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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Friday, December 24, 2010

There Be Magic

Bound for Boca Grande and Cayo Costa State Park, her waterline had long since disappeared under the weight of gear and supplies making the HideAways southward slog along the Florida coast painfully slow. Her crew, lulled into the easy roll and rock of the boat, barely noticed the Venice Inlet to port in time to jibe towards its entrance.

Motor sailing while running before the wind into the narrow channel as the tide raced out piled swells nearly four feet high and pushed HideAway far too close to the rocks as she rolled almost to her beam ends. The outboard motor alternately roared in pain then quieted as its prop submerged. Accurate steering became a gamble at best. Her sleepy crew struggled to deal with the new dangers that easily could end the cruise with a loud crunch.

With no ceremony the channel deposited the wide-eyed HideAways into the calm of a small bay in smooth emerald green water that included a small island in full tropical splendor. Hearts racing and knuckles whitened by the experience, the HideAways ran aground taking the starboard turn towards Higel Park too wide. Pushing off the shallows with a pole left over from their Sea Pearl days the HideAways made their way towards the dock full of cheering sailors.

Happy Hour commenced immediately with sailors sharing their adventures enhanced a bit perhaps by bourbon and wine and snacks as the after-light of sundown graced the Eastern sky.

Higel Park during that era was a popular stopping place for boats traveling to or returning from Key West. You never knew whom you would find there and even the parrots could be caught sneaking a snack and a sip of your whiskey.

The Crow’s Nest was a short walk away where the hamburgers were large and hot, the beer ice-cold and the laughter constant. A stumble back to HideAway sometime later and instant slumber followed the fine meal.

And in the morning There Be Magic.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sailing a Dolphin Reach

When we set out to record life aboard a Compac 23 sailboat the goal was to capture the essence of sailing from the joyful to the "What the H am I doing here" moments. 

We were prepared for the difficulty in shooting good video from a technical standpoint but were surprised how physically challenging the effort is aboard a small boat.  In "Sailing a Dolphin Reach" the fun really begins!

Small Boats Rock!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What to do in a Dead Calm

You can read all about the excitement and challenges of high wind & stormy seas.  But what the heck do you do when its calm and you don't want to motor home?  Here's a few ideas in this edition of the Adventures of the HideAways.

The next HideAway video will show what happens if you wait long enough in a dead calm. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Preparing HideAway for Winter Sailing

Boca Ciega Yacht Club - Gulfport Florida
Believe it or not the seasons change in Florida as well.  The tropical heat is a not too distant memory as the first of the cold fronts bring great sailing weather.  Time to stow the genny and find Hideaway's storm jib.  I know it's in the V berth somewhere.  Hmmmm...

After a search I realized we haven't needed the genny all summer thanks to Bruce Bingham's insisting I change HideAway's main sail to loose footed.  If you haven't made the conversion on your Compac you should and soon.

HideAway sails herself with ease, points higher, and did I mention she is noticeable faster?  "Sailing with a Loose Foot" shows the set up and "HideAway Sails the 3rd of the 4th" shows the system reefed.  You'll see Bruce docking Niki as well.

Bruce Bingham - Niki  

Small Boats Rock !!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How To Launch Your Ladder From Compac 23 Trailer

One of the nice things about storing our Compac 23 on a trailer instead of a wet slip is that it's possible to store a large ladder under the boat next to the keel. 

A Perfect Place to Store a Ladder
Stored here on the starboard side, it is a simple matter to set the ladder up and it's just as easy to store it away when you are done with the task of the day.  Great Idea Eh?  Thank you.

Last Sunday we returned from a sailing sojourn to find that some dirty, slime covered, no good rat had borrowed our ladder, apparently on a permanent basis.  Obviously since it was there when we left and not when we returned some skunk must have it right?  

Where could it have gone ? Hmmmmm

While the Admiral retraced the launch sequence path the Capt wandered down the boat ramp where, after some fishing, wrestled ashore from the cold waters the very same ladder that had gone missing!  What a coincidence.

Pretty fast thinking D.S.C.N.G. rat - throwing my ladder into the water while making good his escape wouldn't you say? 

