Thursday, October 29, 2009

Emails from Italy

Dear Edee,
My wife has told me a little of shutting down  your Daytona life, but not all. You are absolutely welcome here, and we’re looking forward to having you. You are great crew, and a dear friend. We will have memorable adventures.
We are here in Italy for the winter, through at least mid-March possibly early April. Then it’s across to Greece, around to the Greek isles until about mid-June, and then slowly start working our way back west: Sicily, Lipari Islands, Sardinia, Balearic Islands (you will LOVE these), then go to the Cape Verde Islands. From there, the crossing to Barbados should be about 12 days. We will spend that winter in the Caribbean, and then Spring in the Bahamas as we work our way back toward the States…by early summer 2011. …the Captain

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sailing 101: from Hobie Cats to SY Sounion

Prior to living in Daytona, I had one experience with sailing during Summer Camp on a Sunfish sailboat in a mud pond in Kansas. Still this memory was the amazing feeling of the wind speeding us along. It felt like flying.

When I moved to Daytona I was talked into buying a used Hobie Cat. Later I joined Fleet 80 and had some great memories sailing mostly with Dave Vaughn, a local obstetrician. My favorite story was when a Mana Ray got caught up in the Buoy ropes and headed out to sea during a Hobie Regatta. All of us unknowing sailors headed towards that buoy and continued to sail and sail and sail without the buoy getting closer. Finally the committee boat whizzed past us to cut the creature free and call off the race.

The Captain I will sail with was hired as a new reporter for the Company in the late 80's. His experience was sailing boats at his Alma mater: Stanford. We started sailing the Hobie and taking friends out. Our biggest drama was getting caught in a massive squall off the coast. Too far out, we tried to make it to shore, the wind screamed as we had the boat on one hull with both of us leaning back in the trapeze harnesses. Lightning was striking all around us. But then, about 1/4 mile from Snack Jack's Restaurant on the ocean, the storm ended as quickly as it had hit, only to give us a dead calm. Stiff with fear from our ordeal, we had to swim the boat in!

He is one of the most goal oriented individuals I have ever met. During these Hobie-days, a plan formed in his mind and he set out to get his Captain's licence, giving him the knowledge and the ability to rent "real" Sail Boats and go off shore. With the Captain's lead, a group of 20- somethings would rent 36 to 42 foot boats out of Ft. Lauderdale or Miami and head to the Keys. Then we started doing Golf Stream crossings to Bimini and Walker Cay. After that they rented in the Virgin Islands. During this time, a plan started to form in his mind.

One of my best friends met him. I did not set them up but I am responsible for the mini skirt and putting them in the same room! They fell in-love and the plan developed; They would buy a boat, take sabbaticals, sell everything and take a year to sail the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Friends would join to sail legs of the voyages and long passages. I was one of those friends.

I met them in the Azores Islands, 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. I was there to help crew to Gibraltar on their 36' Southern Cross named "Sounion". Cape Sounion, 43 miles from Athens, Greece, is noted as the site of ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. This Sounion, had left Cocoa Beach, sailed to Bermuda, then the Azores.

One thing about the Captain is his demand for safety and preparedness. We used to joke that there were so many spare parts on board that it would be easier just to pull an extra boat behind us! Before I left, I was to obtain an 8 foot extra tiller from a storage unit in Cocoa and bring it with me. Have you ever tried to pack an 8 foot tiller? ...once I got there I found out this was the back up to the back up tiller!

The passage took us 10 days. With 4 people, the shifts at the helm were decent. My favorite shift was the 3am to 6am. I saw the most amazing Moon rising followed by the Sun rising in the same shift. After days and days of no signs of human life, arriving in the Strait of Gibraltar was amazing. All Cargo ships from every direction were heading to this 7.7 nautical mile opening that separates Europe and Africa. And the tiny likes of us, were sailing beside the towering tankers.

Then there it was, the Rock of Gibraltar. A sailors sign of safety and dockage. I left them a day later to continue their year abroad. After a day trip to Africa I backpacked 5 more countries via Euro rail for another 2 weeks and headed back to Florida.

They continued there adventure as planned...well, as planned as you can be when you are at the mercy of the Wind Gods. I'm not sure when the NEW plan was formulated, I think during this trip. They would get married, have kids, live life until the kids were older, buy another boat, homeschool the kids and repeat the adventure. 15 years later, this is EXACTLY what happened.

And this is the trip I am joining soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Decisions that hurt

I have to lay off an employee. They worked for me for 15 years. I’ve never had to do this so it is the hardest business action I have done to date. I have put it off for almost a month giving them some extra time, even though I am losing money. I am working with my door shut more than normal and tearing up in the office. They will never know how hard this is. Business can be cold. Following proto-call is robotic and looks insensitive…but there are no options. No one see’s my financials and no employee would be expected to understand the employer’s struggles. Most only think of themselves and their own ramifications. So it goes as expected: bad. Even the extra check I slip in their box is received with a sarcastic comment. By the end of the day, clients are calling-in reacting to the employee making bitter phone calls. I do as much damage control as I can. Other managers understand that the economy is tough and a tiny company like mine has to take the actions needed.

I learn there is no appreciation for the past, only bitterness about the present. I understand and I take it.

It’s hard to see the big picture when you are only looking at one piece of the puzzle.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Standing on the Edge of a Cliff

I made a promise to my sister long before I knew my life was going to take a twist. I promised I would join her if she did her first Half Marathon. It is my eighth Half and now it’s coming up in Kansas City this weekend. Ironically, as my life is changing, hers is doing the same. After 30 years in Finance, and being laid off by Sprint eight months ago she has decided to go to nursing school. And after 21 years of marriage and putting up with his multiple affairs, she has decided to end the marriage. We are both standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump. I have not told my job, she has not told her husband. But for now, that’s on hold. For this weekend we run, walk, move towards a finish line 13.1 miles away.

Small problem as I fly to KC…the regular Flu Shot I had yesterday is effecting me and I am breaking out in Hives. I have a shot every year so I don’t understand what’s happening. By the time I arrive in KC, I drag my sister into the bathroom showing her my torso. By the expression on her face I knew it was bad. I am having a severe reaction to the flu shot. With a call to my doctor, I get the meds but the itching is insatiable. For 48 hours I itch. Then by a miracle, the night before the Marathon I sleep all night. So by 5am, I decide; "I can do this”. I’m as afraid of the 40 degree temperature that morning as I am the itching! I carry some extra Benadryl and we head to the start line. As the miles pass, the fog is clearing in my mind. Changing my life is what I need to do, it’s the direction I need to take. I finish and watch proudly as my sister gets her first finishers medal.

Now both of us head toward vastly different life changes. Ready to jump off that cliff and head towards new finish lines.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The Company was given my ultimatum in September. Today I got their answer, they didn’t accept it but counter offered. It felt a sign. Because I was asking for a short term fix compared to my long term sacrifice, the small difference in the counter offer felt insulting. Drawing a line in the sand can be very tricky. Then telling myself if it goes one way it is a “sign”. Like flipping a coin to determine which way to drive; North or South. I did that once and ended up talking my way onto a Cruise Ship and ending up in the Bahamas. But you do things like that at 24. Now was I looking at a sign or looking for a sign? A justification that a tide of change had hit my heart and the idea of Sailing and seeing the World was starting to feel more right then than wrong.
I agreed with the counter offer.
I knew it was a temporary fix and decided it would give me more time to work on making my business profitable or more time to justify a change. SIDE NOTE: with time, this tiny 5% difference in commission would be the deciding factor. And the Company’s final decision maker, some big wig who doesn’t even know me, set my life on a brand new course.