Celestial Navigation: Going Back to the Beginning

A part of my celestial navigation tool-kit.

I learned celestial nav a long long long time ago, as in way before anyone ever heard of satnav. But I was a youngster and never got proficient. And though we don’t have a chart plotter on the Far Reach, I, like most of the modern world, have come to rely on GPS because it’s quick, simple, and accurate. But…using GPS always leaves me feeling…unsatisfied. Like I cheated. It’s just too easy. There is no reward.

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Alone Again: Small Projects and Maximum Chill….


Deep into Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.

It was a sad day to see Gayle fly home. We had a great time together. But the kids have to declare their college selection by 1 May. She needed to assist them with another round of campus visits so they can make a wise choice. So we divided our combat power into two elements, each with missions to accomplish.

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Our Surface Supplied SCUBA System or Hookah


The basic hookah is the first stage, 50’ of air hose, and the second stage regulator. I added a pressure gauge to the second stage after the photo was taken.

I have a fair amount of diving experience. I earned my PADI card when I was 17. I’m also a military trained diver and served in dive billets for nine years. But I don’t have diving gear anymore and I think I made my last dive about 2003. I just snorkel now.  But I always think about options….

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A Long Beat Back to St Thomas



Beating back against the NE Trades from Culebra to St Thomas.

After a wonderful week in Culebra it was time to head back to St Thomas. Unfortunately, St Thomas is about 20nm dead upwind against the powerful Caribbean trades. We prepared the afternoon before by stowing gear and stripping the sun awnings and sail covers. We hauled Sweet Pea up and inverted her on the cabin top and snugged her down securely in her teak chocks.

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Easy Living



The Far Reach has proven to be wonderfully comfortable during extended live aboard. 

For the last month or so it’s been pretty easy living. The Far Reach and I have mostly remained here in Elephant Bay, St Thomas until Gayle could join us.  The pace of living has been slow and relaxed. There has been plenty of time to read, sleep, swim, eat, study the sky, think, and meet new people.

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Brave Sweet Pea


Sweet Pea, our tough and hard working 9’ Fatty Knees dinghy.

Until recently, while anchored in Elephant Bay, I had been rowing in and out of Crown Bay Marina in St. Thomas, USVI. I purchase water there and sometimes ice. I load up to 35 gallons of water at a time, in seven 5 gallon collapsible jugs, to haul to the Far Reach. I also use the dinghy dock to get a beer or occasional meal at Tickles Pub or grocery shop around the corner.

After about two weeks of rowing in and out, the marina office sent a security guard to tell me I couldn’t row into the marina. “It’s not allowed….”.  I responded with something along the lines of “I don’t even understand that comment.”  So, I went and talked to the management. They were adamant. No rowing. “Why,” I asked. “Well because you might not be able to maneuver out of the way with other boats coming and going.” I said “It’s a no wake zone. No one is going any faster than me and I am far more maneuverable than any power boat.”

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A Simple System for Taking on Water



Water hauling day: 35 gallons or 280 lbs of water.  Our 9’ Fatty Knees has been a real work horse for almost 15 years.  She’s tough, rows well, and with a 15’ tall mast carries a lot of sail for her size. I can’t imagine trading her for an inflatable.

As part of our “keep it simple” approach to all things sailing we have developed a system for filling the water tanks on the Far Reach.  It didn’t happen all at once…it took a little time and some trial and error.

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Jost Van Dyke, BVI to St Thomas, USVI

I slipped out of Jost Van Dyke early on 30 December. The anchorage was already getting crowded in anticipation of the big New Years Eve bash. The night before I left, while I was ashore helping Baba, a 62’ private charter cat anchored way too close on the starboard side of the Far Reach…exactly the reason I wanted to get out of Great Harbor.


The FR and the cat got much closer than this photo depicts.

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Wonderful People and Anchoring Woes

The Far Reach—Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke

My 13th Day at Jost Van Dyke. I have spent the last 8 days helping out Ali Baba on whatever projects he has lined up. Painting, helping run wires, building a booth for the New Years festivities, etc. I have really enjoyed working with Baba and getting to know him and Urinthia. They have fed me and engaged me in interesting wide ranging conversations.  I have learned a little about Island culture and got a peek or two about what goes on behind the scenes.  I have traveled all over the world yet never cease to be humbled by the kindness so many people extend to people they barely know. There is nothing that demonstrates how we are so much more alike than different like foreign travel especially when you engage outside your own community and culture.


I’ve known Baba and Urinthia for three years.  If you want disco and loud music Foxy’s is the place to go.  But this is where the best food is on JVD.  It’s a great place to bring a family or a friend and have a slow meal and a long conversation. And Baba also has a fantastic and diverse play-list loud enough to hear but quiet enough not to interfere in conversation.

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