18 May 2016
18 February 2016
04 February 2016
03 February 2016
31 January 2016
21 January 2016
19 January 2016
20 November 2015
18 November 2015
27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas
27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas

The best "advice"

18 May 2016
The best "advice"

Early on we shared a boat with a good friend and sailed about six months a year (he sailed the other six). Read earlier post "back story" for the details.

Here's the story.

One afternoon I found myself sitting on a remote beach, Scarlett anchored just offshore with a Nordhavn 60' anchored nearby. We were the only two. We had brought the dinghy in for some afternoon exploring and a swim. Soon after we arrived the Nordhavn launched their tender (we had a dinghy, they had a tender) and they headed to our beach.

I've forgotten the man's name but this scene played out many times over the years. We'd say hello and each couple would begin to tell their story. He would be late 50's to early 60's. Second marriage and they were "living the dream". Where from, where going, etc. After a few minutes the ladies would walk off to chat and we would sit down in the shade and talk a bit more.

The next question would be "what do you do?" I'm sure you've been there and you have your story. I'd share ours. Given our tender ages there was some genuine interest in how we managed to get there and be able to spend several months "living the dream". We would then proceed to share stories of business and finances and experiences.

At some point in the conversation I would ask my question, what's your best advice? Being 30 years old on a beach with a man who has led his life is such an opportunity. On more than one occasion the advice would be similar to the advice the man from the 60' Nordhavn gave.

Paul, see that boat there and my beautiful wife?


I would trade it all to have my family. You see Paul I worked 24/7 for twenty years to build my business. We were wildly successful. I provided every material want my family needed, all except Time went by, divorce, estrangement from my children and now grandchildren.

Paul, if you can, and it seems you might be able to, take the years your children are growing up and spend it with them.

That was the advice and this happened on more than one occasion.

Those days of childless wandering did come to a close. Scarlett was sold and we settled into life in Anchorage Alaska. We continued to grow our business, built a house, had our first daughter in 1998. Our second arrived in 2001.

Those words stuck with me...............................

One day I came home from another 14 hour day to find my lovely wife sitting in our "playroom" staring at the world map (that map sits behind me right now 15 years later). We had a conversation about "what we were doing and what we could do". That advice, "take the years your children are growing up and spend it with them." was ringing in my head.

We then made the worst financial decision of our lives.

Fifteen years later, thousands of ocean miles, residents of a new country, we still eat and travel and pay taxes. Are we as "wealthy" as we could have been? Not by a long shot, but I'm convinced if we stayed on the track we were on and failed to heed that wise advice, I would have ended up sitting on a beach giving advice to a young man to, if at all possible, "take those precious years that your family is growing up and spend it with them."

Blessings all.....

Here's the quote I read just last night from Seneca:

"He who needs riches least, enjoys riches most"

Side note, the other "best advice" I ever had with respect to buying a catamaran was "buy as much waterline as you can afford." That's a freebie :-)

"The Plan" (or lack there of)

27 March 2016
So what's your plan?

How often have you heard this? Now I have always been a destination guy. Always "moving" towards some distant goal and the places in between were on "The Plan". I never really thought much about this until this last month when I found myself with absolutely NO PLAN.

Now Steve and Jim at Loggerhead Marina (Highly recommend) in Stuart did not like this as it really messes with the paperwork! More on that shortly for those who dare to read this whole post.

The rough plan this month was to come down to Florida for spring break with Madison our oldest. I was to fly down early and get the boat ready including all new mast and rigging with some golf thrown in. Madison would fly down solo for her first time and together we would spend 10 days "doing our thing".

Well the rigging and mast plan went great and when she arrived we sat down to come up with "The Plan". We had nothing :-) The decision was made to sail out and see what the conditions dictated and take it from there. This is new territory for dear Captain and honestly, was kind of refreshing. Rather than some epic goal we would just go.

So on Wednesday morning we dropped lines, pumped the poop and let Steve and Jim know we were leaving for good, or not. We headed out Stuart inlet and turned ESE for West End Bahamas (habit).

About 20 miles out and well into the Gulf Stream Madison said "I'd really like to have ice cream at Sloans". See we purchased Ohana 1 (the cat) in West Palm Beach in 2002 (Madison was 4 at the time) and spent the better part of two years in and out of Palm Harbor Marina as we prepared her for the Caribbean and Pacific. West Palm holds many fond memories: Two Girls Pizza, Clematis Street, The "Fountain" where the kids could play and Sloans Ice Cream.

But what about "The Plan"??? There was none! We turned to the South West, a pod of dolphins joined us and off we went to get ice cream.

Now I had visions of waking to a Bahamas sunrise in West End and working our way to Marsh Harbor, leaving the boat there. We ended up visiting the Four Arts and meditating in the botanical gardens. We toured the Flagler Estate (memories of Newport) and the Breakers (she has never seen anything like that). We considered stopping by Mar a Lago to visit with Donald but knew he was busy :-) Rush would have to wait as well. Although is wasn't the Bahamas we anchored at Peanut Island, walked the whole perimeter, swam, snorkeled and read.

We did spend Saint Patrick's day on Clematis, danced in a green street "rave", enjoyed pizza at Two Girls and yes.............had ice cream at Sloans. We snuck in and out of the international boat show with the password "banana" and generally had a great, un-planned, time.

