The Batman and Robin of the Sea

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That's a pretty audacious title don't you think? Who could claim themselves the title of super hero unless gifted with unusual gifts of strength, speed or otherworldly power? But Batman and Robin, favorites of mine from the days when I used where a towel for a cape, were not gifted with super human skills, but it was their gift of intellect and there ingenious tools that allowed them to save the day from the Joker and Catwoman.  That and a Great BIG Bat Light that lit up the night sky, oh and a cool car and a superhero suit and a.... well you get it.  They had lots of cool stuff. 

We don't. Not really anyway.  I have a ton of boating education experience and he has a newly formed insurance agency with the super powers of one of the biggest insurance underwriters in the Nation. But what makes us superheros is what we offer to our clients. We can provide you with the boating experience to get the boat of your dreams and the insurance to cover said vessel.  And in this day of Hurricanes, Fires and Floods, Boat Insurance is the holy grail for newbee boaters. 

You see insurance companies are now asking new boat owners to prove their skill level. Back when the dollar was strong and greed was good, every hedge fund manager with a credit card could be a captain. They called them "Credit Card Captains". Just cause you could afford it, they let you have it and insured it for you. But eventually after enough boats sunk or beached or ran aground or crashed into the dock or worse, killed people, insurance companies woke up and realized they were subsidizing the education of people who had no right to be behind the wheel. 

And its a real concern. I asked a Facebook group dedicated to sailing the question, " How many of you bought a sail boat without ever taking a lesson?" With in five minutes the post went viral and I had over 100 comments. Two days later there were a few thousand comments of people saying they bought a book and looked at Youtube videos and have been sailing ever since. That's kinda like saying you earned your black belt from watching "Kung Foo" reruns on TV. Its sent a shiver down my spine and gave me pause to think how many people out there are at risk because of the credit industry. But that's why my phone is blowing up these days. 

So many insurance companies have made it a requirement that you prove your skill at boating and sailing before they will let you off the dock that I decided it was time to change how we teach sailing and boating. And that's when I met Hugo Hanham-Gross of theHanham Insurance Agency.

Hugo walked up to me at the Annapolis Boat Show and told me he is looking to insure new boat owners, and I told him I teach new boat owners how to use their new boats. The light bulb went off over both our heads and we said, "lets work together". 

Or if you need us in the dark of night to save you from those dastardly credit card captains, all you need do is shine this light in the evening sky and we will swoop in in our trusty rocket powered car and wow you with our incredible super boating powers-but the phone is a lot easier. 

Or if you need us in the dark of night to save you from those dastardly credit card captains, all you need do is shine this light in the evening sky and we will swoop in in our trusty rocket powered car and wow you with our incredible super boating powers-but the phone is a lot easier. 

And so I present to you the dynamic duo of sailing, the caped crusaders of cruising, the patriots of power boating (sorry had to come up with a "P" thing). In short we can solve most of your most challenging boating quandaries. 

Just bought a new beneteau and need insurance? 

Looking at a used viking and have no idea how to use twin props? 

Getting a boat delivered to San Diego in April and you have never touched a tiller in your lifetime? 

Now we're not gonna tell you which one of us is the boy wonder and which one gets to drive the Batmobile, but either way, WE CAN HELP. 

 

If you need boat insurance, Call HUGO at +1 843 410 2990

If you need boat insurance, Call HUGO at +1 843 410 2990

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Or give me (Capt Chris) a call if you need help with your boat. 252-617-3792

Take away's from the Annapolis Boat Show

Have you been to the Annapolis Sailboat Show? This was my first of what I hope will be many more to come, but it was sweet sadness to see it end on Monday. Now that I am back at the home office and the Powerboats are firing up in Ego Alley of Naptown, I thought I would review a few my favorite take away's from the five-day tour de sailing. 

Really if you want to know anything about the sailing industry, you will find it at the Annapolis Boat Show. Word on the street is it tops many of the biggest shows in the country for sailing-related stuff and while the harbor is too tight to pack every sailboat ever made into it, it did boast a bevy of brand new boats and used boats alike. 

But the high of the show for me wasn't the parade of fouly-clad boat touchers or the massive collection of boats I cant afford, it was the collection of cool things that you could only find at the boat show. 

In truth I kind of felt like an explorer wandering a foreign market place for weird and interesting treasures we had to buy like the "air chair" or the new spectra dog lead we found for Buxton. They were too cool to pass on, but it was the treasures we have brought home to share with you that I think were the coolest. 

First up, is The Ugo , pronounced just like it is spelled. Designed by Mel and Vicky in the Land of a Thousand Lakes, they wanted a way to not just keep their phone dry when they were playing on the water, they wanted it to float too. And what they've designed is nothing short of brilliant in looks and functionality. Using the same zippers dinghy sailors use in their dry suits, and the same fabric that ice fisherman use for gloves they have crafted a "lifejacket for your phone". We loved it so much that Jen is now a rep for them and we are gonna blow the doors of off this thing.  If you have ever had the cell phone guy tell you your warranty was void because of that little secret pink dot in your $1000 iphone, YOUR GONNA WANT THIS.  The UGO SAVES PHONES. Check 'em out at  https://ugowear.com/   and use the promo code "JenniNC" for a very cool discount and let them know we sent you. 

Mel and Vic, UGO Founders. The UGO retails for $149, but use the promo code "JenniNC" and you get 20% off  when you order at  https://ugowear.com/collections/shop

Mel and Vic, UGO Founders. The UGO retails for $149, but use the promo code "JenniNC" and you get 20% off  when you order at  https://ugowear.com/collections/shop

Next up is WINCHRITE. From mind of Martin Lynn of sailology.com in Florida, Martin has developed a way to make hauling a winch easier without the high cost of installing a motorized winch: WINCHRITE. Using advanced brushless technology, this is a cordless electric winch handle that fits in any standard winch and saves the wear and tear on your body while sailing.  A specialized charging system charges it right on your boat and wont kill your batteries in the process. And the best part, have a look at this: 

IF your interested in WINCHRITE, shoot us an email and we will get one to you asap!

