Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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You can also find me on G+ and twitter, and most of my photos get uploaded to radpin.imgur.com

Sunday
Oct122014

sailing and stackoverflow make a frankenstein 

If you write code, you know stackoverflow. It has become the defacto question and answer resource for software developers around the world. Then stackoverflow morphed into the larger stackexchange network, and spinoffs started appearing. 

I'm a frequent contributor to the fitness.stackexchange.com site, and recently I created a proposal for creating a sailing stackexchange site. If you agree, please head over there and follow it, and ask some questions. The sailing.stackexchange.com site will only be created if there's enough interest.

Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: SailingStackexchange sites aren't perfect, but there are some clear advantages.

This is not to say that forums (cruisersforum, sailinganarchy, etc) or social networks (wws) are dead: far from it. But on those platforms, the focus is on discussion. If someone asks a question about changing the oil on a Yanmar, you might get twenty replies and half way through the discussion flips to why Yanmar sucks and whatever else is better.

On the stackexchange world, you spend time crafting a proper answer, supporting it with links, references, and source material. It's just different. 

Additionally although there are some regular participants on stackexchange sites, the real value is for the non-regular. It's for the person just looking for an answer to their damn question without having to wade through 50 pages of bored arm chair sailors sitting in Kansas arguing about whether toilet paper should unroll from the top or the bottom.

If you've used the stackexchange network you know how great it is, but if you haven't, check it out.

 

Sunday
Sep212014

sorry you're so mad, bro

(all of the quoted text is from comments I or we have received in the last few months)

Don't get me wrong: I am guilty of Internet trolling. I was 18 when AOL was in its full glory, and I learned the careful art of driving people nuts by egging them on. I was young, it was entertaining, and I'm being honest. After a while, I started to blur the line between me being able to deliver a perfect zing and me actually being right about anything. 

Put more simply, having a cool Internet persona doesn't really mean your positions have any merit. Plus, the general (but often only supposed) anonymity of the Internet has us saying online what we would never say across a dinner table in front of friends and family. I really don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Perhaps it's societal advance or at least cathartic that we can lash out at our fellow citizen with vitriol that would leave us embarrassed if known to those whose respect we cherish. 

I suggest that you take your blog off of the internet. Your scam is becoming quite apparent to any real cruiser out there. You don't know shit. Go back to trying to blaming everyone else for your mistakes and trying to find someone else to pay your way.

So it is to you, anonymous mad person on the Internet, that I direct this particular post. I, unlike you, have a face and a name, and have to reconcile anything I type or say with the real world. My life for better or worse is fairly open and up for public opinion. I don't blame anyone for this of course, as no one put a gun to my head and made me maintain a blog or participate in social media. 

Click to enlarge: the hard knock life of an Internet troll.

And I can't judge you too harshly: I've been that guy. Partially stealing from Tom Corchrane, I've thrown so much shit around "...there ain't a shovel big enough in the world that can move it." 

You're a fucking moron.  I hope that you learn from your mistakes. But you probably didn't. Because you're a selfish, arrogant cunt.

I must however admit that I usually confined my trash talking to low grade degenerate cess pools on the Internet. It never occurred to me to directly contact someone and wish them ill, but perhaps I simply wasn't committing myself to incivility as much as I could have. My teachers in grade school were right: I just haven't been applying myself enough.

You two should be thrown in jail for child endangerment!

The silver lining to all of the spittle flying out of gnashing teeth is that I've learned to truly handle it. I've actually read every single email and comment that has ever been sent or posted to this site. Ignoring the frothing vitriol was actually easy: no matter how much self doubt or second guessing I subject myself to, I'm pretty sure I can claim the moral and intellectual high ground over someone who is rooting for my whole family to die.

I hope you 4 dumb fucks all DROWN!!!

In the end, what's kept my head sane is actually exposing myself to all of the e-thuggery. Let me be really honest: I have some amazing friends. Parents, trans oceanic cruisers, trans oceanic commercial captains, medical professionals, diy anything guys, marine engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers, business leaders, and many who are are in multiple categories. 

When those guys sit me down and have a talk, I listen. When you send an email or type some comments on the little box, I chuckle. The thing is, it's entirely possible you're totally right, but I would be dumber than you think I am if I actually evaluated anything you said. I mean really, if I just started grabbing random anonymous people off the street and had them scribble down some theories about you, how would you react? Perhaps with thoughtful consideration? Or maybe some deep introspection. No, you'd roll a spliff from it and pass it around at a dinner party.

So really, I am sorry you're so upset. One of us is spending time reading about the other, and I'm not reading about you, so you can guess who's on what end of the equation.

If it makes you feel better to defecate on my e-persona, go right ahead. If you feel like you are warning people about how [insert your favorite derogatory adjective] I am, the comment box is there waiting for you to elucidate all of us.

 

Monday
Sep152014

hurricane odile slams into la paz, baja sur

Hurricane Odile's eyewall an hour approaching the Baja coast. The outer bands were already lashing La Paz.Last year, when we spent the summer in the Sea of Cortez on Rebel Heart, we left La Paz and spent some long weeks up in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is, delicately speaking, a dump. But right or not I had it in my head that I didn't want to experience a strong hurricane in La Paz. In truth no sailor wants to experience a strong (or weak) hurricane anywhere, and even a "safe" hurricane hole in a strong upper category storm is going to be various shades of extremely dangeorus.

The weeks that followed for us became one of the more hilarious weather moments. "Dangerous" La Paz got a few drops of rain while up in "safe" Puerto Escondido we got slammed by half a dozen cyclones.

Hurricane Odile however decided not to play favorites and slammed directly into Cabo San Lucas, marching directly over the peninsula, laying waste to everything in its path in all directions. As I type this up in San Diego, a thousand miles north, we're having a hot and humid night because of the magnitude of this storm.

I finally got some first hand info and pictures tonight. These quotes, the text below, and the pictures are from Shell Ward at La Paz Yachts.

The big thing is that we are getting the Navy to help us search for 4 missing people. Gunther on Princess, was last heard from last night with water up to his knees saying he was leaving the boat.

 

Our good friends Paul and Simon on Tobasco II are missing as well. Their boat sunk sometimes in the night and all we can see the masts sticking up. 

 

There are at least 20 boats up on the shore incliding my old one EROS.
 We also saw an 8 man liferaft on the beach which we hoped belonged to Paul and Simone. No one was in the liferaft, so we are hoping they went and found a place to stay on the Magote. 
Believe the winds were worst at 2am when Autum said her anchor chain parted. 
By some miracle I have Internet. No phone and 110 only because we are running a generator. So this is the only way to get a message out. We are OK, and my boat is fine, but a lot of people are not. There are at least 20 boats up on the shore incliding my old one EROS. The big thing is that we are getting the Navy to help us search for 4 missing people. Gunther on Princess, was last heard from last night with water up to his knees saying he was leaving the boat. Gabriel on Damiana, which is a Mexican kid on a steel boat, have not found him or the boat yet either. Our good friends Paul and Simon on Tobasco II are missing as well. Their boat sunk sometimes in the night and all we can see the masts sticking up. When wind laid down some, earlier today Mike and I went out in the dinghy (wearing lifejackets!) and picked up 2 people stranded on the beach, Autum off of Rascel and Doug on Starduster. We also saw an 8 man liferaft on the beach which we hoped belonged to Paul and Simone. No one was in the liferaft, so we are hoping they went and found a place to stay on the Magote. There are some people over there in their houses, but we have not been able to reach anyone because the cell phone service is down. Tom on Colisto and Tim on Rock Bottom are both on the beach but OK as well as several other people. Tichard on Toloache and Paul on Cementress are both stranded on the sandbar without dinghies (blown away during the night). Believe the winds were worst at 2am when Autum said her anchor chain parted. 
We could use some help down here to get things cleaned up. It will be a long week! Thanks for all your prayers and please keep them coming for our missing friends. Over and Out.

