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
Momastery

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.

Amen.”

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
Why Do You Love Me?

Posted on Monday 30 April 2012

Gee used to ask me this when we were dating. My answer took her a long time to figure out. I would reply, “Because you’re you”.

It took her months to figure out that I meant I loved her unconditionally and always. It wasn’t based on who her parents were, how much money she made, what she knew, who she knew, what kind of car she drove, or anything that was outside of her. For her, I think this was unusual. Most of her previous boyfriends had specific reasons they loved her. I didn’t. I just loved her. I had from the first time I heard her voice.

Woo, Gee’s beautiful friend from college, who was our maid of honor I think said it best. In her very first e-mail to me, which she wrote a day or so after meeting me just after New Year’s 2000, describing who Gee was to her, she said:

“Yet we get to know her, love her and be loved by her, how privileged are we?”

In many ways, that was and still is the best description I have ever heard of my wife Gee. We were very privileged–the privileged few.

After Gee died, Woo and I remain friends. Woo’s reasoning for it makes complete sense to me. One day, after her mother had asked her about us and our friendship, Woo told her mother why she was friends with me. She said it was because we both loved Gee so much, and how could she not be friends with the one person who loved her closest and dearest friend so perfectly. Every time things got worse for Gee and Woo thought nothing could make it better, she said, “Dan did…he stepped up and made things better for Gee.”

To me, loving Gee was the simplest, easiest thing on earth to do. She made it that way. She accepted my past as part of how I became who I was. She loved me and accepted me completely. While I think she may not be the person I was meant to love forever–in fact, she didn’t want to be that person and made me promise her I would re-marry if I met someone else I love–I am pretty sure I was the person she was meant to love forever.

I find it interesting that Ellie never asked me why I love her. But, I’m not really surprised–I guess the reason she never asked may be because she never had to ask. I have loved Ellie all of her life and she has never really known a time when I didn’t love her in some fashion. It has always been that way, at least as far as she is concerned. The way I love her has grown and changed over the two decades I’ve known her.

At first, I loved Ellie because she was the adorable, if bratty and temperamental, daughter of two of my close friends. As she grew older, she and I became friends on our own terms, and I love her as my friend. I loved to be able to give her advice or help her with whatever she needed help with. I was one of the people she usually turned to for help.

Last summer, I realized that I loved her as more than a friend and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I told her this, and for the next week, we talked about all the things that are important if we were to be together as a couple and get married. We talked about children, what she wanted to name them, religion, when we’d get married, where we’d get married, where we would live at least initially and so much more.

I hope she realizes she is ill soon and seeks help for her addictions. I hope she does this before her addictions destroy her health, her mind, and her future. If she realizes she is ill and wants my help in getting better, I will be there for her as I have promised her and her mother so many times. However, she will need to make her amends and tell the truth about us and show me that she wants me back in her life–that she is as committed to having me in her life as I have been to her for the past year.

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 @ 10:31 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andlife with Gee andpv
National Honesty Day

Posted on Monday 30 April 2012

Today’s is National Honesty Day.

Today is a day I think about one of the most honest people I have ever known–Ellie. Before her addictions took over her life, she was one of the sweetest, most honest and most compassionate people I knew. Now, she lies constantly and sees nothing wrong with it as far as I can tell.

It is very sad and disturbing to see how far she has fallen. She was a fairly devout, compassionate, and good Catholic woman at one time. She believed in doing what was right, telling the truth, helping her friends, family and even complete strangers. Now, it appears, all she cares about is her next buzz and next high.

The truth of who we were to each other is clearly visible in the photos of us—which belie what she has been saying since I confronted her about her drinking last summer. She has never denied what I have said on this blog, and I am pretty sure she reads it, even now.

As far as I know, Ellie has never lied to me directly—instead she refuses to even speak to me. At her core, I think she is still one of the most honest people I have ever known—even if her addictions and her father have made her lie about so much for the past nine months. I believe she refuses to lie to me directly because–deep inside her heart–she knows I am one of the only people that truly loves her and that she loves. One day, she may even remember this or allow herself to admit it.

I hope she is doing well, I but have no idea how her classes are going this semester. I hope that she is doing better than last semester or I fear she will lose the scholarship that she needs to stay in the college she loves.

Until she realizes she has a problem with drugs and alcohol and seeks help for herself, no one can help her. I hope she chooses to get help soon, before her addictions destroy her health, mind, body and future. If she is honest enough and brave enough to ask me for help and willing to make her amends, I will help her as I have promised her and her mother–I can do no less for the woman I love so much.

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 @ 11:39 am
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
God Gave Me You

Posted on Friday 27 April 2012

Added more Blake Shelton to the music collection. I particularly like this video of Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton for his song “God Gave Me You”.

I just wish Ellie would listen to the words of this song and realize that I am here for her and love her. My commitment to her is a lifetime one if she still wants it. But, she has to make her amends and ask me for help if she wants me back in her life. It was her choice to push me away, and she has to show me that she wants me back in her life and is as committed to me as I have been to her.

She can make the choice to stay a drug-addicted alcoholic or she can choose to become who God meant her to be. I seriously doubt that God’s plan for her was for her to be a drug-addicted alcoholic that she has been for almost the past year. Of course, God gave her free will and she can choose to be whatever she wants to be—but that doesn’t mean it is God’s Will for her.

If she takes a hard, honest look at herself and the people she has pushed away, hurt and lied about and why it happened, I think it will be obvious to her that she has a drug and alcohol problem. However, she has to have the courage to take that hard, brutally honest look at what she has been doing for the last eleven months.

“God Gave Me You”

I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be

But you stay here right beside me
And watch as the storm blows through
And I need you

Cause God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
And for when I think I lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you
Gave me you

There’s more here than what we’re seeing
A divine conspiracy
That you, an angel lovely
Could somehow fall for me
You’ll always be love’s great martyr
And I’ll be the flattered fool
And I need you
Yeah!

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
And for when I think I lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo

Cause God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
And for when I think I lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you, gave me you.
He gave me you.

As always, I would ask God to 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 @ 3:09 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andMusic andpv
Cabin Sole Lockers

Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012

One of my major projects from this past winter was adding some additional stowage to the main cabin of s/v Pretty Gee. Stowage is very scarce on most trailerable trimarans and the Telstar 28 is no exception. My aim was to make the boat more comfortable, safer and more seaworthy while also giving the boat some much needed stowage.

The main hull of the Telstar 28 is quite narrow, and has no real bilge to speak of. The bilge inspection hatch opens into a space that is only about an inch-and-a-half deep at the maximum. The hull flares out to create room for the settees and this means the settees are actually quite high. As a result, when you were seated on the settee, you had only a two-inch wide ledge on which to rest your feet on the starboard side. This is not the case on the port side, since the fresh water tank is built into that side against the centerboard trunk.

My idea was to raise the cabin sole along the centerboard trunk, on the starboard side, to match the elevated section on the port side. This would give me a set of lockers six feet long and about 15″ wide on average and about a foot high—or seven cubic feet of stowage. The location is ideal for heavy supplies and gear like tools, since it is down low and central to the boat. Loading the lockers with heavy tools and such would also help trim the boat better—which is a bit port-heavy as designed.

This would also make the cabin a bit safer, since the flat deck of the new lockers would be less slippery than the partially sloped original cabin sole. Since this new locker is located primarily where the cabin’s salon table is, losing the foot or so of headroom wasn’t a huge issue, since most of the time people would be seated and move along the settee in that area.

Another safety advantage this would give s/v Pretty Gee is if the main hull is breached but the cabin liner remains intact, the aft-most of the cabin sole lockers would effectively act as a standpipe for the breached bilge, and limit the amount of water that could enter the main hull. While water could still enter the companionway locker and the area under the head and around the holding tank, the main cabin would stay dry for the most part. That would greatly improve the boat’s performance and seaworthiness after such an incident and make it far more likely to be useable after a collision—especially combined with the bow crash compartment I added two years ago.

The first part of making the lockers was to epoxy the vertical dividers that would make up the three locker compartments into place. You can see the white PVC dividers and cleats. If you look closely, you can see the curvature of the cabin sole along the outboard side.

Vertical dividers and cleats for the new Cabin Sole Lockers

Vertical dividers and cleats for the new Cabin Sole Lockers

I took extra care to make sure the aft-most dividers were completely sealed to make the aft-most compartment water-tight as required for the safety/seaworthiness aspects of this project. I also epoxied cleats to the centerboard trunk to support the in-board edge of the cabin sole locker’s top deck. The cleats and the dividers were made of 5/8″ thick PVC board I had leftover from another project. The epoxy sticks quite well to the sanded PVC board and it is lighter than plywood would have been. Another advantage is that it is completely rot resistant. In hindsight, I probably should have used it for the top deck of the lockers as well, but didn’t have enough so went with 1/2″ marine plywood instead.

