Quarantine has affected me in unimaginable ways. I remember a long time ago while going through a dark time in life, I had a conversation with a very good friend about isolating myself from society in a cabin in the mountains, or better yet, on a deserted island. It’s hard to imagine life was ever so incredibly draining that I fantasized about being marooned alone on an uninhabited island for a few years.
My friend was telling me how quickly I would go crazy. He shared with me a time he hiked to a cabin in the backcountry to spend a week there completely alone. On the third day he was talking to himself. By the end of the week, he was on the verge of a mental breakdown and ended up leaving early.
At the time, I blew him off. All the negativity and chaos in my life made it impossible for me to understand how a week, much less a few years, of alone time could have a negative impact on my mental well-being. All I wanted was a life of zero responsibilities, no bills to pay, and no other people to answer to.
For two weeks during the summer of 2013 I took a solo road trip out west, spending much of that time alone camping in the backcountry, but also visiting family for a few days at a time. It was one of the best times of my life, and is a whole story all of its own that I’ll tell in another post. In short, I realized on that trip that it was a divorce I wanted. I should note here that I was not married to Kari at this time in my life.
Perhaps it’s the positive changes that I have made in my life since then, but quarantine has left me feeling very bored, for lack of a better term. Although I’m teleworking on my same work schedule as before quarantine, I’m still experiencing very strange effects that I guess can best be described as cabin fever.
I’m writing this at 4 am on a Thursday. I’ve been up since 1 am, which is just one symptom that I blame on quarantine. I’ve had trouble following a ‘normal’ sleep schedule my entire life, but without the structure of commuting into the office, I’m less worried about following a routine sleep schedule. The difference now is that I don’t worry myself to death over whether I’ll wake up in time for work the next day. Teleworking has reduced the level of stress due to my unusual sleep habits, but it’s also enhanced the odd times that I sleep.
Further, at the beginning of quarantine I was very motivated to get little projects completed around the house. One of my least favorite things to do in the world is maintenance on my home, so it has stacked up. Since I’m not commuting, I have loads more time on my hands to catch up on all these details that I’ve been putting off. Before quarantine, I went to work Monday through Friday, came home, ate dinner, watched a little TV, then went to bed. The only time I had for fun stuff was on the weekends, so I spent time on the water and doing other things I love rather than doing things I absolutely despise, like cleaning gutters.
As quarantine has dragged on into summer, I’m losing motivation to even do the things I love. Just two days ago, Kari was encouraging me to get out of the house and go paddle boarding, something I really love doing. But I couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of doing anything other than sitting on the couch, even though the weather outside was perfect and I had plenty of time on my hands. I have spurts of motivation where I’ll go mow the lawn or fix something that I have neglected, but mostly, I sit in my office at home and work, then go to the couch, then fall asleep at weird times.
Is this what depression looks like? Absolutely!
I finally have tons of time on my hands to work, work on my house, AND do the things I love, all in the same day! But I can’t motivate myself to get anything done that isn’t mandated by the motivation of losing a job that I actually love or getting a fine for not mowing my grass. What is causing this?
Am I weak minded? Am I unmotivated? Am I no different than 99% of the population? The first two I’m most certainly not. The last, well, yeah. Statistically speaking, I’m not unique from the majority of people. What does the majority of the world's population have in common that I’m missing out on right now? Human interaction.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not as introverted as I had once thought I am. I need human interaction. I miss talking to strangers at the dock bar, or if I’m not talking to them, I miss eavesdropping on conversations around the bar. I miss joking with the staff and watching the sunset at my favorite bar. I really miss baseball. I miss traveling.
I’ve been feeling quite down lately because I had some stuff planned for Chesapeake Wanderlust that I’m not sure I should move forward with. One of those plans is definitely not going to happen, but I’ll write about it later because it’s something people can do after this blows over without seeing me do it first. It’s just more interesting if I can relate it to the world while actually doing it.
The big one that I’m still contemplating is a Sea Doo ride from Annapolis to Richmond. I want to prove that you don’t need an expensive boat to explore and experience the Chesapeake Bay. I have the route all planned out, but it involves a couple of stays in hotels. I’m not old, and I’m not in the at risk population, but people my age that are otherwise healthy are still being killed by COVID-19, not something I’m willing to gamble with.
It’s easy enough to put the trip to Richmond off until next summer, but I need something to do. As you know from last year when I completed the challenge to spend 100 days on the water in a year, I’m a goal oriented person that feels lost without something to do. I’m going crazy not having anything motivating me to get through the year.
Most likely, I’m not going to Richmond this year. I can’t help but to hold out hope. I think about it every day. A number of scenarios have played out in my mind on how to make it work, but ultimately, I need to play it safe and just stay home.
Two things I know for certain are that quarantine sucks, but contracting COVID-19 would suck even more. I’ll live through this, and eventually I won’t be as depressed. Life will come back to some form of normal where we can be around strangers again. Until then, hang in there and realize if you are feeling out of sorts, you aren’t alone. As lonely as it is, we really are in this together.
Fair winds and following seas.
I'm not Alive just to pay bills and lose weight
I don't remember where I heard that. I may have made it up, but it sounds like something I read and then wrote it in my journal. It's dang true, though.
Why are so many of us so caught up in paying our bills and losing weight, that we forget to stop living? It dumbfounds me that people work year round without a vacation, then wonder why they are gaining weight. Of those that do take a vacation tend to vacation for one or two weeks a year. I need to be more clear. It doesn't dumbfound me that people work year round with little to no vacation. It dumbfounds me that I used to be OK with this.
My early adult years were spent pursuing a career. Making lots of money was the single motivator for my life and the decisions I was making. My first choice was to be a pilot. I chased that dream for many, many years before I finally gave up on it. The second career I shot for was firefighting. Again, after many, many years of volunteering, interviewing, and getting put on 'the list', I got tired of doing it for free and gave that one up.
While pursuing these two failed careers, I generally had two jobs when my main job would allow me time. I can think of two jobs that kept me busy enough I didn't have the time or energy for a second job, even though both of those jobs paid peanuts. I'm a dreamer, though, and never gave up on finding that magical career in which I could make lots and lots of money.
Along the way, I discovered the majority of the people I knew that were making it big were business owners. Being the creative person I am, I put on my thinking cap and came up with some business ideas that were just different enough to make me competitive in those niche markets. First, I started a business that sold people's unwanted junk. I'd go their house, inventory everything in their garage or storage units, take very high quality photos of those items, and list them on various websites. The business model looked great on paper, but in reality I couldn't get the pricing right in order to make money for myself.