Steve and Jim? Well we did end up back in Stuart cause it's close to grandma (after enduring the WORST WEATHER EVENT of my sailing life, another story) and they smiled and didn't ask any questions. True Professionals.

I'm still a destination guy, always will be, but this little interlude will always be a reminder to sometimes just let it all go.

Blessings all and happy Easter!

(See Photo Gallery for lots of Pics)

"The Table"

18 February 2016
I've had a lot of thoughts about this post......

I walked past the mega yachts that surrounded little Ohana at the Viaduct Marina in Auckland. One in particular, I've forgotten the name, stood out. I looked at the table set on the afterdeck, it was spectacular. Three crew members were in attendance, the guests soon to perfect, settings perfect............what were they going to discuss, I would never know.

At first I thought about the "consumption." Who needs all that, how did they "get" it, why does it matter? To be honest I had a bit of envy along with a bit of curiosity. So much........why? I thought about it. I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall. Here's what I came up with:

It's not about the boat.....................

It's about the table...................and who is around it.

It is ALL ABOUT THE TABLE. (and for those of you thinking about another room in the boat you don't get there till you sit at the table.)

The conversations that take place around a table are the fuel. The people that contribute are the engine. If we're blessed we can enjoy many evenings with many people who make our lives richer and fuller for having sat there. The photo gallery on this blog home page entitled "Happy Hours" captures a few of these evenings we had the honor to enjoy aboard Ohana. I have a feeling that if a boat might be a measure of one's material success, the quality of the conversations around those tables, such as the yacht I was looking at, might be a good measure of a one's hospitality, curiosity and inquisitiveness.

So that gets us back to our humble little table. It is easy for a man to look "up" to bigger and better. Our "table" wasn't on a mega yacht but for us may as well have been. It has entertained a wide variety of characters from all over the world. Who would have thought a boy and girl from humble beginnings in New York and Alaska would sit with corporate giants, financiers, pastors, hippies, singers, actors, tech moguls, eccentrics, escapists...........the list goes on. It all happened around our little table.

Speaking of "happy hour" I've had a few so will sign off early. Invite people.............they make it oh so colorful.

One last story. This fall I was sailing south and found myself in Sandy Hook (Atlantic Highlands NJ). Earlier in the day the engine died and was an afternoon of back and forth to NAPA to sort things out. At first I hitched a ride with a local, his wife and brother in law. I realized soon after that NAPA was a short walk and made several trips back and forth as I diagnosed the problem. It's part of the deal and those folks were great!

Well 6pm was rolling around and I was sitting in the cockpit looking around and a noticed a dinghy going boat to boat inviting people over for happy hour. I thought "I'd like to have happy hour" but kept my hand down. Well Scott came by Ohana and invited me! I hopped aboard and soon realized his other passenger was the fellow who drove me to NAPA!

We ended up aboard Tamure and enjoyed a great evening with every single hander in the harbor along with Scott and Kitty who it turns out are a bit of legends in the sailing world. Their boat was a living museum. Check out their site for Tamure by clicking on the link. Along with these two links Great Escape and Atlantic Circle

We sat in the cockpit around their "table" and as the evening progressed moved down below. It was magic.

They took the time to invite and that is an encouragement to me to do the same. At times I resist but I know that all that is good occurs around that place, the table.

Have a blessed evening all.

If you read this far and enjoy these posts please feel free to comment and make suggestions as to content :-)

Catamaran Storm Tactics

04 February 2016

CruisersForum has a lot of questions regarding storm tactics with Catamarans. I have to confess I asked many of the same when we first bought Ohana and went as far as purchasing a monster parachute anchor which we carried all over the Caribbean and Pacific. We never deployed it. This is my stab at answering, at least, how we did it.

The question is always "what were the worst conditions you were ever in." That answer is a four hour period between Tonga and New Zealand in 2005 where we were averaging 16 knots in some pretty big seas. The video above is from a trip to Tonga in 2010 with the aforementioned Vito onboard. It looks rough but the boat could handle that and much more. That was pretty much it. Of the tens of thousands of miles I've covered those four hours and 60 some odd miles were the most lively.

The 2005 experience? Well later on I'll discuss my philosophy of sailing "with the storm", suffice it to say we were doing just that and the wind was off our quarter where we wanted it and the seas were with us so to speak....and they were big. Reef early (that's a tip), and we had, but even with a triple reef in the main and a handkerchief of jib out we were FLYING and it was loud. The sound a big cat makes going over 10 knots is like living in a waterfall. Going 15-16 is a whole other story.

Down each wave she accelerates and it was those few moments at the bottom where I had pause. Bows please come up.........and each time they would and I would say "elevator up!" This went on for four hours or so as we ducked under the lower part of the system on our way south. That was the most tense I've been while offshore. Believe it or not the girls played quietly on the deck in the main salon and Becky looked up every now and then and asked if we were ok, amazing.

Disclaimer: The advise here is free and you get what you pay for. Take it for it is, know your boat well and be honest about your skill set. I would also equip much differently for sailing in high latitudes or off season.

The other thing I've learned is the boat can take a lot more than the crew. We were in conditions like the video for several days after leaving Opua, several large monohulls actually turned back. Ohana kept skipping along. One night Garth, who was along for his first offshore passage, wanted to go on deck and put one final reef in. My advise to him was "nothing good can happen out there." At 2am, pitch black, blowing stink better to run off a little and let the boat take care of herself.

So-Point 1, trust your boat.

Point 2-Sail on the Fronts. Cats have one distinct advantage when it comes to offshore passagemaking and that is speed. Averaging 8-10 knots or better over a 24hr period is much different than 5knts. What I found was most boats, particularly in the Bahamas, wait for the fronts to pass glued to Chris Parker then motor like crazy to the next spot (click on the link for his book, great guy!). When a low comes through the winds will clock predictably and if you pay attention you can use these strong winds, from the right direction (off the quarter, not on the nose), to fly you to your destination. The weather will likely be cold, rainy and miserable but the sail will be great and when hunkered down at the end of a long day you can bet it will be followed by a bright clear one as High Pressure fills in behind. Great for short passages, 50-100 miles.

Longer passages same deal but we would pay much closer attention. Here is where the speed advantage comes into play and staying on the leading edge of the storm. The idea being to stay in the favorable winds while NOT getting run over by the front which will result in very un-favorable winds on the other side. What happens to most monohulls on a 1000 mile passage is they get run over at least once. No way around it at 5 knots. It's in those conditions where the horror stories are born.

Point 3-I'm scratching my chin here. All that comes to mind is how important it is to know your personal limits and not put your crew or yourself in a situation you or the boat are not truly prepared to handle. That and DO NOT sail on a schedule if at all possible.

This is about catamarans and if you've read this far you probably own one so here is the final dirty little secret, they all slam (some more than others), they all take 15 knots of wind to really get moving and none of them really go to weather nor should they. All the more reason to sail the fronts in my opinion and keep her moving, when the wind falls below 10 knots and the boat slows to 4 time to kick on an engine.

Time to hit the sack internet friends! Have a blessed day and many happy and safe miles.

Hunter? Really?

03 February 2016
Why a Hunter? (why a Hyundai)

I am the most unlikely Hunter owner.

Back in the "day" selling boats was the game and Hunter was a big no-no. I was a Hunter Snob with no real reason to be so, short of a little conversation at a boat show. I was actually looking at the Hunters and commenting on how nice they were for the money. At twenty some odd years old what did I know? Let's call him Crusty, the broker who had taken me under his wing, said "boat show boat". That was all it took to turn me off to Hunters. Three words.

What does "boat show boat" mean? Basically a boat the wife likes at the boat show, huge interiors, ticks all the boxes, priced well and falls apart after a few years in the Florida sun.

Soon after, as a young yacht broker, I actually sold a Hunter and it looked just like Crusty described, weather beaten and tired. Tied up behind a house in Port Orange Florida we limped it up to Seven Seas Marina in Daytona for haul out and inspection. All I believed about Hunters seemed to be true.

That was the last I thought of Hunters until I met Vito but, before we introduce this character, one has to ask why was I looking for a boat like a Hunter in the first place.

I wasn't.

This past Alaska winter our oldest daughter looked at me and said "Dad, what good is all this experience if you don't share it?" followed with, "can we get a boat and just you and I spend the summer sailing together." Annie get your gun! I was off to the races. This coincided with an article in Cruising Outpost issue #8 entitled "The Whole Nine Yards" the story of two girls, a dog, a cat and a 27' boat (support Bob Bitchin and buy the mag, it's worth the eight bucks).

That question and article set the Berger wheels in motion. Let's find a small "beater boat", not too fancy and easily handled by one or two. Something the girls could grow into and make it their own should they have the desire. The usual suspects came to mind, Catalina 30, J 30, C&C 30 or up a little to the 35' range. After a good talk with long suffering wife (who, bless her heart, generally supports a good ole adventure after the idea has a little time to marinate) gave her approval and I began the search.

Now there is a whole other post on buying boats and I wrote it a few days ago and it was summarily VAPORIZED by sailblogs.

Here is the cliff note version:

Identify two to three specific boats

Locate all of them in the region of interest (in this case Maryland to Cape Cod).

Build spreadsheet with all of them listed to easily compare prices, locations and features.

Go and start looking at all of them and become an expert on that particular market.

Adjust as desires and reality change.

Know that as you look "the one" will likely show up and don't be afraid to buy it.

That's basically it.

The "one" is easier to see after you've been on a few and start to get a feel for what's out there. In the case of this project the size quickly grew to 40' as we adjusted and thought about family vacations with all four of us and the prospect of having a relatively inexpensive floating condo. Fair enough and in our experience 40' still met the expectation of being easily handled by one or two.

I flew into Annapolis late April and started the hunt. This took me from Deltaville Virginia as far north as Westport Connecticut. I looked at Beneteaus, Catalina, Jenneaus and two newer Hunters. Nothing was "clicking" although the Hunters were cool they had the new B&R rigs (no backstay) and one had the expected deck leaks that I had been warned of.

Remember Vito? Picture a Sicilian bull dog with a heart of gold. We met Vito, Madeline and their daughter Amanda in Bora Bora back in 2005. At the time they were aboard Wanderer, a beautiful and capable Amel 53. My father was onboard Ohana, he had grown up in the Bronx and worked in New York City for most of his career. As soon as he heard Vito's deep Italian voice on the VHF he had to meet him. Kind of a cross between CarTalk and a Corleone. Just made you feel safe and nervous at the same time.

