Monday, January 6, 2014

The Blog is Moving!! 

Things are changing at

Until today...when you typed that were unknowingly transferred to another address of This was done to allow me to utilize the basic blog site..yet to own the domain name for later transfer to a more professional site.
Well,  that time has come. 

Tonight Kiko helped me finish up migrating the site from the cookie cutter blog site, to a full fledged website of my own, similar to Sailhavasu. What does this mean to you? If you follow the site...make sure you use the URL and you will go to the new site. If you were using the direct link to the old site, You will go to the old site that will no longer be kept up. All the material minus "comments" and links has been migrated to the new site. I'll be replacing the "links" section and start adding some new content besides just the blog to the new site real soon. But the Blog is live now. This was a big project. Thanks to web guy Kiko for walking me through it. 

So remember ...the blog is at the URL: same as it always has been.
 Just don't use the url anymore. 

One more time.... the address to use is:
Check it out!!!  :-)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pocket and Micro Cruisers - A Band of Brothers

4 Words to Live By

I tend to ramble on.....(big news huh?). :-)   So today's post will be 4 words that get down to the meat of the matter.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Call of the Wild or The Call of the Poindexter

The Call of the Wild  
The Call of the Poindexter
which do you answer to?

Risk Manager. The mere term brings to mind the calculating nerd sitting behind a desk, horn-rimmed glasses 3/4 of the way down his nose, peg leg pants, button up shirt, tie, shaking a fingers at people and scolding them for anything more adventurous than adding cinnamon to their oatmeal. You've known the guy, I call him a Poindexter. The one that finds every reason to tell you that you should not be doing what you are doing on the premise that he is watching out for you, when you really suspect that deep down inside,  it's so that he can justify his own inactions... never stepping outside of his safe protected cubicle himself and trying something "risky". I've got a guy like this in my head. At times I can hear him nagging at me.  He tends to annoy me, and often I would like to tell him to sit down and shut up. Sometimes I do....sometimes I don't.

Now that I have painted that picture, I'll throw this out there.... I myself am a huge proponent of risk management, not to prevent me from  doing something "adventurous", but rather as a tool to give me the best possible chance of success when I do.  Notice that I have conveniently slid the word "adventurous" into the same context in this paragraph, as I did "risky" in the previous paragraph. Are they one in the same. No.  However, make no mistake,  they are related in a symbiotic sort of way. For me it is difficult to imagine one without at least some of the other.

Each one of us has our own definition of what constitutes "adventure". It is a personal thing. How far you are willing to step outside the box...your comfort zone...defines what you consider your "adventure". A good friend of mine laughs when he defines adventure as " You know it's an adventure when, at some point during the trip, you wish you were somewhere else". While this is hilarious, there is a modicum of truth there for him as well as me. We both seem to get that adrenaline high, when we push ourselves a little outside the comfort zone. After all, an adventure is supposed to be something exciting, right?...something outside the norm, challenging,  that gives a sense of accomplishment when completed. What level of outside-the-box constitutes your "adventure" is a personal choice we each make.

So now I have stated that yes, for me setting out on an adventure, a quest that is really going to get my juices flowing, might be something that makes me a little uncomfortable at some point. It's going to be something that tests my abilities, and/or stretches the previously known boundaries I have set for myself. There is going to be a certain element of risk involved.  I know and accept that. It would be easy to misread this as "when Sean sets out on an adventure he is going to do something crazy, out there, or God Forbid....REALLY RISKY".....and this is where I would disagree with you.  For , as much as I hate the term and connotations that go along with "risk management"..this is where I do my best to practice the art.  And make no mistake... managing risk is an art.

For the better part of my adult life I have been involved in occupations that require risk management of one sort or another. One of the benefits of this is that I have become intimately familiar with working within a risk vs benefit model

In my current occupation it is at the heart of what I do. From top ranking officers all the way down the line to entry level firefighters, every single guy on my department can recite to you, on demand, our risk management model. It goes like this:

We will risk a lot to save a savable life 

We will risk a little within a managed plan to save savable property 

 We will risk nothing to save that which has already been lost. 

This is what we practice day in and day out. It keeps us alive. On every single scene we pull up on, every member of the crew has to know and understand where we are operating, within the risk management model. It is a dynamic thing, different on every scene and in a constant state of change as the situation either escalates, or de-escalates. An initial size up of the scene is made and a determination of what mode we are in announced ( High , Low, or NO risk).The risk management model then dictates which tactics and strategies are acceptable for the current status of the situation and which ones we will put into play. The scene is continuously re-assessed to make sure that the risks we are taking are commensurate with the benefits that we may be able to obtain by our actions.  As either the conditions change or goals are achieved, the model has to be re-evaluated to make sure the current risk level in is sync with the current goal. No-one is to put their life at risk for a fully involved house that will be bulldozed anyway.  That would be ludicrous. But, take that same scenario, add a trapped victim who is still in a location within a house that is deemed "savable" and we will pull out all the stops, accepting the high risk mode of operation in order to achieve the high reward (saving a life). The risk taken to obtain an objective, has to be proportional to the reward that is on the table and can be realized.

So what does this have to do with my sailing? Well, that risk vs benefit model is beat into my head and I suppose I tend to apply it to most things I do. I like to look at the possible ramifications of my actions, play them out both positively and negatively and then ask myself. "Self ....If, when I do what I am about to do, the most negative ramification of my actions happened today ....tomorrow, when I look back at the decisions I made .... will it have been worth it? OR ...will I be kicking myself thinking "that was a stupid, stupid decision and I never should have done that"?  Because let's face it...I am sailing for one thing,...pleasure. There are no lives at stake here if I do not go sailing , no monetary compensation, no career decision is at hand. I am here to enjoy this moment, period. I personally value getting pleasure from my sailing dearly. However, there is never a time that the chance to get that pleasure, makes operating in an uncontrolled high risk mode worthwhile. So I elect to allow myself to venture somewhere into the middle level of risk management model with respect to my sailing. I  "will risk a little within a managed plan " to obtain that adrenaline high, that pleasure, that I am seeking. No more. 

