The day began for one of my crew at 0200 when hurricane Hermine blew through the Tampa area.  Brooksville, FL is near sixteen miles inland and on a rise above sea level around thirty-feet.  The winds were fierce enough to blow over her shed and lightning knocked out power.  Remarkably, when the shed went over it did not blow into the minivan sitting just beyond it and all the contents stayed where they were placed within it.

The coming storm was to be severe enough to last for several days and foul air travel up the east coast along its path.  She had made arrangements to change her flight to Ohio and come earlier, hoping to avoid all the delays expected to result from the storm’s turbulent trek.  Her effort paid off and the flight was delayed only by thirty-minutes.  She arrived to sun, blue sky, and temperatures in the mid-60’s.  What a remarkable change.

Still, a day that begins at 2am becomes a long day when it includes the displacement of a cross-country flight, hauling even a small bag, and shopping to buy an Ohio State jersey for the game.  After all, that’s what this trip was supposed to be about; coming to her first Ohio State Football Game in Ohio Stadium!  Sailing was only a side activity she hoped to enjoy as part of the extended weekend with us and her sister.  Coffee and an hour relaxing in our living room and she and her mother were ready to take a ride on Lifeline.

We went by the grocery store and picked up a supper of submarine sandwiches, potato salad, pretzel chips, hummus, and sodas.  Packed into a paper bag to help keep all cool we were off to the dock.  The steady northerly breeze predicted was on time and brought others to the docks as well.  There was a sense of anticipation at the marina and a growing activity as the Labor Day holiday weekend was beginning.  Lifeline lay ready to work with us at her slip and was quickly made ready for getting under way.

We motored out around ‘B’ docks and out the channel.  The wind on the water assured us of its northerly direction.  There was no doubt it was blowing at 10+ with some ‘white’ caps noticeable; not too noticeable I hoped, else my crew might beg off.  As we cleared the point of the east-west channel, the wind bumped us over on a bit of a heel.  I had my daughter steer us into it and my wife and I raised the mains’l full.  It would be enough for this ride up Alum Creek Lake.  The sail climbed the mast easily, showing the adjustments I made to the mast worked well and the sail slides remained in their channel as designed.  We fell off to starboard, set the main for a close reach.  The motor was stopped and raised up.  We were a sailboat now.

There was one northeasterly tack upwind.  The wind was such that when we came about I could point Lifeline north and setting the main for a close-hauled starboard tack, I ‘rode the groove’ for the three miles to the causeway.  The girls chatted and had supper, laughing, watching the sun, watching the other boats, and enjoying their ride.  I ‘ate up’ the time I had at the helm, watching the tell-tales, the pennant at the masthead, and the luff of the sail to hold our course.

The wind was still steady from the NNE and bringing the boat about I could set the sails for wing-on-wing, main to starboard and a whisker pole for the jib.  She was quite a site as she ran down wind and the other boats on the water simply parted as we neared.  One, though, a 21′ speed boat decided to take a closer look.  It’s driver circled us a hundred feet out from our hull and waved as he speed up the lake.

A wonderful sail concluded as the sun set and we entered the channel on a beam reach. The trees did the shadowing of the wind as I hoped, and we furled the sails as momentum took us into the harbor.  We tied Lifeline up as the last streams of twilight faded from behind the trees.

Siphoned Off

It’s been three years since I began a formal program of study in theology.  The longer I have engaged in it, of course, the deeper and more involved the work has become.  It’s not that I’ve written less, rather my concentration and activity have been drawn away from the whimsy and self-expression of this web log to more detailed and directed works.  Some of those I posted here early on, however I have been sparing any followers from the fifteen- and twenty-page theological works of the last couple of years.  The reading for these alone has stretched my mind to limits I didn’t know I had and coming closer to completion (in May ’17, with some hard work) these limits are being pushed back further and further.  All this reading and research precedes that which will accompany an eighty-page thesis.

Sailing ‘Lifeline’ on Alum Creek Lake has also been affected.  Classes have been held on Wednesday evenings at the same time the boat club races are held.  As I’ve been attending school year ’round it has meant missing race night for the second year running.  And this year, I haven’t trailer’d ‘Lifeline’ out of the lake to the larger venue of Lake Erie.

All this to say the experiences that have driven half of my essays on have been siphoned off to other efforts and for the foreseeable future will continue in the same manner.

That’s not to say I haven’t been writing, just posting shorter works on other venues.  If you’re interested, you’ll find professional commentary in a series of fifty essays at where I’ve been sharing both industrial notes and managerial content.  Also, By-Dawn’s-Early-Light at is a site dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner.  The recent posts there include comments on the controversy of whether our National Anthem is a racist poem, with links to CNN stories concerning the same.

(photo credit to the author.  1812 National Ensign is signed by the National Park Ranger who hoisted it over Ft. McHenry in June 2014.  Signal flags are Charlie Mike and Bravo Zulu, welcoming grandchildren to our annual summer camp)


Weaving the Canvass

sunset behind sail 061214It had been over a week since the last time I stepped on deck.  That evening was for a ‘full moon sail’.  It occurred to me (finally) that I was between semesters at school and there was no book that needed read and no paper that needed writing.  The lawn was mowed Monday.  The rest of the chores could wait.  Let’s see what wind is predicted.  Ah…taxpayer dollars at work, the National Weather Service report for 43035, Lewis Center OH.  Scroll down to the predicted atmospheric conditions (wind, humidity, dew point, rain, and lighting) and the typical August summer night numbers appeared; high eighties, high humidity, chance of rain and storms, and… ah ha!  Winds south east at 5 diminishing to 3 by sunset.

Let’s go SAILING!

It was race night at the ACSA marina on Alum Creek Lake and I hadn’t been racing for over two years.  I didn’t want to get out and get mixed in with those boats so I planned to arrive at 6:30.  The boats and crews would be angling for their starts at the line by then.  It proved to be so when I arrived at the marina.  The docks were quiet except for one other crew.  Lifeline, my Catalina 22, was resting at the slip quietly.  She was all snugged up with her sail covers, motor tipped up and out of the water, and lines lying just slack.  There wasn’t much more than a breath of air in the cove.  I wonder if the winds died out earlier than predicted.  The only way to find out was to get under way.

Lifeline loosed her sail covers and lines easily enough.  It was stuffy down in the cabin, her having been closed up for ten days in 90 degree plus temps.  Opening the forward hatch while motoring out scooped fresh air in and cleansed the dankness of the ‘down below’.  The motor purred as we rounded the ends of the docks and headed for the channel.

The racing fleets’ sails proved the predicted direction of the more than ample breeze.  The spinnaker boats were already rounding the first mark and the cruising fleet was surprisingly close behind.  Somewhere in the mix was the Catalina 22 fleet with the ‘cruisers’ just coming to the line.  The course was a ‘down and back’ on the east side of the lake.  I would stay from center to the west side.

I already had Lifeline into the wind coming out of the channel.  The sails leapt up the mast and forestay.  They billowed out gently in the breeze and I turned left away from the fleets, onto a starboard tack.  Lifeline responded and inched up to a two-knot pace over the water.  Up the lake we went, and across, ‘til the wind was nearly shadowed by the eastern shore and a half mile north of where the fleets were rounding ‘B’ mark on their first leg.  Time to come about and head down the lake.

There were an ample number of other watercraft on the water and these ‘motor-boaters’ were respectful of the sailboats, whether it was Lifeline and a few others cruising toward the Cheshire Causeway or the four fleets on the racing course.  Most were not aware of how their wakes affected the sailboats’ steerage.  When the light breeze we had died down, or if we steered into one of the many lulls, the wakes from the motor-boats brought some to a complete halt.  Those missing the signs on the water and braked by the wakes had some time to contemplate their attention skills while waiting for the wind to freshen.  Still, there were no close approaches by either type of boat to the others.  It made for a safe evening.

Back across the lake and nearing the outer marker of the channel I’d come out of I noticed Lifeline was skimming across the water faster than most of the boats in the race.  Two-and-a-half knots speed sets no record, but many of those boats racing were standing still.  Being on the east side of the lake it was apparent they were fighting with the trees for the breezed.  Too close into shore and the trees blocked the wind entirely from the sails.  In the middle and on the west side of the lake the cruisers could enjoy the evening with little thought to sailing tactics and strategy.

All the way down the lake to where the racing fleets were rounding the ‘A’ marker and past the swimmers on the beach, Lifeline moved over the water as a cloud across the sky.  Some minor adjustments to the sails were the only movement made.  As the sun slipped lower and lower into the orange and amber sky we came about again and made the trip once again.  Up the lake, then back to the channel, a quiet evening was enjoyed.  The racers joined the cruisers as they crossed the finish line and twenty or more sets of sails dotted the lake through sunset.  Lifeline surrendered her sails to their stowage and covers and I steered her into the cove to her slip.  She’d given me a fine ride once again.

It was good to be with the fleets again, even if I was observing rather than racing.  There were smiles shared across the water and on the pier.  Some handshakes, one hug, and some polite ‘hello’s exchanged let me know that through a long absence good acquaintances remained firm.  But then, this is a sailing fleet, and no matter the span of time, a shipmate is always a shipmate.  The interdependence of those that necessarily have to be independent weaves the canvass of the sailing community.


foreshadowingA west-southwesterly breeze graced the water this evening, though I wouldn’t know it until I left the slip and the inlet.  It was stifling there, on deck, as I tightened the rigging.  My stays were still loose from stepping the mast.  An earlier sail in light winds showed the severe slack of the steel lines on the lee’ side.  None of that this evening.  The predictions were for winds up to ten, gusts above that.  These lines need proper tending.  A small crescent wrench and a screw driver, and ten or so turns on each turnbuckle are made.  I tightened down the jam nuts on each.  Pools of salty water formed on the deck where I worked.  There, now, they are taut.  Not tuned for racing, but taut and safe for sailing.  Time to get under way.

The mains’ l cover removed, the ‘Donate Life’ foresail hanked on, the motor purring and pouring out its necessary stream, I loosed the lines and motored out, around the end of ‘B’ dock from the back-side, past my neighbors across the pier, then down past ‘D’ and ‘C’.  ‘Dolphine’, ‘Penguin’, and dozens of others remained at rest this Friday night.  I suppose most were still resting from the holiday on Monday.

The channel markers looked oddly placed, and I wondered if the higher water or the rise and fall of it over the summer to now had pulled up some anchors.  One red marker is showing the strain, as the inner foam ‘popped’ the top off.  I zigged, then zagged out to the lake and noted the wind on the water.  The calm of the small bay to the south invited me to raise my sails there.  I steer to starboard, come nearly full about into the drafts coming down off the trees.

Now, I have yet to install a tiller minder on the new tiller handle, so as I move about the deck Lifeline is rocking, and the tiller therefore shifting.  A sail-slide popped out of the track and I had to step up to make the adjustment.  Lifeline fell off the wind to starboard, what sail was up caught what little draft there was, and I was sailing before I was ready.  I let that slide go, stepped back down, adjusted course, and finished raising the main.  Underway!  Rusty and rugged, for the second time this summer, Lifeline is riding the wind.

I fell off to starboard, rounded away from the outer marker I drifted down to while raising the canvass, and ran down wind.  The promised breathe for the evening matched the predictions, and more.  A few other sails dotted the water.  Three were working toward the Cheshire causeway. Another two beating about the south end toward the dam.  Someone was reaching across Galena inlet on a fluorescent pink sailboard.  Only two power boats broke the silence of the wind.

‘Round the compass I sailed, studying the sheets, cueing on the tell-tails, watching the rig as well as the water.  Only seven sailing events last year and only the second in this one, my muscles aren’t tuned to Lifeline any more than the steel of the rigging was.  Take it slow, take it easy, test each maneuver.  Listen to her.  Are the sails singing?  Is the keel board haul humming at 2kts like she used to?  What new creaks and groans are coming from the hull?  What is the symphony Lifeline is playing this year?  ‘Round the compass again, tack over and away from the boat adrift, tack over again away from the on-coming sail, tack over again toward the dam and into the wind.  Each movement, each motion shakes cobwebs off the mast and the stiffness from my arms and legs. Breathe…………

An hour of beating upwind and exercising Lifeline and I was ready to run back up the lake and down with the wind.  The main and jib out to starboard, the ‘Donate Life’ now on the backside of the foresail couldn’t be helped, I took a broad read on a port tack, steered for the middle of the lake, and slid back to rest and ride with a steady pouring of air over my left shoulder.  Breathe……..

Riding up the lake as the sun was coming down shown the orange and yellow and red of the evening light.  I came about to return to port, and that light shown on the sails the shadow of Lifeline’s rig.  It was the perfect light to show a perfect shadow, and a chance to imitate art Jeff Benedict created once.  I trust Providence is foreshadowing more breathing for the remainder of the season.

foreshadow wave

Shakedown and First Sail

Lifeline on Alum Creek Lake

Lifeline on Alum Creek

It was long in coming this season, the first raising of the ‘canvas’ over Lifeline’s deck, so very much of her master’s work necessarily being diverted to his Master’s work.  The latter provided the former with some relief, and in company with His given heart the dock lines were loosed and Lifeline made way.

Whoa…  If I write any more poetically I’ll be on my way to a novel instead of a story.  How many more readers will I lose?

Father’s Day evening turned out to be a wonderful time for shaking down the boat.  The mild southerly drafts raised and lowered as the clouds covered the sinking sun and alternately strained and slacked the rigging.  The stays are not set for the trials of racing as the slack leeward set freely dangled from the mast on either testing tack.  Downwind reaches proved the strength of the new backstay rig, though the whipping holding the ends of the lines and the eyes together showed more attention was required.  Two of seven came undone.  Fair leads spun with precision, boom tackle responded with ease, and the vang worked with the lightest touch.  Only the main halyard challenged us, and our gratitude goes out to our shipmates whose party we held up when they attempted to tack.

The weekend must have been a party for the rest of those at the docks.  Only three other sets of sails were raised while we were out, including the afore mentioned revelers.  While she was the largest of the vessels, another Catalina was sprinting about.  And, our neighbors from B31, ‘Vestal’ graced the water as well.

I put Lifeline through a rotation around the compass.  A starboard tack took us across the lake once the main was set.  Mindy flipped on the GPS and speed sensor and we watched those as we eased across toward the Galena ramp.  We came about when we reached the wake buoys and beat to port towards the spillway.  From midway across the lake I fell off the wind to a beam reach, then to a broad reach, and we jibed to the opposite tack and on around until we were close hauled to starboard again.  It was enough.  Lifeline proved ready to sail.

logo bright

The above is a ‘stock’ picture, taken north of South Bass Island on Lake Erie.  Sailors on Alum Creek lake will periodically see the Donate Life logo and know it is ‘Lifeline’.

I fell back off to a starboard beam reach, then back down to run up the lake. Back and forth I jibed the boat while Mindy took some supper.  We packed a simple fare of meat, cheese, and Ritz, a couple bananas, with water and Gatorade to quench the thirst.  We switched so I could enjoy the same and my evening was set when I heard her say, “This is fun!”  Our shakedown became an evening sail, near to the Cheshire causeway and back, and though the two hours did not quite bring us to meet the near full moon, it was enough to satisfy the long winter break.

Our ‘Blessing of the Fleet’ was prayed as we beat back south. Prayers were given at the dock in the past.  This ‘first sail’ evening was made for such devotion, and together we read from Psalms and sang.  Mindy and I have been blending our voices for forty years.  On the water this night we blended them with the beating of the breeze on sails and waves on the hull.  We offered prayers for the safety of those on deck, of Lifeline and all other boats on the lake this year.

She is forty-two years old, Lifeline is.  Her wood is clean, but needs some attention again if only a bit of oil.  Her gel-coat shows the cracks of age and stress, and her deck needs a coat of wax to help keep it clean.  She sports a new tiller, the old one finally splitting from years of tension.  Each year a few new lines replace older and worn ones.  She’s a fine ‘sea bird’ as one screen writer called another vessel, and continuous attention to her will provide a few more years of calm evening sails and exciting challenges of racing.  Her crew looks forward to both in the coming months.

Sailing Instructor

I have copies of the Blessing of the Fleet aboard, should anyone be interested in sharing the same for their vessel.  Ours is a decidedly Christian prayer in the traditions of European seaports.

Civility Removed-Not Replaced

In the wake of the shooting incidents in Orlando Florida the week of June 7th, 2016, the ‘major’ media outlets spent several days trying to write stories that might explain the tragedies.  Jihadist attacks in San Bernadino CA, Paris France, and Belgium were all reviewed.  My opinion is a rough ‘rant’, but however poorly written, it seems a much better explanation than we are given by the traditional writers of our immediate history.

A true void is impossible to picture.  There is no reference to anything else, thus, no real picture.  The Void of Space is presented as a point of thought while you read.

 void of space


You took it all away, you ‘Intelligencia’.

You took it all away, Our American civil religion.

We were a nation of the Book.  Not the Captain’s log book, but the scripture that was the foundation of Our Nation that likely accompanied the Captain’s log.

