Posted by: nauticalchronicles | April 2, 2014


Weddings and Scatterings

Our time on the water is spent mostly cruising to exotic ports, anchoring and mooring with close friends and other famous celebs, aimlessly hovering around the docks making up projects to do (tinkering), swimming and snorkeling off of the many beaches and sandbars available to us. Our evenings, when not underway, are generally spent singing, dancing and in celebration of our extreme good fortune to be able to do all of these things we love and enjoy…in celebration of living. That’s just what we do.

On occasion, however, we (my mate and I) have the opportunity to do things out of the ordinary. For instance, not too long ago, we were asked to perform a “wedding at sea”. Shortly after that, we were asked if we could participate in a wedding by bringing a wedding party, via the bow of our boat, to the wedding site in Newburyport, providing a “grand entrance” of sorts for the crooning couple soon to be officially coupled. And then one day…we were asked if we could help in remembering a loved one who had passed away by spreading their ashes at sea. On these occasions, we are truly thankful to be a part of our boating community.

As is usually the case, I need to explain some things before I can continue expanding on these stories.

Years ago, when I was “in banking”, it became necessary to represent the bank in legal matters (small claims court, mortgage foreclosures, repossessions…); some of these matters required me to become a Notary Public and a Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire. I have maintained these licenses, in good standing, since then. And they have come in handy on many occasions, mostly for friends needing free or almost free notary services (there was a time notaries could charge no more than fifty cents for their service…but, I digress).

Eventually it happened. Many years after leaving the banking profession, Louise’s friend Lindsey was planning her wedding and asked if I could be the officiant since I was a licensed JP. This was a surprise to say the least. I had never done a wedding but had done some public speaking; it would be a challenge but everyone agreed it would be a grand idea. And it was…a grand idea and a lot of fun. There were only two glitches; one: I pronounced their names “Lick & Din” instead of “Dick & Lin” (I got away with it; it looked like it was done on purpose), and two: I cried during the vows. What can I say; I cry at weddings.
Lynn Z & Bob Z
Since that first ceremony, I have performed almost two dozen weddings (at least three of which have been for Lindsey…she does enjoy getting married!)

On a sunny, cloudless day at the docks, as Louise and I were untying the lines, ready to motor “HalfMine” out of the Merrimack River toward parts yet unknown, our good friend Adam stopped long enough to help with the lines…and to ask if we would like to perform his wedding service…on his boat…in two weeks…at sea! I thanked Adam and asked if we could talk further on Sunday when we return. He said, “Sure” (pronounced “showa”).

And so began the planning for Adam and Hannah’s wedding at sea. To be sure, this was to be a spectacular event with the reception to be held at Cove Marina under a large tent with all of the boat owners and their guests, as well as all the family members and their guests. We planned on using “HalfMine” for the ceremony instead of his boat; I planned on wearing my Captain’s uniform (though I did find to my surprise that captains cannot legally officiate unless they are otherwise legally recognized as clergy or justices…but again I digress); Louise was to captain our vessel while the ceremony was being performed.

Our “wedding at sea” was a great success. Only the wedding party was on board. We motored a mile off Hampton’s north beach (since the marriage license had been issued in Hampton the marriage needed to be performed in New Hampshire); Louise drove flawlessly; the weather was agreeable and the seas were calm and very quiet allowing the ceremony to be intimate and meaningful. A champagne toast followed the pronouncement…and a beautiful bouquet of flowers was floated on the picturesque New Hampshire coastal waters. We marked our position on our GPS to remember this event when we again travel this way.

We returned to Cove Marina to the multitude of well-wishers and to an outstanding catered reception. It was a memorable event, for Adam and Hannah, and for the Captain and Mate.

Officiant Bob

Sometime later, well after this wedding, another boating friend asked if we would participate in a similar wedding, only this time we would bring the wedding party, by boat, to the Newburyport town dock; we would not be officiating. The bride and groom would have their ceremony performed on the town common and ours was to be a grand entrance for them. We agreed and made our plans accordingly (my uniform had been freshly cleaned, starched and pressed). On the day of the wedding, the weather did not accommodate us. The Merrimack River was showing whitecaps, rain was threatening and the wind was blowing…”hard now, 60 knots or there a bouts” per J. Buffett. The wedding was able to be performed, and the reception was held under the tent at the marina, but the wedding party decided against the grand entrance by boat. My mate and I were sorely disappointed, but could only imagine what the bride and groom might have looked like on their arrival to the town dock had they chosen to arrive by boat.

A year ago, we received a phone call from Kara and Peter in California. Kara’s mother Elinore is Louise’s closest cousin and one of her few remaining relatives. Louise and I attended Kara and Peter’s wedding with Elinore in San Francisco and have since become very close. They have all visited us many times over the years, and have spent many enjoyable nights and days on our boat.

Elinor's wedding with Louise attending  Louise & Kara Peter & Kara

Kara’s call was that Elinore had passed away after a long battle with dementia. Elinore’s last wishes were that she be cremated and returned to New England, and that her ashes be spread on the water off her beloved New England coast. Could they please make plans to come visit us in the summer and bring Elinore with them? The call came in December; they planned their visit for the following July.

When the boating season commenced last year, we of course mentioned this upcoming ceremony to several of our boating friends. As is usually the case, one of them had performed such an observance on his boat. Jim (Just the Accountant) and his wife Carol own a boat similar to ours and had been asked to do a similar celebration of life for a friend’s mother. As boaters, we always appreciate input from our fellow boaters about all matters of importance, and we always get input whether we want it or not. In this case, Jim’s input was invaluable.

While at sea, off the coast of Salisbury, Jim captained his vessel an appropriate distance off-shore, cut the motors and prepared for the farewell ritual. Words were spoken by family members and tears were shed. He brought the urn to the side of the boat, removed the top and slowly poured the ashes onto the surface of the water. Unfortunately, the wind was such that many of the ashes returned to the cockpit of the boat, onto the family members and adhering to their tears. Jim’s was a lesson well learned and well appreciated by the crew of “HalfMine” and one to be avoided in the future.

Kara and Peter arrived, as scheduled, in July. They stayed for ten days, most of which we spent on the boat. When we get together, which is much too infrequently, we truly do have a celebration of life; this visit was no exception; except that we were really celebrating Elinore’s life and her return to New England.

We chose the best day of their visit. We invited a few of our close boating friends to attend. We headed out of the Merrimack River and turned north. We settled on a spot between the Isles of Shoals and the north beach of Hampton, NH. The weather was perfect; hot and sunny, and the seas were calm and very quiet allowing the ceremony to be intimate and meaningful. Words were spoken by Kara and Louise and tears were shed by all. A Jameson Irish Whiskey toast followed the ceremony…and a beautiful wreath of flowers was floated on the picturesque New Hampshire coastal waters in remembrance of a life well lived. We marked our position on our GPS to remember this event when we again travel this way…”Elinore”.

Elinor's spot

Last week, our daughter, Jennifer, was blessed with another lovely baby girl. She named her Eleanor Grace in memory of our other Elinore.

Louise with Eleanor

Captain Robert Brown
First Mate Louise

the little man






Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 29, 2014



New Directions

I have found, and not for nothing, that irregardless of what I do, at the end of the day, it is what it is and surprisingly, retirement hasn’t changed this concept much.

Louise says I’m between jobs. I know I’ve always been between jobs. When I had long-term jobs (lasting longer than two years), I was between that job and the next one. After college, when I started working “full time”, my career path lasted three years; two years in one state (teaching) and one year in another (also teaching).  I’ve had two jobs which lasted a day or less. Once when I had a really long-term job (eight years constructing) it was made up of lots of short-term jobs (five months each, constructing in many different states). Another time, I actually had a career-type job for six years, but changed positions four times (collector and repo man, head of collections, loan officer, and assistant vice president). I really liked owning a motel for nine years, but that wasn’t really a job so it doesn’t count.

I guess, to be honest, I tend to get tired of the status quo. I like to mix things up some; a “change-is-good” type attitude. Venture forth on new adventures.

Or I can stay in bed. Louise really doesn’t like it when I stay in bed.

End of the trip

Staying in bed has its advantages though. I think clearly while lying in bed. Many quirky ideas are developed while on the edge of a dream, in the middle of the bed…alone. Some of these ideas even have merit. My methods for leaving most of my jobs have been outlined in my head while in bed; planning for new jobs has also been done while on the edge of sleep. I find it easier to clear my mind in bed, while not being burdened with the necessity of thinking about other things, like leaving a job or getting a new one. Being in bed is less stressful than working.  Eventually, I get a good idea and can’t wait to do something about it…so I get up.

