Monday, May 2, 2016

Hingham Bound: Bank Error In My Favor - Collect Half a Day

Trip Segments:
  • 5/1: Sarasota to Fort Myers (Calusa Jack Marina)
  • 5/2: Fort Myers to Labelle/Stuart??? Florida (River Forest Yachting Center)
Murphy's Law, if any thing can go wrong it will, essentially holds that any error you make with a calculation is likely to work against you. Well not today.

Photo Art: A wreck along the Okeechobee Waterway
This is what happens when things go VERY wrong
This morning, Tom Frakie informed me that the Moore Haven Lock was less than an hour away. I promptly informed him that he was wrong and looked to my Excel Worksheet to prove my point. It showed 4.6 hours from the Ortona Lock that we had just exited. He then directed my attention to the chart plotter where he pointed out that we were within 12 NM of Moore Haven. Oops. Calculation error. I had divided the cumulative miles (46.3 NM) by 8.4 knots instead of the actual distance (14 NM). 4 hours and 36 minutes instantly became 1 hour and 42 minutes. Now I'm almost three hours ahead of schedule.

Sunrise as we approach the Franklin Lock
Now the story gets even better. Adjusting the time to Moore Haven meant that we would arrive at Clewiston at 2:00 PM rather than 5:00 PM. The next lock, Mayaka, at the east end of Lake Okeechobee closes at 5:00 PM. The time from Clewiston to Mayaka is 2:42 minutes. Bottom line. We can now make it to the lock before it closes. Consulting Active Captain, an AMAZING website for cruisers that shows the location of marinas (and just about anything else of importance to a mariner), showed a marina that could handle a boat of our size just 15 NM (i.e., just over two hours) from the Mayaka Lock and they had available space. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. We would get into the River Forest Yachting Center at 7:00 PM. Yes, I know it's a 12 hour day considering that we departed the Calusa Jack Marina this morning at 6:43 AM.

There's even more good news. But first I want to share our progress and a few adventures along the way.

The Crew. Tom, Les and Wylie
Official Departure Photo. Wylie, Connie, Diana, Tom and kodi
We departed Marina Jack on Sunday morning just 8 minutes later than our planned 7:00 AM departure time. Thank you Diana and crew. 35 minutes later we had our first adventure at Sarasota Big Pass where we traveled the one mile very narrow and very shallow route through the shoals recommended by the Sarasota Yacht Club (which I had verified using the GPS and Sonar in the dingy three days earlier). Success. The closest we came to the bottom was 3.5 feet. Recall that this route comes within 300 feet of where we had a soft grounding last November. We were off to a good start.

Sarasota Big Pass Recommended Route
Six hours later we approach Redfish Pass, our second area requiring "local knowledge." I had checked with Tow Boat US to get their "local knowledge" and was told the pass was well marked and passable. I also had the benefit of traversing the pass last November and had bread crumbs (officially know by Garmin as tracks) on the chartplotter showing the course we had traveled. Based on the available data, the course was to take G1 to port and R4 to starboard.  As we slowly followed our track from last November we found G1 missing and soon got a shallow water alarm.  We immediately stopped, assessed and backtracked to deeper water. Turns out that in slightly less than 6 months the shoaling had encroached further south. As we headed west we spotted G1 approximately 1/3rd of a mile further south. Danger averted.

Redfish Pass
Notice the shallow water just north and west (port astern) of the boat
We passed the rather posh South Seas Resort on the north end of Captiva Island and intersected with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Four and a half hours later at 7:00 PM we arrived at the Calusa Jack Marina, where we topped of the tanks, rinsed off the salt and spent the night.


Tom working hard
Dinner at (9:00 PM): Chardonnay, cheese and crackers, caprice salad, grilled marinated tequila lime salmon with Herbes de Provence garlic potatoes and fresh strawberries with whipped cream followed by Cognac. Everybody was happy.

Wylie at the helm
Data: Sarasota to Clewiston:
  • Distance traveled: 89.2 NM
  • Time en-route: 11:51 hours
  • Fuel Used: 97 gallons this leg.
  • Fuel Taken On: 306.24 gallons (last fueling early November at Clewiston)
  • Fuel Price: $2.229/gal including tax
  • Fuel Cost: $682.24
  • Dockage: $83.48
Monday was a spectacular day. We had warm mild weather, piloted from the flybridge, traversed 3 bridges without having to wait more than 2 minutes and, most impressive, traversed a total of four locks, with no wait at Franklin, Ortona and Moorehaven and an open lock at Mayaka. Oh, and did I mention that the planned construction on Ortona Lock had not started.


Mayaka Lock open to through traffic
Back to the bank error story. Being able to make Labelle on Monday evening meant that if we leave there at 7:00 AM we we would reach the Fort Pierce inlet at noon on Tuesday instead of 6:00 PM. That translated into 2 more saved hours (for a total of 5 hours).  Why you ask is that important? The answer deals with the time required to reach Morehead City North Carolina, which is 23 hours and 51 minutes from the Fort Pierce Inlet. Morehead City Yacht Basin closes at 7:00 PM. Hence, with 574 NM to travel trying to make a 7;00 PM deadline is tight. With the five hours saved we have plenty of time to make our fueling (pit stop) and, weather at Cape Hatteras permitting, get back on the road. 

