Puppy Saga

Puppy Saga

And the story continues…. Maggie was (is) a sweet, adorable puppy. She was also 55+lbs of energy wrapped in a soft, ever-shedding coat. After a considerable investment in pretty successful training, it became clear that she needed a different home.


With remarkable good fortune, we found an ideal home with the assistance of the breeder. Maggie is now living an unfettered life with a Lab brother, freedom to sleep wherever, and lots of play time at a campsite with a creek. Seems she’s turning into the water dog that I’d hoped. So, all-in-all a successful outcome.

That said, I was again without a dog ….

After some reasonable negotiations at home, we decided to go back to the breed we know well having raised and trained more than a few. And, with plans to move on from sailing to RVing, an upland bird dog became a much better choice.

So, after a number of calls, research on line and with dog friends, we found Cricket. Her litter was just reaching time to go home, and we fell in love on the first visit.  How does anyone resist a Brittany puppy! What’s more, the dad was from the kennel where we had found our first Brit – and, they were taking one of Cricket’s sisters – we had come full circle.



That was just a couple weeks ago. Cricket is home with us, growing fast and keeping me regular company. In fact, she has developed a very close attachment, and a moderate case of separation anxiety should I leave her alone.  This too will pass, house breaking will succeed and it will be time to start field training for birds!



Stay tuned for more Cricket stories……..

Moving on……

The only constant in life is change. That’s one of the lessons I’ve learned – repeatedly!

So it is that my world is shifting yet again. So has Maggie’s. In fairness to her, she has found a new home with a loving family.

Perhaps there will be a new ‘Maggie’ when life gets resettled.

Since retiring, sailing has occupied much of my time and energy, and provided wonderful friendships and shared experiences on the water and on land. Valinor and I have sailed all around the Chesapeake, some off-shore and down the east coast to the Keys and back. Traveling the Intracoastal Waterway was a special experience, and created so many memories I will carry with me of interesting places, fascinating people, and assorted experiences – from peaceful to more exciting than I needed.

Along the way I’ve made good friends – some even have left the water for similar on-land adventures. Many of the stories are shared here on this blog.

Valinor is now For Sale, and hopefully will find another sailor to treat her kindly and continue the adventures. (reply here if you would be interested in purchasing a great boat!)

In the works now are plans to cut the home ties, move into an RV motor coach and go exploring our great Country. It has been some years since I’ve traveled much on land, so looking forward to renewing old friendships, making new ones, and revisiting the many wonderful places I’ve been to but briefly – not to mention being able to take the home where it’s warm — all year around!

So, stay tuned for more adventures of a land-based kind. Our Spot will travel with us, and we’ll do our best to share the fun!

Season opener

March 12th marked the opening of sailing season for Valinor! It was just a short day sail, but cranked the engine  – started on the first try! Brought along a couple friends and  Maggie — managed to find enough wind for a delightful sail.


Discovered that a February wind storm had driven the boat against the dock and chipped the gel coat. A call to my favorite maintenance folks (Diversified Marine) got the repairs done quickly with excellent results. Another call Boat US Insurance got the claim approved and payment in full within a week. Two great outfits to deal with!

March 29th was a short work session. Moved the dingy off the fore deck and stowed against the stern. Turned the boat around to bow in and readjusted all the dock lines. Shut down all shore power and 12v uses leaving the solar panel to maintain the batteries. Left to do: flush the fresh water systems and fill the tanks, change oil and filters, check all fluid levels and do a complete cleaning above and below deck. Will get a diver to clean the bottom and check the zinc early May after a late April delivery from Florida to Annapolis.

Looking forward to another great sailing season! You can follow us here, and check the Spot link to see where we wander…….

6 Months this week…

6 Months this week…


As we say with kids, ‘they grow up so fast!’ Maggie is doing just that, and continues to be the challenge of an energetic toddler……though one wouldn’t guess that from this picture. She is fast approaching 50lbs and growing more confident every day.

Remembering when …IMG_2754a

To help direct a lot of that energy into useful/manageable traits, we are now going weekly to a professional trainer. In addition to all the standard commands of sit, come, stay etc, she is learning the ropes on the agility course. It’s great fun to help her over hurdles, teeter-totters, ramps, tunnels and other obstacles. She’s a quick study, and does all that’s asked of her – if slowly and only when on the lead for the most part. The immediate goal is to get her to obey when off-lead – expected to take some time.


Over Christmas holiday, we had all the kids and grandkids home, including Tessa. Tessa was my last Brittany and is now being horribly spoiled by our daughter Abby (lower right). It was fun to see Maggie and Tessa together for the first time. They became fast friends, shared toys and probably stories that we couldn’t understand.


As for her role as 1st Mate, we are now not-so-patiently waiting for Spring and more boat time. Winter is setting in after some early, record-setting warm weather. The short days, and cold make the boat look a bit forlorn. Winterizing was accomplished and we’re counting down to mid-March when we can safely recommission.


This pic is from last winter, but it’s what we’re heading for soon. Also, Valinor is now in a slip almost directly across the creek, three slips to the left of the black hulled power boat…

Maggie on the water – week 13-17

Maggie on the water – week 13-17

And the training continues ….  Leaning more about Labs every day. This one in particular is exceptionally smart, AND has a strong will to match!  Prudence says ‘professional help’, and so we signed up with a trainer for once per week sessions. All the basic sit/come/stay and related skills are developing along with my patience (most of the time). She learns fast. The trick is to get her to do what she knows – when I tell her!