Once upon a time when I attended a business management seminar, Professor Earl Brooks, then of Cornell University said, “There is nothing wrong with a half-baked idea…as long as it’s still cooking”. I keep this concept close to my heart.

Lots of half-baked ideas come about while still in bed near the edge of sleep, while on the edge of a dream.

Today for example, my idea was to buy all our condos; all twenty-eight of them. If I pay $350,000 for each, renovate, make them an exclusive “gated” community and sell each for $500,000, after expenses I could net $3.8 million. Louise just rolled her eyes with that “what…are you out of your mind” kind of look. The “something getting in my way” of course, is the $9.8 million I need to buy them in the first place.

All of which led to another fleeting thought; when buying a house (or condo), always have at least one bathtub; never buy a place with just showers; you never know when you’ll need a sits-bath for your hemorrhoids.

And of course, a bar is everyone’s good idea of a job. Mine would have good hours; 1pm-1am, maybe three or four days a week; no food (well maybe just burgers so we don’t have to go out for lunch; I would have to hire someone to cook them though). Maybe in the islands or in Florida…somewhere where “the weather’s hot, the drinks are cold and we don’t know the players” (per Sonny Crockett: Miami Vice).

A party boat charter has crossed my mind (no fishing); but I would need another captain since I would want to be part of the party.

So, I’m heading back to the islands; maybe the vacated settlement on Salt Island, just to contemplate what the demise of Autley was and what has become of his good friend Calvin Smith who created his memorial; maybe I’ll “live in the islands, fishing the highlands and drink my Green Label each day” as suggested by J. Buffett…and be perfectly happy writing.

Autley on Salt Island

Then later I’ll write: “Alas my dear friends, you may take pleasure in knowing that I am no longer just kicking back on the island, this tiny spit of sand and scrub. I am venturing forth to a larger island, a larger spit of sand and scrub…one with a liquor store; I’ve run out of Green Label”.

My Motivational Inspiration

I am motivated to write by the fact that, after each short story is completed, I reward myself with “just one short shot” of Jameson Irish Whiskey (I do the same thing when I perform weddings).  This is one of the reasons I wish to become prolific in my writing (and my performance of weddings).  Hopefully, the stories will continue to be the same length (or longer); I don’t want the stories to become so short that the rewards come too frequently. And hopefully the weddings will become more plentiful.

Most of these ideas won’t work. Louise certainly won’t go along with me or the ideas. Maybe I could convince one of the kids to go along with one of the ideas (especially the bar), but that would be dereliction of duty on their part; they all have a lot on their plates. And, let’s face it; if I were to venture forth on an adventure by myself, I would miss my family and friends. So here I will stay, between jobs; the small spit of sand and scrub, only in my mind (and maybe, in reality, on select weeks during the winter months when we actually can venture forth to warmer climates; maybe even this year with our really good friends, Steve and Jenn).

the little man

Captain Robert Brown

PS: Recently, Louise got me a part-time job helping to manage condominium associations…what a surprise (said sarcastically); I knew I would not be “between jobs” for very long!

PPS: What does any of this have to do with boating or with chronicling nautical stuff?

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 8, 2014

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Since starting this adventure thirty months ago, we’ve had over 7,800 views! And it’s fun to see how it has expanded due to the internet, “Google”, and other search engines; if you get a chance, Google “Nautical Chronicles” and see what you get.

Some title thoughts for 2014: “New Directions”, “Ireland: My Kind of Town”, “Reunion”, “Just a Walk on the Beach”, “Staying Alive in the Water”, “A Devotion to Trash”, “More on Whiskey” and of course “The Package”. Here’s (holding up a glass of your favorite beverage) to a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year…and thanks for being a great audience!

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | December 20, 2013



A Dock for All Ages

The General and Deb (and Bella) got a Christmas letter last week from, of all people, Peter and Mary. Deb had written them a note last month asking how they were doing, what they were doing and what they were planning on doing. Deb also brought them up to date with the goings-on at Cove Marina and with the boating peeps. Rather than paraphrase P&M’s response, I have chosen to give it to you in its entirety…it went like this:

“Dear Deb,

It was great to hear from you. I hope the General is doing well and is still loving his job with Pepsi (he needs that job!). Also, though we don’t care much for Bella, we hope she is doing well, as well. The Christmas season is not finding us in too good of shape this year; we are up to our eyeballs in debt due to a terrible rental season this past summer. We moved our Chris Craft  from Weehawken to Hoboken, and made many improvements in hopes of getting more money from rentals, but when our first tenants of the season set the galley on fire, it put us back a few weeks; we needed to cancel three of our rental weeks. We neglected to add “business interruption” insurance to our policy at the beginning of the season, but have since made that change.

In addition to our business problems, Peter has been suffering ill health for the past several months. The difficulties began in August with an automobile accident. Another motorist lost control of her car on a wet, slick highway outside of Hoboken, crossed left of center and caused a head-on collision with our motor home (I was not with Peter when this occurred). Peter was transported to the hospital emergency room for treatment of abrasions and contusions to the scalp, forearm and sternum. Then, in September, he was again admitted to the hospital where he underwent four days of tests, medication and minor surgery for urological problems. We anticipate that he may require further procedures; either medical or surgical…he has not yet fully recovered. We have also noticed a minor swelling of his lower extremities; we are not certain if this is a related issue.

While in the hospital, Peter met an elderly, single man who shared some of the same ailments as Peter. The man originally hailed from Ohio, and was a high school math teacher and a ”gentleman farmer” who tended sheep, chickens and goats; his name was Wilbur; he promised to visit P&M at their motor home (now slightly damaged) at the Flamingo Motor Home Court in Weehawken.”

Now you see how it would be impossible to “paraphrase” this letter! The letter continues:

“I understand from your note that you had an enjoyable season of boating at Cove…we really do miss you guys and all the others. We especially miss hanging out at the docks (since that is mostly what we did!) It sounds like there have been lots of changes since we were there. We were especially surprised about that elderly policeman on “D” dock selling his boat “Off Duty”! And that Bob and Louise have listed their boat “HalfMine” for sale; we didn’t think they would ever part with it. What ever will happen to that woman, Martha, who used to sit on their boat  and drink white wine for days on end?

We really enjoyed the story about Kevin (the middle-aged attorney from the old “Mudslide”) and Bob going out on a test run on Bob’s new center-console outboard. It sounds like those two women and their five kids on their anchored 25-footer could really have been in serious trouble if Kevin and Bob hadn’t come along and rescued them. How in the world could they have anchored their boat and gone swimming without tether lines and life jackets in the Merrimack River on a swift incoming tide…I wonder what they were thinking as they tried to swim back to their boat and couldn’t fight the tide?? It was a nice touch though; Bob and Kevin naming the little vessel “Rescue One”.

You mentioned that The General even took your boat out with a large crew to “run the gas out of it” and change the oil. It sure is funny how quickly time goes by. How could it possibly have been five years since The General last filled up “Prime Time” or changed her oil? At least it sounded like a good time and the boat ran well (unlike several of our vessels).

And finally, this bit about “The Hoars”; what’s that about? A couple of young kids are hanging around with you old farts? Who names a boat “Hoar’n Around”? They must run into problems with the Coast Guard when they are on the radio! And I didn’t understand that part about them having a parrot that keeps saying “Eric…Eric Mathew; Eric Mathew; EEEErrrrriiik”. It is nice to know that there is still fun to be had on the docks!

Say “Hi” to all our old friends: Steve & Jenn (is he still with my old pest control business?), Jim (“just the accountant”) & Carol, Captain Bob & Louise, Paul & Deb from “Absolutly Two”, Dick & Pam, Perry & Jeannie, Peter & Victoria (we still remember him being stuck in the hatch!), Artie & Denise, Brian & Debbie (is Brian allowed to bring red wine onto “HalfMine” yet?), Brian from “Together Again” (how is his broken foot?), Whit & Rosemary (does he still have the Donzi?), Dottie (do you ever see her?), Kevin & Connie (the middle-aged attorney), John & Louise (did they ever restock the Jack Daniels?), Dave & Susan, Tim/Tom & Gloria (heard they got a new boat), Doug & Trish (is she still taking pictures?), Richard & Tracy, Dave & Pam, Eric & Kathy, Lars & Kristyn, Kevin & Judy, Eric & Victoria, Frank & Chris, Mike & Sandy, Randy, Keith & June, Bill & Paula, Dale & Debbie, Dick from “Shamrock”, Dave & Tracy, Mike & Sharon, Sean & Debbie, Michael & Holly, Eddie & Jennifer, June, Julie & Karl, Betsy Lee, Kathy & Fred, Terry & Kristy, Wesley, Stephen & Katie, Adam & Hannah, Jim & Becky (guess they had quite a trip down the ICW), and do you ever hear from Tom & Patti of “True Love”? We wonder where they are these days. I wish we could remember all those teacher-friends of Bob & Louise…they were quite a good partying crowd as we remember!

