Challenges, challenges, challenges

Yikes, it is 4 weeks until my 60th birthday. Four weeks until I am somewhere other than here. Four weeks until all the preparation for departure are history. Four weeks until I am . . .

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 2:50 am  Comments (1)  

A beginning, , ,

Friendly from afar yet intense up close, focused on goals while daunted by a sense of responsibility characterize a solo circumnavigator who challenged the world’s toughest ocean. She did it not for glory or some record achieving accolade. Rather, this was a soul searching journey. It was a journey to escape the distractions imposed by others. It was a journey into a time and place where Donna Lange could find her own answers. In contrast to the lonliness expected on a solo sojourn, the chilling winds that pushed her 28 foot boat around Cape Horn provided just the solace many would find when plopped on their living room couch.

To learn more about Donna Lange’s incredible solo circumnavigation and the inspiration it is providing me to make my first big journey alone on my 28 foot trimaran, check out her website at

Published in: on April 13, 2008 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Common ground

It is about time I found common ground with record breaking solo circumnavigator Dee Caffari. I quote:“As with everything else it is all about practice. It does not seem to matter if it is sailing, climbing the mast, weather training or fitness training, everything needs to be practiced to improve my skill level and more importantly my confidence. Now I am just wondering where the extra hours in the day come from to fit it all in!” Dee was referring to advanced lessons she took on weather forecasting. Having successfully completed sailing adventures beyond my dreams, she reminds me that to be successful in any endeavor takes practice. Practice means repitition. There is so much to experience in this world it makes me wonder if I will ever get it in. Sure, I can use my sixty thousand dollar boat to sail up and down the river, race it around buoys within a 5 mile radius, camp 20 miles from home, and cruise to Key West twice a year. All of this I have done on beach cats over and over and over and over again. It’s time to learn to use a HAM radio. It is time to learn to thread the halyards through the mast, it is time to learn to change the gear oil in the outboard, it is time to learn to forecast the weather, it is time to learn about sailing in stormy weather, it is time to learn to stay calm, it is time to get my budget up to do date, it is time to finish building the pram, it is time to clean off my desk. For now, it is time to get some sleep.


Published in: on March 15, 2008 at 4:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Choices and Comprises

When organizing her 10 year circumnavigation, Sherry, co-captain of Soggy Paws, reminded me that life is about comprises. At first, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of comprising because it implied I would have to do something I didn’t want to do. Rather I thought of life as a series of choices. I could choose to sail solo or I could choose to go with my mate. Either way, I quickly realized there would be much comprising along the way. So, I chose to comprise.

My plans for a solo circumnavigation are still at the top of my list, but how I go about it has taken a wiser approach. I have to remind myself to take baby steps;  meet challenges little by little, build upon my current skills, complete previously started projects, and spend at least one hour a day making progress toward my goal. When I say one hour a day I mean a minimum of one hour per day when I am working as a school counselor and a minimum of 4 hours per day when I am not. No, I am not yet ready to quit my day job. That would be financial suicide.

What I am willing to do, is spend more time honing my writing for publication skills and less time blogging. Afterall, earning money as a writer is part of my plan for subsistence, and as Tania Aebi so aptly points out, if I’m going to write I will need things to write about. So, stay tuned, as I will continue to update my blog weekly. For now, I need to go look at the next step in completing the pram, then rewrite an article started months ago.   

Published in: on March 10, 2008 at 10:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Just follow the plan. . .

According to Women’s Health Training Guide (2008) all you have to do is follow their plan for a healthier body. Sounds so simple, follow the plan. That’s what building the pram was about, following the plan. Finally when I am adding the plates for the main sheet block and bouyancy bags the plans make sense. Measure 750 mm from the transom forward to place the main sheet block which is to be 60 x 150 mm. Dern, after the entire process I finally read the paragraph in the booklet, analyzed plan #1/10 and understood exactly what needed to be done.

Tomorrow, my sawyer will cut the pieces and I can proceed with sanding off the epoxy that I painted on the entire floorboard last week not realizing that I have to glue these final pieces to bare wood. What’s a little more sanding. Funny, how I always seem to be taking a few steps backward.

So, it also seems with my fitness. As much as I crave a lean, healthy body, I get away from my routine, gain weight, feel lazy and am then amazed when I read an article such as the one in the training guide that makes it sound so simple, ‘just follow the plan.’ Truth is, when I read that phrase I closed the magazine and cut another piece of Entemann’s raspberry danish, gulped a glass of cold milk, then sulked for two hours in front of the boob tube.

This is no way to cruise around the world. No, I have to follow the plan, Simple, follow the plan, that’s right, get back to the routine that will lead me to the lifestyle I want to maintain. I can do this. I will do this, and later this week, I’ll explain how I got off target this past week or so. For now, I just have a need to babble on as I convince myself, to follow the plan. . . .

Published in: on February 19, 2008 at 4:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Six Years to Build an 8 Foot Pram

Alex Sanding for the Last Time or so we thought! Maybe it was only four years ago, though it feels like six, when the idea to build a class legal optimist pram took hold. Before the story goes to publication I promise to have the exact dates and details of why the project was started, details of the building process, as well as the completion and decision yet to be made.  ‘Now, that it’s done, what do I do with it?” 

