This and that

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Paying tribute to the original Homer who is rumored to have perished on the island of Ios.

My all-time favorite place to live


Triaucourt-en-Argonne, France

Our rough collies Darwin and Mendel (when a pup)

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I have always loved sailing.


On a passage from Astypalaia to Nisyros, Greece. That early May morning was a bit chilly. Dr. Larry Sall and I completed many a wonderful voyage in Greek waters between Athens and Kos.


Headed to Corsica from Sardinia.

Ripping along off Bequia. Hand steering was a lot of fun that day. I have sailed among most of the islands from Puerto Rico south to the Grenadines.


Sailing on Galveston Bay aboard Yankee, our 38' sloop


Yankee was built in 1969 by the Hinckley Company. Aside form sailing the East and Gulf Coasts, she has been to Bermuda several times. 


I earned the Yachtmaster Offshore Certficate of Competence from the Royal Yachting Association. I also completed the class and exam component for the Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate, and will likely complete the documented ocean passage part sailing to Antigua aboard Yankee.

Sailing in the UK is one serious experience. If you have the inclination (and, perhaps, stamina), I would heartedly recommend training at a RYA facility such as this one.

For those of us who have a rather lot of previous experience, a week of prep can be booked followed by a rigorous on-the-water exam. Mine took place mostly at night in the Solent. It was cold, rough, and wet, and involved fun activities on a dark night sailing for various assigned points on opposite shores while having all sorts of examiner-generated complications occur. Among the fun:

  • avoiding a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, several enormous container ships, and numerous other ships and boats both anchored and moving. Sailing also involved figuring out all of the various navigation lights of other vessel types and determining the directions in which they were moving, or not. If you have ever sailed the Solent at night, the effect of all of the various vessel lights superimposed on shore lights is kind of like peering at a Christmas tree that is laying on its side with the exception that many of the few hundred red, green, and white lights are moving in clumps in various directions.
  • steering courses for various points while manually figuring tides and water depth complications
  • sailing up a dark, thin-water creek on an ebb tide (Beaulieu Creek) in which the channel is marked by tiny, nearly invisible willow branches stuck in the mud. The verbal instruction from the examiner was to mind the willies. Of course, I had no idea what then heck a willie was.
  • the loss of the engine while under power in potentially dangerous situations. He simply told me to kill the engine in a tight situation. 
  • a person overboard drill under sail in a current
  • hoisting a pint in a pub on the Isle of Wight - with the cast of a J.R.R. Tolkien play, still in costume. Hobbits, trees, whatever.
  • etc., etc.

Additionally, during the week of prep, a huge HM Coastguard helicopter appeared and asked permission to land a man on our deck. Like this, only on a sailboat with a 50ft mast sticking up in the way. That was fun. Oh, and then while tied up for the night at the Isle of Wight, our pub was invaded by a troupe of actors in full costume from a Tolkien play. Ever had a pint with a hobbit or a tree?