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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

The truth hurts: Storms just don’t care

Andrew smashed into Florida more like a mammoth, ferocious tornado than a hurricane.In a way, they’re like ticks. If you’re out in the woods long enough, you’re bound to get more than a few bites. I’ve been on the water in many different boats and in many different places for the majority of my life. So I’ve been bitten by more than a few hurricanes, and I’ve collected a lot of hurricane stories.

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The small things to do before a big storm hits

If you're well prepared before the weather turns, you'll keep your anxiety levels down when storm clouds do appear.When storms come, it may be far too late to do what you need to do. Although some things, such as adding extra lines, can often be done within a few hours of the expected blow, other things should be done well in advance. Many of these are important not only to survive a particular storm but also for your overall boating safety.

Here I’ll discuss some of the steps you should take for basic readiness.

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Using your head instead of your keel

Breaking water indicates a shoal has built beyond the channel marker.Every year, cruising websites fill with “breaking news” and panicked reports about boats running aground as they head south on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Tips are posted on how to get through these treacherous areas, and a week or so later there are often new tips that say the previous ones are no longer valid.

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Three of the mistakes I’m willing to fess up to

Writing about all of the intelligent things you’ve done seems to be in vogue in boating magazines and books these days. I may have even been guilty of this from time to time. But I’m here today to set the record straight — or straighter.

Here are three mistakes I’ve made that have taught me there are lessons to be learned out there, even if I haven’t learned them.

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Expert advice: 15 tips to get you out and back safely

A skilled helmsman can work a capable passagemaker in raucous conditions.There is a place on Earth where no one can help you. It is an alien place of destructive, killing powers that have always and will always be capable of totally overcoming any and everything mankind can do to survive. It is the sea. And it covers most of the Earth.

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