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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

No mechanical skill? There’s a fix for that

The best way to fix a boat is to sink it. Or should that be, the best way to sink a boat is to fix it? Both ring true and neither inspires much confidence, particularly when you realize that whenever everything is going well on a boat, something breaks.

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There’s more than one way to downsize

With a smaller boat, it's easy to enjoy a summer afternoon at a beach.I keep reading about “downsizing” in boat magazines these days. A few years ago, all you’d read about was “upsizing.” Sometimes I don’t know whether they’re talking about boating or Viagra.

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The ins and outs of running inlets

Conditions in inlets can change from favorable to difficult in a matter of hours.

Inlets are killers — killers of boats and killers of people. Here, where the sea thrusts into the land, there often occurs a fatal attraction. When things are going to hell outside, we long to find that inlet and get in to safety. But that may be the worst thing we can do.

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Stretching boat bucks to go the extra mile

Sometimes you can't wait for favorable conditions, whether you're a tug captain pushing a barge or a pleasure boater.As you’ve probably learned, the basic currency for anything you buy or do for a boat these days is a boat buck. And a boat buck is a thousand-dollar bill. When they say shopping is therapeutic, I don’t believe “they” are thinking about boat bucks. When it comes to boat stuff, more and more of us are trying to get our therapy these days with saving rather than spending. Some are even curtailing their boating or getting out of it.

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Don't shortcut the learning curve

We were anchored in a beautiful harbor in the Bahamas when a 70-foot sailboat gracefully motored in from the ocean. You couldn't help but notice its size, beauty and obvious quality. The chatter on VHF channels and on the beach was that whoever owned it must not only be very wealthy, but also very knowledgeable. How could you not be with a boat like that?

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