Lesson Learned

Always tie you ladder to the boat when you are working on it.

And it may be a good idea to tie it to your trailer

Not that you'd ever launch it

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Important to Have a Plan - Not That It Makes a Difference On HideAway

The first good fall weekend came early this year.  Cool and dry, not too hot and just the right wind velocity.  The Plan was to thoroughly clean and shine HideAway for an upcoming cruise and do some minor maintenance.

THE Plan
The Plan was to do all this at our leisure taking time to enjoy the boat and the day on board.  All good plans end with a phone call and an idea.  Neither of which is bad, but when combined with a plan that might have been good if written down things, can get wild. 

The Phone Call:
Sure we'll keep the grand kids over the weekend.  No problem!

The Idea:
 Wouldn't it be fun to anchor out with the Gk's?  (Remember HideAway is a Compac 23 and they call it "Compac" for a reason)

The Action:
A quick run to the grocery store in Pasadena miles from Gulfport.  Once there we remembered the meat thawing on the counter at home miles away in Largo.  Drive up to Largo, put the meat away, grab some bedding - Naw it's not going to be cold - its only October in south west Fl.  (Ha) Wait we need - - - 

Two hours later we loaded a pickup full of stuff, some food and the kids toys -  Well, you see, they didn't actually know they were going cruising with the old folks.

The Result

The Space Monkeys From Tampa

The Lesson:
The HideAways don't need no stinkin plan!

Small Boats Rock!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Here’s the scam. Let’s say there is a Free event in downtown St Petersburg Florida.  In this case it was National Museum Day and we went to the Salvador Dali Museum. A wonderful place to expand your mind. If you go be sure to park in thier parking lot.

Hey, let’s go!

‘Course there’s no place to park, but eventually you can find a spot, usually blocks away from the event on a hot Saturday.

It’s the weekend!

No need to pay the meters right?

Never has been in my memory.

Maybe my memory isn’t what is used to be or maybe we don’t go to St Peterburg enough to know when the parking rules changed. Nevertheless we received a parking ticket.

$25 bucks! So much for the “Free” event!

The card, shown below, that accompanied the ticket was almost apologetic. Kind of an “Aw shucks y’all don screwed up a bit- but we’ll take care a y'all”

But Wait - It Gets Better!

We’d planned to spend some time downtown, grab a bite, shop. Seems we always buy something on excursions like this. That ticket changed my mind –  I was PO’d – OK - More than a little, so we left.

Upon returning home and reading my ticket I was surprised to learn we could have our ticket fixed if we’d spent the same amount with a downtown merchant on the same day.

Oh, but that’s not all. You have to present yourself, with a receipt for the bribe, in person in, where else, downtown St Petersburg! – That’s the one in Florida.

OK so now to have my ticket fixed I have to take a day off work, risk another parking ticket in an unfriendly city (Who knows what the rules will be.) and then deal with some bureaucrat. We’re going to pay the fine.

It didn’t ruin our day. Far from it. We went to a friendlier town, Largo, and had a great dinner and movie out. We spent more than the St Petersburg ticket but we had a good time and didn’t have to worry about the parking nazis.

Be warned the City of St Petersburg is running this scam. Might as well deal with the professionals I suppose. This is Florida after all “Land of the Fee and Home of the Bribe”.

Business is hard enough without your city chasing away your customers; However, unless you want to drive, it will be a cold day in a hot place before you see us in downtown St Petersburg Fl. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The HideAways Sail After Mr. E is Cured!

HideAway finally underway photo Michelle Maloy
Mr. E is cured!!  The HideAways are sailing again!  Film at 11

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How Something Cheap Is Really Expensive

Well fellow sailors you've been following the trials and tribulations of the HideAways and their Evinrude or is it Ever Rude? 

Nonetheless after hours of effort spent attempting to reinstall the shift rod that was not meant to be removed by the uninitiated in the first place, HideAways discovered the only way to accomplish the task is to exorcise fully half of the gears in the now infamous gear case.

Reverse Gear and Propeller Shaft Removed

 Taking things apart is not nearly as difficult as putting them back together but the lord of things that go wrong gave his blessing to our particular Evinrude, an 8hp, a baby outboard motor by most standards anyway.

