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Posts from the ‘Conservation Musings’ Category

Words matter

English is a wonderful language capable of great diversity of expression through choice of words. Especially in contentious situations, picking our words matters to be sure we communicate information and intent accurately. Beyond words, of course, is the tone that carries its own message – not always the same as the words. The recent debate on the House of Representatives floor was instructive on this principle. Some speeches were eloquent yet the words chosen and the expression of them often carried more anger than information. Deep convictions can be conveyed without anger, and more often than not more effectively. The outcome of that particular debate would have likely been the same with considerably less anger which seemed often to lay close to the surface. My reaction more than once was to tell several of the speakers to ‘put away their toys and go to their rooms’.

Then this morning I read this piece (see link below) by David French which captured my feelings quite well, not only about the House debate but more broadly about the state of conservative-minded policy and politics.  I’d encourage a read by conservative and liberal-minded folks. The principles and cautions apply across the spectrum.  Let’s hope that civility and respect will prevail going forward – across all divisions in our Country.  Pick your words – and your tone – thoughtfully, as I hope our political leaders will.

David French,  Jan 8, 2023

‘It gets easier, as we get older’…..

Or so the song goes – ‘…to say, not today’. It’s my new favorite Willie Nelson song. [  A good way to think about shifting priorities with age, and maybe why we’re seen as getting cranky by some! In any event, it seems to fit the aging sailing skippers that I know – and I’ll own up to it as well.

I do notice that the physical requirements of managing a cruising sailboat are becoming more apparent. Still manageable, but not as easy as in recent seasons.  My single-handing days are not yet over, but I do plan to open the boat to more frequent crew this coming season. Finding and selecting compatible crew is a task that demands attention and time.  I’ve taken it on over winter to get acquainted with interested folks figuring those that would also take the time now are likely serious about sailing opportunities. A slow process so far, but promising!

In parallel to the crew search is the process of preparing a ‘new-to-me’ Hunter 33.5. She’s an older boat, but in solid condition.

Recent engine service and winterizing by a professional tech has been a bit pricey (what boat related work isn’t) but well worth it. It provided an opportunity to learn a lot about the lay out and especially the plumbing.  At least I now know where all the thru hulls are located 😊. Some fitting modifications of the cockpit canvass surround is done. The below deck inventory and storage plan is well along. Managed to build a set of companionway doors to replace the annoying drop boards…

The serious above deck and hull cleaning and waxing is a Spring project, along with some minor gelcoat repairs.  Maybe a trade off with some crew help? Also need to get the new name (Mischief) and port-of-call (Annapolis, MD) affixed to the hull.

Meanwhile, at home I’m spending time developing cruising plans. I started looking at the Downeast circle, mapping out routes and working out equipment and boat modifications that would be needed. Then reality struck following a chat with a friend who just made that trip – 4,000nm and 4 months among other considerations took that off the table.  I’ll get to hear more details when he presents a seminar next month. A cruise up to the Maine coast is still alive on the planning table. If not, then extended cruises exploring the many anchorages around the Chesapeake will pretty well fill the season. Over the years, I’ve visited most all the popular spots and some less so – all worth going back to. Then there’s always a circumnavigation of the DelMarVa peninsula which I’ve done twice and provides a bit of off shore sailing.  Also, have two extra sails I haven’t flown, including a gennaker. Looking forward to experimenting.  Had my first spinnaker experience in the Fall races on another person’s boat – including a broach ☹

Just survived the first winter cold front with temps down to 0 degrees f and high winds. Boat managed with a small heater on board. Appreciated the weather updates from my friends who sailed south – not! Past the winter solstice so lengthening days and warmer weather nor too far away…..

Back in the market

Well, I’ve been there more than once. It can be a confusing place, not to mention frustrating. Yacht World, Boat Trader and assorted other sources all offer the means to sort for just what you want – in the hope that there are several good choices, and all within an easy drive to see. Then the probability is that the perfect boat is at the other end of the Country, if in the home Country at all……

So, I’m in that search stage. Have already looked at several boats that by description and pictures promised to be a near perfect match.  Therein lies the frustration part. Learning to read between the lines (lies sometime) is critical to avoiding a lot of wasted time. Granted, older boats are not going to be showroom perfect. Adjusting expectations to reality needs to be done early in the game.

Somewhere out there, within a day’s drive to see, is my boat. Actually, the one I sold a couple years ago meets the criteria.   Sadly, he won’t sell it back……

Fortunately, I also have friends in the business who are keeping an eye out for my boat, and providing good critique on some I’ve considered. It helps to have friends.

Persistence pays, or will at some point, and I’ll continue to search enjoying as best I can the process.

Being mostly optimistic about life in general, I’m hopeful that finding and acquiring my boat will precede the arrival of winterizing. There’s still plenty of good sailing weather here in the Chesapeake until early December, or later, depending on just how hardy you are.

So look for me sometime soon out on the water. Meanwhile, I will be enjoying the search and spending time with other sailors at my new boat home at Bodkin Yacht Club and crewing with a fun bunch for Wednesday night races.