Now Vito and I became quick friends and have remained so for over a decade. I TRUST him and value his opinion and on one topic in particular he was adamant and unwavering............Hunter Legends. As soon as I mentioned this idea of a small beater boat for the east coast he said "Paully, you got ta look at da Hunter Legend!" He had one for over a decade (two actually if memory serves, a 37' and a 40.5) and just would not stop raving about the boat. I still had my 1987 snob hat on and kept politely deferring. Finally, I broke, as nothing was really feeling right on my search so far. I located a Hunter Legend 40.5 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and invested the time to drive over one cold spring day if for no other reason than to respect Vito's desire to have me at least see one (respect an important character trait in his native Sicily).

I met the broker and we trudged out against the north wind and as I walked up to Hunter Legend 40.5 for the first time the thing that struck me was that she was big. Just big compared to all the other 40's I had been looking at. She had a 7/8th fractional rig which you J sailors know is a great set up for short handed sailing and powerful. The cockpit had a cutout transom (wife request) and there were hatches galore! What's going on here, it must leak like a sieve.

We climbed aboard (they have a high freeboard and are beamy which explains the interior volume) and I mean climbed. Slid open the companionway hatch and I was just blown away by the cabin, oh my goodness, I was falling into the "boat show boat" trap! This boat was twenty years old however and had not yet melted as Crusty had promised, good sign.

A 50hp Yanmar diesel-yea, tons of cabinet space, plenty of light, a well laid out galley, two heads..........................Vito was right, this boat was incredible. There must be a catch.

With that many opening hatches let's look for leaks, there were none. This particular boat was poorly maintained and run hard. The bones though looked great and it was time to find all the Hunter 40.5s on the East Coast and have a real look.

That took an evening with Yachtworld along with one more drive up and down the coast looking at four examples of the boat. I had evidently seen the worst of the lot first and the other three I found were all in terrific condition. All were mid 90's boats with light use and well maintained. The last of the bunch had an offer on it already and was a tri-cabin which I felt was superior with a family and left a cabin just for storing stuff. At first it was off the list given its pending sale put that sale fell through and I was able to finally get onboard. She was "the one", you just know it. I have to thank Cherie Startner of Great Blue Yachts for just calling. I bugged her about the boat for a few days while the Annapolis Boat show was going on (she was in the middle of it and having done boat shows I get it) and gave up, the fact she thought of me when the deal fell through, although not amazing, was professional and set the rest in motion.

What made it "the one?" It's a combination of ingredients that together just feel right. An owner who had taken the time to do lots of the ugly things that should be done, replacing older tanks, newer electronics, upgrading canvas, replacing hatch glass and gaskets, etc. Just a vibe. It is price, which was attractive, as it had just been negotiated on and the owner was ready to move on. It's just a feeling with the knowledge that you have looked at everything else in that range and this boat stands out.

But it was still a Hunter.

A little bit of research gave a good history of the company and Warren Luhrs, put my mind at ease. Google him, it's worth the time. The Legend series in particular was a unique model in the line-up prior to the company adopting the B&R rig. I can't speak to the later boats as I have no experience on them. I will say this little spot in their history was a gem.

So here we are Hunter owners..........who would have thought? At this point we've put about 3000 plus miles on her in a variety of conditions from Nantucket to Nassau. She has proved to be fast, seaworthy, comfortable at the dock and anchor as well as very easy to handle.

That's the story. I think at the end of the day whatever boat you find yourself in will work for almost anything. What they take is care, feeding and love...........perhaps that's the part you feel......the love.

Blessed day all, thanks for reading.

Check out the photo gallery for lots of pics.


31 January 2016
Courage, kind of a strong word but I hope it grabs your attention. I use it as this post is about leaving, about actually dropping the lines, putting her in reverse and leaving for somewhere new for the first time.

I've been thinking back over all of our passages over the years. There are several themes to each one, let's call them the "life of a passage". It starts (the actual passage) with dropping the lines. Everything before this moment is safe and predictable. See Madison's blog entitled "Phase 2" ( I'll copy the text below and save you the cut and paste. She talks about the provisioning, fixing, storing, preparing, reading, talking..........every fun thing we do before leaving on an extended passage.

Dropping the lines though.......taking off into the unknown. That's another story. The worst time for me was leaving the Galapagos for the longest passage of our life, the 3000nm to the Marquesas. The first 48 hours were torture. All was fine on the boat, all were happy, just the feeling in the pit of my stomach. All the "what ifs", they were real and turning around was not an option. That time passed and we developed a routine and those 18 days were some of the best memories of our cruising life. Those first 48 were part of it.

Recently I found myself at Spicer's Marina in Noank Connecticut about to take of on a solo delivery to Florida. Prior to leaving Becky said in no uncertain terms, "if you change your mind just don't go, no biggie". I had been in New England for a week or so at that point. Had made the Costco runs, visited Vito and Madeline from Wanderer, met all the neighbors on the dock and had begun to develop the marina friendships that sprout up quickly among our community.

That Saturday was shaping up to be like many Saturdays on G pier at Spicers. The party boat was setting up across the dock and the beer was already flowing. The weekend "wash the boat" crowds were washing and the fisherman were cleaning fish. A BBQ was being set up on the dock and I was having a ball talking with everyone, asking questions, listening to stories, telling stories, the usual. The idea of leaving was just the furthest thing from my mind............and the closest.

For a moment I went back and sat in Ohana's cockpit alone. Looked around and really had a heart to heart with myself. It would be EASY to say the heck with it. Why spend countless hours alone sailing down the east coast? Why not stay, enjoy the weekend, put her up on the hard for the winter and plan to come back next spring with the family to do some more New England sailing? Perhaps put her on the market and see if she sells in the spring, our goal was met, was there really a "plan" for "what's next".

On the other hand I had an opportunity to do something few get a chance to do. Sail solo down the east coast with time and money to spare. I had the blessing of my long suffering wife (although there may be some argument that she likes me out of the house now and then) :-) The boat was tested, ready and comfortable. I had said I would do it and at that moment the switch flipped in my noggin.

I stood up, went to the panel and turned off the shore power and on with the instruments. Shore power cable off, engine on, test the gear (I always make sure we have forward and reverse before leaving the dock, that's another story). Back on the dock I gathered a few of the still semi sober neighbors to say goodbye and get some lines tossed. Why they asked? The party is just getting started? I really appreciated their desire to include me but it was time.

Lines slipped, backed on out, popped her in forward and went to engage the autopilot so I could go tidy up the docklines and NO AUTOPILOT. For a brief second I felt relief, I could pull right back in and throw in the towel. A brief second. Down below I found the culprit, one forgotten breaker for the autopilot motor and once in "O N" mode all worked like a charm. No more excuses.

That night I went a whopping 2 miles to Fisher's Island. That night I switched gears to cruising mode from marina mode. That night the trip began to open up before me and take on it's life.

The point of sharing this? An encouragement I guess to let your lines go. I've met so many people in marinas all over the place who are "so close" to going "but". There is one more part to get, one more thing to fix, one more deposit to make into the cruising kitty. I can't judge, but I can observe, and what I'll say is when in your heart of hearts you know you are ready but you just don't want to "drop those lines", drop them. The rest will take care of itself.

Have a blessed day my friends!

(the picture for this post is from that day just after getting the autopilot working and heading over to Fisher's Island)

From Madison Berger:

Saturday, 30 May 2015
Phase 2
A lot has happened over the course of 24 hours for us. Phase 2 is in motion and it hit hard today. What is phase 1 you ask? Sit down mortals, grab some trail mix, let me explain. Phase 1 of sailing is getting on board, cleaning the boat, stocking the boat, provisioning, driving around boating supply stores in a rental car, learning how the toilets work, fixing the engine, buying silverware and kitcheny stuff, febreezing the heck out of everything, the list goes on. Believe it or not learning how toilets work on a boat is a very hard concept for most people to wrap their heads around. When I was a little girl and someone new would come onboard, before anything at all I would give them a tour of the boat and teach them how the toilets worked. That stuff is witchcraft man. Phase 1 of sailing is super important because if your boat isn't organised and clean and everyone on board isn't prepared, certified and educated on why turning off lights is so important, you probably aren't ready for phase 2. We've spent a good week in phase 1. The time we've spent running through the isles of West Marine, Home Depot and Fawcett's boat store, is crazy. You'd think we were part time owners by now.

Phase 2 is where stuff gets real. You leave the marina and get a mooring. The boat starts rocking. You're seasick. You walk around in your underwear. This is when you know there's no turning back. Today I knew it was phase 2 because when I woke up my dad was gone, and my little boatie kid instincts said to make breakfast. Not to do any phase 1 stuff, just jump right into boat life and start the day because I know we had some sailing ahead of us. I made my dad spam and eggs and I made a bowl of pineapple for myself. When I was a kid spam was like a gift from God. Kel and I would smell spam in the morning and we knew it was someones birthday or Jesus had come back or something. My sister and I held spam on the highest pedestal in terms of breakfast foods. I realised today my childhood was a lie and spam is just dog food strategically placed in the human food isle. It was so gross looking but I made my dad a hearty breakfast and danced around the kitchen till he came home. We checked out the maps and I used the dividers to measure where we were trying to get to and how long it would take to get there. Learn math kids, stay in school, cause one day you might need to read a map and your life will flash before your eyes and you'll forget how to count to 5.

After cabin inspection and the kitchen and boat was all clean, my dad's friend and the boatyard manager, Ted came over to help fix our engine. He talked to us for a long, long time about life and politics and the history of the city. He's lived here for most of his life and he told us when he was a kid black people would live underneath the tiniest abandoned boats that were just left there on the side of the creek. They would crab all day, cook fish at night, and just raise their kids and live their lives. He said they were the nicest people and would always talk to him and his friends when they walked the creek like Huckleberry Finn or something. Keep in mind, this was a totally different time in history. The black people would flip the boats over so they could use them as shelter and a place to sleep. Eventually, in the immancipation proclamation, Abe Lincoln gave that land away to the black people. The white people didn't want it because of the bugs. What a bunch of wimpies. Ted was a cool guy to listen to.

The people you meet sailing are really the folks you'll remember your entire life. I have friends my age and I have some amazing people in my day to day life but the characters I really remember are the weirdos you run into on the water. I don't see them all the time, and I may never see them again in my life but I'll never forget the people I met as a kid cruising. We still have life long friends from Norway, England, all over America, and every corner of the planet. Not a lot are my age and I can't relate to any of them that well but learning about other people's lives and stories is really a gift and if you have the chance to talk to people, especially travelling I highly recommend it.