No issues to report. We knew from the plans the danger of loosing the ball bearings and were prepared and we were blessed by the opportunity to dispose of the black phlegm that may have been oil residing in the gear case.

In fact all was going so well the HideAways would easily be ready for Raft Up.  Tee Heee said the lord of things that can go wrong.

Water pumps are easy to install after all - - -  If you don't lose the key way ---

A film of this momentous moment is rumored to be in development and you too shall witness the event -- How lucky can you be!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The HideAways Sail the Third of the Fourth- Compac 23 Sailboat Gulfport Fl

Join the HideAways as they sneak in a sail between the storms of summer-

An 8 hp Hot Headed Evinrude Outboard - Mr E Lost His A-- In This Edition of The Adventures of the HideAways

Mr.  E  A 16 Year Old Hot Headed Evinrude

We last left Mr. E. leaking oil and spouting steam.

The oil leak needed to be handled anyway and the water pump was high on the suspect list along with the dreaded possibility of clogged water passages in the cylinder head.

Exploratory surgery would be next on the long road to outboard motor bliss.

There are three bolts holding the gear case on to the extender. The bolts are only 3/8 inch, two of which are inconveniently located on the zinc under a fin and one very long one at the front of the Evinrude, each salt encrusted.

The instruction books all tell you to “remove the bolt” or some such, as if this were the easiest part of the job. 

Ha! It could take days to remove just one bolt or seconds to break one of the buggers off.  The HideAway's luck held with all bolts successfully if not easily removed.

A Crack in the Plastic Gear Case Cover caused the Oil Leak

Evinrude, in it's infinite wisdom, uses a plastic gear box cover. Plastic!  (See the crack between the two forward bolts)

Not to worry you can get a new one for $60.00 to $90.00. 

Makes you wonder what the pistons are made of doesn't it?

Some good news!  All but two of the impeller vanes were broken with one of them barely hanging on.

Good News - Four of the six pump vanes were broken!!

But where were the the missing four?


All of them were found clogging the water uptake to the engine- Right side of photo.  Whew!

 Since all four vanes were recovered in large pieces and an obvious oil leak found, the HideAways are fairly confident both the oil leak and the over heating problems are resolved.  'Course we're still waiting for the El Cheapo gear cover casing to arrive. Plastic!

Can the HideAways make the repairs before the Labor Day

Stay Tuned. . . .

Recommended Vendor
Boats.net    They have reasonable prices and ship quickly and accurately

Not Recommended
Maximo Marine - St Petersburg Fl  They don't

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's Always Something with these Evinrude Outboard Motors!

Can't really complain though - not much anyway Mr E just turned 16 so I suppose it really is time for some maintenance to be done.   He's leaking oil now from the water intake.  'bout time for some surgery -- Parts on the way -- Again

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Hot Headed Evinrude Outboard Motor - Mr E Has A Fever

No sooner than his ignition system was cured of some malaise Mr. E our 16 year old 8hp Evinrude outboard motor developed a fever. The Capt most likely would have blamed it on an unfortunate snort of sand and prescribed a deep flush after removing a nylon fitting from the head for a more through enema. It had been a successful prescription in a past life.

Upon breaking said fitting off and the unsuccessful removal of the remains of said fitting the Capt had no other choice but to remove the exhaust plate from which it came.

The white channel on the left was completely blocked
After two days of struggling with the six bolts holding the plate to the engine block it was revealed that Mr. E had developed hardening of his cooling arteries which explains his hot headed tendencies of late. The HideAways have never been engine flushing zealots; however they were shocked at the amount of gunk clogging the channels.

To be continued . . ..

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Steamy Summer Sailing

The very best time to trim a palm tree on an August day in Florida is just after sunrise.

 “OK – That’s it, I’m done”

“Wait a minute, you only cut down five dead palm fronds!”

“Yeah but the sun came out and I’m soaked through and shaky”

“Break time?”

“Break Time” confirmed the Capt.

The HideAways beat a hasty retreat to air conditioning and a cold beverage enjoyed on the overstuffed recliners. Whimp City in Florida always involves mechanical air conditioning.