Another business I started was an all electric, organic lawn service. I mowed lawns with battery powered equipment and had a cool setup on my Volkswagen Golf, instead of a truck, to haul my equipment around in. I did this for a year and was starting to gain momentum when I shut it down for an opportunity to chase another career that I had been working on for several years. This business model still has potential, but now I'm too busy to start it back up.
During those years of chasing a career I met many older guys through my various part time jobs that had given up very successful careers to live an easier, less stressful lifestyle. Their advice went in one ear and out the other. In my mind, it was easy for them to talk about getting off the corporate ladder because they had already climbed it. I was still thirsty for my own sip of that Kool-Aid.
What I didn't realize at the time was the traps I was setting for myself by thinking, "Things will get better when goal x happens." Guess what. Things never got better and goal x kept shifting. That is, until my career goals were actually met.
I can't talk too much about what I do now because shutting down the lawn business led to a lucky break within the federal government. I absolutely love this job and it pays well. All of my earnings goals have been met, as have the job satisfaction that I've been craving. The downside to this new success? Now I don't have the necessity to pursue other opportunities.
When I was younger, I had the privilege of taking chances. I could drop everything for any opportunities that looked promising, even if they were sketchy on the surface, because the jobs I had weren't paying well and they sucked, overall. It feels strange to not need a second job anymore. It feels even more strange to not have my eyes and ears open to the prospect of new opportunities. I'm happy where I'm at, and now I'm deathly afraid I'll stay with this job until I'm ready to retire.
Why does the prospect of a secure job with a great retirement scare me so much? I'm a dreamer. And now that I've tasted the Kool-Aid, and I realize how much I like it, opportunities are flying past me. Instead of living a minimalist life at sea exploring the world, I'm buying expensive trucks and jet skis. I now own a house, which has been the worst decision I've ever made with my money. Every time I spend money on my house or cars, I'm further locking myself into this career until I will be forced to stick with it through retirement.
Living to work and gaining an unhealthy amount of weight are not at all what I had envisioned while chasing my career dreams. I had hoped the more money I made would lead to a better life. It has, don't get me wrong. But it isn't the life I want.
I would be doing myself and others still chasing the dream I've obtained a great amount of injustice if I didn't use my current earning capacity to do something good with it. If you read my previous posts about financial security, you already know I don't want a big house and fancy cars. Yes, they are tempting, even for me. But every time I'm tempted to spend $50,000 on a new Jeep, I, with help from my supportive wife, remind myself those things are not getting me any closer to my ultimate goal.
In a sense, I'm still stuck in the rut of 'things will get better when goal x happens,' but now that goal is more aligned with the old guys that I worked with at REI. I've become one of those guys that made it and now want a simpler life. I try not to tell myself things will get better when x happens since things can't get any better than what I'm currently experiencing. But, wouldn't it be nice to have a life worthy of thousands of YouTube views?
Our goal x has shifted to obtaining financial independence. With a good deal of dedication it is a real possibility. Mailbox money, as some call it, where one doesn't have to work but still gets checks in the mail. Fuck you money, others call it. In other words, I don't need what an employer has to offer, so fuck you.
I'm too old to ever have a mansion and tons of cars and a 100' yacht, but I'm in the perfect position to live a simple life on vacation every day. The next step is to get fed up enough with the status quo, working to pay bills and losing weight, to build up the courage to jump off the upper rungs of this career ladder and just do it.
They say it's best to write down your goals, so here is a simplified list of the things I want most out of life.
1. Acquire our forever boat.
2. Become financially stable enough to not need a job.
3. Sail off into the sunset and do things interesting enough that people would want to watch on YouTube.
Good luck to all the dreamers out there that are still chasing the lifestyle they crave.
Fair winds and following seas, y'all!
It was a cold, rainy day in December 2018. A guy was meeting me at the bank after he had responded to the online classified ad for our 2015 Sea Doo. Braving the elements, knowing this would be the last time I would wash her hull, I took a few moments to say goodbye. Memories flooded my mind as my cold, soapy hands glided along the yellow vinyl seat. It wasn’t unlike saying goodbye to an old friend, but not just any old friend. This old friend had kept us safe when conditions were anything but. She had provided us with many of our most cherished, most exciting experiences on the Chesapeake Bay, including the time we took her on our honeymoon.
The week after Kari and I got married, we brought my old 27’ Hunter, Rhumb Line, up from Topping, VA on the Rappahannock River to Deale, MD. During the five day trip that we lovingly dubbed our 'Honeymoon Cruise', the Sea Doo was right there along for the ride. Kari rode the ski out of the marina to our rendezvous point where we finally met up an hour later in the safety of the vastness of the Rappahannock River. She took the opportunity to get a few photos of Rhumb Line looking majestic under full sail with me at the tiller. After running a few circles around Rhumb Line, Kari clambered aboard the boat, not to get off again for three more days.
The ski rode fantastically tied off 20’ behind us as we sailed up the bay. When anchored for the night, the we pulled the Sea Doo in close, just as anyone would do with a dinghy. The third day, we pulled into Solomons Island to fuel up. There was a nice restaurant beckoning to us from the top of the marina. After having spent the last three days underway eating leftover wedding spaghetti from a plastic freezer bag, we were both feeling like this doesn’t have to be a quick stop just for fuel. The friendly fuel dock attendant helped us secure Rhumb Line out of the way, then bid us good day. Although both of us were stone cold sober, we drunk-walked like Jack Sparrow up the dock to the restaurant, our sea legs refusing to adapt to the sudden change to solid ground.
We’re all familiar with sea sickness, but for the first time in our lives, Kari and I both experienced land sickness. Walking a straight line was out of the question as we did the best we could to stay on the dock and out of the water. We must have been quite a sight for the restaurant patrons enjoying their marina view with dinner. Two dirty sailors drunkenly walking up the dock, laughing and holding hands.
“Do you think they are coming here?” I could almost hear an old lady whisper to her husband over her Chardonnay and braised rockfish.
Before leaving Rhumb Line, I did the restaurant a favor by changing my shirt for the first time during the trip. Still, the hostess seemed less than pleased with my disheveled look. If she had been trying to hide her disgust with us, she was doing so poorly. Begrudgingly, the poor girl showed us to a table where Kari and I would laugh over a bottle of wine, and reminisce on this fantastic voyage we had set out on three days earlier. The food was splendidly more delicious than cold spaghetti.
While sitting at the table, we decided we didn’t want to spend another night at anchor. We weren’t going to make it to Deale before nightfall, and a quick check of the weather for the next day warned of gale force winds that Rhumb Line wasn’t up to the task for.
