Category Archives: Our adventures

On the Hard – Sarah’s Creek, Yorktown VA

Sailing has always taken a special breed.  People who can go for long periods with little sleep, facing challenges that seem impossible, and powering through.  A very individual sport / adventure for those who love the history and the science of moving around the world powered only by the wind.

But it really isn’t an individual sport.  We are able to succeed only on the backs of the dozens of supporters that email us, read our blogs, and help us fix our fine yacht.  It’s to the last of these that this blog is dedicated.


Can you make her pretty again Eddy?

We are sitting on jack stands with the deck about 12 feet above the ground, nestled between two powerboats in York River Yacht Harbor. Several things needed the attention that can only be given when a boat is out of the water.  These little forays “on the hard” are messy and expensive “must do’s” in the life of any cruiser.  Fortunately, YRYH has really gone above the call of duty for us.

First there was Danny, who made sure we felt welcome – even anchored out before we decided to pull the boat.  He offered us prime space for our dinghy, and the ship store team not only worked hard to find what we needed, but also offered us a car to buy at West Marine the items they could not supply.  Like Dorthy said “we aren’t in Florida anymore”(sic).


Welcome to the hotel Country Dancer

And our neighbors.  Sailing is as much about the people as it is about boats and wind.  Next to us is Lee on his Grand Banks trawler.  Always ready with tools, workbench or help. Beside him is George and Karen on a Morgan 41.  They were “There” for us with a hose, grease gun, and even epoxy filler to help us out. The advise and the help were more than appreciated, thanks guys.

Then the yard.  Larry, Ralph, Ron, Danno, and Eddy.  Thanks guys.  Without question, working in a boat yard has its high moments, but it is overall a grueling, dirty, and physically exhausting job.  You are working on the craft that people have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for, and they all want it perfect and they all want it all cheap. Did I mention dirty.  The air is full of blue dust from sanding bottom paint,  the grounds are littered with the sundry masts, booms and rigging of boats stacked together in the gravel work area.  Any breeze sends the sticky grit into everything. Even walking through here is probably a bio-hazard, yet these guys continue to show up, working on the impossible, in conditions that no amount of care and cleaning can ever makes really pleasant. Yet there is something in their style.  They LIKE boats, they LIKE making things better and solving problems. THEY are the “yardies”, the “BN’s”, the “Wrenches” and the “Smurfs” that make Yachting what it is today.

in the ways

Trying to get straps under a grounded “Dancer.” We waited overnight for a high tide.


But this is  really about Eddy.  Eddy was the guy that worked for hours under our hull with a sanding board and DA sander held 2 feet above his head, sanding the nasty stuff off our hull.    Eddy suited up in his Tyvex suit and full face respirator, sweating profusely inside the impermeable plastic,  while the blue grit blows around him in the sun.  I  did some of this too, and know that 800mg of Ibuprofen just isn’t enough to take the ache out of your arms and shoulders after a few hours of this shoulder torture.  They affectionately called him “the Smurf” because of the blue hue that permeates his clothes and skin.

When they could not get us out of the water on Friday, Eddy and Danno were there Saturday morning to make sure we got out and blocked up so we could have the weekend to work.

We are not done as I write this.  The prop and shaft are sitting on a workbench and the bottom paint is still on a UPS truck somewhere coming this way.  It is Tuesday night and we have to be back in the water on Monday.  Will it all happen?  Can those rugged sailors continue to Ireland?  Not if Larry, Ralph, Danny, Eddy and the rest of the super rugged YRYH team can’t pull yet one more rabbit out of this grimy hat, it won’t.

We love sailing. The travel, the sights, the adventure… and we love the folks that drive themselves just as hard to make it possible for us.  Guys, you may not make it to Ireland with us, but our appreciation for all your effort will. Our most heart felt THANKS.

Gary, Jodi and Rio on S/V Country Dancer.

Work done:

2 coats of Micron 66 black bottom paint, re-faired keel and rudder
3 coats Pettit zinc prop paint on running gear
added “Spurs” line cutter to prop
replaced cutlass bearing
rebuilt PSS shaft seal
repaired about 40 blisters with glass and epoxy (about 100 to go!)
Cleaned, greased and reconditioned Autoprop
replaced 2 through hulls, lubed the rest.
added 100′ of copper strapping for SSB counterpoise
replaced SSB antenna cable
cleaned and repainted engine parts.



Wrightsville, NC by Jodi

Our stay in Wrightsville, NC – 8 days

We arrived in Wrightsville on Thursday 5/1 after sailing through the night on a very bumpy sea.  Gary and I were headed to Hatteras NC.  Due to the foul weather we turned into port and found this quaint town.  We dropped the hook around noon-ish, there were only a few boat in the bay when we arrived, by nightfall the bay was full.  The next morning we watched all the boats pull anchor and head back out, again only 3 or 4 boats left in the harbor.  We put the dinghy in the water and headed out exploring.  We were able to tie the dinghy up at Bridge Tender Marina for free “tip’s accepted” which we did.  Found West Marine, Teeters, Dollar Store and Food Lion, all about a mile up the road.  We looking for the UPS store as our part we ordered would be in on Monday.

On the way back to our boat, the couple next to us was also pulling in and we invited them for dinner.  They accepted readily as they were bored just sitting around.  We served lasagna, fresh bread, corn on the cob and fruit salad for desert.  Had a great time swapping sailing stories.  Frank and Deanna have been living aboard their boat since October 2012.  They have captained many boats and delivered several to their new owners. After several hours they said their goodbyes and Gary and I were off to bed.

Monday is Wrightsville’s farmers market day.  Gary dropped us off at the Sea Tower marina and Rio and I hiked the 5 blocks to do some shopping.  Not a very large market, maybe 10 stalls with only two having produce.  I bought 2 tomato plants to try my hand at growing my own vegetables on board.  Gary just laughed at me!  In the afternoon we hiked back to Wrightsville to pick up our AIS part at UPS.  We stopped by Wendy’s to use the free WiFi to post our latest video.  We sat outside as dogs are not welcome in the store.  While Gary was posting the video, I did a little shopping for needed food items.  I try not to buy to much as we have to carry everything in backpacks.

Tuesday morning we dinghy to the Sea Tower marina and snuck into the shower area for our first long hot shower in 2 months.  What a nice treat.

Later that morning we received an email peter familyfrom a couple who was in town for their daughters graduation.  They recently bought a 470 Catalina and saw our boat at anchor and got out their binoculars to read the name of our vessel, looked us up on the 470 group.  We were invited to dinner that evening along with the use of the washer and dryer.  Pete and Kim picked us up at the dinghy dock.  Had a wonderful dinner of steak, salad and drinks.  His parents were also in town and were at the sea villa for dinner too.  We swapped lots of sailing stories.  The next morning we took them out sailing for 4 hours and showed them the improvements we had made on our boat.

Thursday morning we had a calm bay and no wind, so I decided to wash the sides/hull of the boat, 4 hours later and two very sore arms I was done. Boat is shinny once again.

Friday morning Pete called with an offer of a ride to the local food market to fill our pantry again. I jumped at the offer.  10 pounds of flour & sugar, 2-18 packs of coke, 2 cases of beer, meat, fruits, can goods etc… what a trip.

Saturday we pulled anchor and headed to Beaufort NC.

Watch the Wrightsville HD Video

Charelston, SC

Absolutely the fastest day ever!

The fastest day ever

So, how fast is fast anyway?  Obviously for sailors, fast is somewhat relative. Relative to other sailing vessels and other sailors, not to Suzuki Hyabusa’s or F-18 Hornet jet fighters.  For Dancer, we usually figure on making about 5kts during a passage. That’s about the same as a good brisk walk, but string 24hr of those together and you have moved 120 nautical miles through time and space.
When we spend any time traveling at above 6 kts, it was”a good sail”. Above 7.5 and we were “hooked up” and  “in the groove.”
Since Dancer has a hull speed of 8.5 kts, that is as fast as she is ever supposed to able to go, so when we see 8.4 or above on the knot meter….  well we go home and write about it in our Blog!

If we could actually hold 8 kts for a full 24 hr period, we would travel 192 nautical miles. There are boats that can do this, but they are not 47feet long and carrying the crews entire life along with them. This is beyond any but specialty built race boats and crews.
So what do you say when your third day at sea turns up to be a 229 nautical miles “Boomer?”  That my friends is an average of 9.54 kts every single hour for 24hrs. That is an average that is 13% faster than the boats supposed top speed.  And yet that is EXACTLY what S/V Country Dancer did on April 6, 2013.  From Miami to St. Augustine. 229 nautical miles in 24 hrs.

