Thursday, November 29, 2018

Unexpected turns…

Deb's post explains what happened. Kintala will soon be for sale and we are land bound. Really, really land bound. St. Louis is about as far from big water as is possible to be. Our cruising life has hit a bit of an impasse and some very hard decisions had to be made.

Those who know me know that selling the boat isn't much of an issue. Kintala has been our home for a while now, a part of our adventures, and served us well. With much effort we have transformed her into a good and dependable tool for living the life we wanted to live. I expect a good whack of depression when stepping off her decks for the last time. Not from stepping off the boat, but from stepping away from the life - even if just for while - that we worked so hard to build. My Grandfather once told me, "Never cry over anything that can't cry over you." There will be other boats.

I'm still coming to terms with the idea that we would do such a thing but, quite frankly, this opportunity came at the exact right time for us to manage some changes that need to be made. Kintala has been a good boat. Just shy of being an outright racing boat, she did the job of teaching us to sail well rather than just well enough. Being neglected for part of her life and needing a ton of work, she also did the job of teaching us how to keep a sailing boat going, mile after mile, year after year, adventure after adventure. In that light she was likely the perfect boat to get us going. But she was never the right boat. Now we can get her sold without facing financial ruin if she sells slow, piling up the storage fees. We will have a place to live while working though the selling process, and a steady income to cover the (un)expected boat costs sure to raise their hoary heads over the next few months.

Realizing that replacing Kintala would be fundamental if we were to continue cruising happily along was one reason to do this. Another reason, as Deb explained, is that we are just about out of working cash to keep going. Ideas and efforts to "pay as you play" were not promising. I didn't much enjoy being parked at a dock while working full time. It might have been different if the boat yard had been less isolated or we had owned a car. But it was a hard time for me, not at all what I imagined my life would be like when we left to go "cruising." I'm not sure I would have managed it at all except that Daughter Eldest and Family joined us, ending up on their own boat. That we have to leave them is the only real down side to this opportunity,  and it was nearly enough to have me take a pass. Every life gathers a few moments that are impossibly tough, the kind that leave an actual hurt where your heart usually resides. Leaving Blowin' In The Wind in our wake was one of those moments for me.

This foray back to shore will be different from when we lived there before because we are different people than we were when we left. Happy minimalists now, just the idea of a life weighed down with stuff makes us shudder. Also, living on a boat is just a very small step from living outdoors. I fear having sunrises and sunsets hidden behind walls of concrete, with the night sky whitewashed by the city's glow and the moon barely visible, will chafe at my heart. I know that memories of nights spent at anchor in the Islands will haunt the dark hours when the noises of the city drum against the windows and sleep is hard to find. Memories of clear water and dolphins at play will intrude while sitting in the break room or preparing for another classroom hour. They will be good memories holding the promise of times yet to unfold. But they will also cause a twinge somewhere really, really deep, a moment of regret that we are away from the endlessly restless water that has become so much a part of our everyday life.

So we are looking to live as simply and lightly as possible, something we have never done while living on land. Transportation needs will be met as modestly and cost effectively as possible. A long commute has limited appeal, and the only living space that is green and outside of city / suburban living is many, many miles away from a job sight located just across the street from the International Airport. Which is the first reason for choosing to live in the city.

Another reason for looking to live deep in the heart of a major metropolis area is that, oddly enough, is has its minimalist benefits. Suburban living offers little in the way of small, efficient, boat like living spaces. We are already looking at an apartment that has just about the same square footage living area that is Kintala. Provisioning (grocery shopping as they call it on land) is within easy walking distance, as are eateries (for when Deb is away), a world class public library, and other interesting places to explore. There is no West Marine nearby but, for a change, that will not be an issue.

St. Louis is good about maintaining green, common spaces. There are well maintained parks everywhere one walks, and the Gateway National Park is just a few blocks away. At least we have a river near by, one we can visit pretty much whenever we like. The apartment complex includes its own common spaces, one being a large gym. That is something I have missed while living on the boat. We walk a lot as cruisers are wont to do, but the lifestyle is not as inherently healthy as we thought it would be. Even with a full time job there will be hours available to get my resting heart beat back to where it should be, build up a little stamina, and maybe shed a few sloppy pounds.

