Monthly Archives: June 2015

Where’s Pandora going? And, a stop at Mystic for the wooden boat show.

It’s Monday morning and there remains a LOT to be done to get Pandora ready for next winter’s cruising.  In the next few days I hope to be done with the solar panel installation.  It’s a whopper of a panel measuring nearly 80″ x 40″ with a footprint of over 20 sq feet.  That’s a lot of solar and will total, along with the four panels that are already installed, to 600 watts and plenty to manage Pandora’s electrical load including making all of our domestic water production with the RO unit.   6-29-15c 002 I have already run most of the wiring but came up short of the total length that I needed to connect everything.    So, today I’ll add an additional length of cable and everything should be about ready to put the panel on the top of the davits. Hopefully, that will be done today so tomorrow I can begin securing the panel to the davit frame.

I am hopeful that my projects will be done by the end of the week as I am planning a week long trip with some friends up to Martha’s Vineyard and perhaps Boston. Brenda’s got plenty of weaving to do and some friends visiting so I expect that she will be able to keep herself occupied without me in the way.

It will be fun to spend time on the water aboard Pandora and that will help me become more familiar with the systems on what is a complicated boat.  Speaking of complicated, on a boat like Pandora, there is nearly always something that is not working properly and now is no exception.   The other day the bow thruster decided that it would only work powering to starboard and not port.  There are only two options, I think, that would cause this problem.  The simple fix would be a loose wire in the control “joy stick”.  I hope that’s the problem as the other option would be a solenoid, a somewhat more complicated fix.  Fingers crossed that it’s simple.

On another topic, we had a bit of a mishap last week, when a particularly nasty thunderstorm came through the area and knocked down trees and power lines. Pandora was on a mooring and when the wind and current were at their worst and the mooring ball banged against the boat, leaving some really nasty scratches right through the paint. When I saw the scratches I was crushed and while I knew that scratches were inevitable, it hurt never the less.  I was able to get someone from a local paint shop to come out and cover them with matching paint and a small artist brush.  No, it’s not a proper repair but will hold me until she is hauled in early fall prior to heading south.

The scratches were on both sides but worse on starboard.  Sickening. FullSizeRender (1)Here’s the repair guy hard at work.6-29-15 005The temporary repair looks pretty good, well at least using the “ten foot rule”.  Such is the life of a fussy boat owner.

And, speaking of fussy owners.  Brenda and I took a day at Mystic Seaport to visit the Wooden Boat Show and enjoyed a remarkable display of wooden boats kept to the very highest standards.   I doubt that there is much that comes from the hand of man that can top a beautiful wooden boat.

This boat, Blue Peter, from the UK was designed by a Scott, and built in 1930.  She spends a lot of time in the Med and can be yours for a day sail if you have the dough.  Check out her site.   A great looking boat. 6-29-15 019And, if Blue Peter doesn’t have enough room for you and your friends for a day on the water, perhaps a classic Trumpy would be more your style.    Freedom  would e a fine choice.6-29-15 0276-29-15 025Imagine taking an evening stroll down her side decks, G&T in hand.If you wear yourself out.  There’s always a comfy sofa.  6-29-15 022And, if all else fails.  Nap time. 6-29-15 023Last winter she powered by as we made our way down the Hawk Channel in the Florida Keys.  She is the definition of elegance.  This is a lovely video of her.   Don’t want to do boat projects yourself?   Hate varnishing?  Freedom is in a fractional ownership program where you can choose to spend your time aboard one of several yachts in the program.  So many choices in life.  Sound interesting? The details of your share are only a click away.