Speaking of errors, I made a doozy. It turns out River Forest Yacht Center has two locations with the same name, one in Labelle on the WEST side of Okeechobee and one in Stuart on the east side. I booked the reservation at the WRONG location. Oops its 5:00 PM and we've cleared the Mayaka Lock and I discover MY ERROR. Murphy's Law. Did I mention it's 5:00 PM. The world of Okeechobee closes at 5:00 PM. Active Captain to the rescue. They list after hours phone numbers for both marinas. I was fortunate to reach John Helfich at the Labelle location and he made contact with his wife, Tracy, who runs the Stuart location. Fortunately they had space available in Stuart and the day was saved.

Guided Discovery docked a River Forest Yacht Center - Stuart
Side Note: I called the Indiantown Marina which 8 NM east of the Mayaka Lock and "begged" them for help. The person I talked to said "no room at the inn." A few minutes later we passed Indiantown and surprise, surprise, there was 55 feet of space at their launch ramp with a 45 foot sailboat tied close to shore (indicating plenty of depth). So we pulled in and with some assistance from some people from, of all places, Hull Massachusetts, where I spent my summers from age 5 to 20, tied up to the very nicely protected wall. No sooner were we tied off than Tracy called with the good news. Now we had a choice. Push on to River Forest Yacht Center, one hour further east or stay put. We chose the former as it secures one of the five hours already saved.

So, I very nice ending to a perfect day filled with errors. We beat Murphy.

Tom Frakie

Wylie Crawford

Data: Fort Myers to Stuat (River Forest Yacht Basin)
  • Distance Traveled: 91.8 NM
  • Cumulative Distance: 181.0 NM
  • Time en-route: 12:54 hours
  • Fuel Used:  gallons this leg. 100.84 gallons
Bottom line: Prior planning prevents piss (sorry) poor performance. However, that is true only if it is accurate.

Written by Les

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hingham Bound: Weather Considerations

As of Sunday at 3:00 PM EST

In my last article I predicted that we would complete the 1438 nautical mile (1651 statute) trip to Hingham in 9 days if the weather cooperates. Well, it's time to see if that will be the case.

Explanatory Note 1: NOAA's forecasts only go out for 6 days. Hence, at this moment we can only make estimates through Friday. Each day, NOAA adds another day to the forecast. So by Tuesday we will have the predictions for the entire route.

Explanatory Note 2: My strategy for evaluating weather starts with getting the big picture. This is accomplished by checking the radar and satellite maps. This gives me a view of precipitation and cloud cover occurring nationwide. Then I go to forecast map for the current conditions (fronts, high and low pressure and pressure gradient). Then I look sequentially at the forecast for the next six days. With that information I begin to formulate my own estimate of the marine conditions and the potential for a weather window. Then I consult the marine forecast to confirm if I'm on the right track. When not cruising I look at two critical locations, Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod as they often have the most severe conditions. I find that the conditions in the near shore forecasts are often better (i.e., lower winds and seas). Once hurricane season starts I often begin the process by looking at the active storm window to check the two and five day outlook.

A check of the active storms window today no storms and forecasts no activity for the next five days. This is good. Last year when we made this journey, Tropical Storm Anna was situated south east of the Bahamas and moving slowly. Anna influenced the sea conditions from Fort Pierce to Cape Hatteras and produced for us a very challenging 500 mile journey, with waves at one point reaching 10 to 12 feet. For more information read my articles from last May.

Here's the situation as I currently sea it.

The NOAA weather chart below is for mid-day Sunday. An area of low pressure stretching from Missouri to eastern Ohio with a trailing cold front in southern Illinois stretching to southern Texas is making its way east with associated thunderstorms and heavy rain.


This appears to be good news. The area of predicted rain and thunderstorms stops at the Florida Panhandle suggesting good weather for our 7:00AM Sunday departure. Further, the storms moving eastward will have plenty of time to clear the eastern seaboard by the time we get to Fort Pierce, which we estimate to occur around 7:00 PM on Tuesday evening.

The forecast below is for Wednesday. By Wednesday we will be making our way north along the Florida coast. The areas of low pressure and the associated cold front suggests the possibility of showers and thunderstorms. The good news is the isobars are far apart suggesting a mile pressure gradient. This should bode well for both wind and waves as we move north through Georgia and South Carolina.


The forecast below is for Friday. By Friday we will have reached Morehead City and our planned fuel stop (two hours in and out and back on the road). Notice the low north of Cape Hatteras with two trailing cold fronts. NOAA will be calling for a chance of thunderstorms. My take is that the storms will be isolated and will not produce dangerous winds.



In fact, at Cape Hatteras NOAA is calling for west winds 10 to 15 with seas of 2 to 4 feet with a chance of thunderstorms for both Wednesday and Thursday. The bodes well for us. The low will probably continue to move out to sea. I predict, optimistically, that we will have a southwesterly flow with 3 to 5 foot waves for our transition around Hatteras and Diamond Shoal.

Conditions near shore for Tuesday, when we hit the coast at Fort Pierce, are favorable with lighter 5 to 10 knot winds and 2 to 3 foot seas. conditions as we move north should continue to improve as the low move further out to sea.

We depart Sarasota tomorrow at 7:00 AM. Stay tuned.

Written by Les.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hingham Bound: Cruising Plan

Thought I would share with you my plan for the trip north. My calculations (at the end of the article) show that we get to Hingham Massachusetts in 9 days if the weather cooperates.

