Student Punished for Doing the Right Thing

Posted on Thursday 17 October 2013

Over on the Huffington Post there’s an article about a young woman who is getting punished for doing the right thing.

I really have to wonder what school officials think they are doing by punishing this young woman for doing what is pretty clearly the right thing to do. What does the school expect students will learn from this girl being punished.

Yes, she technically violated the letter of the regulations the school has set about drugs and alcohol. She was present at a place where alcohol was being served to underaged minors, including her friend. However, she did not violate the spirit of the regulation—she was not there to drink, but to pick up her friend so that her friend was not at risk of getting in the car with a drunk driver or driving drunk herself.

If anything, the school should be commending this young woman and the role model she is for her peers. She didn’t break the law by drinking illegally. She didn’t allow her friend to put themselves at risk by blindly following the school regulations. Erin did the right thing—for herself, for her friend and for society as a whole.

The school administration is really being short-sighted and stupid on this decision in my opinion. Here’s the story:

Erin Cox, Massachusetts Teen, Punished By School After Trying To Drive Home Intoxicated Friend

When Massachusetts high school senior Erin Cox went to pick up an intoxicated classmate from a party, she thought she was doing the right thing. However, administrators at North Andover High School are punishing her for the deed, citing the school’s zero tolerance policy on drugs on alcohol.

Cox, an honor student and volleyball star, received a cell phone message from an intoxicated friend asking for a ride home from a party earlier this month, according to the Boston Herald. However, Cox arrived at the party at the same time as the police, who were arresting a slew of students for underage drinking.

While Cox was cleared by police who recognized her sobriety, her school has given her a harsh punishment. The 17-year-old was stripped of her title as captain of the volleyball team, and she was suspended from five games.

“But I wasn’t drinking,” Cox told the Boston Herald. “And I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home.”

The Cox family filed a lawsuit against the school on Friday in an attempt to get officials to reverse the punishment. However, the district court judge ruled the court did not have jurisdiction over the issue, local station WBZ-TV reports.

“If a kid asks for help from a friend, you don’t want that kid to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you. I might end up in trouble at school,’” Cox family attorney Wendy Murphy told the outlet.

However, an attorney for the school told the Boston Herald that officials are standing firm on the punishment.

The district could not be reached for further comment at this time.

The Cox family is now hoping that pressure from supporters will persuade school officials to reverse their decision. A Reddit thread about the incident has already amassed more than 1,000 comments, most of which are in support of Cox.

“Better warn all students that they are not allowed to attend any party or enter an establishment that serves alcohol. That means no Applebee’s, no family gatherings, and no professional sporting events. Eventually they will be imprisoned in a small room where they will not be allowed to leave unless they have a game or until they graduate,” user Drewkat99 said in a comment.

Cox told the Herald she feels “defeated,” but she said she doesn’t regret her actions: “It was the right thing,” she said.

Of course, I know what it is like to be punished for doing the right thing. That’s essentially why I had to walk away from the woman I love. Unlike Erin, the woman I love is not capable of doing the right thing and her lies and narcissism are the reasons I finally decided to walk away from her and abandon a person I have loved for over 21 years.

Dan @ 6:36 am
Filed under: Life with Ellie andNews andStupidity
Closing Doors

Posted on Friday 30 August 2013

Can’t sleep again.

Woke up from another nightmare… I hope it isn’t a vision of things to come… but, given what she’s been doing, it will likely come true sooner or later. I expect that the next time I hear from her family directly will likely be her mother calling me when the worst happens.

I now realize that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley isn’t smart enough to realize she has a serious problem with drugs and alcohol, even given the events of this past summer and this video that Mark, the neo-Nazi she was dating, posted.

Until she hits the hard rock bottom—ending up in the hospital, in jail, living on the street, flunking out of school or something equally bad—she will never admit she has a problem with drugs or alcohol. I just hope it happens before she spends her entire life a drug-addicted alcoholic much as her father has spent most of his life as an alcoholic in denial himself.

I wish I could stop caring, but that isn’t in my nature. Either is walking away, but her narcissism and the changes her addictions have made in her are too great to ignore and too painful to bear any longer.

This is whom Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has become:

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley posted this after a long night of work, drinking tea with her mother, and smoking weed--in her own words, she said: "Tired af...worked mad, smked mad, shower bathrobe bedtime night *"

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley posted this after a long night of work, drinking tea with her mother, and smoking weed–in her own words, she said: “Tired af…worked mad, smked mad, shower bathrobe bedtime night *”

Walking away was the only choice I had left and the only thing I could do after she perjured herself again to protect the monster that has abused her all of her life. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley really doesn’t understand what it means to care about someone or how to love someone or be loved by someone, since she’s never really seen it herself—certainly not in her own family because the relationship between her parents isn’t anything that anyone could call love—it is one of fear and control.

I still wish her well, but know that moving on is the right thing for me to do. Hopefully, I have learned something from this, though it will take a while for me to figure out all the lessons that trying to save the woman I love has left behind.

I pray for her everyday still—I probably always will. I also hope that other doors will open now that I finally closing this door. I will grieve for Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and mourn the future we had once talked about, but it is time to move on.

Even as much as I love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley—the drug-addicted alcoholic she has become that would rather prostitute herself for the drugs and alcohol her addictions require and perjure herself to protect the monster that has abused her all of her life just isn’t worth fighting for.

Her addictions have turned her into a narcissistic monster that is as bad as Jarrod or Mark could ever have been—a monster just like her father. It is likely that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley will spend years trapped in the same cycle of abuse and addiction that her father has been trapped in all his life—a life spent being so much less than what God intended for her to be.

I doubt it was ever God’s Will or Plan that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley prostitute herself for the drugs and alcohol her addictions require. I doubt God ever wanted her to lie and perjure herself to protect her father from having to confront his own addiction to alcohol. I know that God never would have wanted her to hurt and defame me, the man that has loved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life and has always been steadfast, faithful and loyal to her.

Her father John’s abuse of her has left her damaged and scarred beyond recognition—she is no longer the smart, beautiful, strong and brave woman that said she loved me and told me “Sarangheyo” so long ago. That woman is dead—killed by her addictions and the years of abuse her father has subjected her to.

I hope that Bridget, her little sister, is able to escape the fate that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, her brother John Walker Kelley Jr. and their father have all been doomed to.

God Bless you Lauren Elizabeth.

May God watch over you and protect you from all harm—even that you cause yourself.

I hope God gives you the strength to fight your addictions and the wisdom to see the truth about what the alcohol and drugs are doing to you.

I pray that God grants you the serenity and peace you will need to love yourself once again and to forgive yourself for the things your addictions have made you do.

I ask that God helps you find your way back to being the amazing, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, stubborn, strong, and devout woman He wants you to be.

Finally, may He grant you the ability to see yourself as I do and let you remember who we are to each other; let you remember the years of friendship, love and devotion we once shared; and give you the strength to make amends for the terrible things you have said and done because of your addictions.

All this in Jesus’s name I pray.


Dan @ 7:44 am
Filed under: Life with Ellie
Walking Away Because I Have No Other Choice

Posted on Saturday 17 August 2013

It took me most of these last two years, one month and nineteen days to realize what the fundamental, underlying causes of Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s addictions were, and it took me most of the first two or three months to truly understand that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, my beautiful freckled redhead, was a drug addicted alcoholic.

I believe it is the life-long abuse that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has been subjected to by her father, John Walker Kelley, that caused the fears, insecurities and self-doubts that give Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s addictions the hold they have over her. Of course, the abuse is only one of the factors that increased Lauren’s risks to becoming a drug-addicted alcoholic.

Domestic violence, the only difference is the choice of weapon.

Domestic violence, the only difference is the choice of weapon.

Another factor was her early exposure to alcohol, since it is likely that she was drinking as young as 14 or 15, most likely when she started at Ursuline Academy, with its high social pressures to conform and succeed and a large population of highly self-entitled and selfish young women. Almost all of the other young women who bought fake IDs from China in June 2011 with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley were members of her Ursuline Academy high school graduating class—Sarah, Victoria, Michelle and Anna were among the names that I saw.

Yet another factor is that her father, as far as I can tell, has been an alcoholic for most of the 32+ years I have known him. John Walker Kelley has abused his wife and children for decades. All three of his children show serious signs of psychological trauma. The two eldest, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and her older brother Johnny Walker Kelley Jr., are both drug-addicted alcoholics. The youngest, Bridget, has issues with bulimia and self-mutilation—mainly cutting and burning herself.

Then there is the heritable component that presents in many alcoholics. From what I have seen and been told, 60—70% of her father’s extended family have problems with alcoholism or addiction, as does 40–50% of her mother’s family. An uncle on her mother’s side of the family died of a drug-and-alcohol-fueled car crash.

There was also the lack of parental involvement in Lauren Elizabeth Kelley life and the emotional neglect that occurs when parents check out of their children’s lives when they are only 12 or so, as happened with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and her older brother Johnny Walker Kelley Jr.

I know this happened because I was the person who stepped into their lives when John and Sue decided to check out. Sue asked me to act as a friend, mentor, protector and liaison for her children. That is why I was the one who ended up teaching Lauren and Johnny Jr. how to drive and spent so much time with them.

In many ways, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and her brother were doomed by family dynamics, emotional abuse, and genetics and there was very little I could have done beyond love them, care for them and be there for them. I did all I could for Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and her family. Now, there is no more reason for me to stay.

For most of the last two years, all I wanted was for her to get healthy, regardless of whether I was going to be a part of her life or not. I still want that, but I know I won’t be here to accompany her on her long journey of recovery unless she comes and finds me. I doubt that she will do that…in fact, I can’t allow myself to believe that because then I will wait for something I am pretty sure will never, ever happen.

I am walking away because I have no other choice. I do not want to walk away from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley. My walking away isn’t because I don’t love her. I have loved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life and always will. I do not know how to not love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley—ever since she was born she has been a part of my family.

All walking away means is that I can no longer stay here waiting for her because her addictions are starting to destroy who I am—destroy the person Lauren Elizabeth Kelley loves and I can’t let that happen.

I know that if I let Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s addictions destroy me, it would become one more reason Lauren Elizabeth Kelley would hate herself for what her addictions have done if she ever gets into recovery. I love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley too much to add that to the costs of her addictions.

Another reason I am walking away is because the amazing woman that loves me just doesn’t exist as far as I can see any more. My beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has been lost to her addictions and now nothing more remain than the lying, dishonest, weak and cowardly, drug-addicted alcoholic that has prostituted herself for two years to get the alcohol and drugs her addictions require. What Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has become—what her addictions have reduced her to—is something that would horrify Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and, if she were healthy, would be something that she would loathe and despise.

This is essentially what Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s addictions have reduced her to—a drug-addicted alcoholic that drinks in public to the point where she can not even sit up straight. Yet, somehow Lauren Elizabeth Kelley doesn’t see this as a problem.

I honestly thought that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s recovery would be best helped if she had someone in her life that she has known all of her life, trusted all of her life and loved all of her life—someone that has loved her all of her life, cared about her all of her life and was completely devoted to her, yet strong enough to not enable her addictions.

No one else in her life, other than me, fits those qualifications. Her family is too toxic—two alcoholics in denial, an emotionally and psychologically abused and battered mother, and a little sister who really doesn’t understand the truth because no one but me was willing to tell it to her.

The truth of who Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and I were to each other is seen in the photos of us together. Even all the lies Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has told these last two years can not deny the truth that is seen in the photos.

I have left Lauren Elizabeth Kelley a gift of some of the most beautiful and precious of these memories that I have for her to see if she ever gets into recovery. She can find them HERE. Here is one of the photos that I think shows the truth of who we always were to each other.

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and me at Fire & Ice for her 18th birthday in 2010

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and me at Fire & Ice for her 18th birthday in 2010

I’d point out that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley texted me a half-dozen times or more that day to make sure that I would be there for her birthday. I had been working on s/v Pretty Gee down in Fairhaven when she texted me. Even though I was the last person to arrive, I was given the place next to her at her insistence.

Now, if Lauren Elizabeth Kelley ever decides she wants me in her life, she will need to find me, admit to her addictions, make her amends, publicly tell the real truth about who we have always been to each other and how we have always felt about each other… and show me that she is as committed to me as I have always been to her.

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley will also have to show me that she is more than the drug-addicted alcoholic that has prostituted herself for the last two years to get the alcohol and drugs her addictions require—and that she is truly committed to getting clean and sober.

I won’t change my contact information, but neither will I wait for her. If, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley ever reaches out to me for my help, she will have to earn it. I warn Lauren Elizabeth Kelley that she will never be able to earn it if I am committed to someone else because I keep my commitments, and if I make a commitment to someone else, I will honor it.

I did not break the vows or commitments I had to Lauren Elizabeth Kelley—it was just that the woman I love—my Lauren Elizabeth Kelley—no longer exists to keep them to.

If anything, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, the drug-addicted alcoholic, has broken faith and trust and the commitments we had over twenty years of friendship, love, trust, honesty, devotion, caring and loyalty—not me.

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley would rather remain this:

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley posted this after a long night of work, drinking tea with her mother, and smoking weed--in her own words, she said: "Tired af...worked mad, smked mad, shower bathrobe bedtime night *"

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley posted this after a long night of work, drinking tea with her mother, and smoking weed–in her own words, she said: “Tired af…worked mad, smked mad, shower bathrobe bedtime night *”

and remain a puppet of her abusive father—since he basically dictates what she does and says—than take a risk and be whom God has always intended for her to be—a smart, confident, capable, beautiful, strong and independent woman, like she used to believe she was as seen here:

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley in cool, confident and beautiful mode, out for dinner with me, her family and the Garcias.

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley in cool, confident and beautiful mode, out for dinner with me, her family and the Garcias.

So, I am walking away from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, something that I have avoided doing for two years, while I hoped and prayed for the beautiful, freckled, redhead that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. There is really nothing left of the woman I love at this point but the pathetic, cowardly, dishonest, drug-addicted alcoholic.

To understand how much I love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, consider that as part of the car safety/maintenance kit I assembled and gave her was a tire-pressure gauge that came out of the wreckage of my twin brother’s Mustang the day after he was killed.

The tire pressure gauge was my twin brother’s and something I have kept safe for almost 25 years when I gave it to Lauren. I doubt the drug-addicted alcoholic will ever realize how much of a commitment that was and what it represents, but I know my beautiful freckled love would know and understand the depth of love, trust and care that was required for me to do that.

I don’t really know how to walk away from someone I have loved for over two decades, but I guess I will learn. To put things in perspective, I knew Lauren Elizabeth Kelley longer than I knew Gee, Su, Yoon, and Shelley combined—I knew Lauren and had her a part of my life longer than my twin brother was alive.

In walking away from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, I am walking away from five people I have known and loved for over 32 years, almost two-thirds of my life. Two of these people are among the very few that I still know that knew my twin brother David.

Today, I begin that journey. It is not one I am familiar with and not one I really want to do, but I know that for my own good I must do it. I must grieve for the loss of the beautiful, smart, funny, sweet, freckled Irish redhead that told me “Sarangheyo” and talked about the Asians with freckles that she said she adored that our children would have been. I must mourn the future we had talked about because it has died with the loss of Lauren Elizabeth Kelley to her addictions.

I hope and pray that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley will get into recovery from her addictions one day, but I will not wait around for that to happen, because it is far too likely never to happen. It is far more likely, given the life-long abuse by her father, the lack of anything resembling a support structure for her and what she has done these last two years, that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley will be a life-long alcoholic, probably a fairly high-functioning one, like her father.

It is very disappointing that many of the friends I thought would support me did not. I didn’t expect support on this from my family because my family has never supported me in things like this. They are emotionally incapable of doing it, so I don’t even bother asking anymore.

God Bless you Lauren Elizabeth.

May God watch over you and protect you from all harm—even that you cause yourself.

I hope God gives you the strength to fight your addictions and the wisdom to see the truth about what the alcohol and drugs are doing to you.

I pray that God grants you the serenity and peace you will need to love yourself once again and to forgive yourself for the things your addictions have made you do.

I ask that God helps you find your way back to being the amazing, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, stubborn, strong, and devout woman He wants you to be.

Finally, may He grant you the ability to see yourself as I do and let you remember who we are to each other; let you remember the years of friendship, love and devotion we once shared; and give you the strength to make amends so we can start the future together we once talked about for a week.

All this in Jesus’s name I pray.


Dan @ 8:28 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
Meeting Gee

Posted on Saturday 1 June 2013

Gee and Dan at Gee’s new apartment in Seattle.

Gee and Dan at Gee’s new apartment in Seattle.

This is the very first photo of Gee and I together that I e-mailed out to our friends back in September of 1999. This was taken in her new apartment when she first moved to Seattle for grad school. We had just gotten engaged when this photo was taken on September 19, 1999, two months and nine days after we met.

I had originally asked Gee to marry me on our third date, just two weeks after we had met. Her answer was very telling. She said, “No, not yet.”

What I didn’t realize is how smart, gracious, compassionate and sneaky a woman Gee was. While I was out in Seattle, helping Gee get settled into her new life and grad school after a cross-country drive with her, Gee got me to ask her to marry me a second time.

It wasn’t the most typical proposal, but I am sure it was exactly what Gee wanted to happen. It was a little after eight in the morning on the 19th of September. I had been out in Seattle for over a week helping Gee. I had been out there longer than I had originally planned and was leaving the next day to drive back to Virginia.

I had cooked breakfast for Gee and we had a busy day of shopping and unpacking planned. I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing the breakfast dishes, when Gee walked up behind me and put her arms around my waist and kissed the back of my neck and said, “I love you. I really, really love you.”

Somehow, I knew Gee wanted me to ask her to marry me again, so I turned around and asked Gee if she would marry me. This time she said yes. I think that Gee had planned on us getting engaged on the 19th of September intentionally, knowing that it would give me a happy memory to offset the horror of losing my identical twin brother on that same day 12 years earlier.

I could never get Gee to admit that she had planned that, but I know her—I know that’s why she told me “No, not yet,” two months earlier. She was sneaky like that and loved me that much.

We only told two people that day that we were engaged. The first was my best friend from college, Brad, and his response was, “What took you so long?”

The other person was Gee’s best friend from college, Woo. Woo’s response was, “How the hell can you be engaged? I haven’t even met him yet.” Woo told Gee that she couldn’t be officially engaged until she had met me and approved of me. Gee asked me if that was okay. I laughed and said, “I don’t really have any choice, do I?” We wouldn’t get Woo’s approval until after the New Year, three-and-a-half months later.

One of the best descriptions of Gee that I have ever heard was from the first e-mail that I ever got from Woo. Woo had been describing Gee when she wrote, “Yet we get to know her, love her and be loved by her, how privileged are we?”