Can’t afford a share in the program, you can always buy this lovely sailing yacht and sit on the fantail and gaze at Freedom from afar.  Love the deck chairs. 6-29-15 032I am always a sucker for finely machined cannons and fittings.  6-29-15 015Fortunately, I don’t own a wooden boat.  Owning one that is made of “inert” materials is expensive enough.  These lovely bronze fittings would make lovely desk ornaments never the less. 6-29-15 016Of course, if a 100′ yacht is beyond your price range, you can always go for a model pond yacht.  This lovely model is complete down to the smallest detail including brass fastenings.   That’s of course, if you can overlook the fact that it’s has an electric motor.   Correctly guess the number of screws and you win a… well, I don’t know what you win, actually. 6-29-15 017Seeing this beautiful beetle cat brought back memories of Brenda’s and my early sailing years.  Our first two boats were cats.   These are still made new and have a healthy following by owners in the Cape Cod area.   They are sweet boats.  Check out their site.   Before the company moved into Cat Boat production, they supplied whale boats to the New Bedford whaling fleet.  They have been in business for a long time.
6-29-15 014This converted sardine carrier Grayling is always a head turner.  She was rebuilt in Maine a number of years ago.  Her lines are really sweet. 6-29-15 026Well, I could go on and on… Mystic Seaport is a great place to visit and there are always beautiful vistas to gaze upon.  And, of course, there is the iconic Brilliant, at her home on the dock at the seaport.  She is part of the permanent collection.   No, she’s not the gig in the foreground, but that’s lovely too.
6-29-15 018Well, that’s enough wooden boats for now and this isn’t getting the solar panel installed so I had better wrap things up and get to work.

Almost forgot… Beyond my run with some buddies for a week coming up, Pandora’s going to make the run to the BVI this winter and I have signed up for the Salty Dawg Rally that leaves for the Bitter End Yacht Club in Tortola on November 2nd.

So that’s where Pandora’s going.  To learn more, y0u’ll have to check back as that’s a topic for yet another post.

Until then…

Where the hell is the Mona Passage and is it windy? For inquiring minds…

It’s Wednesday morning and the 2015 SSCA Summer Solstice Gam is history.  We had a great turnout,had quite a few more folks than last year and made a bit of money for the SSCA.  Oh yeah, and I had a great time too.

Perhaps the best thing about planning an event is that I get to choose who speaks, when and where the event happens and I even get plenty of at-a-boys.  Well, I get them as long as it goes well.  And it did.  I won’t mention the few hiccups…

It’s been ten days since my last post and I can’t quite tell you why I seem to struggle to keep up with my blog when I am “on the hard” at home.  I guess it’s because I just have a much longer list of chores, like three day events, as just one example, that keep me jumping.

I can say for sure that the delay is not for a lack of time thinking about boats.  I guess when you have a lawn that’s nearly an acre of grass and elderly parents to think about plus everything else (and did I mention that I was helping to plan a three day event?)  All of these distractions do take one’s attention away from blogging.

In spite of all this, I can assure you that I still find PLENTY of time thinking about Pandora and what we will be up to next winter.

“So Bob, what are you doing next winter”?  Thanks for asking.  I am happy to say that the Caribbean is indeed on the horizon and our plans are coming together nicely.   I have also spoken to someone in our local congressional office and she is checking with the State Department to see if we can get permission to visit Cuba aboard Pandora in March or April of 2016.  We’d love to go there before it opens up to Americans and turns into a “Disney” version of Cuba, which it surely will.

And, speaking of the Caribbean and by extension weather, awkward segue or not…  I have evoked Chris Parker’s name (he’s the weather router that we use in case you somehow missed that) more often than anyone except Brenda over the last few years in my posts and it was a treat to have him speak at our event last weekend.  While his talks were terrific, the highlight of his visit  for me was that he stayed at our home while he was here.    It was fun to get to know him a bit in a less formal setting and to spend some time just sitting around.  And, in case you were wondering, I picked his brain plenty on all sorts of topics.

And, perhaps the most amazing moment from the weekend happened when I opened the door to our bedroom early Monday morning and overheard Chris, who had set up shop in my office to do his 06:00 broadcast, say “and the wind in the Mona Passage is…”

I have listened to Chris’s broadcast literally hundreds of times over the years as I sat in the dark, huddled in front of my SSB radio, focused on learning what weather was in store for us over the next few days.  It was always Chris’s forecast that would start our day.

So, to hear him “live” in our home was certainly was actually a bit surreal.   Here’s Chris in my office.And he had screens arrayed in front of him.  I understand that he has 5 screens open at one time in his studio at home in FL.  Amazingly, somehow he was able to speak with cruisers over the SSB radio in his FL office via the Internet from my office.  How did he do that?  Hmm…I had also mentioned in a recent post that Monty and Sarah Lewis, creators of the Bahamas Explorer Guides, were going to visit and it was just a trip to have them stay in our home for a few days.  It was great to hear them speak about what it was like to visit the Bahamas “pre-Explorer Guides” and to learn how they created these remarkable resources.

Here’s Monty and Sarah sitting on our couch.  Really nice people. And I love this shot of the Maureen, Bill, Melinda and Harry, two couples that shepherded us along the way on our first trip south a few years ago.  They joined us for dinner one of the evenings. Harry and Melinda on the right just returned from two years circumnavigating the Caribbean.  They have lived aboard for years and are such a “salty” couple that I almost asked them to shower and change before I let them into the house. (well, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch.  I let them in, salt y or not) and Maureen and Bill, on the left, made the trip up from Trinidad to visit.  No, perhaps not just to visit us but I like to think of it that way.

All and all, a great weekend.  I will admit that I am a bit tired, but in a good way, yes, a very good way indeed.

So, next time I hear Chris Parker on the radio, when we are aboard Pandora in some tropical spot, I will think of him sitting across from me at breakfast after finishing his morning broadcast.

And, if you find yourself wondering “where the hell”  the Mona Passage is and what the wind conditions actually are… Well, just tune into Chris and you’ll know too.

Me, when I hear him say those words when we are on Pandora, I’ll still envision him sitting in my office doing his thing.


Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Women on the move.

It’s Sunday morning and it’s been too long since my last post. However, it’s better late than never, so here goes.

I find that when I am “on the hard”, well it’s “hard” to come up with something to write about…  Somehow, when I am afloat, it’s much easier.  I could write about cutting the lawn or perhaps running to the grocery for milk but that’s just as boring as, well, watching grass grow.

In the way of an update on what’s up, I am slowly whittling my way through the “Pandora-do-list” and getting ready for next weekend’s SSCA Summer Solstice Gam in Essex.

Speaking of the GAM, the program has come together very well and I am particularly excited about a late speaker entry,  Donna Lange.  Donna will speak about her upcoming voyage that will take her around the world ALONE.  Long distance sailing isn’t new to Donna as she has already been around alone once already.  This article from March SAIL magazine.  Interesting reading. 

She’s a pretty tough girl.   This photo is from the SAIL article courtesy of Billy Black, a remarkable marine photographer. As I write this Donna is aboard her 28′ sailboat, Inspired Insanity, headed north.  At this moment, she is off of northern FL headed toward RI.   Click here for her position.   Donna, along with being the grandmother of 11,  is an accomplished songwriter and singer and promises to add song to her talk in Essex.  If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for the GAM at

Speaking of “girls afloat”, a few years ago I met a young woman, Sonya Baumstein, at the Annapolis boat show.  I wrote about her in this post back in December 2013. Fast forward to last week, Sonya rowed out into the Pacific from Japan to begin her voyage to San Francisco.   Check out this news report from Japan on her voyage and departure. Well, a week into this remarkable voyage, Sonya has had to call it quits and is returning to Japan compliments of a passing freighter and Japan’s Coast Guard.  I sure hope that she was able to save her brand new custom boat.   Knowing Sonya I expect that this will be a temporary setback as she is one tough woman.  Stay tuned.  You can check out her current location here.

It’s impressive to see what folks, and in this case, women, can accomplish if they are determined enough.

So, I’ll continue to keep an eye on Donna’s and Sonya’s progress in the coming months.

And, speaking of progress on Pandora continues, if a bit slowly.  The SSB radio is now in place although I still have to rig up a proper antenna, and I’ll begin work on the solar this week.  More to come on that.   Getting Pandora ready to take south in the fall is an adventure in itself and one that’s more my speed than a row across the Pacific or a solo run around the world.

Actually, setting aside the question of REALLY LONG DISTANCE VOYAGING, anyone that has spent time with me knows that SOLO isn’t something that I do very well.   I am not big on ALONE at all.  About the only time I want to be alone is when I am in the bathroom and even that depends on how long I am planning to be there.   “Brenda, can you come in here and keep me company?”

“BOB, BOB… Stop it right now. TMI”  Ok, perhaps that’s more than you want to know so I’ll leave it at that.