I have a crew of two for this trip. Wylie Crawford is a friend from Chicago who winters in Sarasota. Tom Frakie is a friend of Darryl and Sue (Present Moment), the cruising couple who we met in 2010 while in Florence Alabama on a Great Loop side trip. Wylie is a private pilot and Tom is an experienced sailor who captains a 42 Catalina. Tom and Connie are active with Paws With A Cause, a a school that provides service dogs to people with hearing loss, disabilities, seizures and children with autism. They have raised 3 puppies. Diana, Kodi, and I are Southeastern Guide Dog Ambassadors (Note:Technically Kodi is the ambassador and we are "handlers."). I also have my private pilot and instrument rating. This group has a lot in common.

I provided Wylie and Tom with three critical document to review in advance. These include our Standard Operating Procedures, Abandon Ship Procedures and Medical Emergency Checklist.

Explanatory Note: Guided Discovery is well equipped from a safety standpoint. We carry a 6 man emergency life raft, an EPIRP, a defibrillator, oxygen, multiple 5 gallon fire extinguishers, two first aid kits and an advanced (CLAM) medical kit. However, all of this is only valuable if everybody on board is familiar with the equipment's location and use. We will review these documents as we cruise south on the first day.

We depart Sarasota at 7:00 AM on Sunday May 1 and cruise south to Fort Myers and then the Caloosahatchee River and then east to The Calusa Jack's Marina just west of the Franklin Lock. We should arrive there at 5:00 PM.  Dinner will be at Fruit City Restaurant (3/4 of a mile from the Marina and the marina folks will drive us over).

The first day we will deal with two local knowledge inlets, Sarasota Big Pass and Redfish Pass just north of Captive Island.

Sarasota Big Pass looking southwest
Dark blue = deep. Light blue = shallow, White = visible sandbar
Sarasota Big Pass, which is anything but big (and badly misnamed) is particularly challenging due to a massive sandbar that moves around. Last November we followed our track from the previous year only to discover that the path had shoaled in. Fortunately, Guided Discovery has a keel and our very slow soft grounding did no damage (except foe a little paint at the bottom of the keel). Using local knowledge supplied by the Sarasota Yacht Club (SYC) in the form of GPS coordinates, I plotted the information on the tender's GPS and ran the course on the tender to verify the controlling depth. I also got lucky and followed a local 70 foot party fishing boat over the recommended course. The controlling depth according to SYC is 5.5 feet at MLW (Mean Low Water). That said, the recommended course comes within 200 feet of where we grounded.

Sarasota Big Pass looking north east
We will be heading southwest
Notice the barely passable area in the lower left corner
Redfish Pass according to Active Captain is passable and well marked. However, the last posting is from 2014. Sea Tow provided me with their "local knowledge" and indicated that Active Captain had it right. Still passable and well marked..

Redfish Pass
South Seas Resort to your left
We will be approaching from the right (north)
Leaving the Calusa Jack's Marina just before 7:00 AM we arrive at the Franklin Lock, the first of 5 locks, and begin our transit of the Okeechobee Waterway. We will transit three locks (Franklin, Ortona and Moore Haven) before arriving in Clewiston at the Roland Martin's Marina at around 6:00 PM. We will take on fuel here. Dinner will be at the restaurant on premises.

Note: We have 13 hours of daylight from sunrise to sunset.

We leave Clewiston at 7:00 AM on May 3 and head across Lake Okeechobee to the Myaka Lock and then to the final lock, St' Lucie, in Stuart. From here we head to the Atlantic ICW and from there to the Fort Pierce Inlet. We arrive at the Fort Pierce Inlet around 5:00 PM and shortly afterwards we will be on the Atlantic Ocean heading north to our fuel stop in Morehead City North Carolina. That stop will occur around 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 5. Morehead City Yacht Basin fuel dock closes at 6:00 PM but will remain open longer if we call. Dinners will be on-board while we head north on the Atlantic.

Assuming we make Morehead City on time, which is highly likely as I can speed up if needed, and are able to refuel, we will head back out and continue on to Hingham. I estimate that we will arrive there around 7:00 PM on Monday the 9th. Dinner will be at Alma Nove at the Hingham Shipyard.

We will have six dinners while underway along with breakfast and lunch each day. Right now my plan is to freeze individual dinners obtained from Morton's Market thus giving each of us a choice of what we want to eat. Breakfast choices will include bagels with smoked salmon and fixings, several dry cereals including Cascadian Farms Fruit and Nut Granola served with raisins, walnuts, and banana, assorted yogurts and (seas permitting) steel cut oatmeal supreme served with raisins, bananas, blueberries and walnuts (and very healthy chocolate protein shakes for those who are interested). Lunches will be based on deli sandwiches including ham, roast beef and mesquite turkey with choice of cheese and pickles. We will also have crackers with hummus and a variety of cheeses for mid-day snacks.