It is still the best description of the woman I had the honor of marrying 13 years ago.


Almost 12 years ago, on the 11th of June, 2001, I lost my beautiful and most gracious wife Gee to pancreatic cancer. We had been together for 23 months and one day, and married for seven months and seven days to the hour.

I learned a long time ago that we have a choice, we can laugh or we can cry….and laughing is a lot easier to clean up after. I’ve been very lucky in some ways, less so in others, but some of the people I have had the honor to share my life with have taught me how amazing life can be, even life after losing my twin brother. Gee was one of these incredible people. This is how we met.


Almost 14 years ago I met Gee, my late wife, on a blind date. My parents had given me Gee’s phone number after visiting Dr. Ju, a friend of my mother and Gee’s father. My parents were heading back up to Boston and were staying a couple of days before finishing the drive back

I called Gee’s phone number on Friday afternoon. Someone answered the phone and I asked “Is this Gee?” She said, “Yes, this is Gee.” I told her that I had gotten her phone number from my parents via Dr. Ju and we started talking. We spoke for over an hour during that first phone call, eventually setting up a lunch date for the next day. I knew I was going to marry her the first time I heard her voice.

Next, I called up my best friend, Brad, who eventually was the best man at our wedding and told him, “Brad, I just spoke to the woman I am going to marry.”

Brad asked me how I could possibly know that, especially seeing as I hadn’t even met the woman yet. I told him that “I have heard the voice I have been waiting all my life to hear—a voice that sounds like home.”

A half-hour before the blind date, I was told by my parents that I was going out with the “not-pretty” sister. This was what they had been told by the person who had essentially setup the blind date and not something I wanted to hear as I was headed out to meet Gee.

It was raining lightly when I got to the restaurant. I went in and got a table. I knew the restaurant’s owner and his family since I had been introduced to them by a friend. It was a few minutes before one, the time Gee was supposed to meet me at the restaurant.

The rain stopped at one and a couple of minutes later a beautiful woman walked by the front window of the restaurant. I thought to myself, that can’t possibly be her, she is far too beautiful. When the beautiful woman in the navy blue slip dress walked into the restaurant and spoke to the hostess, she was directed to my table. It turns out the amazingly beautiful woman was indeed Gee.

The second thought that popped into my head was, “If this is the “not-pretty” sister, what the hell does her sister look like.” I think it was an honest question that any man would have asked. As it turns out, Gee is the pretty sister—more than pretty in fact. Gee’s little sister Michelle is cute—she is like a Korean Meg Ryan, but she is not as beautiful as her older sister.

I told Gee what my second thought was on our second date. She elbowed me and said, “Men.” I laughed and said that it was really the most honest response to seeing such a beautiful woman.

Gee and I think we know how the misinformation happened. Gee’s little sister is the same age as Dr. Ju’s daughter and good friends with her. Because of that, Dr. Ju saw Michelle fairly regularly, but hadn’t seen Gee in over ten years. We guessed that Dr. Ju was going to call the sister that they knew better the pretty one.

I later found out that Dr. Ju had originally tried to set Michelle up on the blind date with me, but my father-in-law had changed it because he wanted his older daughter to meet me first. I have been very grateful that Dr. Kim, my father-in-law made that decision so many years ago.

We spent almost two hours at the restaurant eating lunch, talking and getting to knew each other on that first date. Gee told me she was leaving for a short trip to Seattle. She was going to be gone a week and we planned to have a second date when she got back.

What I later found out, two days after Gee died, from Sophie, her roommate at the youth hostel during the week Gee was in Seattle, was that Gee had told Sophie that she had just started dating a guy named Dan and that she thought he was the one. This was after just a single date and two phone calls. I guess we both just knew.

Dan @ 11:18 am
Filed under: life with Gee andMy Life
What to Look For

Posted on Thursday 25 April 2013

Breaking the Cycles recently posted a link to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.’s article on what the signs of drug and alcohol abuse are.

Warning Signs:

The use and abuse of alcohol and drugs are serious issues that should not be ignored or minimized and we should not sit back and hope they just go away. If left untreated, use and abuse can develop into drug dependence or alcoholism. As a result, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse early. If you’re worried that your son or daughter might be abusing alcohol or drugs, here are some of the warning signs to look for:

Physical and health warning signs of drug abuse

  • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
  • Frequent nosebleeds could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine)
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures without a history of epilepsy
  • Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
  • Impaired coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about- they don’t know how they got hurt
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

Behavioral signs of alcohol or drug abuse

  • Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work- loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise- decreased motivation
  • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates
  • Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money
  • Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Clashes with family values and beliefs
  • Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters
  • Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact
  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities)
  • Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs
  • Using eyedrops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils

Psychological warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse

  • Unexplained, confusing change in personality and/or attitude.
  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.

Signs and symptoms of alcoholism and drug dependence:

Alcoholism involves all the symptoms of alcohol abuse, but also involves another element: physical dependence- tolerance and withdrawal.

  1. Tolerance:

    Tolerance means that, over time, you need more alcohol to feel the same effect. Do you drink more than you used to? Do you drink more than other people without showing obvious signs of intoxication?

  2. Withdrawal:

    As the effect of the alcohol wears off you may experience withdrawal symptoms: anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches. Do you drink to steady the nerves, stop the shakes in the morning? Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of alcoholism and addiction.

    In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with alcoholism and addiction.

  3. Loss of Control:

    Drinking more than you wanted to, for longer than you intended, or despite telling yourself that you wouldn’t do it this time.

  4. Desire to Stop – But Can’t:

    You have a persistent desire to cut down or stop your alcohol use, but all efforts to stop and stay stopped, have been unsuccessful.

  5. Neglecting Other Activities:

    You are spending less time on activities that used to be important to you (hanging out with family and friends, exercising- going to the gym, pursuing your hobbies or other interests) because of the use of alcohol.

  6. Alcohol Takes Up Greater Time, Energy and Focus:

    You spend a lot of time drinking, thinking about it, or recovering from its effects. You have few, if any, interests, social or community involvements that don’t revolve around the use of alcohol.

  7. Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences:

    You drink even though they know it’s causing problems. As an example, you realize that your alcohol use is interfering with your ability to do your job, is damaging your marriage, making your problems worse, or causing health problems, but you continue to drink.

Unfortunately, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has shown many of the signs listed above. In fact, the ones that are in bold are ones that I have seen in her personally. Yet, she and her family can’t admit she has a problem with drugs and alcohol.

God Bless you Lauren Elizabeth.

May God watch over you and protect you from all harm—even that you cause yourself.

I hope God gives you the strength to fight your addictions and the wisdom to see the truth about what the alcohol and drugs are doing to you.

I pray that God grants you the serenity and peace you will need to love yourself once again and to forgive yourself for the things your addictions have made you do.

I ask that God helps you find your way back to being the amazing, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, stubborn, strong, and devout woman He wants you to be.

Finally, may He grant you the ability to see yourself as I do and let you remember who we are to each other; let you remember the years of friendship, love and devotion we once shared; and give you the strength to make amends so we can start the future together we talked about last June.

All this in Jesus’s name I pray.


Dan @ 9:58 pm
Filed under: Misc.
Broken Pottery

Posted on Wednesday 12 December 2012

My wonderful niece Ellice wrote this as her status update on Facebook earlier today. I think the idea behind it is wonderful and beautiful, but something that not all people are capable of doing.

When pottery breaks in japan, they adhere the pieces back together with gold or something other that is precious to signify the value of unifying the broken shards.

It’d be beautiful if there were physical signifiers such as that for every broken interpersonal relationship that reconciled with total recommitment. We’d be shining with gold and silver and precious materials, you’d have to squint to stand the beams of light. At least, for those of us who do not live in bitterness and unwillingness to forgive—for those of us who take the extra 30-60 minutes to trudge through difficult conversations and make hard actions to demonstrate depth of meaning.

In some ways, the very fact that these kinds of brokennesses are NOT physically visible… is an act of grace.

While kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold imbued resin, deals with ceramics rather than glass, the lyrics of this song—the idea of picking up the pieces and putting them back together, rather than throwing them all away remains much the same as what my niece wrote.

Unlike a lot of younger people today, I believe in fixing things if it is at all possible to do so. In many cases, fixing something can make it as good as new or better—especially if what you are fixing is something that you have had and cherished for many years.

Likewise, there are things in my life that I think are still worth repairing if it is at all possible. My relationship with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is one of those things—I have known and loved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life—longer than I have loved any other woman. I always will love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley. I do not know how to not love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley. It is that simple.

Even though I am walking away from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, I am not burning any bridges and if she should recover and seek me out, I would love to have her back in my life—provided she is clean and sober or working on her way to becoming clean and sober. I have promised the amazing woman I love that I would walk beside her on her long road to recovery, and if she should ask me to, I would still do it.

If Lauren Elizabeth Kelley ever manages to fight her addictions and return to being the amazing woman I love, I hope that she and I will be able to reconcile our relationship and start on the future we had once talked about. I know Lauren Elizabeth Kelley loves me because she has told me so dozens of times.

I know I am willing to forgive her for all that has happened over the past eighteen months, since she fell to her addictions. I just don’t know if Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is strong enough to fight her addictions or whether Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is gracious and serene enough to forgive herself for the horrific things her addictions have made her do and say.

I am certain that if Lauren Elizabeth Kelley ever finds the strength, courage and will to fight her addictions and the serenity to face her fears and love herself, trust herself and believe in herself as she once did, that the truth of the love she and I share will be strong enough to bring us back together again.

What Lauren Elizabeth Kelley doesn’t seem to realize or remember is what a truly amazing woman she has grown into. Somehow, the pain and hurt of Ian’s betrayal of her almost two years ago has triggered all the fears, insecurities and self-doubts her father’s years of emotional abuse had left Lauren Elizabeth Kelley with. I thought she had gotten past them, because, at least for a short while, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley knew how beautiful, strong, smart, lovable and capable she was—her confidence in herself was pretty clearly visible in photos of her from this short time period before Ian betrayed her.

Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is one of the most beautiful, intelligent, gracious, strong, capable, compassionate, stubborn, honest and lovable women I have ever known. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, at least the woman I love, is brave, moral, good, caring, decent, feisty, strong-willed and proud. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, the woman that loves me, cares about herself and her friends and family—she would do anything to protect them and would never hurt them intentionally. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is a woman of morals, honesty, integrity and a devout Catholic.

The drug-addicted alcoholic that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley has been for the past eighteen months is so much less than what Lauren Elizabeth Kelley should be. The drug-addicted alcoholic is everything that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley would loathe and despise if she were healthy—dishonest, selfish, greedy, stupid, immoral, weak, pathetic, and cowardly.

I know this because I have known Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life; loved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life; cared about Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life and been one of her closest friends and confidantes for years. I know who Lauren Elizabeth Kelley really is. I just wish Lauren Elizabeth Kelley would believe in herself again, love herself again and trust herself again enough to follow what her heart wants.

I wish my beautiful Lauren Elizabeth Kelley well and hope she is doing well in her studies. I wish her luck on her finals, which start tomorrow. There is a small part of me that hopes she fails miserably because it might be the safest and shortest route to Lauren Elizabeth Kelley hitting rock bottom and realizing that her addiction to drugs and alcohol is a problem, but I love her too much for that to be much more than a distant and small hope.

God Bless you Lauren Elizabeth.

May God watch over you and protect you from all harm—even that you cause yourself.

I hope God gives you the strength to fight your addictions and the wisdom to see the truth about what the alcohol and drugs are doing to you.

I pray that God grants you the serenity and peace you will need to love yourself once again and to forgive yourself for the things your addictions have made you do.

I ask that God helps you find your way back to being the amazing, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, stubborn, strong, and devout woman He wants you to be.

Finally, may He grant you the ability to see yourself as I do and let you remember who we are to each other; let you remember the years of friendship, love and devotion we once shared; and give you the strength to make amends so we can start the future together we talked about last June.

All this in Jesus’s name I pray.


Glass by Thomson Square

Tryin’ to live and love
With a heart that can’t be broken
Is like tryin’ to see the light
With eyes that can’t be opened

Yeah, we both carry baggage
We picked up on our way
So if you love me, do it gently
And I will do the same

We may shine, we may shatter
We may be pickin’ up the pieces here on after
We are fragile, we are human
We are shaped by the light we let through us
But we break fast ’cause we are glass
‘Cause we are glass

I’ll let you look inside me
Through the stains and through the cracks
And in the darkness of this moment
You see the good in that

But try not to judge me
‘Cause we’ve walked down different paths
[ From: ]
But it brought us here together
So I won’t take that back

We may shine, we may shatter
We may be pickin’ up the pieces here on after
We are fragile, we are human
We are shaped by the light we let through us
But we break fast ’cause we are glass

We might be all in water
This could be a big mistake
We might burn like gasoline and fire
It’s a chance we’ll have to take

We may shine, we may shatter
We may be pickin’ up the pieces here on after
We are fragile, we are human
And we are shaped by the light we let through us
But we break fast ’cause we are glass
We are glass

Dan @ 8:48 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
My Gift To Lauren Elizabeth

Posted on Monday 19 November 2012

We don’t remember days...we remember moments

We don’t remember days…we remember moments

There are many moments I remember from the years I have loved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, cared for Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and been friends with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.

Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order…

  • Watching the adorable freckle-faced, redheaded toddler of two people I have considered family for over a decade throw a temper tantrum because she doesn’t get her way. Her temper tantrums when she was very young were cute—when she was a bit older—they were a force of nature, being powered by one of the feistiest, most stubborn and willful children I have ever known—one who grew into one of the most amazing women I have ever known.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley unhappy about doing homework early one morning at her mom's office.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley unhappy about doing homework early one morning at her mom’s office.

  • Watching a sleepy young girl that I have always loved cover her head with a blanket, with a book on a pillow at her mother’s desk because she, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, just doesn’t want to do her homework.
  • Three people I love and consider family—Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, her mother Sue and her little sister Bridget.

    Three people I love and consider family—Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, her mother Sue and her little sister Bridget.

  • Working at her father’s company and seeing Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and her family—five people I love and have considered family for 30 years. These are the three I miss the most—Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, her mother Sue, and her sister Bridget.
  • Taking Lauren Elizabeth Kelley to Cracker Barrel for the very first time for her seventeenth birthday and watching her browse the country store with a look of wonder and amusement.
  • Laughing at hearing my beautiful friend Lauren Elizabeth Kelley shout out that she isn’t going to become a vegan because she didn’t want to give up Coach purses or nice shoes. I knew the nutrition argument would be tough against someone as stubborn and feisty as Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, but I also knew she was very fashion and status conscious as a teen.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley shows excitement when I offer to teach her how to drive.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley shows excitement when I offer to teach her how to drive.

  • Seeing the unabashed happiness and excitement when I told Lauren Elizabeth Kelley I would teach her to drive.
  • Spending an afternoon with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley teaching her to check the oil, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and tire pressure on her car.
  • Sitting with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and rubbing her shoulders and neck.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley sleeping on the companionway, under the dodger in one of my fleece shirts.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley sleeping on the companionway, under the dodger in a fleece shirt she borrowed from me.

  • Watching Lauren Elizabeth Kelley sleep, curled up on s/v Pretty Gee’s companionway like a beautiful ginger cat, in the polar fleece she swiped from me.
  • Cleaning out the pool and laughing with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and listening to her fears of falling in the green slime while I held her feet so she’d be safe—promising to pick her up out of the slime if she fell, but reserving the right to laugh first.
  • Having Lauren Elizabeth Kelley rub my shoulders and neck.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley very late one night, after we had come in from a walk along the streets and beach near her family’s Cape house.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley very late one night, after we had come in from a walk along the streets and beach near her family’s Cape house.

  • Walking in the early morning fog along the road and the beach near Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s family’s Cape house one August evening, holding hands with her. She was wearing the red fleece cape I had given her.
  • Going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and standing in line with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley to register her very first car.
  • Hearing Lauren Elizabeth Kelley laugh when she realizes her dad has sabotaged my go-kart so he can win.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and me while kayaking during a family outing on the Bass River back in 2008.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and me while kayaking during a family outing on the Bass River back in 2008.

  • Kayaking with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s family and the Garcias and towing our sunken kayak with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley sitting in it back to the Bass River Kayak place because she wouldn’t get out and we couldn’t paddle the sunken kayak.
  • The small near-heart attack I had when Bridget told me that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley had told her and their mother Sue about me asking Lauren Elizabeth Kelley to marry me, and fearing how Sue would react. It turns out that Sue really wasn’t surprised or even concerned about my asking Lauren Elizabeth to marry me—in fact, in some ways I think she had been expecting it.
  • Watching the sunrise with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley down at the Cape house after talking through the night and having her mother come up and ask us what we wanted for breakfast.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and Jesus, in New Bedford.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and Jesus, in New Bedford. Taken one evening when we were out playing pool and getting pizza.

  • Taking Lauren Elizabeth Kelley down to New Bedford to go shoot pool and then taking a photo of Lauren Elizabeth Kelley posed beside the painted Jesus on the pizza shop wall before we got dinner.
  • Having Lauren Elizabeth Kelley steal my polar fleece out of my sailing bag during a day sail on s/v Pretty Gee.
  • Going over to Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s house to pick up Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, her sister Bridget and her brother Johnny so we could have a meal at Chipolte’s because I wanted to spend time with three people I have loved all of their lives.
  • A Lauren Elizabeth Kelley-style iced coffee—hazelnut with four splenda and milk.

    A Lauren Elizabeth Kelley-style iced coffee—hazelnut with four splenda and milk.

  • Waking Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and watching her beautiful smile appear as she realizes I have brought her an iced coffee because I love her.
  • Stealing a sip and then a gulp of Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s iced coffee because she loves me and would let me.
  • Nibbling on Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s earlobes and inhaling the scent of her hair as I whisper in her ear to wake her up in the morning.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley hamming it up and brandishing two spatulas at Fire & Ice on her 18th birthday.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley hamming it up and brandishing two spatulas at Fire & Ice on her 18th birthday.

  • Laughing as Lauren Elizabeth Kelley brandished twin spatulas at Fire & Ice, when they let her cook on the big grill at Fire & Ice on her 18th birthday.
  • Teaching Lauren Elizabeth Kelley how to parallel park and spending hours with her teaching her how to drive so she would be safer on the roads when she finally got her driver’s license.
  • Going to the movies and seeing Lauren Elizabeth Kelley at the cinema she works at and getting a big hug and a huge smile from her when she sees me.
  • My funny and much beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley

    My funny and much beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley

  • Rubbing Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s beautiful but not ticklish feet while she lounged on the sofa at her house before she had to get ready for work.
  • Tickling Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and blowing raspberries on her beautiful smooth stomach and holding her in my arms.
  • Tasting the salt on Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s skin when I would kiss her stomach.
  • Ellie giving me bunny ears at her 18th birthday dinner at Fire & Ice in Boston

    Ellie giving me bunny ears at her 18th birthday dinner at Fire & Ice in Boston, 2010.

