Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Deep Thoughts by Quincy

Deep thoughts by Quincy the Boat Great Dane (more…)

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…)

4th of July Sailboat in the Moonlight

Sailboat in the moonlight.  Taken with an iPhone 4th of July Evening.

Sailboat in the Dark

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. 

BoatWork is one way to relax!

If you do professional boat work or are in the industry, you may not agree with this post at all or downright tell me I’m WRONG.  But,  working on the boat is relaxing to me in several different ways.  I like to work on my boat.  I like to actually think through a project-  problem solve what I’ll need to complete it, make sure I’m about to do something worthwhile and then start and finish the project (it gives me validation).  Sometimes I’m in over my head (since I’m still learning things like electrical, boat plumbing and fridge repairs), but at least I can admit this.  When this happens, I’m smart enough not to let my Type-A Male Personality get in the way of admitting I need some help from a professional- Nope I can’t do it all myself.  Every time I’ve hired a professional, it’s been worth it and we’ve completed the projects that we started.

I took last Thursday and Friday off work to knock out some specific projects I had been wanting to get done since the last run to Catalina Island.  I changed out the cockpit speakers for some nice pretty ones that work and actually turn-on.  With the help of a new crack mechanic and electrician (Tim) we wired in a new engine panel station in the cockpit (works) that actually gives me RPM’s and good temperature readings on the engine (so exciting).   Next, he literally saved the day by accurately and quickly diagnosing a problem with our four freshwater valves and saved me from putting in the brand new freshwater pump I had already bought.  One of the old (probably original) freshwater valves had failed because the ball on the valve was completely missing, so the whole system was sucking air through it; inhibiting the flow of fresh water, for as long as we owned the boat.  Thursday afternoon I spent doing a run to San Diego to Downwind Marine, where I found everything I needed.  Thursday night I spent installing all four new freshwater valves as well as working hard on some hops appreciation (Cali Kush) from Breakwater Brewery.  The new valves worked like a charm.  While mechanic Tim was there thursday morning, we also discovered that at least one of the freshwater tanks was full of water (not getting emptied because of the bum freshwater valve) and that my batteries were a bit low on water.  So, Friday was water day!  Friday morning I filled batteries (with the new high speed dripless filler from Downwind Marine) and I literally emptied water tanks one at a time by using separate valves,,,,,then refilled and emptied all water tanks two more times to wash them all through.  This made me feel better.  Also on Friday, Ronnie (my dock neighbor) came by and hauled me up the mast to get a better look at the stack pack and associated rigging.  It were trashed, so it had to come off  before it rusted or fell off.   This is a good thing,,,,the boat looks tons cleaner and will allow for the new Sailcover to get put on.  Friday afternoon was dedicated to the chain locker!   I took all 300 feet of NEW BBB Galvanized Chain and main bower anchor (Manson Supreme)  off the boat and cleaned and dryed the chain locker.  Want to keep my chain dry and clean so it doesn’t rust.  Yep, the chain locker needed that cleaning, trust me.  I also sewed custom 50′ measuring increments on the chain by hand, meaning I sewed flat blue and black webbing into the chain every 50 feet so it won’t come out and won’t get caught by the windless.

Everything we’re doing to the boat, no matter how small;  is aimed at constant improvement and the desire to eventually blue-water cruise.  We’ll get there, someday.

New Cockpit Engine Panel, ready to go in.
New Cockpit Engine Panel, ready to go in.
Old Engine Panel on the Left, New One on the Right
Old Engine Panel on the Left, New One on the Right
Cockpit Speakers, work in progress
Cockpit Speakers, work in progress
Sony Marine Grade Cockpit Speakers, DONE! Hops Appreciation in progress while photographing
Sony Marine Grade Cockpit Speakers, DONE! Hops Appreciation in progress while photographing
Four Brand new water valves, installed and working
Four brand new water valves, installed and working
Custom Depth Markings Every 50 feet, sewn with Marine-Grade Thread
Custom Depth Markings Every 50 feet, sewn with Marine-Grade Thread and Climbing webbing
"Morning Honey, ready to help me put 300 Feet of Chain back in the boat?"
“Morning Honey, ready to help me put 300 Feet of Chain back in the boat?”
Thursday/Friday Projects,,,Done-     Saturday- Sail
Thursday/Friday Projects,,,Done Saturday- Sail

Book Review: “The Complete Ocean Skipper” by Tom Cunliffe

Honestly, I work on the blog as I go with overall projects in mind and things that come up that I can apply to something interesting, educational or funny on the blog.  My book reviews will go in spurts, as I’ve read the books already, but sitting down and thinking of a more in depth review takes a bit more time and I’m selective about what I review on this site.

The Complete Ocean Skipper by Mr. Tom Cunliffe is the 3rd book he’s written and probably by far one of his most comprehensive.  His other two books fall in line with Mr. Cunliffe’s personal RYA experience and he has vast offshore experience with which to write this book.  He’s he’s sailed all over the world and England has some nasty and serious sailing weather.  The other two books are titled The Complete Day Skipper and Complete Yachtmaster and are worth a look.  I have the 1st Edition Hardcover published in 2016 by Adlard Coles Nautical via Bloomsbury Publishing, with ample pictures and 270 pages.

