Thursday, April 14, 2011


As a blogger I am a failure. First law: blog often. I failed. So an update: We did get moving eventually, and are now in Georgetown, Exumas waiting for the Out Island Regatta. The sailing has been glorious, and uneventful. Lessons learned to come.

"Dance," AKA "Mother Ship" decided to go to the Med by ship. They had had enough of the heat and humidity, Simone was longing for European food and shops, and Jos was longing for Simone to be happy and stop bitching.

Just before Xmas, as we were weighing anchor for the Bahamas, a large advertising agency hired us to help develop a long term strategy for the agency brand. This involved first interviewing CEO/CMO's around the world US, UK, Germany, Mid-East, India, China, South Africa and other words a great gig. Once we arrived in Georgetown, we left the boat and dog in the care of my son Shae. We are now back, boat and dog are great, son headed back to civilization.

Also around Christmas, my constant companion and best friend died at the age of 14. We miss Elmo, the "little man in the brown woolly suit."

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Name Habour

Pictured is Susan and Checkers returning from the search for Checker's lost Frisbee. Occasionally he lets it drift too far before fetching it and then loses sight of it. So he starts swimming for the Bahamas in his search, and we have to get him.

We're on a break from Ft Lauderdale and boat tasks in preparation for the sail to Mexico. Hurricane season is closing in and time to head South to the Rio Dulce via Isla Mujeres and Belize.

I'm not sure what Simone and Jocelyn will do on Mother Ship. I hope they will come with us, but they have had some setbacks and have had no offshore experience, so it's going to be a big leap for them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Making Money On Speedboat

Speedboat went for a light air day sail today. Sails 15 knots in 10 knots of wind,,,that's fast. Her builder was flown in from New Zealand for the sail, some guests. The day sail cost the owner $40,000 for the afternoon. The navigator was brought in at $7000 for the day, and the cheapest, youngest, dumbest deckhand makes $750 a day. I missed my calling.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cracker Boy

We've Been hauled at Cracker Boy Boat Yard in Palm Beach. It has a lift that can fit us, allows us to do our own work, and has available many talented professionals available when I screw up.

While here, "Speedboat" is being put back together and launched. Amazing, She is 100 feet long, her keel is 15' and mast 130+. They needed to bring in two construction cranes to put her together. That entails lifting the hull, placing it on the keel which is bolted in place, then the mast goes in, then the whole massive thing is lifted and carried to the pit where is is very carefully lowered into the water. Then she heads to Newport for the Bermuda race.

This by the way is the boat Bronson chartered to break the TransAtlantic record and is considered the fastest monohull in the world. She is utterly amazing.

Waiting For Whatever

As so often happens our "plans" have been modified. We actually did spend a very nice time in NoName Harbor, then Miami, then NoName waiting for weather. Our window arrived. We and our companions, Jocilyn and Simone, headed out in our respective yachts at 4 in the morning. By 7 it was apparent that it would not be pleasant. We were making about 3 knts over the ground under power in six foot seas...a long long day ahead and we were just on the edge of the Gulf Stream. The kicker was the horizon...the West Wall of the stream was about 5 miles to the East and appeared as a herd of elephants, indicating the stream would be running 8-10 feet, and our speed cut to almost nothing. Screw it.

Another few days and some fabulous dinners aboard "Dance" passed. I now refer to Josh's/Simone's boat as "Mother Ship." She is a large motor yacht, has a real kitchen, dishwasher, laundry room, water makers, huge well stocked freezers, all the comforts. Combined with Josh's talents with meat, and Simone's French arrogance about food, dinners aboard Mother Ship are wonderfully elegant.

But goods things are fleeting. Mother Ship's generator went down, so she had to go to Ft Lauderdale for repairs. Then Josh and Simone had to return to Toronto for a couple of weeks to tend to their lawsuit against the manufacturer of their last yacht. So Susan and I decided to get hauled in Palm Beach, which would be easier than getting work done in the Bahamas or Mexico.

That's why were not in the Bahamas right now.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Waiting For Weather

Stuck in Islamorada, waiting for fair weather to permit a comfortable crossing to the Bahamas is probably not the worst thing in the world. We could be in Minneapolis or Buffalo or Boca for that matter. Among the diversions are Jocilin and Simone (pictured), who have become great friends and traveling companions.

I don't really form friendships quickly and easily. But among sailors there is often an instant chemistry, Not always, but often enough. It has to do with being ever so slightly "off." Simon assigns it to people who living under the radar. People who reject normal rules and patterns of behavior and who live by their wits. For me the "off" part has to do also with how people react. Sailors, by definition, choose a life in which they are weather, to failed equipment, to bad decisions, to social/legal proscriptions, etc. Then, they spend most of their time either trying to avoid "bad things happening," or to react well when bad things do happen. Cheated death again.

So we are bound by a shared psychology (shit happens), shared stories, a shared attraction to future dangers, and shared advise/experience on how to avoid shit happening though we know it will and that's why we want to do it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mangrove Monkeys

We have been in the Keys since late October. Our intent was to be in the Bahamas by now but we're running late, as usual. Lots of reasons: decided to wait until after Xmas so we could have time with daughter Kate (now at Tulane), the death of my sister Sue, more stuff to get finished on the boat, and most recently the dreaded weather.

Smooch is tucked into the mangroves of Lorelei's in Islamorada. Lorelei's is a key's beach bar/ restaurant/cabana/marina that features good protection from winter Northers, live bands each night, terrific conch fritters and fresh fish, local fishing guides, local color and Mangrove Monkeys.

Our first Mangrove Monkey swung by Smooch on his 24 sailboat the first night we anchored here. He wanted to know if we owned the submerged sailboat on the flats. We didn't. "Well," he said, when he finds the owner he's going to offer him 2 cents to pull that boat out of there cause she just needs a little bit of care and she'll be a yacht again. The boat's still there.

2 Cents is a pretty typical middle-class Mangrove Monkey: find an old boat that no one wants, fix 'er up to live on, sail, do odd jobs to feed yourself and life is pretty good. There are, as one would suspect, also lower-class mangrove monkeys. We usually encounter them at dusk as we land our dingy in the mangroves to search for necessities of life (restaurants, laundry, and food markets). From the tangle of roots, in the dark, someone says, "hey." Then another "hey." Then a lit match illuminating a couple of thin bearded faces sucking on a huge doobie or pint. Though tempted, I have not yet sat down with these guys to do an ethnographic interview. I am still a little chicken shit from Greenwich at heart.

The upper class Mangrove Monkey is more like you and I, if you have not moved beyond the 60's. Hippyish. Lives in a houseboat or sailboat that he keeps snugly tucked in the mangroves to avoid both dockage fees and Northers. Works at a trade, occasionally. But also flies on planes and goes on vacations. Civilized, sane, relatively drug free, a bit weird. My kind of people.

The guy at Boot Key who built a Viking ship to compete in the Boot Key Dingy Race (pic above) qualifies, in my typology, as an upper class Mangrove Monkey. Rather than hold down a regular job he instead found an old inflatable dingy, got it so is didn't sink on him, and spent a month converting it into a Viking ship that would, it turn out, place dead last in the race. By a lot.

Dick would be another of the MM elite. He is a ship's carpenter, and had been aboard someone's trimaran anchored out in the bay as he worked on it. That's hard living when you have to row your dog to shore twice a day, in sometimes very nasty weather. Now he has moved up to a very charming houseboat nestled deep in the mangroves in the area of Lorelei's know as the "Poor People's Section." He works occasionally, or spends time reclaiming a 26 foot sailboat named after his ex-wife and "best friend," or spends a day or two helping someone else on their boat. He is smart, well-read, well educated, involved in the world, divorced from his Californian wife who clearly adores him and he her, and the father of two grown daughters.
I don't know Dick's story yet, beyond the superficial stuff. I do know there are some great conversations there.

A final note to avoid confusion: the picture of the old guys at Lorelei's is of the Mayor's Office which is the entrance area to the bar. On most nights ( after 3pm) there are 10-20 of the same locals holding court, telling tales, criticizing the seamanship of cruisers anchoring in the bay, occasionally grabbing ass of a young unsuspecting tourist.