And don't get us started on the tech side of things- because there are so many cool apps out there to make boating better.

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Have you heard of SlipSure.com ? Its only the best way to find a slip when your underway. A free app for your Iphone or Android, you can book a slip for your boat when your underway and looking to put in for the night. It is really well overdue on the market and Paul and Sherry, formerly of CT now in MD, but living in NC decided they wanted to hit the waves and give up life in the corner office. They have developed this app for the transient boater who needs a place to keep their boat for the night or longer and we are working to add places to stay daily. If you are a boater, all you have to do is download the app. If you are a marina, give me a call and I will set up your profile and show you how you can make the most of your empty slips. Call today or go to https://slipsure.com/home

And then there is SEAPILOT.  A Swedish developed navigational app using NOAA charts. What makes this different is it uses GRIB weather combined with AIS vessel location services  in live time to help you see the wind and plan your voyage. Whats even better about this is it uses depth gradient lines on the chart actively to automatically chart your boat through safe water AUTOMATICALLY! No more running aground cause your GPS didn't tell you about a sandbar or submerged reef. This app will show you where the best proposed plot is for your particular location.  The guys at the Seapilot Booth were nice enough to give us a handful of subscriptions  for our clients so before you plop your card down, shoot us a message and we can give you a free code for the app. 

So there you have it, just a taste of what we found at this year's boat show. You can head back there today and the rest of the week for the Annapolis Power Boat Show, but all things sailing have set sail not to return until the Spring. But if you want these latest finds today, all you gotta do is give us a call or shoot us a message. 

So you want to be a captain?

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Many who have had a boat or want a boat think to themselves, "one day I will just sail away and make money by doing charters in the Caribbean". 

And to be sure, this is a worthwhile dream. Taking the helm and sailing off into the sunset while someone pays you to do it is a great way to live the mobile lifestyle. 

Unfortunately for many however, once they google how to become a captain, that dream gets shelved along with driving for Nascar, Opening an restaurant and playing second base for the Red Sox.  Just me? Maybe. 
 

But whatever your pipe dream, being a maritime captain is on a lot of people's bucket list and for all too many that dream is never realized because of several reasons. 

The bureaucratic maelstrom that has become the National Maritime Credentialing System and the USCG makes it hard enough, but when you add in the prospect of driving halfway across the country, sitting for two weeks and paying literally Thousands of dollars just to begin the credentialing process, the idea of taking six people out for  $100 bucks each sounds downright ludicrous. Yet so many people do it. 

Google the term "OUPV License" or "Captain's License" and you'll get a dozen listings for companies that offer license prep and courses. There be a dozen more that offer at home study guides and even more who offer books, services and other "stuff" to help you become a captain. 

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Note that no one ever says you can get your sea time on their boat and that is the critical part of the game when the USCG examines your credentials. Seatime. But there is not much money to be made in sea time and lots to be made in classrooms so everyone and their mother offers the OUPV class for the budget price of $1099 or $799 at home or something like that. 

Not gonna name any names, but I paid it and many of the captains I know paid it and it is one of the reasons why so many people shy away from it. Because its expensive. 

Truth is, if you want to get an Offshore License to charter down to the Caribbean, or even if you want to drive a launch at your local yacht club, its gonna cost you at minimum $2500 the first year. Between airfare, hotel, course fees and application costs, it will run your thousands. 

Then add in the STCW, the radar endorsement, towing endorsement, sail endorsement and you can add another $5000 to the ticket. That's close to $10,000 without even buying a boat or booking your first passenger.  But such is the cost to live the dream right? 

What if I told you there is a place in Eastern Carolina where the cost of the OUPV is $180. The 100 Ton Upgrade is $70. And the 200 ton upgrade, is just $70. That's it. Add in that they locals totally support this and offer discounts on hotel and then add in that it is on the Atlantic Ocean and just a 45 minute drive to the airport and then add in that I am here to help bring this to you and help you get your Captain's license, well then that $2500 initial cost drops down to $899 with accommodations plus airfare. Its the cheapest way to get your license in the world and its real. 

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Carteret Community College is the answer, Moorehead City is the town. East Carolina is the region and the cross roads of the ICW is the place to do it.

I can help you get here and I can help you get your license, if you want my help, but either way, check them out and you'll see Im right. Next class is Oct 30- Nov 9 for 10 Days and that includes CPR and First Aid. 

You can read a 100 blogs about becoming a captain, this one is the only one that can save you Hundreds of your hard earned dollars doing it.  

 

Click here to read the latest Press Release from CCC explaining its designation as National Maritme Center of Excellence

 

 

 

 

"Semper Paratus" is not just for men on a boat- women need to be ready too.

Some of the best sailors I have ever know were women. Certainly the days of Mighty Mary and the America's Cup should live in history as a high water mark in sailing for women and of course there is more than one giant in the Intercollegiate sailing world and International Racing world that are of the female persuasion. Why then is it so strange then that when I say, women should be equal players on a boat I get so many cross eyed looks from the ladies? 

"Mighty Mary" and 1995 America Cup All Woman Crew

"Mighty Mary" and 1995 America Cup All Woman Crew

More than once, and I would dare say its awfully common, that when I approach a couple and ask the woman in the case, "what would you do if he fell overboard?" I get a blank stare and the subject changes to something more banal like her role as the sunbather in chief. 

But its a real concern, on both sail and power boats. 

What would you do if the captain went overboard or was incapacitated in some other way? 

Could you call the USCG? Could you take the helm and turn the boat up into the wind? Could you fish a 250-lb man out of the water? If you said no to any one of these questions, then you are at risk of peril on the sea. 

