Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sailboat Story

Hey friends - I recently ran across this video series about a family that's completely lost their minds....and I mean that in the good way.......definitely have a serious dose of the craycray going on here and I thought you all might enjoy checking it out. Hopefully our wakes will cross one day.

PS - awesome boat, huh?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Danny MacAskill - Cascadia

In the "be good at what you do and have fun making a living" category:

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Mental weirdness

I was at work, on the cell phone, pacing up and down the corridor in the job trailer when I first noticed the halos.

They came on suddenly this time, taking over the right side of my field of vision in just a few seconds, not slowly fading in like the last couple of times. Within a minute or so the halos around what I could see gave way to a floating blob of colored shapes, kind of like what happens when you stare at a bright light for a while and get the afterimages burned into your eye. Pretty soon, the entire right side of the universe had vanished as far as I could tell......covering my left eye I could still see OK out of my right eye, but there were nothing but random backlit blobs floating around in the right side of my field of vision.

Kind of like one bigass blind spot with a light show being projected on it.

Crap, I thought, this is not a good time for this. I already have too much BS to deal with!

I opened the door and stepped out onto the porch behind the trailer, hoping to find a quiet place to get a grip, all the while getting a bit woozy and disconnected-feeling, like a mild head-rush kicking in.

That's when I lost the ability to speak coherently. Someone on the conference call I was listening to asked me a question and I think I was able to bluff them with a grunt because they didn't ask any follow up questions and just like that the call was over. I found myself standing by the street, aware of my surroundings but unable to speak or see anything to my right without moving my head that direction and really concentrating.....

This is the third episode of this weirdness I've had in the last two months, and the fifth over the last couple of years. Two years ago I had the first major short-circuit event, and since the progression of symptoms then was nearly identical to what was going on now, I figured this was most likely a TIA. The Doc, when I had gotten myself checked out after the first episode in 2013, said these were like little mini-strokes, and although they are pretty harmless in themselves they can be portents of bigger problems in the making. Doc said that about a third of people that have a TIA go on to have a full-blown stroke within the next year.

Doc had also mentioned the problem could be a focal seizure, and not a TIA, possibly related to a head injury I earned twenty-five years ago, but in either case I should watch my cholesterol and blood pressure, and if the problem ever came up again I should call 911 and get it checked out as soon as possible in case it turned out to be a real stroke.

So, I'm standing there knowing that while what I am experiencing is probably a temporary and minor problem, it could also turn into something bigger, and I should call for help. But, for some reason, whether some deep-seeded fight or flight instinct or just plain stupidity, my reaction is to look for a safe place where no one can see I have a problem and try to see if I can figure this out by myself.

By now probably 5 minutes have passed since the problem started. My vision is totally wacked now, and not only am I unable speak but I can't even find words in my head for the names of the people or things I can see around me. One of our project engineers walks past and although I recruited him to come to Miami from California and have worked with him for over a year and I know that I know his name, all I can find in my head for him is jdebghefg. Crap!!!!

 OK,  got to get a plan together....if this episode goes like the last few the worst part will be over in 15-20 minutes and then I'll just be stupid for a while. Still, should probably get to the doc and get this checked out somehow - three episodes in just two months is not good. So, great plan, just move - walk to the park and walk it off....go back to the jobsite once I can form a sentence and speak the names of the people I see, then slip into the office, grab my keys, and haul ass.

Everything goes pretty much as planned - I spend about 10  minutes getting in a nice walk, practice naming things in my head and then out loud until I can do it fairly reliably (that is a sidewalk! that is a tree!), then turn and head back to the office.

So, this time I did eventually go see the doc....I wasn't able to escape the jobsite without the folks I share my office knowing that there's something wrong, but I was able to convince them I was OK enough to drive home. The folks at the emergency room whisked me back immediately when I mentioned TIA - should tell me something right? - and they went into their full round of tests and inspections. The good news is that the MRI and other tests didn't show any major problems or signs of a real stroke. Eventually the verdict was that this episode could have been TIA, but it could also have been a focal seizure, so I should take advantage of the awesome health insurance the company affords me and go do some follow ups with the the neuro guy and a cardiologist to see if they can identify and fix whatever underlying problem is causing this craziness.

So, a lesson in mental weirdness.

The take-away from this experience is that what I really need to work on is that weirdness that keeps me from being able to ask for help. Gotta do the other follow-ups as well, of course, but realizing that I had been standing on the curb outside the job shack, wondering if this was going to be just another minor bump in the road or if it would turn out to be my demise, and deciding the best approach was to try to get through it without bothering anybody is just plan crazy. And not the good kind of cray cray I'm fairly well known for within the family.

Not really sure where that takes me from here, but I think just getting this story down and out there to you guys is a start.

Hopefully this process of getting my noggin checked out won't impact my plans to retire and go cruising next summer, but I guess that will work out however it's going to work out.

Fair winds, everybody. Will catch up later.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


Everlasting Moon was making almost 6 knots on a close reach with a good and steady 10-12 knot breeze blowing over the sparkling blue of Hawk Channel, and sitting on the lee side coaming I could see ahead well enough to dodge the lobster traps that dot the shallows north of the head pin at South Sound Creek. With Moon heeling gently into the breeze like this I can get really comfortable with my butt on the rail, my shoulder and head resting on the bimini frame, and my foot on the wheel. I had taken a left when I came out of the channel, and was headed north east under a bright blue sky with a scattering of white puffiness. With about 10 miles of open water ahead of me before there would be any shallows to worry about I enjoyed drifting off into daydream heaven......

Keep this heading, dodging a few coral heads up near Carysfort Reef, and in a day or so I could be at West End, Grand Bahama poised to make the turn to head up into the Abacos. Or, hang a left at Angelfish Creek and I could spend some time exploring Biscayne Bay, then toodle down the ICW to Florida Bay and points south and west. So many options and opportunities!

My plan is to be retired by this time next year, or at least not working a regular job for a while, and it is getting harder every day to maintain my focus on work. I love my job and the folks I work with, but every time I spend a few hours on the boat I think about moving my timeline up and starting the trip this year.....hurricane season ends this month, and now would be a great time to finish getting the boat prepped and start The Trip (a Figure 8 - clockwise circumnavigation of the Caribbean followed by a Great Loop) after Thanks giving.

For now I can't bring myself to bail out on the commitments I made to finish a pair of projects, though, and the sound of my work cell phone ringing brought me out of my reverie and back to the real world. Tacking around, I enjoyed a great beam reach back to the channel before dropping the sails and motoring down the creek and back to the marina.

Here's a short and sort of shaky cell phone video from the sail back...thanks for reading this, and I hope all is well in your world!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

S/V Vixen - sailing family story

Voyage of S/V Vixen

Ran across this in my morning muddle today and thought I would share......

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Wanted to share some photos and a short video from some adventures the last few weeks:

Sailed from Key largo up to Fort Lauderdale the weekend of the 11th....left early Friday morning and sailed all the way to Fort Lauderdale. This turned out to be an 80-mile broad reach with ESE winds in the 15-20 knot range most of the way, and one of the most enjoyable sails I've ever experienced.

Sailing on Moon 2 from Andrew Allen on Vimeo.

(The video might take a while to load, so be patient. I'm also learning about shooting and editing video, so the overall quality isn't that great......hopefully it will convey some of the feeling of being on the boat, though.)

There was one "oh shit!" moment when I went below and heard the bilge pump running about an hour into the trip. I had hit bottom on the rock at the end of the channel a few weeks ago, and although the gel coat at the front of the keel got cracked I didn't see any signs of water coming in after the incident - until I was about 10 miles offshore on the way to Fort Lauderdale. After opening all of the floor hatches and looking to see where the water was coming from, and tasting the water in the bilge to see if it was salty, I realized that it had to be coming from the fresh water tank overflow, and not through the hull. I had filled the tank for the trip and with the way the boat had been heeling about 10 gallons had run out through the vent and into the  bilge. It was quite a relief to know I wasn't sinking!

I had taken the sails down while checking the leak, and since the wind had piped up a bit I left the main down and just rolled out the jib. Managed to average almost 6 knots over the whole 80 miles. Got into Port Everglades as the ....spent the night at anchor in the ICW a few miles south of Port Everglades, then spent all day Saturday and most of Sunday hanging out on the boat with some friends, mostly anchored out in Lake Sylvia. Had another WTF moment in the afternoon when the engine refused to start - no response at all when I tried the start  button. After checking the batteries, the switches, and all of the connections, I discovered that I had pinched the wire that leads from the starter to the ignition switch in the air cleaner cover at some point, and it had finally chafed through and shorted itself out. The fix was pretty easy, but it involved removing the start battery, starter, alternator, and breather in order to get to the damaged wire and splice in a repair. The whole incident took about an hour or so start to finish.

Leaving Sunday afternoon the wind was still coming from the SE, so instead of slogging into the wind on the outside I elected to motor down the ICW, and got into the anchorage on the west side of Biscayne Bay about an hour after sunset.

Monday morning the winds were still right on the nose, so I motored down Biscayne Bay and went out at Angelfish Creek. By that time the wind had moved around to the east, so I was able to enjoy about 20 miles of broad reach under the jib alone back to Key Largo. A lovely trip all in all.

I also had a nice trip out to Arizona with some good friends the past are a few pictures and a link to more on flickr:

This picture was taken on the road into the Roger's Canyon Trailhead in the Superstitions, and it doesn't come close to reflecting just how beautiful that area is.

This one was was taken by my friend Mark at a campground off the old Route 66 in Two Guns, AZ. We met two interesting travelers there - a bright young woman named Katrin from Switzerland on a several months long bicycle tour of the American West from Phoenix to Oregon, and an creative and adventurous kid from Texas named Ryan who took a few days off from his job waiting tables to go see the Grand Canyon. We shared stories and a feast of hotdogs  over our communal campfire that night.

And these are my travel buds......Mark on the right, his nephew Josiah (aka Josey wales) in the middle, and Charlie on the left. Good guys all around.

We mostly car camped along the way, and enjoyed some day hikes in the Superstitions and in the Coconino National Forest, visited Winslow, Flagstaff and Sedona, and even saw a movie - the Water Diviner - along the way.

There are a few more pictures here:  Arizona trip photos

Gotta scoot now to start getting ready for work tomorrow. Will try to post more pics and stories later this week.