Peter and I wish each and every one of our old friends a very merry Christmas and an exceptionally good New Year; maybe we will catch up with you at the docks during 2014!!! Maybe we will try to bring “Our Getaway” for a visit. Don’t hold your breath, but beware; we might just be returning ( or maybe we’ll just go to California!). We are looking forward to meeting all those wacky new friends you have met since we left, especially “The Hoars”; you say that you hardly go anywhere without them these days…how sweet.

Bye for now; your BFF with love,

Mary (Peter is recuperating from last night but sends his love as well!)”

As always, we were sorry to hear about their trials and tribulations, but recognize that their positive spirits and love for family and friends will carry them through. We called them last night to wish them Happy Holidays but…their phone had been disconnected.

the little man

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

PS:     And don’t forget to sing “Hallelujah” by the Canadian Tenors at least one time this holiday season…AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS!

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | April 18, 2013




We are back…from one of the few vacations where we have allowed someone else to drive the boat.

In fact, our “boat”, Viking Freya is a ship; at 426 feet in length, she motors (electrically) the canals and waterways of the Netherlands (lowlands) and Belgium. She is part of the Viking Longships Fleet which provides superb, high-end vacation cruising throughout Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia (Viking River Cruises is also a proud sponsor of the TV series, Downton Abbey; if you’ve seen the show, you’ve seen Viking Spirit which is similar to our Viking Freya).

And what, or who is Yvonne you might ask; I will, of course, eventually get to that…

During the past boating summer season, we had convinced our friends, Jenn and Steve (or they had convinced us) to go on this “Tulips and Windmills” cruise, certain to be a voyage of epic proportions. The itinerary included a couple of days in Amsterdam which is what helped convince Steve and me that this voyage should be taken, and truly, what goes on in Amsterdam MUST STAY in Amsterdam.

Leaving Logan

We departed Logan Airport, Boston on a cold, windy day, late in March and after a very pleasant seven-hour flight we arrived in Amsterdam at 7:00 AM where it continued to be cold and windy…but sunny (256 days of the year out of 365 are usually rainy). Our transfer, by bus to our ship was without a glitch and since we were the first cruise of the season, we were able to check into our rooms immediately and study our future course of action.

Our program director, Nico, had planned numerous events, walking tours and excursions throughout the Netherlands towns and cities of Amsterdam (of course), Hoorn (quaint seaside village), Arnhem (a bridge too far), Kinderdijk (windmills), Middleburg (the Delta Works) and Rotterdam; in Belgium, we planned to visit Antwerp (cathedrals), Ghent and Brugge (of movie fame and home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood).

                         COURSE LAID OUT    VIKING LONGSHIP

Our trip provided too many highlights, high-points, short quips and stories, adventures, impressions, excursions, friendships and acquaintances to do them justice in a short story. The voyage of the Longship Viking Freya during our short, 10-day cruise would require an in-depth travelogue to help define it. Better yet, why not sign up for a similar voyage yourself; we certainly recommend it. Here are just a few of our highlights (in no particular order):

  • There appears to be no “th” in the Dutch language; when translated “Then there is that”, comes out as “den dere’s dat”; dere appears to be no exceptions to dis quirkiness
  • March 25th through April 3rd this year were the coldest days in recorded Netherlands history; Easter was the coldest in fifty years; the wind kept the windmills turning at record speeds requiring braking to slow them down; it was, however, sunny most days
  • Do not bring contraband back to the US; Steve brought a single orange from our ship; upon entry through US Customs, the cutest little beagle, without a single bark, jumped all over him until the contraband orange was removed from his back-pack
  • The people in the Netherlands and Belgium are genuinely nice. We met many folks while on this holiday and all, without exception, were pleasant, polite and interested in us, maybe because we were tourists, but more, I believe because that is how they are with all people. Most everyone speaks English as well as other languages; they were quick to discover we were English-speaking, and were pleased to be able to speak with us in our language

                            STREET VENDORS  AFTERNOON SNACK      

  • The ship is fabulous. The crew (total of 50) is English-speaking and multi-lingual from all over Europe; we can’t say enough about the hotel management, housekeeping, program management both aboard ship and on excursions, the food preparation, presentation  and diversity (gourmet and delicious; meticulously prepared and presented), the captains (2) and their staff (the wheelhouse is on hydraulics and raises and lowers as needed for bridges and locks), the accommodations were superb; we had a single room on the 3rd of 3 decks; Jenn and Steve had a suite (separate bedroom from living room), bathrooms on board were great (ashore if you can find a restroom, they cost 50 cents per visit; drink beer and restrooms are free), and THE BAR; high end liquors, liqueurs and wines (we recommend the Silver Spirits Beverage Package; unlimited service of everything on board; we made it worth our while) and the service was impeccable; there was a server at your side just as the last drop was finished, and polite…everyone was so polite it actually reminded Louise of Downton Abby ; and don’t forget George our piano player, there each night putting up with some foolish, possibly intoxicated guest requesting that he play “The Piano Man”


  • On-board presentations from The Shanty Choir, The Barkley Bunch Duo, the Wooden Shoemaker, history of Belgium and the Netherlands, politics of the nations, royalty of the nations, windmills, tulips, dikes and water management (Delta Works and the flood of 1953), dancing, the European Union, nautical talks and navigating Europe’s rivers, Dutch cheeses, beers and Jenever, diamonds and jewelry

                           WOODEN SHOE MAKER   WOODEN SHOES     

  • Excursions to: Kroller-Muller Museum (Van Gogh Museum was closed), glass-topped canal boat cruise, Anne Frank House, cheese warehouse, breweries, outdoor markets, windmills, tulip farm, Keukenhof Gardens, Delft factory, the Delta Works water control and management system which closes Belgium and the Netherlands off from the North Sea, all of the towns, cities and villages on our cruise path, battlefield tours, and of course our own walking tours…we must have walked two hundred miles while on this “vacation”; the folks on the walkers didn’t fare so well.


  • The buses (which they call “coaches”); hundreds of buses; very new and comfortable; after twenty miles of walking, the bus was a welcome sight; the excursion tour guides were all very knowledgeable about their area of the country and their topics of expertise; some, however, were overly chatty

                  COACHES  MORE COACHES               

In summary, our trip was truly enjoyable and we would certainly recommend it to everyone. We did almost everything on the daily agendas; we attended almost all of the on-board activities; we walked hundreds of miles and saw all the sights (except the advertised “fields of tulips”; too cold; weather has stunted their growth); we stayed up too late drinking the “free” liquor and got up too early to leave the vessel. We burnt both ends of the candle against the middle and had a grand time doing it. We did, however, agree that we were on cultural information overload by the last day. The final tour the mates and Steve took was to the Keukenhof Gardens to see TULIPS, very few of which had we seen to date. I opted out of that excursion; I needed a vacation from the vacation. However, it is abundantly clear that had we wanted to, we certainly could have chosen NOT to do all those things and simply stay on the boat, read, sleep, eat and drink…and rest.

For next year, we’re thinking of going, maybe somewhere warm again, like Florida!

And finally, you ask: “What about Yvonne”? Well…

The last full day of our cruise was spent at the docks in Amsterdam. The 1st mates (Jenn and Louise), had scheduled the excursion to the Delft factory, a visit they had been looking forward to. We, the captains (Steve and Bob), had plans of our own. We planned on visiting the Red Light District and several of the Coffee Shops; Steve was also particularly interested in the outdoor market places since he had missed the large one in Arnhem (that day, he and Jenn had taken the palace tour; Louise and I had opted for going to the huge outdoor marketplace).

As we headed out, bundled against the cold and wind for the ninth straight day, our anticipation grew. We had seen this area of Amsterdam from our second-day bus tour, but had not been able to visit or explore. With Steve in the lead (his approach is usually “direct” and he usually is in the lead) we headed out on the last “walking tour” of our vacation, thank goodness. When we arrived in “that part of the city”, we saw menu’s posted in many windows with pricing for various strengths and brands of products, both in loose form or, for a little extra, in rolled form. It was interesting to talk with the shop owners and managers about their business management; they are accepted by many, they are regulated by state and local governments and they are frowned on by many. They were much like any cigarette vendor here in the States but we didn’t see any “health warnings” on any of the signage or packaging. Besides the Coffee Shops, there are many shops selling associated products such as seeds, books, CD’s, bongs and other paraphernalia. We were told by one of the shop owners that we should visit the “Marijuana College” across the street where most of the local product is grown, and where graduates go forth with a complete knowledge of this product. As we found during our Netherlands visit, a huge variety and a vast knowledge of both tulips and marijuana are readily available in Amsterdam.