  • Letting Lauren Elizabeth Kelley give me “bunny ears” when getting our photo taken at her 18th birthday party at Fire & Ice in Boston.
  • Going with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and talking with her insurance agent and making sure she got the right things on her first car’s insurance policy as her mother Sue asked me to.
  • Going over to Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s house to make breakfast at 1600 in the afternoon because Bridget and Lauren Elizabeth were hungry and didn’t know what to make. Breakfast is probably Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s favorite meal.
  • Ellie beautiful smile during a late night game of Scrabble down at the Cape.

    Ellie beautiful smile during a late night game of Scrabble down at the Cape.

  • Playing Scrabble late into the night and watching Lauren Elizabeth Kelley smile as she realizes that she can win—beating me with the words I had taught her.
  • Walking into Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s family’s kitchen and stealing a cookie from the batch Bridget just pulled out of the oven and doing my cookie trick for her to see her laugh.
  • Talking about projects she wanted to do around the house—like painting her room and converting the porch into a sunroom for her parent’s anniversary in the hopes her parents would install a hot tub in response.
  • Some of the snack-sized cheesecakes I loved to make and give to my beautiful and beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.

    Some of the snack-sized cheesecakes I loved to make and give to my beautiful and beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.

  • Bringing Lauren Elizabeth Kelley cheesecakes and watching her try and sneak one and hide the aluminum pie plate in her room as she takes the rest to the kitchen to put in the freezer.
  • Listening to Lauren Elizabeth Kelley tell me how she wants to name our children Kelley and Cadence and that the names would work for either boys or girls, and pointing out how it was a good thing she was going to take my last name, since naming a child Kelley Kelley would probably be evil.
  • Laughing as Lauren Elizabeth Kelley capsized the O’Day Javelin her mother bought for Bridget—dumping Bridget, Johnny Jr., me and Lauren into the water.
  • Laughing as I sent Bridget and Carmen to tickle Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and pounce on her even as she pleads for me to save her. I should have saved her, but I use my powers for good mostly.
  • Going grocery shopping with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley because she didn’t like anything they had at the house to eat.
  • Sitting and watching Lauren Elizabeth Kelley try on two dozen outfits and seeing how happy she was to fit into a size 3 pair of jeans and enjoying how good they look on her.
  • Lauren Elizabeth Kelley at Texas Roadhouse for dinner with me and her family.

    Lauren Elizabeth Kelley at Texas Roadhouse for dinner with me and her family.

  • Seeing Lauren Elizabeth Kelley look so cool, confident and beautiful when we went out to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. It was back when she still knew she was smart, capable, strong, beautiful and loved—and she knew I loved her.
  • Putting together a car safety kit for Lauren Elizabeth Kelley because she had just bought her first car. The kit contained basic supplies like a first aid kit, a polar fleece blanket, jumper cables, spare fuses for her car’s electrical system, a good flashlight, and a tire pressure gauge that was once my twin brother’s because that is how much I love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.
  • Carrying Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s purse and all the clothes she wanted to try on while out shopping with her. Shelley, Su, Gee and Yoon had done the same thing when shopping.
  • A group photo of Carmen’s mother, Johnny Kelley Jr. Carmen, Carmen’s brother, Bridget Kelley, and Lauren Elizabeth Kelley after we got ice cream at the ice cream truck at the park across from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s family’s Cape house in Yarmouth.

    A group photo of Carmen’s mother, Johnny Kelley Jr. Carmen, Carmen’s brother, Bridget Kelley, and Lauren Elizabeth Kelley after we got ice cream at the ice cream truck at the park across from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s family’s Cape house in Yarmouth.

  • Treating my beautiful Lauren Elizabeth Kelley to a Klondike bar at the ice cream truck stopped at the park across from her family’s Cape house in Yarmouth, Mass., with the Garcias.
  • Walking Brandy, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s big white labrador retriever with her. Brandy is the company mascot for Lauren Elizabeth’s father’s company.
  • Volunteering to fix her family’s clothes dryer just so I could have an excuse to spend time with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley in the mornings, and doing laundry for my beautiful Lauren Elizabeth Kelley when I finally fixed the dryer.
  • My fierce, funny, sweet, feisty and lovable Lauren Elizabeth Kelley hamming it up for the camera down at her Cape house.

    My fierce, funny, sweet, feisty and lovable Lauren Elizabeth Kelley hamming it up for the camera down at her Cape house.

  • Watching the funny faces that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley would make while hamming it up for the camera down at her family’s Cape house. I love how expressive her beautiful face is.
  • Walking up behind Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and wrapping my arms around her waist to hug the woman I love and resting my chin on her shoulder and burying my face in her beautiful and silken red hair and breathing in the scent of her hair.
  • Taking photos of Lauren Elizabeth Kelley when she isn’t paying attention and making her laugh when she finally realizes what I’ve been doing.
  • My beautiful Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s freckled face...

    My beautiful Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s freckled face…

  • Telling Lauren Elizabeth Kelley that I wanted to kiss and count every freckle she had—like all the ones you can see on her beautiful, freckled face. I adore Lauren Elizabeth Kelley beyond measure and hope that she fights her addictions and comes home to me soon.
  • Trying to count the freckles on Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s beautiful face just before waking her up for the day—wishing I had the courage to kiss them all.
  • Getting hugs from Lauren Elizabeth Kelley when I’d bring her souvenirs from the various trips I went on. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley was the only one who got more than one postcard or souvenir from me from any trip. She was always someone I loved to dote on and spoil.

These are all small vignettes of a life we shared together—of years of friendship, love, caring, devotion and loyalty. They are the truth of who we are to each other and what we have meant to each other over the years. I think Lauren Elizabeth’s sister Bridget was right when she said, “You’re perfect for her. No one else will ever love her or care about her the way you do or as much as you do” when I asked Bridget what she thought of me and her older sister as a couple.

These are the memories of the beautiful young girl that I have loved all of her life and the incredible woman she has grown into. These are the memories I will keep and cherish and share of the amazing woman I love and still hope to marry. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is mi querencia and mo chuisle mo chroi. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is the woman whose love for me has healed me.

These memories are part of the many reasons I have found the strength to abide and stay, even when Lauren appears to be nothing more than the drug-addicted alcoholic that has hurt me and lied about us. These memories are part of the reason I still want to be with Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.

This is my gift to Lauren Elizabeth Kelley—the amazing woman I love—for whenever she gains the strength, the courage and the will to fight her addictions and to see the truth once again. My beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, is one of the most honest people I have ever known—yet her addictions have robbed her of the truth and made her tell horrific lies.

I hope someday Lauren Elizabeth Kelley will look back and recognize the truth of what I have written here, of what the photos of us show and of the feelings we have shared over her entire life. I hope that she can forgive herself for destroying all that we had and all that she and I could have been together. I hope that we are together the way we should be in our next lives—for I know a love as strong as ours will eventually bring us together again.

I have loved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley all of her life, cared for her all of her life, and considered her a part of my family since she was born. Last summer, I realized that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley was the woman I loved most of all and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her—even if it means walking beside her on her long road to recovery.

I will never betray Lauren Elizabeth Kelley as Ian did. I will never throw Lauren Elizabeth Kelley away as Jarrod did. I will never hurt Lauren Elizabeth Kelley as her father has for years. I have never stopped loving Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, caring for Lauren Elizabeth Kelley or being Lauren Elizabeth Kelley’s friend. I hope that Lauren Elizabeth Kelley will realize the truth some day soon—fight her addictions and come back to being the amazing woman I love so that we can start on the future we had talked about together.

I wish I could let Lauren Elizabeth Kelley see herself as I do for just a day—then she would not let her fears, insecurities or self-doubts give her addictions the power they hold over her. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is capable, strong, smart, sweet, kind, compassionate, generous, gracious, stubborn, feisty and lovable beyond measure—whether she sees the truth of this or not.

I do not know if I will still be here for her—because all I see is the drug-addicted alcoholic that she has been pretending to be for the past seventeen months. If Lauren Elizabeth Kelley—the woman that loves me and talked of starting a future together—is reading this, I would ask that she give me a clear and obvious sign that she still loves me and still want me to be here for her. If she are still here, there is nothing that would make me leave. If all that is left is the pale, pathetic, drug-addicted alcoholic shadow of her true self—then I have no reason to stay.

God Bless you Lauren Elizabeth.

May God watch over you and protect you from all harm—even that you cause yourself.

I hope God gives you the strength to fight your addictions and the wisdom to see the truth about what the alcohol and drugs are doing to you.

I pray that God grants you the serenity and peace you will need to love yourself once again and to forgive yourself for the things your addictions have made you do.

I ask that God helps you find your way back to being the amazing, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, stubborn, strong, and devout woman He wants you to be.

Finally, may He grant you the ability to see yourself as I do and let you remember who we are to each other; let you remember the years of friendship, love and devotion we once shared; and give you the strength to make amends so we can start the future together we talked about last June.

All this in Jesus’s name I pray.


Dan @ 6:33 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
For the Common Good

Posted on Thursday 18 October 2012

Nicholas Kristof writes about Scott Androes, a college friend of his that had taken a gamble and is paying the price. You can read the two columns about Scott here and here.

The story of Scott Androes hits home for me. In many ways it would have been Gee’s story had she and I not met. Her plans to go off to grad school in Seattle were there and she was going ahead with them, even after we met.

It was only because we had met and realized she and I loved each other and wanted to spend our lives together that Gee decided to give up her dream of going to grad school in Seattle. In January of 2000, Gee had decided that being with me, the man she loved, was more important than staying in Seattle—that there were other grad schools that taught what she wanted to learn but only one person she loved.

If we had never met, Gee would have been 3000 miles away from her family. It is very likely that her pancreatic cancer—which ultimately killed her—probably would not have been diagnosed for another month or so. And when it was diagnosed Gee would have been alone, without medical insurance and without the love and care I gave her.

I have no regrets about marrying Gee. I consider every day I had with her a blessing and a gift. Gee was the most gracious of people I have ever known and being her husband and being loved by her was her greatest gift to me. A good example of her grace was the story I tell here.

In 2006, I learned what it might have been like for Gee had we not met. My gallbladder had become gangrenous from a series of massive gallstone attacks over the course of a week. Early in the morning of October 10, I was taken to the hospital.

When I got there, the doctors weren’t sure what was wrong with me and had me in the cardiac care unit. Only after a few days did they realize it was my gallbladder and they prepped me for laparoscopic surgery. Once the surgeon saw the extent of the damage, he had to perform a traditional gall bladder operation to make sure that he could remove all the necrotic tissue. I have the seven-inch long scar to show for it.

I know what it is like to be in the hospital, not sure of what is going on, with no one there for you. I am glad I saved my beautiful Gee from that fate—Gee never had to be alone—I was always by her side.

Gee’s medical bills, for her surgery, her doctor appointments, the hospitalizations caused by her cancer, and her chemotherapy and radiation therapy visits would have cost us well over $750,000. That doesn’t include the cost of her medications—of which she had dozens of prescriptions.

Fortunately, I had good health insurance, and due to the foresight and generosity of my employer, Gee was covered as my domestic partner. Our bills were manageable, and did not bankrupt us as happens to so many families with catastrophic medical issues such as Gee’s. We were lucky. Scott was not.

If you care about your fellow man, you must understand that the USA is the ONLY INDUSTRIALIZED NATION that does not have universal coverage.

President Obama is changing that. It is what is right and what is civilized. If Obama is re-elected, we will no longer be the lone holdout to compassion. We will finally have universal coverage without exception for pre-existing conditions—something that is for the common good of all.

Gee’s illness was a pre-existing condition that prevented us from having the same options we would have when Obamacare comes to pass. The only argument Gee and I had in our short time together had to do with her being unhappy that I was working for a boss who made me miserable.

My reply to her was simple: “I would rather be miserable at work and know that you—the woman I love—are covered and taken care of—because taking care of you is my first priority—my most important duty. If I switched jobs now, I wouldn’t be able to get you medical insurance because you have a pre-existing condition.” Gee knew I had won that argument.

If Romney is elected, he would throw all that away. Can our great nation really afford to elect someone that sees almost half of our citizens as parasites. That is what Romney called the 47%. He affirmed his view and his words for weeks—at least until he realized the public was against him.

I do not believe we can take that risk. I do not believe that we can afford to have Mitt Romney—someone so arrogant, so out of touch with the common man and so amoral—in the greatest office in this land.

I do not think that Obama is perfect or right in all that he has done. But much of what he has done—he has had to do to counter the obstructionist and divisive tactics used by the GOP in their pledge to limit Obama to a single term.

I would rather support Obama and people would would work for the people they were elected to serve, than support the GOP which has proven it is only there to serve itself and its financial backers.

Dan @ 2:28 pm
Filed under: life with Gee andMy Life andNews andPolitics andThoughts
Some Places

Posted on Saturday 22 September 2012

Here’s a map of some of the places I’ve been and some of the places I want to go. Most of the places I’ve been are in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. The United States is a huge country to explore.

Dan @ 9:11 pm
Filed under: Sailing andTravel
Remembering 2001

Posted on Tuesday 11 September 2012

This was posted by my friend Pam as her status on Facebook today.

“On this day we are reminded of how fragile life is. Cherish and love your family and friends. Tell them you love and appreciate them every single day. You never can know if you will ever see them again.”

Eleven years ago was one of the worst years of my life. It was 2001 and on June 11, 2001, my wife Gee lost her fight with pancreatic cancer. We knew before we had gotten married that it was likely that she would die from cancer before much longer. Gee had been diagnosed on April 23, 2000 with stage three metastatic pancreatic cancer and hers was a particularly aggressive version of it.

On Valentine’s Day, 2001, Gee had her final round of radiation therapy, and two weeks later, her scans were clean. We were happy, not knowing how the radiation and chemotherapies had missed some of the cells and how quickly they would grow and spread. By April 7th, her scans showed over a dozen masses spread over most of her abdomen. We tried a second round of chemotherapy which was ineffective.

The day after Gee died, I got a book in the mail. It was the book Cancer and Christ that my friend and fellow twinless twin Dr. Raymond Brandt had written. He had promised to send Gee one of the first copies of the book even though he was fighting his own battle with bone cancer. I believe it was one of the last things he did before his cancer prevented him from leaving the hospital. He died a little over a week later.

Fast forward three months to September 11. I was witness to the devastation in northern Virginia, where Gee and I lived. I saw the destruction at the Pentagon personally. I had lost colleagues at the World Trade Center. Working in the wire news service, I saw and heard the news as it was developing.

On September 12, I was talking with a friend. She said to me, “I know why Gee died in June.” I asked what possible reason could there be other than her losing her battle with cancer. My friend replied, “Because God needed someone to train all the new angels from yesterday.

Who knows, she might have been right.

Dan @ 2:07 pm
Filed under: Events andlife with Gee andMy Life
S/V Alina Marie

Posted on Saturday 8 September 2012

My friends Ralph and Alina brought their Tylercraft 26 to my marina on their way from the southern side of Long Island, where they bought the boat two years ago, back to Maine, where they live. That was two seasons ago.

Earlier this season, Ralph and Alina got married. They have been working on recommissioning s/v Alina Marie and preparing to finish bringing her back up to Maine. I’ve helping them out.

Some of the projects that s/v Alina Marie needed done were critical.


The standing rigging needed to be inspected. We found some issues with the standing rigging as well as the spreaders—most of which have been dealt with.

The port-side lower shrouds still need to be repaired, as whomever did the last rigging job on the boat put nicropress eyes in the upper end which were connected directly to the mast tang plate. These will have the upper eyes cut off and replace with Hayn Hi-Mod forks.

We cut off the lower end of one of the starboard lower shrouds, since the turnbuckle was bottomed out. We replaced it with a Norseman mechanical stud, which gave us the ability to tune the rigging properly.

The spreaders were pointed down slightly, which was a problem. They couldn’t be adjusted to point upwards and bisect the angle the cap shrouds make with the spreaders. We cut off the old spreader mounting pin, which was a 1/2″ x 12″ bolt with a 8″ one.

I cut one of the old spacers in half and used it on the new spreader mounting pin to allow the spreaders to be mounted proper. The spreaders, which are 1″ aluminum pipe with 1/8″ walls were drilled and tapped for retaining screws that go into a hole in the spacer.

A wooden plug was inserted into the outboard ends of each spreader and pinned in place using a set screw. The wooden plugs had a slot cut into each end and a stainless steel strap was used to retain the cap shroud.

We also added two padeyes to each spreader for blocks. One set will be used to hoist a radar reflector. The others will be used for flag halyards.

We also had to replace the masthead truck sheaves for the mainsail halyard and jib halyards.

The jib halyard had to have a new eye added to it. For some reason, the jib halyard was made with vinyl coated stainless steel wire. The compression fitting was made over the vinyl coating and was on the verge of failure as the vinyl had prevented it from crimping down properly and had allowed the inner wire to creep. I’ve removed the vinyl coating from the terminal end and remade the eye with a swaged collar and thimble.

The masthead truck was also drilled and tapped to allow the VHF antenna and new wind instrument to be mounted to it. The wiring for the two was run down the center of the mast. This shouldn’t interfere with the halyards, which are all run externally.

The boom gooseneck was also re-built and heavier screws were added to keep the boom attached to the gooseneck. The mainsail on the Tylercraft apparently used roller furling around the boom originally, since the gooseneck has a spring-loaded pin and the mainsheet attaches to a tailpiece that can revolve freely. We’ll be switching to standard slab reefing, which is far more reliable and gives far better sail shape when reefed. It also allows the use of a boom vang and/or boom brake far more readily.

Deck Hardware:

We re-bedded all of the stanchions using butyl tape as the bedding compound. According to Ralph and Alina, all the newly re-bedded hardware no longer leaks, leaving the cabin interior a lot drier.

I also crimped and cut a replacement stainless steel stanchion for the stern pushpit. This gives completes the stern pushpit, which will be used for mounting the 18 watt solar panel that s/v Alina Marie will be using to keep her batteries topped off. She’ll normally be lying to a mooring in Maine, so some sort of passive recharging is necessary.

We replaced the chain hawse pipe. We replaced the fresh water tank fill. Both are bedded in butyl tape, and neither has leaked since.