What are you going to do when all hell breaks loose and the captain is no where to be found?

In 2015 I was the dock master at a yacht club in Branford, Connecticut on Long Island Sound. The remnants of a hurricane were blowing through and I had spent the morning replacing bumpers and re-attaching snapped dock lines on a dock that was heaving six feet in the air.  When what to my wondering eyes did appear but a vessel sailing headlong into a rock pile on Outer Island of the Thimble Islands.  

Back at the Dock, The vessel in question was sinking, the USCG was issuing citations and the Woman was saying, "I didn't know what to do".

Back at the Dock, The vessel in question was sinking, the USCG was issuing citations and the Woman was saying, "I didn't know what to do".

For two hours I watched, helpless as the US Coast Guard attempted to rescue the stricken vessel, unsure of how they got there or why they were out there in the first place. As it turned out, the couple were live-aboards and were making their way South from Newport when the wall of wind hit them. Unable to get to shore, the man went forward to douse the jib and was blown overboard. The woman, boasting years of seatime, was unable to manage the vessel by herself and could not leave the man in the water, whom she was unable to lift onto the deck. So they banged into the rocks for two harrowing hours and did $25,000 worth of damage to their boat. The good news is, they lived. But boy did they test the system. 

And that's all that stands in the way of so many couples who sail or powerboat. A stroke of luck and a the motto "Semper Paratus" (Always Ready, the motto of the USCG). 

Shouldn't you have a little "Semper Paratus" in your tool box when going to sea? 

Make yourself ready for the worst, even if you never have to use it. When people tell me, "I dont wear a life jacket, I know how to swim", I ask, "How well do you swim when your unconscious?" Its not there for when your ready, its there to serve you when you are not ready, so always prepare to be ready. 

How can you do that? Know your boat, both people. Have a plan to get the larger person out of the water when help cant get there in time. Make sure your gear is ready to be deployed in the event of an emergency and that you have the right gear on board if and when you ever need it. And if you need help figuring out what is the right plan in the event of an emergency, ask for help. 

At CCMC, we aim to help couples work together as sailors, but of course there are hundreds of sailing schools or boating instructors who would be more than happy to help you out. My suggestion though is don't rely on your neighbor for good advice because all too often they are not better prepared than you, and the tendency is to work downward with your peers and not upward. Don't talk yourself out of being ready, assume that the danger does exist and take appropriate measures. And if you dont know what the words mean, listen to this song:

 

 

 

A successful voyage demands a sound boat, a stiff breeze and a GREAT Team

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We all have seen it. "The Screaming Ahab", "The White Knuckler", or the "Wish We were Home" Its the thing that takes over when a good day on the water goes bad and most times its not the weather or the boat's fault, but rather that of the skipper and crew. 

Crew Chemistry is a key to any successful voyage, weather it be to the far side of the world or to the local yacht club for happy hour. And without it, boats fall silent and slip to back of the yard to grow the forest of neglect and forgotten dreams. 

Put simply, if you don't get along with your crew, you will lose your boat. 

Now this can be a husband and wife, a pair of friends, fathers and children, or any number of traditional or non-traditional family makeups. The truth is "assholes" come in all shapes and sizes. And that is exactly what you are if you scream at your crew and throw a hissy fit while underway. 

Its the cause why marriages fail, why kids refuse to sail with dad or why on every street in America there is a boat sitting in someone's driveway or back yard with a small tree growing in it. The family dynamic failed in someway and that boat is now relegated to irrelevancy. 

But it doesn't have to be so. You don't have to fight every time you set out. You don't have to panic at the site of an approaching dock or buy flowers for your spouse every Monday because of the battle that ensues every Sunday on the boat ramp. 

And for those who want to live life afloat, you wont believe how a family can come together around a dream of sailing off on the family boat. 

The family that boats effectively together, stays together. And the family that fails at owning a boat, more often than not, fails as a family. 

We specialize in helping build better teams on the water. We help you orchestrate a better docking procedure, help you manage a tacking maneuver as a team and if need be, help you communicate more effectively when hauling your boat at the boat ramp. 

Better skills lead to less conflict, better communication leads to better boat handling and better boat handling leads to happier outcomes afloat.  Tell the Captain Ahab in your life, he doesn't have to worry anymore because help is available. And tell Captain Ahab's wife, its her boat too and ask her, what is she gonna do when the kids throw Ahab overboard and she has to bring the boat back to harbor safely? We are hear to help. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you do when Hubby goes overboard? Could you save the ship when the skipper is in the drink?

I have at least a dozen stories of couples gone bad under sail. There was the one where the couple was trying to haul their boat on the boat ramp that ended with her calling him a list of four letter names and vowing never to step on the boat again. Then there was the one where the couple ran their boat up on the rocks in the remnants of a hurricane and hubby fell in the drink. The lady bounced off the rocks for two hours until the USCG came to rescue them both and haul their boat into dock. She said, " I was trying to rescue him, but I just didn't know what I was doing".

These are the stories all too often- when couples go bad underway. That is why I have launched a whole new initiative- Couples Under Sail.

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The truth is I am getting married for the first time later this year and this is the first time I have ever had the experience of being in a relationship underway. And its hard. The roles we adopt on shore are different than the roles we serve underway and all too often, Hubby takes the helm and Honey, sits back, helpless, unable to assist in any meaningful way, that is to say unless she is cleaning or cooking below decks. And that's really sad.

So rather than scream at each other underway or worse yet, have one partner take a back seat to the other afloat, why don't we teach you how to sail together? And that what I do.

Here's the pitch:

Want to experience the cruising lifestyle as a Couple? This is the course for you. You will gain valuable experience like navigation, piloting, sail trim, big boat tactics, anchoring, and if the weather permits, things like night time navigation and intro to celestial navigation, but that's just where we get started 

This is a class for the couple who aims to set sail together!

