Floating Lanterns and Tall Ships


Events like this remind me why we love living in Clayton, NY and feel so blessed that God picked this community for us to settle amongst. Nestled in the 1000 Islands, a 200 year old ship in the background, and the people we love standing close, nothing could have made this Friday night more picturesque. Seemed so fitting for Luik to close out his graduation from Kindergarten today with this amazing memory.

A huge thanks to Michael Folsom who’s heart and vision for this region made all this possible. Check out his blog for the best source of news, ship movement, and seaway conditions. Follow him on Twitter.

If you’re in central or northern NY, get here. You won’t regret it.


Video of two of Luik’s lantern launches.

Luik waiting for his lantern to get some lift.

Michael Folsom, the man behind the curtain.

Grandma Jo-Jo and Luik.

Pop-op and Luik on lantern #2.

Me and my buddy with the Lynx in the background.


The Cotter Ring: seemingly mundane, apparently important


I didn’t waste any time putting my boat back in the water for the 2012 season. Even though I haven’t actually sailed her in the last month, getting her ship-shape is often just as therapeutic.

Among this year’s upgrades were replacing the halyards and sheets (we call them lines, never ropes), and purchasing a mint condition main sail from 1978.

As I was getting the rigging squared away over the weekend, I took extra care with one of tiniest items on my boat.

The Cotter Rings.

These little buggers are nothing more than an overlapping circle of stainless steel wire. They’re essentially weightless in your hand, which means they’re easy to drop, and once in the water – bye bye. They’re fairly inexpensive, and probably the last item anyone thinks of when generically thinking of sailing hardware.

And yet, they’re indispensable.

What so fascinates me is that my boat weighs as much as both of my vehicles put together. Her super structure endures thousands of pounds of pressure, harnessing potential energy within vacuums created through the Bernoulli principle, into kinetic energy that’s translated to a lead encased steel keel buried deep in the water producing directional momentum.

In the face of overwhelming natural forces that could literally break a person in two, enter the Cotter Ring.

They’re all over my boat.

They bear almost no critical weight, go almost completely unnoticed, and once I set them for the year, I never touch them again.

Yet without them, I can’t sail.

They hold the Cotter Pins in position at the fixture points of my main sheet blocks, without which I’d have an utterly functionless sail system.

They hold the Cotter Pins in place that anchor the massive aircraft-steel cables to the deck; those cables are called stays and they keep the 29′ aluminum mast aloft.

As I began to look around, I realized that these little rings – as mundane, inexpensive and unnoticed as they are – are just as essential to my sailing season as the glorious sails that get all the attention.


As people it’s easy to compare ourselves to others, those that are seemingly more impressive, more impressionable. We look at what they have and then at what we have; we look at what they can do, and then at what we can do. But in my discovery of the Cotter Ring’s significance, I realized how endearing this little piece of metal was to me, the Captain of the ship.

The game was never for the sails to impress the mast, or the hull to impress the lines. The game has always been to serve the Captain. The Captain finds just as much pleasure with the seemingly mundane as he does with the apparently important. And keeping his perspective in mind is the key to not loosing our perspective.

To the Cotter Ring, the main sail is for more impressive; but to the Captain, both are equal in their value of accomplishing what He first set out to do: enjoy life.



With Sailing Comes Perspective


Prepping my small ship, AireFire I, for the upcoming sailing season is always a happy time for me.

I get land-side view of any hull problems, rigging issues, or mechanical failures. I get to purchase new trinkets and dust off gadgets. I clean, wax, polish, scrub, paint, epoxy, and spit shine.

And while I’m busy at work, I’m thinking of the season ahead.

Of the memories I’ll make with my family on this ship.

Of the swimming, the cook outs, the sleepovers, the motoring through the 1000 Islands at dusk on a warm summer evening.

All at once my troubles fade away. Because I live like a king when compared to 7 billion other human beings.

While this winter season has been extremely difficult for me with regard to managing the various endeavors I have responsibilities in, it has produced a gratefulness I’ve needed.

I’m thanking God for little things more.

The clean tile in my bathtub.

The hot water on my skin. And that it’s drinkable.

My health. My wife and children’s health.

And my 1978 sailboat.

What was I complaining about again?

Perspective. Get some.


Friends Are Like Blocks

In sailing, a captain and crew rely heavily on the use of blocks, known to landlubbers as pulleys. The mechanical advantage generated by a block allows an exponentially greater amount of work to be done, especially when sheeting-in (or pulling in) massive sails which can harness enough wind power to pull a multi-ton boat through the water at speed.

Without blocks, a sailor would be holding the full weight of a wind-laden sail in his hands. It would rip his arms off if he didn’t fly off the deck first.

It’s no wonder we were never meant to go through life alone, nor were we designed to work alone. Chose your friends carefully; they’re the best blocks you’ll ever have. ch:


Boats, boats, boats!


I’ve spent the week down here in Annapolis, MD, and my, what a week it’s been! Racing sail boats, touring the UK Sailmakers sail loft, and trecking across the historic United States Naval Academy. My poor iPhone has had quite the work out (and still going strong). One of the trip’s highlights was pulling my great-grandafther’s file at the Naval Academy, Commander Charles Talley Blackburn, commanding officer of the USS Beale, and awarded the Navy Cross by the President for getting the first German U-Boat to surrender during WWI. It was quite moving to touch his signature on many of the documents they had on file. The photo above is from the Naval Academy’s historic shipyard model collection. Bon voyage! ch: