Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

You can click
here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...


Well, truth be told, it wasn't that dark, only a bit damp and foggy, but the lights from the San Francisco shore glistened in the mist and clearly lit our way towards the Golden Gate. We left Ayala Cove at midnight, on the slack tide.
The Bay Bridge off to the left, and the S.F. skyline at night.
It didn't get dark or stormy until we made the grand left turn that all Bay Area cruisers dream of-- heading south towards San Diego and points beyond. And then things got rough.

The seas were quite lumpy and there were gale warnings from up north, but that isn't that unusual, weather-wise, for this time of year. We headed out off the coast and onto a southerly course, our rhumb line taking us due south and away from land. Unfortunately, the swell was running parallel to us, which made for a bumpy ride. Catamarans, as you may have gleamed, are wonderful cruising platforms, especially on a beam reach in long swells, but can be a bit uncomfortable if the wave action gets too short, too steep, too confused, or directly aft. When that happens the the water will slam up against the bottom of the center span of the boat, causing, what is lovingly called, "bridge slap".

The result is a loud bang that shudders through the center of the boat, causing anything on the salon table to jump about an inch into the air. On the bright side, whatever jumps up almost always lands upright and in exactly the same place that it started, but it can be a bit disconcerting if you've never experienced it before. On our trip from Trinidad we got into just such a situation, and at one point one of the crew woke up me to say that they thought the boat was breaking apart. It wasn't, but it can feel like that.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to work we go...

And it can also make you seasick, which is what happened to AnnMarie. When we set off, she spent most of her time in the galley cooking, or down in a cabin or bilge, organizing things. That is probably the worst thing you can do when starting out on a cruise. The best thing to do is to rest as much as possible, and only get up to take your shift at the helm. But there were meals to make, and things to clean, and she felt responsible. She over did it, and got sick.
The last two months of heavy duty effort, coupled with a general lack of sleep, the normal stress of sailing anywhere, and the anxiety of heading off into the blue yonder, conspired to produce a not unexpected case of mal-de-mar. If you've ever been sailing, you'll know that this is typical on the first day, and the best remedy is restful sleep. To that end she has been lying in the captain's bunk of late, trying to relax, but we don't envy her. If I had to choose between being horizontal and green, or upright and tired, I'd pick the latter every time.
The seas that night were not making her recovery any easier. We'd motored all the way from the gate, trying to find a tack that banged us up the least. As we did the prevailing waves began to grow at an angle to the swell, confusing the seaway and making it almost impossible to ride smoothly. At some point the wind reached gale strength, and we found ourselves surfing down the face of waves, wondering if we might bury the bow. Quite an ominous beginning to what should have been an easy sleigh ride to San Diego.

We headed off the wind a bit more, but that meant we would be heading further away from the coast. Around midnight we were more than forty miles from land, and at day break we tacked back towards shore for a bit, but that left our course almost due east, not gaining ground towards our destination. Such is the way of cruising. You often find yourself having to choose between not getting there or getting beat up.

And so went the day. The winds howled, the seas broke, the crew stood their watches, and the boredom of ordinary life at sea set in. There is not much to see when off the coast. Occasionally a group of dolphins will come along side and frolic in your path, or some random cargo ship will decide to run you over, but otherwise there isn't much to do.
A sailor's life for me!

During the day AnnMarie bravely stood her watch, to the point of getting sick over the side, so Michael and I took her turns and she mostly slept that first day, "mortified and saddened" to quote her directly, for not being better rested before setting sail. She knew better, and was kicking herself for not taking better care of herself. A friend of ours claims that you should never set off sailing at night, but I think being anxious and sleep deprived caused more upset stomachs than any amount of sunlight.

The watches continued, with Michael and I going along only until we felt tired. The sun went down and the winds picked up. We continued to be blown further from the coast and so we tacked back towards land. Micheal came up for his watch and I crashed into bed, but not before explaining the situation and saying that if there were any problems at all to just lean over and knock on my hatch and I'd come up immediately.
And that is an example of why, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, it is almost impossible to give an order and have the crew do exactly what you meant, and not what you said. To me, saying "if anything goes wrong" meant that "if anything at all out of the ordinary" happens. What Michael understood was "if anything that you think you can't handle" happens. This is problematic because Michael, being a very capable, competent, and self-reliant buckaroo is very confident about what he can handle (and in most cases with good reason- he is strong, smart, and capable of remaining calm under stress), so anything short of hitting a whale, a boat, or land, just isn't going to be something he deems worth the trouble of disturbing me over.

