Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013, a great year and a turning point for Pandora and her crew

It’s Christmas day 2013 and I find myself thinking back on the last few years and 2013 in particular.  It’s a wonder to me how much our lives have changed in such a short time.  While I enjoyed working while I was part of the “employed set”, I am so happy to be retired.  I used to think it odd to hear some of my “mature” friends, comment that they wondered how they had ever had time to work now that they were retired.  Now I get it.    With sailing for longer periods things are a LOT different.  We now count our time aboard in months as opposed to days with an occasional few weeks thrown in now and again in the “old days” when we were on vacation. It’s hard to believe that it has now been nearly two years since I retired and Brenda and I moved from New Jersey, where both of our boys were born, and brought up, back to CT.  Note:  Brenda and I met way back when in CT and High School.

Now we have left the hustle bustle of the NY suburbs to live in a quaint New England town where we used to vacation and now live.  It is a treat that goes beyond my imagination from just a few years ago. Our sons, Rob and Chris, are doing well and enjoying life.  Rob has moved to MD and has a great job with Becton Dickenson, a medical company and is living with a terrific woman, Kandice.  Christopher, our youngest is a newly minted PhD in Physics, as of Friday the 13th of December, if you can believe it.  And,now that he has completed, by his count, over 500 weeks in that discipline, he decided to take some time off and purchased a ticket, round trip thankfully, to Thailand, if you can believe it.  I can’t even spell it let alone find it on a map.  

You might find yourself asking “why Thailand”?   Simple, it’s cheap and on the meager savings of a “semi-starving” grad student, it’s  affordable, sort of.  His mother would prefer if he were going to Epcot in FL.  I think I agree. As it’s so fresh in my mind, I can’t resist posting a photo of Chris in his lab the day after he defended his thesis and was anointed “Dr. Chris”.  The lab reminds me of the home of a mad scientist and looks a bit like the electrical system on Pandora.  Only he knows how it all works.  Sound familiar?Of course, a major difference in his lab verses Pandora is that a single square foot of one of these tables cost more than Pandora.  Good to have Uncle Sam paying for all of this.  I wonder if I might get a grant to support Pandora?  Why not, it seems that he is giving money to just about everyone who asks.  Why not me?  Hmm…

Change is certainly been a word that described the last year or so.  We now split our time between our home on the hard and our floating home.  Our “neighborhood” is a lot bigger, no longer defined by the street that we live on.  I have to say that I’d be happy if I never see snow again.  Being in the Bahamas last winter was one of the biggest turning points for us and I am hooked. Winters in the tropics are better.  Not a hard concept to grasp.

While in the past I have defined winterizing in talks with fellow boaters as how much antifreeze is needed to keep their boat in good shape over the winter and what sort of cover they use.  Now, “winterizing” means something very different.  It seems that the only “antifreeze” we need is rum and sunshine.  I like how Pandora’s winter, and February in particular, looks these days.A few years ago this was what February looked like.  We see a different kind of white these days, thankfully.Another major change for us is how we define our “community”.  In the past, our community was largely the town where we lived.  Yes, we had friends in other places, but now we are a part of a “movable community” that is defined by the season and location as opposed to a fixed geographic location.   Nearly every day I get an e-mail or see a post on Facebook from someone checking in from some far off place.  In the last week I have heard of friends who are sailing around the world, some who are making contact from the British Virgin Islands and some down near Granada and of course, the Bahamas.  Yes, some are traveling from New England like us but others hail from Germany, Austria or other far away exotic places.

That’s a big change, a really big change. Now that we live on Pandora in our own exotic places for months at a time, the word “local” takes on a very different meaning.  I guess that local for us now is where we are at any given moment. As we count down the weeks till we head back to Florida and Pandora, I find myself wondering what the next few years will bring.  Will we continue to winter in the Bahamas or will we include the Caribbean or perhaps the Mediterranean?

Brenda and I really want to spend time traveling in Europe but now that we have an ocean going boat, perhaps the best way to see Europe might be from the deck of Pandora. Yes, boat ownership is expensive but not nearly as costly as hotels and I can’t say that I can imagine being able to afford what we’d have to spend to be in hotels, month after month.  Thinking about that makes living aboard sound downright cheap.  

As a classics major in college, oh so long ago, Brenda remains fascinated by the countries bordering the Mediterranean so it seems to me that we might best combine time on Pandora with time exploring those ancient lands.  What better way to way to see Greece than to sail there, just the same way as the ancients did.

Yes, if you know Brenda, you are thinking at worse, “no way” or at best, that it’s going to take some time to convince Brenda to meet up with me and Pandora in Gibraltar but I’m willing to give it a try.    Besides, I have photographic proof that she has fun aboard.  Doesn’t she look happy, if a bit crazed caught in the act of celebrating her birthday last January in warmer climes almost a year ago. Yup, there’s hope, great hope, for the future.  As Brenda once said, “Bob and the dog, ever hopeful?.  Yes, that’s me and so far, so good. 2013 was great and here’s to a wonderful 2014.

A Tale of Resilience

When I was diagnosed with kidney disease, my world came crashing down. It felt like an insurmountable challenge, but over time, I’ve learned that battling kidney disease is not just about survival—it’s about resilience, hope, and embracing life with newfound strength.

The day I received the diagnosis, I felt a mixture of fear and confusion. It can progress without symptoms. It was a wake-up call that my life was about to change. My journey started with a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments and tests. Treatment involved medications, dietary adjustments, and regular check-ups. I learned the importance of a kidney-friendly diet, which meant reducing salt, managing protein intake, and staying hydrated.

As my kidney function declined, I faced the reality of dialysis. It was a challenging transition, but it became a part of my routine. Dialysis helped me maintain my health and energy while waiting for a kidney transplant. Battling kidney disease is not just a physical journey; it’s an emotional one too. There were days of frustration, sadness, and anxiety, especially when I was sailing in Pandora. But there were also moments of gratitude, resilience, and hope. My support network—family, friends, and healthcare professionals—played an essential role in helping me cope.

For many battling kidney disease, a transplant is the ultimate goal. I was fortunate to receive a kidney from a generous donor. The transplant changed my life, giving me a newfound appreciation for the gift of health. If you’re suffering kidney disease like me, you can check out sites like for consultation.

Today, I see life through a different lens. Kidney disease taught me resilience and gratitude. I savor each moment and prioritize self-care. I’ve discovered new passions, rekindled old hobbies, and embraced a healthier lifestyle. My journey inspired me to become an advocate for kidney health. I share my story to raise awareness and encourage others to take their health seriously. Early detection and prevention are vital.

Battling kidney disease has been a life-altering experience. It’s a journey filled with challenges, but it’s also a journey of resilience, hope, and personal growth. Kidney disease doesn’t define me; it’s a part of my story, one that has made me stronger and more appreciative of life’s precious moments.

A great way to bring back, and create, memories of the Bahamas.

Some months ago I visited a friend Dick who lives on the water in Darien.  Dick’s home is bathed in sun and has a fabulous view of the water.   Dick and his wife Robin are well traveled and surround themselves with art collected from many of the places they have traveled and they have been to a LOT of places, some 140 countries by his recollection, over the years.

Some time back they took a trip down the ICW from Long Island Sound to Florida and onto the Bahamas.  After returning, as luck would have it, they happened on a show of an artist’s work that included a series of plein air paintings (paintings done outside as opposed to in a studio) he had done when he spent the winter in the Bahamas with his family.  As Dick showed me around his home and talked about the various artists’ work they own, I immediately recognized the work of Chris Blossom, the guy who had painted in the Bahamas.   Chris has a remarkable body of work.  If you google his name under images you will be treated to dozens of photos.  You can also click here to see some of his work.

Under the category of “it’s a very small world” the artist, Chris Blossom, is a good friend.  Chris and I lived in the same neighborhood when we were in highschool.  Actually, it was with Chris aboard his Alberg Typhoon, that I went for my first sail.  Actually, Brenda, me and Chris sailed together on his Typhoon in high school.  Chris was also “best man” in Brenda’s and my wedding way back in 1974.    The fact that my youngest son Christopher has the same name is no coincidence.  Enough reminiscing for now.  It’s sufficient to say that I have known Chris for a few years.

Anyway,  after seeing Dick’s collection some time back, I thought it would be fun to get together with Dick again and bring Chris Blossom along to see his work “in situ”.  Also, having been away from Pandora and “on the hard” here in CT for six weeks, I thought that it would be therapeutic to get a “nautical fix”.

So, Chris and I stopped over to see my friend Dick who happens to be the current master of the Corinthians, a great sailing group that I have been a member of for years.  A “nautical art appreciator”, a “nautical art maker person” and a “nautical hanger on”, me.  Perfect!

We had a great visit and spent a good amount of time touring the collection.  Here’s Chris and Dick admiring one of Dick’s works.  Dick is particularly interested in art as a way to document places he has visited.  In this case, Dick has fly fished in this exact river and spot.  What a lovely feel this piece has.  Clue… Not the Bahamas.

Many years ago, Dick became interested in the work of Howard Chapelle, who took the lines of many “type examples” of American traditional sailing craft.  His goal was to create plans for these wonderful boats so that they would not be forgotten.  Actually, these vessels were constructed by eye as there were no written plans.  Without Howard’s work we wouldn’t know as much about early commercial sailing craft as we do.  This is an example of his work.  He did not design this particular boat, he measured and documented one that he saw, in exquisite detail.  “Bob, Bob, get to the point… Why are you telling us this?  Ok, got it.  Here’s why.

I mention this as Dick hired a model maker to choose a representative selection of Chapelle’s work and create a series of models based on the designs he had documented.  So, over the years, as budgets permitted and it must have been a pretty good budget, Dick had quite a few of these models, all to scale, 1” to the foot, constructed.  Here’s a lovely display case with some of the pieces.  Pretty nice. And no, I don’t know what yacht club the burgee is from.   Perhaps Dick can fill us in.  Dick?I was also struck by this “admiralty model” of a cargo ship.  It’s not exactly to scale but really nice.  Models such as this were often given to ship owners by the yard that constructed the ships.  Here’s Chris and Dick, two kids in the candy store.  Well, it’s Dick’s store, actually. Can I have a piece of gum?   Dick, what’s with the bow tie?  It’s the middle of the day and you are home…  Dick claims to wear bow ties all the time, even at home.  I wonder if he fancies himself as some sort of aged Chippendale dancer.  You know, the “hunk male strippers”.  They wear bow ties too.  Hmm…Forgive me.  I can’t resist.  Is Dick some sort of closet dancer?  Is he the one on the left or right?  You decide.  (Editor:  In the interest of full disclosure, I love bow ties and wear them as often as I am able)“ENOUGH ALREADY BOB, what the H$%^ are you doing!!!”

Never mind.   So, back to those Bahamas paintings that got all of this started.  Here’s Chris in front of two of his works.  Really nice stuff.  They really bring back memories for me, who wants to be there, Chris, who was there and painted them and Dick who gets to see them every day.  Yes, it’s great to have things to remember places that you have visited.  Me?  I love the Bahamas but for now will just keep writing blog posts with all sorts of random stuff thrown in.  Besides, when was the last time you saw a Saturday Night Live video on a sailing blog?   Random?  Yes, indeed.  Fun?  I sure hope so but you will have to be the judge.  Be nice now…

Warm weather, and the Bahamas, seem so far away just now.

It’s Wednesday morning and it’s a nasty 25 degrees outside.  On the bright side, and it’s a plenty bright sunny day.  However, it’s way colder than I’d like.  I have to admit that the view outside was wonderful as the sun came up over the hill to our east today.  Not a bad view to greet you on a cold winter morning.  I particularly like the angles of the roof line and the contrast of light and dark.  The snow on the branches was magical.  I doubt that there is anything more emblematic of the Bahamas than the conch.  This one was looking a bit forlorn yesterday as the snow began to fall.   This view makes the islands seem really far away. Perhaps I included the photo above to prove that it was indeed a conch as the view this morning left a bit more to the imagination.   Same view, next day…  Now warm is even further away.Burr…  It’s views like these that make me pine for the Bahamas.  Yes, I love the holidays and as the days tick down to Christmas I am torn as to where I’d rather be.  This wouldn’t fit too well aboard Pandora, would it?  Brenda and I put up the tree yesterday.  Actually, I put up the tree and Brenda decorated it.  No, I didn’t ditch her at the “hard” part, at least that’s how I viewed it, as I am forbidden from putting any ornaments on the tree due to my “lack of care”. Perhaps that’s why I mostly do dishes and she cooks. That’s fine with me as I do great dishes and she’s a terrific cook.  

With regards to the cold, it could be worse.  I read that NASA takes measurements of temperatures around the world and recorded that in the middle July in Antarctica, this past  summer, winter there, it was -135 degrees below zero.  Now, that’s cold. I guess that 25 degrees ABOVE zero here would make some break out in a sweat by comparison.

Me, when it comes to cold, I’ll take 75 to 85 degrees with moderate humidity. Wait, that sounds suspiciously like Bahamas weather.  Now that you mention it, it’s only 4o days till we wing our way south to thaw out.

Besides, there are better places for conch than here in chilly New England.  Perhaps this is a better use for an abandoned conch shell.

Or perhaps this?  Yes, conch salad sounds perfect right now, or perhaps a nice rum punch.   “Bob, it’s morning, way too early to be thinking about rum”.  Ok, I’ll focus on conch for now.  This is “tall boy” from Nassau, and he is tall.  He also makes a mean conch salad and I know as I have eaten a bunch.Ok, Ok,  I’ll think about the view outside instead.  This is the sort of view I want to see out of my “window”.  Yes, that’s looking really appealing right now.   Clear blue water, blue sky and the only white around is clouds and beaches.  Yep, perfect.  Soon, I’ll trade coat, hat, gloves and boots for sandals and not much else.  Perfect…

How about a little row? Across the Pacific Ocean…

Well, it’s December 5th and only a little less than six weeks till we plan to head back to Florida and Pandora.   Just a short six weeks ago I returned home after running Pandora south and it’s hard to believe that the time is half over.   Last night I hosted a speaker at the Essex Yacht Club, Sonya Baumstein, a women that I met at the Annapolis Boat Show back in October.  I was very pleased to meet her when I was there and couldn’t resist arranging for her to speak at our club.

I guess after a decade of working on events I am wired to say something like ” HI, I’m Bob Osborn and would love to have you speak at our (fill in the blank) depending on what ever the “flavor of the month” group or event I am working on.  What am I doing?  I am not even involved in any sort of committee at the Essex Yacht Club.  I had better watch out or I will be drafted to help, or not…

Anyway, I was very much looking forward to Sonya’s talk as her talk would be about her experiences of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, biking from Mexico to Seattle and, as if that’s not enough, kayaking from Seattle to Juneau Alaska.

Oh yeah, she also paddle boarded from the US to Russia (the first one ever) via the Bearing Straight. Paddle-boarded across the Bearing Straight?  Don’t ask why.  She just did it. Actually, Land Rover liked what she had in mind to put together a video of her trip.  It seems that she had to wait something like five weeks up in the tundra for a weather window which lasted only two days.  She headed across on the second day, just in time…Anyway, at the tender age of only 28, she has accomplished all that and is now in the midst of planning a solo row across the Pacific Ocean from Tokyo Japan to Seattle WA in May of 2015.  Well, at least she knows where Seattle is… She’s already been there.  And, all of this will be done on a boat that is being custom designed and constructed just for her and this particular trip.

I don’t know if my reaction to this should be “You go girl!” or “are you kidding me? You can’t be serious.”.   And, she is planning to do this alone.  I wonder if her mother knows what she’s up to…

It seems that on her recent trip across the Atlantic she was the only one of the four on board that didn’t want to give up and call for a rescue.  And the other three were guys.   Go figure… 

So, in her talk to a full house at the Essex Yacht Club last night, she did a great job and provided a nice mix of information with a terrific delivery.  There were plenty of questions after her talk and interestingly, most were from women who seemed particularly fascinated with this tough and determined young women.  

As I mentioned, I first spied Sonya in Annapolis where she showed her boat from the Atlantic crossing.  One afternoon, prior to the show. Sonya rowed by Pandora.

Pandora was anchored near the show on a particularly rainy day.  The whole thing looked very uncomfortable to me from my vantage point, but based on her presentation last evening, she saw worse, much worse, on her crossing.   The boat, and she has a new one under construction for her Pacific crossing, looks like it can take a beating in stride.  It’s pretty clear that Sonya can take quite a lot of abuse as well.When I saw Sonya row by I wondered who the guy in the stern was.  I hope she knew that he was there…  A stowaway or a big benefactor?  “Ok, ok, you can come along, but you have to bring your own snacks.”Well, more to come on Sonya’s exploits.  I plan on keeping track of her in the coming months as she continuing raising funds and planning her voyage.  I hope to help her find other speaking engagements here along the Long Island Sound coast as I have many friends who are members of the clubs between the CT River and New York.

Want to have her speak with a group that you know?  Make a donation?  I recommend it.  Check out her site here.