The other interesting aspects of Amsterdam’s “Red Light District” are the “girls in the windows”. We were there during the daylight hours, limiting our discoveries, however…Steve was extremely flattered when one of the girls winked at him from her window. After we walked by, I did mention to him that winking at him was her job; he shouldn’t be too flattered. All in all, our tour of this area of Amsterdam was interesting and enlightening…we had worked up quite a thirst, so we went in search of one of the many pubs. We stopped at a Bavaria pub where I ordered a Heineken; after receiving a most wretched look from the bartender, I then understood that THEY ONLY SOLD BAVARIA BEER in this pub; what a stupe…lending support to the foreign belief regarding Americans.

As we headed out the door after having quenched our thirst, Steve wanted to find “the marketplace”. We somehow had gotten ourselves turned around and weren’t certain of where we were. As we came to an intersection of streets lined with very expensive homes, a nicely dressed woman exited from her residence to place trash at the curbside. It seems everyone in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Belgium speaks English so Steve did not hesitate to approach the woman to ask directions to the market. His direct approach had startled her and though she was slightly hesitant, she agreed to look at our map and send us in the proper direction. As we studied the map, it became clear that: A) the market was too far away to walk to, and B) since it was a Monday, the market would not be open.

Steve was disappointed, but realized that our next stop would be the boat. During our conversation, the woman had, somehow, determined that we were Americans (how is certainly a mystery to us). She asked where we were from; I gave my standard answer when abroad that we were from “the Boston area”. Her eyes grew wider and she said, “How wonderful; my husband and I have a place in Maine; we go there often”. If you don’t remember, I once taught sixth grade in Maine, so I asked, “No kidding; where in Maine is your place?”  She said, “It’s near Augusta on a rather large lake called Cobbosseecontee Lake”. Now it’s getting weird; I said, “I know that lake; but as Cobbosseecontee Pond rather than Lake; we call it Cobbossee for short; I used to teach school in Manchester, just outside of Augusta. What a coincidence; how long have you been on the lake?” She said, “Since 1982 or 1983 I guess; why?”

When I taught 6th grade in Maine, it was only for one year. I had taught in Ohio for the previous two years at a very small, rural school. It was just after graduating from college when I taught in Alexandria, Ohio. As luck would have it, the year I began teaching was also the first year of teaching for the other 6th grade teacher. Ruth and I became close friends and shared many classroom experiences for the two years I taught there; Ruth continued one more year of teaching in Ohio before moving with her husband and family permanently to their “camp” in Maine.

Ruth and her husband invited me to visit them at their vacation home in Maine during the summer after my second year of teaching. While there, on vacation, I found a job teaching in Manchester, Maine and I found a wonderful apartment on the top floor of a farmhouse. After two weeks, I returned to Ohio, packed a trailer and hooked it to my Jeep…and moved to Maine. I have been in New England since then; since the summer of 1971. My move was due solely to my friendship with Ruth and her husband Bob, their hospitality and my new-found love of New England.

So naturally, I asked the women, “Since you’ve been in the Augusta area for so long, maybe you know some people I know or rather knew; Robert and Ruth…they’ve lived on Cobbossee since the ‘70’s; Robert died in 1996 I think, and I’m not certain about Ruth; I’ve not talked with her in many years”. Incredulous now, the woman said, “Ruth is one of my dear friends; we lived there when Robert passed away, and their daughter is our neighbor; how uncanny to have met you here, in Amsterdam, of all places! Ruth is fine and, as far as I know, still lives in her home on the lake.”

So, the woman Steve stopped to ask directions from in Amsterdam, the woman taking her small bag of trash out to the curbside and the woman who, only seconds later, had turned to go back through the door she had left open…is Yvonne. Coincidentally, as if this weren’t enough, her husband’s name is also Robert. I expect we will see them again, only on this side of “the pond”.


And that, truly in a tulip bulb, was our visit to Holland.

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | February 14, 2013




We had been planning our summer boating vacation for better than a year. Stops were to include: the Boston Harbor Islands, World’s End in Hingham/Hull, Provincetown, Wood’s Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. As was our habit, we had chosen the two weeks around July 4th as our traveling time and had made reservations for slips and moorings accordingly. This was no small task since five boats were planning on making the trek.

The seas were calm and the sky was clear as we left our docks on the initial leg of our journey; first stop; George’s Island. This is one of the thirty-four islands and peninsulas making up the fifty square miles of bays, harbors and rivers in the Boston Harbor Island’s network. We hooked mooring balls on the northeast side of the island and began to unwind after our voyage from Newburyport. After a windy night, with considerable blowing around on our mooring, we woke to another gorgeous day. We left our big boats and headed out, dinghy-style, to investigate Lovell’s Island. We hiked the trails, did some swimming at the small beach and inspected the remains of Fort Standish.

                                                      Boston Harbor Islands                         

We would have been tempted to stay an additional night in these outer islands if the wind had subsided, however, the large majority of our group voted to forego another evening of blowing around in the choppy waters and head to our next destination, World’s End in Hingham/Hull. We would again be on moorings, but this anchorage area was well protected; in fact as we travelled into Boston’s south channel, the breeze ceased entirely, and the heat of the day became more noticeable. We were looking forward to jumping into the cool water of the harbor.

Since this was our first visit to the mooring field, we were careful to follow the marked channel and to keep a sharp eye on our paper charts as well as our chart plotter; the area does get shallow! We were able to hook our mooring without incident and enjoy this pleasant, peaceful area known as World’s End. After an extended swim, we again left the big boats behind and began to explore the area by dinghy. A ten-minute ride brought us to Nantasket Beach and back to the hustle and bustle of city living. The beach is long, sandy and can be crowded on a hot day, but the restaurants, sights and activities made the trip worthwhile.

The Paragon Carousel alone was worth the trip. Now an antique, it was built in 1928, one of only 100 carousels remaining in the United States. It has 66 beautifully maintained, carved wooden horses and attracts over 100,000 visitors a summer. As William Tammeus, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist said, “You really don’t understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around…and why his parents will always wave back”. This year, 2013, will mark the 85th year of operation for this relic from Hull’s “golden age”.

                                                                     Paragon Carousel                                                  

After returning to the “big boats”, we set about firing up the gas grills and creating the on-board feasts we have become famous for (at least in our own minds). The late afternoon, early evening smorgasbord, accompanied by lavish cocktails and good friends inevitably led to…music and dancing, as well as a fairly early retirement of most of the travelers (revelers). Our intent was to get up early and spend the day on the beach followed by one of our planned dining-out experiences at the Sea Dog Brew Pub or maybe Barefoot Bob’s Beach Grill (we had also been to the Red Parrot on a previous visit which we made by car).

The next day was perfect; we were fortunate that the weather had been decent so far and we were hoping for it to continue. We did exactly what we planned on doing; lazed on the beach and stuffed ourselves at dinner (we decided on The Sea Dog Brew Pub). Nantasket and World’s End were a fun-filled and enjoyable destination which we all plan to visit again. That night, we also made it early-to-bed, in anticipation of our departure in the morning for P-Town (Provincetown). Three of our boats were to be in slips at the docks for power, fuel, water, washing and relaxation, while two of us were remaining on moorings… for cost-savings.

We woke to cloudy skies and a blustery breeze; the temperature had dropped considerably and we were hoping the weather wouldn’t get worse. After checking NOAA weather and hearing it should stay “ok”, we pulled in our lines and headed out. As we rounded Hull Gut and came out into Massachusetts Bay heading southeast toward P-Town, we hit head winds and 4-5 foot seas; not the most pleasant conditions to travel in. One of our boats radioed that they were turning north for home; they’d had enough and were begging out of the remainder of this adventure…we were now down to four boats, but determined to make Provincetown before dark. Even at eight knots, we should be alright.

We made it just before dark, weary and worn out. Two of our boats got into their slips easily since the docks are well protected, but the two boats with moorings weren’t so lucky; due to the wind, grabbing and hauling the mooring lines proved to be a challenge for our mates. Eventually, all was secured; we chose not to visit our friends that night, but to stay aboard…tomorrow would be another day.