Never mind….


Guess who’s coming to dinner?

It’s Friday morning, very early actually as it isn’t even 06:00 and I woke up thinking about all the details that need to happen to prepare for the upcoming SSCA Summer Solstice Gam coming up here in Essex in just a few weeks.  In case you are interested in participating and haven’t yet signed up, I urge you to check out this link for the latest itinerary.  It’s our third year and it’s going to be terrific.

My partner in this event George and I are very excited about how it’s shaping up and expect that it will be very well received by attendees and our best yet.   Well, I do hope that those attending the event enjoy themselves as much as I will.  I have been involved in planning many events over the years but none have been as fun to work on as this one has been.

In particular, I feel like we have a “dream team” in place for this year’s presenters. I say that it’s a “dream team” because it includes folks that I personally want to get in a room together.  Actually, it’s this sort of outcome that makes me want to organize events.  They say that “if you want something done right, do it yourself” and I have.

Chris Parker, the weather router, who’s name has probably appeared in this blog more times than anyone but Brenda will be flying up from FL to speak and Monty and Sarah Lewis, the authors of the Bahamas Explorer Guides will also be joining us.   I expect that these three have helped more cruisers successfully visit to the Bahamas than anyone else over the years.

And, speaking of “helping”,  Bill and Maureen of Kalunamoo who are in their second season cruising the Caribbean and are currently on the hard in Trinidad as well as Melinda and Harry of Sea Schell, who are freshly back from a two year “circumnavigation” of the Caribbean, will also be in Essex.   It was these two couples who took us “under their wing” and showed us the ropes on our first run south just three years ago.  Maureen made a point of keeping me in check “down boy, down”, but in the nicest possible way, to be sure that I didn’t overwhelm Brenda, a self described “cream puff”, on our first run south.   And the ever enthusiastic, and very “salty” Melinda, was our own personal “cheer leader” as we dipped our toe in the water as newly anointed “snow birds”.

It was the four of them that helped make the most out of Brenda’s birthday that year in FT Lauderdale when they hosted a celebration for her.  She was feeling more than a little homesick that day.   We had such a fun time.   This is the post that I wrote about that great day and our prep for our first Gulf Stream crossing. 

“So, how does this all fit with the title of this post Bob?”  Thanks for asking.  I’ll tell you.

Well, one might say that it’s this very group, the 7 of them, that helped make our run south and to the Bahamas as memorable as it has turned out to be for me and Brenda.  And, as we begin to think about what we will do this coming winter it seems fitting to bring them together for a sort of “celebrity dinner” at our home while they are in town for the Gam later this month.

And, to fill out the roster, I will also be inviting the senior editor of Sail Magazine, Chris White as well as he’s going to be moderating a roundtable on the ICW at the event.

So, there you have it.  Along with the Gam, the dinner will be a great “event” and just makes my point that if you plan events you can make sure that they are just the way you want them to be.   And now you can see why I am so excited about what’s in store.

So, now you know who’s coming to dinner.  It’s it just so great?  Yes it is.

Guy’s weekend aboard Pandora and putting the pieces together now.

It’s Tuesday morning and raining.  Good thing, as we really need it.  Not that I want to cut my lawn but it’s VERY dry so a few days of rain are a good thing.

Today I head up to RI to pick up a solar panel to complete the installation on Pandora and make her fully independent of engine charging and able to stay functional “off the grid”.  I will say that her engine charging system is first rate and puts back what I use in very quick order.  However, as I don’t live aboard full time, I need a way to charge the batteries when I am able to turn on the engine.

Now that I have spent time aboard I see that her 320 watts of solar are enough to bring her back to fully charged as long as there isn’t any load on the system beyond the fridge, and that assumes that it’s sunny much of the day.  So, by adding another 280 watts, in a single new panel, she will easily charge up, even when “the sun don’t shine”.    The dealer that I am buying the unit and charging regulator from is Hamilton Ferris up in MA.  They are on the Cape which is quite a drive from here.  Conveniently, the owner Ham is going to be in RI today and has agreed to bring the panel in his van so I can pick it up .  And that’s a lot closer for me.  

I won’t have time to put  the new panel aboard for a week or more but it will be good to have it nearby so I can get started installing it soon.  

Anyway, enough of the “gotta do list” for now.

Last weekend was great fun as  good friend of mine Craig, came up to spend some time aboard Pandora.  He arrived late on Thursday night so we could leave early on Friday morning to head over to Sag Harbor.  Sag has some of the most expensive moorings of any place you’d want to visit so it’s good that our club has two moorings there and we picked up one.  Last time I visited there the moorings were $2/ft of boat length and frankly I won’t pay that just to tie a rope to my boat for the night.  However, club mooring available.  Off to Sag Harbor.

There wasn’t any wind at all so we motored the whole way there.  That’s OK as it was a very pretty day.  Sag Harbor is the only reasonable harbor in The Hamptons so it’s pretty pricey and not that friendly to small boats.  They are used to the likes of folks like the singer Billy Joel.  He keeps his boat Alexa there.  I am sure that he has many boats but this is a particularly nice one.  I have seen her before and it’s nice to see that someone with money keeps boats for a while instead of cycling through them like just one more disposable possession.   This is a link to an article about the boat that ran some time back. She’s a very unique vessel.

I had read somewhere that the average time someone owns a mega-yacht is something like three years.  They either get bored with the boat and want to build another, likely bigger one, or are horrified with the cost of managing a yacht and sell it.

Well, Sag Harbor is a beautiful place and it’s clear that folks there have the income to support some pretty aggressive “cycling” through expensive possessions.   Everything there is meticulously maintained.  How about this hedge?To keep a garden up like this would certainly require someone who keeps a “hedge fund”.  Get it, a hedge fund?  “Yes, Bob, cute but pretty lame.”

Look at the dental work on this home.  What a paint job.  The streets were lined with every manner of restored old homes and all in perfect condition. The plantings in this yard were stunning if a bit overwhelming.  Love the trimmed trees.  I guess you’d need a cherry picker to keep trees this big in perfect pruned shape. The iconic American Hotel on main street is a great spot to have lunch.  I say lunch as dinner would be way beyond my pay grade.   Check out the site, they don’t even publish their rates on the site.  I guess if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.  And don’t forget to book an outing on the hotel’s yacht. We visited a local cheese shop and got a bottle of wine for dinner and ate aboard.   What a beautiful place to spend time.

Overnight the wind filled in from the SW and we had a fabulous sail from Sag to Block Island, a run of about 35 miles Sunday.

Pandora really excels in not a lot of wind as this shot shows, if you can see beyond the glare of the light. It’s remarkable to be making these sorts of speeds with so little wind.  To sail at half the apparent wind speed is very good performance.  I had the code “0” and main up and, she was hardly heeling.

As we approached Block the wind had freshened to nearly 20kts and the fog dropped in on us like a cotton wool blanket.  We could only see perhaps 150 yards. I thought that I was going to have to pick my way into the harbor, buoy to buoy but as we got to within a 1/4 mile of the entrance we passed out of the fog as if emerging from behind a curtain.  Within a hundred yards we went from visibility you could measure in feet to being able to see for miles.  It was pretty eerie.

Once in the harbor it took quite a while but eventually we found the club mooring and picked it up.  There were hundreds of empty moorings but we had to pick up one in particular as the harbor master would have shooed us off of any one what we didn’t have permission to use.  I know this as it’s happened to me in the past.

We headed ashore for a walk and took in the sights.  I really like Block Island although it’s very different than Sag.  The property here is very pricey as well but the environment is a lot more casual.  There is an old hotel in town that is quite a spot. We also stopped at the “Oar” a well known bar overlooking the harbor.  The view from the bar commands the entire harbor. Pandora’s in the middle of the shot, just to the left of what looks like an island in the distance.  The dark hull.  This early in the season there wasn’t anyone there.   Just wait a month and every mooring will be occupied.  I expect that weekends are already booked for much of the summer at the dock.

This picture of Craig taking in the view pretty much sums up the mood of the weekend.  Rum punch anyone?Well, I had better wrap this up as I have to jump in the car and go to RI to get that panel.  Yes, the pieces of Pandora are beginning to come together and it won’t be long till we are headed south again.    

For now, I’ll take New England and the beautiful summer that’s now upon us.