Back on the water

Well, it’s been a few years but it all comes back quickly – except I never was a racer. This past Wednesday evening was only my second sailboat race. The first was several years ago for fun in my then Catalina 30. This time I have the good fortune to be invited to crew on a similar boat, but rigged out for class racing. Even got to fly a spinnaker! Proud to report, we came in first — (full disclosure, we were the only boat in our class). I’ve signed up for the season of Wednesday night races to the extent I can manage. Looking forward to sailing with a good crew and some fun time on the water. Pix follow……

Circling for the start
Good crew, good boat


It has been too long since I’ve been able to commit the necessary time to the practice of falconry, and also since I’ve shared the falconry experience with friends. This past week corrected some of that.

It was great to attend the annual Spring Rendezvous at the Archives of Falconry in Boise, Idaho. The primary reason for going was the celebration of lives of falconers who have passed. In particular, my good friend Jim Ruos was added the  Wall of remembrance this year. The Rendezvous had not been held the past couple years due to Covid limitations. As a result, and sadly, some 40 names were added to the wall this year.

Wall of Remembrance

In addition, several presentations by experts on the history and practice of the sport were enjoyed. And, most especially enjoyed was the opportunity to reconnect with friends in the raptor world, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 40years. Hopefully we’ll all do a better job of staying in touch now.

The Archives have been newly expanded and is a remarkably professional facility housing papers, art, books, data and artifacts relating to falconry around the world. There is beautiful informational and art displays.  Adjacent to the Archives is the Peregrine Funds World Center for Birds of Prey which works to prevent extinction, protect critical habitats and educate on the roles and importance of raptors around the world.  Many species are on display, and guided tours explain the life histories and characteristics of these remarkable birds.

Golden Eagle
California Condor

Fall is arriving …

… what a great time to get outside and enjoy the beauty!

The Original British Car Day – 2021

A fun day at the car show!  Spent 3hours viewing some remarkable historic British Marks.  Represented were Aston-Martin, Austin Healy, Jaguar, MG, Mini Cooper, Morgan, Land Rover, Lotus, Riley, Sunbeam Alpine, Triumph, TVR.

It was great fun watching the parade of cars entering the show, and talking with many of the owners about their cars and the restoration work they had accomplished.

Christmas/New Year Greetings

Regardless of your particular beliefs, the Christmas season can be a time to pause, appreciate the good things from the past year, and learn from the not so good. Yes, 2020 has been a challenge, and especially sad for many families. I choose to focus on the good, be grateful for our well being and be optimistic about the year to come.

Here’s wishing you all a safe and wonderful 2021!


Life is a moving target. To live fully, one must constantly be adjusting their aim. Practice helps, but perfect aim, if achievable at all, comes late.   I would never describe my life as uneventful or mundane. The watchword has been constant change, some minor and happening slowly, others fast and substantial. In any event, it has been an interesting ride – so far.

The latest significant change is my decision to sell Valinor II. That means taking off the skipper’s hat, but perhaps finding an occasional crew spot. My sailing career has been long and varied. I’ve first and foremost met and made good friends on the water throughout my travels. I’ve seen a lot of coastal US (east side), and spent many wonderful days exploring the remarkable Chesapeake Bay. It’s been a good run, and the destination has always been Valinor.

I trust there’s time for more adventures of some kind, and will share as they materialize …..


‘Hindsight is 2020’ they say … (This is NOT a political post)


We should soon put 2020 in the history book and find our way out of what has been an especially challenging year on so many fronts.

In part, because of the virus and some pretty inconvenient weather systems, this has also been a very challenging sailing season. Add to that some ongoing repair/improvement efforts on a newly acquired boat (late 2019). My enrollment in Spinsheet’s Century Club challenge proved overly optimistic. Not nearly as much time was spent on the water as planned. Even so, I managed to break the 50 day mark …..

First, early in the season I moved the boat to a new location at Maryland Yacht Club on the Patapsco River. It was a friendly and well-equipped site with a very generous sized slip and good marina neighbors.

On the down side, it was a solid 4+ hours sailing time to the Annapolis area where many friends are based and closer to my very familiar cruising waters. On the up side, it gave me opportunities to try my hand at some fun racing. Even a grand-daughter got a chance for some racing lessons at the helm of a friend’s boat.

One such race was cut short abruptly by a broken steering cable – right at the start line. It offered a little excitement and an opportunity to test out the boat’s emergency tiller system.

This new interest in racing led me to enter a novel Annapolis-based event, the ‘2 Bridges Fiasco’. This was the first year for this race which was patterned after a regular San Francisco event. It was perhaps the highlight of the season. We had good winds,10-20 mostly, and I scored an assist from very experienced crew.










That experience paid off given the 130+ boat fleet, and the staggered start all of which would have otherwise been a bit stressful. We managed a respectable finish in the middle of our class – not bad for a 34ft cruising boat. We topped 7kts and put the rail in the water a few times.





Even with the virus restrictions, the Club managed a few overnight cruises with small rafting groups in some lovely Bay anchorages.








For assorted reasons, I made several trips down Bay to Annapolis. One of those produced a record time with favorable wind and tide making for a really fun sail. Sadly, the usual weekend raft ups fell victim to the virus constraints.

It’s now mid-November. I’ve relocated the boat back to Annapolis at my former marina in preparation for some over-winter work. The process of setting her up for winter is underway, but final winterization is on hold pending the chance for a few more day sails. So, hoping for some moderate, breezy days and friendly crew to share some bittersweet time on the water. Barring a change in current plans, Valinor II will have a new skipper by next season. Stay tuned for new adventures………