It arrived with Columbus in the Bahamas. Cortez brought it when he arrived in Mexico.  It arrived in Roanoke and then at Jamestown with Captain Smith.  The Pilgrims brought it to Plymouth Rock. Jacques Cartier brought it to the Gaspe’ Peninsula in Newfoundland.  Surely, it was the Christian Book, yet that Book drew from the Jewish one.

You attacked these bold men for their transgressions.  You took Your modern principles and applied them in retrospect, and decided their crimes were greater than their achievements.  You vilified them, and you vilified Our history with them.

The Book traveled across the sea, and then across the continent.  Books, rare and costly as Our country grew, only one was likely carried most prevalently.  Because it was the one, we taught Ourselves and Our children to read out of it.  Because it was the one Book, we talked about it, we discussed it, and we relied on its wisdom.  Even in the great wars we fought, the Book accompanied US and was the source of Our repentance in the aftermath.

We were inspired and wrote songs about the subject of the Book.  The words of “America” replaced those of “God Save the King”, and we praised the Creator of Liberty for Ours, just as the Israelites praised him for theirs.  “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” called Us to remember who lit the fires of justice in Our hearts.  “America, the Beautiful” reminds Us of the pilgrims’ feet traversing the land.  “God Bless America” invokes the Creator’s beauty and bounty given Us, even as the Psalms we read recalled the same sentiment from two millennia earlier.  Arlo Guthrie gave Us “This Land is Your Land”, joining Us all together from coast to coast, further describing the beauty and grandeur of Our Country.  And at the end of the twentieth century, Lee Greenwood was inspired to give Us “God Bless the USA”.

Our Book taught us to “Promote the welfare of the city to which you have been exiled.  Pray for it to the Lord.  For upon its welfare depends your own” (Jer 29:7)  A hundred years ago, in the midst of the massive immigration of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when people were pouring into Our country from cultures around the world, Our schools taught Our children and Us to Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.    “George Cohan wrote songs celebrating that Flag, that grand symbol of what we were becoming. That tri-colored banner of stars-and-bars represented US, on Our streets, over Our government buildings, over Our ships and Our troops.  We waved it proudly as we came upon the world stage.  To Our Pledge we added, ‘under God’ after the horror of a second world war in half a century.

But you, you “Intelligencia”, you have different ideas.

Vilifying Our Founders was just the start for you.  You took away prayer from Our schools in 1962 (Madalyn Murry O’Hair).  You allowed Us to commit genocide beginning in 1972(Roe v. Wade).  You attacked Our religious freedoms in 1990 (Employement vs. Smith).  You destroyed a millennium of social law by attacking marriage in 2015. (Obergfell vs. Hodges).  Americans for the Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberty Union, and others…your churches of worship.

Our public schools don’t teach those songs above any more.  There are no more ‘Christmas’ concerts.

The schools don’t have students pledge their allegiance to a flag any longer.  It’s now ‘offensive’ to immigrants, rather than a rallying point. You celebrate as ‘art’ the desecration of the Stars and Stripes.  Spattered with feces, walking on top of it, and burning it are applauded as ‘freedom of speech’.  But Our protests of the same are to be silenced and shoved aside.

You teach Our children that men and women are interchangeable, in spite of the decades of social statistics you otherwise Used to promote the building of families requiring both.  Contrary to the lessons of the Book some still carry, and contrary to others’ professions, any number of adults of any chosen sexual assignment or chosen gender may substitute in place of those once vital statistical facts.

You, you ‘Intelligencia’, you’ve taken it all away, and in your rush to destroy Us you’ve given Us nothing to replace it with but chaos and confusion.  You’ve failed those who trusted you and you betrayed those of Us who relied on you to promote Truth.

Why do Our children fall into despair?  Why do they turn to drugs?  Why do they choose the violence of firearms?  Why do they commit suicide in ever greater numbers?

Why do those who do survive their youth, and then fail as adults commit horrendous crimes?

Why are Our ‘Citizens’ faithful to Islam find their radical counterparts so compelling that they would join with them and bring carnage to Our own shores?

You took away Our Book.  You took away Our civil religion built on the book.  You’ve given Us nothing in return to believe in but individual ‘freedom’.  And when each person is free to choose, without guidelines for the choice, then there are as many choices as there are people, and the ‘People’ will cease to exist.