Like the last kernel to pop in the pot, I bounced around the co-pilot seat repeating “Yeah that’s gonna leave a mark.” rubbing my hips from the brutal seatbelt attack. I like rough plane rides; especially in small aircraft like the Cessna 302 making its approach into Key West.
I drew the lucky straw for the co-pilot seat in Miami on the short flight to Key West. Answering an ad on Craigslist, a 1947 Nivens 34-foot wooden sailboat was waiting my arrival. This rare find was a stroke of luck. If the boat checked out as described, I would make the eight hour sail back to Fort Lauderdale that afternoon.
One, two, three hops and an armrest breaking grip, the Cessna rolled down the runway. Several “phews” escaped the passengers sitting behind me. The pilot wiped a few beads of sweat from his face that did not look old enough to grace a driver’s license. I couldn’t resist a quip.Read More
One of the most memorable acts of my childhood was building my first boat. I had visions of sailing the little skiff across the foggy Maine harbor, chasing seals and dodging lobster buoys. My grandfather drove me to Friendship, home of the Friendship Sloop, to get the plans for a little sailing skiff that was easy enough for a 12 year old boy to build (with a little guidance of course) in the barn.
This little beauty solves the age old problem of color coordinating the car and boat, with the added convenience of no hassle parkingRead More
In a recent article on one of my favorite travel blogs, YTravelBlog, a question was raised about names we are known by when we travel. Often our hometown names are different when we slip into travel mode. Perhaps we are wearing a different hat than that of our daily persona which sheds us in a different light. Like an actor on stage, we need a name fitting our travel guise.
Nicknames are sometimes chosen for us by our less than glamorous attributes and more for our quirks. For cruising sailors, names are automatic. We write them on the back of our boats and are forever branded with our Nom de Bateaux. Other cruisers will refer to us by our stern signature not our given names.
My name is Mike. Sitting around a shared basket of conch fritters and Red Stripe I am called Mike. When I am not present I am referred to as No Boundaries. New cruisers all seem to make the humorous mistake finding a cutesy, play on words, cliché boat name. Over the years I have seen some interesting names that I am glad I never chose. Here is a list of names that crusty old salt wannabes are branded with by giggling wharf rats and the comments passed around the marina.
Master Baiter “I hear he spends a lot of time alone.”
Passing Wind “He brought burritos to the pot luck last night.”
Buoy Crazy “I’m heading to the showers when Buoy Crazy is done.”
My Little Dinghy “Have you seen My Little Dinghy?”
Blew Too Much “How did he afford that boat?”
Nauti Girl “Is there a female on that boat.”
Knot Smart “All his charts are drawn in Crayon.”
Knot Pretty “And you should see his wife.”
The “Knot” list goes on and on. Moral of the story? When choosing a boat name it is a good idea to try it on for size in the first person before the paint job.Read More
I have to question the wisdom behind writing these tips. Revealing my secret hiding places to the world somehow seems a bit fool hardy. So with that in mind I must ask you to keep this on the down low. Do I have your word? Good; I feel better now.
Pirates of the Caribbean; we all love them. Poofy shirts and clanking swords, treasure maps and cursed gold. Yeah, not so much these days. A closer description would be a couple of kids in a beat up skiff climbing over the gunwales of your boat while you are off dancing to steel drum bands and gulping rum punch.
I keep my boat unlocked when anchored out. It doesn’t take much skill to break into a boat, and it is cheaper to replace stolen property than to replace broken hatches as well. Most thieves today avoid electronics. They tend to be the costly items onboard but hard to sell. Sailors are a tight group. Thieves trying to hawk a SSB radio or GPS are more apt to get beat with a stick than to make a sale. Any sailor seen buying stolen goods find themselves quickly blackballed. It is not uncommon for such bargain hunting sailors to wake up adrift to the sound of waves against jetties from anchor lines cut in the middle of the night. Thieves know this and go for the less conspicuous items such as cash and jewelry.
For those that opt for a lockbox I suggest ordering the Wile E. Coyote Acme Brand pointing finger sign stating “Good Stuff Here!” as an optional upgrade. Inevitably there are going to be times when cash and valuables need to be left aboard. The best hiding places for these items are in places a thief would not want to look, not only in the places you assume they will not think to look. The bottom of that box of $12 Fruit Loops picked up in Little Cayman is not a big secret. Besides, Fruit Loops might be on the booty list any way.
A little ingenuity goes a long way in making a good hiding spot. For a dry and secure hidey hole, glue one side of a thru-hull fitting to the head’s holding tank. Then glue screw heads into the screw holes for that Hollywood special effects look. An attached inch and a half flexible pipe, leading to unknown regions, offers a less than optimal search area. The risk of being sprayed by the end result of a week’s worth of Corona and fish tacos makes for a good deterrent to would be thieves, while providing plenty of dry space for cash, jewelry and important papers.
A hot item on the black market is small outboard engines. Before going into questionable ports where I will be anchoring out I tape the cover of the dinghy motor with blue painters tape; relatively easy to remove later. I then paint the tape with flat black spray paint, giving the appearance of an old motor. With so many engines in the harbor offering easy pickings, mine is less likely to stand out.
Thieves are always going to be around. They may be sneaky but they are not all that difficult to outsmart with a little effort.Read More
First Impressions at Bimini Harbor
Two types of sailors voyage the seas, those who run aground and those who lie about it. A mere 53 miles east of Miami, the small island of Bimini is the first port of call entering the Bahamas. In Bimini customs are cleared, cruising permits purchased, and first impressions made. It is inevitable that fellow cruisers met here will be seen again and again amongst the 700 + islands that make up the archipelago of the Bahamas. The humiliating feeling of being stuck on a sandbar, as margarita fueled deck loungers sail past waving, tends to linger for the remainder of the trip.Read More