1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

Yayyy! It's here!

As many of you know, I've been working on a book - what writer isn't? - and I'm super pleased to announce that it's finally available. It's called "The Un-Adult A-Rated Wally", and it features sixteen of what I consider to be my best stories - un-cut, un-edited and un-usually fun reading.  Some of the titles include "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boat Show", "Zen and the Art of Furler Installation", "Paradise - Kiss it Goodbye", and of course, a story about my sailing partner and first pup, Aduana - "Man's Best Friend - First Mate". Notice how Aduana scored two photos on the cover? I've been photo bombed by my own dog!
It's available right now from Seaworthy Publications, at https://www.seaworthy.com/product-p/978-1-948494-11-3.htm and will shortly be available at Amazon.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Also - for those who will be at the Annapolis Boat Show, this year's Sail to the Sun ICW Cruising Seminar will be on Monday, October 8 at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.  a full day seminar discussing important cruising topics such as anchoring, crossing the Gulf Stream, cruising the ICW and hurricane preparation. Presenters include cruising experts Carolyn Shearlock (the Boat Galley), Dave Skolnick (past president of SSCA and delivery captain), Greg Kutson (owner of Mantus Anchors) and yours truly. Lunch and a happy hour is included. For more information, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-sail-to-the-sun-cruising-seminar-tickets-50087840078

And that's it for today's blog post. Short and sweet, because I'm heading up the Chesapeake in the morning, and it's looking like the winds are favourable for a great day's sailing. See you at the show!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Going with the Flo!

Hurricane Florence was making her impending arrival in the neighbourhood known - winds were picking up and gusting to about 55. Although it had been raining off and on, the torrential downpours of later that evening had yet to materialize. It was looking to be a grim evening onboard Gypsy Wind, tied up at the head of a t-dock in River Dunes Marina, just outside of Oriental, NC.
With sunset and the onset of the heavy rains and stronger still winds imminent, I took Aduana for her walk while being outside was still not totally an irrational place to be. A white Mercedes pulled up behind me, two ladies inside with travellers of white wine. This being the south, the driver, Cindy, politely introduced herself and her friend Hannah, and told me that if I wished, I was welcome to stay in Cindy’s guest house, two blocks up the way, rather than remain on the boat.
Thanking her, I said that I would consider it but since it wasn’t too bad on the boat (yet), I would probably remain there for the night. She assured me it was no inconvenience, that the pup and I would be much more comfortable, and if I changed my mind, just come on over.
I thought as they drove off that that was a lovely offer to make to a total stranger. ‘Only in the south’ I mused, does this happen.
Arriving back at the marina, I noted that the walkway to the dock was now six inches underwater and the docks themselves were floating four feet higher than a few hours earlier. There remained about another five feet to the tops of the pilings. And this was twelve hours before Florence even made landfall. I needed to think about this.
I had chosen to come to River Dunes Marina to be safe and protect the boat. That’s because River Dunes is a well known hurricane hole. Marina manager Rich Beliveau is a friend and has been a marvellous supporter of and host to the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally participants in years’ past. 
Staying further south meant being too close to the storm if it made landfall as far north as some models predicted. Going further north, should there for any reason be a bridge closure at Alligator River, I’d be caught in an area with little protection from weather, and no resources or support. This was the best choice by far at a bad time.
My boat, while heeling somewhat in the stronger gusts, was reasonably comfortable, but Aduana wasn’t real happy about that, and the noise of the wind now roaring through the stays. She stayed close by me, an indication of her nervousness.
My big concern was the rising waters - would they lift the docks above the pilings? This would make the entire dock, and the 25 or so boats on it, one big raft floating over to the other side of the lagoon - with me on the t-dock as the greeting committee when it hit the other shore. I was considering what to do to protect my boat, with all options made much more difficult by the now significantly stronger wind, rain and darkness.
Suddenly, a knock on the boat. 
“Let’s go, we’re getting you out of here” said the man on the dock, who I soon discovered was Cindy’s husband Gene. Since I had already started to put together some items, having decided to vacate the premises, it took only a few minutes to complete that process and get onto the dock with Gene.
Within a few minutes, I was ensconced in a lovely guest house behind Gene and Cindy’s home. Wood floors, two leather reclining chairs, hot shower, bath, and streaming video. ‘What could be better’, I asked myself.
Did I mention there was a fridge full of beer?
Then Cindy brought up an amazing homemade bean soup with corn bread for a light dinner. I was very grateful for this as I’d not had enough of an appetite earlier to cook for myself. Then came some great company as Ed and Hanna Miller joined Cindy and Ed to chat and enjoy a good cigar in my new abode.
From hurricane to heaven, all in less than 30 minutes. Life was once again very good.
It turns out that Ed is the developer of the River Dunes community. He assured me that the dock pilings were well anchored and that there was no danger to my boat. 
“Once the water gets high enough, it stops rising in the marina and starts to flood the property”, he told me.
Given that the docklines were tripled, I could now relax, knowing my boat was safe.
After Flo Pool Party - see how stressed everyone is?
By the way, this is why hurricanes occur in the south - it gives southerners the opportunity to show the world what southern courtesy is all about, where total strangers become friends in a matter of moments. And it’s events such as these, when great things happen in the midst of strife or trouble, that keep me sanguine about the rough times. 
As those who know me know, in my life even the worst of times eventually turn into something great. It’s always been that way. You just have to have faith and believe in your heart that the world is a great place - because it is.

As I write this, I’m looking at two white stripes marked on one of the trees behind the house. As long as the water didn’t get to the second white line during the night, which signified high water at the marina, all was good. Since I couldn’t get to the boat anyway in the event of high water, I simply didn’t look at the marks. What about the other mark? If the water reached that high, you reached for your water wings!
This morning, with the change in wind direction, the water is now leaving the marina. The level is over a foot below the lower mark despite the continuing rain. The danger is past and I can relax. My biggest problem will be continuing north due to the debris picked up by the high waters from the storm. This problem will decrease as I move away from the storm battered region and head up to the Annapolis Sailboat Show, and the beginning of the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally a week later in Hampton VA.
The Rally has been described as “a two month long floating party”, which is not how I conceived it originally, but which has turned out to be a pretty fair assessment of the event.
I mean, consider all those wine and cheese parties, dinners and dock parties, dinghy raft ups, and even the occasional rum distillery tour for the pirates in the group. Most boaters heading south on the ICW worry about going aground - the Sail to the Sun participants worry about liver damage.
It truly is a good time, and along with the fun, we take away the concerns you might have of traveling this challenging waterway by providing expert knowledge of the entire 1095 miles of its route so as to avoid the various trouble spots along the way and keep you, and your boat, safe.
More than anything else, Rally folks are making new, wonderful lifetime friendships with people who are sharing the same adventure and together meeting the challenges and fun of a trip south with like minded sailors.
There is one final spot available on this year’s Rally due to a participant unfortunately having to cancel last week due to an unexpected issue. If you’re interested in joining us, you can find more information at www.SailtotheSun.com, request a brochure and even sign up there. 
If you’re planning on heading south this fall, I hope you’ll consider joining us in what will become an adventure you’ll cherish forever. 

If you’re going south, even if not this year, you probably want more information about the hows of doing it safely. In that case, you should plan on attending the third annual Sail to the Sun Annapolis Cruising Seminar.
This full day seminar is held on the Monday of the Sailboat show, making this year’s date October 8. The speakers are all experienced cruising veterans with years of experience and thousands of miles of cruising under their keels. These are people who know what they’re doing and who can give you invaluable advice to make your ICW trip, and cruising in general, much easier.
Speakers this year include Carolyn Shearlock, of the Boat Galley blog, Greg Kutsen of Mantus Anchors, Dave Skolnick, delivery captain and past president of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, and myself. This year’s seminars are also 80 minutes long. 
That’s because, in past years, we’ve found that the well motivated cruising audiences were so eager for more information, and had so many questions, that a 60 minute seminar was simply too short to convey all the valuable information that speakers had. Everyone wanted longer seminars, so we’ve made that change for you.
Carolyn discusses preparing your boat for a hurricane - and having listened to her talk last year, and applied much of it to how I dealt with Flo, I can attest to how valuable her advice is. Carolyn’s boat was one of the very few to survive the massive destruction caused last year when Irma invaded Boot Key Harbor. This lady knows what she’s talking about, although we all sincerely hope you’ll never need to use her advice.
Greg Kutson is the president of Mantus Anchors, and before creating Mantus, he cruised full time. His experiences convinced him that a better anchoring solution was needed, and thus, the incomparable Mantus Anchor was created.
Greg discusses proper anchoring techniques which you can use with any anchor design. This is one of the top five or six seminars I have ever seen, in all my years of cruising, and if you enjoy sleeping comfortably while at anchor, it’s one you must see.
Everyone worries about crossing the Gulf Stream that first time - everyone except Dave Skolnick, who has done this more times and in more boats, than he can count. His seminar on crossing the Stream is guaranteed to give you the confidence you need to make this cruisers’ rite of passage with the assurance that you’re doing it right. Dave also busts some myths about how so called ‘experts’ say you must cross, but having put his advice to the test, I can assure you, he’s got the goods.
I wrap the day up with my discussion on how to cruise the ICW, what to bring, what to leave behind, where the problem areas are and how to deal with them using my magical three word phrase, and much much more.
Along with all this great advice, you’ll have lots of time to ask your questions of the speakers. At the end of all this, we have a happy hour with drinks and nibbles during which you can meet the speakers and chat with them personally. Lunch is of course provided. For more information, or for tickets, click through to www.eventbrite.com/

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Where's Wally?

Ok, I admit it. I've been taking a break from blogging. If you blog, you know how challenging it can become. Between enjoying the Bahamas this past spring (ahhhh), putting the final touches on my new book (more on that in a bit!), my regular writing, organizing this year's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally (more on this too!), plus the usual rounds of boat fixin', rum drinkin' and socializing with fellow sailors, and then having my computer fail...
The Bahamas - as beautiful as ever, what can I say? I crossed over from Fort Lauderdale to West End, an uneventful crossing with some friends, Shawn and Shar, in their Pearson 35. We headed out onto the Banks the next day and were going to anchor at Carters Cay, about ten miles past Great Sale Cay. Then the fun started.
I was preparing to drop the anchor when I looked to the northwest. I saw what could best be described as a dark grey rug, all rolled up and coming our way, maybe five minutes tops to arrival. I've seen this before, it's never good, so I called Sean and Shar on the VHF. I suggested we hold off anchoring until that mess had gone through, that it would probably be 15 minutes of some blustery wind and rain.
Was I wrong! Almost an hour later, my bimini and dodger both torn off in what were probably 70 knot gusts, drenched to the skin in rain that at times was horizontal and stung when it hit, in a complete 'whiteout' for part of it, the winds finally fell back to 'blustery' and the rain was now merely heavy, rather than torrential. It's surprising how calm 25 knots is after experiencing 70.
On the brighter side, we had both stayed in deeper water and protected our boats and, other than being somewhat rattled (!), we were good to continue. The lesson here is that had we opted to anchor, we wouldn't have had time enough to properly set the hook against winds of that strength - and we would have been within 200 yards of the shore in about 8 feet of water. Had either of our anchors not held, there was no guarantee that that boat wouldn't have been blown ashore, as the winds clocked a full 360° during that hour. I think they did anyway. The bread crumb trail on my chartplotter went in every direction.
That was the most excitement of the trip, fortunately. The most frustration was having my phone quit, and then trying to get it replaced in the Bahamas. Over the next three months (when I wasn't struggling with my phone company), I ventured as far as Little Harbour and Pete's Pub, hung out at Green Turtle Cay, Marsh Harbour, Hopetown and a few of the lesser cays in the area, did a little snorkeling, caught zero fish and generally had a great time, culminating in the Regatta Time in Abaco, a fun race series. Watch for an upcoming article in Cruising World, and check out this online article I wrote - RTIA
On returning to the States - another easy Gulf Stream Crossing, this time West End to Palm Beach, I dealt with the usual round of fixing stuff that broke while in the islands - alternator and water pump this time around. The fun never ends, does it?
I'm now making my way up the east coast to Annapolis, and you can follow the trip at the Where's Wally link, which shows my position from my Delorme/Garmin Inreach unit. Later today, I'll be in St. Augustine before moving on to Fernandina Beach and into Georgia.
I'm now looking at the final edit for my first book - "The Un-Adult, A-Rated Wally" - which is an anthology of 16 of my best stories. I've culled these gems from articles published in the past both in print and online, and added a few unpublished stories as well.
It's a fun read - well, I had fun writing these stories and then polishing them up for the book - so I'm hoping you'll enjoy it too. Expect an announcement soon both here and on my Facebook pages when it's published.
I'm quite excited about this - although it isn't my first published book, that was Cuba Bound and published by Waterway Guide, this is the first one under my own name. I promise you, it won't be the last. There are two more in the works now.
An update on my Coppercoat epoxy job: I'm very pleased. After a month on the ICW and three months in the Bahamas, there was no hard growth and the soft growth that was on the hull was wiped off with a scrub brush.
On returning to the ICW, the product was really put to the test, in the nutrient rich waters at Cocoa. After three weeks, the prop was coated in barnacles to the point that it couldn't provide propulsion and had to be scraped. The hull had some growth at the waterline, but you could wipe it off with your hand - it simply didn't attach to the hull. I suspect that had I been moving and not anchored, even that little bit of growth would not have happened. So, I'm very pleased with the results of the product. When I next haul, I'll coat the prop as well and not have to deal with that job again.
Bottom line - the product isn't cheap, but it works as promised, provided you apply it according to the instructions. Here's the link for more information - Coppercoat USA
Another product I'm super pleased with is my new Sigma Drive. It's a CV joint for your boat, and it has totally eliminated vibrations caused by misalignment in the drive train. It's very simple to install, and at around $550 isn't particularly cheap, but the reduction in noise and vibration are very noticeable. Watch for my upcoming article on this product in Cruising World.

The Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is filling up rapidly - in fact, there are two spots only available as of today, and that only because one rallier had to back out due to a health issue. For those not familiar with the Sail to the Sun, it's a two month long rally from Hampton VA to Miami Fl on the Intracoastal Waterway.
It's been referred to as a "two month long floating party", and while it is a lot of fun, the goal is to make sure that the participants have a safe, enjoyable and stress free trip.
The stress free aspect is aided along with lots of dock parties, wine and cheese receptions from marinas and cities and towns we visit, raft ups, a visit to a rum distillery...
Along with the 'stress elimination' aspects of the rally, there is also a day long seminar in Annapolis prior to the event. I have top rated speakers in to discuss cruising, with a focus on the ICW for first time cruisers, and ending with an open mic round table discussion where you can ask the group about your concerns. There is also a 'night before' discussion in Hampton where I again bring in speakers for the group during a wine and cheese 'meet and greet'.
This is the fifth year I have conducted this rally, and each year it keeps getting better. Of course, each year's 'graduating' class deems itself the best, and to be honest? They're all right about that!
If you have questions about the Rally, you can find answers at the Rally website, Sail to the Sun or you can email me using the pop up on this page, or from the website. You can also request a Rally brochure from the site. Hope to see you this fall for 'the most fun on the ICW'.
That's it for today - time to get the anchor up and head off for St. Augustine.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Time for a Little Ranting...

Over the years, I’ve sounded off about people who make the ICW sound like a dangerous and frightening trip. Almost every time, the speaker, writer or blogger is someone who is trying to make a buck out of his baloney, selling a guide, or boating book, or, in the case of the ex-lawyer turned cruiser I’m about to discuss, hyping a Patreon page to support his travel. These people seem to think that drama sells, that making everything on a boat sound apocalyptic is the way to get clicks.
How about they try for some honesty, some factual data, some accuracy and see how that works? It’s how I built my reputation as a boating writer, it’s why my editors publish my material, it’s why people trust my information. I’m proud of that too, which is why you’ll never see anything bogus from this keyboard.
So to continue, a friend contacted me this evening, worried about a video he’d just watched about St. Andrew’s Sound in Georgia. “Reading bad stuff about that!!! Is there a way to miss it??” he said, referring to the area. 
He was very concerned, as he’s looking forward to doing the ICW in 2019 with his wife and doesn’t want her scared. This video was not a good advertisement for that part of the trip.
He had been watching a VLOG put out by a new ICW cruiser, someone who left Norfolk in January, 2017 - after contacting me for advice on the correct anchor size and type, as he was, to quote “First time down ICW - newbie sailor, in general”.
His big concern was that, without a windlass, would he be able to retrieve the 12 kg anchor he was considering replacing his Danforth with? And since he has no windlass, he didn’t want to try it first - “…but not sure I should test it anchored out”, so he asks me my opinion, telling me he has good upper body strength. (Insert major eyeroll here). This isn’t even considering the fact that a 12 kilo anchor is far too small for an 11,000 pound 34 foot boat, something else he seemed not to realize.
While I admire his good judgement in consulting with me, an expert on boating or the ICW he is not, and his VLOG demonstrates that. It isn’t quite as cringeworthy as Redford’s ‘All is Lost’, but it’s in the running. 
This guy, an educated professional, is now online sounding off like he’s an expert, and he has a Patreon following, earning $150 per video. So he’s not stupid. But he’s contacting me for anchoring advice? Are these people sure they really want to follow this guy for his advice? Entertainment value, sure, but boating and cruising advice?
In any event, his video - I will not perpetuate the crime by identifying who this guy is or where you can view the video - purports to show just how dangerous, how frightening, crossing through St. Andrews Sound is. To that end, he shows charts (but calls them “maps”), talks about other sources of information (not good ones) and reproduces comments from people who went through the Sound in bad conditions - and then has a video of a boat in a storm supposedly crossing through the Sound. It looks terrifying, especially if you’re new to the ICW.
I lost it at that point - here’s a screenshot of what I posted to this guy’s Facebook page
- and this is the fourth edit of what I wrote originally. The first one would have blistered your skin, I was so angry with this loon and his bad, dishonest advice.
In another video - he’s apparently got over 100 out now - he discusses a near miss with a container ship coming in to Norfolk, and the “15 foot wake” the vessel put out that his boat fell off of “with a thud”. 
While I admire good fiction, there’s no more accurate way to describe that claim than as complete and utter BS. I’ve never seen a wake bigger than 6 feet from a freighter. Based on the marina he was coming from, he shouldn’t have been any closer than three miles to the ship’s channel except for the last two miles he covered, and by then, those ships have slowed down considerably. Of course, if he sailed straight out to the ship’s channel rather than staying well inshore in 20+ feet of water…but why would he do that, if he did? Oh, right, he’s a newbie. 
For someone who’s not ever been through this area before, the thought of a fifteen foot ship’s wake is frightening - completely false, but frightening - and this guy makes it sound even worse than it is. It’s totally unfair to new cruisers to put this garbage out because you need a few extra clicks to get new rigging for your boat - which it appears from his page is his current project needing funding.
Sorry if that sounds ‘mean’ - but when it’s your turn to head out, I want you to enjoy your trip south, not spend every moment terrified that you’re going to go aground, sink, be swallowed up by the demons in St. Andrews Sound, run over by a freighter or capsized by the tsunami sized wake from one - or all of the above! That takes away a lot of the fun of the trip.
If it means calling out the people who produce this kind of crap, well, that’s what I’ll do.
Now, here are the facts about St. Andrew’s Sound.
It’s the one portion of the ICW where you actually go out into the Atlantic for a few short minutes as you round ‘R32’ before turning back in. It can get quite rough in wind against tide situations - which is just fine, because it means you get to spend an extra day at Jekyll Creek Marina, on a lovely island with a great marina restaurant and lots of interesting places to explore. Or you can hang out in one of the best anchorages on the ICW if you prefer. You’d have to be a bit of a masochist to challenge St. Andrew’s Sound - or any of the big Georgia sounds - in bad weather, and that’s not why we go cruising in any event, is it?
St. Andrews Sound/Umbrella Cut
If you’re really determined to get south RIGHT NOW! TODAY! and St. Andrews Sound is in a state, there’s always Umbrella Cut, an alternative route that is comfortably done in any weather on half tide and rising and that goes nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean. 
You see, that’s the difference between knowledge and newbies….this Vblogger likely has no idea that Umbrella Cut even exists as an alternative to St. Andrews Sound. I mean, it’s shown on the chart, (or “map” as he calls it), but I’m quite sure he doesn’t know that. 
In the chartlet, you can see the aids to navigation leading up to it (middle left), and the exit from Floyd’s Creek at the south on the Cumberland River end. I’d provide a more detailed chart, but the charts on my computer don’t cover the cut although it’s on my paper charts and plotter. 
Should you take this route, get local info from the guys at the marina as the locals use it all the time, and be sure to do it on a rising tide. It’s also written up online in Cruisers’ Net, which is an excellent source of information. Minimum depths are reported to be 5 - 8 feet at MLW.
As for Hampton Roads, this guy describes the entrance as very narrow. It’s not - it’s over 3/4 of a mile wide. If you stay at the northern edge of the big ship channel as you come in from the Chesapeake, you’ll be in over 40 feet of water and a considerable distance from the big ships - certainly more than far enough away for safety. If you’re on the south side as he appears to have been, you should be able to remain a quarter mile away from any large vessels.
I actually enjoy a lot of the VLOGS I see produced, but if you choose to blog or vblog, be honest with your readers and viewers. Add to the knowledge out there, not to the piles of BS. If you’re new to cruising, discuss your concerns, discuss your thinking as you work your way through the challenges you face, discuss what worked for you and what didn’t. 
Don’t pretend, as this guy does, that you’re some sort of expert, especially if you're trying to make a buck at it. You’ll get a lot more brownie points for an honest discussion of the facts, and you’ll leave behind a much cleaner wake.
It’s been suggested to me that I do the Patreon thing as this guy has, get people to pay so much per blog post, per video, that I have a large enough readership that I could do very well at it. I’ve thought about it of course, but something about the ‘begging boater’ thing has always bothered me. Tonight, thinking about this guy’s VLOG and Patreon page, I finally figured it out.
In all the years I’ve been sailing, I’ve never once had someone not a professional ask me to pay them for advice - and I’ve had a great many pros offer free advice to be fair to them. A great deal of what I know, and all of what I’ve accomplished, can be traced back to the help, advice, assistance and knowledge that other, more knowledgeable cruisers have given me, free of charge except maybe a beer or three. That’s a price I’m happy to pay - or be paid! 
That’s a big part of what sailing and cruising is about - sharing the knowledge we have to help others along, just as others helped us when we were new to the lifestyle. Begging for boatbucks just isn’t how I want to make my way.
I spend a lot of hours with people online, in print and in person, providing advice. I’m happy to do it, and I actually have been rewarded for these efforts. Here’s an example…
Years ago, I was coming into Covered Portage Cove in Georgian Bay, a favourite anchorage of mine I’ve written about in a national magazine. I was watching a boat leave the Cove and hailed them on the VHF, advising them to turn to port as they were too close to a rock at the edge of the channel. 
They safely cleared it and as they came past me, the guy’s wife yells out - “Hey, it’s Gypsy Wind, you’re Wally! We read your article and we came here because of it. Thanks for helping us out.”
That’s what I call a great payday! The best thing is, we can all earn that reward, or call it karma if you want, simply by being there for other boaters. You don’t have to write for a national magazine, or do boat show presentations. 

Cruising Update - I’ve finished my maintenance at Green Cove Springs and am now heading south again, bound for Miami and then over to the Bahamas. The boat is running well, and if the winds would only co-operate a little more, all would be perfect. 
I’ve bought a new inflatable, so I’m selling my ten foot aluminum dinghy. It’s a v-bottom, and will handle a 6 hp outboard. It rows very well. If you’re interested in a really tough little boat as a tender, contact me about it using the popup on the page here. I’ll deliver on the east coast of Florida as I go by! 
My ten foot aluminum dinghy

I am updating the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally page and hope to have it completed shortly with an updated itinerary. Otherwise, the information on the site is up to date. If you have questions about the Rally, or would like a Rally brochure, you can contact me at ICW.Wally@gmail.com. The Rally is quickly starting to fill up, with six spots confirmed, so if you plan on joining up this year, don't hesitate.
This year’s Rally starts on October 15 in Hampton VA and ends in Miami on December 12. Along with the usual dock parties, potlucks, raftups, marina wine and cheeses and royal welcomes, we’ll also be enjoying a tour of a rum distillery, and a safari at a wild game park at one of our stops, and a tour of the Kennedy Space Center at Port Canaveral, to name just a few of the planned excursions.
Ralliers will also get free admission to the one day Sail to the Sun ICW Cruising Seminar during the Annapolis Sailboat Show, and there is of course the grande finale in Miami.
And I promise you we’ll get through St. Andrews Sound, safely and without drama.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wally? Hello? Wally, you here?

Hi everyone - yes, I'm here. Been real busy and you're going to love love love the reason I haven't been blogging lately...I'm just finishing up my first book! Yes!
I signed the agreement just after the New Year and am now sourcing the photos for this project, which is tentatively named 'The Un-Adult, A-Rated Wally'.
This book, to be published by Seaworthy Publications, is a compilation of some past work and will contain 16 stories, some published and some blog posts, and several never before published gems - gems in my opinion anyhow, even if I couldn't get some short sighted editor to agree with me, much less pay me for the piece.
Here are some of the chapter titles: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boat Show, A Visit to Yeehaw Junction, Pitchpoled!, Cuba's North Coast, Zen and the Art of Furler Installation, Paradise - Kiss it Goodbye, and more!
This anthology will be available by this summer, and I'll happily sign your copy! So yes, I'm jazzed about this.
Best of all, I'm also working on a second book, one that will be mandatory for anyone travelling on the ICW. Stay tuned for more information on both titles.
In addition to writing, I'm also doing a Coppercoat epoxy bottom job on Gypsy Wind. This product, which takes a considerable amount of preparation to apply, will give me ten years before I have to do a bottom job again.  Mind you, after all this work, it'll be ten years before I want to do it again!
Be watching for an upcoming article on this product in Cruising World. Given the legislation that many jurisdictions are putting in the way of anti fouling products, you may well want to consider this product for your own boat.
Once that job is done, (in the next day or so), and a couple of other minor maintenance jobs, I'll be back in the water and on my way to the Bahamas. And let me tell you, after two months of being on the hard at Green Cove Springs, I can't wait! I can only handle so much fun. I need to go sailing, and soon.
Some Sail to the Sun ICW Rally news - we finished the Rally in mid December in Miami. Before arriving there, we had some amazing fun times in Charleston, Windmill Harbor on Hilton Head, St. Mary's Thanksgiving Cruisers' Potluck, Fernandina Beach... Then there was the premiere full day seminar at Cocoa, which featured Fatty Goodlander as keynote speaker, plus Pam Wall and several other top notch speakers.
Members of this year's group are now in the Bahamas, Mexico and throughout Florida and the Keys. I hope to catch up with a few of them in the Abacos very soon, it was a great trip south.

The Sail to the Sun Cocoa Cruising Seminar  in early December was a huge hit, with over 100 in attendance for a very long day - from 9 pm until after 7, with lunch, dinner, drinks and a lot of great cameraderie. We'll be doing it again, so don't miss out!
We'll have a professionally produced video of the entire seminar's presentations available very shortly - be watching, as it is an amazing cruising resource, with over four hours of Fatty's incomparable wisdom, plus another six hours of great stuff from Lee Chesneau (weather), Mike Gianotti (electronics), Pam Wall (Bahamas and Gulf Stream) and yours truly (Cuba).
Special thanks to everyone who made this amazing event happen, and especially the folks at the Historic Cocoa Village Association, and Brad Whitmore, who basically put this all together. Great work guys.
This year's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally registration is now well under way, with several boats signing up at the Toronto Boat Show. This year's brochure is now available, you can email me at this link for a copy. If you're going south this fall, don't hesitate to sign up, as registration is limited and you don't want to miss out.
Along with all of our usual great events, such as this year's new Rum Distillery tour, we're going to add an African Lion Safari in 2018. That's what I love about the ICW - there's always something new, and this year, I found a game park just a few miles off the ICW.
Now that's almost as good as seeing a full sized elephant beside the ICW in the Myrtle Beach area - no kidding! Here's the photo in case you think I'm kidding you...
If you want more information on the 2018 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, you can check out the website at www.ICWally.com - or contact me directly for more information at Sail to the Sun ICW Rally. This is year 5 - can you believe it! - and I've got some special events planned to celebrate, including a reunion of the four previous events, plus this year's group. Stay tuned for details.
Ok, that's it for now, but I promise I'll blog more regularly from here on in - I have had a lot going on, and sometimes, you just have to take a break. Like Mom said, 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'. That didn't seem to work with Lori Lynn Green, but we were in grade seven, so who knows?
Final comment - be watching in Cruising World for some of my upcoming articles, including an update on Cuba regulations, East Coast Hurricane Holes and more.