Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Are Paper Charts Necessary?

Good Old Paper Chart

If you frequent some of the cruising forums you already know that they are haunted by a few somewhat opinionated, sharp-tongued individuals (SOSTI's) that love to tell any poster why they are mis-informed, wrong or just plain stupid. Heavy on the "You're an idiot." comments. Whatever rocks your chair I guess.

I was reading a thread about the demise of the paper chart where many of the posts supported reliance on GPS based equipment with a heavy dose of "Look where you are going." thrown in. A few posters argued that in the event the electronics fail (lightning, electric issue or satellite shut-down) a paper chart becomes all important. Predictably they were immediately called idiots because total failure is not possible per the all-knowing SOSTI's. Have paper charts really become wall decorations or are they still relevant for the cruising sailor?

Well, let me start by saying I qualify as an idiot because I believe cruisers should carry paper charts and use them. Chartplotters and tablets with navigation apps are my runaway first choices for route planning and navigation. But, having a current paper chart in use for dead reckoning and as a back-up to the electronic devices adds a nice safety factor.

There are plenty of good arguments against paper charts. They are expensive, take up lots of storage room, too cumbersome to use and have to be manually updated. I won't disagree that all these arguments are valid, but I don't believe they outweigh a paper chart's value.

Electronic Chart

So stand tall fellow idiots and ignore those SOSTI disbelievers. We are paper charters and proud of it!


Thursday, July 14, 2016


Our oldest son turned 30 last week and his girlfriend was having a surprise party for him. So we rented a car (tricky thing to do when you don't own a car and therefore don't have car insurance) and headed north. We marveled at the road signs as they appeared - Sarasota, Tampa - hadn't it taken us days to travel that far by boat?

After an overnight stop at Brenda's sister's house (where we enjoyed the homemade bread, casserole and chilled wine they left for us) we arrived in Columbus, Ohio in plenty of time. And boy was John surprised to see us!! We really enjoyed meeting Brittnie's family (there are bunches of them) and sitting outside in the sub-90 degree temperatures.

Drambuie time.

Then of course there was the Drambuie. Several glasses of Drambuie were poured for a celebratory toast to John.

The next day we toured parts of Columbus. We wandered through a topiary garden designed from an 1884 painting by George Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of Grande Jatte. There were ladies with parasols, boats in the pond and dogs under the bushes all made from well-trimmed bushes. Right next door to the park was the newly renovated library. It was majestic. The marble front and inside marble staircase were restored to their original brilliance and the domes in the ceilings were a marvel. Brenda particularly liked the statements placed throughout the library giving testimony to the long-term benefits of getting books in the hands of children.

Then we jumped across town to the Marion Village Garden Tour. This is an older section of Columbus that is bouncing back. Several people opened up their back yards for viewing of their gardens. Very impressive use of space!

We ended our tour with a stop for ice cream before heading back for a salmon bar-b-que and relaxing evening at John and Britt's place. Mike and John enjoyed another Drambuie nightcap ending a lovely visit.

We fired up the rental car and headed back to visit Brenda's sister and brother-in-law on our our way home. A couple days later we finished up our 2700 mile drive back in Punta Gorda. We are so proud of our son and the man he has become. We love you John and hope to surprise you again soon. (In just a couple weeks we get to see our other two awesome kids!)


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kidnapped Again!

Double Rainbow

Before we left on our adventures, people asked us if we were worried about pirates. "Not where we are going," was our answer. No one warned us about kidnappers and we have been kidnapped a couple of times now!

Gail and Don on s/v Island Tyme live here in Punta Gorda. They were part of the Clearwater Crew earlier this year. And now they keep kidnapping us off the boat. First they took us to their house for dinner and kept us out until midnight! Then they kidnapped us and took us to the Celtic Ray for lunch and to listen to an Irish singer. We talked, laughed and sang our way past 5 pm.


Then yesterday they kidnapped us again at 11 a.m. and whisked us away to their house for swimming and lunch...which turned into chips and salsa by the pool, beverages, more laughing and trip planning. "Lunch" was served around 5. This was followed by an unexpected visit from their neighbors. The couple settled right in and the woman took over the tiller on the conversation and never gave it up. Wow could she talk! All in all we had a wonderful time and a memorable day. It was well after 9 p.m. before we were able to "escape" back to Wrinkles.