DETAILED CRUISING PLAN

FROM TO MILES CUM TIME CUM RPM KTS DAYS
Sarasota Captiva 53.5 53.5 6.4 6.4 1400 8.4
Captiva Franklin Lock 33.4 86.9 4.0 10.3 1400 8.4 1.00
Calusa Jack's Marina 239-694-2708 Reservation 5/1/ with Richard
Franklin Lock Ortona (11:30-12:30) 25.0 25.0 3.6 3.6 1100 7
Ortona Lock Moore Haven Lock 14.0 39.0 4.6 8.2 1400 8.4
Moore Haven Lock Clewiston 11.0 50.0 1.3 9.5 1400 8.4 1.00
Lock Time Estimated  2 @.5 hours each 1.0 10.5
Roland Martin's Marina 863-983-3151 Reservation 5/2 with Lacy 
Clewiston Port Myaka Lock 23.0 25.2 2.7 2.7 1400 8.4
Port Myaka Lock St Lucie Lock 21.1 46.3 2.5 5.3 1400 8.4
St Lucie Lock Roosevelt Bridge 8.4 54.7 1.0 6.3 1400 8.4
Roosevelt Bridge Okeechobee R240 6.5 61.2 0.8 7.0 1400 8.4
Okeechobee R240 Fort Pierce Inlet 19.3 80.5 2.3 9.3 1400 8.4
Fort Pierce Inlet  Atlantic Ocean 4.4 84.9 0.5 9.8 1400 8.4 1.00
Lock Time Estimate 2 @.5 hours each) 1.0 10.8
SUMMARY
Sarasota Atlantic Ocean 219.6 219.6
Fort Pierce Inlet Morehead City 574.7 794.3 68.4 1400 8.4 2.85
Morehead City  Hingham Mass 641.5 1435.8 76.4 1400 8.4 3.18
Optimum Number of Days 9.03

Now all we need is cooperative weather.

Written by Les.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April Fools Day Anniversary

Happy belated April Fools Day.

April first is always a very significant day for me. This year it marked the 6th year since my retirement from The Warranty Group. It also marked 44 years since I started work in Chicago with Pat Ryan & Associates, which 34 years later became The Warranty Group.

That's right, I started with the company on April 1, 1972 and retired on April 1, 2010 after a spectacular 38 year career. My title on joining the company was Finance and Insurance Trainer. My final title at retirement was Senior Vice President Worldwide Performance Improvement. During those 38 years, I had watched my company grow from 100+ employees with offices throughout the United Stated to 2,200 employees with offices through the world.

I had also watched Pat Ryan & Associates' parent company, Ryan Insurance Group, merge with Combined Insurance Corporation in 1982 and then through a series of mergers and acquisitions become Aon Corporation, the largest commercial brokerage in the world (yes, bigger than Marsh McClennan) with, at one time, 50,000 employee worldwide.

I even wrote a book, the Training Effectiveness Handbook, which was published by McGraw Hill in 1995. But I will save that story for a future article.

So I thought it would be fun to recap how I went from being a High School Graduate without a clue about what do with my life to a published performance improvement expert and a senior officer in very dynamic insurance company.  The road to Chicago and Pat Ryan & Associates took 11 years and contains a bunch of interesting twists and turns. In fact, one could say that my career and perhaps my life revolve around a principle that says "miss a bus, change your life."

It all starts in 1961 when I barely graduated high school. Not having the grades to get in to college I pondered what to do. One option was to go south to Florida on a 65 foot motor yacht as first mate, which I wisely rejected. Note: Had I taken this road, I suspect I would not be living on a 63 foot Outer Reef. The other option, suggested by my dad, was to go to technical school for two years and learn to be a dental technician. Why not? Sorry, but that was the sum and substance of my reasoning.

Two years later I graduated from the dental technician school and went searching for a job. Here too my father intervened and I landed a job as a "plaster man" (apprentice) with a small three man dental laboratory in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts making a whopping $55 a week. By 1966, I had progressed to a gold crown and bridge specialist and, with a cousin who had also gone to dental technician school, opened our own small part time dental laboratory. Yes, I was working two jobs. Did I mention that I did not enjoy my work? Did I also mention that I was more of a mechanic than an artist when it came to creating a gold crown?

In 1964, I joined the National Guard. The Vietnam War was raging and I was definitely going to be drafted. So with a short trip to the Commonwealth Armory in Boston, 5 miles from my home, I became a member of the 1st Battalion of the 101st Artillery (1/101).  Obligation: 6 years with drills weekly, one weekend a month and a two week summer camp. They assigned me to the Fire Direction Center in B Battery with a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of chart operator. An interesting choice since math was not one of my strong suits - but then that's the military.

A few months later I went to Fort Dix New Jersey for two months of basic training and then to Fort Devens Massachusetts for four months of on-the job-training where I actually learned the basics of fire direction. In six months I was back to work as a dental technician and attending Tuesday night and weekend drills.

It was on the weekend drills that I discovered that I did not like sleeping in a pup tent on the ground and took to sleeping in 2 1/2 ton trucks, which was frowned upon and not fun either. This is when I discovered that officers slept on cots in a real tent. Hence, when I young second lieutenant pitched myself and a friend on officer candidate school (OCS), I listened very closely. No more sleeping in trucks. Obligation: Weekly drills, one weekend a month and 2 two week of summer camps on either end of the program. Did I mention that I also had to attend my regular unit's weekly and monthly drills and two week summer camps?

Surprisingly, I did well in OCS and graduated Massachusetts Military Academy second in my class. Now it was 1966 and I was a assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 1/101 as a Liaison Officer (aka forward observer). In this role I was required to conduct cannon gunnery classes for the battalion's officer and fire direction center staff. Recall that school wasn't my thing and math wasn't my strong point. Fortunately, the Artillery and Missile School at Fort Sill Oklahoma supplied the training manuals and also, fortunately, the training I received at Fort Devens was good enough that, surprisingly, I was one step (although barely) ahead of my students.

Now something happened that would ultimately shape my career and the rest of my life despite the fact that I had no idea of it at the time. Background. Folks in the National Guard were citizen soldiers essentially serving out their time. What I later came to understand as "motivation to learn" was not high. So I developed a technique to get these soldiers to pay attention by giving them a simple problem that they should easily solve.  Actually, at the time, I was trying to embarrass them into paying attention. While my motive was flawed the technique worked, they learned and I became a pretty good cannon gunnery instructor. Later (i.e., 1980), the concept of "motivation to learn" became an integral part of teaching philosophy that I named Guided Discovery.

In 1967 I spent three months at the Basic Officer Artillery Course (BOAC) at the Artillery and Missile School in Fort Sill Oklahoma; a course for OCS (Federal and State), Reserve, ROTC and West Point graduates. This proved to be the second major turning point in my life. Two facts: I mastered enough trigonometry in a week to pass the survey class and graduated second in my BOAC class despite heavy competition. I came away form this experience with significantly increased self esteem. I would have come in first if I hadn't pointed out my cannon gunnery instructor's technical errors (oh well).

Side Note: I also spent a year as a tactical officer (aka commission drill sergeant) at the Massachusetts Military Academy (circa 1968) training new officer candidates (which, as you guessed, was in addition to my regular duties in the 1/101).

Back to the story.  Returning to Massachusetts in June of 1967, I made another decision that would be life changing, but again, who knew. I quit my full time job at the dental laboratory and sold my interest in our fledgling dental lab to my cousin. My plan was to take the summer off and then find something else to do (totally unspecified). I had a little money (plus the $750 I received for my half of the dental laboratory), a 1965 Corvette convertible (white with a black interior - very nice), access to our winter home in Newton and to my family's summer residence in Nantasket Beach.  It was going to be a fun summer.

Life was good. Not a care in the world (dumb) and plenty to do with lots of time on the beach. However, my father was concerned and constantly reminded me that I needed to find a job. Side Note: My dad was a pharmacist and up until 1967 had owned his on pharmacy in Roxbury Mass. He had an incredible work ethic and was concerned about my carefree attitude. This translated into him urging me to seek out a job, which was not high on my list. Late in August I promised to look for a job during the coming week.

Not wanting to disappoint my father I decided to at least apply for a job. But the question was what was I qualified to do and more importantly what did I want to do. Here's where the story gets a little crazy. My coworker, Mike Scanlan, at the dental laboratory had a brother, Kevin, who frequently stopped in to socialize. Mike worked as a collector for a consumer finance company and seemed to have a lot of freedom. So why not apply for this type of job? Best case, I would be able to report to my dad that I had sought work. Worst case, I might get hired.

So I searched the help wanted adds and made some calls. I got an appointment for an interview with Liberty Loan in Brockton, Massachusetts for 5:00 PM on Friday. The day of the appointment I got lost having never been to Brockton and was late. (I guess it would have helped to look at a map - which is one of the skills I taught as a Tactical Officer in OCS) As I ran down the corridor toward the loan company office I passed a man heading for the elevator. I announced to the clerk that I had an appointment with Mr. Freedman and learned it was he who I passed in the corridor, Oops. Running at top speed I reached Mr. Freedman as the elevator doors were closing. Reluctantly he returned to the office for my interview. This proved to be the one event that ultimately changed my life.

Returning to the beach house I reported to my dad that I had kept my promise and interviewed for a job; further disclosing that it was as a collector for a finance company. Four days later I called Mr. Freedman and was offered the job. Oh well, the summer was almost over. So I went to work.

I liked being a bill collector and found that I was good at it. So good that in one year I was offered a promotion to manage a small two person office in Westerly Rhode Island (about 90 minutes south of my home). I said OK and moved down to Westerly. The clerk there, Mary Delores Piccollo, was experienced and she continued my education as a lender - she actually knew almost everybody in town and her judgment was almost perfect. (In Westerly I met Jerry Swerdlick who holds the distinction of being my oldest friend in the world. I turned him down for a loan. He was a deadbeat. Today he owns his own company, EVAS, providing specially equipped computers to assist sight impaired people). A year later I was promoted and became manager of Liberty's Providence office.

Bobby Freedman. Several months after being hired, Bobby Freedman left Liberty and took a job as National Assistant Credit Manager at Mister Donut of America, a national franchiser of doughnut shops. We also became good friends and double dated on several occasions. Bobby called me in 1969 and announced that he was taking a job as the Finance and Insurance (F&I) Manager at a car dealership in Framingham Massachusetts and asked if I want to apply for his job at Mr. Donut. I said yes. This represented a significant increase in both responsibility and income and also brought me back to Massachusetts. I learned that Bobby had been recruited for the F&I Manager job by a company named Pat Ryan & Associates and that he had gone to their Chicago office for two weeks of training. Bobby went on to make lots of money as a F&I Manager and really enjoyed what he was doing. We continued to be good friends.