The only real piece of deck hardware that needs to be re-bedded is the mooring bitt. The problem with removing it is frozen bolts. They’ll be cut off shortly and the piece re-bedded using butyl tape.

The tiller was replaced with a new one provided by my friend Ken, of s/v Sea Spirit.


The Tylercraft 26 was originally designed with an inboard Yanmar diesel. At some point in the past, the inboard was removed. The stuffing box on s/v Alina Marie has been sealed off and a 9.9 HP outboard motor was added to the boat using a spring-loaded mount on the transom. The outboard is offset to the port side but the original installation had the springs incorrectly installed, so they weren’t providing the full support they were designed to give.

However, when the outboard motor mount was installed it was not properly reinforced. The plan is to move the outboard motor mount to the centerline and add two layers of 1/2″ plywood that has been epoxy-saturated as a backing plate/transom reinforcement. There is enough room between the rudder and the transom that mounting the engine on center line shouldn’t be an issue.

As part of prepping the boat for new reinforced motor mount project, we removed the old Yanmar controls. That cleans up the cockpit quite a bit.

The Yamaha 9.9 HP engine needs a new carburetor, since the choke butterfly valve has seized. The problem is poor maintenance by the previous owner. The butterfly valve shaft was bronze or brass and the carburetor body is aluminum. The galvanic corrosion caused by the dis-similar metals caused it to seize up. We have a new carburetor on order and it will be replace as soon as it gets in.


Basically, we’re building the electrical system in the boat from scratch. I made up a temporary electrical panel using a piece of 3/8″ plywood I had left over from my cabin sole lockers project. Mounted on the panel are:

  • A fuse block for six circuits;
  • the main 1/2/Both battery switch;
  • a Blue Sea ACR;
  • an old three switch panel with a voltmeter and the switches for the navigation lights;
  • the charge controller for the solar panel;
  • a buss bar for the ground connections;
  • a buss bar for the positive connection;
  • a terminal strip for the NMEA 0183 connections between the GPS and VHF

The navigation lights were repaired and several had their crystals replaced.

The new VHF and GPS chartplotter were installed and wired together to provide DSC capability for s/v Alina Marie.

An 18 watt solar panel is going to be wired into the system to allow s/v Alina Marie to charge her batteries while not attached to shore power. The panel can also work for winter maintenance charging. The BlueSea ACR will allow the panel to charge both battery banks without user intervention.


A new mounting plate for the bilge pumps was made from a piece of polycarbonate. The plate will be epoxied to the hull and has the pumps mounted to it using screws that fit into the t-nuts that were epoxied to the plate. This makes mounting and removing the bilge pumps quite simple. The lower bilge pump is a 500 GPH maintenance pump. The higher mounted pump is a 1700 GPH pump which will turn on if the maintenance pump isn’t capable of keeping up with the water inflow. Personally, I’d like to see a larger capacity emergency pump installed.

A new deck fill for the fresh water tank was installed and a new hose will be run to connect it to the tank. The tank needs to be cleaned thoroughly before it can be used for potable water. However, the plan is to use smaller, portable tanks for drinking water, while the tank water will be used for cleaning dishes, etc.

The head is currently going to be a porta-potty. However, the plan is to order a Raritan PHC LBA unit and recycle the existing porcelain bowl to create a brand new Raritan PHC head for the boat. The boat has a holding tank, but the hoses do all need to be replaced.

Hull and cabintop:

The support arm for the main companionway poptop needs to be replaced. I’ll be trying to duplicate it in stainless. The original looks like it was either EMT conduit or aluminum tubing. Stainless steel will be far stronger, if a bit heavier. The poptop is being refurbished by Ralph up in Maine and he will be bringing it back in October.

The transom is being reinforced as discussed earlier to support the outboard motor properly.

The hull was flexing forward of the twin keels, between the main cabin and the v-berth. I’ve reinforced the area by glassing in some pipe insulation that was cut in half and then glassing over it. The reason for the flex is because the original wooden stringers that reinforced the area had rotted over the years and had not been glassed over, so the hull lost a lot of structural rigidity when the stringers rotted out.

I used a thickened epoxy putty made by Progressive Epoxy Products in New Hampshire to glass in the first six layers of fiberglass over the pipe insulation. It has the advantage of being able to bond and cure in wet areas, even underwater if necessary, and the hull in that area was damp from water in the bilge. I still have a bit more glass work to do on the hull in that area before I’ll be satisfied with it.

I hope to get a bit more work done on s/v Alina Marie before Ralph and Alina get back down here in October.

Dan @ 3:52 am
Filed under: boat ownership andBoat Projects andFamily & Friends andMy Life andSafety andSailing
Visiting s/v Freedom

Posted on Friday 17 August 2012

Earlier this week, I sailed s/v Pretty Gee down to Cuttyhunk to visit with my friends Ed and Chris on their Endeavour 42 s/v Freedom. They’re on the southbound leg of a cruise down to the Caribbean. They set out a while back from the Great Lakes and don’t really have a set ending date for this cruise.

s/v Pretty Gee and I got to Cuttyhunk’s outer harbor about 1745, after a long sail to windward. Of course, the wind was out of the southwest and pretty much directly on the nose. We had been hailed by s/v Freedom around 1600 and they had asked us our ETA, which I had estimated to be around 1800. They were holding dinner until I got there.

It was a bit longer to go around Pekinese Island, but with the wind out of the southwest, it made more sense to sail at almost 9 knots and go a bit further than it did to try and tack into the northeast channel or motor—both of which would have been much slower. I furled the screacher northwest of Pekinese Island. I then started up the engine and dropped the main sail as I turned south to head for the northwest channel entrance to Cuttyhunk.

I motored into Cutthyhunk outer harbor after a fairly fast reach under screacher and main to northwest of Pekinese Island, which lies on the northern edge of Cuttyhunk outer harbor. Ed gave me two boats as landmarks for where s/v Freedom was anchored. The first was a mega-yacht, which was very easy to spot due to is enormous size.

The mega-yacht that was anchored near us in Cuttyhunk Outer Harbor, which was lit up like a cruise ship for a good part of the night .

The mega-yacht that was anchored near us in Cuttyhunk Outer Harbor, which was lit up like a cruise ship for a good part of the night .

The other was this large blue-hulled sailboat.

A neighboring boat that thought not having any lights on all night long was a good idea. They’re a statistic waiting to happen in my opinion.

A neighboring boat that thought not having any lights on all night long was a good idea. They’re a statistic waiting to happen in my opinion.

I motored up to s/v Freedom and rafted up to her. She was lying to her 45 lb. Manson Supreme anchor, so we were probably good to go for the night. Here’s a photo I took Wednesday morning, July 15th, of the two boats rafted up together before we detached for the incoming thunderstorm.

s/v Pretty Gee rafted up to s/v Freedom. We detached before the storm hit and were anchored out separately.

s/v Pretty Gee rafted up to s/v Freedom. We detached before the storm hit and were anchored out separately.

After getting the nickel tour of s/v Freedom, a center cockpit Endeavour 42, we had dinner. s/v Freedom is well fitted out for cruising, with a wind generator, solar panels, full cockpit enclosure, and behind the mast furling, though I’m personally not a fan of mast furling systems. Here are some photos of s/v Freedom.

Detail of s/v Freedom’s behind the mast furling system.

Detail of s/v Freedom’s behind the mast furling system.

Detail of s/v Freedom’s flagstaff, windgen and backstay.

Detail of s/v Freedom’s flagstaff, windgen and backstay.

Sunrise detail photo of s/v Freedom’s cockpit, with a full enclosure.

Sunrise detail photo of s/v Freedom’s cockpit, with a full enclosure.

Dinner was grilled porkloin with rice and string beans, and a nice white wine. We sat up talking in the cockpit until a bit past midnight. The next morning I was heading back to Fairhaven and s/v Freedom was continuing west to Point Judith’s Harbor of Refuge.

I awoke early the next morning to take some photos of the sunrise before breakfast. Here are a couple of the pre-dawn light coloring the clouds over Cuttyhunk Harbor. Ed and Chris were sensibly still asleep.

Pre-dawn clouds over Pekinese Island and s/v Freedom’s bow.

Pre-dawn clouds over Pekinese Island and s/v Freedom’s bow.

Pre-dawn clouds over Nashuon Island and Cuttyhunk's outer harbor.

Pre-dawn clouds over Nashuon Island and Cuttyhunk’s outer harbor.

And here are a couple more of the sunrise:

Sunrise over s/v Freedom’s bow and Pekinese Island.

Sunrise over s/v Freedom’s bow and Pekinese Island.

Detail of the sunrise over the aft deck on s/v Freedom.

Detail of the sunrise over the aft deck on s/v Freedom.

For breakfast, we had a simple affair with Chris’s home made granola and coffee. After breakfast, we heard a NOAA warning saying there was a strong line of thunderstorms headed our way that was currently over Block Island not to far west of us. So Ed and I decided to separate the two boats and ride out the storms on our own anchors. I motored off and anchored s/v Pretty Gee a bit further west of s/v Freedom and rode out the storm there. While we weren’t bothered by the storm much, two boats in Cuttyhunk’s inner harbor did drag from radio reports.

After the storm, I took some photos of the system as it was leaving the area. Here’s one showing the tail end of the storm over Cuttyhunk and s/v Freedom.

s/v Freedom with the tail-end of the thunderstorm’s clouds overhead.

s/v Freedom with the tail-end of the thunderstorm’s clouds overhead.

And a couple more photos of the storm as it headed further east.

Thunderstorm leaving Cuttyhunk Harbor. Two boats dragged in Cuttyhunk’s inner harbor, but we were fine outside.

Thunderstorm leaving Cuttyhunk Harbor. Two boats dragged in Cuttyhunk’s inner harbor, but we were fine outside.

The storm as it rolled away.

The storm as it rolled away.

I then hailed s/v Freedom and said our goodbyes before hoisting the anchor and heading back to Fairhaven. On the way back to Fairhaven, I took this photo of the storm system as it was heading towards Vineyard Sound and Cape Cod.

The storm in the distance, over the Elizabeth Islands, of which Cuttyhunk is the southwestern most.

The storm in the distance, over the Elizabeth Islands, of which Cuttyhunk is the southwestern most.

It was great to meet Chris and Ed for the first time in real life.

Chris sitting in the cockpit of s/v Freedom after breakfast.

Chris sitting in the cockpit of s/v Freedom after breakfast.

Captain Ed in s/v Freedom’s cockpit after breakfast, before the thunderstorm rolled in.

Captain Ed in s/v Freedom’s cockpit after breakfast, before the thunderstorm rolled in.

I’ve been friends with them over the internet, via sailing forums and Facebook for several years, but this was my first time meeting them in person. They’re a lovely couple and I have asked Gee to watch over them on their future voyages aboard s/v Freedom. I wish them fair winds and following seas where ever they may end up voyaging.

Dan @ 10:57 am
Filed under: cruising andFamily & Friends andSailing
First Time Visitors

Posted on Monday 13 August 2012

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking my fellow twinless twins Anna Tse and Honey Langley out on s/v Pretty Gee. They hadn’t been sailing before so this was a new experience for them. I also had my friends Ken and Dottie Willits and Dave Cowles along for the ride.

Dottie, Anna, me and Honey aboard s/v Pretty Gee at the dock.

Dottie, Anna, me and Honey aboard s/v Pretty Gee at the dock.

We started out around 1400 and caught the 1415 bridge opening heading south. We motored out past the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier and then raised the sails and killed the engine. The wind was mainly out of the south, so we tacked down into Buzzards Bay.

Sailflow Wind Conditions For 2012 08 11 in New Bedford

Sailflow Wind Conditions For 2012 08 11 in New Bedford

After dealing with a brief rainstorm and sailing for a few hours, we turned and headed back into New Bedford and sailed back through the Hurricane Barrier and anchored just north of the wreck in the southwestern part of New Bedford Harbor and fired up the grill.

Detail of New Bedford Harbor Chart

Detail of New Bedford Harbor Chart

Dinner consisted of galbi (Korean beef short rib), olive oil roasted asparagus, vegetable kabobs (cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and onions), corn, and a mixed greens salad with onions and mushrooms. When I get the photos of the food from Anna, I’ll be posting them here.

Dessert consisted of Dottie’s lemon pound cake and my snack-sized cheesecakes.

We hoisted the anchor and motored back through the swing bridge. After 1815 at night the swing bridge opens on demand for marine traffic, so we didn’t have to wait very long.

I brought s/v Pretty Gee in to the haul out dock to drop off the ladies and Ken, then Dave and I put s/v Pretty Gee back on her mooring and rowed back to shore in the dinghy.

Dan @ 1:03 pm
Filed under: boat ownership andFamily & Friends andSailing andTwinless Twins
Clueless Comcast

Posted on Thursday 9 August 2012

I’ve been dealing with Comcast, aka Xfinity, for almost 15 years on a fairly regular basis thanks to friends and family, including my brother-in-law and Ellie’s family. I’ve seen some stupid problems and bad installations, but the installation at my friend’s house i fixed last night takes the cake though.

My friend has had Xfinity’s Triple Play for a while and I was surfing the internet after dinner at their house last night. I thought the network was awfully slow, especially for a cable modem connection, so I ran a speedtest. The test reported .47 Mbps down and .18 Mbps upstream which is slower than a bad DSL connection.

I was curious about why it was so slow–even for Comcast, so I asked to see the network setup and found that Comcast had installed two cable modems in parallel. One was setup to provide the voice connection and the other to provide the data connection and I believe the interference of having two active cable modems on their node was causing a huge loss in speed for the data service.

The Comcast morons were either too lazy to run an ethernet cable from the voice-capable cable modem to the router or too stupid to realize having both cable modems running would trash the data service.

So, I disconnected the data only cable modem and ran an ethernet cable back to the voice capable one from the router. We saw the data rates go up by over ten-fold…then Comcast dropped into ‘wall garden’ mode.

I tried to use their online activation, which promptly crashed after saying it was activating the intetnet service. The activation obviously didn’t work.

So I called Comcast’s tech support and sat on hold for 25+ minutes only to get a woman who sounded Indian on the phone. She insisted everything was working properly despite the fact that the only website we could get to was Comcast’s internal activation website. Obviously, we were still in ‘wall garden’ mode.

After arguing with her for 30+ minutes without her being able to understand she was obviously missing something I asked to speak to her supervisor and was put on hold. About 15 minutes later a man came on the line, also with a thick Indian accent, and we spoke. He ran some further diagnostics and was finally able to get the voice cable modem out of ‘wall garden’ mode.

Further testing showed about 18.5 Mbps down and 7.3 Mbps upstream, over a 35-fold improvement in data speeds.

To add insult to injury, Comcast was charging a $7 monthly rental fee for the unnecessary cable modem that was crippling their data service. I’ve told my friends to request a full refund for all of the $7 monthly fees going back to when they originally subscribed to Comcast’s Triple Play service, since this was clearly the fault of the clueless and incompetent installation technicians.

Dan @ 6:22 pm
Filed under: Stupidity andTech
TTSGI 2012 Annual Conference

Posted on Saturday 21 July 2012

(this post is a work in progress and will be finished shortly)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012, I flew out to Columbus to attend the 2012 Annual Conference for Twinless Twins Support Group International. Since I had promised to bring cheesecakes to Crystal, I decided to fly out a day early and stay with my cousin Sarah. I planned on baking the cheesecakes at Sarah’s home and then take them to the conference the next day.

Sarah and her daughter Ellice picked me up at the airport and we stopped at the grocery store on the way back to their house to get the ingredients I’d need for my cheesecakes. I bought enough to make three batches, as I wanted to teach my niece how to make my cheesecake. I would be making two batches while she followed along and made a batch of her own. Each batch made a dozen snack-sized cheesecakes. I would take two dozen to the conference and leave a dozen for Sarah’s family.

Ellice drove me to the hotel and I checked in and stashed the cheesecakes I had brought with me in my room’s refrigerator. Then, I went to find some of the old guard Twinless setting up in one of the conference rooms. When I walked in I recognized most of the people in the room: David Jones, Michele and Rick Getchell among others. One person I didn’t recognize came up to me and introduced himself as Kevin Johnstone, the person who had called me on Tuesday to tell me what to expect at my first Twinless Twins conference, not realizing that I was a long-time veteran.

After saying hi to the old guard, I went off to find Beverley Smyk. Beverley and I have been friends through the Facebook group, but this was the first time I was meeting her in real life. We went off to a late lunch at Salvi’s Bistro, which is next door to the hotel.

Grant, another twinless from Australia, asked me to make sure I met up with Vikki Huntwork and Fred Campagna. I did meet up with both of them for Grant and they’re both good eggs.

I took two dozen of the three dozen cheesecakes to the hotel and handed them out to my fellow twinless twins. I had promised these cheesecakes to Crystal Strickler, my adopted little sister, and her daughter Carissa. I also gave them to many other twinless, most of whom I have known for years.

The conference was amazing. Darcie Sims was the keynote speaker, and she and I had a great conversation about grief and the grieving process. She had presented Project Birdhouse for the first time in front of a national conference. Project Birdhouse is an excellent exercise for working through grief.

I met some amazing twins at the conference. Some, like Vikki and Beverley, I had known via Facebook previous to meeting them in real life. Others, I met at the conference and have become friends with on Facebook.

After the conference ended, Ellice picked me up at the hotel and we went to church together. We met up with Deborah Maria at the church and Ellice invited her to dinner, which I was going to make. We went to the grocery store and I got the ingredients for a typical pasta dinner which I was going to teach Ellice to make. :-D

I made dinner and had a great evening with Ellice, Deborah Maria, and Sarah. We held a prayer circle and Ellie was one of the people we prayed for. Even though I haven’t spoken to Ellie in over a year, she is still someone I love very much and is still important to me. I chose to walk away from her because of her illness and should she choose to come find me and ask me for the help I have promised her, I will give it to her.

Dan @ 4:28 am
Filed under: Events andTwinless Twins
Boating Safety

Posted on Friday 29 June 2012

With the upcoming holiday, I would ask that people who are going to be out on the water take extra care. The major holidays are often times where serious accidents, which could be mostly avoidable with a little care and foresight, happen.

I would highly recommend that everyone who spends time on the water boating, whether it is a power boat or sailboat, take a boating safety course at the United States Power Squadrons, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary or someplace similar. Many people, even long time boaters, don’t know the basic safety procedures, rules and precautions.

However, that is probably more true of powerboaters than sailors. Most sailors learned to sail from other sailors, so there is some mentoring and education of the rules and etiquette of the sea passed along, if only by osmosis in some cases. There is also a fair bit of learning required if one expects to go anywhere in a sailboat.