I admit I picked up this book because I had read a previous review that said Mr. Cunliffe was actually one of the growing list of famous older sailors who were starting to admit/tell folks that Fin Keels were ok for deepwater boats.  I liked that, so I grabbed the book and there’s a lot more than I bargained for.  I like Mr. Cunliffe’s writing, plain and simple.  It seems he has a fair voice and takes the time to explain pros and cons of whatever he’s talking about, but he won’t shy away from saying the truth.  One of these truths is that the fin/spade keel mix doesn’t work well on poorly made boats and there ARE documented instances of fin keel’s coming off boats.  Yep, there are, I’ve read them and I’ve read the Coast Guard write-ups on some of them.  But, Mr. Cunliffe also says that Fin/Keel can work for deep water boats like other keel/rudder mixes as well as admits that he has a “dram” or two of the spirits on passage (I’m ok with this, good on you Tom).  One of the better sections you don’t find in too many modern blue water sailing books is a pretty complete navigation section, including detailed instructions for  sextant use and calculations.  I’m pretty impressed with it, in the days of electronic charts and touch button everything, Mr. Cunliffe still chose to make sure this went into his book, which is a testament to his agenda.

So if you want or need a book with a bit of a different voice about deep ocean or blue water sailing, perhaps give this one a try.


By reviewing and recommending this book, I take no personal or professional responsibility for what you do on the water after reading this book.  On the water, the lives of you and your crew are in your hands.

“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.

Pacific Cup Destination in Paradise- Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

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Kaneohe Bay Anchorages and Marina’s

Wow,,, an entire week on the “Non-Tourist” side of Oahu, Hawaii, exploring Kaneohe Bay to chill out and look over the Marina’s and navigation through K-Bay.  I’m thrilled that we explored it with our personal tour guide (great friend of ours) the entire week (and found at least one micro-brewery in the process).  Not only did we get to see the bay from the mountains, we were able to explore the entire thing most of the way around by car, get into the bay on a boat and into some of the shallower areas on paddle boards.  If you’re going on a boat (especially for Pacific Cup 2016); (it’s beyond gorgeous), it’s shallow in a lot of places and won’t be fun or wise to navigate at night and there’s ALOT of life in the bay.  In May and June, it’s Hammerhead Shark Mating and Birthing season,,,but we didn’t see any or have much fear of them.  But we did see LOTS of turtles in one area that our crack tour guides knew about and we were able to see lots of life  on the reefs.  In fact, our friends who scuba dive on a regular basis were very clear in saying they may have seen more life on the reefs of K-Bay than they had seen on a few of their scuba dives.  I was pretty happy to hear this,  since I missed the scuba diving to babysit,,,,i.e.: “parent” so my girlfriend could scuba dive trip with our friends.

K-Bay has an entrance on the north side of the bay just down from the small island called ChinaMan’s Hat;  but from there it’s going to be a spectacular trip by sailboat through the bay toward several anchorages and marina’s there.  With a chart/chartplotter and a sharp-eyed lookout, most sailboats probably won’t have too much trouble navigating the bay, as we were able to easily spot the islets just underwater, even while the tide was up.  When the tide is down, many of the islets turn into sandbars that both locals and tourists flock to in good weather.  Tourists are herded on and off the cattle boats to wade in the shallow water for their photo ops,,,while locals show up to teach their kids to swim or snorkel.  The most inventive are those who show up at the lowest tide and barbecue right on the sandbar as the tide comes through, carefully timing their fun.  I  like this-  K-Bay is well protected, but wind coming through may kick up some wind waves,,,there is wind, especially in the afternoons.  There were lots of clouds on this trip, but it literally rained on the mountains and although overcast, we were able to snorkel and paddle board with nary a drop of rain on the bay.   I was able to find two small Marina’s on K-Bay Kaneohe Bay Yachtclub/Marina and He’era Kea Marina where the the tourist boats operate out of.  Both are fairly small with Kaneohe Bay Yachtclub being the largest with the most services, and both have good anchorages off them, but some shallows in the area.  The internet says there’s a third one called Makani Kai Marina, but I didn’t find it or see it, unless you count the one mast next to a house that I did see, a catamaran.

Yes,  I would LOVE to do the Pacific Cup someday but San Francisco is a bitch to get to from Southern California by boat and it’s cold,,,but this is where I’d come if we ever make it to Hawaii from the South Pacific.  I think renting a car would be easy and the town of K-Bay and Kailua have all the modern shopping, malls, and restaurants you need,,,and one MICRO-BREWERY, besides Kona Brewing Company on the tourist side.  I also like this place because if you get to know the locals,,,they make a MEAN Mai-Tai with kick, let your kids play in their swimming pool (ocean shallow enough 500 yards offshore for a 4-year old to play in) and just let you show up and grab paddle boards from their garage.  Pretty Kewl

More about the other marina’s I spotted in the next post and some pics.