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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

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.



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.



A symbiotic bonding of islands and boats

Tom has explored islands from the Chesapeake to the Bahamas and beyond.My first tropical island was in the southern Chesapeake Bay. Maybe it wasn’t tropical to my geography teacher, but it was to me. There were white beaches, a lagoon, little island trees, a tall white lighthouse and, best of all, no other people. I’d go there in my 18-foot skiff with the homemade plywood cabin and hang out for days — willfully alone on my deserted island.



Project boat advice from the trenches

Tom NealeI’ve been buying boats for more than 50 years — sinking derelicts, kayaks, sailing dinghies, small power cruisers, center consoles and large motorsailers. Some have been new; most have not. I’ve learned some things in the process, through lessons hard and soft, and I’ll share a few here.



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