Another good reason for living in the city is that we have never lived that life before. Why not try something completely different? The hope is looking at this as a whole new adventure will take some of the sting out of leaving the boat. The fact that two Daughters and seven grand kids live in St. Louis helps, as one can imagine.

There is some question as to just how we can pull this off, having been as deep into, and as much an enthusiast of, the alternative, independent, nearly self-sufficient and mobile life style that is cruising. I am curious about that myself. In my perfect world I would be collecting a nice pile of doubloons for teaching sailors how to warp onto and off of a dock, set a sail, and navigate from hither to yon without crunching into Mother Earth.

In the real world, however, the only way these kinds of dollars come my way is for teaching younger pilots (and reviewing with already highly experienced pilots) how to program some odd ball holding pattern into the FMS, fly a night approach to minimums in ugly weather short an engine and with half the instrument panel dark, and navigate from hither to yon without crunching into Mother Earth. All skills I spent nearly 50 years getting right, and now have a chance to share with the next generation of professional aviators. No small thing, that. This is an important gig, with a ton of responsibility, working with people who take their work seriously. Given that the need to collect a paycheck has become painfully unavoidable, there is no other job I would rather be doing, no other place I would rather be doing it, and no other group of people I would rather be doing it with.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


  • an interval between two acts of a play or opera.
  • a piece of music or a dance performed during an entr'acte.
When we left to go cruising 5 years ago, we knew that we would have to stop to work along the way. We were leaving a year or two before we had planned due to the loss of both of our jobs in aviation. We did indeed stop for two times to work at Snead Island Boat Works in both 2016 and 2017 and the funds earned there allowed us to go to the Bahamas again and to travel these last seven months with our eldest daughter and her family on their boat. We also knew that those funds would not take us to the later age that we wanted to begin to collect Social Security and that we would need to find more to fill the cruising kitty before long. We got our Captain's licenses with the intent of starting a charter company, but Kintala is just not the right boat to do that with and we didn't have enough funds to buy another. The end of our cruising funds loomed large in our minds as we rented a car and drove to St. Louis to celebrate the arrival of our eleventh grandchild who had graced us with her adorable presence two weeks prior.

As is his usual custom, Tim drove to the local airport where he meets with a long-time friend and one time coworker when we are in St. Louis. The friend is currently working at Flight Safety in the city and it seems that they are in desperate need of instructors, a job with a two year minimum commitment. The offer was very generous, the coworkers old friends of Tim, the working environment a far cry more comfortable than that of a boatyard, and it was near the seven grandkids we don't get to see that often. It was a no-brainer. 

So what does this mean for Kintala and The Retirement Project?

The Retirement Project will go on. Once the kitty is full and after the commitment is met, retirement and cruising will resume. Unfortunately, Kintala will not accompany us any farther. She has served us well these seven years, and even though she suffered under previous owners, she has been returned to her original beauty and sleek function through our obsessive care. It's time for her to find someone who will use her for what she was made, a far superior blue water boat. She will be listed for sale shortly, but there will be incentives for anyone who wishes to purchase her prior to the listing. Once we return to the boat we will get photos together and listing details as well as a price. If you're interested before then, please contact us through the Contact form on the right sidebar.

We recently did a couple posts evaluating the "Go simple, go small, go now" mantra that pervades cruising. Whatever you feel about the issue, for us cruising without certain comforts and with the constant worry about where the money is going to come from to pay the bills just simply isn't fun. And when it ceases to be fun, it's time to find another way.

A lot of cruisers are surprised at just how far their actual budgets exceed what they were told they could cruise on. A year or eighteen months into what they thought was going to be a five-year cruise, they're facing the depletion of their funds. They're stunned, disappointed, and a bit frightened for their future. The idea of stopping to work makes them feel like they've failed to live their dream.

We went into the whole thing with eyes wide open. We knew we would have to work, although we've had to work more than we thought we would. We thought we could take Social Security at 62 and that it would be enough to live on, but the reality of our budget has made us reach for 67 before taking benefits sufficient to live on. While this two year hiatus will be challenging and a logistical nightmare, it will give us the time we need to pad the cruising kitty. With that, we can go on once again with some assurance that the financial pressure will be off and the fun to suck ratio will once again tilt toward the fun side.