I woke up around 4AM, rested but surprised that I'd slept as long as I did. I stumbled up into the salon and tried to make sense of the chart plotter and log, both of which were blank, the last entry in the log my own. I looked at the GPS and radio, neither of which were registering a position. In fact, none of our electronics were working, nor had there been any log from Michael at all. I dashed out into the cockpit to make sure that he was still there, only to find him calmly sitting at the helm, watching the waves break around our bows.

"Um, what's going on?" I asked, "None of the electronics seem to be working."

He just shrugged and said that he'd noticed it had all stopped working a few minutes after I'd gone to bed. I then pointed out that there weren't any log entries either. His response was that since nothing was working, there wasn't anything to record.

It was a dark, moonless night, we were in a gale, heading for an unforgiving, rocky coast. We were some unknown distance from it, and unaware of our current position. We didn't have any record of our course or speed for the last several hours, and I still hadn't fully woken up. It is moments like this that make sailing a combination of the momentary terror one typically associates with earthquakes, losing control of your car on a slippery road, and receiving an ominous letter from the IRS.
I managed to reboot the electronics, but was alarmed to realize that we were having a problem with it. We had just spent a lot of money installing new equipment, and this was the first time we'd really needed to rely on it, and it let us down. It failing this early in our trip did not bode well, and I decided that I'd pick up a hand held GPS just to be on the safe side. We did get it all working again, figured out where we were (safely far from the coast) and continued on, but the weather wasn't letting up and a certain fatigue and ennui sets in under these conditions. We just wanted a rest from the constant banging and jostling of the gale, so we decided to take refuge in the harbor at Port Louie, near San Louis Obispo.  We really didn't want to stop but we needed a rest.

We entered the harbor at night, in the fog, grabbed one of the first mooring balls designated for transient guests, and collapsed into bed. If you've ever been on a long car ride, and pushed yourself past that point of exhaustion, where all you can think of is sleep, you'll know what it is hold up safely in a harbor after riding out a gale. We slept like rocks.

The harbor is a beautiful, picturesque one, with an old wharf that runs out into the bay. There are a number of different anchorages there, many different mooring options, and some basic marine services, most notably a free water taxi that runs every couple of hours. There are many fishing vessels, and even more harbor seals, who've learned that any vessel left moored and unattended makes a great place to sun. You'll see no end of boats with spiked boards, barbed wire, and any number of other devices designed to deter aquatic boarding parties. Even more frustrating for someone leaving their boat in the harbor is the prodigious marine growth that seems to ignore all bottom paint. We were astounded at the growth we saw on some vessels. The locals we spoke with said that a boat left unattended for a couple of months can expect to have several feet of seaweed growing from it. I'm not sure if that is truth, or justification, but keeping your bottom clean here seems to be a full time job.
Michael and I woke up starving hungry. AnnMarie's stomach was still a bit tight, so we left her aboard and grabbed a taxi ride into shore and had breakfast at a restaurant right on the wharf, called "Fat Cats". It had come highly recommended by our good friend, and sailing hero, Harry, and it was a nice treat to sit on land and watch others bob about.

Michael was worried about getting back to Emeryville before the end of the weekend, so while ashore we looked into making arrangements for his transportation. It seemed that the only way to get him from the marina to the nearest trains or buses involved a very expensive cab ride, so he decided to wait until we got to Santa Barbara, where there would be better access to public transport. The weather seemed to be improving, and the ride south looks good.

Our only problem now is getting around Point Conception, which is notorious for bad seas, horrible currents, and giant sea monsters that rise up and grab a hold of your ship, dragging it to the bottom. I'm less certain about that last one, but can vouchsafe the first two. I've been around that point several times, and have seen it be everything from flat glass to the inside of a washing machine. Current reports are that we'll have a good weather window for the next twenty-four hours, so we'll be setting out shortly and hoping to avoid a storm that is brewing to the north.

Wish us well.


Sunday, October 19, 2014



Away from the dock at last!

We are running out of time. If we hope to make it to San Diego in time to meet our crew, and ultimately start a sailing adventure from which we hope never to return, we must set sail immediately.  Projects that aren't absolutely necessary (like connecting the wiring for the solar panels, or getting the water maker working, or even finishing the refrigerator install) need to be put on hold. They aren't critical to our safety. We can generate power from other sources, carry water in the tanks, and buy ice for the cooler.  It is now or never, so we must cast off our dock lines and head for the open sea.