All work and no play isn’t for Maggie or me!  She made the trip with me, by car, to the Seven Seas Cruising Association Gam and made new friends while getting accustomed to the car kennel. The following week she guarded the door at the Passport Yachts office while I did my part-time broker work at the annual Annapolis Boat Show.


Several days living on the boat helped her to learn her way around. I built a carpet covered ramp to make it easier to get up and down from cabin to deck. The following week was committed to boat maintenance that involved a short three day haul while replacing a thru hull valve. That and a couple weeks of not so great weather meant limited boat time, but continued training time. We did sneak in a short day sail with a couple crew friends giving Maggie the first chance to sail – she was a trouper, and seemed to take to the life easily.IMG_7223

Week 17 brought the first overnight sail to a marina. As a club cruise, I had crew help, and it provided shore time for Maggie. It was a great downwind sail on Saturday and a motor sail upwind home.


A little help with the lines (photo by crew friend)

Sadly, it’s fast approaching the time to winterize – what and ugly word!  Off today to winterize the fresh water system. Holding off on the engine in the hope of another sail or two.

Next weeks/months with boat secured means more puppy  training time and planning for the next sailing season!

MAGGIE’S LOG – Wk 8-12

MAGGIE’S LOG – Wk 8-12

Notes: Bringing home a new puppy, with all the concerns, hopes and expectations, is always an exciting but tense time – that certainly describes Maggie’s arrival in the household at 8 weeks of age.  She’s a yellow English Labrador of smallish parents. She comes into a home that, for a time, raised and trained Brittanys. Transitioning from upland, pointing bird dogs is driven by plans to include a canine crew on my 30 ft sailboat. So, the inclusion of boat training to normal puppy training is an added challenge.  This will be a very busy few months! This log will follow Maggie’s training and experience, as well as mine…..


I picked Maggie from a litter of 5 girls and 3 boys at 5 weeks of age.


She was the outgoing, exploring pup. The breeding was chosen because both parents are on the small size for labs, being 45-55lbs rather than the usual 60-80lbs – much more manageable for a small sailboat. We followed her development in emails from the breeder, and brought her home at 8 weeks of age on August 31st (12lbs). That was four weeks ago as I write this. It’s a good thing I’m retired…..long days, constant attention, and frequent trips out overnight, so sleep comes in short naps – mine and hers.

Meanwhile she is growing fast and fully demonstrating her outgoing personality. Puppy proofing the house is a continuing challenge. Top of the training list – crate training, house-breaking, come, sit, stay, off … and the meaning of a sharp NO.

Meanwhile, we’ve made the beginnings of indoctrination to the boat. With this begins Maggie’s boat log.


She has made a couple trips to the boat, and begun to settle in. We have not yet left the dock, but that will come shortly. The first overnight found her discovering the salon berth …. A spot she clearly chose to share with me.


Tomorrow is her first vet appointment to get a checkup, boosts and ID implant (24lbs). Later this week we go back to the boat for another overnight, learn about boat motors and work on using the puppy pad on the foredeck. The weather gods are not cooperating with rain and high winds in the forecast.

…check back for more log entries, meanwhile “woof – think I’ll take a nap” …

Once upon a midnight …

Once upon a midnight …

Dreary indeed! Mid-winter always feels that way. The holiday season is over, along with the novelty and joy of magical snowy landscapes. Snow and cold are fast becoming old – as are the regular pictures of sun and sand from luckier friends who have sailed south to warmer latitudes. The pesky groundhog managed to find his shadow, though it was pretty grey here when I looked.

IMG_1028 “Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December…”

As a boy, I grew up in the northern snow belt of upstate NY but am only partly relieved by being in the more moderate mid-Atlantic climate now. Waiting now, not so patiently, for Spring and conditions suitable for re-commissioning – still a few weeks off – six, if you believe the furry prognosticator.

Punxatawney PhilMore optimistically, it IS only a few weeks now till sailing season. Days are getting imperceptibly longer. The list of winter boat chores is slowly shrinking. Canvass removed for the winter has received minor repairs in the hope of extending its life another year or two. Bright work sits in the shop waiting to be sanded, stained and varnished. Sails are cleaned, folded neatly and stowed back aboard.
As soon as we’re clear of persistent sub-freezing temps, sails will get bent on, followed quickly by a thorough cleaning of top side and below. Fresh water system will get flushed and engine serviced, including oil change and all new filters.

Meanwhile, other sailing-related activities keep up the spirits. Sailing clubs have winter parties, and seminars are aimed at sharpening skills and enticing new sailors into the fold. That will do for now, and any such distraction helps make the waiting seem shorter.

So, with the season’s sailing calendar filling with club cruises and other on-the-water activities already announced, there’s time to plan. It’s always fun to re-live last season’s time on the water. Spinsheet magazine initiated the Century Club in 2014 to recognize those sailors who managed 100 days or more on the water. Lucky to have made the grade at 149 days, and enjoy the celebration. Look for those new Century Club burgees out there this year!


See you on the water soon!