The cleats were set to be the same height as the two-inch wide ledge that was at the base of the settee. I didn’t use cleats on the outboard side, because the two-inch wide ledge made an excellent support for the top deck. Getting the height of the cleats was a bit tricky since the cabin sole is slightly sloped.

The epoxy I used for most of this project is thickened with a kevlar compound and is a 1:1 epoxy putty sold by Progressive Epoxy Products in New Hampshire. It has a decent working time, is very tough and has a good viscosity for filleting and such. I like to keep some of it aboard because it is one of the epoxy putties that can be used for structural repairs and will stick and set underwater in an emergency.

The top deck was made of two pieces of 1/2″ marine plywood. Each piece was three feet long, and one of the hatch openings was basically centered on the joint of the two pieces. I made sure the joint was well supported by a cleat on the in-board side. I pre-fiberglassed the top deck’s underside, so that when I put a bead of thickened epoxy along the cleats, dividers and outboard ledge, I could just press the top deck down and know the surface was protected from abrasion and water intrusion. This is a lesson I learned from the bridgedeck several years ago, which wasn’t pre-fiberglassed and fiberglassing it after assembling it was far more complicated.

I cut the top deck to be about a half-inch shy of the outboard side of the hull and filled the resulting gap with high-density closed cell foam insulation that was epoxied into place. This allowed me to make up a fiberglass fillet that extended up the hull without creating a hard spot where the hull laminate might flex and fatigue.

I also pre-cut the openings for the three hatches in the two deck pieces before epoxying them into place. This was far easier and simpler than trying to cut them after the fact. The two larger hatches were originally from s/v Pretty Gee’s amas. These hatches leaked a bit too much and I replaced them with a different design last season. The last hatch was special ordered for this project. The two aft-most compartments are larger than the forward-most one.

The photo is from when I dry-fitted the locker deck into place, prior to the third hatch arriving. You can also see the inspection hatch to the bilge in the aft-most compartment.

The top deck of the cabin sole lockers dry-fitted into place.

The top deck of the cabin sole lockers dry-fitted into place.

I then placed the hatches down and drilled holes for all the fasteners for all three hatches. The holes for these fasteners were all drilled oversized and then filled with thickened epoxy putty. I fiberglassed over the filled holes and glassed the edges of the top deck to the dividers, the centerboard trunk and the starboard side of the main hull. This should allow me to re-drill the holes for the fasteners and not have any exposed plywood.

I painted the entire top deck with Interdeck non-skid deck paint. While this really wasn’t a necessity, I did need to protect the epoxy from UV and by using the Interdeck, I’ve created a good non-slip surface around the hatches. The hatches themselves are non-skid textured. After two coats of Interdeck, I re-drilled the fastener holes and bedded the three hatches using butyl tape. I chose butyl tape because it is a very good sealant for this purpose and will make the locker hatches watertight. The hatches will be through-bolted with fender washers on the underside.

The new cabin sole lockers with the top deck painted and the hatches in place.

The new cabin sole lockers with the top deck painted and the hatches in place.

This gives me three water-tight, fairly well sealed lockers that provide about seven cubic feet of stowage total. The new cabin sole locker top deck acts provides very good, non-skid, flat surface to move along as well as a place to rest your feet when seated. There is still six feet of standing headroom aft—between the galley and navigation console forward of the companionway, as well as forward of the centerboard trunk. The new locker’s forward end also acts as a shower dam, in case I want to add the ability to take a shower to the head on s/v Pretty Gee.

One reason having the lockers be fairly well sealed and water-tight is important is so that I can store tools and parts in the first two lockers and keep desiccant and corrosion inhibitors in the two lockers to help keep the parts and tools in good shape. The aft-most locker will likely be used for food and galley supply stowage, with things that can withstand getting wet stowed in that particular compartment—since it does have the bilge access panel. Galley goods that need to remain dry will be stowed in the bridgedeck locker, aft of the companionway ladder, which is my next project.

Dan @ 9:46 pm
Filed under: Boat Projects andcruising andSafety andSailing
Anchor Locker and Bow Crash Compartment

Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012

During the last winter, I pulled the holding tank from my boat, s/v Pretty Gee. The tank had difficult to trace leak that turned out to be due to a couple of cracks in the side of the tank. When I pulled the tank, I noticed that there is a fairly large space in front of the tank that is unused. I decided to glass this section in and add a small round inspection plate to effectively create a crash compartment at the bow of the boat.

As I was toying with the design of the crash compartment, I realized this would be the ideal time to extend the anchor locker as well, making the top of the crash compartment the bottom of the extended anchor locker. This would allow the rode to fall in to the locker much more cleanly, and leave the aft end of the chain locker for docklines and fenders. This would also shift the weight of the rode aft and far lower than it is currently, reducing how bow-heavy the boat is. Keeping the bows light on a multi-hull is a good idea as it helps prevent the bows from burying.

I glassed in a 3/4″ piece that is sloped at about a 45˚ angle from the hull-deck join at the bow to the stringer that runs along the forepeak. This will be the bottom of the new chain locker. A second 3/4″ piece will be glassed in at 90˚ to that to form the new aft end of the chain locker.

I added 1/4″ UHMWPE as a liner for the chain locker, and it was added to the bottom, sides and rear of the chain locker to help the rode slide down and protect the fiberglass from abrasion and damage from the chain. A drain hole and through-hull was added to the port side at the lowest point of the chain locker. I’m am planning on adding a solar vent fan to the hatch to improve air flow through the anchor locker and reduce corrosion of the rode. It will pull air up through the anchor locker drain and out the top of the foredeck hatch.

A short horizontal piece of 1/2″ was glassed in against the base of the first two pieces to complete the top deck of the new crash compartment. The last piece to be added will be a vertical 3/4″ piece that will form the aft wall of the “crash compartment”. This vertical piece has a 6″ diameter round inspection port in it. This will allow me to get a wrench into the back of the bow eye, should that ever need to be removed or modified. This will also allow me to inspect the “crash compartment”.

This modification gets the weight of the anchor rode down lower, and allows it to self-stow more cleanly when retrieving the rode. It increases the seaworthiness of the boat by isolating the forward-most section of the boat, which is most likely to be damaged in an impact.

The holding tank is now in the section that is in-between the new crash compartment and the head. I’m glassing the aft bulkhead in this section to completely isolate the holding tank area from the bilge. I’m also adding a second vent to the holding tank to improve air flow through the tank. It has been re-plumbed with new Trident 101 hose. All exposed plywood has been epoxy-coated or glassed over to protect the wood.

Dan @ 8:55 pm
Filed under: Boat Projects andcruising andSafety andSailing
Two Days Sober—A Crying Out Now Post

Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012

Here’s another post from the Crying Out Now blog.

I don’t drink.

Reading people’s stories on forums yesterday made me think that perhaps my drinking habits are not that bad. The stories didn’t shock me – although they did make me sad – but they did give me a moment’s pause: I don’t physically or mentally abuse people, I don’t get violent, I don’t lose jobs, marriages, yell at my kids, etc.

Then I began thinking:

I don’t have kids – they would have got in the way of my drinking career

I’m only recently married at age 43 – previous boyfriends didn’t want to stick around to witness the sideshow that was my life

I couldn’t lose friendships – my ‘friends’ were all heavy drinkers

I didn’t lose jobs – my career has gone nowhere because I was happy to ‘get by’ in roles with little responsibility because I was always too hungover to deal with anything more senior

I don’t abuse my nearest and dearest – I essentially cut myself off from the positive and happy people in my life in order to drink.

Alcohol has been the most significant relationship in my life.

In my twenties, every social event was reviewed as to whether it was alcohol-friendly, e.g., if a friend invited me for coffee I would generally make excuses not to go. If they asked me to meet them at the pub, however, I was the first one there! Even going to the cinema was off limits because I couldn’t take a bottle of wine in with me.

In my thirties, I still reviewed some activities by alcohol availability, but I was generally more willing to go out because I had a cunning solution! I would be sociable and happy at dinners with family and friends just having a glass of wine or two, then I would get home and the real, heavy drinking would begin. This is when the secrecy, and consequently the shame, really began to take hold.

Now in my early forties, the pain of living with the shame is finally greater than the perceived pain of living without alcohol. It has been so draining on every level to maintain my excessive drinking and I don’t have the energy for it anymore. To be honest, I think it will be easier and will take less energy to not drink than it was to live with the constant daily struggle of self-loathing and fear.

I need to wake up not hating myself

I need to stop wondering what the hell I am punishing myself for

I need to be the person I’ve always wanted to be, but was too scared to let the world see

I need to treat myself as I treat someone I really care about.