Gail watering Mike.

But fair is fair. We kidnapped them on the 4th. They came here to the marina to watch the Freedom Swim. This event turned out to be an annual tradition here in Punta Gorda. Swimmers, kayakers and others floating make the 1.5 mile trek across Charlotte Harbor and finish right in front of our marina. Dozens of boats at anchor and haphazardly motoring around and through the stream of contestants. It was disorganized, fun and entertaining to say the least. It was amazing to watch as 35 minutes from the start a few members of the Charlotte High Swim Team finished their crossing after swimming against the wind and the current. Swimmers continued to reach their destination over the next 2 1/2 hours. We were in awe of their determination and stamina.

We were exhausted after watching all that energy being spent, so we went to the pool to relax. Later it actually cooled off enough that we could have dinner in Wrinkle's cockpit (the first time since we have been here). As the time for fireworks approached, Gail pulled out the giant bubble makers she had brought and we walked over to the corner of our marina leaving a trail of bubbles. The bubbles picked up the colors from the setting sun. They were gorgeous as they floated over the water. We were also gifted with a complete double rainbow. The fireworks had a hard act to follow, but they were equally magnificent.

Mike playing with the bubbles.
Gail, Don and Mike

Yea, it's a rough life. We can't wait to be kidnapped again.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sailing A Gaff Rigged Cat Boat

Com-Pac Horizon Cat

We met Bob and Linda from Illinois last year at a Com-Pac sailboat gathering referred to as the CLR (Carlyle Lake Rendezvous). They just recently bought a condo down here in Punta Gorda and called to see if we could get together. It just so happened that another Com-Pac sailor (Bryan) lives in this area and he was hoping to get together as well. It worked out perfectly that Bob, Linda, Bryan, Brenda and I met at Fishermen's Village Marina for a tour of Wrinkles and lunch.

We decided that lunch and a cold beverage at Laishley's Crab House was in order. We ate some very tasty meals and talked about our love of sailing and sailboats. How nice it is to chat with people that have similar interests. The conversation came around to going out for a sail the next day which sounded wonderful to Brenda and I. We quickly agreed to hop aboard Bob and Linda's Horizon Cat the next afternoon. Bryan graciously offered a ride in his Eclipse as well, but we have sailed on that model already and we have always wanted a chance to play with a gaff-rigged catboat.

Bob picked us up at Harpoon Harry's dock near our boat and we motored out to meet Bryan who was sailing on another friend's boat. Linda happily stayed home as she isn't a huge sailing fan. She was excited that Bob would have fellow sailors to share his love of sailing for an afternoon. Bob fired up the15 hp inboard diesel auxiliary which really scoots the Horizon Cat along. Then he raised the big sail and began telling us a bit about the extra spar and control lines that a gaff-rigged boat uses. We didn't have great winds, but there was enough to get a decent feel for how she sailed. This salty looking sailboat features a wooden wheel that just seems right.

Bob at the helm.

When Bob offered me the wheel I jumped at the chance to play with a new toy. I slowly figured out a few of the nuances of this type of rig, but I could see that some experience would be required to make it perform. Sail shape can be adjusted in different ways than a mainsail. At times Bob would adjust the sail to a point I would have bet wouldn't provide forward power and yet it did. Hmmm, I think he knows what he is doing.

Mike and Bob
Bob and Brenda enjoying the day.

I experimented by steering well past pinching and then getting the wind too far aft. I was having fun learning her quirks, (steering an "S" shape is a point of sail isn't it?) but I could see Bob was itching to regain control and make her sail properly. Once Bob had control again we started sailing nicely and just enjoyed being out on a beautiful sailboat. We traded the helm a few times until the sun began to bake us. 92 degrees without a bimini gets pretty hot after a while.

We decided to call it a day and Bob expertly motored us up to the dock to drop us off. Thanks for the wonderful day Bob. We truly enjoyed your company and the opportunity to experience a cat boat.