A Managed Plan

What the heck does that mean?  A managed plan?  Sounds like an investment portfolio...and I guess in a way it is. It is an investment in my, my boat's, and my crew's safety. It means not going hell-bent-for-election into a situation without first giving some consideration to my preparedness, my vessels condition, the weather, and any other considerations, up to an including my state of mind on that particular day, all of which  could affect the outcome.

Christmas Day was a prime example for me.  I really wanted to go sailing on Christmas Day. It looked like there was going to be good wind based on the forecasts the night before. I had friends who were also thinking that they might go out for a sail. What could be a better way to spend a few hours on Christmas Day?!  Christmas morning arrives.  Jo, her mom, and I all do our exchanging of gifts and spend the morning together.  As the afternoon came on....Jo says "We aren't doing anything, why don't you go sailing?" (Geese I love that girl!) Of course, I thought that was a great idea! 

I checked the weather.  It just so happened that the National Weather Service had issued an "urgent notice" for very strong winds to 45 knots along the Colorado River Valley just north of where we are located. The warning did not extend down into our local area, but the Southern edge of the warning area was only 15 miles north of us. On top of this ...this was just a day that,  for some reason, I was dragging a bit... just kinda tired. I figured we would probably not get the full 45 knots down here, but a good 25 to 30 was more than reasonable to expect based on that forecast. I've sailed in that before, but to be honest,  my fun factor usually starts to diminish approaching 30 knots. The more I thought about this the more I thought...I just don't feel good about it.  I'm tired, the wind is building, 15 miles North of here it's forecast to build to 45 which is WAY more than I would want to deal with.  If that happens, 30 knots would be more than reasonable to expect here locally.  30 knots......30 knots, and not being on my game,..... 30 knots, not being on my game and sailing a small boat with no engine.......

And there he was.....The Poindexter.  Right there in my face. He looked up from a stack of meaningless disheveled papers he was working on, stood up, pushed his horned rimmed glasses up his nose a bit, put both hands on the desk,  frowned,  leaned across,  stared right into my eyes, shook his finger and said..."If you end up on a lee shore today with the wind chop beating you up, cold, wet, and miserable and maybe a damaged boat....will you look back tomorrow and think that you made a sound decision today?"   He then threw down the facts to make his case...."Being that you know you really aren't on your "A" game today,  the winds are forecast to be very strong,  you won't be able to paddle against them should you need to, the water is cold... is this really something you want to do?" 

The know-it-all tone in his voice really disgusted me. I really, really hate that guy. But today ..he was right. I was tired, not really in the mindset, the forecast was a bit ominous, and setting out in an small engine-less boat in potentially challenging conditions and cold water was not the thing to do ,for me, on that particular day.   What was the quote from Top Gun.?...

"Better to retire and save your aircraft than push a bad position"...

 LOL  :-)  OK, OK...maybe  a little mellow dramatic but you get the point. I've got nothing to prove to anyone. I sail for the fun of it. There was a good chance I might not have fun,...and if not...what risk was I willing to accept?  Answer:  NONE

Rather than drag Scout to the ramp and go sailing, I went to the
movies with the girls instead. The theater is only a block from the beach. On the way down there I saw my buddies out enjoying a beautiful sail on the bay, the winds were perfect, never materializing into the really strong stuff I was worried about. I missed the sail. UGH!  As we got close to the theater the thought of "Man ..I really made a bad call on that one" was going through my head. 

But wait......   I was with my gal and it was a beautiful day. "Scout" was at home, undamaged, in the garage, awaiting our next call to adventure when everything felt right. I really hadn't missed out on anything. I've seen the type of sailing I "missed" many,  many times. I will see it many more times in the future as well. 

The movie we saw was the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. (I found that oddly appropriate material for a blog about my life). I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and got great pleasure from being with my gal. And after all, if I remember correctly, wasn't that what I was after in the first place...some pleasure.

Turns out it was a good call after all. So you may not always see me "out there". Sometimes that little voice is gonna start nagging me...and sometimes I am gonna listen. I guess reality is....I owe him one. So far...he's kept me out of any big trouble....and fact of the matter is, he really hasn't prevented me from achieving too much pleasure in my life. I guess his rent is paid up for a while. 

Damn Poindexter.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Re-Working Scout's Yuloh 
Moving Scout
Alternating between Yuloh and Stand-up Paddleboard Paddle. 
When my friend John built the yuloh for Scout for me....we were both scratching our heads when we read the plans as to which way the yuloh was to be curved. There is a 30 mm curve built into the loom of the yuloh. The blade of the yuloh is not symetrical. Not even close. There is an "up" side, and a "down" side.  After a lot of discussion we both settled on thinking that the flat side of the blade should be the "Down" side and curved the yuloh accordingly.  Guess what.  LOL  We both got it wrong. After reading everything I can find on the Yuloh and similar propulsion devices, I can see now that we got it backwards. I have been using the Yuloh as is and am able to consistently propel Scout forward at about 1.75 knots.  I am hoping that if I make the correction to the blade I can bump that to over 2 knots sustained. Flipping it over will allow it to make lift in the direction I want to propel the boat.  This will be an interesting experiment to see what change if any it makes. I have yuloh'ed Scout a lot by now, so I should be able to see any change pretty readily. I also put a more abrupt curve in the loom and the entire curve is located above the pivot point so that it should help to automatically rotate the blade and set the leading edge in the downward position on both directions of strokes. 