This is often not the case with powerboaters, many of whom have never boated previously and have no idea of what the rules and etiquette of the sea might be. They think that they can do whatever they want and point the boat and hit the throttle. Many do not understand that even though there are no lines on the road, there are rules of the “road” in boating.

One younger boater that kept his boat at my marina had far more money than sense. He drove a Ferrari and it was pretty clear that he had inherited the money rather than made it. His boat was a “go-fast” cigarette type boat and had 1500 HP or so. One day he asked me if he left the harbor and just kept going right (west) if that was the way to get to Newport.

I asked him if he any charts aboard his boat. He asked me what charts were and why they were important. I explained to him that they were like road maps for boats, but a bit harder to read, since there weren’t any streets. He didn’t have the basic safety gear aboard the boat either. I told him that if he didn’t have them and didn’t know how to read them, he really had no business leaving the harbor.

He bought a GPS chartplotter but no paper charts as far as I know. He was young enough that he was of the “Nintendo” generation and thought of the GPS as a video game in many ways I think. He finally sold the boat after blowing both engines in it coming back from Menemsha. According to his girlfriend, they went airborne for a “good long while” and he hadn’t throttled down on the engines when the boat left the water and he burned out one engine completely and pretty seriously damaged the other….and was lucky to limp back to the marina on it.

I’m actually pretty happy that he blew the engines on his boat. It forced him to sell the boat before he got himself or his girlfriend or her friends killed. I really didn’t want to see them become Coast Guard statistics.

Another major difference between power boats and sailboats is speed. A jetski can top 20 knots as can many small powerboats. Most sailboats are lucky to be making 6 knots. Even a small jetski, weighing 500 lbs., becomes a huge hazard if it is doing 25 knots and the operator doesn’t understand how it work. A 25′ sailboat doing 5 knots and displacing 2000 lbs. has only about one-sixth the kinetic energy and is far easier to avoid.

Alcohol is going to be a huge factor and is a cause of the majority of fatal boating accidents. If you are responsible for the boat, I would recommend you not drink at all. If an emergency comes up, like a dragging anchor, there is no way for you to quickly get sober and deal with the situation safely. Alcohol not only increases your risk of dehydrating, it also impairs night vision, balance, judgement and hand-eye coordination. It increases the risk of falling overboard. Please have your crew and guests drink responsibly.

Dan @ 6:57 pm
Filed under: boat ownership andSafety
Electrical Systems for Boats

Posted on Tuesday 26 June 2012

If you want to upgrade the electrical system on your boat or add one to a boat that really doesn’t have one you will need a few things. Before I mention what you’ll need, I would point out that it is often far less expensive and faster to rip out the entire previous system and replace it than it is to try and do an extensive upgrade if you consider the time dealing with the legacy wiring may cost. This is especially true on older boats where the electrical system may have been cobbled together by previous owners and may have a lot of things wrong with it.

I have seen ROMEX solid untinned household wire used on boats, I’ve seen lamp cord and speaker wire used for higher amperage circuits that have nearly caused fires. I have seen wire nuts used on wires in a bilge. These are really things you should avoid if at all possible. They are unsafe, unreliable and can actually be dangerous.

The things you will need to replace or upgrade the electrical system on a boat are:

First, you need common sense.

If you don’t have good common sense, then I would highly recommend you pay someone to do the work instead. While the voltages are fairly low, make no mistake, the power involved is dangerous and can kill you if you make a mistake. Common sense can not be taught. Common sense can not be bought. Either you have it or you don’t.

Most of all boat work—in fact most of all specialized work—is 95% common sense mixed with 5% esoteric or specialized knowledge. This is true of working on diesel engines, electrical wiring, plumbing, electronics, fiberglass repair or almost anything else you might need to know owning a sailboat. Without the foundation of common sense it is almost impossible to do anything safely. The esoteric knowledge can be gained through classes, watching someone do it, learning from books/videos/the internet.

Second, you need to get a basic foundation of knowledge about 12 VDC electrical systems on sailboats.

Get yourself a good book on marine 12 VDC electrical systems, like Charlie Wing’s Boatowner’s Illustrated Electrical Handbook, Miner Brotherton’s The 12 Volt Bible for Boats or Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual.  

Another good way to get a handle on 12 VDC basics would be to take a marine or automotive electrical system course at the local technical/vocational school.  The electrical system on a car is quite similar to the 12 VDC system on most boats.

One commonly asked about system is air conditioning.  Running any sort of A/C on a boat requires either an engine-driven system, which is expensive, or a generator to drive a 110 VAC A/C system—less expensive, but more maintenance and costs, or using shorepower to run it—which is pretty easily done if you keep the boat in a slip with a shorepower connection.

I’d point out that air conditioning isn’t usually required when at anchor or on a mooring, as the boat will swing head to wind and opening the hatches should give fairly good ventilation.

A basic 12 VDC electrical system will require:

1) Batteries—preferably at least two, one for a starting bank and one for a house bank. 

Please note: in the rest of this article, I will refer to the house battery and starting battery, but the battery may technically be a battery bank consisting of several batteries in serial or serial/parallel combination—this is especially true of the house bank, which is generally much larger than the starting bank on most cruising boats.

2) A main DC panel, preferably using circuit breakers rather than fuses

3) A main DC battery switch—I prefer the BlueSea Dual Circuit Plus series of switches, since they isolate the starting and house loads.

4) A main fuse for each battery bank—like the BlueSea MegaFuse.  This is to protect the wiring and boat in case the batteries have a problem.  This fuse should be as close to the batteries as possible.

5) A main fuse—that goes between the main DC panel and the battery switch to protect the panel.

6) A ground bus bar—which will be the common termination point for all of the electrical circuit ground wiring.  This is connected to the battery bank negative posts.

7) A positive bus bar—which will be the common termination point for some of the 12 VDC wiring.

This is connected to the house battery bank at the main 12 VDC battery switch. This would be used for things that may need to be “hot” all the time, like the memory circuit for a stereo, the maintenance bilge pump, the fume alarm, etc. Not all boats will require one. This should be have a cover or be protected from accidental contact in some way.

8) Battery cables—I recommend getting them from on the internet.  They will crimp the lugs you need on the cables if you ask them to for a very reasonable fee. I highly recommend that you use Yellow for the 12 VDC ground—the reason for this is to differentiate the 12 VDC ground wiring from the 110 VAC hot wiring if you ever add a shorepower or inverter setup to the boat.

9) Marine-grade, tinned, stranded Wire—You can buy wire from many different sources.  I like the Berkshire marine wire, as it is better than the Ancor IMHO and far less expensive.  Genuinedealz also sells pretty good marine wire.  Pacer makes good marine grade wire as well. Again, use Yellow for the 12 VDC ground.

10) Terminal blocks—you may find you may need some terminal blocks.

Terminal blocks can be very useful where you have to make a series of connections on a regular basis. Some places they are used are to connect the hull wiring harness to the main electrical panel. This allows you to disconnect the main panel and remove it if necessary, but leaves the wiring in a fairly neat and organized fashion.

Other places they might come in handy include at the junction where the mast exits the cabin or at the base of the mast step, or where external equipment is connected that may be removed on a regular basis—like the compass light wiring or for instrument display heads.

I would also highly recommend getting the following to make the 12 VDC system more foolproof and user-friendly.

1) A battery combining device—like the BlueSea ACR, or the Xantrex Echo Charge or the Balmar DuoCharge.  Having one of these will allow you to charge both battery banks without user intervention.  All charging sources should be wired to the house battery bank if possible. The starting battery bank will be charged via the ACR/EchoCharge/DuoCharge unit.

2) A good battery monitor—like a Victron BMV 601, which will let you see how much energy you are using, and what the state-of-charge of your house battery bank at any time.

If you keep the boat at a dock with shorepower, you will also want:

1) A 30-amp shorepower inlet socket. I prefer the newer style SmartPlug connector, as I believe it is a more intelligent and reliable design.

2) A main shorepower panel that has a double breaker for the incoming 110 VAC shorepower line. Ideally, this would be an ELCI type breaker panel, such as the Blue Sea 1502 panel. 

The ABYC requirement for a double main breaker on the shorepower panel is to ensure that the 110 VAC system is not live when the main breaker is in the off position.  If you used a single breaker and the shorepower outlet had reversed polarity, the 110 VAC system wiring would still be live, even if the main circuit breaker was off, since the voltage would be coming in on uninterrupted neutral line on a system with a single main 110 VAC breaker.

3) A 110 VAC-powered, three-stage, intelligent battery charger—Iota makes a good unit at a reasonable price.

4) A GFCI-type 110 VAC outlet or GFI device for each circuit you have coming off the AC Shorepower panel. You can also use ELCI/GFCI type breakers on the panel instead—which is actually the preferred option, since the entire circuit is protected this way.

If you keep the boat on a mooring, or plan on cruising longer term, you will probably want:

1) One or more solar panels—to recharge the batteries when not connected to shorepower without running the engine.

2) A charge controller for the solar panels. Ideally, you would want an MPPT-type charge controller to maximize the useful energy gained from the solar panels. An MPPT-type controller can allow you to capture as much as 25% more useable energy from the solar panels.

You should probably read the article on Solar Power on Boats I wrote on on this blog previously, as I will not be going into the details of setting up solar power in this article.

Tools you will need/want:

1) A good digital multimeter—I prefer an auto-ranging unit, since they’re easier to use.

2) A good crimper for heat-shrink insulated crimp terminals, like the Fastenal 4 nest heat shrink terminal crimper.

3) An ultra-fine tip Sharpie marker

4) 3M White Electrical Tape

5) A good wire stripper, like the Ancor 702030.

6) A small butane-powered torch for shrinking heat shrink insulation.

7) Assorted adhesive-lined heat-shrink terminals for various ring terminals, butt splices and blade/spade connectors.

8) An electrician’s fish tape—either fiberglass or steel, and a 25′ one is probably the longest you’d need for most small sailboats. Some good 1/8″ cord to use for pulling wires is also a good idea.

9) A good pair of diagonal cutters

10) Basic tools like wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers—these should already be aboard as part of your boating tool kit.

You should read Maine Sail’s excellent article on terminating electrical wire connections.  It goes into far more detail than I probably would, and is an excellent tutorial on how to properly terminate marine electrical wiring.

As for equipment for your boat:


I’d go LED with the lighting.  It will be more reliable and lower draw than going with either CF, Incandescent or Halogen lighting.

Interior Lights—I’d recommend getting SensiBulb LED-based interior cabin lights.  They are the best in terms of color, area of coverage and durability.  You can either buy the fixtures and retrofit them, or buy the fixtures with the Sensibulbs pre-installed. The Sensibulbs will fit many different model fixtures, ranging from reading lamps to dome-type area lighting.

Navigation Lights—I’d highly recommend getting USCG-certified LED-based navigation lights, like the AquaSignal Series 32 navigation lights. These will be lower-maintenance, lower energy use, and higher reliability than traditional incandescent navigation lights.


Stereo—Get a good car stereo, unless you need one that is water-resistant.  If you have to mount it near the companionway, get a marine unit instead.

GPS Chartplotter—I prefer the Garmin units.  While they don’t integrate as neatly with instruments from other vendors, they are very reliable, have probably the best user interface on the market, and good charts.  The higher end units will integrate with the Garmin 18HD radome, which is quite good for small sailboats.

VHF—I would highly recommend getting a DSC capable unit that has two receivers.  Some of the Class D units sold in the USA do not, but are called DSC-capable receivers because of a loophole in the specifications.  I prefer the ICOM and Standard Horizon brand units.  Some of the newer units also have AIS capability built in, which is a good idea.

Autopilot—These are a godsend when singlehanding the boat.

If your boat is tiller-steered, you can get either an integrated unit, which is usually less expensive, but more likely to get damaged, or a component-based system that has a separate control head, fluxgate compass,  course computer and linear drive—more expensive and a bit more complex to install, but likely to last longer.

For wheel-steered boats, you again have the choice of a wheel-drive unit or one with a below-deck drive system.  The wheel-drive units are easier to install and less money, but the below-deck systems tend to be more reliable and robust.  A below-deck system is really the only choice for many larger, heavier boats.


Fans—I prefer the Caframo Boras and the Hella Turbos, depending on where the fan is being mounted.  The Hella Turbos are bit better if being mounted on a bulkhead, since they pivot at the central axis of the fan.  The Boras, which are a nicer fan IMHO, tilt at the base of the fan housing, and are better mounted on railings or on top of half-height bulkheads.

Solar Fans—These I’ll mention, but they’re really a separate topic, since most do not wire into the boat’s 12 VDC system. They are really useful and make a huge difference in keeping a boat well ventilated. I use several Nicro solar vents aboard my boat.


For most boats, there are two choices for refrigeration.

The first are engine-driven systems.  I don’t really care for these, as they’re really not useful for long-term cruising or liveaboard boats.  In general, minimizing the amount of time you are required to run the engine is a good idea.  Also, on boats like my s/v Pretty Gee, there isn’t an option for engine-driven refrigeration since she is outboard-powered.

The other choice is a 12 VDC system, or a 12 VDC/110 VAC system. These generally require installing an insulated box, a cold plate, a compressor and a condensor or heat exchanger. On some systems the heat exchanger uses raw water to cool it and requires a raw water intake through hull, a raw water circulation pump and a raw water exhaust through hull.

If you want a self-contained system 12 VDC or 110 VAC/12 VDC system, rather than one that requires a separate condenser, compressor and cold plate, then the Engel or Norcold units are pretty good choice.  They’re fairly efficient and work quite well and come in a variety of sizes and designs. These have consistently been ranked as best for 12 VDC small refrigerators.  They’re actually made in the same factory. I have an Engel MT27 22-quart refrigerator on my boat.  The units are dual voltage and will switch from 12 VDC to 110 VAC automatically.

Safety Gear

Propane Solenoid and Fume Detector—I highly recommend getting and installing one of these if you use a propane powered galley stove/oven, barbeque grill or heater. It will help give you some additional protection and safety.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke/Fire alarms—should be a requirement on all boats, but I prefer the battery-powered units, rather than powering them off the boat’s 12 VDC system.

Sizing the Batteries

Properly sizing the batteries is something that takes a bit of work. You really need to make a rough electrical budget before you can really start. An electrical budget consists of figuring out what the amperage of each item you will use is and estimating how many hours you will use it per day. By doing this, you can get a rough estimate of the total amp-hours you will need per day.

Now, I generally recommend doing two budgets. One budget is your “At Anchor” budget. This will generally consist of the anchor light, the cabin lights, the refrigerator, the stereo, the VHF, and such. The other budget will be the “Passagemaking” budget. It will consist of the “At Anchor” budget minus the anchor light but adding things like the GPS, the autopilot, the radar, navigation lights, etc. The “Passagemaking” budget will generally be higher than the “At Anchor” budget.

A good compromise number is to use the average of the two, since you’ll generally be at anchor more than on passage, and on passages, you will often be under power for some portion of it which will give you a chance to recharge the batteries.

Multiply this by the number of days you want to go without plugging into shorepower or running the engine to recharge the batteries, and you’ll have a base estimate for your needs. Double that number and you’ll have a rough estimate of the size of the battery bank you will need, since, as a general rule, lead-acid batteries do not like being deeply discharged very much and should not be discharged past the 50% state-of-charge level on a regular basis.

Here is a sample electrical budget. This assumes the boat uses a manual head, alcohol stove and is equipped with LED-based lighting for both cabin and navigation.

Sample 12 VDC Electrical Budget

Sample 12 VDC Electrical Budget

In the case of the sample budget, we’re looking at six Trojan T105 golf cart batteries for the house bank. That will give us about 670 amp-hours at a 20-hour rate, since each pair is rated at 225 amp-hour at 12 VDC.

A Bit About Batteries

Getting the battery bank size right is a bit tricky. Unless you have been running on a battery monitor and have a good idea of what your actual electrical usage per day is, it is better to over-estimate the usage and have more capacity than it is to underestimate the usage and have not enough.

One reason this is a very good idea is that the higher the load, relative to the battery size, the lower the effective battery capacity will be.  This is why the 20-hour rating is always higher than the 5-hour rating for the same battery. 

For instance—the 20-hour rating on your example battery is 120 amp-hours or a 6-amp load for 20 hours.  If you were to put a 20-amp load on the same battery, it would not give you six hours of use.  It would probably give you something more like four-hours of use, or 80-amp-hours total.  This is due to the Peukert factor or rating.

Now, lead-acid batteries generally do much better if they are not deeply discharged. Discharging them beyond the 50% level will generally shorten their effective lifespan. So, an 120 amp-hour battery really should only be used for 60-amp-hours or so at the 20-hour rate of discharge. This is one reason I recommend getting a good battery monitor.

If you know that you’re constantly running the batteries down below the 50% level, you will realize that you really have to increase your house battery bank size to get the maximum life out of them. Likewise, if you realize that you’re not using as much electricity as you thought, you might be able to spread out running the generator an extra day and save a fair amount of wear/tear and fuel from running it less frequently.

Of the three types of battery chemistries—wet-cell, AGM and Gel, I would avoid Gel, as it has the undesirable characteristics with no real benefits compared to the other two in my opinion. AGM is nice, but for most people, the cost of wet-cells makes them the most feasible and most affordable.

Charging batteries—or why you need an intelligent battery charger

As for how long you can go between recharging the batteries.  That all depends on the size of the battery bank and the loads on it.  Lead-acid batteries don’t charge at a constant rate. They charge in three basic phases.

Bulk Phase—Up to about 80–85% charge level, they charge fairly quickly.  This is the bulk charging phase, and on wet-cell batteries is about 20–25% of the battery bank’s capacity in amperage.  So, for a 200 amp-hour bank, it would charge at 40-50 amps until it reaches this point.

Absorption Phase—Then the amount of current the batteries will accept will drop drastically.  This is called the absorption phase.  The voltage of the charger will also drop as well. It may well take longer to get from 85% to 99% than it did to get from 50% to 85% because of this.

Float Phase—This is the third charging stage or phase, and the batteries are essentially nearly fully charged at this point.  The battery charger drops the voltage down to about 13.5 VDC and the amperage is minimal. The battery charger’s main purpose at this point is to keep the batteries topped off.  Most rechargeable batteries self-discharge and without the float phase, would slowly discharge over time.

A non-intelligent battery charger won’t check the voltage/state of charge on the batteries and will stay at the same voltage and boil off the electrolyte on the batteries as they approach the fully charged state. An intelligent battery charger will drop the voltage and amperage as the batteries approach being fully charged and the really good ones will essentially shut off and then run an occasional maintenance charge to keep them topped up.

The high bulk phase current acceptance rate is why many cruisers will run their batteries from the 85% state-of-charge level down to about 45% and then back, with an occasional full charge up to 100% about once every three weeks. This gives them far more efficient use of their batteries, saves fuel and wear on their engine/generator, and probably gives them more effective amp-hours overall than running them from 100% to 50%.

Planning your electrical system

I highly recommend drawing up a wiring diagram for your boat. Many smaller boats have a very small electrical panel with only 6 or 12 circuits. That can make planning the system a bit more complicated, since you have to make compromises.

On S/V Pretty Gee which has a six-breaker main 12 VDC electrical panel, I gave myself a bit more flexibility by running some of the circuits from the main panel to switch sub-panels. For instance, I have one breaker that is marked electronics and it runs to a fused switch panel that has the VHF, GPS, Instruments, Primary Autopilot, Secondary Autopilot, and Autopilot Remote on it. Another circuit breaker for the navigation lights runs to a panel that has the anchorl light, tricolor light, bow bicolor, steaming light, stern light and foredeck light on it.

After you drawn up your wiring diagram, you should write down how long each run is. You will want to confirm this by actually checking the wiring runs that you are planning to use on your boat. Try to avoid running wiring in the bilge if you can, since wiring in the bilge is going to be exposed to more moisture and water than wiring higher up in the boat.

If your boat doesn’t have proper wiring conduits, you can often make them by installing PVC pipe in the appropriate locations. I like using 1-1/2″ Schedule 10 PVC pipe for conduit if it is possible. It has a fair amount of space for running wires and protects the wires from chafe, water and vibration.

If you don’t run the wiring in conduits, you need to support it every 18″ or so to prevent it from work hardening from vibration and fatiguing. This often requires installing cable tie mounts and cable ties at each point. This makes adding or modifying the wiring much more difficult.

If you have to install cable tie mounts to secure the wiring instead of using a wiring conduit, I highly recommend using the WeldMount system to install them. They also make useful fasteners for mounting battery retention straps, electronic components and such. Their Executive kit has a fair amount of very useful hardware and mounts for the average boatowner.

Calculate the wire gauge and amount you will need based on a minimum of 14 AWG wiring for all branch circuits, and upsize the wiring as necessary for heavier loads. Remember to order it in the appropriate color insulation.

Here is a table with the recommended minimum AWG wire size based on the round trip distance of the circuit and the amperage load.

12 VDC Wire Size Table

12 VDC Wire Size Table

Buying Wire and Terminals

Purchase the wire and battery cable you will need for your project. Get the battery cables cut to length and pre-terminated with the appropriate diameter battery/terminal lugs. Get the wire/cable in bulk spools. Don’t forget to order a bit extra, because having a bit surplus beats having to re-order in the middle of a project. Also, having some spare wire aboard for repairs and modifications is never a bad thing.

You can buy duplex cable, which has a yellow and a red (or a black and a red) wire in an external jacket which makes running wire a bit simpler logistically, but can be harder to run than individual wires due to the greater bulk and lower flexibility. It also does reduce the wire’s maximum amperage slightly.

Fastenal sells a good heat shrink terminal kit with torch for marine wiring. They also sell a good crimper for heat shrink terminals.

Main Panel Design and Placement

The main DC electrical panel should be mounted fairly high above the cabin sole. On my boat, the main electrical panel is mounted above the navigation console and that’s a pretty reasonable choice on most boats. I do not understand why so many boat manufacturers insisted on mounting them next to the companionway and often as low as possible. This almost ensures that they will be damaged by water at some point.

Ideally, the panel will either be hinged or mounted on a hinged plate that swings open to allow access to the back of the panel. The panel should have space behind it or near it to allow you to mount the bus bars and any terminal strips you need. Any switch panels and the main battery switch and fuse for the main panel should be located nearby as well.

The main battery switch should be visible from the companionway, so you can quickly and easily check to see if you’ve shut it off or not.

Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Just remember, the fuses and circuit breakers on the panel are generally there to protect the wiring, not the equipment. If you want to protect the equipment from overcurrent, then you will generally need to either run the circuit through a fused switch panel, which I have done on s/v Pretty Gee for many things, or use an in-line fuse holder.

I prefer circuit breakers over fuses, but use both on my boat. I highly recommend trying to standardize the fuses you use on a boat to the minimum types you can. I currently use three different types of fuses—ATO/ATC blade-type fuses, Mega fuses and Maxi blade-type fuses.

You should have a large fuse in each battery bank positive cable. This is to protect the wiring for the batteries in the case of a short at the main battery switch or such. It should be as close to the battery as possible. The best solution is to use a battery terminal fuse block that mounts at the battery terminal. I did not do this because the battery boxes on my boat did not have the vertical clearance necessary to allow this.

Running the Wire

Running the wire, especially if you have installed messenger lines and conduits, is a relatively simple concept. Unfortunately, most boat manufacturers cheat when they wire the boat and run the wiring before the boat is fully assembled. This gives them options and ways of running wire not available to the owners of said boats.

Try not to put the wire under a heavy strain as that can damage the fine strands and the insulation. If a wire doesn’t seem to want to make a run, figure out why rather than just pulling harder on it.

Don’t forget to leave drip loops anywhere a wire passes through a exterior bulkhead or the cabin top and before attaching a wire to a panel, terminal block or electrical fixture. A drip loop is a small section of slack wire that is formed into a low hanging loop that any water coming in along the wire’s insulation will follow and then drip off the wire at. This prevents the water from following the wire all the way into a piece of electrical equipment or into the back of the electrical panel.

I got this image of a drip loop off of Captain Pauley’s Virtual Boatyard blog.

An electrical drip loop.

An electrical drip loop.

I also recommend leaving at least a foot or two of slack at the outboard end of each cable run. This allows you some room for error and for future equipment replacement and such.

Remember to wrap each wire with a bit of white electrical tape and label exactly what the wire is for. Do this on both ends. It makes your life a lot simpler when you go to troubleshoot or repair the system later. You can also use a labelmaker instead, but I find the 3M White Electrical tape and a ultra-fine tip Sharpie works pretty well.

Terminating the Wires

Again, you should read Maine Sail’s excellent article on terminating electrical wire connections. It goes into far more detail than I probably would, and is an excellent tutorial on how to properly terminate marine electrical wiring.

To be continued….

Daniel @ 8:36 pm
Filed under: Boat Projects andcruising andSailing
Summer Heat Safety Guide

Posted on Friday 22 June 2012

Because of the current summer heat wave, I wanted to post some information on Summer Heat Safety… taken from the NY Red Cross website.

I’d add that you really need to stay well hydrated…by the time you become thirsty, you’re already well on your way to being dehydrated, so drink water, and lots of it. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol, as both tend to dehydrate you.

Stay safe and cool… Don’t want to see any of my friends and family become heat-related statistics.


Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit (F) within minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in minutes.

Drink plenty of water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you don’t feel thirsty. Injury and death can occur from dehydration, which can happen quickly and unnoticed. Symptoms of dehydration are often confused with other causes. Your body needs water to keep cool. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies.

Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which actually dehydrates the body. People who are on fluid-restrictive diets or who have a problem with fluid retention should consult their doctor before increasing liquid intake.

Air conditioning provides the safest escape from extreme heat, and there are ways to maximize how it can work for you:

  • Install window air conditioners snugly.
  • Check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Vacuum air conditioner filters weekly during periods of high use to provide more cool air.
  • Go elsewhere to get relief during the hottest part of the day if you have no air conditioning.

Stay indoors as much as possible, on the lowest floor out of the sun.

Keep heat outside and cool air inside, closing any doors or windows that may allow heat in.

Consider keeping storm windows installed throughout the year to keep the heat out of a house.

Plan to check on family, friends, and neighbors -especially the elderly – who do not have air conditioning or who spend much of their time alone.

Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect heat and sunlight and help you maintain a normal body temperature. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body. Keep direct sunlight off your face by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Sunlight can burn and warm and inner core of your body. Also use umbrellas and sunglasses to shield against the sun’s rays.

Change into dry clothing if your clothes become saturated with sweat.

Use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or more—even on cloudy days.

Apply a liberal amount of sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside

Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

Eat small meals of carbohydrates, salads and fruit, and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, because they increase metabolic heat.

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activity. If you must engage in strenuous activity, do so during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Stay in the shade when possible, and avoid prolonged sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Take frequent breaks when working outdoors or engaging in physical activity on warm days. Take time out to find a cool place. If you recognize that you or someone else is showing signs of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!

Know the Meaning of Heat-Related Terms

Heat Wave: More than 48 hours of excessive heat (90oF or higher) and high humidity (80 percent relative humidity or higher).

Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15o F.

Know the Stages of Heat-Related Illness

Get training and be alert to heat related illness symptoms. Take an American Red Cross First Aid course to learn how to treat heat and other emergencies. Everyone should know how to respond, because the effects of heat can happen very quickly. Watch for these health signals:

Heat cramps: Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion that usually involve the abdominal muscles or the legs. These cramps can be very painful. It is thought that the loss of water and salt from heavy sweating causes the cramps. Heat cramps are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion: A less dangerous condition than heat stroke, heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Fluid loss causes blood flow to the skin to increase, and blood flow to vital organs to decrease, resulting in a form of mild shock. Sweat does not evaporate as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly. If not treated, a person with heat exhaustion may suffer heat stroke.

The signals of heat exhaustion include:

  • –Cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin (the skin may be red right after physical activity)
  • –Heavy sweating
  • –Headache
  • –Dizziness and weakness or exhaustion
  • –Nausea
  • –The skin may or may not feel hot
  • –Body temperature will be near normal

Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

The signals of heat stroke include:

  • –Vomiting
  • –Decreased alertness level or complete loss of consciousness
  • –High body temperature (sometimes as high as 105 degrees F)
  • –Skin may still be moist or the person may stop sweating and the skin may be red, hot and dry
  • –Rapid, weak pulse
  • –Rapid, shallow breathing

This late stage of heat-related illness is life threatening. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.

General Care for Heat Emergencies

  • Cool the Body
  • Give Fluids
  • Minimize Shock

For heat cramps or heat exhaustion:

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position.
  • If the person is fully awake and alert, give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly.
  • Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.
  • Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.

For heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast.

  • Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number.
  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, wrap them in a cloth and place them on each of the victim’s wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin’s pores and prevents heat loss.)
  • Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear.
  • Keep the person lying down.
Daniel @ 11:58 pm
Filed under: Events andSafety
The Strongest Woman In The World

Posted on Tuesday 19 June 2012

I watched this and thought to myself how Gee and I had basically said everything this man had said to his wife to each other. Gee never gave up. She is the strongest, most stubborn and most gracious woman I have ever known. I was very lucky to have shared my life with her for as long as I did.

I know that several other people had asked Gee to marry them…and she had said no to them all, but for some reason, said yes to me. I still am in wonder at the miracle of that.

The day after her 11-hour Whipple operation, Gee told the nurse she wanted to get up out of bed and try walking. This was less than 12 hours after an operation that is considered to be one of the most grueling and difficult in the world–one that still has a 15%+ mortality rate in many places.

The nurse looked at me and asked me if I was going to try and stop Gee. I looked at the nurse and said, “Hell no, she can beat me up.”

The nurse laughed, then looked at my face again and said, “Damn, you’re serious.”

I said to the nurse, “Lady, I have a 75-pound weight advantage over her and she still wins 40% of the wrestling matches we get into. She’s a lot stronger than she looks, faster than a mongoose and really doesn’t know how to give up…ever.”

I then continued and said, “If she wants to get up out of bed and walk, and the doctors are okay with it…I’ll be right beside her pushing her IV pole.” That’s where I was meant to be…where I had promised her I would always be–walking beside her and supporting her in everything she wanted to do. We were partners–co-conspirators of the heart–and each other’s greatest fan and supporter. It is why I asked her to marry me–that’s where I wanted to be for as long as possible.

I never gave up on Gee…and Gee never gave up on me…or on fighting for us. She’s still here, somehow, letting me know she is always watching over me.

I can’t even say how much I miss her…every day. There are only two other people I love and miss every day as much as I do Gee.

One, my twin brother David, was my first partner and greatest fan and supporter. He was there before we were even born. Whenever someone picked on one of us, they quickly found that they had to deal with us both.

The other is an amazing young woman I have known all of her life. We have been friends all of her life, and I have loved her, cared about her, and protected and guided her all of her life–Ellie. I thought we were each other’s greatest fan and supporter–but her addictions turned out to be stronger than her love and friendship for me. I miss who she used to be, before her addictions destroyed her. Letting go of her has been so difficult to do, but I don’t believe Ellie even exists any more.

I dedicate this video to these three people I love most of all. They will always be in my heart.

And this one to Ellie…the woman I think Gee asked me to find…and the woman I still want to marry and spend the rest of my life with. I love you Ellie.

Daniel @ 2:08 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andlife with Gee andMy Life
Proof the US Legal System is Broken

Posted on Monday 18 June 2012

If you need any proof that the US legal system is broken, this story is pretty much all you need to read. Currently, an asshat that is also an attorney has filed suit against one of my favorite online cartoon websites–The Oatmeal, the National Wildlife Foundation and the American Cancer Society, as well as the internet hosting company, IndieGoGo, that helped The Oatmeal set up a fund raising site for the two charities.

I won’t go into detail, since Lowering the Bar has done such a nice job of elaborating on it.

I think this is pretty much all the proof you need that frivolous lawsuits and the US legal system is basically broken. Perjury, stupidity, and a widespread lack of common sense seem to be the rule of the day. From my own personal experiences with the legal system recently, I think that there is absolutely no real interest in justice, honesty, the truth or what is best for the common good.

Daniel @ 11:44 pm
Filed under: Events andStupidity andThoughts
La Dolce Vita Visits Pretty Gee

Posted on Saturday 16 June 2012

Today, I was working on s/v Sea Spirit’s VHF radio. Ken and Dottie had been having some issues with it since stepping the mast and I wanted to make sure the wiring going up the mast hadn’t been damaged while stepping the mast. I checked the radio’s power and antenna connection with a VSWR meter and it checked out okay. So, I told Ken to give it a try the next trip out and see how it did.

As I was finishing up, I noticed a Gemini 105Mc catamaran heading towards s/v Pretty Gee on her mooring. I was pretty sure that it was Walt and Carolyn’s La Dolce Vita, as that’s one of the only Geminis that ever heads this far north on the Acushnet river. So, I tried hailing s/v La Dolce Vita on Sea Spirit’s radio. I didn’t get an answer, but as I was trying to hail them, my cell phone rang.

It was John, another friend and Gemini owner, who was crewing on La Dolce Vita and he asked where I was, since I wasn’t on the Pretty Gee. They had been out motoring around the harbor in La Dolce Vita, trying to bleed the remaining air from the engine’s cooling system and decided to see if I was around.

I told John that Dave and I would be right out…and we packed our gear and rowed out to my boat. We put fenders out and Walt brought La Dolce Vita alongside the starboard ama and we threw John and Walt lines so they could raft up for a visit.

John and Walt came aboard the Pretty Gee. It was their first time aboard her with the solar panels setup and the amas out. I gave them the nickle tour and showed them some of the modifications I’ve done to her. We also started talking about how the Luhrs group had gone bankrupt and wondered how this was going to affect the production of the Gemini catamarans, which were now being produced under contract by Hunter Marine, one of the Luhrs companies.

Performance Cruising, the original manufacturer of the Gemini catamarans had farmed out production following their sale to Laura, the daughter of Tony Smith, the original owner and CEO of the company, who was also the designer of my Telstar 28 and the Gemini series of catamarans. Dealing with Laura is not the most pleasant experience generally speaking. She really doesn’t seem to understand the boat–either the Telstar or the Gemini–or really care about what is going on with the Gemini production.

Walt and John had told me about how the most recent Gemini they had seen at the last boat show had been modified in some fairly dumb and possibly dangerous ways. Apparently, Hunter or whomever is overseeing the production of the Geminis being built under contract by Hunter Marine, doesn’t understand that the rudder lockers on the Gemini catamarans, like that of the Telstar-which is based on the Gemini’s design-requires drains to allow water to enter and leave the compartment freely.

There are also other issues with the Hunter-built Geminis. They’re a lot heavier than the original PCI–built boats, mainly due to the changes that Hunter/PCI’s partnership has introduced to the interior. Some of the initial changes Hunter made were really stupid from a maintenance and ownership perspective. They had eliminated the ability to open the floorboards in the main hulls and inspect the bilge. While the bilge is shallow, most owners have installed bilge pumps and being able to inspect the bilge, clean the bilge, and pump out the bilge is generally a good thing.

The other main issue with the Hunter-built Gemini catamarans is weight–the new interior weighs about 900 lbs. more than the older design did and the Gemini, being a relatively small catamaran, really can’t afford the weight penalty that the new interior costs. The changes to the interior also reduced the usable stowage inside the boat as I understand it–which may be a good thing given how much weight the changes added.

John asked me if I thought there were any parts that he might want to order from Performance Cruising, just in case the company went the way of the Luhrs group. I said the part that made the most sense to order was the rudder. The kickup rudder design that is used on the Gemini and the Telstar is a bit unusual, because of the need to allow the rudder to kick up and how the rudder actually is mounted under the hull, rather than off the transom like most kickup rudders normally are. The fact that the rudders are mounted under the hull makes them work better than the transom mounted designs, which often can suffer from ventilation issues at higher speeds.

John also talked about possibly taking his boat, s/v Felix, back down to the Caribbean. I helped bring the boat back from the Bahamas two years ago and told him to keep me in mind for crew for the trip south. I’d love to bring the Pretty Gee south to the Caribbean at some point.

It was a good visit, and I hope to see more of Walt, John and their families this summer.

Daniel @ 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family & Friends andMy Life andSailing
Remembering Gee

Posted on Monday 11 June 2012

Eleven years ago today I said goodbye to my beautiful and gracious wife Gee. She had finally lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed with stage three metastatic pancreatic cancer six months after we got engaged.

The day after she was diagnosed, her father came to me and asked if I wanted to cancel our engagement. I told my future father-in-law, “Gee’s illness doesn’t change how I feel about her, what she has come to mean to me or who she is—and why— in God’s name—would I abandon the woman I love, when she needs me most.” I also told him, “Besides, when I met you, you trusted me with taking care of your daughter on our trip to Seattle—ever since I met her, she has always been my first priority.”

Gee and I met on a blind date almost 13 years ago, and even though we were together only 23 months and one day, the impact she had on my life can not be measured.

I don’t know how she has done it, but she has managed to keep the promise she made to me the day we got engaged. She watches over as my personal weather goddess and has since she died.

She is one of the three people I miss everyday. My identical twin, David, is another. The last is the person I believe Gee asked me to find after she died—Ellie—who has become a victim of her own illness—addiction.

