Monthly Archives: September 2022

Everyone wants to get out of Dodge, and they are.

Ok, ok, perhaps the headline for this post is a bit of an exaggeration but the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean is gaining unprecedented interest.

In a “normal” year, as in “pre-pandemic” the rally generally had about 80-90 boats participating and even during the Covid years, in spite of all the restrictions, we still had 50 boats, pre-vaccination, and 80 last year in spite of boats facing pretty steep restrictions and a lot of unknowns in the islands.

This year however, is a LOT different with over 130 boats applying to join the rally.  And, what’s even more interesting is the number of folks joining us that have never done a rally before, about half.   Additionally, catamarans make up  nearly half of the fleet, the largest percentage yet.

I’ll admit that if I was just moving into cruising now I would buy a cat and not a monohull as they are just so much more comfortable.  I do worry about them in difficult weather as while they are indeed stable, once they start to go over, there is no stopping them and they don’t come upright again.

With so many more cats out cruising the ocean now, I expect that we will begin hearing more about them flipping, especially in the hands of cruisers that don’t have a lot of big boat experience.   So many of the boats in the rally are owned by folks that moved up into much bigger upon retiring from their careers.

In the “old days” the transition to “big” was to purchase a boat, sail it for a few years and then sell it and get a somewhat bigger boat.  Now it’s more like sail a small boat and when you retire, get a 40-50′ cat, and head out.  This means that there are more boats out on the water with owners that haven’t had a lot of practical experience on the ocean, especially on big powerful boats.

I expect that this is contributing to a greater interest in Salty Dawg, an opportunity to have additional education and support at a very low price.

Where else can you get dozens of targeted webinars, 24/7 shoreside side support during the passage and a near instant community of cruisers to hang out with for about $300, the cost of the rally and SDSA membership combined?

I did an Antigua and eastern Caribbean webinar the other evening and we had about 200 attending.   Additionally, as many more signed up than were able to watch the program when it was live, I expect that many more will look at the recording.

All of this is very rewarding to me as I have been “beating the drum” for years now to get folks to head to Antigua and now they are going.  It feels great.  Who wouldn’t want to make landfall at a place like this with dozens of your closest friends?I think that while a big part of all this is that many have emerged from the pandemic with a renewed belief that life is short and they want to use their remaining time wisely .   And, as Salty Dawg has shifted to almost totally online presentations, the material is accessible to many more than could every participate at an occasional live event.

In many ways Salty Dawg has been helped by the pandemic and I’ll admit that it feels pretty good to be working with a group that is growing.

There weren’t many years in my career that saw things on the up and up for several years so this is a nice change of pace.   I am under no illusion that the good times will continue for ever but it does feel like the renewed interest in cruising isn’t going to fizzle too soon.

The other night I did a presentation at our local yacht club and was astonished that nearly 70 showed up.   It was a particular thrill to me as I had not given a presentation “in person” for several years and it was a treat to see “real” people.

Along with the talk about cruising the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, I hosted a “tot” featuring “official” rum from the Antigua and Barbuda Royal Naval Tot Club, of which I am a member.

The rum…The setup…The toast, following a reading of some brief passages from a book covering happenings  on “this day in British Navy History”.   Interestingly, that night, October was the anniversary of the opening of Nelson’s dockyard in 1725, the destination of the Salty Dawg Rally each year.I supplied the rum for the tot, brought to the US aboard Pandora, of course.  And in spite of more than 60 taking part, it didn’t put much of a dent in my supply.  I will admit that this is an alarming cache of rum by any standards.   Don’t worry, I a plan to give a lot, well some, away. It was a wonderful evening and I do wish that I had taped the program as it’s the first one that I have done in a few years that hasn’t been “archived” for others to see.

No recent post would be complete without an update on the work being done on Pandora.  The short update is that the work is mostly done, well all of the battery work and the installation of the wind generator are done, as of yesterday, nearly 17 weeks after being dropped in Deltaville in May.

That’s ridiculous, I admit but finally…

Today Brenda and I head to MD to see our son Rob’s family including our three wonderful grandchillen.   I can’t wait.

On Monday I head to VA to bring Pandora up to Annapolis where there will be additional work done including some scratch repair on the hull, compliments of some small boys in Guadeloupe last winter and some work on the boom.