After a lot of different ideas, I settled on making relief cuts into the loom and installing wedges to reverse the curve. The was far easier than completely re-shaping the blade which is a fairly complex shape. So far so good. I should have it ready to try in the next day or so. 
relief and expansion cuts made...teak wedges ready to be epoxied in

Epoxying in Teak wedges

Showing the new curve

Wedges epoxied in and sanded down

another view of wedges

Now I will add wedges in the other side to stabilize the new curvature...then wrap the whole section in fiber glass tape to re-enforce the area.

More to come.....

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scout Northbound 1080

Towed Scout to Cattail on Friday to take advantage of a South breeze....sailed her all the way home...then bummed a ride down south to pick up the truck and trailer. Havasu in the winter time is such an awesome place....peaceful, quiet, beautiful... shared the day with some other sailboat buddies as I got closer to home. Super way to get away right here at home.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trying To Be "Sufficiently" Happy

I try to be as self-sufficient as I can with regards to my sailing. Why? Do I think that when I sail around the world or across big blue oceans that this is going to help me? Well, yes, IF I was to do either of those things it would help me a lot. But I am here to tell you that more than likely; I am not going to get the opportunity to do either of those things.  I'm a blue collar worker bee. As time goes by, I become older, more realistic, and I come to accept more and more, that “It’s Ok” that I am not crossing oceans.  There are many challenges for me right here in good old North America on the small little boats I sail.

Over the years I have taught myself basic splicing, basic rigging, basic sewing, basic woodwork, basic
electrical, basic canvass work, basic fiberglass work, and basic maintenance on the outboard.  At times working on my own stuff has bit me in the butt. The latest scenario was costing myself a $200 repair bill when I accidentally disturbed the shift fork while changing an impeller on my outboard's lower unit. This was a mistake I had made once before years ago (which made it that much more frustrating for me). I have done the job numerous times since then with no issues. Just brain farted this time. I guess my memory is going. However, after I did it…somehow  my memory suddenly restored itself ! (about 20 minutes and $200 too late). That's one of the pitfalls of the DIY'er working within a limited skill set. Once in a while you will get outside your comfort zone. When that happens, you just gotta go seek professional help, and pay the price. (By the way, I have been told many times "You need to seek professional help!) LOL .

 I'll readily admit that, at times, I have overestimated my DIY skill-sets in various disciplines and purchased items or materials I later deemed beyond my skill level to effectively put into use.  Sometimes It IS just better to swallow your pride and leave it to the professionals. But your skills never gain any ground unless you put them to the test. 

Taking all that into account, I have to say…that our boat “Dauntless” would not be the boat she is today had I not just bit the bullet, rolled up my sleeves, dug in, and got dirty a few times.  It’s just a plain old fact that sweat equity is a real and tangible thing. Because “Dauntless” is our boat (and my time is free to me) I was willing expend way more labor and love on many projects , than I could ever afford to pay a professional to do.  

Getting Realistic

Even though I don’t see myself having the opportunity to sail the Seven Seas…we do occasionally find ourselves in fairly remote locations or on the water in conditions where there are not a lot of other boaters around.

 It’s times like these I feel that the DIY’er in me really pays off. For one thing….I’m much more intimately acquainted with many aspects of my boat than I would be otherwise. I understand their condition, strengths, and weaknesses. I know what to look for and what to be alarmed by. I pick up on things that are changing quicker and I am able to address them sooner because of it. I think that this makes us safer on the water.  I know it makes me feel better and more confident.  It brings me joy to know that to some extent I have developed some skills that allow us a certain amount of freedom while enjoying a certain level of safety. I see the safety of my crew as my primary job. My crew is the most precious thing I have in this world. Anything I can do to help take care of them is a worthwhile endeavor.

I like to think that as a sailor I should strive for self sufficiency. However, I have to be realistic. I don’t want to come off sounding like the guy who has been sailing for whopping 6 months that scolds people for using a motor….because he is a “sailing purist”.  Some things I leave to the pros. I strive for self sufficiency because it makes me feel good and it may help me out in a pinch. Let’s face it…for a true long distance cruising sailor all these skills that I have learned are only the beginning. He/She truly needs to be confident that 2000 miles from help, they can get the job done, any job, if needed. For me…the max  number seems to be closer to 30 miles than 2000…but that can still be a long ways away at 5 knots. 

 I’m not gonna lie….it gives me a sense of satisfaction to be able to take care of as much as I can on my own. It makes me feel like a better sailor, it at times saves me a fair amount of money,  and I do think it makes us safer on the water. More than once some of the skills I have learned from maintaining and fixing our own stuff have come into play while on a trip and turned what could have been a crappy day , into "no big deal".  It’d be really easy to allow myself to start getting a little smug about "how smart I am" , fixing all my own stuff.  Yep, …. And about that time is when I am usually handing my debit card over to the pro…who’s running a charge on it…for fixing my mistake and teaching me something new. J  Basically he’s charging me for experience. You now, Experience …knowledge gained from correcting one’s mistakes. It's amazing how that can help keep your ego in check. ;-) 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crescent Wrench or Co-Pilot?

As a licensed commercial pilot and one that often feels that government agencies stick there nose in where they don't belong...I have to say that the Federal Aviation Administration seems to be making an incredibly smart move, and one that we in the marine world might consider taking  a lesson from.