The next day, the sky was clear although the wind continued to blow at a healthy 15-20 knots; the boats on moorings were being knocked about pretty well. We decided to leave the dinghies secured to the boats and take advantage of the Provincetown launch service. P-Town is a real treat; a mix of people and places, with many of both quite different from the “norm”. The eight of us stuck together most of the time, shopping, going for an early cocktail hour, going for an early dinner and then dancing…it’s all there in P-Town; we had a blast.

Unfortunately, we had to get back to the boats via the last shuttle, so at 10:00 pm, we called it a night. The launch operator turned out to be the harbormaster, and we struck up quite a conversation on the way back. When he saw the boat we were headed to, he became less friendly; we sensed something was amiss. Apparently, during the day and during our absence, he and his mate were patrolling the harbor and noticed that the line we had used to moor our boat had frayed due to the wind blowing the boat around (we typically use our own lines and feed them through the mooring line instead of attaching the mooring line itself to our boat; we learned this method in the BVI and had had no issues, TO DATE, using that system).The wind action had caused our line to move back and forth against the loop in the mooring line, causing our dock line to fray. The harbormaster and his mate had to board our vessel and re-attach the mooring line to our boat.

When we arrived at our boat, he indicated that: A.) we should look at our dock line (or what was left of it to see how close we had come to disaster) and B.) we should alter our method of hooking up to a mooring. Since this incident, we now tie two dock lines to the mooring line rather than one; and we do it in such a manner that there is no chaffing of the lines. If the last thread of our dock line would have broken before being discovered by the harbormaster, our boat would have bounced like a ping-pong ball as it was blown out of P-Town Harbor, knocking itself against every boat moored behind it! It was a hard lesson learned, but it could have been much harder. We very fairly tipped the harbormaster and his mate the next morning for their assistance in avoiding a very costly calamity.

While in Provincetown, we learned of the now-famous “Carnival Week” held each August; we are planning to return. It is heralded as “Mardi Gras style fun” with much partying, many wild costumes and climaxing with a colorful parade. The 2013 carnival week is from August 18-24 and the theme is “Viva Las Vegas”…definitely worth the trip!

We left Provincetown the following morning and headed for “the canal” (Cape Cod Canal), bound for Woods Hole. The wind was still blowing, but less than before; we made Sandwich in good time and tried to fuel up there. Sandwich Marina did not have enough fuel for all four boats; two of us needed to proceed through the canal to Onset for fueling. After waiting around for the other boats to take on fuel, we proceeded west at no-wake speed (we maintained that speed for the entire length of the canal) until the Coast Guard surprised us on their hailer indicating that we needed to “stem the tide” since all traffic needed to stop due to some activity at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. On the second directive over the hailer from the Coasties to “stem the tide”, we decided we should determine what was meant by “stemming the tide”. As it turned out, since the tide was running from east to west through the canal, and since we were traveling from east to west, we needed to turn our boats around and face into the current in order to stem the tide; we needed to do this in order to hold our position and stop drifting with the tide toward where the coast guard was…whew!

        CapeCodCanalWest         CapeCodCanalEast

Approaching Wood’s Hole is a true adventure; as I’ve said before, nothing is so much fun as doing something for the first time! As we entered, the wind was blowing this way, the water was splashing, literally splashing that way against the shores, the boat listed one way before suddenly listing the other way; the turns were sharp and the current was REALLY running. The one saving grace was that we didn’t have much time to consider the possible negative consequences of failing to traverse this small body of water; the other saving grace was that we made it in one piece. According to Boston Sailing Center’s Cruising Guide, “navigating Wood’s Hole is tricky–potentially dangerous—for a combination of reasons”; we learned them all!

That night, we spent on moorings in Great Harbor; much to our relief, it was a quiet evening spent talking with friends and enjoying just being there.

                                                        Woods Hole                             

Two more stops, each for two nights and then our vacation would wind down; Martha’s Vineyard, then Nantucket, then home.

                                                                Cape and Islands 1822

Exiting Great Harbor and entering Vineyard Sound was only slightly less debilitating than the previous day’s entry into Wood’s Hole; the currents in and around the islands, as well as the area winds, presented quite a navigational challenge. We made it; through five-foot seas and twenty-five knot winds, but we made it. We spent two delightful nights, in slips in the protected harbor of Oak Bluff’s Marina. We shopped until we dropped, partied on the boats and in the pubs, sunbathed and used all the amenities afforded us at the docks. The most noteworthy activity, however, was “The Jeep Rental”.

When we returned the jeep, it was with only minor damages and some scratches from the underbrush; we had removed most of the shrubbery from the inside, and we had detached all of the tree debris from the bumpers and wheel-wells. We had cleaned off most of the mud. We had no idea there were so many old, abandoned, over-grown tow paths on Martha’s Vineyard. We are fairly certain that luck was with us that day; we did not get arrested, either by local constables or by federal officials, of which, we are confident there are many on the island based on the frequency of presidential visits and such.

We left the Vineyard pretty much as we had found it, but rather hastily, the next morning bound for Nantucket. This two-day visit was our last but was to be our most entertaining. We were now down to only two boats since Matty, Leann, Skip and Kathy had decided to culminate their trip with the “Island Adventure” on Martha’s Vineyard. Paul, Deb, Louise and I had planned on meeting our kids on Nantucket; they were to arrive by ferry prior to our arrival by boat, and were going to stay with us on our boats for the two days. We had made reservations at the Nantucket Boat Basin, and were looking forward to a relaxing visit with the kids.

Well, that’s not exactly what happened…

Upon our hasty departure from MV, we realized the seas were not going to cooperate, and the weather was also going to be less than obliging. In addition, Paul’s first mate had consumed more than an appropriate amount of non-water liquids the previous evening. The short trip from the Vineyard to Nantucket was one of the longest trips we’ve taken; the rocking and rolling and blowing and water-over-the-bow and crashing (we lost the canvas struts & they lost parts of a hatch cover) and the fog and mist just about did us in, UNTIL we heard Paul on his VHF…calling the Coast Guard.

Approximately two miles from the entrance to the Nantucket Boat Basin, in his radio call to the Coasties, Paul had indicated that Deb was curled into a ball on the cockpit floor, not moving, and talking gibberish. Paul was certain she was having a heart attack or at least something as serious. He had requested Coast Guard assistance in entering the harbor and getting medical assistance to the head dock. They came to his rescue immediately; “follow us” they said. So, with the Coast Guard leading the way, with lights and sirens blaring, all three of our boats screamed into Nantucket Boat Basin ignoring the “no wake” signs and pulled up to the main gas dock where the ambulance was waiting to take Deb to the hospital. Once she was loaded up, Louise went with her in the ambulance to the emergency room. Paul and I needed to relocate our vessels to our assigned slips, and we needed to find out about the children who were meeting us there!

We found the kids; they had been waiting for us for several hours; since they had brought a car over by ferry, they were able to pick up Louise (not Deb) at the hospital. Eventually our children settled into our boats with their belongings. We had a pleasant dinner with our families, even though Deb was not with us to enjoy it. Louise said that they were going to keep her overnight “for observation”. What we learned was that she had been suffering from dehydration; we were certainly relieved that it was not more serious, although it had been a frightening experience. What we also learned, from Deb the next day, was that the doctor had not asked to keep her overnight; she was free to leave. She had asked the doctor to let her stay overnight (we guess she needed to slow down some from the vacation).

We asked her how the dehydration might have occurred; her answer: “drinking at that bar last night and on the boat yesterday and last night, and then that long walk I took this morning and without drinking any water! That’s the key; drinking lots of water! Hydrate or die!!”

           Captains consulting     Two original mates            

The trip home was long and lasted two additional days; the seas did not cooperate. We spent seven hours getting to Scituate where we stayed overnight. The next morning we tried to leave, but again the seas prevented us; we stayed one more night in Scituate. The next day we made it back to Newburyport and to our home.

And this is what we called: “a vacation”?

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 23, 2013



Letter from Weehawken

Louise and I got a letter the other day and, to say the least, it was quite a surprise. We don’t know anyone in Weehawken, New Jersey. Our son and his family live in Hoboken, but Weehawken, to us, is vacant of acquaintances. The letter was four pages in length and I know you will want to see its contents; it goes like this:

“Dear Captain Bob and First Mate Louise,

We feel terrible that we haven’t kept in touch this past year and apologize for “disappearing” this past summer. Please tell all our friends how much we missed them and how much we missed our dock life at the marina. As you know, after the last boat sank which, by the way, was NOT our fault, our lives took a serious turn.

We are still living in our motor home but, as you can see, we are no longer at Hampton Beach. The traffic was unbearable so we decided to bail; and bail we did…in a big way! One night, as we sat around in our lawn chairs beside our camp table, in the light of our Coleman lantern, smoking, we had what you might call an epiphanic moment; a sudden realization of where our lives were going, where our lives had been and where we wanted to go with them. Here is the short version of what we’ve been up to this past year.