I’ll also be installing four new solar panels that should bring my solar capacity to a full 1,000 watts an increase from about 600 now.  That combined with my newly installed wind generator will hopefully be able to feed my new lithium bank all winter.

Doesn’t this look great?  I’m excited.  And yes, I too am looking forward to “getting out of Dodge”.  And I will, I hope.

For sure, I won’t be alone in Hampton with hundreds of my closest cruising friends.  Annapolis first…

Fingers crossed… Wish me luck.



Red Sky in the Morning… Warning? Not necessairily.

A few years ago I read an article in the NY Times about a society out of the UK that was all about clouds.  I could not resist and joined.  It seems that this “society” has tens of thousands of members.  In fact, I am member #54,749 and that is a lot of members given the fact that the society was founded in 2005.

The goal of the society is to celebrate clouds, something that really resonated with me. Anyone who follows this blog, knows that I love clouds and what better way to build on that than to be a member of a group that celebrates what I love.

The best part of this group is that the daily cloud photos that they share with their members are submitted by the members themselves. However, they don’t just take a photo and send it out.  They make an extra effort to provide context to the cloud that it illustrates.

I have no idea how many photos that they receive each week but I am trilled to have one of mine chosen and published yesterday.

Last spring, as I sailed out of Jolly Harbor Antigua on my way to St Barths, the beginning of my run to the US for the summer, I took this spectacular photo of the sunrise as we headed north. Here is what the society had to say about my photo.

“Those familiar with the adage ‘Red sky in morning, sailor take warning’ might consider this fiery sunrise of Altocumulus undulatus with smoky Stratocumulus silhouettes to be an ominous start to the day. But the sky, spotted by Bob Osborn (Member 54,749), appeared over the Caribbean, just north of Antigua, where it turns out the red-sky warnings don’t apply. This ancient piece of weather lore is backed up by some solid science – but for the middle to higher latitudes of the globe. At latitudes above 30 degrees in both hemispheres, the prevailing winds and jet streams mostly drive weather systems from west to east. This direction of travel, and the fact that storms tend to arrive as fronts with gaps of more settled weather in between, form the basis for why the weather proverb is often accurate. A morning of bright red cloud cover suggests that the sky is clear off to the east where the Sun is on the horizon so that its light can shine uninterrupted up to the cloud cover overhead. This suggests the gap of settled weather has passed and the illuminated cloud might be the start of the next lot of stormy weather arriving. For these reasons, the phrase and its evening counterpart, ‘Red sky at night, sailors’ delight’, both work pretty well in temperate, maritime regions of the world. But winds blow differently in the tropics where Bob spotted his morning red sky. At latitudes below 30 degrees, the prevailing winds, known as trade winds, generally blow the other way: from east to west. A red sky in the morning, therefore, is of little concern for a low-latitude sailor like Bob, who told us ‘it marked the beginning of a beautiful day sailing in steady trade winds’.”

You see, it turns out that a red sky in the morning isn’t bad at all when you are in the tropics.  I will admit that I have often wondered what the day might bring as I see such a fiery sunrise.  Now I won’t have to fret any longer when I am cruising tropical waters.  Whew!

I encourage you to consider membership in this group.   For me, receiving that cloud photo every day is somehow grounding in a world that sometimes seems so terribly complex and distressing.   I’ve submitted a few dozen photos over the last two years and today I celebrate either the fourth or fifth of my photos that they have chosen to send out to their members.  I do wish that I had kept better track of the ones that they chose to share.  Such is life.

You might be interested in checking out this post that I wrote when I first learned about the Cloud Appreciation Society.

And, it’s not always about clouds as I found when they published my photo of a “green flash”.  I thought that I knew plenty about this phenomenon but I was wrong.  See if you learn something.  I did and expect that you will too. So, there you have it.  Not only is there a society for every imaginable interest but you can now rest easy when you are confronted by a “red sky in the morning”.  Well at least as long as you are in the tropics.

Just in case you are interested in hearing what Gavin has to say about clouds and how they fit into our lives, I encourage you to watch this short Ted talk by “the man”.  I think it is inspiring and his encouragement that we stop for a moment, lie in the grass and look up, into the clouds.   Perhaps we need to think of clouds as an opportunity to stop for a moment to celebrate the simple things in the world around us.I expect that I’ll be seeing many more clouds soon as long as I can finally get the work done on Pandora and spend time on the water again.

Antigua, red skies in the morning and of course, clouds, on my mind…




The saga continues…

It’s early September and Pandora is now in what I hope are the final stages of getting her new lithium house bank installed.  Yes, STILL.

Last week I decided to pull the plug on the marina in Deltaville and move Pandora to a friend’s dock nearby.  There remains more to do so I am bringing in another electrician to review what had been done to date and to recommend what would be needed to finish the install.

I made this decision as when I arrived in Deltaville to consider next steps earlier in the week as I just could not get a straight answer about how much time it would take to get the job done and how many more hours at $100/hr would be needed.

It’s worth noting that when I received my last double digit bill the yard  threatened to haul and impound the boat, when I questioned the number of hours that had been billed.   To me, that seemed very aggressive given the fact that it had only been three days since I had even gotten the bill.  Well, I paid it, under duress I assure you, but it is still not clear to me as to how they had managed to spend literally weeks working full time on the boat, with no clear completion date in sight.

Recall that what has become a very painful saga began in mid May when I brought Pandora back from the Caribbean.  It is hard to believe that it is now Labor Day, an entire summer has gone by and the job is still not completed.    There remains some work to be done on the AC side of the system as well as some troubleshooting on the DC side along with programing of various contr0llers.  And, we are nowhere on the install of the wind generator.

Here’s Pandora at my friend’s dock, a very lovely place to be sure. My plan, all along, was to get the work completed and bring her back to CT so I could get other work done before I headed south to Antigua at the end of October.  Additionally, the Salty Dawg Rally is now offering a departure from Newport and I wanted to give that a try.

Alas, the original delivery date for getting Pandora back was mid July and the yard totally blasted by that.  Silly me, I should have known I was being hosed.  Now it’s September, Labor Day, and the job was still not completed.  My only regret is that I didn’t pull the plug weeks ago and move the boat.

Ok, so now that there is a new tech focused on the boat, I am cautiously optimistic that I will have Pandora’s electrical and wind generator work by mid September when I will run her to Annapolis for some rigging and hull scratch repair at M Yachts.  Steve, the owner, is being very supportive and expects to turn the boat around quickly.  I’ve had work done there in the past and believe him.

With our son Rob and his family, complete with three grandchildren, only an hour from Annapolis, I am looking forward to visiting them when I am working on Pandora.  Tori, in the middle, the oldest, is starting kindergarten, flanked by Emme and Rhette.  Adorable.After I get Pandora ready, I will head down to Hampton to join in the fun leading up to the departure for Antigua and the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean.

And, speaking of the rally, registration is running ahead of any year on record and I expect that we will soon be forced to cut it off.  It pains me to think that we may have to say no to some boats that delayed in signing up as in past years we have taken registrations up until a few weeks prior to departure.   However, this year, it seems that just about everybody that has considered heading south is doing it NOW!

As the pandemic winds down it looks like many are adopting YOLO, you only live once, and have decided to get out of Dodge and head for warmer climes.

This departure time in Hampton will be thrilling for me as president of Salty Dawg and I am SO looking forward to addressing all of those enthusiastic skippers and crew as they prepare to head south, many for the first time.

The bulk of the boats, upwards of 100 or more, will be heading to Antigua, my favorite island, and some to the Bahamas as well.

This winter will be a milestone for me and Brenda as we embark on the beginning of our second decade of seasonal cruising that has taken us the entire length of the US east coast, the Bahamas, much of Cuba and most of the islands of the eastern Caribbean from the USVI south nearly all the way to Grenada.

I have to say that I am very excited about sharing the islands with so many other cruisers, or Dawgs as we like to call them.

All I can say is that I sure hope that getting the rest of the work done on Pandora, abbreviated though it may be, goes smoothly.

I’ll be sharing the “lessons learned” about all this in future posts.   One thing for sure is that this turned out to be the most frustrating process EVER in getting work done and, for me, crystalized what the phrase means when someone says BOAT, Break Out Another Thousand…

Let’s hope that all of the expense and frustration pays off and that the new lithium bank and upgraded electrical system lives up to it’s promise.

Perhaps I’ll focus on what is to come, a winter of sunshine in the islands.   Yes, looks like it will be fun.  I can almost taste that rum punch at sunset with friends aboard Pandora. I guess that I have to say that the SAGA continues but hopefully, no more surprises await.

That’s all for now.  Time to head to the farmer’s market.