You will learn to sail as a couple working on communication, team work and most importantly how to live as a couple on a small boat, and that's no small task.

Leave your couple rolls at home, because we emphasize redundancy in teaching because you need to ask yourself, can you save the ship, if he (or she) is in the drink? That is why you need to work together.  

This includes two nights at the East Carolina's best Waterfront accommodations, three days sailing to area attractions and two free online lessons with NauticEd for EACH of you. Or we can come to your boat and help you work better as a couple afloat!

We also offer ground transport from Beaufort Airport for you pilots and can arrange family care if needed. 

The Couple that sails together can navigate all sorts of life's challenges together so book your sailing experience together today. 

The Montessori Sailing School

I am sure we have all heard the term "Montessori school", but unfortunately for too many, we grew up in public schools with traditional classrooms and traditional lesson formats.  30 kids sitting in a room, with a teacher lecturing in front of a chalkboard for 8 hours a day. Do that for 12 years and then we send you off to college. Now imagine the sad fact that many of those students are not proficient in the required material by the time they finish that 12 year march to adulthood? 

That is why in the 1970's the idea of a new way to do things started to take root and the concept of Montessori Schools became the vanguard where so many haves send their little ones, while the have-nots languished in the public education assembly line. 

 So What is a Montessori School?  Wikipedia describes it as:

Although a range of practices exist under the name “Montessori,” the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS) cite these elements as essential:[4][5]

-Mixed age classrooms; classrooms for children ages  2 1⁄2 or 3 to 6 years old are by far the most common, but 0–3, 6–9, 9–12, 12–15, and 15–18 year-old classrooms exist as well.
-Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
-Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours
-A constructivist or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators often made out of natural, aesthetic materials such as wood, rather than plastic.
-A thoughtfully prepared environment where materials are organized by subject area, within reach of the child, and are appropriate in size.
Freedom of movement within the classroom
-A trained Montessori teacher who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child’s characteristics, tendencies, innate talents and abilities. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_education

Now I am not professing to be an expert in education or Montessori schools or anything like that. There are far too many experts out there on that front. But I have taught sailing for the last 25 years and have built just a few sailing programs over the years. I have also taught thousands to sail in waters up and down the eastern seaboard and I have come to understand one indelible fact, the way we do it in the national brand schools is not working and its killing the sport of sailing. 

As a former US Sailing Instructor, I taught basic sailing a thousand times if I taught it once. And each and every time, this is how it went. The student comes in and we talk to the student in a classroom about sailing for a an hour. We bring them out to a dock and show them how to rig a boat. We go over the names for things and then usher them out to sea for a few hours and then bring them back to shore for a debrief. That is the same first day experience in Massachusetts,  in Connecticut, in New York,  in North Carolina, in Maryland  and in Florida and it has to be that way because that's how US Sailing wants you to learn.  

The Problem with that is it costs a bundle for the students ($500-$1500) because US Sailing makes it cost a bundle, and it doesn't really sink in as a lesson for the newbie student. And when your done with three days of that experience, you are expected to go out and buy a sailboat to the tune of $100,000. 

Its better than nothing, but its not very good at all.  As one US Sailing Instructor trainer told me last fall, "US Sailing is the worst sailing organization in the world, except for every other one".

And that is why (among other reasons) I got very frustrated when I was forced to build yet another sailing program in a model that just doesn't work when I decided to build Crystal Coast Marine Consulting. Something had to change if I was going to do it one more time and build another sailing school in Eastern Carolina. 

You see I was also told, that no sailing school could survive in East Carolina. We used to have lots of people teaching sailing here in the old days and one by one they have failed and moved away. According to local thoughts, people just don't want to sail anymore. I cant believe that. 

I think we just need a new way of doing things and after a summer of teaching I have come up with a Montessori method for teaching sailing, that is effective, affordable and better than any other on water training program on the market today. We can teach you in a matter of days, not months for a fraction of what you would pay at a National Brand Sailing School.  And we do it, on some of the best waters to learn to sail in the world. 

Truth be told, its not new. Its traditional in so many ways because that is how the ancient mariners learned to sail when ships were wood and men were salty and brave. We sail as a crew, mixed in experience and varied in location. You wont spend three days, sailing around three buoys and sitting in a classroom when you learn to sail with CCMC. You take the helm within the first minutes of boarding a vessel and you are participating as a member of the crew from the beginning, learning by doing and being taught by fellow students of sailing, some who have sailed for years and some who are just beginning the voyage. 

And through this shared learning experience, you will learn the mixture of skills required to sail a vessel through unknown waters in very challenging conditions.  Skills like navigation, motor operation, advanced sail handling and problem solving at sea.  Our instructors are their to guide your learning process and act as safety officers, but don.t expect them to sit your down in a classroom and draw diagram on a chalk board. We don't have classrooms and we don't use chalkboards underway. 

There are lots of places to learn to sail in the world and if you want the public high school learning experience in sailing check out US Sailing or ASA. But if you want to learn to sail in real world conditions, and see new places and use the skills you will need to know if you want to buy a boat and see the world, then come to Crystal Coast Marine Consulting. We teach on our boats or yours and are committed to helping you become a better boater for a lifetime of learning, not just for the weekend. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why put your boat up for the winter? Send it South and Make $$$

Did you know that the vast majority of boats sit idle most of the time? Did you know that boats that sit idle grow sea life, grow mold, grow older faster and lose value when they are unused? Did you know that there is a solution that will save your boat, cost you way less than winter storage and even help you pay for your boat all at the same time? It's true. 

We are looking for vessels to lease from owners for short or long term leases. We cover all the maintenance, all the repairs, all the bills of upkeep, storage and  operation and even cut you a check at the end of the month. So why would you NOT take advantage of such a prospect? 