I sold my pest control business. Since it was our busy season, my nephew was eager to work a deal to purchase it; since our other strange employee worked out so well, and since he and my nephew got along so well, it was a perfect time for me to part with the company. To me, UCM Pest Control is now IsawM Pest Control.

Though Mary’s copy editing business has slowed down considerably, she is able to continue with little interruption since all of her work is via the internet; moving, for her, was not an inconvenience, so…we hit the road in our motor home.

As you can now tell by the postmark on this letter, we landed up in Weehawken, NJ at the Flamingo Motor Home Court, just a stone’s throw from the Hudson River, Hoboken, New York (NJ), Jersey City, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and just across the river from NEW YORK CITY…I never figured us for city folk but we are having the time of our lives! We’ve met several other couples here at the mobile home park who are also living their dreams. We’ve spent much time in “the city” (we go by ferry) and we’ve spent time on the Hudson and East Rivers; we found that we could rent small center-console boats at Shipyard Marina in Hoboken for daily rates enabling us to explore the New York and New Jersey shorelines. It has been quite an adventure and, believe it or not, so far, our journeys have been episode-free and quite enjoyable.

But the REALLY BIG NEWS is that…we bought another boat! This time we bought it AS A BUSINESS: “VACATION YACHT RENTALS”. OMG, it’s what Mary and I call a “rare find” right here in Weehawken; FATE HAS SPOKEN TO US! Although it is not in running condition (lucky for us), it is permanently docked at what the seller called “a classy marina” in Weehawken Cove just off Sinatra Drive. The boat’s a real jewel (albeit a little in the rough); a 1959 40’ Chris Craft (wood). We named her “Our Getaway” and we’ve advertised her on the internet; we’ve aimed our ads more toward “regular people” than toward boaters. We get $200 a night, $1,200 per week or, if really lucky, $3,000 per month. Our rental boasts 2 bedrooms (sleeping 5 people) and a single bathroom (the marina also provides two nice bathrooms with showers). Though this past summer’s rentals were a little slow, we’ve learned a lot about renting, renters, check-in procedures and, of course, cleaning. LOL, but it was quite a summer.

Our first rental was in June. A lady from Truro, MA called and said she, her husband and two daughters would like to stay for a week and “do New York City”. Mary and I were at the boat to welcome them, check them in and get paid, in advance. We first became concerned when the two “daughters” (they appeared to be the same age and they had no similarity in appearance) arrived, alone, in a black Firebird with vanity Mass license plates… “WLDTNG”. When we asked where their parents were, they replied “they’ll be along shortly”. Our first mistake (other than renting to them) was to allow them to move aboard without their parents being there (no parents ever arrived). Over the course of the next two days, Mary and I were amazed at how many men these two girls could meet in such a short time; the foot-traffic up and down the docks to “Our Getaway” was astonishing; we thought, when they rented our boat, the family wanted to “do New York”, but not once did these girls leave the marina. I guess Mary and I were a little naïve, but when the Weehawken PD arrived and took them away, we were surprised. Apparently they were doing more than NYC and more than vacationing. Shortly after the girls were taken away, Nick’s Towing Service arrived to remove the Firebird; the side of their truck advertised “Fast, Courteous, and Efficient Service”. We never heard anything more about this incident and no one ever approached us for a refund; our “pay in advance” rule is now set in stone.

The second weekly rental we had was a couple and their three children from Hartford, CT. They were a perfect family; Mary and I called them the “von Trapp Family”. Each time they left the dock on an excursion, Jim, the father would lead the parade; Joan, his wife would follow, and the three children in order of height would follow her; all in single-file. They were all polite and well-behaved and, frankly, the best renters we had all summer. We spent time with them at the marina in the community room and the picnic area and became very friendly. We also invited them back to the Flamingo Motor Home Court which, I believe, they enjoyed more than the boat. Jim, it turned out, was a long-haul truck driver for Carolina Freight and was considering buying a class-A motor home. The stories of our adventures helped him to decide on pursuing motor-homing rather than motor-boating. When they left at the end of the week, our boat was cleaner and better than it had been when they first arrived; hopefully they will return this year.

We only had three, one-night rentals during the summer; we’ve decided to remove this option from our advertising…one-night rentals are just not worth it; we’re not doing that anymore. We rented a Friday night to two young men who were so polite and so exuberant, so happy-to-be-alive that we couldn’t turn them down. After checking them in, they immediately headed to town for supplies (for one night? What could they need?). It turned out that they wanted to have a spaghetti dinner for their girlfriends; a dinner with all the trimmings…salad, meatballs, spaghetti, wine, some type of fancy flaming dessert. They even bought an Italian table cloth for the dinner. As I understand it, the festivity was quite a success. The girls were in awe of the skills shown by the boys in creating this gala event, and the young men’s exuberance and effervescence were bolstered by the girl’s reactions. Mary and I have never seen such happy young people; their positive attitudes and love-of-life gave us pause for thought. Unfortunately, their lack of respect for “other people’s property” only became apparent the next day after they checked out; it took us three days to clean the place; spaghetti and sauce and meatballs were everywhere, not to mention the pots, pans, dishes, silverware, empty wine bottles…what a mess! We can only say that D’Agostino’s Spaghetti Feed will remain a hard lesson-learned as we approach another rental season.

An old acquaintance of mine also rented the boat for one night. Pierre was alone, but eventually met a girlfriend. They apparently went to dinner and then apparently returned to the boat. I say apparently only because after Pierre checked-in, I never saw him again. The next morning after Pierre had left (he left the key on the kitchen table), Mary and I returned to clean and prepare the boat for our next guests. We found the boat in pretty much the same condition we had rented it to Pierre in; the bed was made and appeared not to have been used; the kitchen had not been used; it appeared nothing had been used except…a single washcloth; that was it; one washcloth. We will always wonder about that night and what went on; I haven’t seen Pierre since.

Late in August, I needed to be away for several days, so Mary and her friend Martha were in charge of rentals. By this time, our “rules for rental” had been firmly established. Mary received a call from a very polite young man with an Irish Brogue accent who wished to rent our boat for two nights, Friday and Saturday; he and his friend were headed back to college the following week and wanted one last vacation before going back to school. Mary sensed that she may be “breaking the rules” by renting to this young man, but his name was Shawn and he was polite and he was Irish (Martha’s son who was also named Sean and who was also polite and Irish, had become one of Mary’s favorite young college men), so together…they rented to him and his friend; for two nights. It actually went very well; they did not have guests on-board; they went out for entertainment each of the two nights; they spent late afternoons having beer on the deck; they did not over-indulge; in every aspect they were polite and well-behaved. It appeared to Mary that all was well. I returned Sunday around check-out time and was walking down the dock just as Mary and Martha came bounding off the boat, swearing and shouting, and running up the dock, past me and out of the marina headed for the parking area. Alas, they were too late. Shawn, the college student with the polite demeanor and Irish Brogue had just escaped the clutches of Mary and Martha, absconding with much of the furnishings of “Our Getaway”. They, apparently had needed some supplies for college, including but not limited to, our microwave oven, our toaster, our pillows and sheets, our towels, our silverware, dishes, cups, pots, pans…not to mention my very special Weems and Plath porthole clock and barometer on a plaque, a going away gift from The General and his wife, Deb. Mary, of course, filed a report with Weehawken Police, but the name and address given by “Shawn” to her and Martha was fictitious as was the phone number, the college and all the other information.

During the course of last summer, we honed our rental and check-in skills to a razor sharp edge. Our summer-end rentals went well although there were fewer of them than we would have appreciated. We may not have not made our fortune yet, but by the end of the summer we had paid for the year-round slip fees and the metered electrical charges, and we anticipate a successful 2013 rental season.

As always, our life is an adventure which we cherish, and we apologize again for not having kept in touch with you, Louise and our fellow boaters at Cove; we take consolation and pleasure in knowing that our friendships are forever, and that when we do meet again, it will be like we never left. Especially say “hi” to The General and Deb; we hope Bella is doing well. If we ever make it back to Cove permanently and you’d like to get us a “coming home” gift, consider a Weems and Plath porthole clock and barometer; even without the plaque it would be a fitting gift.

Your BFF’s, Peter and Mary”

This was quite a letter and quite a surprise. I know you miss them as much as we do; maybe we should rent some time on their vacation yacht next summer…let me know and I’ll arrange it. To see more of their boat, go to: /vacation-rental; type in #3176976. Remember, summer is just around the corner; see you at the boat show.