“Good news,” I told Kari with my mouth full of fish taco, “The weather is crummy tomorrow!” She knew this meant a night in the peaceful confines of a marina, which is the polar opposite of sleeping on a tumbling boat jarring at the end of the anchor rode at the top of every wave and being rudely awoken every few minutes by the Sea Doo slamming loudly into the hull. We ordered more drinks and searched our phones for marinas to start calling for last minute availability. This was May, when more boats are still on the hard than in the water, so it wasn’t difficult to find a slip that early in the season. We did better than find a slip. We found a hotel attached to a marina with a room available!
We were able to walk straight now, but our stomachs still hadn’t settled. Both of us were looking forward to a hot shower and a warm bed. A night on the town didn’t sound like a bad idea to a couple of sailors that have been at sea for three days, either. Rhumb Line did not have any modern day conveniences like electronic chart plotters, or even a depth sounder. So we motored aimlessly, Sea Doo pulled in close, through the watery maze that makes up the bulk of Solomons Island. It was getting late in the afternoon, so the waterfront bars were filling with curious drinkers that enjoyed laughing and taking photos of the old, worn out sailboat towing the brand new, shiny Sea Doo through town. I tried to ignore it, but someone pointed and laughed.
Kari and I were too excited at the prospect of hot showers to take any notice of the peanut gallery on shore. After taking every wrong turn possible, we finally stumbled upon the hotel. Rhumb Line was happy in her berth, getting a well deserved break after a bath and some tidying up of her cabin. Then we raced each other up the dock, a bottle of wine and a few loose bottles of beer clanging in our luggage, to the hotel for our own well deserved baths and tidying up.
A shower beer is a wonderful thing after having been underway on a boat that was roasting in the daylight and freezing at night. I had a few shower beers under the endless stream of hot water, along with a couple of glasses of wine in hotel Dixie cups. After showering and cleaning up, and feeling loosened up from the alcohol, Kari and I decided to walk to West Marine. Note to self: Don’t go to West Marine on a buzz. In less than one hour, Rhumb Line had a new chart plotter.
That night, we were ready to hit the town. As newlyweds that had survived, rather thrived, being cooped up with each other on a 27’ boat for three days and two nights (really four days and three nights, because we stayed on the boat in the marina the night before we left), we were ready to let loose and have some fun. After returning from West Marine with my new chart plotter in hand, we both took a quick nap, then headed out at about 9 pm, raring to go.
I guess Solomons attracts an older, family friendly crowd. We were hard pressed to find anywhere open after 9 pm. Defeated, but still not ready to give up on our good times, we found a liquor store and ended up back where we started; in the cockpit of Rhumb Line. Even our own boat wasn’t a good place to celebrate, as it became apparent people were trying to sleep on the boats around us. Never ones to stop having fun before it expires, Kari and I migrated to the hotel room to finish our newly purchased bottles of wine. When we woke up in the morning, we found only one bottle had been opened and two cups next to it, untouched. We both were too tired and had fallen asleep. I cringe to think about how close we were to falling asleep on Rhumb Line when we had already paid for a comfortable hotel room.
When I woke up in the morning, with a groggy head, I checked the weather. A lucky break in the forecast would allow us to leave for Deale today. We talked it over, and based on the good weather outlook for the week, we decided it would be nice to stay another night in Solomons. On day four of the Honeymoon Cruise, we took the ski out to explore the town.
Our first stop was the Calvert Marine Museum. They had a floating dinghy dock where we were able to leave the ski while we explored the halls and lighthouse of the museum. After a charming visit to the Marine Museum, we loaded back on the ski and headed over to the Patuxent River side of town where I had made arrangements with the local jet ski rental outfit to let us tie to their dock for the day. Their season hadn’t started yet, so they were very friendly about letting us tie up at their facilities for as long as we wanted. From there we were able to walk the entire town, sample all the restaurants we could muster, and even visit the other museum in town, the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. As a biologist, Kari was in heaven. It was a fascinating place where we both enjoyed talking to the staff about the work they are doing.
The following day, after two wonderful days in which we fell in love with Solomons Island, we bid farewell and pointed Rhumb Line’s bow toward Deale. Ten long hours later, we pulled into the slip in Tracy’s Creek after enduring one of the worst days on the water either of us had ever experienced.
The entire ordeal was completely my fault. I checked the weather, and things were supposed to be fine, but the forecast was wrong. We left Solomons with good wind in the sails, but around noon the wind died to nothing. After I realized we were going backwards for a while, thanks to the new chart plotter, I resentfully lifted the cover off the old Yanmar so I could short the starter solenoid with a screwdriver. At some point during the cruise a wire had come loose, rendering the key useless. Somehow, the old engine sprang to life every time I really needed it to, and we spent the next three hours motoring up the Bay.
Later in the afternoon, the wind filled the sails until finally the engine’s services were no longer needed. Shutting the engine off was much easier than starting it. All I had to do was leave the old thing in gear and pull the throttle down to idle. That’s OK if you are in the open bay and want the engine to die, but not so great when you are pulling into a slip and it suddenly goes quiet. Maneuvering Rhumb Line in the tight confines of marinas was always a circus show.
Sailing was great for about an hour, then the wind quickly overpowered Rhumb Lines old rigging. I could feel the weathered tiller handle flex under the pressure of the rushing water flowing over her rudder. I should have replaced the tiller handle before we left, and now it was dangerously close to the point of snapping. It was when the zip ties holding the entire steering contraption together started popping off that I decided it was time to put a reef or two in the mainsail.
The seas were picking up, but were coming at us from astern. These old Hunters can handle a pretty good sea off the stern, so the four footers that rolled under us on that day weren’t really posing much of a problem. Still, this is where it all went wrong.
I had Kari take the tiller, the only instructions I gave here were, “keep the bow pointed into the wind.” With Kari safely at the tiller, I made my way forward to bring the big main down and tie in the first reef. The next thing I know, we are showing our beam to the big waves. The boat started rocking and rolling, dipping one rail into the water after the other. As waves washed over the deck, I clung onto the base of the mast with my arms and legs like a scared, pissed off cat stuck in a tree during a wind storm. I looked back at Kari and she had the tiller pushed hard over out of the wind! Fear took over. All I could think of was, “I’m going to get bucked off this rodeo and she won’t be able to come get me!”