I ask that God and Gee both watch over Ellie for me. I hope that they can help Ellie find her way back to being her true self, so I can keep my final promise to Gee.

Dan @ 3:56 am
Filed under: Events andLife with Ellie andlife with Gee andMy Life
Ground Tackle—Emergency Gear

Posted on Tuesday 5 June 2012

Just curious, how many of my readers consider a good anchor an important piece of emergency safety gear?

There was a recent story about two boaters who were rescued after their boat ran out of fuel and was forced by seas and wind on to the rocky shore.

Now, it seems to me that if they had a decent anchor and anchor rode, they could have deployed it and at least kept the boat off the rocks. Then the Coast Guard could have brought them fuel or SeaTow/TowBoat US could have gotten to them and towed them to safety. Of course, that doesn’t address how they were out there and ran out of fuel—which says something about their level of seamanship to begin with.

I think many people overlook the anchor as safety or emergency gear and think of it only for when they are stopping for the night. I’ve used my anchor in very similar situations to the one described in the article, when the prop got fouled or the engine died from a clogged fuel filter, several times.

It amazes me that some people will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a boat, but won’t spend a thousand dollars on a decent primary anchor and rode.

Let’s say you have a new 35′ sailboat. A Catalina 355 goes for about $209,000. With taxes and such, you’re looking at $225,000 or so. A Manson Supreme 35 would be a pretty decent anchor for a boat this size. A rode of 30′ of 5/16″ G43 high-test chain and 22′ 5/8″ nylon octo-plait is about right for most east coast cruising, where you’d be anchoring in 15-25′ of water most of the time. That gives you the ability to have 8:1 scope in most anchorages.

The anchor rode is about $355 from Defender. The Manson Supreme 35 lb. anchor is about $380 at Defender. The Crosby load-rated 3/8″ shackle is about $10. Add another $10 for a roll of 304 stainless steel seizing wire to mouse the shackle with and another $30 for some velcro-closure chafe protector sleeves for the anchor rode and you’ve got most of a ground tackle setup.

  • Anchor$380
  • Anchor rode $355
  • Shackle $10
  • Seizing Wire $10
  • Chafe protectors sleeves $30

That’s $785 or about $825 with shipping. That is less than .5% of the price of the boat. If you are a cruising sailor, your boat is often your home and filled with priceless knick-knacks and possessions. It is probably less than the premium on an “Agreed-Value” yacht type insurance policy.

Now, you might want to add a bow roller, if your boat didn’t come equipped with one. A pivoting bow roller that allows the anchor to self-deploy is going to cost you about $160.

A manual windlass might be a nice addition on a boat this size, but a powered one is going to be more convenient. They range in price from about $800 to $1500 for this size boat depending on the brand, design and features. A manual windlass would be about $1000.

With the windlass and bow roller, if you do the installation yourself, you’re still at about 1% of the boat’s value. Pretty inexpensive insurance given how many years a good anchor, rode and windlass will give you.

Now, a good anchor may last a decade pretty easily. Same with the bow roller and windlass. The anchor rode might need to be replaced a couple of times or more, depending on how often you anchor out. Say you have to replace the anchor rode three times over the course of a decade. That means you’re going to spend another $1095 on anchor rodes in addition to what you’ve already spent.

You’ll spend about $3200 for the anchor, windlass, bow roller and the anchor rodes over the course of ten years. That’s only $320 a year effectively…and the anchor, windlass and bow roller are likely still good for a few more years. That’s a lot less than the insurance premium on such a boat would be per year. So, does it really pay to skimp on a good ground tackle setup?

A good modern design anchor, like the Rocna or the Manson Supreme, will give you far better holding power per pound than the older CQR, Delta, or Bruce designs. While some of the lightweight fluke-design anchors, like the Fortress, can give you more holding power per pound, they’re far more vulnerable to reversing winds/currents than the next generation design anchors are.

The real reason I think that a good anchor is the most important piece of safety gear aboard a boat is simple—an anchor will often give you the rarest of all commodities in an emergency—TIME. By anchoring the boat, it allows you to deal with the emergency on-hand without having things go from bad to worse—like having the boat go aground or hit other boats—while you’re dealing with whatever emergency made you deploy the anchor in the first place.

A good ground tackle setup is an inexpensive investment to protect your boat. If you are a cruising sailor, the boat may be the bulk of your assets and also your home. If you are a recreational sailor, the boat is still going to be a fairly large investment—so spend the money on protecting it with a good ground tackle setup.

Dan @ 6:49 pm
Filed under: boat ownership andcruising andSafety andSailing andSecurity
The Mobile Boatyard Goes To Bourne

Posted on Friday 1 June 2012

This past weekend, I took the mobile boatyard, otherwise known as s/v Pretty Gee, on a short trip to Bourne. Dale and I had planned on getting some work done on s/v Hilarity. Instead of dealing with the atrocious Memorial Day weekend holiday Cape Cod tourist traffic backups and delays and spend several hours each day stuck in traffic, I thought it made far more sense to sail up to Bourne and anchor out off of Monument Beach.

The weather forecast was quite promising, and bringing the boat along meant that I would likely have almost any tool I needed for any of the tasks at hand. S/V Pretty Gee does have fairly well equipped tools and parts lockers.

Some of the projects we had as goals for s/v Hilarity included:

  • Replace the wet exhaust hoses on the engine.
  • Replace the bilge pump hose.
  • Re-bed the genoa tracks and add the new genoa fairlead cars to them.
  • Get the alternator up and running properly.

Well, we didn’t get all the things done we’d planned on and some of the priorities changed.

Dale and I did get the hoses on the engine replaced. Now the engine runs and the exhaust goes outside the boat along with the water. This is a good thing. The bilge was getting pretty nasty from having the engine’s exhaust dumped into it. We did relocate the water lift muffler a tiny bit to help with the hose alignment. Fixing this allowed us to put the engine cover and companionway ladder back in place, at least temporarily.

The alternator is an API Marine replacement unit and one of the previous boat owner’s had bought a nice Xantrex external regulator for it, but had never connected it for some reason. I think the XAR unit works, but I have to get some wiring information for the API Marine alternator to connect the two pieces together—waiting on that information from a friend at the moment.

As an alternative, we connected the small winter “maintenance” solar panel I had on my boat to s/v Hilarity’s batteries. That will at least ensure that one of the two batteries is properly charged up when he needs it. I even had a Marinco 30-Amp trolling motor plug to install on Dale’s boat to use to connect the panel to the battery. I use the Marinco 30-Amp trolling motor connector for connecting solar panels on s/v Pretty Gee because it is pretty robust and allows me to use the plug as both a way to connect a solar panel to the charging system and as a 12 VDC accessory outlet, with the right pigtail.

I decided to have s/v Hilarity rafted up to s/v Pretty Gee. The Rocna 15 kg I use can hold the two boats pretty easily and it would make doing repairs and such much simpler. We kept the boats rafted up for a couple days and that allowed me easy access to the tools and parts I needed.

I did remove the port side genoa track and Dale and I re-bedded it. To remove the genoa track I needed the Makita impact driver and a pair of Vise-grips. The Makita’s battery pack was dead so I turned on the inverter on s/v Pretty Gee and ran the charger until both battery packs were recharged. Having an inverter and access to 110 VAC is very convenient.

Dale needs to order some 1/4″-20 flathead screws, washers and nuts to finish up the job. It has been bedded in butyl tape, and it shouldn’t be a source of leaks any more. Pulling the track off required removing some cosmetic teak covers that were covering up the holes the nuts and washers were located in in the cabin liner overhead. The teak pieces were held in by wood screws and the bungs that were covering the screws were almost impossible to remove. I think those need to be re-designed to make access far simpler.

I used the Makita impact driver and a pair of Vise-grips to remove the old fasteners. I’d clamp the Vise-grips on the nut in the cabin and set it so the Vise-grips couldn’t turn very far, and then go topsides and use the Makita to remove the screw. One of the screws was directly over the bulkhead for the companionway. Apparently, they couldn’t have moved the track or the bulkhead an inch in either fore or aft and made it possible to do maintenance on this for some reason.

The track takes 26 fasteners… thank God for power tools. Re-bedding it took two people because the track is curved horizontally a tiny bit at the forward end. Why they didn’t just use a straight track is beyond me… but it is what it is.

Dale and I got the track bedded down, and most of the fasteners in. I told Dale to buy some more fasteners at Bolt Depot, which is one of my favorite vendors for fasteners.

Dan @ 10:33 am
Filed under: boat ownership andBoat Projects

Posted on Monday 21 May 2012

There’s an interesting blog on parenting called Momastery. It was started by Glennon Melton. I found it through a former colleague of mine who posted a link to it on Facebook. I only am writing about it because of Glennon’s own past. She was a bulimic, alcoholic and drug-addict before she managed to fight her illnesses and work her way back to health.

Glennon shows that there is life after alcoholism and drug-addiction. I hope it doesn’t take my Ellie as long to find this out. I hope that Ellie doesn’t have to wake up pregnant, drunk and alone as Glennon did before she realizes she has a problem. Glennon’s description of herself is a pretty good description of the woman I love, at least was when she was healthy. Glennon wrote:

I’m usually an honest person. I am creative and kind. I’m brave and loyal and trustworthy. I’m smart. Wicked smart, sometimes. I’m quite funny. I make big mistakes and I say I’m sorry and then quickly forgive myself. I love to learn. I soak up books and people like the sun. I forgive easily. I’m a great listener. I stand in reverent awe of other people, with all their strength, pain, loss and triumphs….

That describes the woman I love and adore pretty well.

I hope Ellie is still listening. I hope she can show me that she is still there—that she is still the woman who loves me—and I will help her if she asks me to. I really don’t know if she is there anymore. All I have seen are the lies and the horrible things she has done to herself because of her addictions these last 11 months. I pray that she is there—that she is still fighting for herself and for the future we had talked about last June.

I love Ellie and want to spend our future together as we had talked about.

May God watch over my beloved Ellie. God bless her and protect her, even from herself. May God grant her the strength, courage, and will to fight her illness and return to being her true self. May God grant her the wisdom to see the truth—both about her illness and about us.

Dan @ 4:46 am
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
First Sail 2012

Posted on Sunday 20 May 2012

Today, Sunday, May 20, 2012, was the first sail of the 2012 season for s/v Pretty Gee. I was excited to have an old friend along for the sail. I hadn’t seen my friend Adrienne since 1997, when I moved to Virginia and she headed off to Belgium for a nine-year stint in the EU. She was in town from her new home in the mid-west, accompanying her significant other on a trip to his alma mater Harvard.

I drove into Boston to pick Adrienne up at the Boston Airport Hilton. They had flown in the day before and were going to be moving over to Dunster House on the Harvard campus today. We then headed down to the marina. Adrienne and I loaded the dinghy with a few more pieces of gear the boat needs—the grill, the LifeSling2, the anchor, and such. Then I rowed the dinghy out to s/v Pretty Gee and came alongside the starboard ama so we could unload the gear. I moved the dinghy up to the mooring and tied it off to the mooring ball.

We fired up the engine and stowed the gear where it needed to go and headed for the swing bridge. The New Bedford-Fairhaven Swing Bridge is one of the prices I pay to keep my boat at one of the safest heavy weather marinas in the area. The official schedule of the bridge is:

  • Daily, from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM, the bridge opens for marine traffic (or closes to vehicle/foot traffic) at the top of each hour: 6 AM, 7 AM, 8 AM, 9 AM and 10 AM.
  • Then daily from 11:15 AM to 6:15 PM, the bridge opens 15 minutes past each hour: 11:15 AM, 12:15 PM, 1:15 PM, 2:15 PM, 3:15 PM, 4:15 PM, 5:15 PM and 6:15 PM.
  • After 6:15 PM, the bridge will open on-demand from marine traffic by calling the bridge keeper’s office on marine channel 13.

After passing the swing bridge we headed out the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier. This is the reason the New Bedford/Fairhaven harbors are among the safest in the world, at least when dealing with storms.

The New Bedford Hurricane Barrier closes in heavy weather and prevents storm surge from washing through the harbors. It is capable of resisting about 21′ of storm surge. It is wider than and as high as the Great Wall of China and is the largest stone structure on the Eastern coast of the United States.

Once we got out past the Butler Flats Light, we hoisted the mainsail, unfurled the genoa, and killed the engine and were off sailing. The weather was pretty much perfect for the first sail of the season—almost 70˚ and with about 15 knots of wind under a mostly sunny sky.

Adrienne had never been aboard a larger sailboat, and this was her first time sailing on saltwater. She is not a sailor, nor a person of the sea, having grown up in the Mid-west and spent most of her time in those landlocked, flyover states. Fortunately, she doesn’t get seasick like some of the other guests I’ve had aboard s/v Pretty Gee.

We sailed, and talked…having to catch up on things that have happened over the past fifteen years, especially the last six. Marriages, divorces, deaths, careers, friends and family were subjects that we talked about. It was good to catch up with one of my closest friends after such a long time apart. I guess life happening complicates things and the geographic distance and events in our lives conspired to keep us from being in touch as much as I’d have liked. The time apart didn’t affect our friendship though.

One thing I learned is that she’s starting a new business and I’m going to help her as much as I can. I think she’ll do well and I want her to hit the ground running. I have some contacts that I think might be helpful for her as well.

Since we were just out for the day, we really didn’t have a set destination in mind and just sailed about Buzzards Bay, mainly enjoying the day. Adrienne learned that sailing a boat like s/v Pretty Gee takes some strength, even with the winches and other hardware. She loved the salt air and the fresh breeze and being able to move along with the engine off and only the sounds of the wind and waves to accompany our conversation.

After a few hours, we were starving and headed back into the harbor. We caught the 1515 bridge opening northbound and tied up to the mooring. After tidying up the boat, covering the mainsail and tiller, and doing the little tasks that you need to attend to on a sailboat, we headed off to the pair of restaurants that has become a tradition among my crew and guests after a day of sailing—Elizabeth’s and Margaret’s.

Elizabeth’s and Margaret’s are two restaurants, two doors apart, down by the commercial section of Fairhaven Harbor waterfront, which are owned by the same family and have much the same menu. One of the two is always open. The food is excellent, and features seafood dishes with a Portuguese twist to them often.

Adrienne got one of the lobster and pasta specials and a side of Asian cole slaw. I got a Bay scallops based dish. We split a huge piece of Pistachio Creme cake for dessert. Normally, we would have gone to the Brady Ice Box, which is located between the two restaurants and also owned by the same family, but the Brady Ice Box doesn’t open until Memorial Day.

After dinner, I drove Adrienne into Cambridge and dropped her off at Dunster House, on the Harvard University campus. I met Roger, her significant other, at Dunster House and then headed back to the house.

Dan @ 10:39 pm
Filed under: Events andFamily & Friends andMy Life andSailing
Giving Credit

Posted on Saturday 19 May 2012

I was reading June’s Cruising World and there’s an article about the Gunboat 66 Gazelle. Herb McCormick, who wrote the article, describes a photo of the forward cockpit as a “signature, centrally located forward cockpit”.

Too bad he didn’t do his research… Gunboat stole the idea from the Chris White-designed Atlantic Catamarans, which had the “signature” forward cockpit, located just aft of the mast and with all the lines led to it in 1983. I really don’t think of the Gunboat as having the forward cockpit as its signature, when it was copied from another boat design. I wish McCormick would give credit where it is due.

The Atlantic series of catamarans originated the idea of having a pilothouse and the forward cockpit that the Gunboats copied. Here is Chris White’s original Atlantic 42 Catamaran, which was designed in 1983.

Chris White-designed Atlantic 42 catamaran

Chris White-designed Atlantic 42 catamaran

This is the Melvin & Morelli-designed Gunboat 62 catamaran. It features a very similar pilothouse and forward cockpit first seen on the Atlantic series of catamarans.

Melvin & Morelli Gunboat 62 Catamaran

Melvin & Morelli Gunboat 62 Catamaran

The major difference between the Gunboat and the Atlantic is pilothouse is wider on the Gunboat, but that is very similar to the larger Atlantic series catamarans, which followed the original Atlantic 42. The later Atlantic catamarans also had an aft deck, which was missing on the 42.

Dan @ 12:16 am
Filed under: Sailing andStupidity
2012 Sailing Season Starts

Posted on Saturday 12 May 2012

S/V Pretty Gee tied at Moby Dick Marina after being launched for the 2012 season.

S/V Pretty Gee tied at Moby Dick Marina after being launched for the 2012 season.

Today is the official start of the 2012 sailing season for me and s/v Pretty Gee. I launched s/v Pretty Gee with the help of Dale and Merry.

When I got down to the boat this morning, I loaded the mainsail, the bimini, some PFDs, the flares I bought yesterday, and a couple other boxes of boat gear for current and upcoming projects.

I had brought the bimini frame down last week and mounted it on the cockpit rails. I put the bimini itself on the frame and tensioned it. This year, I’ve reversed the frame orientation to bring the bimini a bit further forward, as this will give the forward end of the cockpit a bit better coverage and leave the mainsheet a bit more clearance to move.

I also re-attached the tiller–which I still need to refinish. I am debating whether to use the tiller off of a Columbia 26 instead of refinishing the original tiller for the Telstar 28. The original tiller is a 43″ long laminated wood tiller, but needs to be varnished every couple of years. I also have a 36″ long, laminated wood tiller which was introduced on the later sister ships of s/v Pretty Gee.

The Columbia 26 tiller I got from a Columbia 26 that was totaled, and it is an aluminum i-beam tiller, and doesn’t require varnishing. It isn’t as pretty, but it does eliminate some maintenance. I hate refinishing wood because I basically suck at it.

Dale and Merry got to the marina about 12:30 and we had a few small tasks to do before we could launch s/v Pretty Gee. One task was inflating the fenders. I asked Dale to pickup an inflator needle for the fenders. I had one on the boat, but it has since disappeared–probably when I pulled almost everything off the boat this winter.

While Merry was getting the fenders inflated, I lubed the seacocks. Lubing the seacocks is a semi-annual ritual. If you don’t do this for Marelon seacocks, they can seize up and then break–which, as it sounds, is a bad thing.

Every year, I expect something to go wrong with the launch. Mr. Murphy always shows up. This year was no exception. I probably jinxed myself when I told Merry that this was the first year I hadn’t had to go wading to free something up on the trailer. I should have known better.

Switching the ama locking cables from stainless steel to 5/16″ Amsteel helps avoid a lot of the issues where the cables would snag on the trailer. The original stainless steel cables weren’t flexible enough for me to retract them out of the way when the amas were retracted, which I can do with the replacement Amsteel lines. The Amsteel lines don’t corrode and are actually stronger than the stainless steel cables were.

