The Pekin Wiggles on a “Tight-Assed River”

Living in Peoria over the past year, Margaret and I have explored a good deal of the town and surrounding area, including many natural areas. Because of my love of the water, the place that has fascinated me the most (other than maybe the inside of the region’s many dive bars) is the Illinois River. Even before I arrived, the Illinois particularly interested me because of the canal at its northern end that, when it was completed in 1848, effectively connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and assured Chicago’s place as one of the gateways to the west. John McPhee also wrote a delightful essay about the river for the New Yorker a while back, called “Tight-Assed River” that explores the Illinois and the barge traffic that still plies it regularly. Since we arrived in town, we have been down to the river to watch this spring’s flood rise and fall, search out retired riverboats at a marina in Chillicothe, take in sailing races off the Illinois Valley Yacht Club, and just investigate and enjoy its waters as much as possible.
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Cruising Videos on Youtube

As you have surely gathered already, Margaret and I spend a lot of time learning about, preparing for, and dreaming of cruising.  One of the ways that we have learned a tremendous amount and enjoyed ourselves considerably over the past year has been to watch cruising videos on Youtube.  There are a wealth of such videos out there on Youtube with everything from professional videos from companies such as Antares Catamarans to the worst of the home movie variety.  Similarly, the educational and entertainment value varies widely with instructional videos from the likes of Seasensical to straight up passage narrations.  I thought it might be useful to provide a short introduction to some of our favorite Youtube channels (a channel is just a homepage for someone’s account).  This is by no means comprehensive.  And, in the future, we will try to occasionally post some of our favorite sailing related Youtube finds.
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Florida Charter – Day 6

This is the last in a series of posts about our charter in Southwest Florida.  You can find the first post in the series here.

After a few rather hair-raising experiences the previous day, we were looking forward to a leisurely day on Gasparilla Island.  Jeff woke up early to re-thread the anchor (see why this was necessary here) and to do some general clean up on deck.  As he did this, I packed up the salon a bit, hoping to free us from worrying about cleaning up on our way back to Sojo’s home slip.
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Florida Charter – Day 5

Today was a learning day.  We acquired lots of knowledge and new skills.  How did we have the opportunity to learn so many things you ask?  Lots of things went wrong.  Below you will read some of our mishaps and adventures that are now amusing and comical stories.  But as you can imagine, in the moment, they were challenging and stressful, to say the least.
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What I Look for in a Boat

Since Margaret has been blogging about what she likes in a yacht, I figured I would make some comments about what I look for in one.

I should preface this by saying that I think Margaret is more interested in looking at boats than I am at this point. We are still a couple years from buying a boat, so perusing Yachtworld often feels to me more like a tease than an educational or inspirational exercise. So, I have yet to develop a deep appreciation for the nuances of different boats, their builders and designers, and their various layouts. For instance, I know I tend to like Bob Perry designs that have the canoe stern, think that Hallberg Rassys are well built, functional, and beautiful, and know – mainly from Margaret – that the interiors of boats tend to feel a lot bigger and more open at about 38 feet. But all these are opinions that are quite uninformed rather than developed through sustained and systematic boat shopping and studying. Consequently, the things that I am going to talk about in this post are fairly basic characteristics that I look for in boats when Margaret shows me a boat or I decide to torment myself a little bit by looking at yachts that are currently for sale.
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Dream Boats – Post #2 – Islander 36

Islander 36 – Interior Plan “B”

As an artist and someone who appreciates the idea of unique and creative living spaces, looking at boat layouts often has me feeling like I am shopping at the mall.  Everything looks the same.   Ugh.  I quietly begged yachtworld.com to show me something different and refreshing.  Show me a boat that has character – and not just in the fabric of the cushions.  And then it happened.  Last week while I was browsing through Twenty Affordable Sailboats To Take You Anywhere by  Gregg Nestor, I opened my computer and pulled up images of a few boats that stuck out to me as contenders and wha laa….
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Chesapeake Trip – Cape May Day Two

This is the sixth in a series on my 2011 trip to the Chesapeake aboard Helbent, my Catalina 22. You can find the last post here and the first in the series here.

The day began just as the one before had, with the drilling cadets waking me up super early. But this time I managed to get back to sleep until about 7:30. After another leisurely hour or two having breakfast and watching the harbor, I decided to go exploring, get a haircut, and find a coffee shop. Despite taking a different street than I had before, the young Coast Guard spouses were everywhere here too, hanging out together on their front lawns with kids running all over the place. And, just like along the waterfront, the cars lining the street had tags from across the country, including a pair of Hawaii ones, testifying to the distance some of the trainees had come from (I am a bit of a license plate fanatic, as anyone who has gone on a road trip with me knows). Making my way to the tree-lined boulevards of Washington and Lafayette streets, I found a little barber shop that cleaned me up. Leaving there, I decided to go back to Wawa and get a cup of coffee there, saving the café and ocean side of Cape May for the afternoon.
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Florida Charter – Day 4

On the boat, unlike on land, Jeff and I arose at the same time. This was probably due to our excitement to cram as many excursions and adventures into the charter as possible. With that said, we woke up at 8 am on day four – for those of you who don’t know me, this is rare, as I rarely rise before double digits unless necessary.

It was a beautiful morning with calm, clear skies – not a hint of the previous nights storm in the air. As Jeff pumped out the dingy, I wrote about the weather disturbance of the previous evening. We ate a quick breakfast on deck and then packed up the dingy with towels, clean clothes, and Joy for a trip ashore.
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Chesapeake Trip – Cape May Day One

This is the fifth in a series on my 2011 trip to the Chesapeake aboard Helbent, my Catalina 22. You can find the first, second, third, and fourth posts here.

That first night in Cape May Harbor, I had a fitful night sleep as thunderstorms rolled through. Then, I was awakened at about 5:30 in the morning by the sound of reveille and drilling cadets across the water at the Coast Guard station, which is apparently the only recruit training center in the entire country. Not only do they believe in honor, devotion to duty, and respect, but also waking up at the butt crack of dawn.
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The Sinking of Bounty

I am sure many of you reading this recall the harrowing news of the sinking of Bounty, death of her captain and one crew member, and courageous rescue of the rest of her crew during Hurricane Sandy. I was interested at the time, but was far more obsessed with reading everything I could about how Long Beach Island – a place I love so much – and my friends there fared. Consequently, I read a little about Bounty, but spent most of my time obsessively perusing Facebook, Twitter, Patch, and every other information outlet for LBI news.
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