Monday, November 17, 2014

Can Money Buy Happiness?

The title is from an article in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, 10 November 2014.  The short answer is, "Yes."

The longer answer is more interesting.  It starts with debt as being very debilitating.  No debt and no savings is the neutral position for happiness.  Savings is pretty much a guarantee of happiness.  Not big happiness the way debt leads to big unhappiness.  They are inverses.  So I suggest that lack of debt leads to a happy life.  The article was probably a couple thousand words and has way more supporting detail.

The other very interesting revelation was that the purchase of "things" leads to short term elation and long term... well there is no long term up side since we grow used to the things we have and they are familiar, uninteresting.  The experiences we purchase lead to short term elation and long term satisfaction.

This has to do with the evaluation of Boat vs House.  Boat has lots of experiences and few things.  Boats don't have enough space to fill up with stuff.  Every time the boat shifts its anchorage, there is a new experience and a new set of rewards.  Houses, one notes by observation, fill up with stuff faster than they deliver experiences.

Mission?  Make the house experience richer.  Putter more, purchase less.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Boat vs House: Library

Working away on the house, land yacht as I call it and got to thinking about our library.  Specifically, I was thinking about why live ashore and what to do to make that as pleasant as possible.  My thoughts turned to our library, my easy chair, the table that holds the glass from which I refresh myself and how those things aren't on the boat.  Not just not on Averisera but not really part of any regular cruising boat.  At least not a library with maybe a thousand books.

Thinking back to St Maarten and my Caribbean years.  There were book swaps at Shrimpies or Business Point: they were fun and just not the same as your very own library.

The house is getting more library attention.  Maybe I will even get a library card to the town library.

Friday, September 5, 2014


 Correspondent Kelly Girl Waterhouse describes it pretty well in her blog:


On board, it is hard to have guests.  Ashore guests are simple to accommodate.  This summer we have had almost 60 days of guests.  most of those days were either in our house or my mother in law's house.  She lives nearby.  Life on board is hardly devoid of guests or friends, we just interact with them so very differently.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

House vs Boat, Scope and Scale

As noted earlier, everything one can want for completing a house repair is readily available and competitively priced, many tradespeople are available for hire.  Not so with a boat.  Fortunately, once a boat is in fairly good shape, it is easy to keep it so.  This has to do with the scope of each job.  I can prepare my 32 footer for a winter of voyaging for a few thousand dollars and keep it going, with just me aboard, at about ten bucks a day.

The scale of every job at the house is big, big as in super yacht big.  Granted it is at a fraction of the real cost of a superyacht.  Within each job come a thousand decisions that change the scope of each project from simple to complex.  House is always being redesigned on the fly.  Boat is designed by the naval architect and that's pretty much it.

More to follow.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weeding the Garden

Scrub the boat bottom and clean grass off of the boot stripe.
Pull weeds from the garden.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pace of Cruising vs Pace of Life Ashore

Individuals each have their own personal rate of foing things or pace.  On top of that is the rate at which things occur in the place one lives.  As the appliedsailor moves ashore he finds the transition between the seagoing pace and land based pace different.  When I was a charterboat captain, I knew it would take my guests or student-crew a few days to acclimate.  They knew they were leaving in a week so the personal pressure to adapt was low.  For a long voyage, the situation is quite different.  There are few parallels with shore based living.

We live ashore and plan to sail away, in most cases.  When you buy a boat with a plan to sail for parts unknown, there is a burst of energy to get the craft ready and off you go.  There are bursts of refit energy and then it's off again.  Life aboard is fairly quiet punctuated more by the rhythms of the sea environment, calms and storms.  One can never "stop" sailing until, at the very least, one is at anchor.  (Sailors will have endless quibbles with that statement, let's hold them for later.)

With a house, you aren't going anywhere.  The distraction is the work on the house so it is what you do.  The environment is much more controlled.  Buy everything online and the package company delivers the goods a day or so later.  Too hot, turn on the AC.  Too cold, settled down to the fireplace with a cuppa.  Bored, head for the movies, a bar, the mall, or just out onto the open road.  Options abound.  Want to travel?  Turn on the TV and pick a show about a place.  One never has to leave the house

The Pace of Cruising is a rhythm of activity.  No matter what, one must go out and interact with the sea, wind, and local culture.  There are few filters.  The Pace of Life Ashore is very different.  Unless guests are coming to visit; each day seems to be get up and work on something around the house, go to bed, repeat the next day.

Thank goodness for guests.  Can one thank goodness for far shores?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cost of Cruising, Cost of Living Ashore

Regulatory Cost:
One of the interesting things about life ashore is regulatory cost.  Living ashore involves an awful lot.  Electrical, plumbing and building changes repairs and installations all have a regulatory component.  Afloat, one is more self reliant and also assumed to be so.  The building inspector isn't visiting every once in a while when you least expect it... and then not to be found when you need him to sign off on a job.

When we lived in Medford, outside of Boston, I asked the city building department about having some work done in the kitchen.  Short answer, everything needs to have an inspector involved.  Technically, I was not permitted to remove the cover from a light switch or wall plug much less change one out without hiring a licensed electrician and scheduling a building inspection at cover removal and before the cover was re-installed.  Three days minimum!  Before landscaping, the "digsafe" guy has to come by and make certain all the underground stuff is identified and located.  I get it, a lot of stupid stuff is done by incompetent amateurs.

