Monday, December 16, 2013


16 Dec 13
Kandahar, AFG

This warm, sunny weather sure looks inviting.

Wow!  My brain is smoking.  I have been thinking about and planning a schedule for boat maintenance and the installation of all the additional equipment that we will be adding when we take possession in June.  Sometimes it can get mind-boggling…….in addition to being expensive.

Here is a list of things we need/want to install or have installed before we being serious cruising:

bimini top                                                s/s marine grill
diesel marine generator*                        watermaker*
mast mounted radar transmitter              single side band radio*
fax modem for ssb radio                         solar panels atop bimini*
wind generator*                                      false flrs in bilge for storage
additional 110-vlt outlets                         additional 12-vlt outlets
wifi booster/antenna/router                     mattress support/vent

Keeping in mind the above items are just the installations we need to do….this doesn’t count the maintenance things that we have to/need to do prior to pushing off.  *A there are several of the above installations that will take a week to do, so the list is a fairly time consuming one.  (EVERYTHING takes much longer to accomplish than you think it will, especially on a boat……if you think 3 days, add twice that to it.)

I am not by nature a patient person (Dahleen, my wife, can vouch for that).  I WANT to get everything done as quickly (and perfectly) as possible, so we can begin the real adventure of the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and beyond.  We had kinda planned on leaving the Gulf and East Coast of the U.S. for the latter years of our cruising journey when we might need to be closer to home and not able to be doing the off-shore stuff any longer.  So, with that in mind, I had a tentative plan to get as much done as quickly as possible and go to the Bahamas around the first of the year (2015).  After looking at the mounting list of things to do, and after Dahleen pointed out that we don’t really have a deadline, I think we will “go when we get done”.  

We will have the bimini installed in Cleveland before we take the boat to the Chesapeake in June…..we really need it for this 3 plus week-long trip.  Also in June, while enroute to the Chesapeake, I can install the grill and hook up the extra propane tank……and maybe even install the cable and mount for the radar while the mast is down going across the Erie Canal.  I can also replace all the mast mounted lights (anchor light, all around light, deck lights, etc.) with LEDs. 

Once we get to the Chesapeake and put the boat on the hard (out of the water, sitting in a boatyard), I will take care of all the preliminary hole drilling, thru-hull installations, seacock installations, water filter mounting, running hoses, etc., for the genset and the watermaker.  I also have a minor repair to make to the gelcoat on the rudder, and we have to do a complete “bottom job” to get the boat ready for its’ new saltwater environment.  After about a month, we should be ready to launch (splash) from the yard and proceed south to warmer weather….probably to Georgetown or Charleston, SC.  If our friends on Wombat of Sydney are going to be in G’town for the winter, we will go there; if not, we will go to Charleston.  Charleston City Marina is much nicer with lots of things to do and great places to eat, but it’s also more expensive than the Georgetown Marina.  Another positive thing about Charleston vs. Georgetown is……Charleston Harbor is much closer to the ocean than is Georgetown.  It takes us about an hour or more of motoring (up the Pee Dee River?) from the ocean inlet to get to Georgetown vs. about 20 minutes of sailing right into Charleston Harbor.  So, Mike and Lynn are the keys to us choosing Georgetown vs. Charleston.  J

In South Carolina, the plan is to bring the genset and watermaker over from the house in TN and install them there.  We also plan to install the SSB, the solar panels, and the wind generator there.  Mike is a whiz on all things mechanical and he has all these systems on his boat, so I will utilize his expertise if possible.  I am guessing it will take us another month, if all things go as planned.  Once we are through here we will do some family visiting and shove off for Florida.

I think we will spend a week, or so, in the Melbourne area visiting with Dahleen’s parents, and also a friend of mine (Scott) from Afghanistan.  We will continue to move southward, probably going back to the Biscayne Bay/Coconut Grove area for a week, and then either cross to the Bahamas, or travel thru the Keys.

We will have to discuss plans beyond that.  I don’t think we are going to get to spend as much time in the Bahamas (if we even get there) as we want to.  The last time we were there we stayed for 4 months and felt we were rushed.  If that is the case again this time, we may just come back to the East Coast and cruise the Chesapeake and New England states for the summer and try to be back in the Bahamas in late November. 

It’s a lot to think about……and I am sure the “plan” will change multiple times, but so what?  As Dahleen would say, “We have no deadline, right?”

Sunday, December 8, 2013


8 Dec 13
Kandahar, Afghanistan

I think those are reserved for Dahleen and me.

While looking ahead to the next chapter in our lives, I started thinking about how un-ordinary it is for folks to desert their lives on land and live full-time on a boat cruising about the tropics.  While there are more people doing it than you would imagine, it is still definitely the exception, rather than the "norm". 

As I thought about the future, I also reflected on my too is a little un-ordinary.  

  • ·      Army commission as a LT at age 25; 
  • ·      Army flight school at age 27.5; 
  • ·      Flew thousands of hours before retiring with 25 years service; 
  • ·      Started a second career as a general contractor;  (I enjoyed it a lot and was more successful than I should have been....timing is everything.);  
  • ·      Learned to scuba dive at age 46; 
  • ·      Bought a 42' sailboat at age 50 with VERY little sailing experience; 
  • ·      Took off across the Atlantic (Gulf Stream) to the Bahamas for 6 months after basically never having sailed out of Charleston Harbor before;
  • ·      Started missing flying after, basically, 9 years of not flying and became an EMS pilot flying one of the most fun aircraft in the world (Bell 407); 
  • ·      Bought 3 Harleys at age 53 having never ridden a motorcycle before;
  • ·      Bought a motorhome and traveled all over the country as a float plot flying EMS;
  • ·      Went to Afghanistan at age 56 flying a Huey gunship, working with some really "special" people;
  • ·      Just recently bought the next cruising boat, and now counting the days till we push away from the dock to....


P.S.  Almost all of the above un-ordinary events were shared with my wife, Dahleen, who is as adventurous as I am, if not more so.  



Wednesday, December 4, 2013


4 Dec 13
Kandahar, Afghanistan

Wishing we were back here.

Well, we hit a little snag…nothing major, but…

The estimate for ground transporting the boat was $1500 - $2000, while the QUOTE was $3700 plus loading and unloading charges on both ends (about $5k total).  The worst part is that the transport company quoted us based on a pick up ‘at their convenience’….. meaning, when they have a truck empty in the Cleveland area.  There is no telling when that will be.  The fact that I wanted to be there when the boat is loaded/unloaded makes this a NO-GO.

So, I have spent the last couple of days trying to route plan sailing/motoring from Cleveland (Lake Erie) to Buffalo, NY; then across the Erie Canal to the Hudson; then down the Hudson to New York City Harbor; then offshore in the Atlantic to the Chesapeake, and up to Deltaville, VA.  The best I can estimate is 21 days (+/-) of travel, a couple of days for un-stepping and stepping the mast, a couple of prep days on the front end, and a couple of days on the back end, plus….throw in 3 days for waiting on weather (which is very optimistic).  That makes it 30 days, which will be impossible to do on my 30-day break in June since I really only get about 27 days in the U.S. 

I am going to request a couple of extra weeks off (without pay) to get this done.  It remains to be seen if the company will grant it.  They have for others in the past, but times, “they are a changing”.  This will probably mess up my plans for leaving AFG mid-July ...... if I do get the extra two weeks off, I will be obligated to finish my contract out.  Looking at the big picture, the extra two weeks to move the boat and staying here 3 months longer would be the best thing.  I can still leave AFG mid-October/first-Nov and we can make it to the Bahamas around the first of the year.

We will see what transpires.  Stay tuned……