Evacuation from Irma to Mexico

This is a video of some footage taken during our evacuation from Irma to Mexico. We motored and motor-sailed for a total of 67 hours nonstop, just Lindsay and me. Having enough fuel was the biggest issue, as we didn’t know how to research the exact location of the Gulf Stream, the Gulf Loop or the Yucatan Current. Heck, I didn’t even know about the Gulf Loop until Lindsay discovered it online. We now we know that we were fighting current almost the entire way.

In this video, I try to show you a couple of tactics for conserving fuel. We ended up making it, of course, but I was unsure for several hours along the journey. Oh, and it’s music is Journey: Cool the Engines. Have fun!

Repairing the Rudder: Part Two

Part one showed you how we removed the rudder from the catamaran while the boat was still in the water.
Now it is time to open it up and see what’s broken inside.

This video will describe how to cut open a rudder in a way that makes it easy to put back together again. It will also show you the repairs made to the metal parts and a couple of cool materials that I used to make it stronger than before.

Trying to make ends meet in Key West

We’re making this up as we go along…

Makara in Key West

As you know, we are done with the major repairs on the boat. We have moved into a marina at great expense so that we can enjoy lots of water and air conditioning onboard. The credit card bills for all of the upgrade equipment have come due. The reality of the cost of living here in such a popular and beautiful place is currently upon us. We recently discovered that our original plan of renting rooms on AirBnB to pay for everything had a major flaw in it.

no airbnb

Since we are technically in a slip that is deemed by the city-owned marina as “transient” and not “commercial” it is a violation of city code to accept any payment for use of the boat while in this location. We were reported by another charter boat in the area for having an AirBnB listing. We are lucky that we didn’t get kicked out of the marina or fined for it. We had a discussion with the Marina Manager and have come to an understanding. No more earning money from this slip, which is fair. So, we have removed the boat’s listing. So much for making extra money that way. The Mexican vacation rentals are doing well, however, it is going to be slow season from September through November down there.

pile of paperworkGetting a commercial slip and trying to pay for it with charters requires a business license and a captain’s license. We don’t have either right now. We heard there is a very long waiting list (as much as 10 years and possibly longer) for those coveted commercial slips here in the Historic Seaport. We weren’t planning to stay in the area past January anyway. We don’t want to leave Key West in order to find a commercial slip in some other part of the Keys or Florida, so that’s not going to happen either.

It’s time to find a job around here.


Lindsay has been hired by Diver’s Direct in a retail position. That will definitely help her with something to do during the day, but it’s not going to pay her very much. In fact, if all we had was here paycheck, it wouldn’t even pay for the monthly slip rent. It would take about three weeks worth of pay to have your own apartment down here, but that’s another story. Being employed is a move in the right direction and will open her up to new contacts and opportunities around town. It also comes with free scuba diving trips. That’s a nice perk. She is also volunteering with the SPCA, which might help with networking, but it’s more about being around dogs, which makes her happy!

USCG Master Expired

I want to work as an “on-call” Captain on a local charter boat, but my USCG license expired. I missed the chance of an easy renewal process when that happened. I am in the process of taking the required classroom courses all over again. Luckily I can do that online. The next examination date was June 18th, so I got that out of the way. I had over 60 hours of study to get through before I could take the exams. So now it’s another situation of waiting.  The application process is supposed to take about a month before I get my document, so hopefully it will show up soon. I need that document before I can even ask to be hired to drive a boat around here. I should have started months ago!

waterfront brewery

My other idea to make money was to find a way into the Waterfront Brewery and prove my worth somehow. I have been networking for a couple weeks to carefully and ask the right people about volunteering there. The commute would be easy, since It is located at the head of our dock, a couple hundred feet away. It sounded like a fun idea and certainly would be convenient.

A couple of months ago, at a bar, my friend Mary Jo pointed out one of the partners of the brewery, Chris. I introduced myself to him and chatted back and forth with him for a couple of minutes. After emailing him and pitching the idea of volunteering, he immediately forwarded my info to the head Brewmaster, Justin, which was very cool of him. Unfortunately, Justin told me that volunteers are not allowed for liability reasons. He did tell me that he wasn’t busy today and to stop by to meet him. I just got back from that meeting. He mentioned that they are getting ready to expand the brewery with some more fermentation tanks in about 3 months. He recommended that I apply for work in the brewery / restaurant so that when the tanks come, he might need help in the brewery. The transition into the brewery would be easier if I was already employed there. I just filled out my first job application in many, many years. That was weird. We’ll see what happens!

So for us, it’s all about networking and persistently seeking out new opportunities. Staying positive also helps!

Situational Awareness: A sailing lesson in life


by Matthew Reid
I have had some time recently to muse upon all the lessons sailing has given to me and am constantly amazed at the length and breadth of the spectrum of overall knowledge learned, as well as the countless ‘pearls of wisdom’ imparted.

Sailing as a sport and recreation has lessons at all levels of skill. In the beginning, you learn basic knowledge of wind, waves, lift, etc., just as part and parcel of learning the physical mechanics of sailing. A by-product, if you will. You also learn to put things together and take them apart. However, I am going to skip ahead to some of the lessons I have garnered in the last few years.

In this essay, I am going to focus upon Situational Awareness–something that many of us fail to use in our everyday lives, on an ever-increasing basis. In fact, it looks like from the first generation of smart phone users and on, people are going through the motions of life with almost zero awareness of their immediate situation and are looking down, fixated on the screens of their phones.

As any experienced sailor knows, whether on the racecourse, open ocean, or just coastal cruising, you need to stay aware and alert for a multitude of reasons. You need to be watching the wind and constantly monitor its strength, direction and tendency. You need to be adjusting the sails as well, a roving eye taking in the detail of the shape. You need to be very aware of the boats around you, if on the course, or in general while out for a cruise. You need to be aware of where everyone is on the boat, as to make sure all are accounted for. You need to be aware of feedback from your instruments, to better your performance. And more, much more if you think about it.

The better the team, the more obvious it is that all members of the team possess a very high level of focus and situational awareness. Distractions are minimized and the common energy helps the team in communication and overall performance.

The thought occurred to me that sailors, especially offshore sailors, use all the five senses (and sometimes a sixth sense) on an on-going basis. Sight, touch (feel), and hearing are fairly obvious. However, taste and smell are prevalent as well. Offshore, you must constantly be smelling the engine room, bilges, tanks, etc. leaks of one sort or another are often detected by smell. Taste is common as well. We all taste the bilge water to see if it is fresh or salty, has diesel in it, etc. Nasty, but it has to be done.

Those who have spent countless nights offshore also know that if you wake up to ‘something’, then the odds are it is SOMETHING. A nagging noise, barely perceptible, an unknown odor or odd feel to the motion of the yacht. The lesson learned hear is: If it wakes you up or disturbs you, deal with it immediately. Find out what it is, make your analysis, and execute the cure.

It is much easier to drag your tired bones out of the bunk and do the job immediately, than it is to wait. For the second lesson learned is small mistakes or problems lead to big mistakes and problems and disaster may not be far behind.

As a Captain, I spend hours looking at the yacht, knowing each screw and connection, cognicent of the places where issues have been known to occur and checking them regularly. It is amazing to me how you can look at something, literally stare at it, and not see a flaw or problem. Then suddenly, a quick glance somehow brings it to your awareness and you take care of the issue.

This all leads me back to the idea of basic situational awareness. As sailors, it is something that we learned on the water, perhaps not even thinking about it consciously. It is part of the learning curve of the overall skill set sailing requires.

The cool thing is, it can be practiced constantly, wherever you are. You take in your surroundings, make mental notes of things in general and then watch for changes. Just practicing being of aware of your environment and the activities going on in it can help your ability to focus and process information while on the water.

I like to remember to practice it whenever I am in any social situation. For instance, at the yacht club, a restaurant, walking on the street or hanging out with the family at home. When you are situationally aware, you begin to notice who is not paying attention and who is, if anyone.

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