I know Ellie wants to have kids. She told me how she adores Asians with freckles—which is exactly what our children would be. She even told me what she wanted to name them—Kelley and Cadence. If she keeps drinking, she may not get the chance to have them, much like Imogen in the post above.

I am pretty sure that Ellie wants to get married, since she and I were talking about doing just that for a week, just before I confronted her about her drinking. Everything subject she raised with me—religion, children, what to name them, when we’d get married, where we’d get married, asking to see the claddagh ring I bought her, etc.—all point to that fact. In fact, I believe that she would have accepted my proposal had I not confronted her about her drinking.

Of course, given the example her parents have set, I can understand why Ellie might be hesitant to get married. Her father treats her mother pretty horribly much of the time—worse than the way some people abuse their pets. In fact, a mutual friend of ours has confronted Ellie’s father repeatedly over the past thirty years I’ve known them about how he treats Ellie’s mother. His treatment of Ellie has been pretty poor, and I remember how Ellie told me she couldn’t wait to get away from her father years ago when she was younger. Why else would Ellie choose to live on campus of a school that is only about a 15 minute drive from her family’s house when the cost of her room and board is something she has to pay for out of her own resources?

I don’t think Ellie really understands how a marriage or partnership between two psychologically and emotionally healthy people is supposed to work. I think of the partnership I had with Gee—even though her physical health issues were very dire—our relationship was one of joy, happiness and love—far beyond what I think many people will ever experience. Gee and I as a couple were so much more than what either of us could have been separately. This is much the same as how I see what Ellie and I could have if it wasn’t for her addictions. We could be so much stronger together than we are apart—if she could only learn to love herself and trust the love between us.

I think that one reason Ellie’s mother doesn’t seem to have a problem with my wanting to marry Ellie, despite the large age difference, is that she knows what kind of person I am through almost 30 years of friendship—that I have proven my friendship, trust and love over that 30 years. Ellie’s mother knows how committed I am towards Ellie and knows how much I must love Ellie to have asked her to marry me. She knows that very few people, if any, will ever care for Ellie the way I do. She also knows that I keep my commitments, even in the face of difficult circumstances as I proved with Gee—and that I will stand by Ellie on her long road to recovery as I have promised them both if I am asked to.

Ellie has cast away any of her friends that don’t approve of her drinking and drug use. In many ways, all of the people she has surrounded herself with since last summer are enabling her drinking and drug use. The only one who tried to get her help, as far as I can tell, was me. I am also the only person she has pushed away since her addictions took over her life.

She hasn’t lost any of her jobs… though she did nearly lose her scholarship last semester. Her job at the cinema isn’t exactly challenging for someone as intelligent and capable as Ellie, and the people—her work friends—all support her drinking and drug use from what I can see. Her work for her father’s company is basically a glorified file clerk—again, not something that would challenge someone like Ellie.

The only place she might be have been challenged is at her college and she clearly blew it last semester—as I warned her and her parents would happen. Part of me hopes she does well this semester, but part of me hopes she bombs so that she might lose her scholarship and possibly see that she has a problem with drugs and alcohol—but that part is in the minority because I love her and want her to succeed.

She has abused her nearest and dearest as far as I can see. She has lied constantly about me since I confronted her about her drinking. Given that for a week she told me she loved me in two different languages—English and Korean—and we talked about having children, marrying, raising a family—I think I would be considered someone near and dear to her. Aside from that, we have nearly two decades of caring, love, friendship and support between us—something which she has basically thrown away because of her addictions.

Right now, her primary relationships are with marijuana and alcohol. She was “dating” Jarrod for much of August through November, and he was effectively providing her with alcohol and marijuana for sex. As soon as he tired of her, he dumped her—just as I warned her he would—because Jarrod had no love or commitment to Ellie—unlike me. I’ve loved and cared for Ellie all of her life in some fashion.

Most of last summer and fall she was actively seeking her next fix or drink almost constantly. She had loaded applications like Liquor Run Mobile onto her smartphone. That application finds the nearest open package store based on her location. There really was no good reason for her to have any need for that application. Last summer, she admitted that she was regularly buying alcohol—basically committing a felony under Massachusetts state law on a regular basis—something that the beautiful, honest, smart and intelligent woman I love just would not do normally.

I think that deep inside Ellie hates who she has become. I think she is ashamed of what her addictions have made her do. Her addictions basically made her prostitute herself for several months last summer and fall—trading sex for drugs and alcohol her addictions require. She has lied about the one person that truly loves and cares about her because of her addictions.

The more that her addictions make her do—the deeper the shame and greater her need to hide from herself. She chooses to hide from what she has done by drinking and doing drugs, rather than facing up to what she has done and taking responsibility for her own actions. Unless she chooses to break this cycle, it will only get worse. I truly fear how far she will have to fall before she realizes she needs help.

In many ways, the blow to her self-esteem and her anxieties and self-doubts that Ian triggered by cheating on her have become a vicious cycle. It would appear that she has been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol in many ways for almost a year—not realizing this is pretty much what her big brother did and he ended up flunking out of Bentley and in the hospital because of it. But, in some ways, that was good for her brother—because it allowed him to get help and his addictions to drugs and alcohol are now under control, since his chronic depression is being controlled and it was the underlying cause from what I saw to his drug and alcohol use. Ellie has been self-medicating and it isn’t working. Her use of alcohol and drugs and what they make her do are just making her more ashamed of herself, and it is a downward spiral that only she can break.

In many ways, this reflects what another author on the Crying Out Now blog said a few weeks ago.

“This journey has taught me about the person that I want to be.

In this process I can’t lose who I am…it’s like my sponsor told me, being an alcoholic is only part of who you are. The hardest part of sobriety is cleaning up the wreckage of my past.

I continue trying to mend relationships with those that I have hurt, trying to get more time with the one thing that I love most in life (my daughter), figuring out my future, recovering from financial ruin, and figuring out who I am…”

I do not believe that Ellie wants to be the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for most of the past year. I do not believe that it is God’s Will for my beloved Ellie to be the drug-addicted shadow of who God meant her to be. But, Ellie has to choose to be something other than the drug-addicted alcoholic she is currently. Until Ellie chooses to be better than that—until she asks for help—no one can help her.

I think that at her core, Ellie still survives—hidden beneath her addictions. In all of this time she has never lied to me directly. She has lied about me to her friends, her family and everyone else—but she has never lied to me as far as I can see. Instead, she has flatly refused to speak to me. I think this is because she is too honest and loves me too much to lie to me—and that, as long as she hasn’t lied to me, she can tell herself that she hasn’t broken her faith or trust with me.

She hasn’t denied what I have written about her illness over the past months and has even admitted that what she had posted on her social media profiles were the truth. She hasn’t accused me of lying either—because deep down inside, I think she knows what I have been saying is only the truth.

Ellie needs to realize that she really is the amazing, beautiful, smart, strong, funny, compassionate and generous woman that I see when I look at her. I really just wish she could see herself through my eyes for a day. I wish she could see why I love her so much that I’ve spent the better part of a year fighting for her, even when she wasn’t willing to do so herself.

I hope she learns to love herself soon. She can not hope to really love anyone or accept anyone’s love for her until she learns to love herself. I hope she learns it before her addictions destroy her future and destroy all the hopes, dreams and goals she and I used to talk about all through the night. I hope she learns to love herself enough to realize that she can be more than the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for most of the past year. I hope she learns to love herself to see how much I truly love her and learns to accept that love.

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 @ 6:43 pm
Filed under: Crying Out Now andLife with Ellie andpv
It’s not going to be easy

Posted on Thursday 26 April 2012

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.”

–Nicholas Sparks

This is something very similar to what I told Ellie years ago about relationships both in person and in e-mail. At the time, I was talking about our friendship and how she was not keeping up with her part of it. It is still true today. This is an e-mail she wrote me in reply to that e-mail. It was written a few years ago…after I sent her one pointing out how she had been acting..

Danny,

first of all, im typing this to you with a sliced finger in a splint, so please excuse any typos. random things like that always pop up…long story made short i was in the ER tonight, but its all good now, and i realize that me being busy, or having accidents, or schoolwork or whatever is NO EXCUSE for the way ive been treating (neglecting) you, among my other friends.

im seeing now how irresponsible and immature im acting, but it really sort of took your email to punch a wakeup call into my realm ofunderstanding. ive been rationalizing about being too preoccupied with school, college searches, my two jobs, and my health that ive distanced myself from the people that matter the most to me, my friends. i entirely agree in that friends are our chosen family, and to sacrifice them with my warped rationalizing is idiotic and absurd. i should have/should learn to just explain why i cant be in such close contact and stop being so nervous about others becoming upset with me. maybe that would have prevented you getting so angry at my brother and me :(

i definitly still want to be friends Danny! please please pleeease never think otherwise despite what my actions have been saying. sorry im a shitzophrenic mess but im really just tryimg to sort thigs out. please understand.

can we hangout sometime this vacation? catch up? i think i owe that to you

I don’t even know if she remembers writing this e-mail, but it pretty clearly belies what she has been saying since last July.

All relationships, whether they are friendships or something more, require hard work on the part of both people. Right now, Ellie isn’t capable of doing any work because of her addictions. The only things she seems to care about are her next buzz or next high. I hope this changes soon, before she destroys her future, her health and all her hopes, goals and dreams.

I believed her when she wrote this. Just like I believed her when she told me “I love you” and “Sarangheyo” last summer. She is not someone that would say those things unless she meant them. It isn’t too late for her yet. But, she has to act soon. I also believe that the only reason she has pushed me away and told the lies she has is because she does love me. This is pretty common for alcoholics and drug addicts to do to the people they love, and I am the only one she has pushed away since she fell to her addictions.

After all, she did say:

i definitly still want to be friends Danny! please please pleeease never think otherwise despite what my actions have been saying.

I never have believed or thought otherwise…even despite what her actions since this past July have said. Deep inside, I believe she loves me and still wants to be friends with me, but can’t because of her addictions. These are her words, not mine. This is what she said before the drugs and alcohol took over her life. I have an incredible amount of faith in the woman that loves me–the woman I love.

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 @ 12:28 am
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
To Fight For Her

Posted on Monday 23 April 2012

Twelve years ago today, I was asked if I wanted to cancel my engagement to Gee by her father. Gee had been just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer–and though we did not yet know it, it had already metastasized through her lymphatic system. I looked at my future father-in-law and said, “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 could not even imagine abandoning Gee. It simply is not something that would have occurred to me. I guess, in many ways, I am very old-fashioned about keeping my commitments, especially those I make to the people I love. It is just how I was raised.

Since the day she was diagnosed, Gee and I actively fought her illness. We were partners in trying to beat her cancer. Gee actively fought her illness with every piece of her heart, mind and spirit. She kept fighting it until the minute she died.

In fact, when the doctors took her off of the machines and drugs that were supposed to help keep her alive, her vital signs–her pulse and blood pressure–got stronger for the short time before she passed away. Gee never regained consciousness after the machines were disconnected, but she did respond to me–squeezing my hand when I spoke to her.

Ellie, like Gee, is a woman I love. She is the only woman I have ever loved more than Gee–and like Gee, I can not see myself abandoning her. I think the only reason I have walked away from Ellie is because she is not there fighting to get better beside me. I have spent much of the last ten months fighting for Ellie; fighting to get the help she needs; fighting to get her to see she is ill and needs help–even as I think she has been crying out for help–I can not do it any longer. I can not fight for her if she is not willing to stand by my side and fight for herself too.

This does not mean I have abandoned my beloved Ellie. But, until she realizes she has a problem and seeks help for herself no one can help her. Until Ellie is able to admit she is ill and willing to accept help I can not be there for her. Until she loves herself enough to want to be more than the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for the last ten-and-a-half months Ellie will not be able to love anyone or accept anyone’s love for her–even mine.

If the amazing woman that loves me returns, makes her amends, and shows me that she wants me by her side–to help her and walk beside her on her long road to recovery–I will be there for her as I have promised. It just doesn’t seem very likely to happen as every day she remains a drug-addicted alcoholic the less likely it is that the woman I love survives and will return to being who God meant her to be.

Ellie has spoken about God’s Will and God’s Grace and said that God’s Will will never take you anywhere God’s Grace can not protect you. Yet, she has clearly forgotten that God gave Man free will. If she chooses to go where God did not Will, God’s Grace can not protect her from herself.

I seriously doubt that it was God’s Will for her to become the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for the past ten-and-a-half months. I doubt it was God’s Will for her to turn away from and lie about the man she said she loves–the man that loves her, wants to marry her and has fought for her for so long.

Unlike Ellie, Gee knew the dangers of her illness and knew that it was likely to kill her. Ellie’s illnesses are also very likely to kill her, but she seems totally unaware of that fact. Ellie’s use of alcohol is damaging her brain, her heart, her digestive tract, her liver and her kidneys. Her use of marijuana is changing the way her brain works, damaging her ability to learn and changing her personality.

Ellie used to be one of the most honest people I knew–yet, since her problems with alcohol and marijuana have taken over her life, she has lied about pretty much everything to everyone around her. She hasn’t lied to me yet, at least as far as I know–but she has only managed that by not speaking to me at all since I confronted her about her drinking back on June 29th.

As much as it hurt me to see Gee slowly lose her battle with cancer, it hurts far worse to see Ellie become something that the woman who loves me would despise and loathe. If she wasn’t under the influence of her addictions and could see what she has become, I do not think she would like it. Unlike Gee, Ellie has a choice about what happens to her–she can choose whether she wants to remain a drug-addicted alcoholic or whether she wants to reclaim her life from her addictions.

This youtube video was put together by some of the amazing women that have fought addiction and come out the other side. Ellie doesn’t have to stay a drug-addicted alcoholic. As the women on the Crying Out Now blog have proven, it is possible for Ellie to reclaim her life–she just has to choose to do it.

This isn’t to say that reclaiming her life and fighting her addictions will be easy–I know it won’t be. But I know she is strong enough, brave enough, and stubborn enough to do it if she chooses to do so. She is smart enough to see where her addictions will take her–if she is brave enough to take an honest look at herself and what she has been doing. Once she is brave enough to look at what she has been doing, she would know how her addictions will destroy all of her hopes, her dreams and her goals–the ones she used to tell me about late at night.

If whatever Ellie has become is too stupid to realize the danger her addictions pose to her brain, her mind, her body, her health and her future, then the woman I love is truly a victim of her addictions. That is also true if the drug-addicted alcoholic she has become is too cowardly and weak to fight her addictions. If she doesn’t recognize the lies she has been telling for most of the last year for what they truly are–lies–and can not see how the truth of what and who she and I were to each other–how much we loved, cared for, and trusted one anothershe is lost to her addictions and the woman that loves me might as well be dead.

I want Ellie to know that she isn’t alone. I want Ellie to know that if she wants to fight her addictions there are people willing to help her. I want Ellie to know that even after all the horrific things she has done because of her addictions, I am still willing to fight for her.

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 @ 6:08 am
Filed under: Crying Out Now andLife with Ellie andlife with Gee andpv
It Is Called Love

Posted on Friday 20 April 2012

Some people care too much... I think it's called love.  --Winnie the Pooh

Some people care too much... I think it's called love. --Winnie the Pooh

When people care too much,
When anything you do affects them,
When they look forward to what you will say to certain things,
When they wait for the next day to arrive only so they can talk to you again,
When they find a way to put you in every context of their everyday talk,
When anything becomes special only because you are there,
When they count seconds when you are together…
It’s nothing else but LOVE…
Cherish such people,keep them close to your heart…
They deserve to be loved in the same way,never to part

I think it is very tragic that some people I know think that you can care too much for someone. I have to wonder what their lives are really like if they can not understand the very basic fact that if you have loved and cared for someone for almost 20 years–abandoning them because they have fallen ill is not really an option. Yet, that is the advice many of them have given me and do not understand why it has taken me so long to make the decision to walk away.

Maybe, it is because people who truly love have become far and few between in this modern age.

Maybe, it is because making a commitment to someone, especially if it costs you emotionally, physically, financially and socially to do so, has become something almost unheard of.

Maybe, it is because caring about people, instead of possessions, has fallen by the wayside in our overly materialistic society.

Yet, in my heart, I know caring for the amazing young woman I asked to marry me last summer is the right thing to do. Right now, her illness–and probably her family and friends–prevent her from acknowledging what our relationship truly is or how she truly cares for me.

I do not believe that she and I would have spent a week talking about all the things we did last June, unless she loved me the way I love her and wanted to marry me. I do not think that she would tell me she loves me in two different languages unless she truly did.

Even though she has not been a part of my life since last July, I still worry about her. I still hold to the vows, promises and commitments I made to her then. Unlike most people today, I do not make promises, vows and commitments with the expectation of dishonoring them. I have cared for her, protected her, loved her and been her friend for all of her life. Even if she does not recognize it, I still care for her, love her and am her friend.

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 addictions 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 @ 7:06 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andMy Life andpv andThoughts
Brutal Truths

Posted on Thursday 19 April 2012

There’s another really amazing post on the Crying Out Now blog. The article talks about how hitting rock bottom for an alcoholic doesn\’t necessarily have to resemble a scene from the A&E TV series Intervention.

