Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Republish: “The Checklist” and “Mariners Trip Planning” by Captain Chris Couch

I’m republishing this post and another about some of the sailing aids I’ve used from Captain Chris Couch because I wrote them while still owning Tulum IV.  I still use them now that we’ve moved on to another sailboat and they still have value.   Read on… (more…)

Republish- Pre-Ocean Checks/Pre-Ocean Inspections and Captain Chris Couch

Another story I think has value but was written several years ago.  The techniques and mental cues described here are still relevant and I still use them and urge you to use them.  Nothing makes me more happy than when someone comments that they didn’t like my ideas the first time, but when they got back to their own boat and had a stressful situation; they started to understand some of my preparedness.  To me, the more I prepare, the more at ease I am in stressful situations.  Read on…. (more…)

RickD/Winds of Time realism

If you want a bit of realism injected about cruising and sailing life and you’re not sure if those cool YouTube videos of S/V Delos and others in bikini’s are the cruising life,,,,well, cruising is defined by those who do it.  This is one of the best posts I’ve read about cruising or not cruising and why we might write about it.  It’s honest and heartfelt and I have great admiration for the writer who puts it out there for people to read.  If you like it,,,,follow the Winds of Time site to read more-

Extended Cruisers… that’s what we tell people now when they ask us where we live. We get questions on where our house is (the boat). Where do we live? How do you cook? Where do you go to the bathroom? Where do you shower? What do you do when you get tired of being on […]

via Life is a Journey, Not a Destination — Winds of Time

Book Review: Flirting with Mermaids by John Kretschmer

I’m sitting here slightly hung over writing this post in blessed semi-silence,,,,with a little reggae turned on.   You see, I know that in just a few minutes chaos will be unleashed on me and my house once again,,,,when not two,,,but four children under the age of 10 will return from their afternoon hike.  They slept all night while the stupid adults stayed up waaay too late and welcomed 2017.  And they have a lot of energy! I love it- most of the time.

Here’s my attempt at yet another book review:  Flirting with Mermaids by Mr. John Kretschmer is the second book he’s written out of four.  My version is the soft cover with 204 pages total published by Sheridan House in 1999 with the paperback edition published in 2003.  I liked this book and I like Mr. Kretschmer’s writing style.  I’ve read this book and his next one twice, looking for points to learn, but I’ve also noticed his respectful tone toward the sea, sailboats (no matter the condition) and other things.  He’s respectful to his first wife in the book even though he knows the marriage is basically falling apart and is single when he meets his second wife and quickly marries her, buys a boat with her and has a child with her (covered in this book).  The book is written as a handful of sea stories he tells to his second wife on their first sailboat delivery together, piecing together some of his longest and most interesting sailboat deliveries throughout the world.  By the time he writes this second book, he’s already married to his second wife and is still doing yacht deliveries, something he won’t do forever as he continues to evolve through the years.  I would recommend this book as a great window into an unusual and challenging career path, but it’s honestly not as hard-core as Sailing a Serious Ocean.  What I’m saying is there may be more lessons learned on boats in the first and third books but lots more quirky stories in this one.  Once I started this book, I had trouble putting it down and loved reading it as much the second time as the first time.

This book is a great next chapter after his adventures in the first book, which I reviewed in this post:

Book Review- Cape Horn to Starboard by John Kretschmer

I’ve already started reading the third book for a second time, Sailing a Serious Oceanand will post a review of that one too once I finish it.

AND,,,,if you’re still reading along with this post all the way down here, I’ve got a quick sea story and “thank you” of my own for you.  In my attempts to look at different sailboats and compare what might work for my family and others as a great bluewater boat, I decided to see if there were any of the boats that John Kretschmer himself sails.  He’s taken his boat lots of miles documented in the third book Sailing a Serious Ocean and so I did a quick search to see if there were any of the same model for sale anywhere.  What a shock when Yachtworld brought up a Kaufman and Ladd 47 in good condition,,,in San Diego with the same brokerage where my boat is for sale now.  I like Yachtfinders/Windseakers as a brokerage there in San Diego, but have not had a chance to look at the this particular boat yet.  I’ve spent some considerable time looking over the pictures of the boat and it’s definitely a sleek blue water cruiser, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the layout.  There are also no pictures of the engine or engine room and I fear the access is much the same as other boats I’ve looked at.  There are three staterooms, but the layout is a lot like the boat we have now, but since it’s a bigger boat, those staterooms might be larger than ours currently.  I do like the looks of the boat and it’s affordable, so it’s a consideration once Tulum IV sells.  On a whim in November, I emailed Mr. Kretschmer for his opinion on that particular boat, since he’s sailed the same model thousands of miles.  I didn’t think anything of it, never expecting a reply at all because he’s usually off sailing or expecting a canned auto-reply.  What a surprise when I checked email in the middle of December and had a nice written reply.  Mr. Kretschmer had actually looked over the boat online the night before and commented on the boat, saying he didn’t think it was a Kaufman and Ladd, but a Kaufman 47 just like his boat.  He commented on a few points he saw in the pictures, also saying he thought it looked like it was in good shape and would require less work than his when he brought to her life from the boatyard.  When I emailed back to thank him, he replied immediately, telling me to let him know if we bought it and that he would check out the blog.  Pretty cooool overall and a nice thing to do for a fledgling sailboat blogger like me.  I’m impressed, thank you Mr. Kretschmer.