The natural version, a shade tree or a summer shower, is only used when no other choice can be found. Either kind though has magical powers as the HideAways noticed on a sultry sunny Saturday recently.

“So, ya wanna go sailing this afternoon?” The Capt mused sipping on his cold beverage and stretching out on his recliner in the aforementioned mechanical air conditioning.

“Whaaaa…?” The Admiral objected “You couldn’t even cut six palm fronds down in this heat and now you want to go sailing??? Ha!”

“Well you know …” excused the Capt “we’ve got to test the motor and fix the bimini and repair the sails…..”

“Ok, hot shot- Let’s review the situation here” the Admiral reasoned;

“It’s 8:00 am and it’s already 85”


“The humidity is 81%


“The heat index will be 110 this afternoon”


“The water temp is 92.6”

“Aaaa … yeah….. so?”

“Look at the trees—There’s NO WIND”

“Well … suppos’d to….”

“Maybe in Gulfport….Hmmmmm

“Could catch a sea breeze…….

".........Let’s go then!”

The real risk from mechanical air conditioning is it prevents adventure. Yes the trailer tongue was painfully hot to the touch without gloves and yeah the water temp equaled the air temperature and no the HideAways didn’t actually sail anywhere.

But the motor is fixed (waaaahooooo) the bimini is up and the sails repaired. We had a nice swim, practiced throwing our new safety ring, sat around listening to Prairie Home Companion, had a brew or two and headed back in under power as the sunset blazed the evening in the sky.

Not a bad way to spend a steamy summer Saturday in Florida.

“Wanna go......?”

Film at 11

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Third of the Fourth Returns to Port

Bridge decks are made to keep the water out of the cabin should you get pooped. You know they’re handy things to have around. The Capt’ always liked HideAways, bridge deck except when he stubs his toe on it. But the Capt’ was very glad it was there on this occasion as it did a fine job of keeping his neck straight.

With the reef set and the wind still in the 20s and gusting HideAway settled back on her lines and cruised along at a comfortable six knots with no further drama.

SV HideAway - Compac 23

The sky told a different story. All that wind had to come from somewhere and since it came from several directions the guilty parties looked like a prairie schooners circling Boca Ciega Bay. The HideAways finally succumbed to the threat of even higher humidity and upon returning to port found the wind had lain down, the sun peaked through and with the clouds laughed at their joke.

Never the matter the HideAways shall sail again for the fourth time on the fourth.

Watch SV HideAway Videos
Compac Yacht Owners Association

Monday, July 19, 2010

On the End of the Boom of Doom

Falling back into the cockpit narrowly missing in what would have been an unfortunate and expensive trip to Compac for a new tiller the HideAways settled, if it could be called that, into blasting along with their rail firmly planted in the water. 6.0 - 6.5 – 6.7 - 6.8 -7.1 claimed the GPS. That’s’ not possible maintained the Capt. Perhaps the tide suggested the crew. Tacking back produced high sixes as HideAway roared along her rail awash and her crew tiring quickly. A reef was in order and soon.

Reefing HideAway is a one man show as long as the crew handles the tiller. Rather than round into the wind HideAway heads up a little and lets the main out enough to luft then hardens the jib to keep the boat moving.

Kneeling by the mast on the house the Capt removes the sail stopper and stows it in a pocket then releases the main halyard to drop two sail slugs off the mast. The outhaul line is lead forward along the boom so it is an easy task to set the clew. Then the tack is cleated to the mast and the main halyard hauled in less time than it takes to explain the process.

During the reefing process the boom slides down the mast a few inches which can be viewed as lowering the center of effort and that is not a bad thing during a high wind event. The bunt lines are tied in later.

Of course if something happens to the crew the whole process can take an unpleasant course. The Capts’ first indication of a problem came with the swinging boom and the realization the boat had unexpectedly tacked and that he was on the wrong side of the boom. Raising for the second time that day, the possibility of the Capt swept over board, this time by the other end of the boom.

The Capt dived towards the boom of doom hoping to clear the bottom of the boom and top of the cabin to land somewhere on the bridge deck. A wise choice considering the options, however

To be continued . . .

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sailing On The End of the Boom - A Boom Reach

The engine dies, the sails go up, HideAway falls off on a nice 5kn reach – Life is good. Towering clouds all around us gives the feel of sailing on a mountain lake. The building wind from under those mountains and an occasional rumble and perhaps a flash now and then give way to thoughts of reefing and home miles away.

The rail in the water provoked the Capt to admit the outhaul had slipped its cleat requiring immediate adjustment rather than a reef of HideAways loose footed main. Precariously balanced standing on the stern blindly reaching for the out haul line and fighting the strength of the wind on the main sail the Capt thought of the new throw ring sitting safely on a table at home waiting for paint to dry and that it just may be possible to fall off of a Compac 23 with her rail in the water and her Capt hanging from the end of the boom.

To be continued . . .

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Adventures of the HideAways Independance Day July 4th

Of Fire Crackers Water and Wind 2010

Day 1

The residue of the seasons’ first hurricane drenched the Florida west coast for the days preceding the Independence Day Holiday. Next a cold front stalled only a few miles north of our favorite sailing area. Like two Sumo wrestlers, the heavy weather south of Tampa Bay could not advance northward bullied by the late season cold front pushing south. Boca Ciega Bay near Gulfport seemed to be protected by a large dome of invulnerability. But how long could it last?

The HideAways were among the few that brought enough luck along in their sea bag to search for the answer to that very question. The HideAway slipped her dock lines with a full main sail, 110 jib and half an engine.

It is a sailboat after all the Capt explained.

To be continued  . . .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Independance Day Watermelon Racing -HideAway WINS BIG

Boca Ciega Yacht Club of Gulfport Fl occasionally sponsors an under-appreciated Independence Day Watermelon Race that starts from a small beach unknown to the public.

The race, sanctioned by the Sailing Watermelon Racing Authority, headquartered until recently under an Australian Pine tree in the back yard of the club, has few rules other than all vessels must be powered by natural wind only. Gas cartridges, helium balloons, electric fans and race-trained pulling fish are specifically excluded as propulsion sources.

Due to the nature of watermelons and the summer heat of Florida vessels cannot be constructed more than 24 hours before the race to maintain efficient hull shape. Watermelons are selected with great care to assure the best hull shape.

One competitor this year travelled hundreds of miles in this quest, however most haunted local purveyors for days searching for a melon with the perfect hull shape. Rumors that watermelon racing enthusiasts construct molds to grow their own melons have not been proven true.

The twin masted HideAway started slow in the down wind race then deftly spun on her beam ends to avoid a collision with a gaggle of other craft to quickly gain the lead which she did not relinquish until crossing the finish line floundering immediately thereafter.

"I used a semi-dihedral sail plan with twin masts set on a flying arch and hull mounted booms” Explained the Race Design Manager for the HideAways to the Local Press Reporter on the scene. “The absence of a keel gave the vessel its ability to maneuver away from the fleet and the spinning dance down wind gave spectators a sight”

"It looked like a spinning top" The Local Press Reporter reported

"But we won" R.D.M.

"Your sails are not a true dihedral" Stated a local famous yacht designer

"But we won" R.D.M.

"You had no keel" the Porch Committe declared "and it didn't sail straight"

"It's a sailing watermelon what does is matter?" explained the Race Design Manager
"Besides we won"
Editors' Note: The last win the HideAways posted was 2nd overall in the Hutchins Compac Regatta of 1998.
Follow The Adventures of the HideAways on video at SVHideAway

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Welcome Aboard the SV HideAway

Join us on the SV HideAway as we explore Florida's West Coast searching for treasure and enlightenment aboard a 23' Compac sail boat - An adventure in itself . . . .

We seek to capture the essence of sailing, how to plan a cruise, what to do when something breaks, the stresses and the joys of the sport, the technical aspects of entering a port of call recorded live as it occurs.

You will hear and see what really happens aboard a small cruising sailboat as well as at our ports of call all without getting wet although you may want to keep a spray bottle of water handy for use at the appropriate moments.

So climb aboard the SV HideAway and let's go sailing