 

Wednesday
Sep032014

back squats: life's answer to most of your problems

If you know me personally and have talked to me for more than thirty seconds the subject of back squats probably came up. 

Indeed it was one of the saddest parts of leaving the United States for me two years ago: saying good bye to Olympic training equipment, a coffee can of chalk, and power cages. Gyms in Mexico generally look like something time warped out of the 1980's: strength training has not caught on there and most folks are varying forms of Cardio Princesses (and Princes), spending countless hours on ellipticals and treadmills wondering when they'll look like the airbrushed model on the front cover of whatever magazine lied to them.

A few days ago I finally pushed myself a bit too hard. Although I've been slowly ramping back up, the cocktail of adrenaline and creatine in my blood stream pushed me over my limits and I wobbled away with stressed knees. My glutes were so banged up I could relate to beta male prison inmates.

Tuesday I had the day off lifting, but walking back and forth to work (roughly one mile and change each way) had my legs feeling banged up in the non-good way.

I entered the squat rack today with some hesitation. Actually I first stared at it in dismay because some clown had slid the flat bench in there and was doing 1/4 ROM bench presses.

So after that interesting fellow got out of there I racked some lighter weights, and gave it a go.

I've heard people say that "my church is the gym" and although that sounds ridiculous, I would say that for me the power cage is a pretty miraculous place.

You need to focus when you're doing this stuff. You have a lot to worry about, and it all comes down to your ability to control your mind and body. Especially when you start getting near your upper limits, you are in 100% concentration mode with neurons firing all over the place taking care of pain tolerance, muscle activation, balance, and coordination. 

At heavier loads, your body is quite literally about to be crushed under hundreds of pounds. It's akin to having a refrigerator on your shoulders: screwing around time is over, now it's time to focus if you want to get out of this one alive. You need to be in an extremely narrow zone of concentration and in a really scientific way much of your power comes from your mind's ability to physically generate electrical impulses. The raw volume of electricity your mind can send into your body is an extremely large component of your strength. Weight lifting truly makes your central nervous system (a.k.a. your brain) better.

Adaptive changes can occur in the nervous system in response to training. Electromyography studies have indicated adaptation mechanisms that may contribute to an increased efferent neuronal outflow with training, including increases in maximal firing frequency, increased excitability and decreased presynaptic inhibition of spinal motor neurons, and downregulation of inhibitory pathways.

So not only do my knees and glutes feel better after some nice moderate back squats, but my mind does as well. It's not just about endorphins: peer reviewed research studies at this point have piles of evidence showing that resistance training can be just as effective as psychotherapy

If you're feeling blue, get in that cage with your shoes off and an empty bar. Slowly pack on the plates until you reach that zen'd out moment. It's cheaper than church, and everyone's invited.

Tuesday
Aug192014

satellitephonestore.com: i have again not paid my bill

So you'd think that perhaps the nationally televised lawsuit, the written confirmation of account closure, or just a basic grasp of business practice might have caused satellitephonestore.com to take a glance at my account.

But no, not really.

Instead, despite everything at this point, they have continued to bill me and claim that my account is now past due. This is after:

1) They deactivated my phone on April 3, 2014.

2) I have notified them in writing to close my account.

3) They stated in writing my account would be closed.

4) In July they issued me a credit, one would think to refund me for when they took my money despite having a dead satellite phone, which they deactivated. 

The relevance here is simple: I wouldn't expect this kind of nonsense from a six year old's lemonade stand. And remember, this kind of bungled mess is when a national spotlight is on them and all of this will be evidence in a trial. If this is the best that they can muster, imagine what happens on a bad day.

Monday
Jul282014

more satellitephonestore.com stories

Below is an email I got today with another example of satellitephonestore.com's track record. I've redacted personal information. If you have any such stories please share them with me. If you'd like me to keep them private I will, or I can pass them on to our attorney, just let me know. 

In a previous blog post, I noted a bit about our lawsuit with satellitephonestore.com. On April 3, 2014, while waiting for the US Coast Guard to call us back, satellitephonestore.com terminated our service. Initially, they had this to say about it when interviewed in Latitude 38:

We would never do that. These phones are used for emergency purposes by 80% of our customers. Legally, I could not do that. 

We did a television interview, and our local ABC reporter called satellitephonestore.com, to which the reporter was told (by a lady who wouldn't give her name) our service:

[was disconnected] because of a billing issue, something to do with a credit card

Hilariously enough, in addition to my account being up to date, I was actually billed the exact day that my service was terminated, April 3rd. This is a screen shot showing the money coming out of my checking account for $120. The other amount was my balance at the time.

Faced with the unfortunate problem of factual evidence, a retraction of sorts had to be stated in a San Diego Union Tribune article:

[the attorney representing satellitephonestore.com] also clarified that the Kaufmans’ account was in good standing ... The employee who made that comment to 10News was mistaken, he said.

I've omitted some of their wording about my credit card getting declined a few times throughout the year: I lost my card in Mexico and simply wasn't able to provide another one, but brought it current well before our departure and had been a customer for years. So that part is true and if I should get publicly scolded for my card declining a few times, lead me to the town stocks so that I may serve my time. 

So now Whenever/satellitephonestore.com is on defense strategy number three. The first simply being "we'd never do that", and the second (from someone who wouldn't give her name) "we did it because he didn't pay his bill." Now the third has moved to an odd mix of admitting they knew about the deactivation, admitting they had a duty of care in notifying people, and admitting they didn't notify us.  

Regardless of what happens with our case, if you're an offshore sailor or adventurer of any type I think you should seriously consider the statements and actions of Whenever / satellitephonestore.com.

Thursday
Jul242014

USS Vandergrift FFG-48 On Station

I think this photo has been posted before, but I recently stumbled across a USB thumb drive that we had put our pictures on and handed around onboard the Vandergrift. This was on the morning of April 6, 2014, 10N 34', 122W 57'. The Vandergrift had arrived earlier the previous evening but it was determined that waiting for sunrise would make for a safer transfer from Rebel Heart. 

The picture gives you an idea of the seastate. The obscured decks are roughly 20'-30' above the waterline, hidden by swells. The Vandergrift assumed this perpendicular position as to create a slick to leeward (note the RAM lighting). Rebel Heart stayed properly hove-to through the whole operation. 

The helicopter on the back, an SH-60B Seahawk was flown by the HSL 49 Scorpions. That exact helicopter was the first US asset we saw after the California Air National Guard 129th. The Scorpions stayed airborne through much of the night, bridging radio traffic between Rebel Heart and the Vandergrift. 

Roughly 45 minutes after this photo I scuttled Rebel Heart.


The vast majority of people who have contacted us in regards to the loss of our vessel have been overwhelmingly supportive and positive. 

When the details emerged about our lawsuit against our satellite phone company (SatellitePhoneStore.com, aka Whenever Communications), a more complete picture started to emerge as to what exactly happened out there one thousand miles into the Pacific Ocean.

In the coming weeks and months I'm looking forward to more light being shed on the case. Several people have already contacted me about service interruptions of their own.

I can't get Rebel Heart back. I can't put my family right back on the trajectory that we had worked towards for eight years. But I am still a mariner, and I have many friends who make their living on the sea. I very much look forward to peeling back all the layers of the onion and letting sunlight in on the day of April 3, 2014. 

Wednesday
Jul022014

fundraiser for That Others May Live in august

I was genuinely honored when asked to participate in a fundraiser for That Others May Live. If you've followed our rescue and post-rescue world, you probably heard me mention that organization a couple of times. Simply put, the Air Force Pararescuemen (the folks that jumped out of a plane to help my daughter) have a dangerous job. 

The Air Force Pararescue motto is:

That Others May Live

Not "That we all might live", or "That we'll all get through this one together", but genuinely and truly they are working hard and putting their lives at risk for other people. If you're an adventurer, traveler, soldier, or otherwise a person who's out there in the thick of it and need help, these are most likely the people who are going to come for you.

And it's the only type of work they do. There are no risk-less assignments. There is no getting the cat out of the tree or helping old ladies across the street. These are M4 toting hard-asses with families of their own who put that aside to do a duty that is truly awe inspiring. 

  

 

In the course of their work, they get hurt. They're jumping out of planes, climbing over mountains, swimming in the ocean, and dealing with enemy forces in their combat search and rescue role. 

The TOML foundation (pronounced "Tom-ahl") helps out those rescuemen and their families. 

These guys are there for you right now. There is a C130 waiting on the runway, fueled up, with a dozen airborne medic-soldiers just waiting to come get your ass out of a jam: it's that real. It's what they train for, it's what they're the best at, and I'm proud to do whatever I can to help them.

If you have the resources, consider helping them as well. Your support goes directly to help people who can and will risk their own lives to help you and your family. 

Friday
May302014

building back up with worn out tools

A college professor of mine regarded Rudyard Kipling as a Hallmark poet: not the kind of high brow writing that a serious literate would adorn their book shelves with. Still, Kipling's poem If has been rotating around in my head ever since we hit the EPIRB. In particular, the second stanza.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.

The last two years of our adventure was the most glamorous part: the high seas, a foreign country, and new horizons. It was a magical world and for those out there who are planning their own adventures I think to some we served as motivation or at least a reference point.

But what made those two years possible was the decade before it. It was acquiring a lot of sea time. Buying a boat. Paying down debt. Long hours in the office. Getting my commercial license. Many, many hours of physical labor. 

Those were not sexy years. They do not capture the eye with pictures of amazing sunsets or tropical paradises. But the reality for most of us is that if you want to achieve something you need to put some serious time in at the grindstone to get there.

So more than anything, that's what I'm trying to embrace again right now. Whatever we want to do next, whether it involves a boat, a cabin, or a spaceship, it will ultimately come down to having a plan and following it. 

One of the biggest things that I learned through our experience is that every single one of us, you and me included, are capable of achieving any goal that's even remotely possible. It really comes down to putting a plan together and working towards it. Every day, bit by bit, chiseling away and making progress.

The responsibility to pursue our ambitions and make them manifest is ours: the locus is internal

And with that, aside from the random thoughts about the loss of our boat, I'm starting a new chapter in my mind. 

You can't help it if a bird flies over your head, but you don't need to let him make a nest in your hair.

Those words, spoken by Martin Luther, have been helping me over the last couple of months. It's natural, normal, and healthy to run through all the emotions following trauma. The thoughts of guilt and self doubt battling away with confidence and sureness of direction. 

Ultimately though, I need to control what I spend time thinking about. If I only have sixteen or so conscious hours a day, will I spend those hours in a true and honest pursuit of a dream, or will I hamstring myself by occupying my mind with thoughts and emotions that serve no constructive purpose. 

So, happily, back to the grindstone I go. From this point forward you can expect content that will be un-exciting, work-heavy, and without a sense of finality or closure: exactly what's required to take dreams and turn them into plans, and then eventually reality.

Saturday
May102014

donations - thank you

Believe it or not we (usually I) do end up reading every message sent to us. Again, I can not express enough the kindness and generosity that we've experienced since the first member of the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing parachuted towards us, all the way to someone yesterday who asked me quite simply and honestly if I could use a new pair of shoes.

We lost our home, nearly all of our belongings, and (temporarily) our dream. 

But we're alive, we're safe, and in large part we owe that to the men and women who choose to dedicate their lives to rescuing others.

To that end, if you were considering putting a few dollars our way, please send that generosity towards That Others May Live. These are the people who made our rescue possible. We'll never be able to fully repay our debt to our four parajumpers or to the crew of the USS Vandegrift