Obviously the form and function of the blog will change some over the next two years. The next few months will center on the difficulties and challenges of returning to land, something that many cruisers struggle with. Toward the middle of the time the focus will shift on finding the right boat for the next adventure. Monohull?  Catamaran? Trawler? No idea. There will be lots of posts reflecting on what we've learned these last five years - the good, the bad, and the ugly. We will, as always, continue to honestly share our thoughts and feelings as we make our way. We hope you'll find it informative and, as always, we welcome your comments and questions.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Treat For Yourself on Black Friday

Seeing how it's rapidly approaching Christmas, I'm going to indulge in a shameless little plug of my new book. Below, you'll find a copy of the introduction from the book. I think it will best tell you what the book is all about. If you're dreaming of going cruising this book is for you. If you've been cruising and are temporarily or permanently land-bound, this book is also for you. If you have family or friends that just don't get why in the world you would even think of doing something like this, buy them this book. It makes a great Christmas gift.

As with any of our writing, we've always promised that we would tell it like it is, the good, bad and the ugly. This book is no different. In it, I lay bare my soul. I hope that it touches you as deeply as the writing of it touched me. If you read it and it means something to you, please leave a review on Amazon. It's impossible to emphasize how much reviews mean to self-published authors. And, as always, I welcome your feedback.


Selling everything and sailing off into the sunset is a dream for many who, like I once did, live a life of unsatisfying work. It's a search for something more, some deeper meaning to life than the 9-5 grind. But leaving a life I knew to embark on a life wholly unfamiliar was hard work. It takes so much time and effort that in cruising circles it's known as the “five year plan.” We were actually fortunate to depart almost exactly 6 years after our initial decision to go.

Unless you've sailed your whole life, and the departure to a full-time life on the sea is just an extension of that experience, the learning curve is steep. We had never sailed or owned a boat before we decided to do this and we were suddenly caught up in a whirlwind of classes, how-to books, and an unending list of online forums full of experts eager to offer advice. My kitchen counter became Command Central with countless to-do lists (many of which had large dollar values in the cost column) neatly arranged in order of priority.

Balancing the end of one existence with the beginning of a new life rapidly became overwhelming. Our departure day brought no relief. The first year or two of this new life was immersion school, a hard-earned lesson learned nearly every day. My illusive and somewhat hazy concept of paradise felt distant. In its place I found an unnerving sense of uncertainty, fear of failure, and that mind-numbing blankness in the face of too much information. Every moment was dedicated to figuring out the “how” of this new life. The shelf in the living room grew full of books to guide us through the “how” of buying a boat and establishing a life on the water, but as the departure date approached, I began to lose touch with the very reason I was choosing to make this significant change in the first place. 

Five years into our new life, as I was cleaning out my photo folder, I was surprised that in spite of my preoccupation with figuring out how to make it all work, my photos had captured those moments that singularly defined the “why” of my journey. I began to collect them and to attempt to capture their essence in the written word. This book is a collection of those moments that most accurately portray why I felt compelled to live a meaningful life with the sea.

If you would like to read a review before you buy, here are several:

Ellen Jacobson

Ardys Richards

Keith Davie


I've been thinking a lot about gratefulness. The society in which I find myself living does not encourage it. Greed, impatience, consumption, and disrespect abound, but gratefulness is a commodity in short supply. I can think of only one brilliant exception to this trend, and that is with my friend Cindy Wallach of the blog Zachaboard. While she no longer tends to the blog, she posts almost weekly on Facebook with a "grateful for..." list. It's refreshing. It's inspiring. It's a habit toward which I should expend much energy. So as it's Thanksgiving Day here in the US of A, I will list just a few of those things for which I am extremely grateful today.

I'm grateful for my best friend, my husband of 43 years who is ever so patient with my shortcomings, who still finds the tenderness after all these years to run his fingers through my hair in a gentle caress, even in his sleep.

I'm grateful for my three grown children, for the beautiful women they are, for the amazing parents they have become.

I'm grateful for the eleven wonderfully unique grandchildren they have given me, for each of the different eleven smiles, and for the gift of laughter they give me each and every day.

I'm grateful for sunsets, for the ever-changing hues of them as they pass from brilliance to deep purple.

I'm grateful for friends who share the love of the sea, who know without the saying of it how much a life with the sea means.

I'm grateful for dolphins, for their whimsical humor, for their loyalty in accompanying us on passages.

I'm grateful for the smell of bread baking in the oven, for the smell of fresh coffee in the cool morning, for the scent of fresh pine as the sun burns off the morning dew.

I'm grateful for the way new grandbaby #11 rests in my arms, trusting so completely in my care.

I'm grateful for that moment of first waking, coddled in warm covers and the fuzziness of not quite cast off sleep.

I'm grateful for strong women in my life and for the good role models they are.

I'm grateful for the luxury of having one day set aside each year to think of nothing but these things.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Patch it up and keep it moving

Kintala is pressing on toward Titusville. Well, trying to anyway. The timing from Dolbow Island, where we spent the night after making a 10+22 / 45.2 nm run from Bulkhead Creek, meant having the anchor on board just as the sun broke the horizon. That was the only way to clear Jekyll Creek before the outgoing tide drained most of the water out of it. I am not a big fan of early mornings, but the anchor was up on time and we headed off down the Mackay River.

Jekyll Creek lies on the other side of St. Simons Sound from where the Mackay River enters. Just as we approached the mouth of the river Deb came up from below with the news that there was oil in the bilge. About that same time the radio came alive with reports that visibilities in the sound and at the approach to Jekyll Creek were less than 1/4 mile in dense fog. There were also reports of boats hitting the ground while trying to bluff their way through. While we debated what we should do next Kintala ran bow-long into that same fog. St. Simon Island and an anchorage we have used before lay just ahead, making the decision to abort an easy one. For the first time since we left to go cruising, the horn was brought into play, one long blast every two minutes, as we gently poked along. Within easy ear shot, a barge was tooting long and two short, underway not making way. Not bumping into someone was high on the list of things needing done at that moment. The anchorage lay just outside of the worst of the fog, making it much easier to park the boat and drop the hook.

Once settled in, we discovered that oil wasn’t the real problem. We have been hunting down and eliminating a few oil leaks for a while now, and there was no evidence of a new one. What was new was water leaking out of the pressure relief valve on our water heater; water than ran through the engine pan, collecting up some oil as it flowed its way past our engine blankets and into the bilge. We cleaned up the mess and, until we can get a new relief valve, used a union and a couple of clamps to bypass the water heater. That joint still leaked, so for now we keep the water pressure pump “off” unless we are actually using water. While doing all that, Deb said  she smelled a touch of diesel as well, but all I smelled was normal hot engine stink. We cleaned up, closed up the engine covers, and took it easy for the rest of the evening.

The next day we pressed on, making it to Cumberland Island. This time the post flight engine check left no doubt, the engine blanket was soaked with diesel and the stink could make eyes water. I was not in a particularly good mood as we dove in to see just how badly hurt we might be. After some frustrating troubleshooting we found a pin hole in the fuel line from the lift pump to the fuel filter. I was sure that the Navy Submarine Base nearby would have the facilities necessary to make us up a new one in about 20 minutes. But even if I could afford the kind of prices the military pays for things, the gun boats prowling the base entrance suggested not trying to bang on the front door to ask. (As it turned out a missile sub pulled in an hour or so after we dropped the hook. That explained the gun boats.)

With no replacement parts within sight, we went into full backyard engineering / repair mode. JB weld, some carefully sculpted rubber pads, and a couple of worm clamps later and the hole was no more. The next day’s run to Sisters Creek in Jacksonville proved the repair water-worthy. And while poking around snugging up this and that while looking for the fuel leak, we also manage to noticeably slow the flow of oil.

Now we are riding to a mooring ball in St. Augustine. The original plan was to spend a few days here, enjoying the visit with the crew of Blowin’ In The Wind. It is a bit depressing to be here without them, so the plan is to head to Daytona in the morning. One day after that should see us in Titusville.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Heart shots...

Yesterday Kintala and Blowin' In The Wind dropped their Beaufort, SC mooring lines just as the sun was peaking over the horizon. Laughter danced across the water as the grand kids helped get their boat underway. Months after catching up with each other in Beaufort we were finally setting off to cruise together. It would not be as long a trip as we had hoped. In Titusville Blowin' In The Wind would head off for a couple of seasons of work in the Tampa area. Kintala would not be going that way. I knew that would be a hard day. We have been just shy of a single family for more than a year now. The boys? Ah, the boys and Grampy T, carving, playing Ukes, taking "wizard walks" and visiting those places only Grand Dads and Grand Sons being together get to visit. The new baby? Already walking and smiling at me. And Mia...Mia has completely stolen my heart. But that goodbye was still weeks away and I simply ignored its approach.

It was cool, almost cold, clear, with just enough wind to keep the main sails full as the ebb tide carried our tiny flotilla down the river at better than 6 knots. Our two boats where actually in the middle of the long line as we joined the parade of southbound cruisers. There may be things more fun than sailing with grandkids sailing along side on the next boat over, but I have no idea what that may be.

The last time Blowin' In The Wind crossed the Port Royal Sound they took a pretty good thrashing, so nerves were strung a little tight as we rounded red marker "246" to look East toward Africa. Four of the boats ahead of us turned, clearly taking to the outside to head south. We continued across the Sound into Skull Creek with nearly perfect timing. The tide had shifted and we were now riding a flood tide and its rising water. That same tide slowed us a bit as we crossed the Calibogue sound, then carried us on toward Fields Cut. Fields Cut is one of the thin spots along this part of the ICW. Passing through on a rising tide is always a good idea. We ghosted over a thin spot without problems, snuck through some narrow spots, and were quite pleased with just how well the day was going.

That was a thought we should never have allowed.

Just before we exited Fields Cut into the busy shipping Channel that leads to Savannah, Blowin' In The Wind called with news that their little engine was spewing oil. The nearest place to anchor was just on the other side of that shipping channel near Green 35 and, of course, a container ship was headed in the channel. There was just enough time to get both boats across. Deb tucked us as close to shore as seemed safe while I scrambled to get the anchor wet for the first time in months. A quick splash and set and we were ready to catch Blowin' In The Wind into a two ship raft up. As the lines were made fast I called the container ship by name on channel 13 to explain why we were where we were. The Captain of Ever Lucky was as professional as could be, slowing and moving as far from us as possible as soon as he heard that we were rendering aid to a boat in trouble. He then laughed a bit as he explained that he would have been far less accommodating had we been a couple of goober weekenders dropping a hook for lunch in such an inopportune place. His giant ship passed giving us only a gentle rocking. Of course, just a few minutes later, a power yacht blew past at full honk, setting our two boats to banging into each other and nearly tossing one of the grand kids over the side. (In my perfect world there would only be full displacement hulls. Its a freaking boat, just what is your hurry? If you want to go fast, put some skin in the game and buy a motorcycle.)

Blowin' In The Wind's engine was a mess. Most of the oil that had been inside was now dripping off this and pooling in that. There was so much oil that is was hard to see just where it had escaped, and nothing showed on the dip stick. A second container ship passed by, also going as slow as he could but still way too close for comfort. I sopped up all the oil I could, filled the engine with fresh oil, and watched as my grand son fired up the engine. The leak still wasn't obvious so I insisted we get the boats out of there and anchor someplace safer. They dropped away while I went forward to haul the anchor and chain out of 25 feet of water.

The offending pump, cleaned up
A few minutes later Daughter Eldest called to say that they were spewing oil once again, and she had spotted the breach. Clearly their little engine was running on borrowed time. The nearest safe anchorage was up a place called St. Augustine Creek, just a mile or so away. We pulled in, rafted up again, and started digging. It appears that the water pump seals have failed, engine oil and raw water spraying out of a weep hole. I am a moderately talented mechanic, but we were miles away from anyplace where parts were available, and I am not that talented.

We made arrangements to get Blowin' In The Wind safely moved to a boatyard were repairs could be made. Sadly, Kintala can't hang around and wait. We need to be in Titusville ASAP for a different commitment. The goodbye I have been dreading came unannounced. Brave hugs were exchanged as Sea Tow set the lines to pull my family away. Then the lines that have been holding Blowin' In The Wind and Kintala together for well over a year were finally, painfully tossed. As they were making fast to the dock we passed by heading south to an anchorage a few miles further along, exchanging final goodbye's and "I love you"s.

I hope to be able to breathe normally again by morning.