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S/V Journey
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how I wish upon a star

Sailblogs member Michael Turney aboard s/v Nelleke shot this wonderful footage, which I edited and put to music. I feel the loss of the manned space program deeply, and regret that future generations of children will no longer aspire to be astronauts and go into space. Remember the shuttle launches with pride. This is what we have achieved.
click here to see Discovery lift off for the last time

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My opinion, for what it's worth

Well, I just have to put my two cents in on this. On Wednesday, Tilikum, a 30 year old killer whale at SeaWorld, Orlando, attacked and killed Dawn Brancheau, a leading trainer there.
The details of the attack have been all over the news, so I won't repeat it hear. We need to remember that Dawn's family is still trying to come to grips with their loss. It is not my intention to add anything to the heaviness in their hearts.
This Orca had just been part of the noon show, and the fatal attack took place just afterward. Tilikum had been involved in two prior fatal attacks, one in 1991, the second in 1999. Now, if Tilikum was a 30 year old human, we would call him a serial killer. But Tilikum is a killer whale, the largest member of the dolphin family. The head of Sealand's animal care and training facility, where Tilikum resided at the time of the 1991 attack in which Tilikum killed his trainer, said Wednesday that Tilikum was a well-behaved, balanced animal. Wow. This was after this "well-behaved animal" had killed three human beings. Wow. When did we start putting animals ahead of human lives?
I'd be one of the first people to say we should never mistreat animals. This isn't about that. But we are talking about massive, wild animals that are captured and held in captivity, trained to do shows for profit, studied for science and understanding of their species and then bred for their offspring, so that the whole cycle can begin again.
Yes, I will agree that the data that we have gathered about these Orcas would not have been discovered if we had not captured some and studied them. But lets be honest and look at the bottom line here. The main reason we keep and display and breed these Orcas is cash. Lots of cash. These facilities have paid a great deal of money to obtain Tilikum and his brethren. They have invested a lot of money in training him. Tilikum has bred numerous times, making his value as a stud animal very high. The profit from future generations of Orcas sired has been enormous. Then there are the parks. Thousands pay to see these shows and animals on a daily basis. Yes, SeaWorld, Sealand, Marine World, they all make billions of dollars because of these animals.
And that, people is why they will keep Tilikum, and all of the killer whales at their facilities, performing and breeding and bringing in the cash. All while making their excuses as to why sometimes these large wild animals kill humans. Should we stop the practice of interaction with Orcas? Should we outlaw keeping, training and showing these animals? Should we force Sealand, SeaWorld, MarineLand, and other facilities to stop their practices and release the Orcas? Should we boycott or refuse to visit the parks?
I don't know. Really, I don't know the answer. I don't know what is in the best interest of the animals. I acknowledge the loss of jobs and the great negative effect on the economy if these facilities were to close. I realize that most people would never have a chance to see and observe them if these places were gone. I know we would lose a great opportunity to study these creatures if we did not have these facilities to do so. There is always a balance scale to large complicated issues and this is a complex issue in regard to all the factors I have just stated.
But we need to remember that this isn't the issue on the table. What's on the table is that this Orca has killed three people. This Orca is a serial killer who will get off scot free because he is valuable, both as an entertainer, and as a breeder. Money talks and here it says that three human beings are worth less than one KILLER, killer whale.
I do know that I take issue with that.

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If the boat's a rockin'!
02/12/2010, a tutorial. Learn from it....

Cruisers are such a great bunch of folks. We met so many boaters on the way to the Exumas that I began to lose track of them all. We were anchoring in and around these new friends each afternoon. That's a lot of first impressions. Naturally, we didn't want them to think we didn't know what we were doing, even if that was true.
Most of the other boats traveled quicker than us. Heck, you could have WALKED to the Bahamas faster than our boat motored. So each day, it was a new bunch for us to see and wave to in the anchorages. It was an exciting, somewhat stressful time for us, and we worked hard at our anchoring techniques to leave a good impression.
One of our first anchoring attempts was in the Mile Hammock anchorage at Camp Lejune, NC. We were ok at anchoring, but not anything to brag on. Further, the anchorage was reported to have iffy holding. And it was crowded when we got there.
Neither Al nor I could agree where we should drop the hook, so as to not drag onto someone else. So we argued over it. We had headsets so we weren't yelling or anything like that, but I'm sure everyone at anchor could tell that we were having a disagreement.
We must have moved that hook around the lagoon five times, all the while in a quiet, heated discussion. "Here's the best spot. "No, there's not enough swing room.' 'Well, where do you want to go?' 'Make up your mind!" At long last we were set for the afternoon, hook down, no other boaters screaming at us to move because we were too close.
Now you have to understand that our efforts were complete overkill. There wasn't a breath of wind stirring in that lagoon from the time we arrived till the time we left the next morning. We could have shoved the boathook in the mud and tied off to that and been all right. We didn't realize that since we were still learning.
Naturally, after all that fussing, we each needed to cool off separately. I worked on some videos down below for a while. Al watched the Marines training on shore. Near sunset, Al came below and we, well, Made Up. The boats were packed into the lagoon by this time. Al said he had counted around 26. I was still worried that we had portrayed a bad impression of ourselves over the anchoring fiasco.
We knew a few of these boats, met a few more, and over the next two months, several reminded us that we had shared this particular anchorage. I always said "Wow! Sure! I can't believe you remembered us!" and wondered if they had been aware of the argument Al and I had been having over the anchoring. It would have been very embarrassing to me to know that we were remembered as "The couple that argued." Hopefully, they remembered us as "the couple with the yellow canvas." Thankfully, they never mentioned it, one way or the other.
Then we met Linda and Dwayne in Staniel Cay. They too had been there in that lagoon, on that millpond still evening. Dwayne mentioned that near sunset, nearly everyone had come up on the decks and into cockpits to watch the sunset. He said that, because of the lack of wind, all the boats were still and quiet, not even a ripple on the water, except for one. A little smile played at the corners of his mouth as he recalled that there was no one in the cockpit on this one boat, but the mast was gently rocking, forward and backward, forward and backward.
Realization hit me like a muddy boathook, and I didn't have to wonder long, as he related how all the cruisers had witnessed the little extra entertainment at sunset that evening. Not one of the cruisers remembered that we had argued, because they had all remembered us as "the couple with the rocking mast!"

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Bahamas photos
02/01/2010, a montage of our cruise

bahamas Cruise 09/10
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That would fix 'em

We cruisers need a STUPID gun. No, not a stupid gun; nothing that kills or maims, A STUPID gun.
Let me explain. Cruising the ICW, we were able to determine that there are a lot of boaters who have no idea what they are supposed to do when behind the helm. They are stupid. Mostly (sorry to anyone who may take this as a generalization, it's not.) local power boaters, mostly, but not always, smaller craft, these individuals speed through anchorages. They pass by at high speeds with only inches to spare between your hull and theirs. They cut between your boat and a channel marker at a high rate of speed, then cut back into the center of the channel right in front of you, and slow to an idle. They set their boat on a collision course with yours, and when you correct for it, they change course to put themselves back on a collision course with you. They are fishing or drag netting in the middle of narrow channels leaving you nowhere to navigate. Very unnerving to say the least.
It would be helpful, for all of us , to know exactly who these stupid boaters are, so that we can be alert to their antics in advance of any STUPID moves they might undertake in our vicinity. Think of it as a public service.
What I propose is a STUPID gun. It would have to have a homing device, so you could lock onto the offenders hull and then shoot, knowing the projectile would indeed end up on the correct target. It would deliver a florescent orange splat, the size of a dinner plate, with a big black S (for STUPID) in the center. There it would sit, like 3M/5200 (a powerful adhesive, for those of you who don't know "boatspeak"), unable to be removed by any means, as a warning for the rest of us. It would let us all know to watch out for this turkey. (sorry if this offends any turkeys reading this, no offence meant)
Now when you see a boat marked with one splat, you know to be alert. When you see seven or eight splats, get ready for certain trouble. Of course, we don't want to label these STUPID boaters for life, who knows, with everyone knowing they are STUPID, some of them might change their ways. I'm all for second chances. So, after seven days, the splat would fall off, and harmlessly decompose into fish food or something that won't be harmful for the environment. After all, we're all green.
Some STUPID boaters, seeing the splat, might be so embarrassed that they wouldn't even leave the marina until the splats fell off, thus saving the rest of us, for a time, from their STUPIDITY. Of course, it could also raise some issues for those of us who don't play fair.
Imagine your dock neighbor has a bunch of splats on his hull, and you know he picked them up last Saturday on the water. You also know he's been too humiliated to take the boat out with them on and is waiting till next Sunday to go back out on the water to ply his STUPIDNESS on the rest of us once more. Late Friday night, you sneak up to his boat, and SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT! That takes care of business for another week.
That would be cheating. That would be a whole 'nother gun.

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The end of a Journey

Well, if you have been watching our Journey, (both the boat and the cruise) you know that we have put the old girl through a lot as we traveled to the Bahamas and back to the states.

We have also been in full disclosure mode when it comes to the many issues we have had since returning to US waters. We ran aground twice in trying to get off the ICW into approved anchorages. We didn't share that, because, it was too closely followed by the storm and that really overshadowed what by then were minor tow jobs.

During the height of the storm, when we were knocked down, Al says I actually told him it wasn't fun anymore. I don't remember that, I do remember trying to climb over the top coaming to escape, and being face to face with the worst wind and rain and seeing that keel and wondering what the heck I was supposed to learn from going through this. I put it down as something that was a very rare and improbable to happen again occurrence. Part of cruising. Little did I know that Al's fun light had gone out way back at Rose Island.

The high winds had been delaying us more days than we were able to travel. It was as if Mother Nature was saying, "You had your fun. Now it's MY turn." So when we were towed off the mud at Ft. George River, and put underway on a day when we hadn't planned on traveling due to high winds, the die was cast, in a fashion. Al arranged for a wet slip at Amelia Island. We would come back for Journey when the weather and tides were finished with their tomfoolery.

Journey had other ideas. In the middle of the ICW channel, a sudden high pitched scream emerged from her bowels. Al ran down and lifted the engine cover, to discover the starter had engaged itself and was dying at that moment. We threw down an anchor, called Tow Boat US for the second time in less than two hours for a tow to the marina.

Sometimes life hands you an escape clause. It's not always easy to recognize it when it comes, and you have to be able to set aside emotions and act with a cool head when it presents. Sort of like that old joke about the guy on the roof during a flood. A truck, a boat and a copter came by to rescue him, but he refused, saying "My Lord will save me." When he got to heaven and confronted God about being, well, dead, God said "I sent you a truck, boat, copter. What did you want?"

A lot of people have waxed on about the best time to sell a boat. I can tell you it's when someone is standing there with cash they want to give you for it. We know we want a larger boat, and we will have her in a few years. In the meantime, Journey has been sold, and I have quietly entered the first stage of the mourning process. I feel for Al when it progresses to the guilt/ blame stage of mourning. But even boatless, I know it was the right time to do this. As Al put it, We have had a hell of a Journey, both the cruise and the boat.

bahamas Cruise 09/10
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Who: Martha and Al
Port: Wendell, NC
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