For everyone following and anyone visiting, welcome to 2017!!! Thank you for reading this post and checking out this tiny but growing blog about sailing, cruising, adventure travel, family adventures and progress toward my OUPV and Captain’s License.  Our goal is to get to know you and let you get to know us BEFORE we start our several year sailboat cruise, then follow us on our cruising adventures,,,to continue when we get back to the US from our sailing.

Book Review- Cape Horn to Starboard by John Kretschmer

I just finished the first book that John Kretschmer wrote, Cape Horn to Starboard.  What a great book about bluewater sailing on a small boat; in one of the most dangerous places on the planet- Cape Horn, Chile.   Written soon after his record-breaking trip (1984) and published by Burford Books, this 147 page book was something I couldn’t put down, as fast paced and gripping as it was.   Prior to this historic trip however, the book goes into some detail about how John Kretschmer came of age, got his start in small boats and tried to run a Navigation School for profit. It’s also walks the interested reader right through the background story on Gigi, the smallest boat in history (at the time) to double Cape Horn.  As per the author, it isn’t a day-to-day recounting of the trip from his logbooks or from factual documents, but more general situations that he and the crew encountered as major milestones during the trip.  The seminal events are enough to get anyone’s attention and keep you wondering how they survived and kept sailing.  But they did it, and sailed into the record books at the time as the smallest boat ever to “Double the Horn” (sail the wrong way around it, into the wind, into the waves, into the current).   The book is obviously written while he was still married to his first wife (his girlfriend and steady crew throughout the book, whom he marries in Chile),  and prior to his steady state offshore work as a Delivery Captain.  I was so excited to read this book, as I’ve read both of John Kretschmer’s other books, loaned them to a friend and have now bought both those books again to re-read them.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of sailing Cape Horn or doing long distance sailing on a small boat on the NON tradewind Routes, this might be a great read for you.  Or, if you just want to know what it’s like to sail a small boat in horrible cold weather, this is a great read that you won’t put down.  If you’re interested in reading about the great man himself or want to see what he’s up to now, check out his website:  Or you can take a look at his wife’s website: travelswithtadjji.

Disclaimer: By following the link to Amazon you can buy the book but this is NOT the reason for the book review.  I read books about sailing, cruising, adventure travel and survival for the fun of it and often will review them here on my blog.



Camera for the Blog

Better Camera =’s Better Blog Photos,,,right?   After seeing some really great pictures on other blogs and looking at a few of my own, I decided to find a better camera.   So I’ve decided to use my wife’s camera, hoping for some better pics on the blog soon.

Followers on this blog are signing up slowly but surely as more and more of you find us and decide to stick with us.  Roberta Pimentel reminded us that blogging takes awhile; and it must be fate as I heard Jimmy Buffett say he once sang to an audience of seven people when he was starting out.  I write about sailing, cruising, PTSD and adventure travel, but as I look at different blogs on the same subjects; I’ve noticed a trend.  Many blogs I’ve looked at start with the “boat trip” and end once the trip is over,,,,like all their excitement is over?   I’m pretty pleased to be able to start this blog and get to know all of you before we start our sailing adventure (several years before we leave); but I’m authentic as we do have a boat,,,and I’ll write and do a YouTube channel while we’re out and about.  Once we get back, I’ll still love sailing and want to write about it, but from a different perspective.

Next up: We’ll continue my series on Selling Tulum, Captain License and I’ll start a new series about authentic old world Pirate Experiences (which won’t be what you think, as it’s all real!) 

The End

Buffet in San Diego-

Jimmy Buffett in San Diego on a Tuesday, playing a small venue with sets that included acoustic and all the classics that Parrotheads love,,,,,on the water.  What could get any better?  Getting a ticket might have been better!

