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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

The blinding, paralyzing blanket of dense fog

Boats should move slowly in fog. Navigation Rules require vessels to reduce their speed to as low a level as is prudent under the circumstances.The shrieks and groans of steel crashing and grinding into steel came from all directions out of the impenetrable fog. Huge unseen engines roared like prehistoric beasts as two tugs moved gigantic mud barges. They had to disconnect their tows, rush around to the sterns of the barges and grind into them to push and pull. And nobody could see.

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This kind of bailout doesn't involve politics

Dockside sinkings are often caused by faulty underwater fittings, according to BoatUS, and the flooding can overwhelm the pumps.The closest I ever came to getting arrested was the time the Coast Guard guy came aboard for a “law enforcement check” and said he wanted to see my dewatering device. “Hell no” wasn’t the answer he was expecting.

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You may think otherwise, but I don’t like sharks

Misunderstood? Maybe, but the sight of a shark is a source of primal fear in humans.First came the stunning shock as two torpedoes exploded into the side of the heavy cruiser Indianapolis shortly before the end of World War II. Then came disbelief as the huge ship split, rolled and sank in less than 15 minutes. Then the surrealistic reality that of the 1,196 men aboard, about 300 went down with the ship. Then the muted agony as the roughly 880 survivors found themselves suddenly alone in the vast, hostile emptiness of the South Pacific.

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A fresh approach to ‘springizing’

The author in repose, the reward for finishing spring chores early.Spring hasn’t sprung yet. It’s still winter, and I’m still down south. I winterize my boat by sailing to lower latitudes and I like it that way. But I can’t help thinking about all of those boring “getting ready for spring” articles I’ve been seeing in boating magazines since I began reading them back in the ’50s. I’m already not looking forward to them.

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Small boat vs. large: It's hard to go wrong

Tom's Gulfstar with four of his little boats aboard (kayaks, sailboard and inflatable bags).I’ve got kayaks. I’ve got a 12-foot aluminum dinghy. I’ve got a 12-foot inflatable. I’ve got a 53-foot motorsailer. I’ve got a 20-foot Mako. I’ve got two sailboards. I’ve got some inner tubes. I’ve even got an 8-foot sailing dinghy that doesn’t sail very well after a tree fell on it and I tried to fix it. But, hey, it floats.

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