The job at Mr. Donut lasted a year and I still do not remember why I was terminated (as I was actually good at working with franchisees to resolve problems with delinquent franchise fees, rents and supply purchases). Oh well, time for another retirement and the timing was perfect; summer was coming. Did I mention that I now had a 1970 Corvette convertible (blue with a black interior) , This time I took three months off.

Summer was coming to an end and, according to my dad, it was time to go back to work. A call to Bobby Freedman resulted in an interview with Terry Asbury, the Regional Manager for Pat Ryan & Associates in the New England area. Terry thought I could do the job and placed me at Tom Connelly Pontiac in Norwood Massachusetts. In August of 1970, I attended Pat Ryan & Associates' two week training program in Chicago.

Explanatory Note: The position of F&I Manager in a car dealership was a relatively new in 1970. It was created by Pat Ryan, the son of a Wisconsin car dealer and Herman Bass, one of the earliest F&I Managers at a Buick dealership in Chicago. Pat Ryan founded Pat Ryan & Associates to sell credit insurance through car dealerships to consumers in conjunction the financing of automobiles. By 1970 the business has evolved to recruiting, placing, training and supervising F&I Managers who worked for the dealer, on the dealer's payroll, to sell Pat Ryan & Associates credit insurance product (which consisted of life insurance that would pay off the loan in the event of the debtor's death and disability insurance that would make the payments if the debtor became sick or disabled). It was a great marketing concept. PR&A, acting as a consultant, would recruit, train and supervise the F&I Manager at no cost to the dealer in exchange for the dealer selling Ryan's credit insurance product for which the dealer would receive 100% of the available commission. In addition, Ryan promised that the combination of their training and process would increase the dealer's profits by $100 for every vehicle sold. This was accomplished by consolidating, at the time, the arrangement of car loans, the sale of credit insurance and the sale of physical damage insurance in the hands of one person, the F&I Manager. Heretofore, these items were handled by car salespeople who often received the commissions rather than the dealer. Despite the financial incentive, salespeople were not effective with this end of the business.  Ryan called it the "100 Program" representing two concepts, 100% referral of all customer to the F&I Manager and the goal of $100 of extra profit for every vehicle sold. Ryan was very successful largely due the quality of the field representatives he hired for his company and the quality of the training that Herman Bass (later my mentor) had developed. $100 a car was big money in 1970. Today F&I Managers routinely earn in excess of $1,000 for every vehicle sold.

Training was a big deal at Pat Ryan & Associates. It was two weeks long, it was conducted 18 times a year and it was highly advanced using video taped role play with feedback. Ryan had three full time trainers on staff and they were the elite of the elite. To be a trainer you had to be both a highly successful F&I Manager with experience in multiple dealerships and a successful District Manager. No small task. District Managers sold the program to dealers, recruited their F&I Manager, kicked off the program at the dealership and then followed up to ensure the promised $100 per car. These guys were, to put in bluntly, "hell on wheels." There were three of them, four if you counted Herman Bass, their Director of Training.

Back to the story: Bill Fisher was my trainer and he was terrific. Two weeks later, Terry Asbury kicked off the program at Tom Connelly Pontiac and I was off and running. I loved being a F&I Manager and I was very good at it.

Gene Day. Gene was the general sales manager at Tom Connelly and he was very good it what he did owing to the fact that prior to Tom Connelly, he had been a District Manager for Pat Ryan & Associates. He was my direct supervisor and this was a good thing since he understood the program chapter and verse and was highly supportive. We made the program work very well at Tom Connelly and became good friends.

Nine months later, Gene made me a proposition that was impossible to refuse. Gene along with another former Pat Ryan & Associates' District Manager, Eric Johnson, had found a financial backer and were going into competition with Pat Ryan & Associates in New York and New Jersey. They wanted me to be the trainer (defacto Director of Training) for their new company, Transcapital Fiscal Systems, Inc. I said yes.

In April of 1971, I moved into the Shelton Towers Hotel in New York City and for two weeks working 18 hours a day, created a two week training program using my notes from Bill Fisher's class and my experience as the F&I Manager at Tom Connelly Pontiac (and my training development skills that I had learned in the National Guard). Then I started training F&I Managers.  In between classes I acted as a District Manager or as a traveling "heavy,"going into prospective clients and acting as the F&I Manager to prove that we could deliver the promised profits. I was having a ball. Gene Day also proved to be a mentor from the standpoint of helping me become sophisticated in the ways of the world (dress, wine, food, etc).

One year later, Transcapital found themselves in financial difficulty and I was let go. Growth, revenue and profits had fallen below expectations and the backer got cold feet. No problem, Spring was coming and I was planning another long vacation, perhaps as long as 6 months. All I needed was another Corvette.

Marvin Warranoff. "Why Worry Warren Will Wait" was the slogan of a credit jewelry store in Providence Rhode Island where my girl friend, Gracie (who later became my first wife), worked as a credit manager. She was well liked by the Warranoff's, Marvin and Marilyn, and we were invited to their home for dinner. After dinner, Marvin and I adjourned to his study for an after dinner drink. The conversation evolved to my work prospects and Marvin pressed me on what I was planning to do. I think he was looking out for my girl friend's interests, we had been dating off and on for several years, or thinking about me as a potential employee. After telling him that I was going to apply for a job as a trainer with Pat Ryan & Associates when the summer ended he proceeded to convince me that my value was greatest right now and not to blemish my resume with an unnecessary pause between jobs. In fact, he extracted a promise that I would call Joe Wilson (number 2 guy) at Pat Ryan & Associates that Monday and request an interview. This turned out to be VERY good advice, which I acted on. A week later, on Friday, I was in Chicago for a series of interviews with key personnel, including Herman Bass, Ryan's Director of Training.  Monday, they called and offered me a position as an F&I Trainer and a week later on April 1, 1972, I reported for the first day of what became a spectacular 38 year career.