In the voyaging world, the group self-selects towards competent if not down right expert.  Incompetent gets sorted out pretty quickly.

Living aboard involves no such costs in time or personnel.

One regulatory cost of cruising is customs and immigration.  Or, as my South African shipmate used to say, comedy and irritation.  The regulatory cost is safety equipment is another.  Some places, like the USA are very minimal.  Others, I am told, are very rigorous.

As I explore the difference between living ashore and living aboard, regulatory delays and costs become apparent.  Ashore, regulations are pervasive.  Afloat, regulations are seem almost remote.

July 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

House vs Boat : rant or discussion?

Are houses less expensive than boats?  I don't know the answer and neither do you.  Sailing friend, Tim on Slick, went from Boston to Marmaris Turkey and then found out he needs to replace a lot of fiberglass lamination of the boat bottom.  Norm on Main Street finds he needs to remove a few trees that are threatening the house.  Tim also needs a new diesel.  Norm needs hardscaping  (that's rocks and bricks not shrubs and flowers) for Elizabeth's garden.  About the same cost.

Remove trees or buy anew mainsail, or refinish boat bottom or winter storage.  On the plus side, we have red breasted nuthatches in the shrubs.  They are cute and amusing.  No complaints.

New Idea for Blog

Very briefly:  we have moved from Boston where I worked in the sailing industry to Cape Cod where we have bought a house in the woods and sort of retired.
Not my first choice for retirement housing.  I was thinking cheap condo and a 35 footer with sea legs.  Anyway.  it is an opportunity to compare and contrast the differences between the land based life and the sea based life.

First up:  Cost.  Lots more on this later.  In general, houses are expensive and a lot of work.  Just like boats.  Houses don't take you anywhere.  See the blog of my web-friends:  the Waterhouse couple at  We are doing a similar set of jobs at the same time on our house.  They will sail away.  Our house will not.  I bet we are spending way, way more.

More to follow....

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cape Cod Fog

Fog is a part of the Cape Cod waterfront experience.  Recently, I got a few pictures of the fog rolling in towards shore.

The top image looks a bit like distant mountains.  The water is Nantucket Sound and the view is towrds Chatham with the Atlantic beyond.  The lower image is of Pleasant Bay looking North towards Weequasett Inn and Orleans.  I grew up sailing on that water.

More Reading

Recent reading on the subject of long range cruising includes:
Tightwads on the Loose
Sailing the Waterhouse
Sieze the Day
Breaking Seas

it is interesting to me that no one sails the same type of boat.  Each couple is self-reliant and that makes it all possible.  So, why the question:  "what boat should I buy?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cape George Cutters

CAPE GEORGE CUTTERS:  Got a note about maybe getting to deliver one of these little numbers.  I have admired the work of John Atkin for decades and never sailed one of his designs.  It would be quite a treat to get an ocean delivery and see how they handle offshore.

One of the "big debates" in cruising/voyaging is long keel vs fin keel.  As a kid I knew, local Cape Cod designer, Spaulding Dunbar.  One day I got to speak with him at length.  He talked about all sorts of things and the two types of hull designs.  His argument was simple, long keels take the bottom more gracefully.  Anyone who has sailed the shallow waters of Cape Cod, the Chesapeake, or Bahamas knows about going aground.  A proper fin keel goes to windward like a freight train on rails.  A full keel won't do that at all.  However... would the cruisers who plan to cruise long distances upwind please raise their hands.  Hmmm... OK, that's settled.  I haven't sailed a full keel boat since maybe 1972.  I hope I can get the time to participate in the delivery.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sailing Literature/Seize the Day

Reading the book, Seize the Day, by Shirley Billing, a Brit who sailed around the world in the mid-1980s.  More on the story as I progress with reading it.  But... it seems to me that voyaging is less about the boat than the desire to travel.

My sailing students over the years have all asked, "what's the perfect cruising boat?'  Books are written and sailing magazines spill barrels of ink on the subject.  I think the answer might be: "If you want to go exploring by sea, you'll need a boat.  It doesn't much matter which one."  I have, somewhere in the archivdes, a picture of cruising boats viewed in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.  My favorite is a 25 footer sporting a small hard dinghy hoisted out alongside in the fashion of much larger yachts.  A "shippy" little yacht being handled very professionally.  'nuff said...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Advanced Coastal Cruising, ASA 106

The American Sailing Association has a number of "standards" for sailing students to achieve.  The 106 standard is one of the higher ones.  Norm has taught to that standard for many years and is an ASA 206 Instructor Evaluator.  I will be adding lecture notes and drawings to this blog labeled as:  ASA 106, topic x.

A New Project

A result of teaching sailng for many years is that I get emails asking for technical advice regarding sailing.  I enjoy answering those requests.  This blog is an effort to collect the material in one place.  Let's see what happens.

How about that?  Inserting a picture worked as planned.  This is an out of focus one of me paddling out to the boat.  Thanks, Elizabeth.

Our boat is AVERISERA, Aphrodite 101 built in 1984 by Bianca Yachts of Denmark.