This is the emotional equivalent of standing at the open door of a plane, ten thousand feet above the earth, the wind buffeting your clothes as much as your confidence, and realizing that you actually need to voluntarily commit to jumping out of a perfectly good air plane.  You have come to the point where all those practice lessons on how to jump, how to deal with your chute not opening, how to land safely, etc., are either going to keep you alive, or prove a complete waste of time and you will die.  So you either jump out into space, or in our case, head for the open sea, or forever remain a wannabe, and eventually die at the dock.

Our new fuel tank, about to be installed.
So we headed for the open sea, by which I mean we motored towards the fuel dock, about 100 yards north of our berth, still safely within the confines of our marina, where we filled the starboard tank (the port tank is installed, but the epoxy barrier coat is still drying and we can't add fuel to it for at least another four days) and topped up as many diesel jugs as we thought necessary.  Once satisfied, we turned towards the fairway and began our journey, only to have the port engine stall. No trip ends smoothly that doesn't include some confusion in the beginning, and it turned out that a fuel valve had been left closed when we put the new tank in place. A quick adjustment and all is well.

We made our way out through the sea wall but soon realized that the tide was running against us, so we headed towards Angel Island, and the very well protected Ayala Cove on its northern side, to wait for slack tide. Going out the gate with four knots running against us is asking for trouble, so we tied up to the shore side dock, finished a few last minute items, and grabbed a few moments rest.

Out wedding party on Ayala Cove, with Triton in the background.
Ayala Cove has been a favourite anchorage of ours, and holds many fond memories for us. We got married on the shores of Angel Island, not one hundred yards from where we sit, and have spent countless afternoons entertaining friends while tied to a mooring ball in the cove.. We will miss it dearly, along with the spectacular view of the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the San Francisco waterfront we've come to take for granted.

There are three of us aboard-- myself, AnnMarie, and our neighbor Michael, who is relatively new to sailing. This will be one the longest times he has ever been at sea, and I think he is excited to get out the gate and test his sea legs, but it is late at night, and I'm a bit anxious about going out to sea in the dark, in a boat with so many new and untested systems. Fortunately, the seas were "relatively" calm inside the gate (the real fun didn't start until we got off the coast) as we bid farewell to our home of over twenty-five years. It is hard to describe the feeling of leaving a place you've come to call home, knowing you might never reside there again. Both AnnMarie and I grew up on the East Coast, she in upstate New York, myself in northern New Jersey, but we realize now that we've become as much Bay Area residents as any third generation native.
Michael on deck.

And we'll miss this place. We will always have a soft spot in our hearts for the strange antics of the cooler-than-thou, mocha-swilling, bike-riding hipsters of the city, the geeky, socially-inept code monkeys of the Silicon valley, the less-than-tolerant politically-correct residents of Berkeley, the laid back, unwashed, TTITD-going artists, and the other ten thousand maniacs in our tribe. There will always be interesting places in the world, and all towns have their own charms, but there is no place quite like here.

Writing this now makes me realize just how big a change this is in our lives. We have given up so much of the predictable security we've come to take for granted, and are now on the cusp of a new life without any guarantees of stability, safety, or support, from those friends we've come to love as family. There is comfort in kith and kin, and stepping away from what you know has its own pensive moments, but there is a strange excitement as well, much the same as those last few moments as the roller coaster ponderously grinds to the top of the first hump. Tonight, lying here in our bunk, listening to the fog horn, feeling our catamaran roll with the swell, we hold each other and hope that everything goes well.

Ten Thousand Maniacs in our Tribe.

We will find that out all too soon, once we head out the gate and turn left, but for now, we rest as the waves rock us to sleep. It is a bit cold and damp, but AnnMarie is warm and we snuggle for a few hours before the real journey begins.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Road Goes On...


There is a great scene in one of the Lord of the Rings movies where Gandalf is standing atop the castle wall, gazing out at the enemy, anxiously waiting for the battle to begin, and says “The deep breath before the plunge”.
Just days before we are due to leave and there is still shit
tossed everywhere.  It will never all fit on the boat!

Well, the months prior to going cruising are nothing like that, mostly because you don’t have the time to think a lot about what’s next; you are too busy trying to get shit ready right now, and your event horizon doesn't include thoughts of the future, stopping to take a breath, or plunging in any direction.  If anything, the entire process is very much like running up a cliff that continues to get steeper while gasping for breath.
We've removed all of the head liner (including the owner's)
in order to install the bimini plumbing

For the last few months we've been furiously upgrading, installing, revising, redoing, rebuilding, repairing, and replacing various parts of our boat and haven’t had a moment to reflect on what was coming, or how quickly it would arrive.  But we are now only a few days away from leaving, and dreams of sugar plums dance in our heads.

