for the wind vane were chafing and one of them was worn nearly through. I had Tim check it out and, as he was preparing to climb out of the lazarette, he noticed that the wooden ledge that holds the removable bottom boards of the locker had cracked at the fiberglass and was falling down, probably due to the excessive amount of stuff we always have to stuff in there since it's our only storage area for things like lines, fenders, dinghy pumps, and the rest of the paraphernalia necessary to operate a cruising boat. Tools and hardware and spare bits of boards were procured from various recesses and the repair commenced. Once the ledge was repaired, he attempted to reinstall the bottom boards only to discover that somewhere along the way a previous owner discovered that the ledge was sagging (preventing the proper installation of the bottom boards), and rather than repair the ledge - you guessed it - they cut the boards. Now, with the ledge repaired, the boards were too short. More bits, pieces, and tools, and the board was extended to fit. On completion of the repair, it was also noticed the the water leak we've been trying to track down for months happened to be a loose hose clamp on the water heater (located at the bottom of this particular lazarette) so that was fixed as well.

It is the way of boat projects. One small project always leads to finding more that need taken care of. So Michael, thanks for your patience. In the next few days you should see the project post appear in the Boat Notebook area of the blog. Getting it done should be much easier since I'm not listening to the water pump run and wondering where the leak is. But I do need to figure out how to get that blasted song out of my head ♫♫♫