There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.   -- Joseph Conrad

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    Welcome to HSD

    Drifter At Anchor

    "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

    I welcome you to this site, a sailing blog for Jack Webb of the sailing vessel Drifter, a vintage Westsail 32. The site was created as a means to keep in touch with friends and family, but also includes comments, articles and viewpoints about the restoration and refit of s/v Drifter.

    As my father's life drew to a close early 2006, I took a sabbatical, that we might share precious time before his passing. This period crystallized the cliche "life is short". With both enthusiasm and trepidation, my father shared those aspects of life that he found most rewarding and most regretful. Though his life was full, he clearly then subscribed to Twain's prescription, albeit too late to effect an impact.

    During this time and in retrospect thereafter, I've rekindled a long-held dream to see the world from the deck of a small boat; to find freedom, open air and adventure, and to find it on the sea. In the words of Henry David Thoreau: "The sail, the play of its pulse so like the fabric of our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." In sailing through life, we all must take our turn at the helm... our time on watch. Yet, in then end, time for each of us stands still, as the sand chokes in the watch-glass.

    We each must choose our own path through life. Do we follow the course laid out for us by others, or dare we chart our own destiny? Brainwashed by our economic system, we become entombed beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, and preposterous gadgetry and playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

    Recording Weather Forecasts for Later Review

    By Jack Webb | November 23, 2014

    This past week I finally installed my SSB (Single Sideband) radio, an ICOM IC-M802. I'm still playing around with the antenna grounding and various other aspects of the system to maximize reception and transmission. While checking out its performance this morning, I tuned in Chris Parker's weather report for the Bahamas ( I wasn't really expecting very good reception with the boat still in the Marina surrounded by other tall masts, but I was getting pretty good reception.

    While listening to the report it occurred to me that it would be worthwhile to record the broadcast for later playback and analysis. Most people that I know simply purchase a small portable tape recorder for this purpose. But using this method, the results are often less than ideal. Obviously, the best reproduction could be obtained by recording directly from the Radio. So I ran an audio cable (AUX cable) from the radio's speaker jack to the MacBook 's microphone input jack rather than plugging the remote speaker into the radio. I then ran another AUX cable from the phone jack on the MacBook to the AUX input on my boat's stereo System. This would allow me to listen to the broadcast through the main stereo system.

    In order to record the broadcast, I used the "QuickTime Player" application that is part of the Macintosh OS-X operating system. (No doubt there are alternate applications for doing this on the PC.) Once the broadcast was completed, I simply saved the recording for later review, using the date as part of the filename, such as "Chris_Parker_20141123.m4v".

    NOTE: By default, the volume is set to zero on QuickTime Player when you start a recording. So, you need to turn it up in order to hear the report while recording. If you do this, you can begin listening to the report ahead of time and just start the recording at the appropriate time. Don't forget to save the recording to your disk when you finish recording.

    An "AUXcable" (also called a "dubbing cable" is simply a audio cable with a male plug on both ends. (The most common use for this is to plug an iPad or iPod into the auxiliary jack of a stereo system.) The output jack of your radio is most likely "mono", while the microphone input is "stereo", but a standard stereo-stereo cable will work fine. I use this setup any time I play music or movies on my MacBook, so the sound comes through the stereo speakers. If you have one AUX cable, use it between the radio's sound jack and the computer's microphone jack. Then you can either plug the SSB's external speaker into the computer's earphone jack or use the computer's internal speakers to listen to the broadcast while recording.

    This allowed me to record Chris's broadcast on the Mac while I listen to it through the speakers on my boat's stereo, rather than the extern all speaker that came with the ICOM. The main reason for doing this was to provide me with a flawless recording of the broadcast for later playback in iTunes and/or QuickTime.

    I've attached a small segment of the broadcast for your review. This was a live recording taken from my M804 Single Sideband radio and recorded on the MacBook during transmission. Considering that I am still playing with the antenna setup, that I am 30 miles inland, and that I am surrounded by masts and trees, I'm pretty pleased with the reception.