The truth is, when you wrap your boat for the winter and put it to bed, your boat tends to die a little more every day. Batteries go dead, bugs get in and rust and mold creeps in. If you store in water, the ever present fear of flood and fire pains you all winter long. And if you leave it out, Old Man Winter does his worst and makes your investment into his plaything. 

We are fully licensed, fully insured and fully committed to caring for your boat as if it were our own. What's more, if you want to use your boat at any time while in our care, we will have it ready to go for you as soon as possible. 

What we do is take command of your boat, charter it or use it for instructional purposes down South and when the lease is up, bring it back to you in better condition than we found it. That's our promise. And if something goes, ,,,,ahem.... wrong? We are fully insured and ready to make everything right again. Sound interesting? Call 252-617-3792 for more info or drop a note and we will be happy to discuss your individual vessel and your situation. 

 

Tell me Why I don't like Mondays!

Mondays generally suck right? The tired, drained feeling, the disappointment of ending an otherwise great three day vacation or just the knowledge that it is five more days til payday. And then there is all that stuff that piles on and makes Monday a day you'd rather just skip. 

My Mom managed in her last years of working to get Monday's off and only worked four days a week. This was the panacea as far as she was concerned cause she no longer had to dive head long into I-95 rush hour traffic at 7 AM on Monday morning and head to a job she otherwise hated for a boss she couldn't stand for a pay check that barely covered the mortgage. And who could blame her looking at it from that perspective. But this isn't a blog about how to grin and bear it and the Waltzing Matilda lifestyle is not one of penance and patience. The Wanderlust Spirit waits for no man and no paycheck, so when you strike out to hit the high seas or wander the path less traveled, you are giving up Mondays, but you are also giving up a full time, steady paycheck with a stick and bricks kind of job. 

And that where the two main tenants of this lifestyle converge: Freedom and Self Reliance. 

The Waltzing Matilda Life means you have the freedom to go where you will go and live how you want to live. Some get that freedom from a lifetime of working 40-a-week for the man and can live off the the "fixed Income" provided by Uncle Sam when that life ends, while others are born on the right base and have hit the home run into early retirement. I'm hoping for the latter to kick in eventually, but the truth is that is probably not enough to play in the new "rigged" economy for long, so it is High Ho High Ho, Its off to work I go. And that is why Monday's suck. 

They suck because you have to work for someone else and help them achieve the goal of personal freedom. I say personal freedom and not financial, because Financial freedom is a fairy tale they told the AARP crowd to get them to show up to work on Mondays for the last 50 years and buy into a failing retirement system that isn't proving to be there now that they are cashing in.  That's why you see 80-year olds greeting at Walmart and bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly. Financial Freedom is reserved for a small elite set of people and this blog isn't for them either. 

Its a sad fact, but the rest of us have to work for a living  and all too many have to slog into Mondays til they drop dead over the fax machine on their 92nd birthday. 

But then there is yet one more breed of people who refuse to go quietly into that good night. They refuse to resolve to die slowly on a tread mill that powers the Man's retirement and they dream of hopping on a boat or mounting an RV and setting out to see the world come hell or high water. And the way they power this Fight for Freedom is by being self-reliant aka. entrepreneurial. 

You see the Entrepreneur is a unique sort of person because they cast off the confidence of a steady job and say to the world, "I'll do it by me one-sies." They look to no one to do it for them because if it is to work they will have to it all by themselves anyway, all in the hopes of making a living because just cause they have to work, doesn't mean they have to work for someone else. 

They are plumbers and electricians, web designers and hair stylists, they are shop owners, artisans and yes, captains and sailors. But the smartest amoung them as far as this blog is concerned are the ones who figure out how to do it without the need to have a driveway. 
 

They develop consulting businesses, or websites. They get followers on blogs and earn sponsorships. Or they tell fortunes and read tarrot cards, sell vacuums and home cleaning supplies or even  tour the country selling Multi-Milkshake machines to hot dog stands. Its not what they do that speaks to their wanderlust and their entrepreneurial spirit, its what it affords them the freedom to do by doing it and giving them the self-reliance to be able to chart their own course. 

And once they have figured out how to bank the benjamins without having to punch the time clock in a single zip code, thats when the resentment of Mondays goes away. 

Mondays become a an opportunity not a sentence. A rising tide that brings all sorts of new treasures and chances. A new client, a new product, a new idea or a new prospect. Mondays become a thing you look forward to because while Sundays are the Lords day, they are a day when the phone doesn't ring. And nothing bothers a small business owner like a silent phone. So bring on the Monday and give me that horizon- its a new week and we've got business to do!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh what a feeling!

Two of last years students come together in 25 knots to see how they have progressed since their class last season. This is a great way to share knowledge and learn to sail once the basics have been mastered

Two of last years students come together in 25 knots to see how they have progressed since their class last season. This is a great way to share knowledge and learn to sail once the basics have been mastered

There is little in this world that rivals the touch of a woman who loves you for who you are. Really there is nothing, except maybe just perhaps, the thrill of seeing your idea, once just a scary notion, with little promise and even less profit, take form and flight, and before your very eyes casts off its fledgling feathers and soars into the world as a new business. 

Well its happening for CCMC. Once just an idea, today the rings steadily, and the past two weeks have flown by as I have been adrift working on boats and teaching. 

I did this once before, and when the phone rang for the first time then I was standing in my front yard and almost lost the sale because I was so surprised to get the call. I don't really know when the first call came this time, but I do know when the most recent came, 30 seconds ago. And it has rang every few minutes for the last two hours with interested students. 

I told my student this weekend as we set sail on Sunday morning that I don't accept every student. Quite frankly I can only teach the same thing so many times before my Gemini soul decides to revolt and run for the nearest shoreline.  So I will focus on 40 or so people who will be my students. Those 40 will vary in skills and experience and some of the more experienced will be called on to assist the less experienced and we will all learn together in sort of a Montessori-type learning experience. And as some learn and go off into the blue ocean, I will accept new students and the process will repeat itself.

But to become one of the students at CCMC, you must show more than a cursory desire to learn to sail. Your classmates will expect a certain commitment as will I. None of us want to waste our precious hours of summer sun on someone who is not fully committed to learning. So if your just doing this to waste a beautiful afternoon and work on your tan, perhaps you ought to take a charter boat to Cape Lookout. We aim to share the art of sailing. 

But there you go, the phone is ringing again. Gotta love it when a plan comes together. 

The People of The Waltzing Matilda Life- "Tillie's Toilers"

I was taking a bike ride with Jennifer last evening on the way to dinner as we finished her Birthday weekend.  We were chatting along the way about our day and the people we met on our day trip to Cape Lookout. We had spent the day hiking the beaches out to Cape Lookout Bight and climbing the 167-foot light house with a wine head and 95% humidity. The shelling was superb and our tans were looking gorgeous after a weekend seaside in Eastern Carolina and we were remarking about the cast of characters with whom we got to spend the day.

Of note was a young bearded man who we overheard talking to the park ranger. Apparently the young man had just ducked in the Inlet from the Gulf stream, anchored his vessel and was on his way up from the Bahamas and was now enjoying a trek up the beacon. He looked a bit too bohemian for my taste. sporting a tangled reddish beard, and the lack of children or female companionship gave me the instinct that he was not to be trusted. That's a feeling I know well having often been the lone wolf tourist in many a strange port. Men without attachments in family settings are odd and by default ought to be avoided. Jen didn't see it that way and was taken in by his traveling ways and his tojours gai attitude.  It was "the Walzting Matilda" aire that caught her I suppose and despite the social demand of ostracizing the lone wolf, she wanted to speak to him, but missed her chance as our tour of the lighthouse was just getting underway and the man's was ending.

We didn't mention him at the time and proceeded with our day, taking a windy and bumpy truck ride out to the spit. The ride claimed my hat as it blew off my head and down the windy beach and I chalked it up to karma and Poseidon.  While I quelled my blame-casting over losing my hat, Jen listened intently to the women on the truck with us opining about my lost hat, as best she could in the gale force breezes and the teeth shattering bumps. 

 The men didn't really talk on that ride, except for one man who was clearly working his way into a full day drinking high, he wouldn't shut up. But across from Jen and I, a woman sat with her daughter and husband, chattering to the wind hoping to cast a word that might include her in the conversation of the ride.  "Where are you from?"" She begged of Jen and I. I, still smarting from my lost hat smiled and wiped the wind-driven tears from my eyes. Jen piped up, "I'm a military brat, I'm from all over".  That was all the woman needed and the two began to unravel their life stories of every place they had ever been. Eventually the conversation lead them to the fact that Jen had spent time in Germany as a youth and the woman, "not able to find a good man in North Carolina" had selected a German husband who could pronounce the town Jen lived in better that she could.  Jen looked over at me and quipped, "well I guess we both have German men then".

We stretched out on the shore for a quick rest after lunch, the white  homemade tent still looming the distance.

We stretched out on the shore for a quick rest after lunch, the white  homemade tent still looming the distance.

With that the truck slid to a halt by the only discernable landmark on the two miles of empty sand, a large stump turned into drift wood by the Ocean and now a makeshift bus stop on the highway that is Lookout Bight. The beach was torn ragged by the trucks speeding back in forth and given the Mad Max-feel of the beach and the dozen or so truck and RV encampments that dotted the high-tide line, one might think this was the end of the world. Jen and I set out to escape the chatter of the families from the truck and reach the end of the world where from all accounts you could be washed away on all sides by the Atlantic and get some of the best shells on the Eastern Seaboard. 

The sun beat down on us and a massive flock of Oyster catchers eyed our progress, every once in a while taking flight while angrily casting bird profanity in our direction. The waves were blown hard on the soft fine beach sand and the spray immediately coated my glasses. 

I had to take a moment to clean them when we made our first stop next to a pair of old men with fishing rods and lawn chairs next to a four-wheel drive dually with a truck bed camper. Their chartreuse line was barely visible through my salt crusted spectacles and I thanked them as he raised up his line to ensure I would not get tangled on our pass through his camp. " Any Luck?" I asked nodding my head in thanks. The two men shrugged and shook their heads saying, "Nope". Already past them, I yelled back over the thundering waves, "well its better than work right?" They agreed and we made our way on further. 

We stopped for a light lunch that we packed in our back packs, Jen thought to bring a sheet on which we could picnic and I had a half dozen sandwiches and a sliced dill pickle in my bag we shared. We finished the meal with some grapes and caramel corn she thought to pack, left over from the office party for her Birthday on Friday. We both took a long slug of tepid water from our water bottles, packed up and made our way across the beach to see a large white tent that stood out on the horizon. 

Approaching the rig, we could see it was shrink wrap fitted with duck tape around an aluminum frame. The frame was then lashed to a landscaping trailer that was towed behind a new Ford F250 and backed up to the surf line. Next to the trailer was parked a totally bad ass four wheeler bristling with rods and tackle and a black mounting frame. As we walked seaward of the home-made encampment, reminiscent of a civil war chow wagon, we saw a bald man cooking bacon in the tent which housed a picnic table, a Yeti cooler and a Coleman stove. Presumable his wife, an older woman in a lawn chair, sat just in front of the tent with her mop headed dog in her lap and warm smile on her face.  I immediately liked them and Jen, I think, agreed with me, although we said nothing and hiked on. These were cool people. 

We made it down to the end of the spit and spent an hour shelling in a washing machine and then rewarded ourselves with a nap at the surf line before grabbing the truck back to civilization and the boat ride home. 

All the while for the rest of the day, the people we met or saw, wandered in and out of our conversation and by the time we were on our bike ride to dinner Jen and I were fully engrossed in our plan to live aboard and our own desire to live the "Waltzing Matilda" life. 

