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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

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to get through these treacherous areas, and a week or so later there are often new tips that say the previous ones are no longer valid.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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Two scary close calls with the ‘good guys’

We lay anchored in the evening, to the east of Gun Cay in the Bimini chain of the Bahamas. The warm, humid spring air sent mixed signals about whether the next day would be the good Gulf Stream crossing day we expected. We’d hastened across the Great Bahamas Banks to make this weather window. You don’t mess with the Gulf Stream where it powers between the Banks and the East Coast, and we were being cautious.

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Bird snit: the bane of all who boat

Dealing with birds and what they leave behind is a fact of life if you spend time on the water.There’s nothing like waking up to that gentle sound of rain on your deck and finding it’s really the pitter-patter of falling fecal matter. Now, I’ve got nothing against birds, really I don’t. I just wish they felt the same way about me.

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