Written by Les.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Living on a 63 Outer Reef - Diana's View

NOTE TO READERS: Be sure to read the article "Happy Two Year Anniversary" published earlier today in conjunction with "Diana's View."

While Les told you about all the physical details, I will attempt to describe the life style.   

First I should explain that after years and thousands of miles of boating, I desired a more stable, less nomadic situation.  So we compromised on north-south locations --  Sarasota, FL and Hingham, MA which works out fine.  As Les described, both are great areas. While they are both great, the culture is very different.   

In Sarasota life on the dock is very lively.  Although our permanent boat neighbors only visit every 6 weeks or so, they are wonderful and very friendly.  The rest of the time there is a constant stream of transient boaters. They come from all over --  Canada, the Midwest, east coast, west coast, even Europe. Often cruisers come as part of a yacht club rendezvous. Many are Loopers. It is like a boat show with the variety of marine vessels. Everything from a 130' West Port, sailboats to small runabouts.
 
Then there is Kodi who says hello to everyone. Surprisingly many boaters have dogs aboard.  We stop and talk and soon we are exchanging cards and having a drink. Life on board is not lonely.  If anything, we meet so many people it is hard to keep up. 

In Hingham we are now be on the T at the end of a very long dock. There are no transients. People commit for the season and come back year after year.  There are few large boats -- nothing like Sarasota. For the most part it's families or couples who live in the area and come to spend the weekend. Boaters tend to always be friendly and inclusive.  So we've met neighbors, but with the exception of one or two couples we don't spend time together like we do in Sarasota. 

One common denominator is the Marina staffs -  we chat with them every day both in Sarasota and Hingham. They become the constants. 

Space is a noticeable difference from a house.  Turnaround space is tight -- the boat is only 17 feet wide.  We have all the same rooms you would in a house, but each is small.  Add visitors and it gets cozy quickly.

Maintenance:  Les loves it, but it is time consuming.  It takes 5 hours to wash the boat and Les rinses the boat and dries it several times a week. (Meanwhile being inside while he is washing is like being in a thunderstorm.)  Interior maintenance:  Remember everything that comes on needs to go off .. Water, pump out, etc.  you don't have those concerns in a house.

Fortunately there is no movement at the dock in Sarasota and rarely of the T-dock in Hingham.

Upsides-Downsides: 

Saw a greeting card yesterday that read "life at dock is safe and sound .. but boats were built for boating".  And therein lies the difference.  Les loves the adventure.  I like the familiar.  (Which reversed itself -- when we were young, I wanted to travel and Les liked the familiar, i.e. the same vacation year after year). So now Les gets two big boating adventures a year (plus his everyday dinghy) and I get 5 months of continuity in two places.

-  waking up on the water everyday
-  the sunsets
-  Sarasota has Bayfront park
-  Hingham has 2 parks within walking distance
-  365 days of sun and warm weather (constant heat)
-  Art fairs every weekend in Sarasota; beautiful state parks in MA; the Ferry to Boston; 

How do we spend our days?  Just like anyone else:  we shop, we go out to eat, we visit with friends and family, we cook, we watch TV, we read the paper, read books, go for walks, bike, go to the movies, go to the theater, take a drive, etc.    What we don't do is have a job where most people spend a lot of their week.  We aren't on any Boards.  We participate somewhat in a charity (Southeastern Guide Dogs). When we worked we had a cleaning lady; now we do all our own maintenance.  We sleep later. 

Now twice a year there is a big transition (like other Snowbirds) except Les moves the boat and I move the car.  Vacation?  It is like being on vacation 24/7!

Written by Diana

Happy Two Year Anniversary

We took possession of our Outer Reef 63 on February 10, 2014. Therefore, today marks the second anniversary of our ownership of the boat and of living aboard. 

Thinking back two years to those commissioning days brings back memories which, while mostly pleasant, are best characterized as both exciting and chaotic. 


February 3, 2014 - Chaos - Salon looking forward
More chaos - galley looking aft
Notice the cardboard covering the floor
What brought about the chaos was the calendar. The 63 arrived in Fort Lauderdale on February 2 after a 13,000 mile journey that involved crossing the Pacific Ocean, transiting the Panama Canal, crossing the Gulf of Mexico and, finally, arriving in Port Everglades.

The clock started the next day as Outer Reef made a full court press to get the 63 ready for the February 14th Miami Boat Show. To complicate matters, we wanted to take possession and move aboard prior to departing for the show on February 11. Given that Outer Reef usually takes a month or more to commission a new boat, the accelerated schedule put us all under stress (except, of course for Kodi who handled the whole process with her usual grace).

Outer Reef got the boat ready "enough" and we moved aboard on February 10. The next day, with Captain Randy Ives in command, we headed off to the Miami Boat Show.


Will miracles never cease?
Fast forward to today. 

The 63 has proven to be a comfortable home and a magnificent cruiser that has proved to be perfect for our snowbird lifestyle.

Her capabilities as a long range cruiser with the ability to handle rough seas are summed up by an advertisement featuring Guided Discovery that Outer Reef will be running across all of the major boating magazines.


The quote above, which is slightly hard to read, deals with our November 3, 2014 transition of Cape Hatteras as we headed south to Sarasota. "We transited during a strong cold frontal passage with wind gusts as high as 49 knots, Seas built very quickly to 7 to 9 feet with sustained winds of 30 to 35 knots. The 630 showed no flaws in her sea keeping regardless of the point of sail. The experience was almost surreal. The boat moved through the turbulence with sure footed stability. Now I know from experience how stable she is and should the unexpected happen, the boat can handle it."

As readers know, I subsequently had the opportunity last May to validate the above conclusion when we rounded Hatteras' Diamond Shoal in 10 to 12 footers stirred up by Tropical Storm Anna several hundred miles to the south. Oh, did I mention the 10 foot head sea encountered last November between the Hamptons and Atlantic City? The 63's sea keeping has exceeded my expectations.

Even when it's not exciting, which I greatly prefer, the 63 glides through the water at 8.4 knots burning an economical 9.1 gallons per hour. To date, the 63 has cruised 6,613 NM with two round trips along the Atlantic coast.

The 63 is a comfortable 850 square foot 3 bedroom home with 2 baths and a full kitchen. Notice the absence of nautical language. This really is a home in every possible way except that we have to take-on 300 gallons water and pump out weekly. Best of all, it's a home on the water with excellent views in both our Sarasota and Hingham marinas. Diana's viewpoint of life aboard is published in conjunction with this article.

For readers who are interested in more thorough description of living aboard, see my April 22, 2015 article "Living on an Outer Reef 63." For those who want to relive the excitement of commissioning and the Miami Boat Show, go back to the February 2014 archives. I think I'll take a pass. Just reading it is stressful.

Since taking delivery we have made very few improvements to the boat, which is a credit to Mike Schlichtig and his team at Outer Reef. They helped us spec out the perfect boat for our needs. 

That said, we have made two significant improvements to the pilothouse electronics. These include a Raymarine T353 infrared night vision camera added last November and a third Garmin 7215 multi-function screen added just this month. Both improvements were necessitated by my desire to run 24 hours a day along the Atlantic coast. The addition of the third 7215 screen on the right side of the panel required that we move the starboard Garmin GMI 10 to a new location next to the other one. Beyond improving operational efficiency, the result proved to be aesthetically pleasing. 


New Garmin 7215 MFS added to the right side of the panel
Note the two GMI 10s immediately to the left of the three 7215s
Left of the GMI 10s is the GOST system and controls for the 12 & 16 KW generators
Written by Les.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mattison's Forty One Knocks the Cover Off the Ball

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate of Sarasota sponsored a fund raiser billed as a Dinner Paw-ty for Southeastern Guide Dogs at Mattison's Forty One,

The Dinner Paw-ty was held here
My friend Marjorie Singer was representing Southeastern and asked that we attend with Kodi. I looked at the menu and it sounded interesting. A six course gourmet meal with a wine paired for each course. Mattison's calls it a wine-pairing dinner. The charge was $75 plus tax and tip.

Little did I know that I was about to have the a spectacular meal that I would categorize as one of the best ever. This proved to be an even bigger surprise since this was a meal catered for a group of 40 people. Meals served to large groups can be good but are rarely spectacular. This one was off-the-chart. A little background:
  • Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD) is internationally accredited and one of the most respected guide dog schools in the United States. They provide guide dogs and veteran service dogs to recipients at no cost. They receive no government funding. All funds are raised privately, They are top rated 4 Star guide dog school on Charity Navigator earning 98.83 out of 100 possible points. We have been volunteering for Southeastern since 2012. Kodi is an official SEDG Ambassador Dog.
  • Coldwell Banker is a major real estate broker in Sarasota with 70 agents in their Sarasota office.
  • Mattison's Forty One is a restaurant and catering company located at 7275 S. Tamiami Trail. I've been to this restaurant several times including once for a cooking class conducted by the the restaurant's owner, Paul Mattison. Mattison's also has a fun casual outdoor restaurant on Main Street with entertainment at night.
The six course dinner was paired with wines from the Hahn Family Winery located in California's Santa Lucia Highlands. Hahn is ranked "One of the top 10 Wineries to Visit" by Wine Enthusiast magazine. I've never tried their wines before and was very pleasantly surprised. As a lover of chardonnay and Cabernet Savingnon I was especially impressed by their 2014 SLH Chardonnay and the 2013 Smith & Hook Cabernet.



What a pleasant evening. The event started at 6:30 PM with wine and a Golden Beet Brushetta hor d'oeuvre paired with 2014 Hahn Pinot Gris. A few very short speeches by each of the participants and we were off to leisurely delicious meal served with perfection. Dinner ended just short of 10 PM with a Chocolate Cherry Bomb served with a 2014 Boneshaker Zinfandel. Wow!

My only regret is that I did not bring my camera. I would have loved to photograph the food..

The four courses in between were each spectacular and very different experiences and, of course, perfectly paired with "perfect" wines. Check out the menu below.


Thanks to Southeastern Guide Dogs, Coldwell Banker, Hahn Familly Winesm Mattison's and especially Paul Mattison for a spectacular evening.

Written by Les