Sunday, November 18, 2018

John Kretschmer at Coconut Grove Sailing Club

John Kretschmer at Coconut Grove Sailing Club
During the whirlwind tour to promote his new book "Sailing to the Edge of Time", John Kretschmer spent an evening at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club in Miami on Saturday, November 17. His presentation was open to the public and very well attended. Some of the stories John recounted from his book were already familiar from past experiences and previous books, but it was entertaining to sit with an enthusiastic audience and listen to them again. Every copy of the book that John and his wife Tadji brought with them was sold and signed, including one bought by me for my father, who enjoyed John's previous book, "Sailing a Serious Ocean".

Before the event, John and Tadji met me at the clubhouse for a launch ride out to the mooring field to see Whispering Jesse, my wife Nan's and my 1980 Valiant 40 sailboat. John had advised me on purchasing the boat back in 2010 during one of his professional sailing passages that Nan and I crewed on, a multi-day trip from Bocas del Toro, Panama to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, with stops in Providencia, Roatan, and Belize. We reviewed the detailed boat survey that was emailed to me while we were in Roatan and decided it was worth a trip to Baltimore to see the boat, then named Little Walk. After the passage, John met me in Baltimore for a sea trial with the boat's owner and his broker. There were some issues, mostly of the deferred maintenance type, but none that would preclude buying the boat if the price was right. The owner and I eventually reached an agreement and Little Walk became Whispering Jesse.

John Kretschmer aboard Whispering Jesse
During the purchase process, John had recommended his sister and brother-in-law's marina and boatyard in Solomons, Maryland as the place to go to get the boat refitted, so that became the first stop after my friend Kevin Harrison and I sailed the boat away from Baltimore. The boat was in the boatyard for over a year's worth of work, during which time John was occasionally on site to teach one of his popular sailing workshops. I met him there during one of my frequent visits and we checked together on progress with the refit.

That was back in 2011 and John had not seen Whispering Jesse since then, so it was a pleasure to show him how well the boat had turned out. John, Tadji and I wandered around the deck and up to the bow, where John commented about how much more effective a manual windlass, like the installed Simpson-Lawrence one, could be over an electric one. I told them about my experience with Hurricane Irma and how the three-anchor strategy and arriving late to the hurricane hole had probably saved the boat, when so many others had been lost. We went down below and I opened a bottle of red wine. John commented about how much interior space there was for a forty-foot boat. Tadji seemed suitably impressed by the layout and classic features, so different from modern production sailboats.

I wished that there had been time to take a quick sail, to get John's impressions of the boat's handling and whether new sails were in order, but that will need to wait for another visit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

UFO over Artesia, New Mexico

Path of UFO over Artesia, New Mexico on September 17, 2018
I am in Artesia, New Mexico this week for work. Last night, I was at a co-worker's house looking at the planets through his ten-inch reflector telescope when we spotted what appeared to be a bright satellite moving steadily from west to east across the sky. My co-worker ran inside for binoculars so we could check to see if the object was maybe the International Space Station. By the time he returned, the object had moved below the moon and was passing above Mars. As he raised the binoculars, the object disappeared. It hadn't moved out of viewing range; it had simply winked out.

This experience reminded me of early morning walks with my dog Charlie when we lived in Aspen and the winter sun was late to rise. I would sometimes see lights in the pre-dawn sky that I knew were not planets or bright stars. As I watched, they would occasionally wink out, leaving only an after-image in their wake.

I never had an explanation for this phenomenon until a recent exchange with a person who is avid about UFOs. He told me that the disappearing behavior is not for cloaking or concealment but rather a side-effect of the crafts' propulsion systems. The beings behind the crafts are not trying to hide, though they are definitely keeping a very low profile. This may be because their presence here, I was told, is not just a visitation; it is an occupation.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Whispering Jesse under sail

1980 Valiant 40 Whispering Jesse under sail
Last month, to celebrate turning sixty, I sailed with my friend, Mike Young, from Miami to Marathon and back, anchoring overnight along the way. On our third day out, we were passed by a couple on a motor yacht and the woman stepped out on deck to take our picture. Shortly after that, she hailed us on the radio and asked for my email address. The photo she sent is the only one I have of Whispering Jesse under sail. Thank you, Pat!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Scout: A Tribute

Scout and Nan on board Whispering Jesse in Miami
The slideshow of our golden retriever Scout's life that I started after he died in December 2015 is finished now and published on YouTube: It presents his entire brief life in 157 photos, over seven minutes, and is set to the song "Desire Lines" by Deerhunter, from their 2010 album Halcyon Digest.

Completing this project, which was interrupted by not having access to the files during our temporary move to New Mexico, put me back in touch with what a special dog Scout was. He weathered several transitions with Nan and me, from Grand Junction, Colorado to Miami, Florida and then to Savannah, Georgia, with stays in Bentonville, Arkansas along the way, but he always maintained his sunny disposition. Even when we took him on board our sailboat late in his life and it was clear he was not comfortable, he trusted us and wanted only to be with us, no matter what.

We loved Scout with all our hearts and he loved us in return. He was the best companion a person could ever wish for.