Jimmy Buffett continued his “I Don’t Know” tour last night at Humphrey’s by the Bay in San Diego.  What a great small stage venue on the water, next to a myriad of marina’s and right down on Shelter Island in San Diego.   Well,,,,as this blog attempts to report on things maritime to those who read it, we tried our best to get tickets to the concert so we could give you great blog content on relevant matters like “Jimmy Buffett”.  Alas, tickets went on sale at 10am on a workday,,,,and sold out in less than two minutes.  I missed the tickets and didn’t want to pay the $475 each on Stubhub,,,and couldn’t afford it.  But, I know it’s very important to bring you all refreshing and updated blog content, so we concocted a plan to get as close as possible and try to catch some of the concert,,,,and check on the boat in San Diego of course to make sure she was still clean.

On advice from our broker with Windseakers/Yachtfinders, we chanced the fact that we might be able to hear some of the concert from the hotel next to Humphrey’s, and the gamble paid off.  We enjoyed a fine evening with a bunch of other Parrotheads listening to concert quality sound.  And, the Parrot heads who came by dinghy, kayak, paddle board and other small craft to the docks below the concert venue were priceless to watch,,,,especially toward the end of the night.

YEP,  this blog will continue to bring you relevant matters like this as often as possible, because I know this is essential material to cruising, sailboating and production boats!  This blog was also not meant to sound like I’m bragging or flaunting the fact that you were not able to be at a Buffett Concert in San Diego on a Tuesday.  I wasn’t at the concert either, I was forced to sit next door and spend hours thinking through the material I would use to write this inciteful and exciting post-

If you’ve continued to read this far down,,,,thanks,,,,I was stoked and humbled to be able to hear any of the concert and damn glad to be there. 

“The Checklist” and “Mariners Trip Planning” by Chris Couch

I stumbled across reference to Captain Chris Couch’s books while reading the July 2016 Edition of Northwest Yachting, Volume 30, No 1.   Not something I read all the time, but it has a lot of great articles and I hope I can find more volumes.  Inside, I stumbled across the section detailing some of the adventures of Captain Chris Couch, a delivery Captain and Poet who has now added author to his list of accomplishments.  Reading the snippets from “The Checklist“, I was hooked and ordered one for about $13.00 or so plus shipping.

After reading it and the other book that was thrown in, “East Pacific Weather and Mariners Trip Planning” I’m impressed.

The Checklist is exactly what it sounds like, a checklist to use daily, weekly, monthly for Mariners on all sorts of boats, not just sail or power.   Sections covered are what I need:   Maintenance, Spare Parts, Basic Safety Equipment, a massive troubleshooting section, trip planning, Quick Checks, Mechanical Checks ect.

However, it’s more than just checklists; as the book includes info you need at  your fingertips like:  Rules of the Road, weather resources in real time, basic navigation tools, Marine Radio, Mexico/Canada/US Customs, Distances and Important Phone Numbers you might need eventually.

Mariners Trip Planning  is all about the weather, swell, current, bar entrances, distances and basic navigation in an easy to read, easy to take along format.  

Best of all, some of Chris’s Poems are included in each book as well as outstanding Marine Photography which I’m betting he took on several of his longer passages.

Both these books are going on my reference shelf on Tulum.  They are published by Compass Headings Publishing and written by Captain Chris Couch.  They retail for $12.95 each plus shipping and are thin enough to take with you in most situations.

This Blog has no financial interest in Captain Chris Couch or Compass Heading’s Publishing and makes no money from telling you that this book might be a good thing to have with you for reference.

Pre-Ocean Checks/Pre-Ocean Inspections and Captain Chris Couch

The ungodly heat for most of the summer (where I live) drives me toward our boat,  but it can’t happen every weekend, so I write about related subjects here.

Whether you own a speedboat for the River, an ocean-going yacht, a sailboat or an airplane; you probably run through a checklist in your head for at least one thing prior to departure: fuel or beer;  but this isn’t nearly adequate and a more detailed list is probably used by most,,,,should be used  by ALL operating vessels or airplanes.

A checklist mentality has been driven into my brain since early in my career and I’ve never  been able to shake it off,  but sometimes my checklists work better in my brain when they’re printed and on a knee board or laminated spindle I can grab at a moments notice.  After my numerous “business trips”,  to some of the hottest places in the world, I noticed my memory and hearing were slowly deteriorating and I was more easily distracted, so I started writing down more important matters on my phone.   One of these matters was what was needed prior to putting the boat to sea, no matter how long we had planned on being out for.

One of the techniques I had drilled into my head from an early age and used all the time during my “business trips” were Pre-Combat Checks (PCC’s) and Pre-Combat Inspections (PCI’s).   These could easily be called Pre-Ocean Checks (POC’s) and Pre-Ocean Inspections (POI’s).   Here’s a bit more information I found about them and have edited a bit for reading ease:

a. Both are intended to accomplish the same thing, which is to have a leader ensure that certain mission critical pieces of equipment are ready. The only real difference is who is doing the inspecting.

b. Commanders (or the Vessel Master) do PCIs.  Platoon leaders, platoon sergeants, and squad leaders (crew or Admiral) do PCCs

c. They are the detailed final checks that all units conduct before and during training and combat operations. You must perform checks and inspections before each event/trip or exercise to check personnel, equipment, vehicles, and mission knowledge. By requiring your unit (crew) to adhere to standards, you ensure that every individual and every piece of equipment will be ready. Pre- combat checks and inspections are an individual and leader responsibility. It is impossible to overstate their importance. Checks and inspections are your greatest asset to combat those twin enemies of unit readiness—apathy and complacency. It is human nature for people to get used to their surroundings and begin to overlook minor problems. By doing regular inspections, you will be able to correct small problems before they become big problems. Some common checks prior to beginning a mission (or trip) include but are not limited to:
• Open water essential equipment
• Understanding of the trip and specific responsibilities
• Food and water
• Navigation
• Deficiencies noted during earlier inspections that have not been corrected yet. 

In my mind, the Pre-Ocean Checks and Pre-Ocean Inspections should be done in separate iterations based on the following:  Pre-Ocean Checks should be done by whichever crew is designated with that responsibility; in a detailed manner in order to cover all the bases needed.  Pre-Ocean Inspections should be done prior to leaving the docks to ensure things are done that will keep the boat afloat and all safety systems are working and enabled.  I do my Pre-Ocean Checks the night before we leave and probably early on the mornings we leave, my wife does her’s the same way, then I do my Pre-Ocean Inspections with my engine warming up but still in a competent and methodical manner.

While reading something I grabbed while getting parts in San Diego, I was impressed with a story about Captain Chris Couch (a poet, writer and Delivery Captain).  I was really impressed with the detailed write-up about the fact that more and more boaters are going into potentially dangerous situations with less and less actual navigation experience and without any sort of “checklist mentality”, they were just coming to their boats, starting them up and taking off.  Captain Couch decided to write his own version of a Pre-Ocean Checklist, calling it the “The Checklist” and starting his own publishing company for this, his poetry and his Navigation Primers called “Compass Headings Publishing”.   I just bought my own copy, and could not be more impressed.  I had dropped a note into the purchase order online letting them know I was impressed with the magazine article and received a personal email back from Captain Couch.  This is a personal touch that let’s me know he cares and has a great product.  I’m impressed.

For those who care, I have no financial partnership or agreements with Captain Chris Couch or Compass Headings Publishing and simply write as a way to possibly let others know about useful products that might help them.  I know this checklist will help us.

How to make the Dinghy Plane

Yep, this is an issue,,,and it can’t be solved with Viagra.  My dinghy won’t plane.  I’ve been frustrated by it, although Michelle has no idea why it bugs me so much.  She doesn’t understand that it will cut down on the water coming over the bow, it will make the ride smoother and I’ll hear less complaints about cold salt water from the various other occupants.  Every time we go to Catalina or have the dink out, I work on it.  I’ve serviced my engine, ensured it was large enough for the dinghy, looked at the dinghy specs (it’s a 11 ft Caribe RIB) and still can’t make the damn thing plane.  So in my frustration, I took to the mother of all info sources,,,,the internet.  While there, I researched and studied others with the same problem and found that the proverb about Occam’s Razor is right again,,,,the simplest solutions are usually the best solutions.   Turns out, I simply need to put more air in the tubes and that will probably do the trick, but I also may have a slow leak,,,so I researched that too.

I was surprised that the three things I wanted could not all be found either on Amazon or the West Marine Website, but I was able to find all of them on the Defender Marine Website, and received great customer service.  You also don’t pay sales tax if you live outside of Connecticut,,,yeah.  So, I went ahead and ordered a double action hand pump that will pump enough air to fully inflate the tubes, some Inland Marine USA Sealant (which can be put into the tubes to block slow air leaks) and a set of Davis Instruments Doel-Fin Hydrofoil fins for the outboard.  These ARE available on Amazon and came highly recommended  by some of the folks who had the same problems with their dinghy’s, so I figured I would give it a try.

If you read this and some of the info in it helps you, then I’m doing ok.  This is my art, this is part of my passion with boating.  I’ve been on and off a boat since I was 5.  Never thought I would be back and interested but it just happened.