The day was filled with Waltzing Matilda people, or as I decided we would call them, "Tille's Toilers" These were people who worked regular jobs during the week, had the 2.5 kids with the golden retriever and were otherwise very normal people for the most part. They just chose to live like the Bohemians on the weekend and somehow they all collected together on this spit of land jutting into the North Atlantic on this and many other weekends every summer. They loved the transient nature of packing all their belonging into a truck and driving three hours at great expense to sit on lawn chairs and drown bait on the shore of a spit of sand. But that was just as much work as the bearded man who sailed his way up from the Bahamas and stopped in to sit on that same spit of sand jutting into the wide North Atlantic.

In truth though, this was just one breed of "Tillie's Toilers" There are the boondockers who buy the RV and make their way to the middle of no where Montana for a weekend of wildness and simplicity. Or the Snow Birds who wander up and down the ICW every spring and fall with their home afloat and their storage unit of stuff tucked safe at home in Ohio.  And then there are the wanderers of soul who dream of life on the wing, traveling from port to forest all the while working day jobs and planning their escape someday.

These are all the same people, working to live life deliberately, spiritually, simply. These are the people Jen and I hold dear and the people we are working to be, as we build our life together and share our vision with others. WE are all "Tille's Toilers" and yearn to live the Waltzing Matilda Life,  even if today our job is to answer the phone and are chained to a desk. Its a choice to leave life beside the driveway and those who have done it and now make their way to shore every weekend or live in the RV and have to park their home every night are no less American, no less Normal, No less Upstanding than the next citizen who insists on paying a mortgage in the hopes of owning a sticks and bricks home someday. 

For too long the community of "Tillie's Toilers" have been thought to be "retired" or "unemployed" or "homeless". They have been branded with  terms like "transients" and left out on the fringes because they don't live next to their mail box and work 40 hours a week at an office. And because many live pay check to pay check to sustain themselves, they are shunned by those who maintain a life based on cars, homes and zip codes. 

In truth they work just as hard, have jobs and relationships. They shop at food stores and go to places like Home Depot and Walmart. And they binge watch Netflix, have Gmail accounts and cell phones. They just do it from a house with wheels or a home with water for a basement. And with The Waltzing Matilda, it is our mission to make their lives a little easier by giving them a source for learning and a voice as a community of people. Keep on keeping on Tillie's Toilers, we'll stop by and chat a bit the next time we bump into you, I promise. 

 

 

 

Baby Pigeons, Giant Squid and Boaters Who Admit They Need Lessons

A Baby Pigeon (or so they say)

A Baby Pigeon (or so they say)

When I was 20 or so years old, my Dad and I decided to get a "free boat". Rest assured "Free boats" are just as real as baby pigeons and giant squid. Everyone knows they exist,  but no one has ever seen one in real life. But as naive boaters entering a world we had little knowledge of, we took the leap of faith and signed on to take responsibility for a 26-foot 'O'day Outlaw that had been sitting on the hard for the last decade and was home to a small tree and a family of sparrows. 

She was everything we expected or hoped to get with a "free boat". The sails were stained brown from mold and rust, the motor was rusted solid and the lines were dry rotted clothes line. But with a little spit and elbow grease, we managed to make the red hull shine again and bleach the stains from the long neglected deck. After evicting the birds and pumping out the bilge swamp, the boat began to call to the sea again and sure enough after 6 weeks, she was ready to sail. 

I had the boat launched late in the day on a Friday and we (My Dad and my Step Dad, Jim, and I) were going to do a shakedown cruise from Norwalk to Stratford the next day. My Mom had packed us a picnic and we arrived early on that Saturday morning to see our boat splashed down and tied to the dock with a pump spewing water from the newly waxed hull. The dock manager informed us that he had arrived that morning to see the boat sitting three feet too low in the water due to a sea cock failing in the overnight. He stuffed a bung in the failed fitting and pumped it out and within a few hours she was ready to sail. He didn't charge us for the rescue because I am pretty sure he was happy to just see the derelict vessel leave his yard. And it took me many moons to figure out why a "sea cock" and a "bung" were not dirty language. 

SV FREE BOAT aka "The Sundance" and the German Family

SV FREE BOAT aka "The Sundance" and the German Family

We shoved off at 10 and made our slow progress up the sound, the whole time my Dad and Jim swatting flies and completely ignoring the fact that I was petrified. Upon arriving at the dock, I proceeded to slam the boat into the dock and verbally assault my two dads in front of a crowd of Hispanic fisherman and My Mother. Once the vessel was secure and damage assessed, the champagne was broken out, the chocolate covered strawberries were passed around and all was forgotten about my verbal meltdown and my day of terror. Because after all, that is how new boat owners are identified on the shores of the Housatonic: white knuckles and profanity. 

What didn't occur to any of us at the time, was that this would be one of the last times that "free boat" moved. Fear of what I didn't know had paralyzed me, and fear of being seen to be the fraud I thought I was, made it impossible for me to ask for help. I knew I was scared, but I didn't know why, and so I ignored the problem and let the boat grow seaweed for a season. 

When ignoring the problem didn't work and the yard bill came due, I did what anyone else would do, paid the bill and grumbled that I was being robbed. I continued to try to make the boat "more safe" buying stuff and cleaning things of which I didn't know the name, dropping a hundred dollars a day at EB Marine, a predecessor of West Marine.  I poured money into the boat, every once in a while hosting a few friends for cocktails, but mostly the boat never left the dock. Eventually I put the boat up for sale and somebody bought the boat and I was free. To my mind, no one figured out that I was a green horn and I no longer had to pay for a boat I didn't use. 

The old adage is the best two days in a boat owners life, the day he buys the boat and the day he sells the boat. I had both of those days. 