    Use this link only if the above QuickTime Player doesn't work for you.

    Topics: Cruising General | No Comments »

    Restoration Under Way

    By Jack Webb | March 6, 2012

    Drifter At Anchor

    Having sold my home in Denver, I headed down to the boat in early October, 2011. For the past several months, I've been quite busy restoring my future home, s/v Drifter. The boat has been sitting on the hard for 5-1/2 years, in the high heat and humidity of south Florida, and it had been 3-1/2 years since my last visit. At the mature age 36 years, she surely needed some TLC. But there's little good to come from such a long period of neglect.

    The work began with a good cleanup, but the projects quickly added up. I had never imagined how much needed to be done, until I was too far into the job to turn around. Little by little, she's coming together. And though there are a few Westsails out there that exceed description, Drifter should end up being able to compete with the vast majority afloat today.

    The biggest current project is the reconditioning of the engine, a 1987 50HP Perkins 4.108. I got the engine started for the first time in 5-1/2 years, then removed it from the boat for stripping, repainting, and replacement of various parts. It's a big job, but one that should pay dividends for many years to come.

    Take a look at the many projects under way. I hope to be completed by the end of April 2012, then launch and begin the long journey to wherever she takes me.

    Topics: Restoration Projects | No Comments »

    A funny thing happened on the way to my life

    By Jack Webb | May 20, 2010

    With only two weeks remaining before the April 30, 2010 expiration of the federal tax credit for new home buyers, I decided it was time to get off my duff and get my house on the market. In the downturned market, I really wasn't anticipating much response, despite the tax credit. Much to my surprise, I received an offer from the very first prospect. Now what? How does one get rid of a lifetime of "treasures" in a matter of a few short weeks?

    I had hoped that I wouldn't need to store anything, but eventually realized that I had too much equity invested in all those possessions to simply give them all away. So I decided to rent a storage unit long enough to make a reasonable attempt to downsize in a more logical and calculated manor.

    So, off I go to the local office storage facility in order to inquire about ways to handle my challenge. While there, I engaged in conversation with the site manager about my upcoming plans to go cruising and perhaps a circumnavigation. Beatta is a quite delightful woman with an obviously quite sincere interest in people and their lives. On the way back from viewing the various rental options, she mentioned that she had inherited an old sextant from an uncle who had used it while doing service in the US Coast Guard. She said she knew nothing about the instrument and had simply kept it in her home as a "nautical decoration" in her study. Having downsized her home, it was mpw stored away somewhere. I told her that I did not have a sextant and would certainly consider purchasing it from her, if it was in working order and if it did not so much sentimental value to restrict her from parting with it. I asked her to think about it and decide if she might want to sell it, and if so, to decide on a price.

    When I arrived to sign the contracts, there was a plastic bag on the counter that did indeed contain the sextant she mentioned. When we finished our business of renting the storage unit, Beatta told me a very moving story...

    Beatta told me that when she bed the previous evening, she asked God to help her determine a fair price to ask for the instrument. At 4 am the following morning, she awakened with an answer to her request, which she then transcribed to paper. In addition to what was written down, Beatta indicated that she was asked the following...

    What price can a man put on his life? I speak a truth to you: There will come a point on his journey that all his modern technology will fail him. But this instrument, if he chooses to hone his skills with it, will save his life.

    How can you sell something to someone, when it already belongs to them? When this sextant was first made, it already had Jack's name on it.

    So, now I ask you... What do YOU consider a fair price?

    As the result of a gracious gift from a very special woman, I am now the owner of a quite remarkable C. Plath sextant, manufactured in 1945. The instrument is in excellent working order and I immediately reconditioned it and made a new case to safely protect it.

    How does one thank another for such a timeless and thoughtful gift? My belief is that all of Beatta's thanks and rewards have already been calculated and lie in waiting. God does work in mysterious ways!

    Topics: Cruising General | No Comments »
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