Here are some brutal truths from a woman now eight months sober:

If you’re still drinking, here’s what I want you to know:

  • Your rock bottom can look nothing like a scene from Intervention and you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you don’t cheat on your spouse, lose your kids or get a DUI, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you only drink on the weekend, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you don’t hide bottles of alcohol in the house, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If no one would ever guess that you have a problem, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you can’t wrap your mind around a Higher Power, you can still get help.

If you’ve stopped drinking but still sometimes feel a little guilty for getting to miss out on a low bottom:

  • If you can get through an entire episode of Mad Men without wanting to go on a drinking binge (or smoking binge for that matter), you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If a friend comes over and puts a bottle of Jagermeister in your freezer and you’re not tempted to sneak sips, you can still be an alcoholic. Well, maybe not Jagermeister. That shit is vile. I only use that example because it happened to me last weekend. Let’s change it to a frosty bottle of Lemoncello.
  • If you somehow managed to lose weight after you stopped drinking, even after consuming huge amounts of chocolate and ice cream, you can still be an alcoholic.

These are some brutal truths told by someone who has been there, and is now a recovering alcoholic–sober for the past eight months.

Ellie’s been lucky so far in my opinion.

  • She hasn’t ended up in jail or the hospital because of her drinking or drug use.
  • She hasn’t lost her job.
  • She hasn’t flunked out of school–but I think she came pretty close to losing her scholarship last semester, given how angry she became when her father asked about her grades.
  • She hasn’t gotten raped while drunk or high.
  • She hasn’t killed or injured anyone or been arrested or hospitalized because she was driving drunk or high–though I am guessing her car accident in January was probably due to her being high or drunk more likely than not.

However, I seriously doubt that will remain the case for long. The longer she is an active alcoholic and drug addict the greater the odds something bad will happen to her.

Last summer and fall, I promised Ellie and her mother I would be there for her, if she should want my help. For a short while longer I will hold myself to that promise–but only for a short while longer. And, only if Ellie makes her amends to me; shows me that she has made a place for me by her side; and shows me that she is as committed to keeping me there as I have been to being there for her these last nine months.

She has to admit the truth of who and what we have been to each other publicly; she has to apologize for how she has treated me and hurt me; she has to take responsibility for her lies and actions of the past nine months; and, finally, she has to show that she cares for me as I have always cared for her.

I will always love my beloved Irish rose. But, if she does not show that the woman who loves me still survives soon, I will move on as I believe Ellie would want me to do because she loves me. If she remains the drug-addicted alcoholic that she has been for the past nine months and continues to lie about me and what we have been to each other–there is nothing left for me here, because there is nothing left of the amazing woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

The author of the post I linked to and quoted above says that she was lucky, because she managed to start her recovery before her illness destroyed her chances at a normal life.

I had what’s known as a “high” rock bottom. Through the grace of God, I was able to start recovering from my drinking problem before I seriously screwed up my life. It doesn’t make me any less of an alcoholic. It does make me very grateful.

I don’t believe Ellie has gotten help for her addictions yet. I doubt she has even admitted that she is an addict or alcoholic to herself, much less to anyone else. I hope she realizes it soon. I keep praying for the woman I love and have been hoping that she too has a “high rock bottom” as the woman who wrote the article didbefore she destroys all of the hopes, dreams and goals that she once told me about.

Unfortunately, I know that Ellie does not have the same resources that the author of the post was lucky to draw upon. The woman writes:

Today marks the 8th month of my sobriety. I want to thank God, Hubster, my kids, my family and my friends for helping me live a life less scripted.

Ellie has lost her faith from what I have seen. She was once a devout Catholic, but appears to have given it up. She is unmarried and has no children or husband to help her. Her family is in denial and her father and brother are both alcoholics–so very unlikely to be able to help her get better. Most of her friends, at least from what I have seen over the past year, are part of her problems–and can not be part of her recovery, even if they were willing to and committed enough to her to do so.

I hope she hits rock bottom soon, while I am still here to help her on her long road to recovery. I love her and always will, as I have all her life. I would walk beside her on her long road to recovery, as I have promised so often in the past, if she should ask me to. I would point out that she has worked very hard at pushing me away for the last nine months–and if she should want or need my help she will need to work equally hard to win me back.

It is up to her. Until she realizes she has a problem; admits it to herself and seeks help–no one can help her. Until Ellie finally learns to love herself enough to want to be more than a drug-addicted alcoholic–she can not love anyone or really understand what it means to be loved by anyone–especially me. Until she wants me back beside her and is willing to show she is committed to having me there–she will have to struggle on without me, my love and my support.

There are only three weeks left to this semester. I hope that she does not spiral out of control as she did last May. I am not hopeful as she has even less reason to take care of herself than she did last year since I am no longer there.

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 addictions 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 @ 3:53 am
Filed under: Crying Out Now andLife with Ellie andpv
You Don’t Know Her Like I Do

Posted on Wednesday 18 April 2012

Just added this to my cellphone’s music collection.

Hey ole friend, thanks for callin’
Its good to know somebody cares
And yeah, she’s gone, But I don’t feel like talkin’

Might be just too much to bear
To hear somebody say I’ll stop hurting
To hear somebody say she ain’t worth it

You don’t know her like I do
You’ll never understand
You don’t know what we’ve been through
That girl’s my best friend
And there’s no way you’re gonna help me
She’s the only one who can
No, you don’t know how much I’ve got to lose
You don’t know her like I do

I can’t forget, I’m drownin’ in these memories
It fills my soul with all the little things
And I can’t cope, it’s like a death inside the family
It’s like she stole my way to breathe
So don’t try to tell me I’ll stop hurting
And don’t try to tell me, she ain’t worth it

Cause you don’t know her like I do
You’ll never understand
And you don’t know what we’ve been through
That girl’s my best friend
There’s no way you’re going to help me,
She’s the only one who can

You don’t know her like I do
You’ll never understand
You don’t know what we’ve been through
That girl’s my best friend
There’s no way you’re gonna help me
She’s the only one who can
No, you don’t know how much I’ve got to lose
You don’t know her like I do

Dan @ 6:29 pm
Filed under: Music
Be Hated, Love Someone….

Posted on Wednesday 18 April 2012

Adrian Tan spoke at the convocation of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in 2008. His speech was titled: Don’t Work, Be Hated, Love Someone. I found his speech on a blog post that was recommended to me by a friend.

I am quoting some of his speech, as I believe it is important.

“Be Hated.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.”

It is easy to be popular, but it also means that you’ve never taken a stand or stood up to any one.

Last summer, I stood up to Ellie’s family, because I care about Ellie and love her–after all, I did ask Ellie to marry me. In the course of trying to get her parents to help Ellie, I confronted her father about his own drinking problem, and he has done everything within his power to isolate me from his family, including Ellie, because of it. That does not change the fact that he is an alcoholic in denial. It does not change the fact that Ellie has a problem with drugs and alcohol.

Even in spite of all that has happened, I believe that Ellie’s mother understands how I truly feel about Ellie and her whole family, even if she is not brave enough to show it. Her last text message to me was:

“Dan, I know you will always be there for us.”

If she believed the lies that Ellie and Ellie’s father have been telling since last June, why would she send me that message. Deep in her heart, she knows that all I have done I have done out of my love for Ellie and her entire family–people I have considered part of my family for almost 30 years, and still do–whether they choose to recognize that fact or not.

“fall in love.

I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.

You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.

You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.

Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.”

I don’t believe that Adrian Tan intended for loving someone and being hated to be part of the same situation. For most people, the two things would not be related at all. That isn’t the case for me. If I didn’t love Ellie, I probably wouldn’t be hated by her family. It is only because I love Ellie that I took a stand and tried to help her.

I love Ellie completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. That is just how I feel about Ellie. I have known her all of her life and love her for who she is–warts and all. I have seen the worst she can be, and still love her despite it all. Even after all she has done these last nine months, I still love her and care for her. Though she is not a part of my life any longer, I hope she knows if she wants me back in her life, makes her amends and shows me that she wants me back, I will be there for her as I have promised her.

I love Ellie more than I love Gee, my late wife. As my friend Brad pointed out, that is likely because I have known Ellie all of her life and loved her in some way for all of it. First, it was as the adorable, if bratty and selfish, daughter of two of my good friends–people I have considered friends and family for almost 30 years. Then it was as my friend in her own right–unlike many people, I always accepted her and her siblings as friends of mine on their own, outside of my relationship with their parents–after all, her parents are friends of my parents. Finally, it was as the woman I love–the woman that loves me and discussed all that being a couple meant for that week after I told her how my feelings for her had grown.