You see, I made a bevy of mistakes up to that point. I didn't know what was doing,  I got a boat I couldn't afford or handle, I had no help or direction from a reliable source and in truth I was too green to know what I didn't know. And so that meant the boat never left the dock. 

It didn't occur to me to take sailing lessons and even though I new I had never been properly taught. I was in short out of my league and didn't know how to fix the situation.  so I got another boat, ... a power boat. 

"The Chumbucket"

"The Chumbucket"

Fear causes us to do all sorts of irrational things. To buy things we don't know how to use and cant afford. To do things we don't need to do or know why we are doing them. To keep a boat we don't know how to use, and are too proud to admit we don't know how to use it. 

That is why boats sink at the dock. That is why boats run aground  in perfectly calm conditions. That is why motors are said to be unreliable and boating is thought to be a rich man's game. And that is why boating  and sailing are making a steady march to a sad death. 

Its expensive and people don't know what they are doing. So they buy the boat, use it for a short period, get scared, abandon it on the dock and sell it in neglected shape after a couple seasons, bitching about the high cost. 

Its funny how prices work. When you know what your getting, you see a deal on every shelf. When you don't know what your buying, everything seems too expensive. 

I was in your situation. I know how scared I was to use my boat. I know I was confused by the experts holding out their hands for payment and I know how dangerous the sea can be. That is why I aim to help boat owners and that is why I started Crystal Coast Marine Consulting. The prospect of going to sea scared the hell out of me at one time. The cost if something broke, the idea of how I would get back home, the thought that people would see that didn't know what I was doing. All these things scared me off the water as a boat owner. It wasn't until I started using other people's boats did I really learn what I didn't know and to this day I still learn something every time I go out. And I know how helpless I felt with all kinds of advice being thrown at me, from a host of completely unreliable sources. Its really scary. 

Crystal Coast Marine Consulting is here to be a reliable source for those who know the fear of being a boat owner. And the reason I started it, was because there are too many boats sitting on the dock and too many scared boaters out there. And while I cant point to a single boater who is too scared to go boating, much like the baby pigeon, I know they exist. So take the big leap, admit you need some help and give us a call. 

My First Boat- Note it is at the dock- hmmmmm?

My First Boat- Note it is at the dock- hmmmmm?

 

 

 

 

The Boating Doctor will see you now

The old way of doing things has to change. The days of sitting in a classroom for three hours while someone tells you about something you have never seen or touched has to stop. There are so many learning styles and we know so much more about how people grow, have so many more pathways to connect and technology has advanced such that to stay the same is to stare at the proverbial black wall without ever turning towards the light. 

At Crystal Coast Marine Consulting, we aim to change the way people learn to sail and go boating. The big names in boating education (US Sailing, ASA and Power Squadron) all do it the same way. You pay a bundle, wander into a classroom and sit there for three hours while they tell you about boating. Maybe sometime during your first day, you actually get to touch a boat, but the truth is, the first day is the day we lose most boating students and this is the point where all too many people walk away and never come back. 

By allowing our students to learn the basics at their own pace in their own home and prepare for their first practical sailing experience, they come to us better prepared on day one. Then when they have a one on one experience with a qualified grown up sailing instructor who has decades of on water experience and pile of credentials as well a thorough skill set in how to actually teach on a boat, well then, thats a different experience entirely. And that how we do what we do at CCMC. 

Think of us as Boating Doctors. We don't meet with a half dozen patients at once and teach to the middle, we meet with our students one at a time and evaluate their goals, set up a plan for their learning and treat them not as another chunk of rail meat who is laying out a small fortune, but an individual with individual interest, needs and learning styles. 

That is how boating instruction should have always been. And at one time it was, when young lads put to sea as plebes and followed the direction of a team of seasoned mariners in a real world setting. That made real mariners who knew a thing or two about seamanship.

Today's youth are taught to sail around a set of buoys really fast and follow an ambiguous set of rules that feel much more like cheating than any real codified form of justice.  And when you get out of school, you get a job and work for 20 years, hoping to make enough money to buy a boat only to find you are 60 and now looking to retire. That is no way to run a sport or to build a pastime. 

We at CCMC commit to helping people learn for a lifetime of sailing. By providing a lifetime of consultation, a lifetime or learning and support, and a solid boating education that is focused on the student and not the dollar bills. 

So when you ask us, what is your class schedule, we cant answer that. The better question would be "when can I meet with a boating pro to discuss my sailing goals?" And we will answer, "We will see you Tuesday at 9AM if that works for you?" Doesn't that seem more logical? 

 

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There but for the grace of God....

The only thing more disheartening than an "I told you so", is watching your $250,000 toy get consumed by a raging sea.  That is of course if you live to talk about it.

This wreck located in Oregon is a testament to the fact that just cause you can afford the toy, doesn't mean you have the skills to use it.  We specialize in helping skippers avoid this scene. 

Thankfully the owner and their crew are reported to have been rescued but the USCG and all are safe. But we are all at risk for such things, that is why learning and education are the first lines of defense against a raging sea and gale force winds. Call us today and we can help save you from yourself and the sea. 

"From what I read the skipper was very inexperienced and ignored warnings to not go out he brought along a crew member with zero experience and they got into trouble. The Coast Guard had to rescue them."

"From what I read the skipper was very inexperienced and ignored warnings to not go out he brought along a crew member with zero experience and they got into trouble. The Coast Guard had to rescue them."

Update on the Gutting of the Airstream

Capt Christopher German shows you the insides of a gutted 1970 Airstream Travel Trailer. The Captain and his lovely Fiance Jennifer will be restoring this trailer for the purposes of living the Waltzing Matilda Lifestyle. Stay tuned for more updates as progress is made and check out the video blog below. 

How to Tie a Proper Cleat

Are you muddled when you tie up your boat? keep it simple, keep it clean and keep it safe