Classy Marina Vacation Yacht Rental Your Getaway

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | October 25, 2012



Changing Course

Louise and I are thinking about changing things up some. She is younger, and retired. I am older, collecting my retirement benefits…but still “between jobs”. We’ve been discussing our options.

When we purchased our 46’ Post, it was to be our “retirement condo”. We would practice living on the boat to prepare for our retirement years. This we have been doing for the past six years (more so me than Louise since she runs out of things to do on the boat; I don’t). Initially, we had discussed taking the boat south for the winters, docking in a quaint marina (Lighthouse Point, FL), moving when we get tired of the location or our neighbors, occasionally flying north to visit our children and grandchildren, occasionally having them visit us.

As evidenced by our “Nautical Chronicles”, we have experienced a broad spectrum of adventures beginning with our first boat purchase over 16 years ago; in fact, our 16th wedding anniversary was just this year (I actually asked her to marry me 28 years ago; she said “let me think about it”…12 years to think about it?). We’ve had more on-water, power-boating fun than should be allowed, and our adventures continue…but to a lesser degree.

My mate and I rarely “have words”, however just the other night, I brought up the sore subject of “taking our condo south”, again (although I’m pretty sure this is an expired subject). “We bought this boat seven years ago as our retirement home to be in Florida during the winters; this was the year we were to go south, remember? Now with our grandchildren (five in the past three years) I guess you won’t be considering this anymore?”

Her response was immediate and direct: “You are such a dreamer!! You’ve always been a dreamer but let’s face facts…WE CAN’T AFFORD TO TAKE THE BOAT TO FLORIDA! This has nothing to do with our family and our grandchildren; do the MATH”.

My First Mate is, of course, correct.

Here is some historical data explaining WHY she is correct:

  • We owned our 34’ Sea Ray from 2002-2007. That “HalfMine” held 126 gallons of gas; gas was $1.70 per gallon; in ’07 gas prices had risen to just under $3.00 per gallon. With our Sea Ray, we traveled EVERYWHERE, affordably, and we loved our travels.
  • Our current powerboat is still “HalfMine”; she is a 46’ Post Sport-fish  she carries 650 gallons of diesel fuel; in 2007, fuel prices had risen to just over $3.11 per gallon; when we fueled up for winter storage last week, we paid $4.29 per gallon.

In comparing our current situation to our previous situation, even I can understand what has happened to our plan:

  • In 2002, our Sea Ray could have made the trip to Lighthouse Point, 1,600 nautical miles give-or-take, at a comfortable 21 knots, burning 32 gallons per hour (16 per motor), taking approximately 76 hours (not including stops for fuel, overnights, etc.), at $1.70 per gallon, costing in the neighborhood of $4,135. The down-side of taking our Sea Ray to Florida would have been the need to stop every 3.5 hours to re-fuel (22 fuel stops).
  • In comparison, our Post could now make the same 1,600 mile trip, also at a comfortable 21 knot cruise, burning 42 gallons per hour (21 per motor), taking the same 76 hours, at $4.29 per gallon, costing in excess of $13,728. We did, however purchase the best “portable condo” for our dream-trip…we would need to stop for fuel only every 15 hours of travel (5 fuel stops)!

This, of course, is only the one-way trip; $27,456 will get us there and back for next summer (not including slip rentals and travel while there; we’d save the winter storage but would need to clean the bottom paint more often).

It’s pretty obvious, even to this dreamer, that the cost of fuel is what is hampering our travel plans. In fact, fuel prices have seriously affected all of our recent (2007-2012) long-distance travel activity.

Alas, we have been considering, just considering mind you, course changes. I will, however, continue to dream; of the ICW trip; the Great Loop; maybe a trawler with a single Yanmar diesel.

One of our first thoughts was to get “out of boating” altogether, buy a motor home and see the country. Of course, doing that would still subject us to fuel prices PLUS Louise would have to drive; I hate driving and CAN’T STAND heights which would sorely limit our travel in MOUNTAINOUS AREAS. More likely, the RV would stay parked in our son’s yard in Norwell so we could live in it during the winter months (the in-law addition to his home is also now out of the picture). I believe we’ve eliminated the RV thought for now.

We currently spend much of our summer on our mooring in the Ipswich River in Massachusetts. What about buying a HOUSE BOAT and putting it on our mooring? We’ll  sell the Post, buy a smaller boat, a cheaper-to-run boat, tie up to our house boat and invite all our friends to tie up as well (we all end up at “the moorings” anyway). We have not totally eliminated this thought…yet.

What about a sail boat? The last time I sailed a boat was at a Boy Scout camp in 1973; I vividly remember the head swimming counselor hollering at me at the top of his lungs, “get that boat out of the swimming area NOW!!” I am reluctant to pursue this thought further; that memory is still vivid in my mind.

Now that our 2012 summer power-boating season here in New England is formally concluded and “HalfMine” is securely put away for the winter, we have decided what we are going to do…nothing. We are OK with the status quo. We love our Post; we love living on it in the summer in Salisbury, Massachusetts; we love taking it and our dinghy to our mooring in the Ipswich River; we love our now-shorter excursions to ports more local to us; we have vacation plans for this winter which include a Tulips & Windmills River Boat Cruise in Amsterdam and, of course, a trip to Florida, by aircraft. We love our family, our kids and grand-kids and plan on continuing to spend time with them as they grow up.

We did, however, add one more element to our boating interests (in the interest of saving fuel)…mid-summer, we bought another powerboat. Since we weren’t travelling as much as we used to, we thought a nice little center-console boat would add to our travel enjoyment in and around Newburyport, Ipswich, and Essex. Since we didn’t want to spend too much, we spoke with our really good friends, Jenn & Steve, who reluctantly agreed to go into partnership with us on the purchase of a 1995, 16’ Sunbird Neptune center-console boat, powered by a brand new highly acclaimed and much sought-after Evinrude E-Tech 90 HP motor (it actually winterizes itself!).


little vessel 6 little vessel 3

Our center console was a welcome addition to our in-water and on-water boating experience and it SIPPED fuel. The motor was newly purchased at the boat show by the previous owner, and came with the “I-Command” gauge package. This package includes a fuel monitoring system which accurately monitors gallons per hour, fuel consumption, speed…everything.

Our final voyage in “The Little Vessel” as it has come to be known was on a rather cool, late afternoon, early evening mid-week mid-October day. Louise and I decided to go out for one last trip; we called our friend Paul to see if he’d like to go since he had not been aboard our new toy. Of course my mate asked me if I had checked the fuel and I answered that yes, of course I had; our fuel gauge read more than one-quarter full. We picked Paul up at his dock across the Merrimack and proceeded up the back-river channel allowing us to go full-throttle, to show him how well the little boat handled. As it began to get dark and as some late-season, Triple-E-bearing mosquitoes were appearing we headed back down-river, against the incoming tide at no-wake speed. We were in deep discussion about important “things” when we heard the motor sputter, then stall and quit. WE HAD RUN OUT OF FUEL. The new “I-Command” gauges had not been properly set when the tank had been filled, thus the reading had been inaccurate (we only found this out later…who knew?!). We started to get our anchor out, but found we were conveniently drifting up-river with the tide toward a 54’ sailboat moored in the middle of the river. We were able to secure ourselves to the stern cleat of the unoccupied boat, at which point the Captain of “The Little Vessel” (me) received serious reprimands from both passengers, unjustly so in the eyes of the Captain (again me).

As we sat there, in the middle of the river, we discussed our options. It was almost dark; there were no other boats out; there was no activity of any kind in the near vicinity; there was no answer on channel 16; there was no answer on any channel of the VHF radio; Brian our marina owner had left for the day. Then The Captain (me) remembered I had downloaded the Boat U.S. app on my new “smart phone” (Louise made us get I-Phones earlier in the summer; I hated giving up my antiquated Nextel with the walkie-talkie option). I touched the app, and then touched the “call now for a tow” button and, low and behold, someone in Alabama or Tennessee answered immediately. He checked his records (I didn’t even need my card number; he had it all from just the call) and located us per our GPS tracking on the phone, in the Merrimack River! Twenty minutes later Tow Boat arrived to our rescue. I had asked Mike, the tow-boat captain, to bring some gas since it appeared we had run out. He gave us his five-gallon plastic can which we transferred to our tank. After priming the motor, our Evinrude again came to life allowing us to return to the dock. I asked the tow-boat captain if he needed my card (which was back on the big boat) but he indicated that the tow was taken care of by my membership just from the call. The only thing not covered by Boat U.S. was…the cost of the fuel. We needed to give him $25 for the gas; Paul thought we should tip him an additional $5 for the trip out; our total cost was $30 for 5 gallons…$6 per gallon; the most we have paid for fuel… ever; but this time it was well worth the price. Since I didn’t have any money with me (the bucks were also back on the big boat) Paul had to pay.

So, regarding power-boating and fuel prices, it has been a tough few years; but I will continue to dream…about those prices going down; and Louise will continue to say, “what; are you out of your mind?”

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | June 12, 2012



Important Press Release

Alas dear reader, we know and have known them well…Peter and Mary.

We apologize for the lack of luster on the Nautical Chronicles website in the past months. Publishing endeavors have taken all of our spare time, (excepting the brief respite taken last week-end dancing and singing [et cetera] on “The Andrea Leigh” down at the docks).

And now, after months of extreme effort, under extreme circumstances, their stories (Peter and Marys’) as well as the other chronicles of boating antics HAS BEEN PUBLISHED!!


Nautical Chronicles The Book

Is available for purchase! Please help support your local, out-of-work, starving author (mostly for Louise’s sake) by purchasing a copy. The book is available for order, on-line from:

  • Amazon, new releases, paperback                    
  • Amazon, Kindle edition
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Barnes & Noble, Nook edition
  • Outskirts Press bookstore and an e-book edition

And maybe, just maybe, in the near future, Nautical Chronicles: Mariner Tales from the Sinking Boat will be available in paperback IN BOOKSTORES (we are not holding our breath)!

The suggested retail price is $14.95 for paperback, and $5.99 for the Kindle version, but as with most pricing these days, there are deep discounts available and “shopping around” is suggested.

Thanks, in advance, for helping out in this purely “for profit” adventure; as we’ve said before, nothing is so much fun as doing something for the first time!

     Captain Robert Brown

     First Mate Louise

Notes of interest: our Bose 151 outside speakers are back in service, thank goodness! And book signing dates are To Be Announced.

the little man

Posted by: nauticalchronicles | March 21, 2012




This past week, Louise and I received an outpouring of concern regarding the callous and apparently inhumane treatment Butch received from Peter and Mary; while they were in Florida, he was left in doggy day care where he peacefully passed away in his sleep. As you might  guess, there is a lot more to the story about Peter, Mary and theirGerman Shepherd, Butch.



You will remember that after their boat fire in December, Peter and Mary were forced to move in with their friends in Leominster. Deb and the General’s dog Bella and Butch did not get along well, so Butch was sent to doggy day care. However, he was not sent to “a kennel”; he was accepted into the Hydrant Regency; “where your dog stays to play while you go away”.

Hydrant Regency

It is a very expensive, very exclusive, ultra-modern extended care spa for four-legged family members; it is located on seven beautiful acres near the Newburyport Turnpike and the Rowley Country Club in Rowley, Massachusetts (they were going to be bringing their new boat back to Salisbury soon so Rowley worked well for temporary housing for Butch); not a shabby kind of place! He received plenty of attention, spent much time with his new friends, ate only the finest foods, swam daily in the pool and, though he did miss his new owners” (to be explained), he wanted for nothing. His nighttime sleeping quarters were equipped with a couch AND a color television. A webcam keeps owners current with their pet’s activities, and the “hotel” has pet pick-up and delivery service.

Even with “the dark cloud” hanging over Peter and Mary, we have never met such a positive-minded, energetic and caring couple, each willing to do anything for anyone…anytime. They seem to bounce back from adversity better than anyone we know; they accept what comes their way with grace and dignity. They wear their emotions on their sleeves; we always know where we stand with them. They can be trusted to do “what’s right”, always…and they were hurt to hear that some believe they didn’t treat Butch fairly. After receiving this outcry of concern, we got the rest of the story from them regarding Butch.

Butch was born in Berlin, New Hampshire in 1996. He was the runt of the litter of five puppies, and was easily sold to a lovely and loving elderly couple, Mitch and Judy. They lived on a large tract of land just outside of town and, since there was no leash law, Butch was free to roam; but he was always home for dinner. He could often be seen near the local pizza take-out or on the playground of the local elementary school, much to Judy’s dismay since she once taught there.

Today, of course, we have “invisible fences” and electronic devices which are used to train our pets in proper behavior and manners. In those days, in rural New Hampshire, owners simply used a rolled up newspaper to gently swat the puppy when his behavior was inappropriate. This tried and true method worked well; Butch was obedient, good with children and a model of what “a good dog” should be. In fact, when Butch was four years old, Mitch and Judy were approached by the American Humane Association to see if they would consent to Butch joining in their Animal Assisted Therapy Program. Unfortunately, during the waiting period, Butch managed to bite the newspaper delivery boy; the news carrier, unaware that Butch had been trained with a rolled up newspaper, opened the front screen door of Mitch and Judy’s home to throw the paper into the living room. Butch, of course, was only defending his home from this unauthorized and unwarranted intrusion by an unknown person. His application to the Assisted Therapy Program was immediately revoked; due to this unfortunate misunderstanding, his opportunity for community service was lost. He did, however, make up for this indiscretion the following year.

While  Mitch and Judy’s grandchildren were visiting, Butch was able to lend assistance to what could have been a terrible tragedy.

Two of the grandchildren were sleeping in the spare bedroom one night when the nine-year-old boy woke to find a large black spot on his pillow. When he turned on the light, he found that it was blood. His grandmother was alerted and discovered a cut on the boy’s head, the cause of which was not immediately apparent. The cut was cleaned, the pillow was replaced and they all went back to sleep. A short time later, the boy again awoke, this time to the sound of scratching somewhere behind the chest of drawers. Again, he turned on the light. He saw what appeared to be a shadow run from the chest of drawers to the wash basin stand. He became frightened and woke his younger sister who was sleeping in the other bed. Together they decided they should bring Butch into the room to assist them in discovering the source of the scratching. Butch was called into the room, and the door was closed behind him. For a short period of time, Butch had no idea why he had been called into the bedroom…then he heard the scratching.

All hell broke loose. The shadow scurried from place to place; Butch followed growling and barking; the hair on his back was standing up. The shadow turned out to be a large rat! Both grandchildren were now standing on the beds, yelling. Butch chased the rat around the room, knocking over drawers, chairs, nightstands. Butch’s nose was bleeding, either cut by the furniture or cut by the rat. At one point when Butch caught up to the rat, he grabbed it, fitfully shook it and let loose. The flying rat managed to hit the boy in his head on its way across the bedroom. After one final attack by Butch, the rat lay still on the floor. The room was in shambles with blood on the walls, beds and furniture. After the final assault, an eerie quiet returned to the house.

Of course the grandparents, Mitch and Judy, had slept through the entire episode having taken out their hearing aids. Once alerted to what had transpired, they were able to clean up the mess, restore order to the house and box up, in a ladies shoe box taken from the closet, the offending rat; the animal was needed for testing by the local lab for possible rabies; during the night, the boy had been bitten on the head while he slept. Due to the definitive actions of Butch, the rat had been caught, allowing it to be tested. Since the test results were negative, the grandson did not need the invasive series of rabies shots…And this was how Butch was able to make amends for his biting indiscretion from the previous year.

Butch lived a long and rewarding life with the elderly couple in Berlin until his folks became too old to continue caring for him. Their children were forced to relocate the couple to an assisted living facility in Concord, New Hampshire, and none could continue to care for Butch;  so, after 14 years in Berlin with his family, Butch became a ward of the state.

Lindsey, who lives in Derry, New Hampshire, heard Butch’s story through her friend Bob and was told that the dog was now at the Concord NHSPCA. Since she already had two other dogs, she felt she could save Butch from being euthanized, and was willing to take him into her home. Butch spent that year, his first real retirement year, lazing in the sun in Lindsey’s back yard either in the cool grass or on her deck under the pergola. A car accident caused Lindsey to give up her dogs; her resulting injuries precluded her from giving them proper care. Being a wealthy widow, she was able to avoid sending them to the NHSPCA by agreeing to pay foster parents to continue care-giving to her beloved pets, especially to Butch who was now in his golden years.

Last November, at fifteen and a half years old, Butch was sent as a foster dog, to Rye, New Hampshire to live with Lindsey’s friends…Peter and Mary. His “new owners” gladly accepted Butch onto their boat and into their home and their hearts.

The rest of the story we know. Peter and Mary had Butch for four months; two of which were spent between Rye, New Hampshire and Leominster, Massachusetts (having survived the boat fire), and two of which he spent in full retirement, in the pampering luxury of the “Hydrant Regency” in Rowley. He had lived a long and satisfying life, “some of it magic and some of it tragic but a good life all the way”. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him, and is missed by everyone,  including Peter and Mary.

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

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