My dad and I drove to do a couple more errands to finish off the tedious and draining phase 1. We dropped off the rental car and got a taxi back to the boat yard. I can't stand taxis, it's like paying someone to kidnap you and your family. They might as well just carry candy with them, give you the whole experience. We got back to the boatyard and took off. We just sailed to downtown Annapolis and there were tons of boats out. It's a total sailing town, every single person that lives there owns a boat or at least works or crews on one. I didn't get behind the wheel, I just took care of lines and tying the boat on and off. When we finally approached the mooring my dad left getting the boat on the mooring up to me which wasn't too scary until we got up close to it. The notion that I'd never done this before kicked in and I was really nervous I was going to fall overboard or ya know, miss the mooring. I got the line on the boat on the first try though. It was pretty neat. If I accomplished anything this Summer, it was that.

I took a stellar nap. My dad tried like crazy to inflate the dingy but nothing was working. Our pump looked like something you would get at party and craft and it was killing him trying to blow this .. thing up. I woke up when it started getting dark outside and there was another guy in the cockpit with my dad. Turns out the boat next to us was from Wasilla, Alaska. I know, the world is so little. Once again, you meet the nicest people sailing. He talked to us about his life, and how he went to Wasilla high and some stuff about politics. Everyone talks about politics with my dad and I. Anyway, this guy, Nick brought a better dingy pump and helped us blow up the dingy and get it in the water. He blogs too. Check out I knew knot puns weren't lame.

My dad and I caught the water taxi into town to have some dinner and catch some of the Saturday night action. The city of Annapolis is crazy at night. It's filled with drunk, white people. Kind of like a family get together at my uncle Jason's house. We walked the streets and got some sweet tea and dinner at the cutest little diner. I'm a tea conniosseur and I'm all about sweet tea but sweet tea in the South is on a whole different level. This was like 90% sugar. It was diabetes in the cup. I could feel my mom in Alaska screaming.

It's about 12:30am here now. I'm wide awake and I probably will be for a long while. I have a lot on my mind. The one thing about blogging that makes me feel annoying is that it's mostly or all about my life and experiences. Which is okay, I understand the only people reading this are probably a little curious as to what a 17 year old girl on a boat gets up to on the daily. I cherish people that take time to tell me they read what I write and they find it interesting or funny. My favorite thing is when other people or my friends tell me about their day and what's going on in their lives so if you do things doing your day, or don't do things feel free to message me on any site you please and tell me about it. I'm on a boat, I have a lot of free time to listen. And I love doing so. Even when my nana writes to tell me about her garden club, or my friends back home tell me about their drunk camping trips, I love it. I soak that stuff up. Tell me about your awkward first dance, tell me about what you want to do in the future, tell me about how you picked up 5 cats on the side of the road and your mom said you can't keep them but they lived in your closet for a week because you couldn't part with them. Because that's someone's life and it's cool to be apart of that. People are such complex beings, and the day to day stuff that makes up their entire exitence is super cool to hear about. The connections you make, you could have for your entire life. All I do on this blog is tell you about the little bits and peices that I do everyday on the boat, and people seem to read it. I looked at the stats yesterday which is wild considering I can barely work the oven by myself. I'm like an old lady trying to use an iphone for the first time, I swear. I'm not as technologically savvy as I seem. Trying to use google maps on my phone is like trying to navigate the mars rover for me. My friends can testify. Anyway, It said over 400 people looked at this blog just yesterday, which kind of freaks me out but it encourages me that people still want to hear about other people's lives and jouneys. How cool. I hope all 400 of you are doing wonderfully. Hello friends and some friends I haven't met yet.
Hugs and kisses from the sea, xo

Safe Sailing,

Details Matter, long post lost.

26 January 2016
I'm glad no one reads this as they would have been disappointed with the last few days! I've been thinking about the "purchase process" for ages and finally sat down and began a series regarding my thoughts and experience with the same.

After an enjoyable couple of hours I hit publish, was redirected to the log in page and promptly lost everything. Oh the head hung low. With righteous indignation I penned a quick call for help to the powers that be at "sailblog" then sat back down to look at the empty box on the screen. They wrote back and said the "trick" is to click "remember me" when logging in........a little detail that matters.

As I sat down this morning that thought crossed my mind as "details matter" is a constant refrain aboard Ohana and of particular importance when sailing with teenage girls :-) To be fair the lesson has sunk in (no pun intended) and I find them now doing little things like finishing a cleat and hanging a line properly among a myriad of other (proud papa).

The simplest things unattended or forgotten can lead to great "adventure" and as a serial procrastinator I personally have to be ever on guard.

Small example-There is a little clam cleat that one finds on the leech of a headsail to control that trailing edge, to keep it from "fluttering" basically, too tight the leech curls in (turnbulance=bad), too loose it flaps away. No great drama, it's generally riveted to the sail and never a worry in the world.

I noticed one day that the rivets had failed (corrosion) and the little cleat was dangling merrily from the back of the jib. What harm could a little 18" of string basically do to a monster jib and a 63' mast? I made a mental note to look at it at some point and that was the last of it.

Flash forward a week or three and I was happily sailing out of Cape May NJ solo heading down to Norfolk VA. Breeze out of the NW at 15, full sail, sun.....what could go wrong? I had settled into the routine of the day and was a happy chappy............until the Delaware river flooding into the Atlantic (wind on tide =big steep waves) and the decision of the wind gods to make some changes in velocity and direction forced happy me to throw a tack in. (I'm writing this with the assumption that dear reader is also a bit of a sailor, if not sure of these various terms do drop a line or google em, happy to elaborate privately).

Well that little 18" of string decided at that moment of 25-30 headwinds to wrap itself around the starboard shroud and hang on! That little 18" of string was no weakling! This prevented the tack in spite of the desire of the massive sail to REALLY want to change sides. This sent poor little Ohana into a bipolar fit of indecision which translated into loads going every place they were not suppose to go. The noise and motion were fantastic.

Really? I fired up the engine and pushed the screaming rig into the wind and went about the business of getting everything down and tidied up. It's no small task to get everything up and pulling (which I had just done not long ago) and the idea of undoing all that work not exciting. In addition I had to go forward on deck to scold the 18" of string which, particularly when sailing alone, I try to minimize for obvious reasons.

The lesson? By not attending to that little clam cleat and bit of leech line at a nice calm mooring I put the rig in danger, hindered my ability to maneuver in what could have been a much tighter situation and put myself in danger.

Details Matter.

That seems like a harsh ending, suppose it should be. Let's lighten it a bit. What I've noticed when folks tell the story of the "passage from hell" is that if you ask a few questions you'll quickly come to the one little detail that was missed that set it all in motion. Best passage in our opinion is the one with no stories of that genre.

Have a blessed day all and enjoy this favorite little poem from Mr. Franklin.

"For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail."

― Benjamin Franklin


21 January 2016
A long long time ago I was given a Hans Christian 43 to Captain. I had a fresh Captains License and was wildly unqualified. Up to this point I had either been a foredeck monkey, racing dinghys, cruising with adults or serving on ships (USCGC Towline and USCGC Bibb). I looked the part but was close to clueless on maneuvering a heavy single screw vessel.

Once the unsuspecting owner left I decided I better figure this out. Couldn't google "how to dock a single screw sail boat" back then so went analog, dropped the mooring and motored over to the fuel dock. It was a mid week morning with no traffic, no wind and no spectators. Crafty I was.

I figured it would drive like a car, something the State of New York and experience said I could do. It didn't. For about half an hour I went in circles, got the bowsprit (if you've seen a Hans Christian they are not small) stuck between pilings, made a bunch of noise but no success in coming alongside the dock smoothly and professionally as was my desire.

Dejected I stood off the dock with head held low as I contemplated what to do next when I heard a motor coming towards me at great speed. As I looked up I saw JB, a Norse mountain of a man with a scowl on his face, blonde hair blowing in the wind, if he had a hammer and a cape he would have passed for Thor.

He pulled up alongside and said "I can't watch you anymore". In a flash he tied off, got me away from my dangerous position at the helm and proceeded to "school" me in all things single screw.

Now at this point you seasoned seaman know he's about to show me all about propwalk. I had NO CLUE and was generally surprised when in reverse she would do all kinds of strange sorcery. You pros also know your boat either backs to port or to starboard. This one little piece of knowledge combined with a wee bit of practice can make even young PRB (my initials) look like a docking machine in a few short hours. Combined with rudimentary understanding of what a rudder can do, viola!

After that day I would back up everywhere I went. I loved reverse, loved tight spots, loved everything "close and tight and challenging". I can't thank JB enough for taking the time and initiative to set me straight.

This post isn't about how to dock per se, it's about thanking those who step in and come along side those of us who are learning. Taking the time to take a man aside and teach him a new skill in whatever way works. As a professional today this one experience (30 years ago) gave me the insight to look at all the "newbies" crashing into everything and have a heart to give them a hand and help them along. Pay it forward so to speak.

When I decided to pursue driving one of the Auckland Ferries another captain, John Menzies, took the time to teach me the same with respect to large passenger catamarans. His technique was different. He gave you the helm and said "you'll figure it out" and I'd see him again 10 hours and 38 berthings later (he liked to read the paper I guess). That was fun and you gotta love Kiwis!


Side note. If your boat backs to port with a neutral rudder pull up to the dock bow first at a 20-30 degree angle, just before the nose is going to touch give a little starboard rudder and a shot of reverse (you can look at a point just off your left shoulder to judge your forward speed and deceleration. You don't have to be gentle with the throttle, stop her and watch the stern come in, piece of cake just like Captain Ron!

Back from latest adventure!

19 January 2016
Just a few short weeks ago I took off to deliver Ohana from Daytona Beach down to Nassau in preparation for our family Christmas. Again solo and a lot of time to think over all the years of doing this "life", the "Why".

I've been at this since I was about ten years old and at 52 can look at my father's nautical library and see the hand the guided. They say the son lives out the unfulfilled dreams of the father. That seems to be the case for me.

My dad loved boats. He loved to read and he took those steps, a Catalina 22, joined the local club, took the Coast Guard course (with his 12 year old son in tow for the junior version), and read. We would go to the New York Boat show each year, I would be given the plastic bag with the task to collect every brochure possible. There are almost too many stories from that time in our lives. I still have on my desk today the little Panasonic RF-1060 that has a "public service band". I would play with that for hours.

Summers racing on the Hudson River, the annual "sea scout cruise" to Long Island Sound, four years in the Coast Guard, yacht broker, captain, unlikely investor, cruising the Caribbean and eventually crossing the Pacific and living in New Zealand, ferry captain and then back to basics on a little basic Hunter, of all boats, bopping up and down the east coast with our daughters.

After all of it I sit in his library, he's gone now, and look over all the books he loved so much. I sit in the chair he would read in, recall the short wave receiver he would listen for us on. It's quiet and good.

Why? It's like anything else I guess, it's in me........a gift of adventure from a father to a son.

Enjoy yours as well and have a blessed day.

Back Story

20 November 2015
This was a response to the question of taking off with young kids that was asked on the Cruisers Forum. Thought I'd share it here.

Great question! Barnikiel provided a very wise response. I'll throw our two cents in here.

We employed a hybrid process. When we did sell the house and take off our girls were 1 and 4 (4 and 7 when they crossed the Pacific). We were in our early to mid 30's.

Our hybrid process? For the decade before we took off we shared a Huges Northstar 40 with a friend who was in a similar business. For those years we would each go sailing for about 2-3months on then off. In the off time we would manage and grow our respective business' (we were never partners) while the other cruised. The rule was "leave the boat and the business better than you found it".

What we learned from this was that after about the 8 week mark both my wife and I were itching to get back and do something different. Just endless "cruising" without purpose "which is generally a destination for us" just got old. Please don't hang me from the gallows! Just sharing our experience :-)

So this went on until Madison arrived (found out we were expecting in Grenada but that is another story). We sold the boat, built "the" house and settled into "life". That lasted about 3 years until she got the bug. I found her one day sitting on the floor of the playroom staring at the world map on the wall and we had the "conversation". That turned into selling the house and taking off.

The hybrid part is that we kept the business and worked over the next two years to get it running by itself more or less so that we had a steady income and something to return to which we did after 10 years in 2012. Hybrid is also about doing different experiences and living in different places at different times of the year-see the "mobility home concept" :-)

After buying the boat we spent a season in the Bahamas after doing NOTHING to her short of general service. We went back to Alaska for that summer then the next season we added all the bits and pieces we knew we needed, tested them for another season and took off.

There were MANY anxious nights discussing if we were doing the right thing (see poem below written by Becky)....MANY. As many others have said in hindsight we would not change a thing. (that's not totally true but true enough) :-)

We ended that part of our lives in 2005 in New Zealand with the realization that the girls needed more and that the magic part of the globe was behind us for the time being. We immigrated (legally), bought a home in Opua, made great friends and memories. After 7 years however Alaska called and for a variety of reasons we decided in was time to go "home".

What we learned was that we love the variety of life, time cruising (enough to really be "in it", time with family and home, time on the road in an RV (we did 3 cross country trips over that period) and the blessing of having a regular income that did not require us to be there 24/7.

There are many paths to this lifestyle and yours will fit you and be yours and it will be right. The hardest part indeed is casting off those lines and heading out. Here's a poem my wife wrote before we left for Mexico and points south:

THE RIGHT THING - a poem for sailing Mom's
by Becky Berger, S/V 'Ohana in Exumas, Bahamas
Mother of 2 little girls

Last night I cried.
The tears just kept flowing and I couldn't stop.
I panicked
Are we doing the right thing?
A beautiful house with cozy beds, soaking tubs, newly planted gardens
Neighbors who wave and smile as they pass by
Good friends
Computers humming with 24-hour internet access
Cable TV
Stainless steel appliances, washing machines, microwaves
Scheduled playdates, Gymboree, music lessons, soccer practice

Leaving it all

Traffic jams
Kids screaming in the backseat
An organizer so jammed I can't close it
A house so big I can't clean it
Running on the same treadmill - scenery unchanging
CNN buzzing with the same stories
Books on the shelf unread, waiting
Glancing wearily at my husband, too tired to talk

I sleep

This morning I woke to a brilliant sunrise
Coffee brewing on the galley stove
He was sitting with the girls, giggling and waking them with kisses
I stole a smile from him as I walked out on deck
The cool breeze awoke my senses as I sat at the bow with my warm mug
I pan our surroundings - coconut palms, white beaches, a sailboat, an old wooden dock
Breathing and stretching, I listened
Waves slapped gently against our hull
A seagull calls, breaking the silence
Clocks and schedules gone
Days spent together
We talk. We laugh. We share
I am alive and life is simple
And then I decided...

We are doing the right thing


Enjoy every moment!
Vessel Name: Ohana II
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 40.5
Hailing Port: Anchorage, Alaska
Crew: Paul, Becky, Madison and Kelsey
Started this back in 2008 and abandoned quickly for other options. Time has gone by and we're back! After many adventures across the Caribbean and Pacific aboard Ohana we are back on it aboard Ohana II. The idea was to find a simple inexpensive boat that Madison and Kelsey could sail. [...]
Ohana II's Photos - Main
21 Photos
Created 27 March 2016
Just pics of great evenings with great friends.
55 Photos
Created 12 February 2016
Some basic pics of her interior et al.
41 Photos
Created 3 February 2016
A few pics of our first family catamaran that we owned and loved for a decade.
29 Photos
Created 2 February 2016
Round two with our Kelsey! She got the best of New England!
16 Photos
Created 21 January 2016
Highlights from 40 days sailing with our oldest daughter Madison Anne. Check out her blog at:
15 Photos
Created 14 November 2015