Why Further?

First published 27 January 2018

The rites have been performed, the gods appeased. The ceremony is complete. The boat is now mine. And her name is Further.

I actually declared her name when I announced my purchase back in November. But the cold weather prevented the local graphics folks here in Annapolis from doing the work until just this past Tuesday. And once they applied the actual vinyl, protocol demanded keeping the name under wraps until a proper renaming ceremony could be performed. That meant as soon as possible because I couldn’t take the boat out (and it has been warm enough lately that the cove and creek leading to Chesapeake Bay have finally thawed) until the old name was exorcised and the new one christened. That the weather forecast for today, four days later, was nice — sunny and high 50s — sealed the deal.

Then I posted a photo of the covered-over transom on Facebook in an announcement of the impending renaming and friends started speculating about what the new name might (or should) be. Some suggested silly names that had been internet memes (Boaty McBoatface…really?!) while many suggested something referencing my late dog, Spooner. One friend remembered my earlier declaration and asked about the name; the showman in me quickly deleted his comment to keep the speculation going.

But Further it is. And Further it shall be. Why?

Well, for starters, I’ve had the name in mind ever since I started daydreaming as a kid about my future boat. When I thought about what I might call her, I kept coming back to what I wanted my boat to do: transport me — physically, spiritually, intellectually — to new adventures, new worlds, new lives. I realized Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters had the same goal in mind when they named their psychedelically painted school bus “Further” and made that the bus’ destination sign.

Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (house band for the Merry Pranksters’ Acid Test parties) sings:
“The bus come by and I got on, that’s when it all began
There was Cowboy Neal at the wheel of a bus to Never Ever Land.”
The song refers to Neal Cassady, legendary inspiration for Jack Kerouac and the Beats, now leading Bobby, the Dead and the Pranksters as they sought the next level of human consciousness. And they sought it on board Further. Well now I’ve found my bus and with her I hope to seek out MY next level, through the grace of Mother Ocean rather than any man-made drugs. (I can assure you: music will be a big part of the journey on Further, and a lot of that music will be Grateful Dead.)

As the Pranksters hoped LSD and their bus would do for them in the ‘60s, so I hope my Further will take me to faraway realms and bring me back safe and sound in the 21st century. And I hope you, my friends, will join me in the coming years in exploring this watery planet. I WILL need crew; I WILL need help. I can’t do it alone. Stay tuned for more details as they shake out, but stage one on the journey is to finish sorting out Further and get my sailing legs back while here on the Chesapeake. In May, we’ll return home to New England: I’ve reserved a mooring on the Merrimack River in Newburyport. I’ll go back to living at home on Plum Island and do a lot of daysails and short cruises in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine (maybe even Nova Scotia). And then, next fall, well, you’ll just have to tune in and see. Or better yet, come along on the ride to Never Ever Land.

Note: Special thanks to Chris and the folks at Accent Graphics in Annapolis. I showed Chris a photo of the bus, Further, with its destination plate and he created the font for the graphic used on the boat, Further.

Life Aboard…Three Weeks In

First published 13 December 2017

Check out how Further slopes forward on her keel, and how much of the light blue of the hull (below the red waterline) is visible.

There are a lot of reasons to dig where I’m currently living aboard a tied-up Further in Annapolis. I’m in a quiet neighborhood yet within walking distance of all the city’s amenities. Further is tied up in a small marina with another liveaboard who’s a great neighbor and a good friend. There are tons of ducks and herons and other critters here in the upper reaches of this stretch of Back Creek.

But all these have come at a price. And I’m not talking about money.

The first night Further spent at her new home a sharp cold front blew through that brought with it a strong northwest wind. I woke up the next morning to learn that such a wind blows the water out of Chesapeake Bay, taking with it the already thin water up here in June’s Cove. As a result, Further’s keel sat a few inches into the (thankfully) soft mud. No big deal other than my nervousness, but any thought of taking the boat out was on hold until the fierce winds took a break and let the water come back in with the high tide.

Last night’s cold front was sharper and the northwest winds even stronger. And Further is hard on the bottom by well over a foot.

The far side of the cove, where yesterday I watched half a dozen mallards — four drakes and two hens — swim and chase each other around for a good quarter-hour is now exposed and dry. Also yesterday, at the head of the cove where the stream enters the larger Back Creek, I startled a great blue heron who’d been fishing for lunch; the only fish that area can host today better have feet.

It’s also cold. Cold enough that I’m also having to be nervous about things on board freezing. I have a couple of heaters on board but it’s still nerve-wracking. The electric, oil-filled heater radiates only a low heat for such a space, and I can’t leave the propane-fired Mr. Heater (used one of these in my basement in Alaska and it worked great, so I bought one to use on board during these cold days) going when I’m not on board. I’ll be replacing the missing diesel forced-air heater when it gets delivered in the next few days and that will take a lot of worry off my brow.

All that mud was covered by water 24 hours ago. And see the depth gauge on the piling? Yeah…

I’m more than a bit freaked out by all of this. I’m not TOO worried about Further — the mud is quite soft in there so she should be all right. And the cold doesn’t bother me but it could bother some of the systems on board that involve water. Even last week’s snow was kinda nice, to be honest. But still…argh!

I’m worrying way more than I usually do, which is not like me. About all sorts of boat-related things. I’ve told friends who’ve asked that the definition of a boat is very true: it’s a hole in the water into which one pours money. To be honest, things I feared based on the pre-purchase survey have turned out better than expected. But there are still substantial outlays of cash going on. The diesel heater, for one, turned out to be way spendier than expected. On the other hand, the electrical system got a bigger thumbs up from the electrician universally regarded around here as a boat whisperer, so that was nice.

One of my dearest friends counseled me to “enjoy the shit out of it all,” calling even the seemingly negative aspects like spending lots of money, “part and parcel.” He’s right, and I’ve been trying to remember his words when the temperature drops and things break and Chesapeake Bay disappears.

I’m not much for astrology (okay, not at all), but there’s a weekly horoscope I peruse online mostly because it’s usually very upbeat and encouraging. And the past couple of weeks have counseled staying positive and trusting because the big change I’m going through is the right one. That’s been comforting. It’s really seemed to fit the exact questions I’ve been wrestling with concerning Further. So to paraphrase Ronald Reagan: I’ll trust…but continue to check the dock lines.

Something Seems Amiss…

First published 9 December 2017

This is what I woke up to this morning (click here to see the video)…





It wasn’t the snowpocalypse people around here were fearing, but it’s still coming down. In fact, now, at lunchtime, the snowfall is getting heavier. Sigh…

UPDATE: Here’s what I just came home to…


The view from the forward hatch