After a number of airline tragedies over the last few years, the Federal Aviation Administration has started taking action and identifying that the new generation of pilots may not be developing their baseline fundamental skill-sets adequately, and instead, are relying on high-tech automation and electronics from day 1 in the cockpit.  It appears as though numerous crashes of major airliners recently have had the root cause determined to be the failure of the crew to recognize a developing situation is going bad, to disengage automated systems, and to take immediate manual corrective action in order to prevent a tragedy.

Even though I don't actively fly anymore I get to be around airplanes quite a bit, being stationed at an airport.
This is not necessarily a good thing for me as I cannot afford to fly them anymore, but it is still a lot of fun.  That being said, I have seen some things I find a little disturbing directly related to the above comments. Take for instance a fella flying through that I got to meet. He is very successful and decided he wanted to learn to fly.  So, he did what any aspiring pilot would love to do. He bought a single engine aircraft to learn to fly in. But...he didn't buy just any aircraft. He purchased what arguably could be called the ultimate single engine aircraft. This thing is high powered, high performance, and high tech. How high tech is it?  It is so high tech it has synthetic vision. It literally has CRT displays that should you lose all visibility (as in Instrument Flight Rules in the clouds) this large screen in the instrument panel will provide you with a deadly accurate and realistic view of what you would be seeing if the cloud was not there. It literally is like looking out the windshield with all the terrain synthetically recreated. It truly is amazing.

Gone are the days of navigating by chart, plotter, and an E6B cardboard "computer".  GPS is the norm now. This tiny little plane (which costs $700K used!)  has a three axis autopilot coupled to the GPS. For me...I don't get it. You really don't even fly this plane.... it flies itself. It makes me wonder.."If I stuck this guy in a Piper Cub (the aircraft I solo'ed in) with only an altimeter, compass  an airpeed indicator, chart, plotter and E6B....could he fly to Kingman (60 miles away from here)??

While this technology is totally awesome, it is only awesome if it is used as a tool, an adjunct,  to good solid basic flying.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to be sitting in the passenger seat when the guy who spent his formative years learning to "fly by wire" doesn't know what to do when the circuit breaker blows on the nav circuit and he is left to pick up the pieces and navigate by good old dead reckoning, time, speed, distance, and heading.

Seriously???  LOL 
The parallel to this are those of us that use similar tools on board our boats. I am not anti-technology at all. In fact, quite the opposite. I LOVE "techy things" and there are no shortage of them aboard when I sail.  I personally feel that if I am going to do coastal or offshore sailing a GPS should be aboard. Why? because it is an extremely cost effective tool that I can use to increase the accuracy of my navigation and safety of my crew.  However, that being said....if the GPS should fall overboard the skipper should in no way be totally screwed. He should have the basic chart-plotting and navigation skills to pick up the pieces and move on....safely.

I just started working with a buddy of mine, a new sailor,  on some basic navigation skills. The GPS did not even come out on the table so far. We have talked about charts, headings, magnetic bearings, true bearings, relative bearings, dead reckoning, fixes, running fixes, lines of position, magnetic vs true, magnetic variation, latitude and longitude, finding your location on a chart using a provided set of coordinates, determining your Lat/Long from the chart, various formats that Lat/Long can be expressed, displayed, and input in, using parallel rules, using dividers, using chartplotters...and a ton of other things.  It was a very enjoyable evening sitting around the table covered in charts,Coast Pilot books, and chartplotting tools... and a very very good review for myself. With all that I was able to show him, I still had to add in that I am not professional and really only know the bare minimum compared to what I would like to know. There is always more to learn.

We are going to meet again to go over the same stuff some more, do some practice problems, talk about set and drift, and a few other topics. Some of it I really needed to re-read myself to make sure I pass the info along correctly. He is very anxious to get into the "complexities" of GPS.  Wait until the curtain is drawn back and he sees the "wizard of gps" for what it is. It's not so much the mystical magic box so many give it credit for.  It's a incredibly easy machine to use, when you have a solid background of understanding in place before you start pushing buttons and choose to allow some flowing electrons to determine your fate.

Confused??  Learn the Language! 
What I feel a lot of people miss is the GPS is speaking to you in a language. Just like Spanish, Italian, Greek,  "language of Navigation". If you speak it you can give, receive, and understand information in it. If you rely on a half-baked understanding of a language, you may get in a cab in a foreign country thinking you are heading for the airport....only to find out on arrival you were  headed to the landfill. Imagine the ramifications of not clearly speaking and understanding the language of "navigation" with your GPS might be. is speaking in the

We are not geo-caching here, where you can always walk back to the car totally bummed out that you didn't find the Tupperware container with the plastic monkey in it. As the intensity of our adventures increase, so do the risks and ramifications associated with lack of adequate skills. I think the computer guys use the technical term of :
                     "Garbage in = Garbage out". LOL

I hope that when we are done with the limited training I am able to give my friend, he will find someone that can take him to the next level. I also hope that he,  like me, will think a GPS is an incredible tool and something he should have aboard. I hope he will feel confident that if a GPS is available he is using it correctly. And I hope that he will have the confidence and skill set that if the GPS is not available, "the sky will not be falling".  I guess I just hope that when when we are done.... and he is on his own,  he really buys into the fact that a GPS (and all the other electronic gizmos we use) are more like a Crescent Wrench than a CoPilot. The mind set he chooses will be up to him.

As for me?...  Well.....

It will be a cold day in hell before I allow a crescent wrench drive my boat.  :-)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sun Monkey Island: How the Other Half Lives

Got to meet Larry Foster of Minnesota when he visited Havasu for about ...uh....3.5 hours! LOL  Larry is building a CLC Pocketship and hopefully will attend the HPCC in 2015 with it.  He was in 'Vegas on business that ended early, had a few hours to kill before his flight he grabbed a car and jammed across 150 miles of desert to check Lake Havasu out.  I had a great time showing him around and talking boats before he had to get back on the road to McCarren Intl. Airport in Las Vegas ( 2.5 hours across the dessert) to head back to Minnesota. He had to catch a 1am flight. Larry  put a real nice write up of his visit on his blog. Check it out!

Sun Monkey Island: How the Other Half Lives:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Here's to the Gals! 
A little time and effort can make your sailing relationship blossom

I am a very, very fortunate sailor. My spouse sails with me. Because of this we have shared some very,  very special moments together. It makes sailing which is so dear to me... just that much better.  This post is going to refer to guys and gals in specific roles, but please know, I realize the genders can be reversed. For the majority of small boat sailors, however,...the male is in the role of the skipper and the wife as crew. In fact, I can bring up the analytics on any one of a hundred Youtube videos I have posted and invariably the demographic is 95%+ male.  So guys ...listen up! ;-)

Some of you are blessed with gals who have as deep of an interest in sailing as you do. Most of us do not. For many of us, myself included, our partners sail...because we do....  because it is something that they enjoy (hopefully) doing "together". I know that when I fall off the face of this earth,  'Jo is not going to be chomping at the bit every time the wind blows to get on the water.  That being said, she loves it when we get out there together, as do I. She is not into docking or handling the boat in close quarters, but is a great crew working within her comfort zone, can handle the helm anytime I need her too, and just enjoys relaxin' on the boat. We can stand Dauntless on her ear, and Jo is grinning right along with me ,not a care in the world....but it doesn't start this way.

We have been sailing together  for 25+ years. Now, I definitely don't know everything....but I do know about what it takes to keep her sailing with me. So if you are a newbie...or you are a guy that wishes your gal would sail with you and enjoy's a few tips.  

First you should know...and I am not kidding here.....

Don't do it. There is way to much love, laughter, enjoyment and memories to be made. 

Tip #1 - DO NOT SCARE HER....

Nobody likes to be scared. Nobody.  IF you scare her right off the bat, you blew it. Bringing her back from the state of mind that she is at your mercy and you are cheating death every time you go almost an undo-able task. Seriously, this is no exaggeration. I have seen this over and over and over again and it is a damn shame when it happens. Here are a few things to consider.

YOU have to trust yourself before you can ever expect someone to trust you. Period. If YOU are scared, uneasy, or unsure when you go out on the water that something terrible is likely to happen....Take some time, get your stuff together, and figure it out before you ask someone else to have confidence in you. Learn your boat. Know what she is capable of. Be honest about your own skill level and sail in conditions that are safely within your realm of control. If you don't and you hit the "Panic Button" in front of's all over. Likely for good.

Tip #2 - BE A GENTLEMAN...
...and act accordingly.

 I don't like being yelled at. Your gal does not like being yelled at. How many times have we seen the Chinese Fire Drill as a boat approaches the dock. The helmsman yelling and barking out orders. Why is he doing this???  Usually because he has not done his job of managing the vessel, and now he is panicking and expecting the crew to pick up his slack.  Your crew should NEVER have to "Jump!" for the dock.......EVER. You should have set the boat up for the docking maneuver and talked through what you want to do, how you are going to do it, and your back-up plan (You have a backup plan right?) LONG before your final approach to the dock.  Your job is to put your crew in a safe position to step calmly across. If you fail...swallow your pride, back off, enact the pre-planned backup plan,  go around, and do it again. It's basic Seamanship. Yelling at your significant other only ratchets up the mindset to the panic mode, hurts feeling, makes you look like the ass you are being, and ends usually in something sub-par.  That docking scenario will be over shortly.... the hurt feelings won't. This is even more in play in a crowd. Don't try to make yourself look better by making her look stupid, when YOU blew it.  You are in control of this vessel, right? Our boats are small. Rarely, IF EVER, do you need to really raise your voice. If needed, calm, clear, well thought out, talking instructions will get the job done 10 times better, make you both look good, and build her confidence immensely. Work as a team, not two individuals.

This goes to getting on and off the trailer too. STOP YELLING.  Invest in a cheap set of FRS radios so you can quietly and effectively communicate between the boat and tow vehicle on shore. People will be amazed how smooth you make it look and she will get an incredible confidence boost without you barking out orders like Drill Sergeant Dan.


When I sail Dauntless.... I sail Dauntless.  Dauntless does not sail me, nor does the wind current, tide, other boat traffic, etc. . I am in control of my boat. I am responsible for my boat. I will make that boat do exactly what I want it to do, when I want it to do it, for as long as I choose.  I will adapt the boat to changing conditions safely,  rapidly, efficiently, and skillfully as the need arises.   YOU MUST be in charge... always. YOU MUST DRIVE THE BOAT  from the time you leave the dock till the time you tie up. You never stop....
 No matter what happens...your head is, and must be in "DRIVE the Boat" mode.  If you are reefing, you must still drive the boat. If you are opening a drink, you must still drive the boat. Conversing with friends?....DRIVE THE BOAT!. Anchoring? ...DRIVE THE BOAT.  Picking up something off the floor?....DRIVE THE BOAT!. Your responsibility to that boat NEVER stops....and she needs to know that you:  #1.  get that,   #2. are capable of it, and #3. are demonstrating it. If you are distracted and allowing things to happen that shouldn't such as inadvertent tacks or jibes, inattentiveness to other traffic on the water, or just sloppy sailing....she will subconsciously figure that out....and her trust and comfort level will it should.   Be in charge, drive the boat.

Good ....Great for you.....not necessarily for her.  

I love to get Dauntless up on her ear, even beyond what is really an efficient angle of heel. It's fun for me and I enjoy it if I am just playing around not trying to make time or distance. I know my boat and I know she is not "going over". She is a ballasted keel boat and I understand that there is no possible condition I
would encounter on my home waters that could do more than knock her down.  I understand how to deal with that. I am in control. Your boat may or may not be a boat that could "turtle". should be in control of your boat. Knowing you are in control gives you confidence. However, a new crew has no idea what to expect. "Is it gonna flip?" "Are we gonna end up in the water?" "Am I gonna drown under these sails?" ....all these questions are going through their head because they simply do not know.

Baby steps, clear explanation of what is going to take place,  and demonstration of control is the key. This takes time. Not one daysail.  For some gals, more time than others and it is 100% dependent on trust.   

Here's how I know:

When I was a kid my dad scared the bejeezes out of me in an airplane. He was a pilot and he had a little Cessna. I flew with him all the time and loved it. This particular day we weren't doing anything too crazy, just buzzing around locally. He was flying and entered into a steep turn. He often allowed the nose of the plane to drop upon turning (I realize this now but not then)  and so during the turn he would then have to really pull back on the yoke to overcome the initial drop he had allowed to begin happening as he started the turn. The combination of the g forces from the steep turn, and the extra force from pulling up the nose back up and arresting the altitude drop would make my head feel "funny" and unfamiliar as you could feel the g forces affecting you. Was I in danger? No, not really, it was just sloppy flying, however I didn't understand that at all. I vividly remember one day asking him to stop the turn as it was a fairly steep one and I was getting a little freaked out at the sensation I was experiencing.  I wasn't in danger...but I was scared, uncomfortable, not liking what was going on and what I was feeling. Whatever you want to call it, it wasn't working for me. Instead of stopping or easing the turn,  the reply was something along the lines of an annoyed "What? C'mon, you've done this before" and the turn continued. The turn ended up just fine....sloppy but fine. I felt stupid, embarrassed, and knew I didn't like the sensation I just experienced. I dreaded every turn he made from then on scared that I was going to feel that same sensation I did not like or understand.  Our relationship with respect to flying was never the same. I realized that day that it didn't matter if I was scared or freaked out....he was gonna do what he wanted to do. End of story. I barely flew with him from then on.  I was uneasy every time I did that he might do something I didn't like, and not stop if I asked him.

  Now....some might think that all that was just because I was scared of flying..right? After can't fix that.  Wrong.  Years later as an adult I got my own private pilots license, then a sailplane rating, then a commercial license, then an aerobatic commercial sailplane sign-off, a commercial hot-air balloon rating ... gave fully aerobatic rides at a local glider port to paying passengers and flew corporate hot-air advertising balloons.  It was not that I was too stupid to understand flying, or a wuss that stopped me from flying with the old was a lack of trust and respect for his lack of responding to my concerns.  I have NEVER forgot that lesson. Sailing is no different.   Baby Steps. Ease her in. Do only what she is comfortable with until she gives the go ahead. Then ....with an explanation of what you are about to do, and her approval, take it up a notch. Sheet in a little and heel a little more. Demonstrate that you posses the ability to arrest that heel immediately if you so choose by releasing the mainsheet and bringing her back down. YOU are in control...not the boat... not the wind. Progress only with her consent and comfort level. This method takes time but will advance her without freaking her out.


This sounds pretty easy to understand ....but ..unfortunately...  I see this all the time. A guy is learning to sail. He is doing a great job and advancing in the conditions which he is comfortable sailing. Next thing you know he takes his sweetheart out on a ripping white capping 20+knot day to impress her with all he knows and to infect her with the sailing bug. He has only been out in this kind of wind just a handful of times....and he is still working through his own comfort with these conditions. DUH! Don't do this!  She will read you like a book. You are on edge.....she will be ten times on edge as you and scared to death....and you just blew it. The kind of out of control cluster (you know what) sailing that will occur when you are basically single handing with an audience, and you don't have your stuff quite together is to say the least...not confidence building....and one of the best ways ever to become a solo sailor for life.

Get your stuff together before subjecting someone else to it.


This can be effective to the right person....although granted, to some people it makes no difference. However, when sailing a ballasted keel boat.... a true understanding of the physics of heeling can help to alleviate fear if the recipient of the information is an analytical type of person. If not...don't spend much time on it.   I usually will start down the road of explaining how the sails automatically are de-powered when the boat heels, and the gravity effect on the keel is at the same time "powered up", both effects maxing out at the sails flat to the water (90 degrees) ....and that's all she wrote. I follow this immediately with "I have never been in conditions that have done that and I do not expect to do that today". Which is a 100% true statement.

 Nothing on this lake is putting Dauntless' mast under water...and I can de-power her sails just by easing them out.  Now if you are on a capsize-able have a little more talking to do....but having a clear understanding of what is happening, why, and what to expect...can be very re-assuring. It  has to be done in a "non-threatening" manner of speaking and explanation. Horror Stories from the skipper about some "Crazy incident" designed to show how awesome you are, don't help much. Yes, I have flipped non-ballasted boats, but with the exception of flying symmetrical chutes, I have NEVER come close to a knockdown where the mast was in the water. Has it happened to some?  I am sure it has, however, it has to be extremely rare...or you need to find a new boat/crew. LOL  Filling the head of a new sailor with your worse stories, and some that were "told to you" doing them no good. Keep it factual, realistic, informative, and most of all POSITIVE.


I had a friend who has a wife that is very uneasy about any heeling. Unfortunately for them...they both choose to sail mono-hull boats.'s a fact of life that monos heel. While there are varying degrees of stiffness...they all heel.  Now this person just so happened to own a trailer-able mono that , in the right conditions, could be turtled.  Not easily, and it didn't happen often, but it was possible to do. Once turtled the boat was not self-rescue-able and your day was done....and probably not gonna be a good day at that. If you know that about the boat you choose, accept it, and sail it accordingly, there is no issue whatsoever there. You are prepared, and you sail the boat to the conditions.  Every un-ballasted boat sailor out there does this every time they go out. There is nothing wrong with the design. You just need to sail it for what it is.

 This for me , would not be a characteristic of a boat that I would be happy with, so I have a different style of boat, and I get all the plusses AND minuses that come with the ballasted style and design I choose. No harm no foul. However, this guy was of the mindset that this was a good boat for his wife because it generally sailed really flat. That was a good thing because as soon as it started to heel, she would get REAL nervous real fast.

He called me because they were in the market for another larger boat. He wanted to find another boat, larger than what they were currently sailing, "that sailed the same way as the boat they had"  ...."FLAT".  Why?  because his sweetheart was petrified of heeling.

To me this made zero sense.  Why was she petrified of heeling?  She was petrified simply because she knew that the particular design of boat that they were sailing could "go over" if it heeled too far. to me that is a valid concern that she had,  that needed to be addressed.  Perpetuating it by moving into a boat that exhibits the same exact characteristics, then would just perpetuate the all consuming fear that "at any second if we heel too far we are going over and in trouble".

My point is this:  If she had been introduced to a boat that heeled more, but that did not have a propensity to turtle, shown that she could have control of the situation, that the skipper was confident in the boat, and that she could learn to sail any boat within it's limits and be confident that she knew what to expect and what to do....  the whole exercise would have been moot.  No matter what design of boat they purchased.  Educate her, ease her into it, demonstrate that the situation is totally under control...and go boat shopping for any boat you want! And....get rid of that nagging fear that she must always have in the back of her mind that disaster is one gust away.

Last but not least:
If nothing else in this blog post is agreeable to you ....please consider this.


It is totally rational and reasonable to them at that particular time...and as a responsible Skipper, Spouse, Friend..... it should be to you as well.

Being afraid and not in control is one of the worse things that can ever happen to anyone. It can lead to lifelong distaste for a person or situation.  If at all possible STOP THE EVENT that is scaring the person can reason it out later.....figure out strategies to overcome it about it later


If you do that one time (make the change) will gain lifelong trust from your partner. She will eventually know that if you are OK with what is going on, she should be too as you have her best interest at hand 100% of the time.  And that leads to years and years of wonderful sailing together.

 And I can tell you that firsthand. 

Love ya Babe!

Scout Ghosting Upwind

Some peaceful moments gliding Scout back upwind in a dying breeze the other night.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Havasu Area Sailors Rendezvous at Steamboat Cove

Some rough cut clips of last weeks sail to Steamboat Cove....Great time with Great Friends...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Siti-Toof 2 disease.....
Heard of it?
I think I have it. 

I've been sailing since about the 7th grade. I'm edging towards the 50 mark now, so I will let you do the math,  but it's been a while. Through those years many different hobbies have gathered my attention at one time or another. Radio Control Airplanes, Scuba Diving, Real Airplanes, Sailplanes, Hot-Air Balloons, Photography, Video, ...yeah...I tend to bounce around. In fact, I can remember it severely pissing my dad off that I, unlike him, bounced around from one thing that interested me to another.  It has never bothered me a bit that once I felt I had mastered something, or at least taken it as far as to where the challenge and fun had worn off, I would moved onto the next thing. I probably would have more $$ in the bank had I stuck to collecting the Lionel Model Trains I started collecting when I was in high school, and never tried anything new....but I would not have led half the life I have. No regrets there, for even one second.  

One thing, however, has pretty much been a constant in my life since the 7th grade. Sailing. Why? I have no idea. I had no "in" into sailing. I knew no-one that did it, nobody in my family and none of my friends.  But the first time I saw people sailing on our lake, I knew I had to do it. What I did  not know, was what a life changer it would be for me. 

Like so many, I started small and the boats eventually started growing. First an 8 foot plastic catamaran,

 then windsurfers, beach cats,

17 footers, then 23 footers...



que the scratched record sound effect!

What happened? Never any bigger than a 23??? What??? C'mon.... Every sailor has it. I had it. You know, that desire to just keep sailing bigger and bigger craft. Yes, someday 'Jo and I were gonna own a "big boat" that we would keep at the coast.  They call the disease "two foot-itis"...that nagging uniquely American trait of never being satisfied with what you have and always wanting more. Bigger, faster, heavier, longer, etc, etc, etc. 

Here's the issue with a "Big Boat"....

I can't afford it!!!! LOL 

 I cant afford it and I only recently realized it. hahaha This last summer we were actually looking at making the move, getting the "big boat", and realizing the dream.  It was kind of a cruel joke when I finally figured out the punchline...but there it was ....punching me squarely in the face. "HEY STUPID...YOU DO NOT MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE THIS LIFESTYLE!" .  Actually, I thought I had it figured out where we could afford the big boat, and in truth, we actually could. We just couldn't afford the slip, maintenance, upkeep, repairs, etc etc etc,, Maybe it is more correct to say....we could afford it, IF we were willing to modify enough other aspects of our current lives to do it BUT we are not. At least not right now.

Along comes Scout:

Now oddly enough and totally unrelated to this exploration into the possibility of purchasing a "big boat", about the same time I was finishing up work on "Scout" getting her ready for her first sail. Scout was another "exploration" into new territory. A truly capable micro-cruising boat of only 13'10". Seriously?  LOL  How can that be? And who in their right mind would allow themselves to be seen on such a ridiculously small craft? No self-respecting sailor who has spent years moving up through the boat sizes, honing his skills to someday sail the "oceans blue" would be caught dead driving this thing. Right?  Wrong! least in my case. 

The last few months has been a re-invention of sailing for me. I have had so much fun and joy sailing this pint-size plywood boat that I strap on like a backpack to go sailing, I can't even tell you. The initial complete and utter disappointment upon the realization that slip fees at the coast were going to be in the $700/month range for a big boat (and that, that was not a number we were willing to part with)  has been replaced by the sheer joy of a whole new arena of skinny water cruising grounds right close to home, just sitting there waiting for me to explore them. The amazing ease and speed of rigging/de-rigging this little boat makes going out for a day-sail a no-brainer.....even if only for a couple hours. Her ability to handle some pretty stout conditions, and also to be driven manually without the hassles associated with internal combustion engines in the marine environment, make her incredibly capable and versatile..and FUN. And when we are done blasting along the shoreline, I bring her home on her micro-trailer, towed with my paid for, 28 year old,, gass-sipping, beat-up, old mini-truck........

and tuck her safe and sound into the garage. It's about as close to "Free" sailing as I think I am likely to get. 

Suddenly there are a myriad of new sailing events on the horizon that I wish to attend that previously were no-can-do's. Events that traverse water thin enough that most would consider it a puddle, yet more than sufficient to sail Scout confidently across. There is also another whole community of sailors to meet and become friends with. Folks that discovered many, many moons ago, what is just now becoming apparent to me. Many of them are the pioneers of the beach-camping, micro-cruising genre. And there is lots of new stuff to learn, because even though Scout is still a sailboat, she is a micro-cruiser first and foremost, not just different in length but style of sailing and certainly in state of mind. Really could there be a better boat for the Pardey call to action of "Go Small, Go Now" than a true micro-cruiser? Now I realize that they were referring to "going over the horizon and not coming back",  but that is not in the cards for everyone. In fact,  the truth of the matter is...most of us will never do it.  Even for those that will achieve it, but are still years away from the departure date....a boat like "Scout" gets you out of the recliner, on the water, and barely makes an impact on the savings account. And don't think for a second there are not lessons to be learned sailing a small boat.  I can tell you....there are. The bonus is, as they are learned, skills improve and confidence builds.

Some of my friends "get it"...most don't. That's OK. 'Till I sailed her, I didn't totally "get it" either. I was intrigued a bit by it, but I didn't really "get it". 

I work for a living and will be working for years to come. It's not in the cards that I will sail away over the horizon in a $300k Bristol Channel Cutter....and honestly, sounds wonderful but I am not sure if I would love it or not.

 I have had just a tiny taste of some longer distance coastal passages in "Dauntless". Enough to realize that 95% of the people that profess they want to do it,..have absolutely zero idea of what they are talking about.  Enough to realize that I like to do it for relatively short durations, when I know eventually, I will be going home to a warm bed that does not move, a hot shower, and  no thought in the middle of the night of a dragging anchor, slatting halyard, or stretching dock line.  A home where more than likely I will not feel nauseated for 10-12 hours at a time, and all my crap is out in the garage to play with. I have determined for myself that all that stuff is fun for me on a "part-time" basis only.  LOL 

Here is the lesson I have learned.  "Does that make me any less of a sailor?" Answer for me ..."No".  No-one can answer that question for you....but you. Truly though ...the real question needs to be "Does the Sailing you ARE doing make you happy?"  and the answer needs to be "Yes".  If it is, it really does not matter what anyone else's opinion is because when it comes right down to's your call.  If it does not make you happy....what's the point?

 I sailed Scout the other day in the company of 9 other boats, all larger. There was a time when I would have been consumed with envy of the others. I love their boats. Every one of them has it's own special characteristics. And then there was my boat... little "Scout".

 As I sat there on the beach,all the boats tied up in front of us...I found not a twinge of envy. Rather....I found it awesome that everyone there loved the boat that they were sailing, as their boat  fit their particular style and budget at this particular moment in time. Without those boats, every single one of them.....we would not have all been there enjoying the evening. So every boat that was there....was the "perfect" boat. Why? Because its owner was not at home thumbing through a magazine "wishing" he was out there joining us, or somewhere else sailing......they were doing it, living it, loving it. 

 The median age of those of us that are partaking in this pocket-cruiser/micro-cruiser thing , well.....let's just say we are not spring chickens.  At this age...if you are not finding something to bring you are throwing away precious seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, or God forbid ...YEARS....that you cannot retrieve. If you think sailing is your nirvana as I do....get off your ass and find something to sail, be it 90 foot long or 12.....get it....and Sail It! Once the canvass is up and the sail drawing, I guarantee you, you will be consumed in the joy of the moment. It is an escape from reality like no other. Size doesn't matter.....participation does. 

For the time being, anyway,...the answer to the question for me is suddenly..."YES!" I am happy doing exactly the type of sailing I am doing. I still love my pocket-cruiser, "Dauntless",  and will continue to sail her as well.  I also love this little micro-cruiser "Scout". It appears as though big boats are "out" for me...and that's OK.

On the way home the other day I pulled up to the gas station with "Scout" in tow. The guy at the next pump laughed and said...  "Gotta love that!...there is no ego associated with THAT boat!" LOL   I took it as a compliment of the highest order. :-)

So back to the title of this blog.....Yes, I have it. A raging case of "Siti-Toof 2" disease ( 2 foot-itis in reverse!) Surprises me too! But I just keep looking at my favorite boats online and in magazines.....each one two foot smaller than the last. 

Of course, don't forget....I am still me and always will be.  I reserve the right at a later time to change my mind and pick out whatever size boat I can afford and brings me joy. Why? because that is why I do it. You should too.