It was truly an adventure about the journey rather than the destination. The grueling process of sanding, sanding, and sanding again will forever leave me ingratiated to Alex for his youthful exuberance as he willingly showed up on those hot summer days to smooth out the rough edges. Other helpers like John Martin are responsible for ‘getting ‘er done.’  My husband probably doesn’t  want to be mentioned as it is obvious that my boat building skills leave a lot to be desired. However, as a result of his endearment toward our marriage he thankfully agreed to be my chief mentor.

Despite his consternation throughout the pram building, I expect that when he hears of my plan for a round trip solo sail from Melbourne to New York Harbor this summer, he’ll be wondering how in the world I will handle the challenges befallen even the best sailors. Heck if I cried when I had to rebuild the gunwales three times, what will I do if the engine fails when entering a treacherous harbor?  While I can’t answer that question at the moment, it is true there were many tears of frustration shed during the measurement stages and when after hours and hours of laboriously bending, gluing and clamping the gunwales I had to redo them a 3rd time.  Though not initially my idea to build the pram, the process has served as a metaphor for the challenges I expect to face as Sailing at Sixty continues. 

Published in: on February 8, 2008 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Bottoms up. . .

MOQUINEIn a moment of jest, a local monohull boat designer and winner of a multihull world championship, presented the argument for purchasing a monohull rather than a trimaran for an upcoming solo circumnavigation. When I jeered about preferring a boat that is unsinkable he laughed heartily as he asserted: “Yeah, well, it is awfully hard to sail when you are upside down.” Admittedly, I was temporarily speechless. However, the demise of MOQUINE and her 6 person crew, sadly gives me the last laugh.

Published in: on January 27, 2008 at 11:24 am  Comments (1)  

Get ‘er done

Professional coaches, planners, and counselors frequently advise clients to keep a ‘to do’ list. Indeed, one company with a sense of humor manufacturers round, rubberized jar openers with the words ’round to it’ boldly stamped around the edges. Keeping a list of things I need to ‘get around to’ has always added to the mounds of paper strewn on my desk, in my purse, and in my car. While I find the lists helpful when used, too often for me, the lists get left on the counter. Worst yet is when I get ready to check out at the grocery store and I realize I left the list (along with money saving coupons) in the car. Besides, my list gets so long it overwhelms me.

Using the concept of chunking I finally came up with a better system; one that challenges my brain cells.  Research indicates that people who play intellectual games tend to keep their memory in tact as they age. Borrowing from the school of neurolinguistics, I decided to anchor my ‘to do’ list by limiting my list to ten items.

With my hands splayed on my desktop I designated my right hand for those immediate tasks that need to be done. It made sense to use the analogy of right hand = get it done right away (short term or goals for the day).  My left hand = can be left for later = intermediate and long term goals. By chunking my short and long term goals into 5 tasks each, it is easy to remind myself of what I need to do without post-it notes flying out of the car when I put the top down.

When doing a solo circumnavigation one needs to limit material goods, including lists. Certainly printed documents with pertinent information, such as a checklist of repairs,  rations stored, and waypoints are essential for good seamanship. On the other hand (pardon the pun) those pesky little notes with items such as fill the gas tank, stop at West Marine, and get a haircut are easily replaced by pneumonics in order to exercise our brains so they function more efficiently when caught in a maelstrom of currents in an unfamiliar port.

Sailing at Sixty continues to bring  interesting concepts into my daily life. By changing Ma Bell’s idea of letting my fingers do the walking to letting my fingers keep the lists, I might even save a tree by the time I return from my solo sail!

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Sailing into the Sunset


What better way to practice uploading pictures on my blog then by choosing the one picture that sums up our holiday sail to Key West 2007-08. Cheers to the happiest of all new years! Certainly if you are ready to do some local races, day or week-end cruises between now and June 1st, let me know. Spray is already for a great winter of sailing here in Sunny Florida. Keep this picture of the sunset in Vero Beach in mind before you go to sleep, what better reason is there for getting up the next morning?

Published in: on January 5, 2008 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Safe at sea,,, safe at home

Sailing like most ventures are best when done with safety in mind. When the venture is dependent upon Mother Nature, caution is always best. As the saying goes, “when in doubt don’t go out.” With that in mind the current and predicted light winds, along with our committment to carry no more than 15 gallons of gasoline, our trip to the Dry Tortoguas was postponed until we purchase the F31 or F36 we are ready to move up to.

The other plan change in cooperation with our dear Mother Nature was to head home two days early. Why not?  On Sunday, December 30 the forecast was for a cold front to sweep down as far as Key West on New Year’s Day. Our choice was to head home in light wind and a calm sea, or risk a bouncy, rough ride into the teeth of a bitter northerly. Maybe it is our age (we do get wiser, don’t we?) that led us to depart on a sun shiny day, sail up Hawk’s channel through the darknest of night, then head north from whenst we came.

Details and pix of the trip are forthcoming in the next day or so. For now, it feels so good, to have chanced a decent trip into a great one! Home, safe to tell a great tale of anotherwise uneventful event.

Wishing all the happiest year of all!

Capt. Sass —

Published in: on January 2, 2008 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment