The End… And A New Beginning

Clarity is gone.

A few weeks ago, she was given to her new owner, as a donor to the Sailbird 18 he already has.  Sold for a price of $1.00, he refused change for a $20.00, which made for a hell of a profit margin (and a way to rationalize away letting her go).  I think she’s in good hands, and many of the items I retained will be used again.  Her mainsail was too far gone with sun rot to keep, but her boom already has a new boat to call home, which I’ll mention in a bit.


It was both hard and easy to let her go – so many changes have occurred in my life since Clarity entered into it… the main one being that I needed a lot more clarity in my life in general!  Life was becoming burdensome, sailing faded into the background, and I trudged along, finally accepting that what I had known for years was really true – and a divorce followed.  I was depressed, Clarity was ignored, and we both began to decay.


And then, something wondrous and totally unexpected happened – a love from 2 decades past re-entered my life, and I hers.  The duality of it feeling almost half a lifetime ago, and just like yesterday we were last together, is hard to explain, but the happiness was instant for us both, and the love caught up to us in a tidal wave of amazement.  We are together, now and forever.  And we have a vessel of our own, a well worn 1976 Montgomery 17 that we are returning to sailing condition (with the help of Clarity’s boom, I might add, which happens to be within 1/4″ of the missing original spar).  Her name?  Destiny.  A few pictures of her, and some of the gear she was filled with, are below.


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As you can see, she has begun to clean up nicely, but has a long way to go.  Those efforts, and their rewards, will be posted, but not here.  This will be the second-to-last entry entry on this wordpress site.  there’s a lot of information and history here, especially pertaining to design, repair, and preparation for adventure sailing outings such as The Everglades Challenge, and it will remain available, but the continuing adventures of Mike, Fawna, and Destiny will be logged elsewhere.  The final post will be made when our new site is established, and we’ll let you know where to find us.

If you have enough Clarity in your life to recognize and realize your Destiny, your voyage will be an awesome one – hilarious, harmonious, bumpy, bruisy, wet and wild – not to mention totally amazing and completely worthwhile!


The Times Have Definitely Changed…

Years ago, we purchased Clarity, and refit her for coastal cruising, and the Everglades Challenge.  We thought this would be the continuation of my addiction to sailing, and the beginning of a lifelong adventure together.

We were partially right – the bug is definitely no longer dormant within me.  However, as things sometimes happen (or don’t), our lifelong adventure was but a fantasy.  We are now divorced, and Clarity sits neglected, in need of serious work.  More serious than I’m willing to do, yet definitely doable.  Her wood deck has rotted, her paint is faded and failing, her amas are getting soft, and her main has a torn out reef point.  And, set up for adventure sailing, she’s not as comfortable for my advancing age and arthritis as she used to be.  It’s time for her to go – either to a new owner, or off to her final rest.

Do you want her?  Let me know quickly, and you can have her for free, but by the end of March, she’ll be stripped and her parts put up for sale.

This wasn’t an easy choice, but she is a part of my past, with a person that’s now part of my past.  But never fear – there is a new boat in the yard, and a wonderful person to share her with!  More details to come soon…


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And Now For A Little Bit Of News…

For the past couple of years, I’ve been flying small UAS’s (Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or FAA-speak for drones) as a hobby, and have found the videography aspect fascinating.  So much so, that I’ve decided to make the hobby a bit more than a hobby.  Tomorrow I’ll take delivery of a Yuneec Typhoon H Pro – a six rotor photography platform with a built in 4K video/still camera, and active collision avoidance from Intel.

yuneec-typhoon-h-proIt should make for a good, safe system, suitable for real estate photography, basic digital mapping and surveying, remote security and equipment inspection, and SAR (search and rescue) uses.  I’m also hoping to find ways to integrate a UAS in my main line of business, horizontal directional drilling.

There are other great drones out there, most notably the DJI series, and the 3DR IRIS+ and Solo series.  The DJI has an awesome autopilot, but to be honest, it just looks too much like a toy to me.  The Solo would actually have been my first choice, but 3DR is getting out of the drone business, so while the are available at incredibly low prices right now, factory support is not good.  And on top of all that, Yuneec is developing manned electric sport aircraft, which appeal to me greatly, so I feel good about connecting with a company that makes stuff I like!

In any case, I’m currently working to get my FAA Part 107 UAS registration completed, so I can legally fly commercially.  I won’t be accepting any paid commissions until that is done, but if you happen to have an interesting idea and/or location that ought to be filmed, let me know… after all, practice makes perfect!

For the moment, I’ve established a FaceBook presence for this endeavor, and if you’d like to stop by and click on ‘like’, that’d be awesome – and that way, both the taxman and I know the word is getting out.  You can find it here:

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Just A Quick Note…

As you may have noticed, we haven’t been doing much of any sailing or boating lately.  Well, sometimes life gets in the way – so we are on a bit of an activity hiatus.  In the meantime, please peruse and enjoy the archived material!

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Pictures From Checkpoint 2 – 2014 Everglades Challenge

This gallery contains 10 photos.

I just found some pictures online that were taken of my arrival and departure from CP2 – it was quite a milestone for me, as our first attempt ended at CP1 due to a serious water leak in Clarity’s vaka … Continue reading

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A Sad Day On The Water In Fiji

Earlier today, on the waters off of Suva Point, we sailors lost one of our own. I don’t know his name, or how long he had been sailing, but none of that matters… he was a young boy of 13, and yet he was as important as any one of us – he was human.

The Hobie 16 he was sailing on capsized in confused seas (as Hobies, and all manner of little sport sailing craft are wont to do), and the young man, caught in the lines under the trampoline, tragically drowned before he could be freed, though many tried valiantly to save him.

I never know when something like what I’m about to write is right to say, but I’ll do it anyway – a knife is a critical part of any sailing kit and should be securely and permanently mounted on your PFD in such a location that you can reach it with either hand, whether or not you can see it. I far prefer a fixed blade, semi-serrated “river shorty” kind of knife, in a scabbard with detention style retention, so that no latches or snaps need be loosened before the blade is released. We would have lost someone in the 2013 Everglades Challenge had he not been wearing his knife… and he’ll be the first one to admit that, before the event, he complained about having to wear it, and some of the other safety gear, ad nauseum.

Would a knife have saved this young man? We will never know – but please think for a moment before you leave shore and be sure you are prepared for something as seemingly innocent as a small boat capsize, as very rarely, something can go wrong.

My most sincere thoughts go out to this young man’s parents, family, and friends, and do I hope that they can find some solace in the fact that he departed doing something he enjoyed. Take care and be safe, everyone.


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The Boats I Have Known – A Brief Sailing History of Yours Truly (Entry #1)

I started sailing pretty early in life, and I thought it would be fun to take a retrospective and hopefully accurate look at the boats I’ve owned and sailed so far. Please note that, unless identified as a boat I actually owned, all pictures are representative sister ships.

Well, I guess starting at the beginning would be a logical as anything else, so lets reach back to when I was 3, and my dad bought a tiny little orange craft called a Sport Yak II. He bought it from Jack Culleys’ Sailboats, Inc, when it was a tiny store in Bloomington, MN, and we proceeded to go adventuring. To this day I can’t figure out how my dad, I, and eventually my younger brother Doug ever fit into the thing, but we did, and a great time was had by all (or at least me)… even when we almost got swamped by a barge wake on the Minnesota River one fine day. I don’t remember much about my first sail, but I do remember at age 4 (mom, don’t read this) my dad set me off on Lake Nokomis, in Minneapolis, on a tether and let me work my way around, learning the sail and rudder. By 5 (mom, you aren’t reading this, are you?) I was sailing alone, untethered – and at one point, somewhere around the age of 10, I loaded the boat on a wagon, tied it to my bike, and towed it off to the lake, and a friend and I went sailing. My parents were a little upset that I didn’t tell them about my plan though!

Sport Yak II

Sport Yak II

When I was a bit older, either 7 or 8, we were at a Bloomington Jaycees picnic, and there were prizes to be given away. Watching the kids and adults win various trinkets, and some cool stuff, I got a bit depressed at my lack of booty-gain, and walked over to the grand prize, a 14′ Bonito sailboat, and sat on the trailer tongue, admiring the glossy blue deck, whose gelcoat looked as deep as any sea. About 20 minutes went by, and they began the buildup for the sailboat drawing, to which I barely paid attention. They called out the winning number (printed on lapel buttons we were all wearing) and after a minute or so, I thought… “hmm, that number sounds familiar…”. Looking down at my button I saw the number I had checked so many times before was indeed the winning number! Of course, my parents had already figured that out, since the numbers were sequential, but they had no idea where I was, so while I went up on stage to claim my prize, they were searching the park for me! The boat was provided by Sailboats, Inc., so that was another tie I have to them from my youth.

I really learned a lot on that boat, and my father and I raced it for years at the Lake Waconia Yacht Club, each taking turns, for though the boat was capable of carrying 3, it was definitely a single handed racer.

After a couple of years, my dad decided he wanted a bigger boat, so that we could race together, and sail with others. His choice was an International Tempest, a boat that was briefly an Olympic class, and so loaded with sail area that it carried both a 500 lb bulb keel AND a trapeze for the crew! She was in rough shape when we got her, but had plenty of sails and most of the gear needed, so we proceeded to rebuild and refit her. Named “Arriba!”, she was one wild child of a sailboat, and had the same handicap rating as a Hobie 16! We sailed and raced her for a couple of years, learned a lot, sunk her once, and to date she’s the only boat I ever got knocked out on. Twice. They call that thing a boom for a reason…
Tempests on a close reach

At 14, it seemed time for me to escalate the family boat competition, so I sold the Bonito, added up my paper route money, and bought a 1959 19′ Lightning, built of mahogany by Lippincott. What a beauty! Electric blue, with a white canvassed deck and bright finished wood, she even came with 2 sets of cotton sails sewn with colored thread. Like the Tempest, she needed some work, and I learned a lot about marlinspike seamanship – splicing lines, repairing sails, etc. And she sailed beautifully – stable and stiff, I never capsized her, and when I got her a set of fancy dacron dress sails, she flew like a bird. During this time I was also introduced to catamaran sailing, via the new and amazing Nacra 5.2, Sol-Cat 18, and the assorted Hobie, Prindle, and Aquacat models. Of more interest was seeing, but not getting to sail, one of the Reynolds 21 micro-cruiser-racer cats… I didn’t know it yet, but I had been bitten by an exotic bug – one that would emerge years later!

After a couple of years with the Tempest and the Lightning, we realized something – we each had a boat big enough to sail on together, but with two boats, we still didn’t. Cold winters cross country skiing led us to talk about what we should do about that little issue. Some of the boats on Lake Waconia were getting bigger, and whereas a few years ago Montgomery 17’s, Balboa 20’s and Catalina 22’s were about as big as they got, some people had moved up to Catalina 25’s, and we even had a Montgomery 23 on the lake. With those boats in mind, plus the fact that we just HAD to be a little different, we went boat shopping. After looking at a few things, including a Piver Nugget trimaran (talk about planting another subconscious seed of desire…), we found a Pearson Lark – a 24′, raised deck, full keeled cruising boat with gorgeous lines, and a simple interior designed so that you could work the galley while sitting down. She had a sliding/folding hatch that gave full headroom over a fair portion of the boat, tons of stowage, acres of flat, safe deck, and drew 4′ of water. We bought her. Unfortunately, we didn’t tell my mom first, but at least I was 15 and relatively innocent at the time!

We brought her home, worked on her and rigged her, all in a big rush, as the ice has started melting early on the lake. The launch went uneventfully, and we got a tow over to our mooring, and continued to rig. Belatedly, we looked at the sky just in time to see a front in the distance. I raced to finish the mooring pendants before the brunt of the storm hit, and I finished them just in time, and we attached them to the bottom of the mooring buoy in probably 30 knot winds, 3 foot seas, and the beginnings of ugly rain. Not too bad from a deck 4′ off the water!

For the first year, we kept her without a motor, and I really learned the art of handing a displacement hulled sailboat from that. Sailing to and from the mooring in any and all weather was a skill I’ve always appreciated learning, and it’s come in handy many a time, even in unexpected ways.

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Page 2 to follow soon…

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