Absolutely the fastest day ever!    Watch the HD Video

Did I hear someone say “wait a second?”  Yes, yes, you in the back there. What about the Gulf Stream?  Well, yes it does run from Miami to St Augustine.  Well yes It does sometimes move at 4kts.  Well yes, I suppose it does mean we were actually sailing at just over 5 1/2.  Please sit down sir. A record is a record after all. Any other questions?

Please tell us how you like the videos.  The crew is beginning to rebel at my constant ideas for a  “cool” shot.

P.S. After blasting up the coast, the wind died completely some 70 miles from Jacksonville, and we had to humbly motor our “super boat” into the anchorage.  Dooh.

To Boldly go….


To Boldly Go…

To boldly go…

Back in the 70’s Gene Roddenberry wrote a TV script about a group of space explorers that became known as “Star Trek.” The theme of that story was “To Boldly go where no man had gone before.”

For years I turned cardboard boxes into “landers” and soap containers into “phasers.” But Gene’s stories did more than excite fantasies and create toys . In some of us it awakened a section of our ancient brain stem that said “just GO”. Gene added the boldly, and a generation like me said we wanted to do just that.

Sadly, space costs a trillion times what I could ever afford, but as a young man I found that a motorcycle could do a pretty good job in a pinch. I traveled all of the Pacific Northwest, and then turned on my “Boldly”, and struck out to cross the US on a motorcycle.

That story still lives in a journal now tucked safely away in one of Country Dancers closets. But it didn’t end the little boys desire to explore. I kept stretching my experiences, learning to fly, traveling cross country several more time, skiing, diving and learning to sail from a few pretty good race boat captains. The dream of “boldly going” was still burning in my guts, but it would take a few more years, and a couple of kids before it would surface again.

Michael was 7 when his mother left us. For a few years, he and I worked on “bold” but it didn’t seem to take. He is a great kid, but what Gene sparked in me just didn’t find the same kindling in my son.

Then my brother introduced me to Jodi. Turns out she was pretty bold too. As a young mother she had lived in a cabin in Minnesota with no running water. Later she got heavily into rodeo, running the cans as a barrel racer, and with her then husband , became instrumental in starting both The Great Northern Rodeo, and the Bear Grease Dog Sled race. But her bold had also gone into a simmer stage until she had recently started dancing competitively. With a good partner, this lead to her winning 3 Worlds Country Dance Championships.

Jodi decided she had danced her turn and knowing I talked a lot about sailing, suggested she would like to retire from dancing and try doing “That”. Suddenly, the deeply buried BOLD came bounding to the front or our lives, and we soon had a 33 foot “pocket cruiser” sailboat. It only seemed right that we named her “Country Dancer.”

Little Dancer, as we refer to her now, was a great little boat, and we sailed her a lot, and everywhere. BOLD was no longer a memory, it had again become a weekly episode for us again as we explored the waters around Florida’s west coast.

If BOLD is really in your guts, you can’t sail very much without wanting to always go further, always go longer, always explore deeper, and the new Jodi & Gary were in full BOLD mode. The decision was made to get a boat big enough, fast enough, and comfortable enough that we could REALLY “go where no….” , well at least where WE had never gone before.

We bought a fairly new and nicely equipped Catalina 470 in 2010. Again there was no question of the name, and “S/V Country Dancer” was properly christened by us and the grand babies. She was destined to take her owners smiling, and spinning around the world to the beat of both Country music and the Caribbean music of Jimmy Buffet. Dancer she would be, and country….how many can we see?

Today is April 2013. BOLDLY is no longer a dream. We have reordered our lives and work so there is no longer a home other than Dancer, and we are sailing up the US east coast as leg one of our journey to Ireland. About June 1 we will enter the Atlantic and follow the Gulf Stream across to the Emerald Isle. From there the plan is the Med, then back to the Caribbean and across to the South Pacific. So long as not too many Klingon’s appear on our scopes, we, like the crew of the Enterprise, will continue our personal human adventure to where ever the wind and the stars can take us.

Dream big, and Go Boldly

The crew of S/V Country Dancer

The New Bimini/ Dodger

new threads for Country Dancer

new threads for Country Dancer

Country Dancer was getting a little “thread bare” and we contracted with Kim @ Kim’s Canvas in St. Petersburg to build us a new Dodger and Bimini. As these things are completely custom, each piece is fitted before the next is patterned and built. It took hours and hours and I just don’t know how many hours for Kim to pattern, cut, sew, fit, modify and refit the 15 major pieces for her new enclosure.
But what a great difference! We can see out again, and the new enclosure is attached to the toe rail leaving enough room to actually turn the primary winches. With the “Front Doors” open, the sides act like scoops, dragging fresh cool air in and through the cockpit. Today rained and rained with but only a drop or two inside the enclosure. What a wonderful deal

Watch the video if you want to see what all of this means. And thank you Kim
Country Dancers new threads

How Country Dancer began

SV Country Dancer is the name of a Catalina 470 sailboat. But really its the story of a small ship and the adventures two people shared while living, loving and traveling aboard her. As I write this the story is not yet over, and you are being invited to join us in the adventure. What I have chosen to do here is tell that story, in a way that is new and perhaps unique, and we will begin it with the two people that are stiil making the story happen. And although it’s the story of two individuals with completely different histories, the story of Country Dancer begins when they met.

In Feb of 2003 my brother Greg and I had started a construction company in Tallahassee, and he needed to get a couple copies of our first house plans made. He and his wife Felica went to The Blueprint Shop and got into a conversation with the Counter Clerk. She happened to say someting about knowing a good man, and Felicia’s ears went up. They “interviewed” her on the spot, and called me that evening. They had met a “cute” nice girl about my age, with a new grandchild that was also a competitive dancer…. would I be interested in a “blind date”. We could all go out together and they could make introductions.

At this point in life, I had plenty on my plate and the idea of dating again just wasn’t very appealing so I said no. But a persistant brother convinced me it couldn’t hurt. It would be easy, there would be the four of us, and if it didn’t go well, I could always leave. But being the “Plan B” kind of guy, I agree if I could take my 7yr old son Michael with me. After all, 7 year olds can get sick on a moments notice, and if this girl didn’t like my son, she wasn’t going to work out anyway.

A few days later, we met at a local TGI Friday, and the 6 of us had a nice time. SIX, yes, Jodi brought her grandson…. just in case she needed to leave. We knew there was common ground right from the start.

A few nights later, we had a “real” date. I took her to a local bar with a dance floor and country music. If I was going to date a competitive Country Dancer, we might as well get off on the right foot – so to speak.

Julie's Restaurant

Julie’s Restaurant

When we sat down at Julie’s – a local country western bar and restaurant – there we 3 or 4 couples on the dance floor. After we both ordered a steak, it looked like this is might be fun for a while. The sizzling steaks arrive at the table just a few seconds before a guy that must have been 6′ 4″ came to the table and said “sir, would you mind if I ask your date to dance?” WHAT… the steak had just come, its our first date, you look really big…. what is the proper etiquette here…first date in several years, and I already have a dilemma.

“Uh, sure.” I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? She might think I don’t like her? She might think I am a wimp? I might say the wrong thing and this guy will prove I AM a wimp? Geez.

Jodi got up from the table and he lead her off to the dance floor while I listened to the sizzle dying on the steaks.

As they entered the dance floor, one of the three couples retired, and soon Jodi and the new guy were taking up about 1/2 the dance floor. Very soon a second couple left the floor and now the third couple was trying to fill less that 1/4 of the floor. It only took about one stanza, and they gave up too. Now the new guy is tossing Jodi around like a teddy bear… well a very light and very smooth teddy bear… well actually she seemed to be doing plenty of the tossing too… actually they looked pretty darn good.

Since they had gotten started after the song had started, it wasn’t very long until the music wound down. In its place was an astounding quiet, and then a sudden screeching as every chair in the restaurant was pushed back and all the diners (all but one) stood and gave the dancing couple a rousing ovation. IN A RESTAURANT. Oh, the one… his mouth was still dropped open and his chin hanging over his cooling steak with a totally stunned look on his face.

The hand writing was on the wall. If I was going to date THIS girl, I was going to have to up my dancing skills by about 100%. The rest of the dinner was fun, and Jodi confessed that she and “Big Mark” had danced this routine many times before. On our way home, jodi told me the name of her “dance teacher”, and I was quick enough to get her phone number. The next day I was enrolled in Susan’s Wednesday night dance class, and another date had been arranged.