When I checked the bilge, I noticed we were taking on water. While I had secured the two head seacocks, which I had greased this morning–I forgot the raw water feed for the galley sink faucet–which was left wide open with no hose on it. I had been working on it over the winter and had greased it over the winter.

Fortunately, my plan on how the new cabin sole lockers would work was spot on and the aft-most locker functioned as a standpipe for the bilge and limited the amount of water that entered the boat. I do love when a plan works the way it is supposed.

This unexpected test also proved that the forward two lockers are indeed watertight to the shower sump and the aft-most locker–as they remained bone dry. Again, I love when things work the way they’re supposed to. As I don’t really have any bilge pumps setup on s/v Pretty Gee at the moment–they’re on the list, but with her being a trimaran, it is not a very high priority–I used the inverter to run the wet/dry shop vac to drain the bilge.

It is amazing at how much water can get into the boat, when the only spaces that fill are the area beneath the head, the shower sump, the aft-most cabin sole locker and the locker under the companionway ladder. I’ll have to pour more water into the bilge with some bilge cleaner or bleach this week, since the water from the Acushnet River is kind of nasty.

While Dale was dealing with the bilge situation, we motored out into New Bedford harbor so I could extend the amas on the Pretty Gee. The boat is far happier and handles better when they’re out. I do have some fiberglass work to do on the ama support boxes, but I can do that with the boat on the mooring.

We motored back to the marina and tied up to the dock. Initially, I wanted to back into the slip, but the bow of the boat kept being blown off by the strong southwest winds, so I finally took the hint and pulled in bow first. Technically, I’m not in a slip, but tied up to the main pier, along the space for the first three slips. The marina took the finger piers off to do some work on them this past winter.

Tomorrow, I am painting the bottom of the dinghy. Monday, I’m planning on getting the oars and servicing the dinghy outboard, as well as mounting the two 130 watt solar panels. That will allow me to run the refrigerator with the boat on the mooring. On Tuesday morning, I’ll row out to the mooring and attach the mooring pendant and put the boat on the mooring.

Dan @ 10:20 pm
Filed under: boat ownership andEvents andSailing
Delivery: S/V Hilarity

Posted on Monday 7 May 2012

Sunday, I helped Dale and his sister-in-law Merry move S/V Hilarity from Fairhaven to Bourne. Dale bought S/V Hilarity at the end of last season and needed to move her from my marina, where she wintered, over to his mooring in Bourne, about 15 nm as the crow flies (shown on the image by the two flags).

Overview of the trip area

Overview of the trip area

However, the trip by boat is much longer, since we’d have to head south out of the harbor and clear Sconticut Neck before turning to the northeast for Bourne. Dale asked me to crew on the trip because he’s fairly new to sailing and this is his first boat.

Detail of the New Bedford-Fairhaven Harbor approach

Detail of the New Bedford-Fairhaven Harbor approach

Dale and Merry met me at my marina after dropping Merry’s car off in Bourne so we’d have ground transportation when we got there. I had packed a bag with my handheld VHF, my Steiner 8×30 binoculars, two handheld SOLAS flares, two SOLAS parachute flares, a horn, a roll of rescue tape, a fleece shirt and fleece jacket, a knit/fleece watch cap, some other gear and some chocolate. The idea is that if you have safety gear, generally you won’t need it–it is a corollary derived to Murphy’s Law–where the only thing that you will need is something you don’t have.

Dale and Merry were packing a cooler full of food and drinks for the trip and had stopped by Dunkin Donuts to get breakfast for all three of us. They brought me two Ellie-style iced coffees for the trip as well. We had a lot of food and drinks and were well provisioned for the daysail over to Bourne.

We unpacked the new anchor rope (150′), shackle and 30′ of chain that Dale had purchased. The 1/2″ nylon portion of the rode is a bit light for a boat the size of Dale’s Irwin 30, but it would do for now. The anchor on the boat was a 12 lb. or so Danforth style fluke anchor. While it isn’t the best anchor in the world, I felt it was necessary to at least have an anchor with a decent length of rode aboard the boat for the trip. I had Merry feed the new anchor rode down the chain pipe into the anchor locker and lead it out the bow pulpit and hung the anchor on the anchor bracket on the starboard side of the bow pulpit.

An anchor is one of the most important pieces of safety gear on a boat in my opinion. In many emergencies, the anchor can give you something that is very precious–time. It can do this by stopping the boat and preventing a problem like a dead engine from becoming even worse. Many boaters, especially powerboaters, don’t seem to realize this and have very undersized ground tackle on their boats. It amazes me that they might have spent $200,000 on the boat, yet don’t see the value in spending $1000 on a good anchor and anchor rode setup for their boat. It is one of the least expensive pieces of insurance you can have aboard the way I see it.

We departed the marina at 0830 to make the 0900 Fairhaven-New Bedford Swing Bridge opening–a necessity for a sailboat starting out north of Pope’s Island. Because of Saturday’s “Super Moon”, the low tide was exceptionally low, and we decided to leave around mid-tide to make sure we’d have enough water to get out of the marina. Many of the marinas on the Acushnet River are in dire need of dredging–which is complicated by the fact that the Acushnet River’s bottom is contaminated from years of industrial pollution with PCBs and needs special permits to allow any dredging.

The weather started out partly cloudy with winds out of the North and the wind was forecast to be 5-10 knots out of the North to Northeast most of the day. Unfortunately, with the winds out of the North-to-Northeast, it was going to be a long day of beating to windward to get to Bourne. The more typical Southwest winds, which usually grace Buzzards Bay, would have made it a far shorter and easier trip. The winds ended up being a bit stronger than forecast and made for some very good sailing, especially later in the day after I had taken care of some of the rigging issues.

Sailflow wind observations from the West Island station for 2012 May 06.

Sailflow wind observations from the West Island station for 2012 May 06.

We passed through the swing bridge and headed out the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier and south past the Butler Flats light when the first issues came up. The engine’s raw water cooling system had a hose pull free. I think the reason the hose pulled free is because the engine’s vibration moves the two pieces that the hose connected and causes the hose to “creep” and work its way off of the one of the two pipes. Hose clamps aren’t really designed to keep hoses from resisting tension forces inline with the hose. It didn’t help that the hose was very old and in need of replacement as we found out later in the day.

As the cooling system was spewing hot water and exhaust into the cabin, since the leak was after the heat exchanger but before the waterlift muffler, we hoisted the main sail and got underway under sail so we could shut down the engine. We knew we could run the engine if we really had to, as we did later in the day, but knew it would fill the cabin with exhaust fumes and the bilge with hot seawater.

Apparently, when Dale was re-commissioning the boat this spring, he forgot to check quite a few of the systems thoroughly and one of the things that was missing were the genoa fairlead blocks. The tracks and fairlead cars were there, but the blocks were clearly missing in action.

Without the fairlead blocks, the genny sheets couldn’t be used on the winches, since the lead angle would be too high and it would guarantee that the sheets would cause overriding loops on the winch drums and jam up. To fix this for the trip to Bourne, I asked Dale for a couple short pieces of line. He gave me about six feet of 3/8″ doublebraid. I cut two 15″ sections and rigged makeshift fairleads from the line by passing the line through the padeye on the fairlead cars three times and tying them off with a zeppelin bend. This gave me a three-loop fairlead that I passed the genoa sheet through and allowed it to lead fair to the genoa sheet winches. While the makeshift fairleads created a fair bit of friction and chafe–they did allow us to sail instead of having to call TowBoat US.

The furling system for the genny was jamming, probably due to the line on the drum being improperly tensioned when unfurling or furling the drum previously, and causing an over-ride–so we were limited to about an 80% jib initially. As the day progressed and we worked with the furler, we managed to free up the over riding loops and eventually were sailing on almost the complete genny–which looked like a 140% genoa or so.

In any case, we were able to sail, but the boat was having trouble pointing. I think it was because the standing rigging was not tensioned properly, as was later confirmed…but we’ll get to that. The broad reach out of the New Bedford harbor approach and turning to a close reach across Buzzards Bay towards Nashuon Island was the first long leg of the trip to windward.

When we tacked to make northwards progress off of Nashuon Island, I noticed the boat was having trouble pointing higher than 55-60 degrees apparent. This was going to really hamper our progress towards Bourne and make for a much longer trip. We sailed for about four hours and decided to try and motor sail for a while. We double checked the hoses and tightened up on the hose clamps and fired up the iron genny… only to have to cooling system spring leaks due to the host rupturing. I tried to patch the hose with Rescue Tape.

Rescue Tape is a brand of silicone self-fusing temperature and pressure resistant tape that every sailor should have aboard the boat. On a friend’s boat, during his annual summer cruise two years ago, I used it to seal the engine’s freshwater cooling system where a tapcock had disintegrated due to old age. I filled the hole the tapcock valve was supposed to be in with a cut-down piece of pencil and then lashed it into place with a few turns of Rescue Tape. This reduced the coolant leak to a few drips per second and allowed us to use the engine to motor into Milford Harbor after we sailed up to the harbor entrance.

On Dale’s boat, I used the tape to seal the rupture in the hose…but the repair was foiled when the hose burst in another location. The hose was so old that it began to rot out and had burst in four or five places before the end of the trip. Well, the engine is an auxiliary and the primary propulsion is the sails…so we sailed.

We had lunch. Lunch, at least for me and Merry, was really delicious lobster rolls that Dale had picked up the night before. Dale had one of the sandwiches that Merry had made up for the trip. Apparently, Dale’s not a huge lobster fan…that’s okay, Merry and I made up for that.

After lunch, Merry went down below to try and take a nap. While we were sailing I noticed that the port lower shroud was now loose, even though we were on port tack, so I went forward to check what was going on. It was worrying because it hadn’t been loose earlier in the day. I found that there were no cotter pins in the turnbuckle and the turnbuckle had slowly been working its way loose as the day progressed.

Unfortunately, Dale didn’t have any cotter pins aboard. Fortunately, last week, Dale had asked me to go out and put together a tool kit for his boat, and we went shopping at Sears Hardware and picked up a fairly comprehensive set of tools to keep on the boat. So, I tightened up the port lower shroud. I remembered that we had a piece of residential Romex cable aboard that Dale had been using to fish wires with. I went down below and cut a few inches of the Romex free and used it to secure the turnbuckle.

I decided to check the rest of the standing rigging to see what was going on with it and found two other shrouds that were not secured with cotter pins or cotter rings. I used some more Romex to lock them down after tightening the shrouds. I was tensioning the rigging based on feel, and Dale shouted that we we had gained speed over ground as I had been tightening the rigging and that we were now able to point much higher–about 15 degrees higher on each tack.

After adjusting the rigging, we were able to get Hilarity up to six knots for almost half-an-hour before we had to tack and made our way up to the approach to the Cape Cod Canal. Phinneys Harbor, where the Monument Beach Marina is located, is tucked up just to the east of the Cape Cod Canal channel and is the last harbor on the eastern shore before you get to the canal entrance.

Detail of the northeast end of Buzzards Bay with Phinneys Harbor and the channel leading to the Cape Cod Canal

Detail of the northeast end of Buzzards Bay with Phinneys Harbor and the channel leading to the Cape Cod Canal

When we got to just south of Mashnee Island, which is the western edge of Phinneys Harbor, we decided to fire up the engine and motor the last half mile or so to the docks. We knew doing is meant that the cabin would fill with exhaust and the bilge would get a fair amount of hot seawater from the heat exchanger dumped into it, but the bilge pump was up to the task of keeping the water levels manageable, and it was only for a few minutes.

We tied up to a slip and Dale went off to get the dinghy and bring it over to Hilarity. We also unloaded the boat and put the stuff in the car rather than having to ferry it in the dinghy. This turned out to be a very good idea, as Dale forgot the drain plug for the dinghy and we had about two inches of water in the bottom of the dinghy for the trip back from the boat.

Merry Flynn and Dale Shadbegian alongside s/v Hilarity at Monument Beach Marina in Bourne, Mass.

Merry Flynn and Dale Shadbegian alongside s/v Hilarity at Monument Beach Marina in Bourne, Mass.

Once we had the dinghy tied up to the stern of Hilarity, we fired up the engine one last time and went off to find Dale’s mooring. The mooring was fairly easy to find despite the mooring balls only being marked in one spot with their number. You’d think that they’d put the number on both sides or better mark it three times with the number, but that was not the case. The mooring ball had two really nasty, slimy, barnacled pendants hanging off of it, which we used to secure S/V Hilarity to her summer home. The pendants really need to have a buoy attached to make retrieving them simpler.

Dale and I had just enough light to get out to the mooring and back before twilight set in. The sunset was amazing and was the perfect thing to top off of pretty good day of sailing. Even with the issues we had during the trip from Fairhaven, the sailing itself was just amazing. S/V Hilarity handled herself quite well and the 10-15 knots of wind and 1-2′ seas were very pleasant conditions for making the voyage, though it would have been nice if the wind had clocked around to the west and helped us out–but you can’t have everything.

Sunset from the Monument Beach Marina looking west, across Phinneys Harbor.

Sunset from the Monument Beach Marina looking west, across Phinneys Harbor.

A few observations about S/V Hilarity and this trip.

I really should have done a pre-trip inspection with Dale and gone over the boat with a fine-toothed comb. My Boat Inspection Trip Tips checklist would have helped enormously and would probably have caught the issues with the rigging and the engine hose.

Dale had told me the boat had been surveyed, and these are issues that the surveyor should have caught. However, the mast apparently was unstepped at some point after the purchase and re-stepped by the sounds of what Dale had said, and whoever stepped the mast didn’t really know enough about sailboats to handle the very basic rigging issues that were left unaddressed.

Also, I should have known that the engine hoses were going to be an issue based on what I saw the day we splashed S/V Hilarity.

On the day Hilarity was put in the water, the bilge was filling with water because the engine’s cooling system raw water seacock was left open and the hose wasn’t connected to the engine. When we used the bilge pump to drain the bilge after closing the seacock and connecting the hose, I noticed the bilge pump was really a mickey-mouse setup. The pump wasn’t wired to a switch and needed to be connected to the batteries directly in order to be used. The wiring on the bilge pump was basically twisted together–not taped, or butt spliced or even wire-nutted, but just twisted and left bare.

To top it off, the hose from the bilge pump runs into another hose and is not connected to the discharge through hull. The slightly larger hose the hose coming from the bilge pump was run into is connected to the through-hull. The previous owner didn’t even bother to tape where the smaller hose runs into the larger one, so about half the water the bilge pump was pumping up out of the bilge would just flow back into the bilge.

I would say that at a minimum, Dale needs to replace all of the wiring on the boat and all of the hoses on the boat and have someone go over the rigging with a fine-tooth comb and tune it. Aside from the cooling system issues, which is really just due to neglect and old-age, the engine seems to run very nicely and the boat sails very well. Considering what Dale bought the boat for, he’s got some good solid bones to work with. The boat just needs some tender loving care and refurbishing to become a pretty decent place for Dale and his family to spend the summer on.

Replacing the engine hoses, the head hoses–which are badly permeated, the head LBA, re-wiring the boat and tuning the rigging and replacing the running rigging, the boat should be in very good shape. He also needs a sailmaker to take a look at the sails. They may be okay, but given their apparent age, I would say he might want to buy new sails for the boat rather than invest in repairing the ones he has.

I’ll also be putting together a checklist for Dale to use for when he gets to the boat and when he’s about to leave the boat.

S/V Hilarity is an Irwin 30. She is powered by an Atomic 4, four-cylinder gasoline inboard.

Dan @ 7:22 pm
Filed under: Events andSailing
A Prayer For Ellie

Posted on Tuesday 1 May 2012

It is the end of the semester. Her finals are starting this week. I don’t know how she has been doing this semester, but part of me prays that she has done well enough to keep her scholarship. Without the scholarship she can not afford to stay in the college that she has picked for herself. She picked the school partially because it is a Catholic college. That was something important to the devout Catholic woman I love.

Part of me hopes she bombs her classes and loses the scholarship because that may be the safest and fastest way for her to realize that she has a serious problem with drugs and alcohol. But, mostly, I pray for her to succeed because I love her.

I am worried. It was almost a year ago that her problems with alcohol and marijuana became full blown addictions from what I can tell. From her own words on various social networking websites, she didn’t really start doing drugs or drinking heavily until last May 29th. I believe it was her breakup with Ian, her first serious boyfriend who cheated on her, that caused her to spiral out of control.

I believe that her pride in her abilities as a good student and pride in being an intelligent and successful student kept her on track for the spring semester last year, but as soon as it ended, she lost control of her self-doubts and anxieties and has been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

I am truly worried that she will drink and abuse drugs as heavily this summer as she did last summer and fall. If that is the case, it is very likely that she will become a statistic–that she will be seriously injured or killed because she will be driving drunk or high or that she will be attacked while she is drunk or high. There is no one in her life that actually cares for her and is trying to help her, because I am no longer in her life by her own choice.

I truly hope she realizes that she has a problem with alcohol and drugs soon. Until she realizes this and asks for help, no one can help her. Until she learns to love herself enough to want better for herself than to be the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for most of the past year, she can not really love anyone or accept anyone’s love for her.

I will continue to pray for the amazing Irish woman I love, as I have been doing for the past ten months.

“O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honoureth and invoketh thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to mine assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly that you watch over my beloved Ellie–and grant her the strength to seek help, and allow her to recover her good health and return to my side and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favour, to always honour thee as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to thee.


I think St. Jude is the appropriate Saint to hear my prayers for Ellie, for she truly is a lost cause as far as I can see. I do not know if anything of the amazing woman I love–the woman who told me she loves me and learned to say “Sarangheyo” to me last summer even exists. I do not know if Ellie has been lost to her addictions or whether she still survives, hidden beneath the horror of her addictions.

Ellie’s illness does not change how I feel about her, what she has come to mean to me or who she is, and I can not abandon the woman I love when she needs me most. This is as true for Ellie as it was for Gee 11 years ago, though her illness is a different one than Gee had. I also hope Ellie remembers that I love her warts and all, for no reason other than she is Ellie.

I hope Ellie and her family know that regardless of what happens between Ellie and me, I will always be there for her, as I have been all of her life. Right now, my primary concern is that Ellie get the help she needs and stop traveling on her current path to self-destruction. Anything else is secondary to that goal.

Ellie and me in better times

May God watch over my beloved Ellie. God bless her and protect her, even from herself. May God grant her the strength, courage, and will to fight her illness and return to being her true self. May God grant her the wisdom to see the truth—both about her illness and about us.

Dan @ 8:10 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv