Posts tagged " boating "

Pressing Restart

January 1st, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 12 comments

I have been known to say that Judaism is my way of life while boating is my religion. After all, some religious observances require a special litugical language, unique clothing and are practiced on certain days.  Check, check and check for boating. But even for those of you with other religions, there are many life-metaphors to be found in the wonderful world of boats. Boats and people both embark on journeys and both can reach their destinations or sink.

When a boat is in the doldrums it is in that notorious windless zone near the equator. Old-time sailing vessels were often stuck there for weeks.  When a person is listless and despondent, he is also said to be in the doldrums.  But there is one major difference. While sailboats must await changing weather, humans have the miraculous capacity to bring about change in their lives themselves. 


From Stress to Salvation: A Passover Story

April 12th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 29 comments

To the dismay of my parents and the bewilderment of my wife Susan’s parents, some years back we sailed our family from Los Angeles to Honolulu on our small sailboat. We spent nearly a year in preparation. Susan planned the meals for the entire voyage and wrote down where each item of food was stored, while I strengthened the vessel and polished my celestial navigation skills. We departed on the fourth of July and by mid-month we were about a thousand miles from the West Coast and the same distance from Hawaii.

That night, as usual, I measured our water supply and in an exhausted state from too many hours on watch mistakenly determined that we had only one more day’s water left. In a terrible panic, all I could think about was how would I keep my family alive till we reached Hawaii. In my mind that became the only problem.


Soul Revival

September 28th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

While boating in British Columbia, I resemble nothing so much as Carol Burnett’s rendition of a charwoman. If I visited Victoria, Vancouver or dozens of smaller cities via airplane or car, I would dress as I usually do. Arriving by small boat, I tend to personify the essence of casual verging on bohemian. The change in clothing exemplifies the change in pace and preoccupation.



Split Opinion

July 6th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments


Well. You certainly had a lot to say!  When I wrote about 16 year old Abby Sunderland’s solo boat trip, I didn’t realize how passionately many of you felt on the subject – and how your opinions would fall on both sides of the issue. Assuming that Abby’s parents were loving and conscientious, I suggested that they made a responsible decision in letting her attempt her, eventually aborted, around the world trip.


Some of you agreed and appreciated my arguments. Others, both landlubbers and sailors, vehemently disagreed. Clearly, the topic resonated with parents, and since many readers whom I highly respect thought I was way off in my analysis, I decided to give it a second look. However, I ended up in the same place.


Let me be clear. I am delighted that none of my children wanted to attempt such a trip. But then, solo sailing is neither part of our family culture nor were our children trained for such a voyage. On the other hand, there was a period in his teens that my son did consider assembling a crew and heading off for Australia. It would have been pretty hard to crush his plans considering that my husband and I took three children under the age of three sailing from Los Angeles to Honolulu.


 Let me be clear about this. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, the closest I came to an ocean voyage was the Staten Island Ferry. But making a Pacific crossing was a lifetime aspiration of my husband’s and one that he was competent to achieve. While I joke that I can’t believe my mother or mother-in-law let us go, realistically we were probably in more danger each time we strapped our children into their car seats and went to the park. Crossing the Pacific may be less common than driving, but the chance of a random disaster for a well prepped boat, isn’t actually that great.  My husband spent years honing his sailing skills. I spent fewer but substantial time becoming familiar with our boat, we planned the specific voyage for over a year and we brought along other experienced sailors (who did double duty as baby watchers).


A number of sixteen year olds, including Robin Lee Graham whose adventure was documented by National Geographic magazine and more recently Abby’s brother have successfully solo navigated around the world. Obviously, it isn’t something lightly undertaken, but I still don’t see it as an automatically reckless activity. Statistically, there may well be more risk in a sixteen year old driving in many localities.


My close friend, Diane Medved (Searching for Bright Light) wrote the following:


I disagree with you, though on your support of Abby Sunderland’s solo journey.  It was dangerous beyond just “testing herself.”  I remember the movie Bofinger where the very stupid actor is asked to run across the freeway, which he did.  Wanting to do something extraordinary is fine, but I do think the word “prudence” has some relevance.  I don’t want my kids to take risks with their lives.  So I tell them to wear their seatbelts in the car, even if they feel fettered.

Sorry, but I don’t accept the analogy. Running across a freeway is all risk and no reward. It is a no-hard-work required way to flirt with danger for the sake of flirting with danger. Sailing solo around the world is more in league with mountain climbing or stowing away on Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic exploration as nineteen year old Percy Blackborow did.

I have no desire to attempt such a thing and am relieved if my children have no such desire, but those who do often turn out to be the ones who push our societies forward and serve as leaders when we face dangerous times.

I wear a seat belt and would take driving privileges away from my children if they didn’t wear their belts. At the same time I do believe that our society is overly obsessed with trying to remove any chance of physical harm at the cost of focusing too much on that and too little on spiritual dangers, including the crushing of a child’s spirit. In addition, some people feel the need for excitement and physical challenge more strongly than others. I believe that if you don’t give those with that craving a wholesome outlet for that God-given sensation, they will act out that need in unhealthy ways.

So, with appreciation to those of you who let me know your attitudes on the subject – and I do especially appreciate when you “talk” to me through the comment box at so that others can join the dialogue as well – I stick with my thumbs up for Abby and her parents.




News Stories and Other Works of Fiction

January 12th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

Recently, I read a newspaper story of a boat on fire and its owner’s rescue by a fellow mariner. The account appeared on the online version of our local paper. It confirmed my decision to stop getting a physical copy of the same paper.


You see, certain details about the event were accurately reported.  It is true that there was an incident on a local lake involving two boats; one which was on fire and the other which served as a rescue vessel. But what became clear from the reader response to the article was that the news story mistakenly reported Boater A jumping overboard to escape the flames and being fished out of the water by boater B. A cable news channel seemed to have gotten the story even more confused when it portrayed the captain of the rescue boat boarding the burning vessel to save his neighbor.


The real story was dramatic enough as the captain of the burning boat crossed from his bow to the bow of the second boat only moments before fire engulfed his vessel. And I can’t think of any real harm to the universe done by the careless and erroneous reporting.


Which is why it serves as such a valuable lesson. This story involved no confusion as on a battlefield or disaster scene, generated no rush to scoop another newspaper (the city only has one), and had no element which could rouse the reporter’s personal political biases. Even so, the reporter messed up the story and the newspaper ran an error filled article.


Repressive regimes do their best to ensure that only the official version of the news gets reported. When Germany invaded other countries, it confiscated radios so that the citizens wouldn’t have any outside sources of news. Citizens of the old Soviet Union knew they needed to read between the lines of Pravda newspaper. Taking stories at face value was like knowingly accepting counterfeit money. Today, regimes like Iran and China attempt to control Internet access.


Thanks to the constitution’s first amendment, America’s press cannot be censored by Congress or forced to print anything. But that only allows a free press to function, it doesn’t guarantee one. Freedom of speech does not impose the obligation on any individual or any news service to report the truth accurately. The press has the choice to highlight a story or underplay it. When Congress or the president’s approval rating is front page news under one administration and not reported or delegated to a monthly back page report under another administration or when unpopular legislation moving through Congress is ignored we have a free but a useless press.  When stories destroying someone’s character are reported in large print and the correction or retraction appears in an inconspicuous box, we have a free but harmful press.

 The New York Times has proudly proclaimed for decades, “All the news that’s fit to print.” A more accurate rendition for today’s news gatherers might be “All the news we choose, printed whether it is accurate or not.”

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