Friday, August 29, 2008


Here is the story on SPOT. This little beauty uses the GPS satellites to determine its position. Once it’s fixed, it uploads a signal through the communication satellites and plots my position on a google map and sends out an OK email to up to 10 people. This seemed by far the easiest way to keep people informed of where I was. You can find the cheapest deal on a spot hardware unit from ManVentureOutpost at ~ $130 bucks with shipping. After that, log into Yahoo’s FireEagle and get their SPOT Application Code. When you register the unit with that code you get the $150 activation and tracking fee absolutely free. No catches, nothing to purchase, but it is only good until Sept. 15th so I wouldn’t waste time if you want to get it done. One of the things I’ve been working on is setting up my communications for travel. Cell phones are too expensive to roam all over the world so I set up a permanent Skype account. I can take this number with me everywhere I go and have unlimited long distance calls to North America, voice mail, and call forwarding for $60.00 per Year! It does mean finding an internet connections anytime I want to use the phone, but I can live with that.

The next step was setting up communication for being at sea. I love my parents and they simply were not going to let me do this without a satellite phone. After doing quite a bit of research I decided on Iridium and purchased a complete package including the phone, data kit, and 1000 prepaid minutes. I got my whole package from RoadPost. This will let me update the blog and send the occasional email while far out at sea. I also get unlimited free incoming calls and SMS messages which is great. As a fall back, I got several new chip sets and cables to try and connect my old HAM Radio up to my laptop. I’ve still got to get the Pactor Modem, but I think I’ve got my communication systems pretty well in hand.

I am off start boat projects. I kind of freaked out last night thinking about only having 8 weeks left to prepare. There is still so much to do.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Working, but not on the boat.

A good friend of mine from college is in town and I've been showing him around the boating life. Between that and trying to make some money at my day job there hasn't bee a great deal of progress on the boat. It's OK though. I need a short break. Three day weekend coming up and I've got projects aplenty laying around waiting on me.

As my trip gets closer and closer I've slowly stopped reading other peoples sailing blogs. There is one exception and Nick Jaffe just posted a pretty cool vid he took on his Atlantic crossing earlier this year. Enjoy.

Sailing alone across the Atlantic in 30 days from nickj on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cruising couple attacked, one killed, on Guatamala’s Rio Dulce

Dan and Nancy Dryden spent the last six months working on their sailboat Sunday’s Child preparing for an extended cruise. Horribly, four armed men boarded the boat one recent Saturday evening turning the dream into a nightmare.

The men boarded carrying machete’s and demanded money from the couple. Either not having money on board or being unwilling to part with it, Dan Dryden began to fight. Unfortunately, the ice pick he wielded was taken and used against him.

Despite her trauma Nancy is recovering in a local hospital having successfully called for help on the ships radio after the attack. Her three children have joined her in Guatamala to care for her during her recovery and to see to the cremation of their father.

In a bazaar twist, two more individuals lost their lives on the evening of the 14th. These were not sailors, but two of the four men believed to have taken part in the attack on the Drydens. Two men had already been arrested by the local police, but the rest of the community appears to have taken care of those the police had not yet found.

The people of the Rio Dulce river rely on the cruising community who visit its sheltered waters during hurricane season. Clearly, a message was sent that an attack on the sailboats will not be tolerated by the locals.

A Word on Pirates: The men that carried out this attack were cowardly thugs. They are no different from the cowards who carry out muggings or car jackings by land. The only difference is that they have a means to reach boaters thereby earning them the status of Pirate.

These kinds of attacks are incredibly rare and the odds of ever being victimized are far less on the water then they ever will be on land. Walking in downtown Houston is a far riskier proposition than sailing when it comes to the likelihood of meeting this type of bad element.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Texas A & M Sailing Accident Update - The Cynthia Woods

On the first of this month a report was given showing the current state of the investigation. The link to the presentation is here. The Harvest Moon Regatta is coming up soon. It's a near shore race, but technically does qualify as an offshore regatta. The Cynthia Woods wasn't but about 60 miles off the coast when she capsized. Be careful folks, and if you have keel bolts make sure they are tight and your backing plates large and sound.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Never mind the Russians; I am at war with the Ducks.