I’m not happy about how I handled the situation, but I hollered the things I hollered, and I own them. I’m a better person because of this experience, and I’ll never talk to my sweet wife like that again. Kari was on the brink of tears as I cursed and spat from my perch at the base of the mast. I felt stupid. I felt like all the other boats could see what was happening, and I imagined them shaking their heads in disbelief at the predicament the “newbies” have gotten themselves into. “Is that a Sea Doo they are towing?” they were surely asking each other, then belting out in laughter at the idiocy of the situation we had allowed ourselves to get into.
I’m not a newbie. I know better. I know not to go into a situation like this without fully briefing the crew, and without a plan a, b, and c. I was mad at myself, but I took it out on the only innocent person on the boat.
I managed to wrangle the main all the way down rather than putting in a reef and risking a knockdown while trying to save this situation while under sail. I doused the headsail then lifted the cover off the engine to perform the tedious task of shorting the start solenoid with a screwdriver while rocking almost vertically on each side every few seconds as four foot waves tossed the little boat completely out of control. I continued to curse and lecture Kari like she was a child. We motored the rest of the way into Deale, about two hours, in silence, neither of us wanting to talk to the other. Poor Kari rode those two hours in the cabin, the only place on the boat that was as far away from me as possible.
I had ruined what was an otherwise enjoyable day for her. She was putting up with the deteriorating conditions like a champ. I was impressed with her ability to lay in the sun and read a book, just enjoying our time together even as our little boat was being rocked and healed over at uncomfortable angles.
She has later admitted how close she was to jumping on the Sea Doo and leaving me behind. The ride to Deale would have taken her less than half an hour on the ski. Instead, she stayed with me and endured my assholery for two more hours.
So not only was the Sea Doo a great little tender, and a safety cushion in case anything went wrong with the boat, it was also a marriage saver in case the husband suddenly became a raging lunatic.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a keeper.
We called up the marina on the radio and managed to safely moor Rhumb Line in a slip where she would sit over the weekend before being hauled out for some much needed maintenance. In the nearly decade I owned the poor boat, she had never been hauled out. The bottom was an embarrassing science experiment showcasing every critter in the Chesapeake Bay that clings to boat bottoms. The old Yanmar needed a rebuild, and the interior wood needed refinishing, and in some cases, replacing from years of neglected leaking hatches that had allowed rainwater to flood the cabin.
We worked on the boat for a week before having a serious conversation about whether this is what we wanted to be doing with our time. A couple will figure out exactly what they want in a boat after a week underway on one that does not meet their expectations. As it turned out, we realized Rhumb Line was too small and needed more work than we were willing to put into her. The next piece of equipment we bought for the old Hunter was a 'For Sale' sign and a Sharpie. On it, I wrote in big letters, 'It's been fun, but it's time to move on. $100 obo.'
I bought the boat, which is a story all of its own, almost ten years before for $1500 and had kept it at the previous owner's house for free all those years. The boat owed me nothing, so as hard as it was to let this old friend go, selling her for $100 just to get rid of her was an easy choice to make.
The plan was to replace Rhumb Line with a bigger boat, a plan that still has not come to fruition. In hind sight, we shoulda just kept the old girl. At least we would have a boat!
People say the happiest days of a sailors life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. I couldn't disagree with this statement more. You make memories with these toys, whether it be an old sailboat or a new jet ski, that make it very difficult to get rid of them. In our case, we get so much use out of our watercraft that by the time we are willing to sell them, they aren't worth anything, which just adds insult to injury. The decision to sell a beloved friend is difficult. Having to sell well below market value is awful.
Fair winds and following seas!
December 16th was my 100th day on the Chesapeake Bay in 2019. One hundred days sounds easy for a person that spends as much time on the water as I do. I took on the challenge thinking it wouldn't be a challenge at all. It wasn't until I started logging days and actually paying attention to the amount of time I was spending on the water that I realized this is something I have to consciously put effort into.
The year started off strong. My first day on the water was January 1st. By January 13th, I had braved snow and ice to log six days. At this rate, I figured if I could log at least ten days a month I would be at 100 by October. Surely, I was getting on the water at least ten days every month without even trying. Right?
It wasn't until August 1st that reality hit me. That's when I realized I was only at day 25. My major setback occurred early in the year on January 13th when a ball from a Sweet Gum tree lodged itself in the Sea Doo's impeller (see the video here). This was the first time I had experienced a clogged impeller, so I was intimidated by the prospect of taking the jet pump apart to dislodge the obstruction. Intimidation combined with a lack of willingness to perform an endoscopy on the ski when it was 20 degrees outside and the fact I still had 339 days left in the year to get 94 more days on the water left me with little desire to play outside. Especially on the water.
A whopping 125 days later, warmer weather motivated me to face my fears and work on the ski. I spent hours trying to get the impeller cover off the bottom of the ski so I could have free access to the ball lodged in its bowels. The screws came out easily, but it was like the metal sphincter that protects the impeller from this type of mess was glued on. No matter how much prying, banging, and wiggling I did, it wouldn't budge. Finally, I remembered a cool set of pliers I had purchased a month prior. They are long needle nose pliers that are designed to fit in tight spaces. Come to think of it, they were designed perfectly for applications such as this. I easily poked the pliers through the grate, grabbed the Sweet Gum ball, and it fell right out. I could have blown on it and would have achieved the same results.
Not completely convinced that was my only problem since it came out so easily, I put the ski in the water and logged day 14 with a flawless ride on May 18th. Dang. That's all it took!? Now I was rocking and ready to knock out some adventures on the Chesapeake Bay.
Most people that join the SpinSheet Century Club do so on a sailboat (it is SpinSheet). In addition to being sailors, they freaking live for sailing. Most of the Century Club members, it seems, make extended voyages on sailboats, like across oceans, or are serious competitors that travel the country for a class. I'm not yucking their yum, at all! I'm just pointing out that 100 days on the water isn't really a challenge for people like that. But, that isn't me or 99% of others that enjoy the water just as much as anyone else does. We didn't even get on a sailboat this year, much less own one.
So I wanted to join the Century Club, but I didn't have a sailboat, I don't race seriously year round, and I wasn't planning any deliveries to Annapolis from Europe. What I DO have is a full time job that keeps me off the water most days and I have a busy life outside boating. To top it all off, I'm lazy. Seriously lazy. If I can do this, I have good news for you: YOU can do it!
Getting out on the water for 100 days is a monumental task for anyone, and even more so for those with full time jobs, families, and other obligations. It's surely obvious at this point that I had to get creative. I logged days on my paddle board, Sea Doo, and other people's boats. I even logged a water taxi ride at the Annapolis Boat Show. My biggest obstacle to overcome was, ultimately, myself.
Step 1: Stop making excuses. I don't have children, but almost everyone I work with does. A few of those with children want to go sailing, but they use their kids as an excuse to not do it. When I'm talking to my coworkers about my dream, luckily my wife's dream, too, to travel the world via our own sailboat, I can see the longing look come over their face that proves they share my dream. Yet, I don't care to count how many times I've heard people say they will go on extended cruises after their kids are off to college. On the contrary, I know plenty of families that are out there cruising as you are reading this! Here's one example of a cruising family that I know personally, and it's incredibly easy to find many more examples of traveling families on YouTube.
If they can cruise the world on a sailboat full time with three young kids, anyone can find time to get on the water 100 days this year!
I work full time. Just like any normal person, I'm tired when I get home. I refused to allow that to be my excuse, though. It's unreasonable that our society expects us to give everything we have to our jobs, when in return, our jobs give us little more than a paycheck. For most of the year I worked ten hours a day, Monday through Thursday. The last three months I worked eight hours, five days a week. Through both schedules, I forced myself to get on the water after work. This is not a challenge that can be completed taking the boat out for a few hours when the weather is nice on weekends during boating season. I figured I would have to go out, at a minimum, 2 days a week, or 9 days a month, through the entire year.
Step 2: Find motivation. Initially, my motivation was to post all of my water days on Instagram. Every task is easier accomplished with a team than by a lone individual. I'm a competitive person by nature, and very proud. Failing to accomplish this goal would have been quite embarrassing to me if everyone on Instagram, my friends, family, and strangers, saw me boasting about a goal, then not accomplish it. Few things are as motivating to get off the couch as having an audience of 1200 people on Instagram.
Most of my time on the Chesapeake Bay was after work, paddling after dark, and riding the Sea Doo when there was enough daylight left. Around August, although the exercise was good, I was getting bored of paddle boarding in circles. Eventually, I became bored with riding the Sea Doo because I had seen all the same places within fifteen minutes of the boat ramp. I only had a fifteen minute radius after work because I normally only had thirty minutes of daylight left and would have to ride fifteen minutes back to the dock before sunset.
Needless to say, I needed another motivator. I was starting to dread coming home and getting on the water, just to do the same old crap day after day. The extra motivation that worked for me? Beer! If there was enough daylight, I would ride the Sea Doo over to Stan and Joe's Riverside for a beer, then go back home. When I got off work late and there wasn't enough time before sunset to take the jet ski out, I would paddle over to the dock bar and stay for two beers! Win, win!
November came around and I was close to 80 days. I could finally see the end in sight, but the weather was getting colder. Now, instead of throwing on a pair of shorts and hitting the water, I had to squeeze into a wetsuit, and later, a drysuit. It was taking me longer to get ready to go out than time I was actually spending on the water. Although it was a fun conversation piece when I'd show up at Stan and Joe's on the paddle board wearing a drysuit in pouring rain, I was losing motivation again.
So I turned to Instagram and asked the people that had been following my journey to 100 for motivation. I asked them to send me DM's to keep me going if they didn't see me post for a while. Immediately after making that post, my heart sank. I had just done something that I have completely despised my entire life.
I've been kayaking for about fifteen years, and picked up paddle boarding about ten years ago. I'm in love with paddlesports. I follow it closely through books, I subscribe to the magazines, and watch all the films I can get my eyes on. Over the years I've seen many people accomplish amazing feats through human power on the water. I've watched Freya Hoffmeister break records, I've seen people row across oceans, paddle the Nile (and get eaten by a crocodile in the process), and recently I watched a movie about a guy kayaking around Madagascar. I've even accomplished some pretty amazing things on a kayak, myself. As outstanding as these feats are, and as extraordinary as it is to watch people push the boundaries of human endurance, it always bothered me that they did it for personal gain and to break records without doing it for something more important.*
By asking Instagram for support, I was no different than anyone else that has ever asked for money or attention in order to fulfill a personal achievement. The same night I made the thoughtless Instagram post, I emailed Oyster Recovery Partnership to see if they would be interested in allowing me to turn the last twenty days of my challenge into a fundraiser for them. Surprisingly, they emailed back the next day and were more than excited to hear from me!
After working out some details, the deal was made. My next motivation was bigger than me, and much bigger than a personal challenge. I was asking our Instagram followers to pledge to ORP if I completed not 20 days, but 25 days on the water between November 21 and December 31st. Pledges poured in! In the first four days, we met our pledge goal of $200. I had promised $200 out of my own pocket if we hit the $200 goal. I was now committed to do 105 days on the water.
Beginning on December 11th, I was on the water every day until I completed my 105th day on December 22. I had asked for an additional $500 in pledges for a promise that I would go out on the water every day for the rest of December. We didn't meet that goal, but we ultimately raised $425 for Oyster Recovery Partnership, which will help plant 42,500 oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
I'm very proud that I completed this challenge, especially since I was only at day 25 on August 1st. I had to motivate myself to cram in days whenever I could, even when I honestly felt like going to bed after a long day at work. Headaches, head colds, rain, wind, 20 degree weather, icy water, and under the moon, I got out there and accomplished something for myself and for others. The success of the ORP fundraiser has led me to thrive for bigger things in 2020. I'll keep track of my days on the water, just in case I make it to 100 again this year, but my real goal will be partnerships with non-profits, artists, and influencers that are doing good things for the Chesapeake Bay.
I have some pretty ambitious goals to accomplish in 2020. I want to do more videos and blogging about exploring the Chesapeake Bay on the cheap. Since most of my 100 days on the water were on my Sea Doo and a stand up paddle board, I've become a sort of expert at navigating the Chesapeake without a million dollar yacht.
Perhaps the most ambitious of my goals for 2020 is a Sea Doo ride from Annapolis, MD. to Richmond, VA., about 250 miles one way. I'm going to do the trip alone, but the goal is to map out a trail where, in the future, others can follow in my tracks. It would be really cool if I could make this into an annual fundraising ride with a group of people. We'll see.
The next most ambitious goal is to circumnavigate the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Due to logistics, mostly because there aren't enough towns close enough together where I can stay overnight on the Eastern Shore, I will circumnavigate the Bay in sections, rather than all at once. A similar trail has already been formed, so I'll follow it, and I hope to promote it, but I want to see if I need to improvise any portions to make it work for smaller vessels, like PWCs and kayaks.
I've already sewed the seeds to participate in Chesapeake Bay beach cleanups this year, so keep an eye on Instagram, Twitter, and the blog if you want to participate. We will be promoting cleanups all over the Chesapeake Bay as we hear about them, whether we are able to participate or not.
Other than the beach cleanups, I haven't chosen a cause to benefit from these endeavors yet, but I have some in mind. Please, leave a comment or contact us if you want to partner with us, or if you would like to join me on a kayak, SUP, or PWC in 2020!
Let's do this!
*I'll concede here that many people are doing these crazy things for good causes.
Keep me on the water every day through the end of December! We are looking for $500 in pledges by December 22. If you make this happen, I will get on the water every day for the remainder of December. I'm like that kid that will do anything for a dollar. As a 41 year old, I feel like $500 is reasonable to suffer through rain, snow, wind, and extreme cold.
Today is my first day beyond the SpinSheet Centurion. Now that I've become a member of that elusive club, all days on the water are solely dedicated to raising funds for Oyster Recovery Partnership to continue their good work of planting oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. To date, ORP has planted 8.5 BILLION oysters! I can't get over that number! What might be more impressive is the incredibly small amount of funding they are able to do this with. They can plant 100 oysters with only $10.
As of publishing this entry in the log, we have enough pledges to plant 40,000 oysters. A little birdie has told me more are coming in tonight! I can't thank all of you enough that have pledged.
It seems like our original goal was too easy, since we hit it four days into the challenge! Now it's time for me to up the ante. I'm willing to sacrifice my own comfort for nine days of miserable winter days on the water. This will give me a total of 115 days on the water in 2019.*
We've made it as easy as possible to pledge: We don't collect any money, and you can pledge as little as $1. Head over to the pledge page and let's plant some oysters!
*If you are paying close attention, you'll notice that math doesn't add up. I have a little Easter egg waiting for you at the end of the fund drive!
You’ve heard of #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday but what about #GivingTuesday? #GivingTuesday (Tuesday, Dec. 3) is the biggest day of the year dedicated to giving back. No creatures give more to the #ChesapeakeBay than #oysters - they filter water and create habitat for other marine life. This #GivingTuesday, please "Give Back to the Bay" by supporting the nonprofit dedicated to restoring MD's native oyster population, @OysterRecovery. Normally, $1 plants 100 oysters but on #GivingTuesday donations up to $3,125 will be matched by ORP's board, which means your dollars plant double the oysters ($1 plants 200 oysters)! Give at oysterrecovery.org/donate.
If you've signed our pledge, consider giving at least a portion on #GivingTuesday to make your donation stretch further while they are being matched. If you have not signed the pledge, please do!
All year, I have been trying to complete SpinSheet magazine's Century Club Challenge in which I am trying to spend 100 days on the water during the calendar year. Nearing the end of the year, and the challenge, I decided I should make this about something more than just a personal goal.
I've partnered with Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) to help them raise funds for restoring the native Chesapeake Bay oyster population. This is ORP's 25th year, so they are asking for all of us to give 25 More. For my 25 More, I'm dedicating my last 20 days of the #Spinsheet100 challenge, +5 more days, for a grand total of 105 days on the water in 2019.
You can help us by signing our pledge to give to ORP this year if I complete the challenge. Less than 1 week into the challenge, we met our pledge goal of $200! So lets see if we can now double... triple... or QUADRUPLE the original goal!
You can sign the pledge here:
Or give directly to ORP on December 3 to have your donation matched on Giving Tuesday. Leave them a note that you got there from us, and leave a comment here that you've donated!
Do it for the oysters.
Thank you with a hug!
We partnered with ORP!
And we couldn't be happier!
If you've been following us on Instagram, you probably noticed I've been participating in SpinSheet Magazine's* Century Club challenge, in which I am trying to spend 100 days on the water between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019. Something has been bothering me about doing this challenge, though. I've been a water lover for most of my life, so I've kept up with amazing feats people have done on the water over the past few decades. I've watched people row across every ocean imaginable. I remember someone making an attempt to kayak around Greenland (or was it Iceland?), but I don't remember if they finished. How many times has the record been broken over the years for the youngest person to sail solo around the world unassisted?
Amazing feats as they were, I don't recall many of them doing it for anything other than personal gain. Still, people rallied behind them and they were able to raise the necessary funds and sponsorships. In my mind, though, I was always a little perturbed that they weren’t challenging themselves to bring attention to a worthy cause or nonprofit. Then I realized that's exactly what I have been doing with the Century Club challenge…
I've been posting photos and videos on Instagram and YouTube for my modest, yet supportive audience for over 3 years. During that time, I've done very little of what we originally created Chesapeake Wanderlust to do: Support the Chesapeake Bay through adventure and tourism while promoting local artists, businesses, and the people and organizations that are out there doing good for the Bay. I think our adventures on the Bay are spot on with part of our mission statement, and although we support local artists and businesses, we can do so much more.
On November 9th, I made an Instagram post with a pretty photo of my paddle board sitting in the water among the autumn leaves. In the caption I asked for your moral support to get me through the last few weeks of this challenge I set myself on. The post was well received, and many of you are cheering for me, which feels really good! But something in my gut doesn't feel right. Later that night, I made a pact with myself to do something special because I realized I did something out of character for myself and out of alignment with the values Kari and I set forth for Chesapeake Wanderlust. I asked for your support to get me through a personal goal without any regard to the impact this goal could have on something much larger than myself.
Then it hit me.
The Chesapeake Bay needs a lot of help throughout the watershed, but one of the biggest, least expensive, and most productive impacts to the Bay comes from oysters. Oysters are the magic bullet. They promote a healthy economy through aquaculture, wild oystering, tourism, and restaurants. I was recently in Maine and saw Virginia oysters on the menu. They promote resiliency through improved water quality and strengthening shorelines and marshes. They are delicious! One cool thing about oysters is that eating them is actually better than not eating them because – if you make sure their shells are recycled – then one oyster shell can become a home for as many as 10 more baby oysters! As if that wasn't enough, new research has found they are a carbon sink, so there are positive signs about oysters becoming a valuable resource in capturing carbon in the oceans.
It all came together, then I wasn't able to sleep the rest of the night; I need to turn the remaining 20+ days of my challenge into a fundraiser. I immediately went to work to make this happen.
For this giving season, Chesapeake Wanderlust is proudly partnering with the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) - a nonprofit dedicated to restoring Maryland’s native oyster population - in an exciting endeavor that will plant at least 20,000 baby oysters if I complete the challenge and become a member of the Century Club. Yeah...Twenty THOUSAND! We are asking you to help us double!… triple?!… quadruple?!!… however much we can come together to multiply that number!
I'm adding a little flair to the #spinsheet100 in hopes of encouraging you to pledge with us. This year marks ORP's 25th anniversary and they are asking donors to “Give $25 or 25% More” in end-of-year support to their programs. As if the time crunch of completing my final 20 days of the challenge with only 40 days left in the year isn't hard enough on me, in honor of ORP’s 25th anniversary year, I'm going to add 5 more days. Yes, I'm crazy. But sometimes it takes a little crazy to accomplish big things. Well, here is my 25 More. I'll do 20 days +5 more, for an annual total of 105 days on the water, and, in turn, Chesapeake Wanderlust will donate $200 to ORP, which will help plant 20,000 oysters.
We’re asking all of you Chessie-lovers to help the Chesapeake Bay by pledging with us. If I finish my 20+5 before the clock strikes midnight, officially ending 2019, can you make a pledge to a good cause? Our goal is to raise an additional $200, for a total of $400 which would plant 40,000 baby oysters. We are only asking EIGHT other people to pledge with us!
Can you “Give $25 More” during this end-of-year giving season? Knowing we’re doing something extra together to take care of the Bay will make me all the more likely to finish! :)
You can use this link to sign our pledge. All the details are on that page.
Use this link to go directly to ORP’s donation page. Just do me a favor and mention Chesapeake Wanderlust in the 'Additional Comments' box. We don't get any kickbacks, but it would feel good to know I sent someone over there!
*The kind folks at SpinSheet Magazine were generous enough to allow me to turn my participation in the SpinSheet Century Club challenge into a fundraiser, but are in no way involved in this fundraising effort, or sponsoring any portion of it in any way.
The last decade has seen an uprising of sorts from the 99% being fed up with the 1%. I'm not even sure those were actual terms before "Occupy Wall Street," but anyone will recognize what I'm talking about when I mention the 1%. I'm also quite certain that most people will feel some form of resentment towards the 1%, so maybe I'm crazy for admitting I want to be a 1 percenter.
I'm confused as to what the 99% want from the 1%. With a few exceptions on both sides, most people are in one of the two categories because they want to be. The few exceptions being those 99 percenters that are incapable of escaping because of injury, illness, or what have you; and those 1 percenters that were just lucky and born into it. Anyone else that has an idea, a skill, a dream, etc., can become a 1 percenter.
How am I going to do it?
Step 1. Get out of the rat race. No longer will I fight everyone else for scraps when I am fully capable of going for higher prizes. This is why I sold my truck that did nothing for me but impressed a lot of other 99 percenters. I know it impressed people because almost every day someone told me I had a nice truck. Compliments on a stupid truck aren't what I want out of life. That is not the reason I get up at 5:30 every morning to go to work. I work because my ideas haven't brought me financial independence, yet.
"I work because my ideas haven't brought me financial independence, yet."
Now I drive a beater, and guess what...People treat me differently. I don't fit most people's ideology of what a middle class person, much less a 1 percenter, should drive. Driving a beater is like having a people filter. If I want to see if someone is the type of person I want to associate with, one who will help me grow and enrich my path to getting out of the rat race, I just show them what car I drive. If they scoff, it's because they are forever stuck in mediocrity, and I don't want to play with mediocre people.
I recently posted this video on our blog from a YouTube channel called "The Art of Improvement" that perfectly sums up why 99 percenters that are fully capable of becoming 1 percenters never will. In it, the narrator says that jealousy is a waste of time, and any time spent being jealous is time the person you are jealous of is working towards becoming better.
I refuse to spend my time loathing the 1%, and will instead strive to join them. I don't understand why more 99 percenters haven't joined me. Actually, the video above explains it quite reasonably: It is hard to get into the 1%. And what is hard to achieve normally doesn't have much competition because few other people want to put forth the effort to achieve it. That's why the 1% is only made up of 1%, while 99% of us live in mediocrity fighting for scraps.
An analogy for easy vs hard: Look at the astronomical odds of winning the lottery. The odds of winning are so high because millions of people play it. Millions of people are playing the lottery because if they win, it's easy money. Aside from leaving the house and spending a couple of dollars, they had to do very little to earn it. But at the same time, starting a business that has a greater potential to earn more money than winning a lottery is hard, so very few people actually put forth the effort to do it. Or living below our means to save a larger portion of our income so we can retire earlier is hard because we want to impress people with that nice car, big house, and putting on a facade of what 99 percenters think it looks like to have money.
What does it mean to be 1% of the population? Does it mean being wealthy? I think that's what a lot of people associate it with. No matter what Daniel Tosh says about money buying happiness, and money buys wave runners (ever see a sad person on a wave runner?) becoming wealthy will not cure anyones problems. First of all, what is wealthy? Is it a million dollars? Billion dollars? Wealth is defined as 'having a plentiful amount.' It doesn't have to be money, but having a monetary value makes up the meat of the definition.
My personal definition of being in the 1% is when I no longer need to rely on a job to finance my lifestyle. Yes, that means I could sell everything, quit my job, and live in the mountains or a on a boat at sea and consider myself part of the 1%, but I want a more comfortable life than that. So to me, being in the 1% means a little bit more than homeless, and a little bit less than being a billionaire. In other words, it means I no longer have to fight the 99% for scraps.
Travel by personal watercraft (PWC) can be very fun, but being on such a small craft in a large body of water can pose challenges. Riding 50+ miles in a day can really add a level of stress to what is usually something very fun.
Most people ride their skis a few hours a year. Maybe they'll take them to the lake and putz around for an hour or two, then put it in the driveway to dry out for a few weeks in between runs. Then, there's us. We ride our skis (well, ski now) several times a week, and year round, often racking up over 50 hours a year. Since we aren't wanting to take on the additional expense of boat ownership at this time, we ride our skis all over the Chesapeake Bay. And I mean, ALL OVER!
I'm an old Coastie, so safety on the water is my number one priority. In this blog post, I'm going to detail exactly what we do to prepare for the safest long distance rides possible, even in rough weather. Preparing for a long distance ski ride is similar to a trip on the boat, but with a few extra nuances that shouldn't be overlooked.
File a float plan
The number one rule for boating is to file a float plan every time you get underway. This doesn't have to be a formal report to the nearest Coast Guard Station, or even a written plan. Just tell someone, preferably someone that cares about you, and consider two people if you aren't very well liked, where you are going, what time you are leaving, and when you will return.
The number one rule for riding skis long distances is to file a float plan.
The basics of an effective float plan start with telling a trusted person:
When I ride long distances, it's usually to meet up with someone. So I'll shoot them a text when I'm on the ski and departing the ramp where I splashed. In the text, I'll say, "I'm leaving now and expect to be there at 'x' o'clock." If I'm alone on the trip I'll shoot a message to Kari, also. When I get there, the people I'm meeting will know, but I'll shoot Kari a message letting her know I made it safely.
We also have an app on our phones called Life360 that allows us to see each other in real time. We can keep an eye on each other, even when it's not possible to make a phone call due to rough conditions, or whatever the case may be. We share our positions with the people that we boat with the most, so we can all keep an eye on each other.
As morbid as it may sound, having a last known position when you go missing greatly increases your chances of being found.
Proper equipment and gear is one of the challenges of a safe PWC trip that you normally don't have to consider on a boat. If you are going to haul yourself across a body of water like the Chesapeake Bay, you have to have the right gear. What started off as a calm morning, can quickly turn into a rough, and potentially dangerous, afternoon. Skis aren't only susceptible to weather, but being as small as PWC's are, they can be greatly affected by boat wakes and small chop. The Chesapeake Bay fills up with boats on the weekends, especially in the afternoon. All those boats rip up the Bay, even when calm weather conditions are predicted. The number two rule for riding long distances on a ski is to prepare for rough water, no matter what, because even a 1' chop can be challenging to a PWC.
The number two rule for riding long distances on a ski is to prepare for rough water, no matter what.
It's imperative that your ski is up to the task. Perform your pre-ride checks per the owners manual. Don't attempt to cross the Bay if the ski needs maintenance or repairs. We generally keep our skis until they have over 100 hours, then we sell them. Sea Doo's like we ride are expected to last several hundred hours, and we change the oil every season, even if they are below the hours for an oil change. When we sell them, the new owners are getting a great ski that has been well taken care of, but they are reaching that point where I'm not comfortable taking it across the Bay. In my mind, it won't serve my purposes.
Have a full tank of gas.
Although you are a responsible skier and you checked the weather and distances and have concluded you can make it to your destination on half a tank of gas, keep in mind you might have to return on that same tank of gas. There aren't many places to fuel up on the Bay, especially since PWC's don't have the range boats do. I always leave with a full tank of fuel, and it has saved my butt on at least three occasions when the fuel dock was closed at my destination, or there just wasn't a fuel dock at all.
I prefer to fuel my skis up at a gas station because the gas is much cheaper on land than on the water. This also insures that I'm getting in the water with a full tank of fuel and I don't have to worry about whether the local fuel dock is open or not. Also, it saves time on my trip since I can get in the water and go without having to stop for gas. I normally haul the skis to the gas station up the road the night before a big trip.
Riding a big trip isn't the same as taking the wave runner out for a spin on the weekend. You are going to need to conserve fuel, which means you aren't going to be in Sport Mode jumping wakes and doing doughnuts. Remember, you are going to be all alone and miles from the nearest fuel source. There are plenty of times on our rides we are 20 or more miles from the nearest fuel dock. Most of the time we are 5 to 10 miles from a fuel source. Still not a distance I want to paddle the ski just to find out the fuel dock is closed.
We own our particular Sea Doo skis for several big reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is fuel economy. The skis burn about 3 gallons per hour in touring mode, or 1 or 2 gallons per hour in Eco mode. Eco mode is your friend on long trips and can help prevent a stranding due to running out of fuel short of your destination. This brings us to our next section:
Pick the right ski!
Although many jet skis on the market today are capable of making long distance trips on the Chesapeake Bay, you need to do your research and choose the ski that is right for you. For example, as much fun as it is to go 70+ mph on a Sea Doo, I would not recommend a Sea Doo RXT 300 for touring. Here is why.
We have owned two types of Sea Doo hulls: a GTI and GTX. The GTI hull was our first ski; it was inexpensive so we could see if this was something we really want to do or not. Well, I guess it is something we really want to do! The GTI was great on gas, even better than the GTX we have now, but it was not comfortable.
After doing some research, we decided the Sea Doo GTX 155 is the best ski for us, for the following reasons:
There are certain laws in place for PWC's, so make sure you know them before heading out.
Wear, and fasten your freaking life jacket.
Other gear. This is the basics of gear. Leave a comment if you travel with something I haven't mentioned here:
Know the rules of the road!
My biggest pet peeve on the water is some idiot not knowing, or worse, ignoring, the rules of the road. It isn't hard. Here's the parts you need to know on a PWC:
Pay special attention to rule 4. It is very important. It means if some yahoo is breaking rule 1 or 2, it is YOUR responsibility to prevent a collision. This goes for all boats in all situations. PWC's are difficult to see, so stay vigilant to keep from getting run over.
In my experience, it's difficult to see to the left and right beyond my shoulders from the seat of my Sea Doo. This is because of the splash from the bow wake that comes up about 4' in the air right next to where I'm sitting. Also, I wear goggles over my glasses, so they are normally wet, which makes it even more difficult to see. Most boaters on the Chesapeake Bay do not realize that PWC's fall under the same rules and regs as all other boats, and seem to be under the impression that their boat always has right of way. Very rarely has anyone given way to me when I'm on the ski. In almost every case, I have had to avoid the collision, whether it's ignorance on their part, or they can't see me is up for debate. I assume I'm invisible unless they give some sign that they see me and are giving way.
The hardest boats for me to see are center consoles. I can see other jet skis from pretty far away. Long before I see the actual ski and rider, I can clearly see the splash. Larger boats are easy because you can see the superstructure, and most smaller boats create enough of a splash and wake that I can see that before I can see the hull, much like another PWC. But center consoles are small enough you can't see the hull from much more than a mile out, and they cut through the water so efficiently that there is no splash to give them away. Every close call I've had in the middle of open water has been with a center console that snuck up on me. They cruise at about the same speed, and faster in some cases, as jet skis do, so if you don't see them until they are a mile from you, you can easily miss them until they are right up on you honking a horn.
I wish more boaters understood how difficult it is to maneuver a PWC in rough conditions, which even a 1' chop can be rough on a ski. But, they don't and never will. So it's up to us to keep an eye out and start avoiding the collision miles away from the intersection.
Have fun out there! Share your trips by PWC on the Chesapeake Bay on social media with the #ChesapeakeWanderlust and #ChesapeakeBay so we can see your posts and give them a like! We love hearing from anyone that loves exploring the Chesapeake Bay, so all boaters are welcome to flag us down and say hi if you see us out there!
We are an adventurous couple exploring the Chesapeake Bay by boat, paddle board, jet ski, and whatever other means necessary!
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