Quick Link: Espresso in the Making

28 03 2011 Posted by Daniel

I was reading The World Tour’s latest post in my reader this morning and thought it was about time somebody came up with a good way to get quality espresso simply and easily from a gas burner. I might like this idea even better than my french press if it turns out to be as good as they say. More efficient use of water, coffee, and an even easier cleanup. What’s not to love?

Catch it here.

Racing - 2011

28 03 2011 Posted by Daniel

Pardon the delay in posting. I’ve been busy kicking ass and taking names on the J/105 circuit down here. This is my 2011 race boat, “Stinger”, a J/105 skippered by Bee Bednar. Photo by John Lacey (Thanks John!).

Stinger is a fantastic boat - the J/105s are a ton of fun to sail, and we have a rockstar crew on board. In the race this photo was taken we came in 1st 5 times out of 5 races for 5 bullets. (Racers like to call a first place finish a “bullet” as the race committee generally fires a gun for the first boat in each class that crosses the finish line. Subsequent boats get a whistle or air horn instead.) In addition, we cleaned up on on a bunch of J/109’s who started at the same time we did - boats that are supposed to be modestly faster than us! Overall a great regatta, a great day for sailing, and a solid set of wins.

I’ll get back to posting regular content shortly - I’m trying to balance writing with getting my own boat cleaned up and ready for some spring/summer sailing!

A Brief Digression on Productivity

18 03 2011 Posted by Daniel

I’ll be honest: I’m a productivity nerd. I’m still very much at the beginning of this life-long process, but I absolutely love the idea that with a little careful thought ahead of time we can get so much more of what we want accomplished.

It’s interesting how often people ask how I do all the various projects I’m involved in. I don’t think my personal accomplishments are particularly impressive, but people keep asking so something must be noticeably different from the average. Truthfully, I enjoy what I do. But there is a method to the madness - a process that ensures that I will be continuously taking steps toward my goal. And technically, I just gave it away - the real secret is in continuously taking steps, no matter how small, towards your goals. But the process is a little more complicated. Today, I’ll touch on the first step. Next week, we’ll talk more.

The Most Important Step

Those of you well on your way to making your own dream into reality already know that this is actually the most important part: have a clearly defined goal. For the rest of you, I know you’re thinking “but I already have a goal. My goal is to ____________ .” But stop right there and think about how you phrased your goal. Does it involve how you feel more than what you’re doing? Does it involve a scene (e.g. “on the beach”) rather than a specific place (e.g. “cruising the South Pacific islands.”)? Does it involve “someday” rather than “in two years”?

I thought so. You see, without concrete goals, you can’t measure your progress.

As an adjunct, allow me to state unequivocally that you will never have “enough money” for anything. There is no such thing. Don’t use the concept of “when I have enough money, I will do (xyz)”. You won’t ever get there. Instead, figure out what it will actually take to do it, whether that’s a specific amount of money ($800 for flight costs, $500 for hotel, etc), time (days off from work, spring break, etc), or skills (speaking French, being able to play a specific song, whatever). Note that “opportunity” doesn’t factor in that list. That’s because I don’t believe you should ever wait for opportunity. You prepare for opportunities. You make opportunities. You don’t wait for them. Because if you haven’t prepared for them, if you haven’t set the steps in process for them to be created, you won’t ever get them. Even if one miraculously presented itself nevertheless, you still wouldn’t be able to capitalize on it anyway. Opportunities happen around you all the time. You’re just not in the place to take advantage of them.

So let’s try that whole goal thing again. Sit down, grab a sheet of paper, and clear away all of your distractions. Turn off the cell phone, close your door (and your laptop), and light some incense or a candle if that’s your thing. Now, think about what you actually want to do with your life. Your ideas can be long range (live aboard a sailing boat, cruising the south pacific, in five years), they can be short range (fly to Corsica for the Calvi on the Rocks Festival), but what matters is that you make them as specific as possible, and set a timeframe for them. This is round one of goal setting.

Before you’re done, let’s set one other goal. This one is very short range: within the next week. Pick a day, pick an hour or two, and pick a location that will require you to go a little out of your way, to break your patterns. I usually pick some place I really like but for whatever reason I don’t go very often - like a local park or a particular stretch of coastline. Set yourself a personal date to go to that location and spend some more time with yourself. You’re going to start deciding the way your life will go rather than accepting whatever happens. So when you’re there with yourself on that personal date, think a little more about what you really want to do or become in the next year, three years, five years. Give yourself measurable goals, ones you not only believe deep down you can accomplish but also the kind that come from the part of you inside that really enjoys life and gets all excited about it.

Now let yourself get all excited about it.

You’re going to get there.

(For some more ideas on brainstorming and focusing your personal goals, Chris Guillebeau at “The Art of Non-Conformity” has a great article on conducting your own annual review which I highly recommend.)

Living Two Lives

18 03 2011 Posted by Daniel

Ever felt like you were more than one person, shoved into the same life as the other people you also were? Strange, I know, but that’s how it feels sometimes, living with one foot on land and one on the boat. While I genuinely enjoy the dichotomy, and love coming “home” to my boat, I do wish that I could more firmly commit to the aquatic life - it would be much more efficient. And it’s in this inefficiency that I am reminded most acutely of my multiple-life-same-body situation.

It goes something like this: Wake up, feel the breeze from the open hatch over my berth. It’s still dark outside, and the boat is rocking quietly. I check the day’s weather (to see if I should close the hatches or not), shower at the marina, dress back onboard my boat, grab my briefcase, and head out the door.


I’m driving in rush hour traffic, in a very large and busy city. I park in a huge parking garage in the middle of downtown, walk three blocks to my office, and take the elevator like everyone else. Fortunately my desk has a window next to it, but all I can see is concrete for the next eight to ten hours. Walk back to the truck, sit in traffic for another hour.


Blurry haze of two overlapping lives - an impeccably dressed businessman boarding a boat set up for cruising and distance sailing but filled with the clutter of liveaboard activity. Dress shoes briefly meet worn nonskid - fortunately the leather soles don’t mark it.


After a change of clothes and the day’s assigned boat work, I’m now in more comfortable boat attire. Drinking a cold beverage and sitting in my cockpit, I look out at the water as the sun sets peacefully in the distance.

The lives are so different that my head still spins for a minute after I get home and wonder “what the hell happened”?

But then I tell myself the day that I sell the vehicle, stash the dress clothes, and slim down the boat’s accoutrements for a lighter weight lifestyle is coming very soon. Until then, though, this schizophrenia serves as a reminder to make continual, unrelenting progress towards my goals - an impetus for one step forward every day.

March Update

10 03 2011 Posted by Daniel

Ahoy there my sailing friends!

March is quickly passing and April is about to be upon us. Here on the Gulf Coast, its the beginning of the prime sailing season, and boy do we have a great lineup of sailing related events this year to look forward to. Here’s a quick list of the stuff I’m involved in at the moment:

New Classes!

Most of you know I teach sailing, but you might not know that I teach much more than just basic keelboat classes. This year, I’m delighted to announce two brand new courses that I’ll be introducing in April:

Digital Weather - April 9 @ HSH Yachts
On April 9, I’ll be joining HSH Yachts’s fantastic Jeremy Hood in a full-day weather course. The first half of the day, Jeremy will be covering everything you want to learn about weather basics, theory, and forecasting. The second half, I’ll be covering digital technologies to receive weather data while underway, and getting your hands “dirty” actually pulling down real weather with some fantastic digital toys. And for those of you with an interest in some of the more modern communications technologies, we have a definite treat for you in store. Details Here.

Laptop / Computer Navigation - April 30 @ HSH Yachts
Later in April and also at HSH Yachts, I’ll be teaching a full day hands-on course on electronic navigation technology using laptop computers. I’ll be covering safe and effective navigation using modern navigation software; understanding digital chart types and how to get them; using AIS and DSC to increase situational awareness and enhance safety; understanding and connecting vessel instrumentation using NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000; and tips and tricks to get the most from your electronic navigation aids. Details Here.

I’ve put a huge amount of effort into making these courses hugely valuable and full of awesome hands-on sessions, so if you’ll be in the Houston area in April this year, definitely make sure to reserve a spot.

Featured in Telltales Magazine

I’m also thrilled to announce that in a partnership with Telltales Magazine, I will be writing an electronics column and articles on various boating technology. My first article, on AIS and DSC technology, was featured in the March issue, and the April/May issues will run a 2-part series on laptop navigation as a basic introduction to the topic. Pick up a copy at your local chandlery, marina, or Clear Lake area newsstand today, and tell me what you think!

Personal Update

For those of you keeping track of my preparations for ocean sailing, I’ve made slow progress this month, mostly due to the huge effort involved in writing articles and planning the courses. But fear not, progress continues apace! The past month has seen the completion of the re-wiring of the entire boat’s electrical system, new LED navigation lights, fiberglass propane tanks to replace the degrading aluminum tanks previously on deck, and a freshly scrubbed bottom.

Upcoming projects for the next few months will hopefully include the standard maintenance of fresh bottom paint, a new depth sounder to replace my old worn out but faithful Simrad, a new AIS system to integrate with the navigation electronics, and brand spanking new rigging to bring her up to offshore standards. I’ll keep you posted as we move forward, and if you know anybody selling a nice pair of Lewmar self-tailing 46ST winches for a good price, let me know!

If you shop at Amazon.com frequently, please consider using my affiliate link as your main bookmark for Amazon. Buying anything on the site within 24 hours of clicking on my link (provided you don’t click on another affiliate link in the meantime!) gives me a small bonus without changing your price at all - it helps me and its free for you, what’s not to like! Many thanks to those of you already doing this - the money goes directly into the boat fund!

Featured Sailing Site

I’d like to begin a little tradition here on the blog and feature a sailing website that I think you’ll really enjoy. Today I’m delighted to feature Morgan’s Cloud: Attainable Adventure Cruising. A fantastic site with stories, technical articles, and just a tremendous amount of interesting information, these folks have been there, done that, and probably designed the t-shirt themselves! One of my inspirations for high-latitude cruising, they have some breathtaking photographs as well. Check ‘em out - it’s worth a spot in your daily websites for sure.