I can’t even get Georgia, a stone cold killer of a Siberian Husky to chase them anymore. I guess I kept her from it for way too long and now she just assumes I must be setting her up when I tell her to sick them. Yes, I know they are cute, but do have any idea how much poop a flock of 30+ ducks produce? They won’t go anywhere else and have camped out permanently on my finger pier and on the floating dock I keep in front of my boat. It’s like walking on a frozen pond it’s so slick with poop. If the hose and my running at them like a mad man doesn’t get them to relocate I’ll have to resort to the BB gun.

Before anyone calls PETA I’d like to invite any duck lovers to come down to the dock to keep a duck vigil. I promise them no harm as long as they stop pooping on my dock.

Progress has been good. The new cowl vents and the life raft are installed and looking good. I’ve been playing with my storm sails and think I’ve finally settled on a way to fly my storm jib. Instead of installing a new inner wire stay to hang it from I am going to buy six parrel bead necklaces and use them to hank the jib on over the roller furled head sail. It’s not perfect, but like everything on a cruising boat it’s a good compromise. Plus, at ~ $250 for the hardware it’s a whole lot cheaper than ~ $1,000+ for the inner stay.

I need to start taking pictures again……

Go Sailing.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Like Christmas……..but HOT!

Ok, so after something like 17 days on the road I am back on the boat and very glad of it. We weathered Edouard which turned out to be a non event in Kemah. I think maximum sustained winds might have peaked at 30 mph. No big deal at all.

I’ve mostly been resting and recovering from the time spent on the road, but woke this morning ready to dig back in. My first stop was the marina office to see what new projects had shown up in the mail. Sure enough, I got my life raft. This is the six man Elliott SOLAS A that Practical Sailor Magazine just did a recent review of and found to be an excellent raft with a budget price. The trick will be mounting this 175 lb beast on my deck.

In addition to the life raft I got two gallons of Kiwi Grip for my new non-skid decks, my ABI stainless steel cowl vents, and nautical charts from Galveston Island to and through the Panama Canal. The vents direct air from outside down below into the cabin without letting any water down.

Just to make sure I didn’t run out of things to do I also placed an order for 100 feet of boat rail netting and a new SPOT Satellite Tracker. The netting is as much for the dog as it is for me. I figure it will be a little bit harder for either of us to go overboard with the nets up. It might even save a tool or two here and there.

It really does feel like Christmas with all the packages I’ve been opening. The only drawback is the 100+ degree heat in 95% humidity. I think each hour of work will be punctuated by a dip in the pool. Have a good weekend everyone. Go sailing, and if you don’t know how, take a lesson!


Monday, August 04, 2008


This is kind of my worst nightmare. I am away on business and on short order a Tropical Storm /hurricane blows up just off the Texas coast. the forcast is projecting Edouard's path to run right over the top of Clear Lake where my boat is in its slip. I am at the LAX airport and assuming I don't get delayed or cancelled I should be home by 10:30 this evening for last minute preparations.

All I can really say is Thank You Gary and Lisa. My neighbors have all called to let me know they are there if I need them, but Gary and Lisa stepped up and already started getting my dingy off the davits and securing my loose canvas in prepartion of 60+ mph winds. To Gary and Lisa, all the good folks on 13, and friends on Clear Lake my heartfelt thanks for looking out for me. Hang on tight.....this should be quite a ride.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Still on the road.

I got back from Philadelphia late last Friday night. I did laundry on Saturday and caught an early flight out Sunday morning. I thought I was heading home today, Thursday, but it turns out there is a meeting I need to be at in Thousand Oaks, CA tomorrow morning. So, I caught a flight out of Seattle bound for LAX instead of Houston.. Unfortunately I have to be in L.A. on Sunday for a demo Monday so instead of flying home this weekend I am just going to stay in CA.

In order to make the most of it I am renting a boat and sailing out to Catalina Island Saturday morning and will head back Sunday night. If I can’t sail my boat this weekend this is the next best thing. I am ready for some down time back on my boat. There are a thousand things to do and I want to keep my projects moving. The good news is it was a productive week on the road. I might close a few software deals and have a little walking cash for the cruise come November.

I’ve picked a date as well. November 13th. It’s a full moon and it falls on a Thursday. I’ll look for a 5 – 6 day weather window that surrounds the 13th and make a break for either Progresso or Campeche, Mexico. I’ve been practicing my limited Spanish in my mind in anticipation of using it. The travel is wearing me out, but I am excited.

Anyone want to go to Catalina Island this weekend? I tied the twitter feed on the right into my cell phone so I'll do mini blogs more often.