Ellie–the woman that said she loves me–does inspire me. She drives me to try and be a better person than I would be without her, much as Gee did and still does. That is one reason I love her so very much. The fact that Ellie is gone–lost to her addictions and no longer a part of my life–really doesn’t matter that much. That, at least for that short week, Ellie did love me and it was pretty clearly that she was at least considering accepting my proposal before I confronted her about her drinking is what is important. I do not believe she would have asked me about religion, told me what she wanted to name two of our children, or learned to say “Sarangheyo” unless she loved me. She was far too honest a person for that–she didn’t believe in playing games or lying.

Unfortunately, her drinking and drug addictions have been slowly destroying her brain and her heart, spirit and personality. I really do not know who the drug-addicted alcoholic that is inhabiting her body is, nor do I want to. As Adrian says, I do love her completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. I have done what I have to try and help her because of the deep and abiding love I have for Ellie.

I can do no more for her. Until Ellie realizes she has a problem, there is nothing any one can do for her. Until Ellie learns to love herself, she can not love anybody or accept anyone loving her. I believe that somewhere, buried deep under the hungers and tragedy of her addictions, the woman that said “Sarangheyo” to me and told me how she adored Asians with freckles still survives. I hope that Ellie will fight her addictions and come back to being who God meant her to be soon.

I grieve for my beautiful Irish rose, mourn her loss, and celebrate the time we had together, both as friends and as something possibly more.

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 addictions 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 @ 3:55 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv
Scars and Imperfections

Posted on Wednesday 11 April 2012

Salon.com has a really great article on scars, imperfections and differences… My favorite part is the concluding paragraph where it says:

“I know life for Abigail – and Natalie and Johan and Frank and everybody else wounded or scarred or born different — is more complicated than that. The things that make us stand out in the crowd define us in a million little ways. They can remind us of the most dramatic, heroic moments of our lives, and of every small indignity and cruelty that has happened since. But what Bea and Abigail got to in the span of one recess period was that life isn’t about seeing past each other’s imperfections. It’s about being unafraid to look at them directly. Because that’s where the love is — in the cracks and the sufferings and the challenges. Life isn’t flawless. But it can be very, very beautiful. That day at recess, Bea told me, she had kissed Abigail, right on the place where her arm stops at the wrist. And they played together until the bell rang, and it was time to go back to class.”

I understand this article very well for so many reasons.

First, my father was burned fairly seriously when I was a child. He had horrific scars on both of his legs for many years. He was caught in an oil fire while working and had second and third degree burns over a good deal of his legs. Those scars have faded over the years, and he has gained new ones in their place–like the scars from his heart surgery in 2001.

Second, one of my favorite people in the world and one of my best friends was born with cerebral palsy and, when I first met him, used crutches to walk. As he’s gotten older, he’s uses a wheelchair more and more, because it provides him with some conveniences and capabilities he’d not have using his crutches–like the ability to carry his adorable daughter. I was honored when, at my wedding to Gee, he, as the best man, offered a toast and told our friends and family that I was the first person he had ever met that never saw his crutches.

In the over two decades I have been friends with Brad, I have been horrified and shocked when people took his physical disability and assumed that it meant he was mentally disabled as well. There were so many times when people would speak to me, instead of him, probably in large part due to his disability. People would often underestimate him based on his physical limitations…usually a bad mistake in my opinion.

Fortunately, Brad’s always had a good sense of humor about it–something I think he learned from his mother. He told me how when people would ask her what he wanted at restaurants as a child, obviously assuming that Brad wouldn’t understand them, she would grunt at him and he’d grunt back, and then she’d place his order for him. Never mind that Brad is one of the most talented writers I know, or that he has a Master’s of Social Work from Simmons, which is considered one of the top social work programs in the country.

In fact, I’ve never really seen Brad let his physical disability get in the way of anything he wanted to do. That’s one reason he’s someone I admire and respect. He doesn’t make excuses, except about his writing ability, but that’s another story entirely. We met because Brad was a skier, and the editor of the New England Handicapped Sportsmen’s Association’s newsletter. He needed a photographer who could ski, and I needed free lift tickets.

Somewhere, I’ve got a photo of Brad crossing Halibut Point’s beach. In the photo, Brad is standing on his crutches, surrounded by Volkswagen-sized granite boulders as far as the eye can see, since Halibut Point’s beach is not made of sand, but slabs and boulders of New England granite. It was Brad’s idea to walk down the beach from one trailhead to the other.

Third, Gee had a truly impressive scar left from her Whipple procedure–the operation that gave us the better part of a year together that we probably wouldn’t have had if she hadn’t had the surgery. The Whipple procedure, or pancreaticoduodenectomy, is one of the most complex and difficult surgeries in the world. It is such a complex surgery that the mortality rate at smaller hospitals or by less experienced surgeons can be over 15%.

To me, Gee’s scar was beautiful. It was a reminder of how strong and amazing the woman I love was. It was a reminder that she was a survivor. It was a reminder that our love for each other was one of the reasons she was able to make it through all that she had. It isn’t that I wanted her to have that scar, because, if I had had my choice, she would have no scars, no cancer, no need for surgery. But, she did have that scar, she did have cancer, and she did need the surgery–so I chose to see it as a reminder of her strength, our love and her survival.

In fact, the day after her Whipple procedure, an operation that lasted almost 11 hours, Gee wanted to get out of her hospital bed and walk for a bit. The nurse asked me if I was going to try and stop her, and I replied, “Hell no, she can beat me up…” At first the nurse thought I was joking, but then looked at my face and said, “You’re serious, aren’t you?” I replied, “Lady, I’ve got a 75 lb. weight advantage over her and I still lose 40% of the wrestling matches against her. She’s stronger than she looks, faster than a scalded cat, and doesn’t understand what it means to give up. Yes, I’m serious.” That’s part of why I love Gee so damn much, even today.

In so many ways, neither Gee nor I was perfect. But, somehow, we were perfect for each other. Just as I saw the scars Gee had and loved her even more because of them, she saw the ones I had–even though most of the ones I had, like those from my twin’s death at the hands of a drunken driver, were not physical or visible. I think she planned our engagement to be on the anniversary of my twin’s death specifically in order to help balance out the sorrow of that day with the joy of her saying yes. She was like that.

In fact, in the short time Gee and I were together, she did everything she could to heal the scars she saw on me. The only scars she really couldn’t heal were the ones caused by her death. I still count every day I had with Gee as a blessing–a gift. I know I was the one she was meant to love forever. It was why we met and went through what we did together.

But, I have also come to realize that, even as much as I love Gee, she isn’t the one I was meant to love for the rest of my life, nor would she want me to. That is why she made me promise to get married again if I should meet someone I love after she was gone. I think I know who Gee meant when she asked me to promise this to her, and if that person ever returns to my life, I will have to face the scars her addictions have left behind. I know I love her enough to do that.

Dan @ 2:09 pm
Filed under: life with Gee andMy Life andThoughts
Easter Sunday

Posted on Sunday 8 April 2012

Today is Easter Sunday. In the Christian faith, it is a day of celebration, for Jesus Christ was resurrected from death on this day. The season of Lent is one of prayer, penance, death and resurrection. It is a season of hope, renewal and faith. Even though Easter holds some sad memories for me, I still have hope and faith and celebrate the season of Lent.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher once said,

“Love is not consolation. It is light.”

It is my hope that my love for Ellie will be the light that guides her out of the darkness she has become lost in. I hope that her knowing that I love her will act as her guiding star when she finally realizes that she has lost her way and wants to come back home. In many ways, this season of Lent, I have been praying for Ellie to make her penance and be resurrected from her addictions, which have surely destroyed the woman I love as much as death could have.

I doubt this will happen, but I have a lot of faith in the amazing, beautiful, strong, smart and stubborn woman I love. While I can’t be sure that she even still exists, I know that if she does, she will eventually come to her senses and fight her addictions and try to find her true self once again. One reason I have such faith in her is because I know she is one of the smartest, stubbornest, strongest and beautiful women I have ever met. I just can not believe that her addictions could truly destroy her–that some part of her must survive beneath her addictions–still fighting to return to who she really is.

I hope that with time, experience and the maturity that comes with age, she will eventually realize that what I have said was not to hurt her, but because I love her and care about her. I hope she will eventually realize that all I have done I have done out of my deep and abiding love for her. I hope that she will see that I am the only one who cared enough about her this past summer to see what she was doing to herself—the only one who cared enough to risk everything to try and get her the help I believe part of her was crying out for. I am the only one who loved her enough to try to get her to see what she was doing to herself.

I hope that she will learn to love herself enough to realize that she deserves better than to be the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for the past nine months. Until she learns this, she will never be able to truly love anyone, or really accept anyone’s love for her. I hope that she will finally realize she deserves someone who loves her as I do–rather than someone who would cheat on her as Ian did or use her and dispose of her the way Jarrod did. I hope that she will finally understand that the way her father treats her mother and her is not right, nor is it the way it should be.

God be with her, my beloved Ellie. I do not know if any part of Ellie still survives her addictions. I will pray for her still. I hope that she finds the strength, the courage, the will and the love for herself that she will need to fight her addictions and become who I believe God truly meant her to be. I mourn and grieve for her loss–her death and destruction at the hands of her addictions.

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 addictions 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 @ 1:36 pm
Filed under: Events andFamily & Friends andLife with Ellie andpv andReligion
God’s Will and God’s Grace

Posted on Saturday 7 April 2012

On this most holy of weekends, between the day Christ was crucified and the day he was resurrected, I have been thinking about God’s Will and God’s Grace a lot.

A beautiful woman I know and love, whose birthday is today, once said:

“God’s Will will never take you where God’s Grace can not protect you.”

What she has clearly forgotten is that God gave human beings free will, and that if we choose to ignore God’s Will, we can go many places that God’s Grace can not reach us. I do not think that she really understand that whatever path she has chosen for herself is really her choice and the result of her decisions and actions alone.

It's your road and yours alone...others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

I seriously doubt that the path she is currently on is God’s Will or has anything to do with God. I doubt that God ever intended for anyone to become a drug-addicted alcoholic. I doubt that God ever wanted anyone to lie about a person they love or to treat the people she loves so horrifically–as she has been doing for the past nine months.

I don’t know whether she realizes that she is a drug addict or an alcoholic. Currently, I doubt it. But, if by any chance she is reading this blog still, I would ask her to seriously consider why she would go from accepting virtual hugs and kisses from someone to telling them to “lose her number and fuck off” in the matter of less then four hours on a day they never even spoke or saw each other.

I would ask her why she thinks she would throw away years of friendship, love, devotion and caring in an afternoon. The only thing of significance that happened on that afternoon was that I confronted her about her drinking via e-mail and text messages. Nothing else. If she was not an alcoholic, why did my confronting her cause such a huge issue–and why hasn’t she spoken to me in over nine months.

She might also want to consider that in the seven days prior to that, she had been talking with me about what she wanted to name our children–the Asians with freckles that she says she adores. The names she had in mind were Kelley and Cadence, and she said they would work for either boys or girls. She had also talked about things like religion, and was surprised when I told her I was converting to the Catholic faith as part of my wanting to marry her. We talked about holding off on the wedding until she finished college.

We talked about the claddagh ring I had bought her, and how, after we got married, it would be held in reserve for our daughter. We talked about the custom platinum and diamond claddagh ring I was working designing with a jeweler as her wedding band. She might want to ask herself, if she didn’t love me, why did she tell me she did in two languages–English and Korean. Why would she learn how to say “Sarangheyo” to me if she didn’t mean it? She should ask herself, why did she ask to see the claddagh ring, if she wasn’t considering accepting it? Given the subjects that we had talked about–everything that had to do with our starting a life together–subjects that she brought up, I think it is pretty clear that she was at least considering my proposal to her.

She might also want to ask herself, if she really didn’t/doesn’t love me or care about me, why does she still read my blog and what I’ve been writing? Why does it matter to her? Why does she still seem to take my advice?

She might want to also consider that of all the people she knows, the only one that she has pushed away since she became an active alcoholic and drug-addict is me. Why is that–given that it is common for addicts and alcoholics to push away the people they love–why am I the only one?

She might also want to ask herself, if she really believes the lies that she has been telling since I confronted her about her drinking, why has she never told me them to my face? Why does she refuse to speak to me, instead of confronting me about the “evil things” she says I have done? Is it because she knows they are truly lies and that deep inside, she feels that as long as she has not lied to me to my face, she can still tell herself that she hasn’t lied to me?

I think that some part of her is horrified by what she has done. Ellie was one of the most honest people I have ever known, and that is one reason I love her as much as I do. I think that her basic intrinsic honesty prevents her from lying to my face, because I am one of the few people she truly cares about and she can not lie to me because of that basic integral honesty, no matter what her addictions may make her do.

As I tried to tell her mother, when she asked me for documentation of Ellie’s illness, all of the actions and changes in Ellie’s behavior only seem to really make any sense if two premises are true:

The first premise is that Ellie is an alcoholic and a drug addict. There is a strong case for alcoholism being heritable, and given her family’s histories, it is very likely that Ellie has that genetic vulnerability. Also, the fact that her father and brother are both alcoholics increases the chances of her being one as well.

The second premise is that she loves me and cares about me. If she didn’t care about me, why would she push me away as she has. If she didn’t care about me, why does what I say or think still matter to her.

I have to wonder why she hasn’t cut all contact with Ian, her ex-boyfriend, the one who cheated on her at the beginning of 2011, and is most likely one of the major reasons she has spiraled into addiction the way she has over the past nine months. It doesn’t make much sense to me that she’d still be friends with him on her social media networks, but has cut me, the person she was talking about having children with, out of her life completely because I actually cared enough about her to see what she was doing and show my concern for the woman that loves me.

I doubt that it is coincidence that her insecurities and self-doubts flared up and caused her to start self-medicating with alcohol and marijuana at the end of the semester where she was hurt so badly by him. I think her pride in being a smart person and a good student and her need to excel academically, something she has done all her life, let her finish out the semester but she fell apart almost as soon as it was over.

Her drinking and drug use was almost non-existent prior to the end of last May. She spiraled out of control last summer and fall, and even though she was only taking four relatively easy courses last semester, she failed to make Dean’s List, as I warned her mother and her would happen. Contrast that with her previous academic year, where she was taking five courses, rather than four, and she easily made Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.634.

I think my warnings about her academic problems and how the almost nightly bouts of getting high or drunk were affecting her ability to do well academically are something she has taken to heart and cut back on her drinking and drug use, though not stopping it. I also believe she changed her course selection for this semester based on my warning her that her original choices of Accounting, Macro-economics, Micro-economics and Statistics would be a nightmare, and impossible for her to handle, especially given her previous semester’s performance and her drinking and drug use.

I know that if she lost her scholarship, which is the only way she can afford to go to the college of her choice, she would be wounded deeply. This is especially true, given how she has commented on her brother having to go to a state school after flunking out of his college of choice. I doubt that he would be forgiving and kind to her, considering some of what she has said, if she were to have to follow in his path that way.

I hope that with time, experience and the maturity that comes with age, she will eventually realize that what I have said was not to hurt her, but because I love her and care about her. I am the only one who cared enough about her this past summer to see what she was doing to herself. I am the only one who cared enough to risk everything to try and get her the help I believe part of her was crying out for. I am the only one who loved her enough to try to get her to see what she was doing to herself.

I hope that she will learn to love herself enough to realize that she deserves better than to be the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for the past nine months. I hope that she will realize that she deserves someone who loves her as I do–rather than someone who would cheat on her as Ian did or use her the way Jarrod did. I hope that she will finally understand that the way her father treats her mother and her is not right nor is it the way it should be.

God be with her, my beloved Ellie. I do not know if any part of Ellie still survives her addictions. I will pray for her still. I hope that she finds the strength, the courage, the will and the love for herself that she will need to fight her addictions and become who I believe God truly meant her to be. I still believe she is the one that Gee asked me to seek out just before her death over a decade ago. I am mourning and grieving for her loss–her death and destruction at the hands of her addictions.

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 addictions 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 @ 7:20 pm
Filed under: Life with Ellie andpv andReligion andThoughts
Happy Birthday To Three of My Favorite People

Posted on Saturday 7 April 2012

Today is a very special day, since three of the people I care about most were born today. I want to wish my nephew Nick, my adopted big brother Brian and most of all, Ellie–the woman I love most of all–a very happy birthday.

I hope that today finds brings them health, happiness and a fantastic year to come.

Nick, my oldest nephew, was born today, in 2001, and is, in many ways, the only good thing that came out of that horrific year.

Brian was someone I met through work back in the summer of 1999. I met some of the most important people in my life that summer, including Gee. He was a temp, filling in for one of the first-line support engineers that were contracted to help with service desk calls at the Washington, DC bureau of Reuters. He only worked there for the one day from what I remember, but we hit it off really well and became friends.

To give you an idea of how close a friend Brian is to me, he was a groomsman at my wedding to Gee the following year, and one of Gee’s pallbearers the next year. I haven’t seen him since he, Katy and their children moved back to California. I wish they lived closer.

Most of all, I really wish I could have spent today with Ellie. But that is not possible because of her illness and the changes it has wrought in her and her life. Her addictions make it impossible for me to be with her, and make it so that I don’t want to be with her. In many ways, there is nothing left of the woman I love as far as I can see.

So, I’ll mourn her and grieve for her, and celebrate the time we did have together, both as friends and as something more. That’s all I really can do at this point. Even though it has been over nine months since I last saw her, I pray for her every day, and hope that her knowing that at least one person loves her may make the difference in whether she is able to beat her addictions.

I hope she is doing well academically, since it is likely that if she does as poorly as she did last semester that she would lose her scholarship and be forced to drop out of the college of her choice, as her brother had to do two years ago.

I hope her counselor has helped her see that she does have a problem with drugs and alcohol, regardless of what her friends and family think. I hope whomever she is seeing for counseling is able to get her to admit she is an addict and to seek help for herself. The longer she is an active alcoholic and drug-addict, the harder it will be for her to break free of her addictions and the less likely any treatment she gets will succeed. The longer she is drinking and smoking marijuana, the more damage she will do the her mind, body, and health.

The longer she lives with the lies she has been telling herself, the more likely she is to begin to believe them. I pray that God gives her the strength, the courage, and the will to fight her addictions. I hope she remembers that God can not help her if she chooses to refuse His help. I also hope she realizes that it is very unlikely that God has planned for her to become a drug-addicted alcoholic–that she chose that path for herself, and only she can choose to change where her life is headed.

The truth of who Ellie and I were to each other is pretty clear in this photo, taken two years ago today, at her birthday dinner–one she texted me a half-dozen times to make sure I would be there, whether she remembers or admits it or not.

Ellie giving me bunny ears at Fire & Ice on her 18th birthday

Ellie giving me bunny ears at Fire & Ice on her 18th birthday

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 addictions 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 @ 12:14 pm
Filed under: Events andLife with Ellie andMy Life andpv
Her Laughter

Posted on Thursday 5 April 2012

I don’t really know if she is still out there reading what I write. If she is, and I hope that some part of the amazing woman I love still survives and is reading what I write and cares about what I say, I want her to know that one of the things I miss the most is her laughter. Be well my love and get better soon.

"Take bread away from me, if you wish, take air away, but do not take from me your laughter  Do not take away the rose, the lance flower that you pluck, the water that suddenly bursts forth in joy, the sudden wave of silver born in you.  Laugh at the night, at the day, at the moon, laugh at the twisted streets of the island, laugh at this clumsy boy who loves you, but when I open my eyes and close them, when my steps go, when my steps return, deny me bread, air, light, spring, but never your laughter, for I would die."  ~ Pablo Neruda from 'Your Laughter'

I’d also add these words:

“Let today be a day where you take nothing for granted. For life is fleeting, fragile and precious and can change on a whim. Say all the things you really want to say to your loved ones today, say the things you would regret should they pass on and your words remain unspoken. Rejoice, for you and they are alive today—and should you or they pass on to unknown shores, rejoice even more for you have a wonderful love story to tell.”

~ Jackson Kiddard

and tell Ellie that I love her still—I always have and always will… I hope her upcoming birthday brings her much happiness and that she learns to love herself and return to being who God meant her to be soon.

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 addictions 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 @ 12:58 pm
Filed under: Events andLife with Ellie andpv
Mega Millions History

Posted on Friday 30 March 2012

Today’s Mega Millions jackpot is at a record-breaking $640,000,000 as I write this. I have to wonder how many of my readers bought a ticket for tonight’s drawing, and if they did, what would they do if they won?

I bought a couple tickets, but not because I want the money for myself, but because of what I could do with the money to help society, my friends and family as a whole. This is something that I learned from Gee and my family growing up.

I know exactly what I’d do if I won… I’d take the one-time cash payout, which is probably a bit over $400,000,000 at this point…and put almost all of it into Gee’s foundation. I’d keep just enough of it to pay some bills and take care of my friends and family.

Some of my friends and family would get some help, because some of them are very deserving of it and been dealt a less than fair hand in my opinion. Then there are people that are important to me that I would make sure got taken care of–mainly by doing things like making sure my nieces and nephews would be able to go to whatever college they wanted without getting saddled with thousands of dollars of debt in the process–regardless of their parents’ ability to provide for them.

The money wouldn’t go to them directly, but would be setup in trusts for them and subject to some very strict conditions for them to be able to take advantage of it. I don’t believe in giving even my favorite nieces or nephews a free ride or carte blanche–I’d do something fairly similar to what “Red” did in the movie “The Ultiimate Gift.” I want them to learn the value of hard work, health, friendship, family, love, possessions and money, and what is truly important, at least the way I think of things. Money is probably the least important of them all.

After making sure all of that was taken care of, I’d leave to go cruising and sail off like Gee and I dreamed of doing so many years ago. I know who I’d want to go with me, but she isn’t likely to be around to go. I am pretty sure she is lost to her addictions, but hope, love and faith remain. As always, I close this post with a prayer for one of the women I love.

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 @ 8:18 pm
Filed under: Events andMy Life andNews andThoughts
People In Our Lives

Posted on Tuesday 27 March 2012

The people in our lives who love us are a gift to us. We don’t know how long we will have them for, and we should always make sure that they know how much they mean to us. In some cases, we lose them very suddenly, like I did my twin when he was killed by a drunk driver. In others, the loss is expected, but no less painful—as it was with Ellie and Gee.

These people are not us—they were not given to us, nor are they really taken from us. As long as we remember them and honor their memories, they will always be with us. In that way, they will never really be gone from our lives. If we remember the lessons that they taught us, by being part of our lives, then, they will live on through us in many ways—still touching our lives long after they have departed.

Some of them will have mostly good memories associated with them. Others, because of their choices and actions or the events of our lives, will have both good and bad memories associated with them. My advice is to forgive the bad memories and concentrate on the good ones. Keep the joy and happiness they brought into your life alive, and let the rest go.

That is what I have done for Ellie. I choose not to remember her as the drug-addicted alcoholic she has become, but as the beautiful, strong, smart and stubborn woman that loved me, and as the amazing young woman that was my good friend before that. I will always remember the joy and happiness that the time I spent with Ellie brought me.

This includes all the time I spent with her when she was younger because I was asked to be her friend, mentor, guardian and confidante—those days will always be important to me. The months I spent teaching her how to drive—given my love of driving—will always be cherished. Taking her out for her birthday—like the first time she ever went to Cracker Barrel—was something I loved to do—because she has always been special to me.

Remembering how Ellie would steal my polar fleece and then curl up, like an adorable ginger-haired cat, on the companionway of s/v Pretty Gee and fall asleep in the sun—smarter than the rest of my crew—knowing she would not get splashed while curled up in that warm, sunny and dry location is something I will think back upon and smile about. She was my friend back then with no doubts about how beautiful, smart, strong or capable she was—those all came later.

Remembering the smile on her face when I woke her in the mornings last summer with a treat of my snack sized cheesecakes or her favorite iced coffee is something that I will always love. It was one of the things I did because of how happy I knew it made her—and because I loved to see her happy. Remembering how she laughed when she was cleaning the green slime out of her family’s swimming pool and asking me to not let her fall in makes me smile. All I’ve ever really wanted for my beautiful Ellie is for her is to see her smile and want her to be happy, loved, safe and successful.

Most of all, the brief week she and I talked about our future together—where she told me she loved me and said “Sarangheyo” to me, and she told me how she adored Asians with freckles—will always be some of the happiest moments of my life. I would still marry Ellie, as I asked her last summer, but I am fairly sure she is lost to her addictions—and that the woman who loved me no longer exists.

Likewise, I will remember the times I spent with Gee—doing the mundane, daily life things like cooking for her or listening to her talk about her music. I would rather remember these simple memories rather than the last days of her life—with her in the hospital and stuck with needles, tubes and machines that were there to try and keep her barely alive. Her sense of humor, her quick wit, her sense of compassion and grace will always be there, whenever I think of my beloved wife Gee.

The memories of our first long cross-country road trip, when I moved Gee to Seattle so she could attend grad school out there are forever etched in the bedrock of my mind. In many ways, it was that long trip, spending so much time with each other, where Gee and I really learned that we loved each other and it was on that trip that we got engaged.

Looking back and remembering how Gee would row the little dinghy that she bought me as a Valentine’s Day gift in giant circles on Lake Burke and Lake Accotink will always bring a laugh to my lips.

I will miss them all…but they will always be a part of my life, because I choose to honor them and remember them. And, I will still pray for Ellie every day, as I have for the past nine months. Unlike the others, Ellie might still yet live. Part of me hopes that my beautiful Ellie still survives, somewhere beneath her addictions—mainly because I can not really believe that someone so smart, stubborn, strong, brave and beautiful could succumb to her addictions. She, like Gee, David, Shelley and the others I have lost over the years, is someone I love very much and always will.

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 @ 3:27 pm
Filed under: Family & Friends andLife with Ellie andpv andThoughts