Of course, those sugar plums include things like getting registered for the Baja-Haha, the cruising rally of approximately 200 boats going from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of Baja Sur, in Mexico.  It also includes obtaining the necessary permits to cross our southern border.  We think we have, although the Mexican website for doing so leaves a lot to be desired.  We’ve also had to make sure that our crew, AnnMarie’s older sister Judi, and Judi’s boyfriend Marco, have supplied us with all their proper paperwork.  And managing all this via the interwebs using Gurgle Translate is no joy either.

Nothing is more fun that fixing things
in small, cramped spaces!

We also need to take care of lots of little details like closing out various accounts, cancelling car insurance, and all the myriad details involved in going off for an extended cruise.  When I say we, I really mean AnnMarie, who has been handling almost all of the paper work involved.  I mostly lift heavy things, force various bits of metal or fiberglass together, and/or absorb toxic substances.  Honestly, I think I got the better job, and don’t envy her, as her task is on par with filing out a complicated IRS form, except in Spanish.

But it has been overwhelming, and we are starting to get a bit ragged.  A friend of ours, while trying to console us, recently said “Don’t worry, once you go sailing, all your problems will be behind you”.  I’m sure they meant well, but what will “be behind us” is our schedule, which has not kept pace with the calendar.   A lot of things are not done and won’t get done, but hopefully we won’t need them for the sail down to Mexico and can finish them once we are there.

We attended their wedding and then tried to leave town
When we were in this same situation last year, we doubled down, working twenty hour days, trying desperately to get nine women to make a baby in one month.  That didn't work, and we decided, quite at the last moment, to take another year to get ready.  That wasn't welcome news last year for our crew, which included Mike (who also sailed several legs on Triton) and his sweetie Melissa. 
They had taken time off to make the trip, and we felt horrible about it, begging forgiveness and promising we would make it up to them.  Ironically, our shove off date this year was (initially) October 12 th, which is one day after their wedding, so at least there was a happy ending!

Three boatloads of shit in a two boatload boat
It also forced us to realize just how much crap we had accumulated in our lives, and how little of it we actually needed.  We have spent the last year and a half giving away various treasures, keepsakes, tchotchkes, and other paraphernalia that we were storing in various places in our life.  It was amazing how much stuff we had. 

It was made worse by the fact that we had (at the time) two boats, several dock boxes, two storage containers, and a very large office with an even larger storage room attached to it.  Last year shocked us when we attempted to sort through all of it, but what we found even more surprising was how much stuff we still had to jettison this year. 
We now follow what we have come to call “The Robb Kane Container Theory Of Life”, which says that everything you own should have an appropriate container that will protect it and preserve it, that you should not over-stuff the container, and that the choice of the proper container is as important as the thing it contains.

To that end, all of our clothes are in Snap Ware containers.  We’ve found that if you leave clothes in cabinets on a boat, you end up with moldy clothes. 
But if you put them in air tight containers, you will have fresh smelling (and more importantly) dry clothes when you discover, about six months later, that the deck had a small leak, and that everything is floating inside the cabinet.  Sounds silly, but it works.  So we have lots of containers for everything, and everything is labelled.

This is another thing that has amused many of our friends, but when you are tired, seasick and just slightly drunk, and its dark inside the boat, and you need to find something without digging through everything, you’ll be glad you took the time to be so anal retentive.  Okay, so its beyond anal retentive.  Its epiglottis retentive.  Yet it works. But I digress.

In retrospect, delaying the trip last year was the right thing to do, and yet that year has sped by.  You would think that by now everything would be done and we’d be picking out matching Hawaiian shirts with our boat name on them.  Instead, we find ourselves working just as hard, and just as frantically trying to cram everything in at the last moment…just like last year.   But the difference this year is that although we have a lot still to do, and a lot of projects still got put on hold, we believe we've got enough things ready to safely sail to Mexico.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The bimini almost completely installed! Finally!!
This time last year, we realized that the hard-top bimini project couldn't possibly be finished, and we contemplating bringing the unfinished pieces with us and completing it in Mexico.  We now realize what a mistake that would have been, and are glad to say that the major fiberglass work is done, the bimini is installed, and ready to have the solar panels laid on top.  We haven’t had time to put more than a single coat of primer on it, and it still needs to be sanded and painted but that is something we are bringing with us and can do at anchor once we get there.   The important thing is that the bimini is in place, and we can walk on it if we need to.
The fuel tanks, on the other hand, were not completely finished.  This wasn't a show stopper, but we’d really rather not leave without finishing at least the port side (the old tank rotted away and was removed), and if need be, we can complete the starboard side sometime later on.  But here is where we were touched by an angel, or, at least a mensch.

Our hero!
As any reader of this blog will recall, our dear friend Jen Jackson sailed with us (on the leg from Trinidad to Panama) when we bought the boat and brought it back to the S.F. bay area.  She has continued to sail as crew on various boats around the world, even crossing the Pacific on one trip, and has become quite the consummate sailor herself.   In fact, she recently bought her own boat, and much to our delight, just offered to join us as crew on the Haha!

She also started dating another sailor named Harry, a former fishing captain, who lives on his own sail boat.  Harry is, like Jen, one of those people who can do just about anything he sets his mind to.  He has awesome fabricating skills, and is able to work crazy long hours with almost no breaks.  And he did just that.
Jen throws in some tacks on the tank

When he realized that we were struggling to get things finished on time, he immediately offered to help, spending unbelievably long hours with me in the shop building the fuel tank along with various other projects on the boat.  Even Jen pitched in (when she wasn't at school or working) helping me fabricate the tank.  She had been taking an aluminium welding class at the local college at the time and showed up knowing the right TIG welder settings for what we were doing, which also saved us a lot of time and frustration.

More importantly, both of them really knew what they were doing.  When you are building something mission critical like a fuel tank, or a bimini, that kind of help is invaluable.  In fact, a number of friends stopped by to help, all of them having the kind of competence and skills that made it possible for me to hand them a task and know it would get done right the first time.  Having their help made it possible for me to focus on getting other things done without having to constantly double-check what they were doing.  To that end I also need to give a big shout out to Jeff, Kate, Felix, Mota, and a few others whose names escape me at the moment.  If I've overlooked you, please know that your help was still greatly appreciated, we are just too brain-dead exhausted to call it to mind.

The finished port side fuel tank waiting to be installed.  UGH!
So, we trudge on, working on those things we think too important to leave to others, throwing money at the things we think need doing that we just can’t take on ourselves, and putting (too many) other items on hold for when we get to Mexico.

The dead line approaches, our nerves fray, our resolve deepens, and the road goes on…

Cheers for now,

Robb & AnnMarie

PS.  Life on a sail boat is fraught with the three most corrosive elements known to man, namely UV radiation, salt water, and divorce lawyers.  Lest we've painted too rosy a picture, the stress is very real, and it takes its toll on us and the relationship.  Unless you are able to joke about it, that kind of pressure can break you apart.  Instead, we have adopted a gallows humor response. When we first started this project, our term of endearment was “I love you more.”  Now, we say “I hate you, but I'm stuck with you.”  Sometimes we can go as long as four hours before saying it to each other.   Lately it has morphed into "I hate you more, and I'm still stuck with you."  Its a funny old life.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

All Is Lost


No, the Triton didn't sink, we have not given up hope, nor are we abandoning ship.  The post title is a reference to a recent film about sailing, which we review (quite bitterly) a bit later on in this latest entry.  Spoiler Alert:  If you haven't seen the movie yet, and think you might want to [I only recommend doing so if you know nothing about sailing, marine electronic equipment, emergency preparedness & response, survival at sea, or physics] then read the next three paragraphs and skip on to the next post.

As to our current status, we will be so bold as to paraphrase Mark Twain: "there are three kinds of boat work: boat work, damn boat work, and slipped schedules".  In other words, we are still in Emeryville.  Boat work continues apace and we are actually making progress, but we've decided that our best plan is to finish the projects properly, without bleeding through our eyes or rushing just to meet a self-imposed schedule.  So we trudge on, and refuse to give any future hint as to our departure date.

This has caused a bit of consternation for our friends who had money riding in the "When Will They Finally Leave!!!" pool.  It was started by good friends (I can only imagine what my bad friends are betting on) and each entry date costs five dollars.  I think you can still get in on it, but here's a tip: I wouldn't put anything down for January.

We have only a few projects left to complete, but we are debating whether we'll head to Mexico directly, or instead spend the summer cruising the Bay Area Delta, or perhaps head north for British Columbia.  Nothing is certain yet, except that once the bimini and fuel tank projects are finished, we'll cast off the dock lines and go cruising somewhere.

Okay, back to my rant about stupid movies.  During the holidays, we took an evening off and went to see "All Is Lost"; a film about a lone mariner on a small sloop somewhere in the India Ocean, who encounters one problem after another, and through no fault of his own, somehow survives them all.  We thought this might be a good film to see, something to cheer our spirits and motivate us.

It did not.  In fact, we walked out of the theater grumbling out loud about the stupidity and incompetence of the protagonist.  It is hard to catalogue all of the mistakes that the main (in fact the only) character of the movie makes, but suffice to say that the story finds him asleep while sailing alone in the Indian Ocean on a boat that has inadvertently struck a submerged shipping container and is now taking on water.

The movie has almost no dialogue and a lot of very good music.  The only actor in it is Robert Redford, whom a friend of mine described as "so cute I'd be happy to pay just to watch him do laundry".   Granted, he has boyish good looks, and he comes across as a solid, decent human being in almost every movie I've seen him in (even his villains seem like folks you wouldn't mind buying a beer) so perhaps that explains the rave reviews.  It doesn't help that everyone (who doesn't sail) who sees this movie will think that this is a typical sailing story.  It isn't.

Sailing alone isn't unheard of, in fact, folks do it safely all the time.  But if you are going to cross an ocean, you may want to have taken a few precautions first, like learning what to do in the event of flooding, storms, or any other disaster that might befall the lone seaman, and perhaps bringing a working EPIRB with you. Ah, but then we wouldn't have a movie, now would we?

The skipper, upon discovering that his boat has a large hole and is sinking, begins a long series of actions that make the situation worse, compounded by the fact that his boat is inadequately equipped.  His batteries are dead (he makes no attempt to revive them), his engine won't start (he makes no attempt to get it going) and his only link to the outside world, a VHS radio, has been damaged.  He does try to fix that, but it is clear that his understanding of electronics is only marginally worse than his understanding of safe seamanship.

He does, however, take time to shave, and drink scotch (two suggestions you won't find listed in the Coast Guard's emergency preparedness FAQ) and ignores an oncoming storm until the situation is so dire that he must crawl out onto the bow dragging  a storm sail with him.   Any prudent sailor would have forgone the primping and imbibing and would have instead spent their time pre-rigging the sail and perhaps a drogue, not to mention trying everything they could to get their engine going again.

But that wouldn't have made for good drama, which includes a dismasting, and eventually the boat sinking, leaving the skipper adrift in a life raft, which he ultimately sets on fire in order to attract attention (an attempt he believes has failed) and then gives up hope and decides to drown himself.  Let me repeat that last bit again: this is a movie about a well-groomed captain who sinks his own boat mostly due to lack of preparation and inept seamanship, who then who sets fire to his life raft, and then decides to commit suicide.

As he is sinking below the surface (and at the last possible moment) he spots the search light of a passing motorboat, which rescues him.   There was no rescue for us.  Like watching a slow train wreck--we suffered through the entire thing.  For sailors, this movie should only be viewed as a cautionary tale of what not to do.  We squirmed and writhed in our seats as the protagonist made every classic sailing mistake there was.  It was all we could do not to yell at the screen, "Don't do that, you idiot!"

As we crossed the theater's parking lot our not-so-subtle snarking about the plot was overheard by another theater-goer getting into his black Hummer.   Now, I realize this is probably wrong of me to say, but I think the Hummer is to the military Humvee what this movie was to sailing; it represents the idea of ruggedness instead of actual ruggedness.

When the driver asked us if we really thought the skipper "deserved to die", I think he was a bit surprised by our ardent and emphatic answer, "We live on a boat.  We sail our boat in the open ocean.  If we did the stupid things he did, we would expect to have died as well!!!"  He quickly got in his pseudo-truck (AnnMarie calls them "compensating vehicles") and drove off.

Okay, that may have seemed a bit over the top, but keep in mind that we hadn't seen a movie in quite a while, and  had just decided to delay our cruising departure for over five months because we felt that some of the systems on board weren't as solid as we'd have liked them to be, so we might be a bit sensitive about this stuff.   Sadly, most folks who see this movie will have no idea that the underlying premise is absurd.

In fairness to Mr. Redford, I do think he is a good actor, but I think the movie would have been so much better received if they'd shown him actually doing the right things and overcoming adversity, instead of overcoming some dramatically convenient (self-induced) challenges and then giving up.

That probably would have taken a good script writer a bit more time to craft (no pun intended) but given how few words are uttered, I'm not so sure that English (or for that matter, reality) is their first language.

Cheers for now,

Robb & AnnMarie