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Avi Rubin's Blog

Welcome to my blog. Here, I will post items of interest to me most likely focusing on: Security in Healthcare Information Technology Electronic Voting Security Computer and Network Security Sailing Poker Sports: Soccer, tennis, golf, football, Michigan

Updated: 2018-01-15T11:33:35.657-05:00




We woke up today as excited to head home as we were to leave Baltimore at the start of the vacation. Cape May is nice, but three days, especially when we planned on one night, was more than enough.As we pulled out of our slip in Cape May at 8:30 a.m., we felt completely physically and mentally exhausted. We drove our boat through the peaceful Cape May Canal at an easy 10 knots, and then we hit the open Bay, just on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The wind was pounding at around 15 knots, and the waves were 3-4 in my estimation. Nothing too scary, but also not exactly comfortable. Even up on the flybridge, we got splashed quite a bit, and so Ann decided to take cover inside and left me alone up top. I could have driven form inside, but this was my last day on the boat for a while, and I just love being up there, so I remained cold and wet and happy.As we moved further North, the wind died down, and the waves came down to 1-2 feet, which was hardly noticeable. We reached the tranquil C&D Canal in 2 hours, and Ann rejoined me on the bridge. After we arrived at the no wake zone in the canal, we made lunch as we putt putted at an easy 6 knots. Then, we opened her up, caught a nice current, and did 25-26 knots into the Chesapeake.We were so eager to get home, that I skipped the shipping channel (longer route, but no pots), and decided to cut across the Bay and deal with the crab pots. Dodging them from the flybridge is pretty easy, and we shaved 15 minutes off our trip.The last leg, from Cape May to Baltimore - finally!Just before 2:30 pm, we arrived in Harbor East Marina. We decided not to call for dock help, and I easily backed into our slip, while Ann and Benny adeptly tied us up. We are pros now! Before this trip, I hesitated to go stern in, and had only docked bow in, and even then I was nervous. After this 3 week trip, traveling most days and docking in all kinds of situations, our home slip seems like a piece of cake. Nothing better than first hand experience to build confidence. I'm ready for my 75' boat now! (just kidding, Ann!!)Home sweet home - our permanent slip at Harbor East MarinaWe spent the next couple of hours packing up our things, washing down the boat, putting on all the covers, and closing down everything. Unfortunately for Ann, during her car's three week stay in the Legg Mason Garage, somebody swiped the rear and side and left a nasty scrape without putting a note. While she was dealing with that, I ran into my friend Eric Yospa with his daughter. He had just texted me to ask if we were back from our trip, and here we were, packing up the car in front of the Four Seasons hotel. Nice to be back in Smalltimore, where you always run into someone you know!I thought it might be interesting to reflect on our trip and some lessons learned about cruising. These are in no particular order. I will revisit these before our next big trip.Always have a backup plan, and a backup for that backup plan. In boating, it is impossible to predict the challenges that will come up. One day your anchor will get stuck. Another day, the generator will stop working, or one of the engines won't start. The most common delays will be due to weather. It is a good idea to study the marinas along the routes you will take and to know where you will seek shelter if weather hits. It's a lot easier to deal with an emergency situation if you already have a backup plan than to try to figure out what to do in the heat of the moment. As our trip progressed, we got better and better at writing down our backup plans, and even calling ahead to ask marinas if they could take our boat, and if they were willing to hold a spot for us in case we needed it. Many marinas were surprisingly cooperative and understanding as well as accommodating.Keep at least 2 days worth of food and water on the boat at all times. You cannot possibly predict when you will be stranded somewhere. If you have to take cover from weather, you may very well end up at anchor somewhere, and you do not want to run out of food or water. We were good on food, but we had a close [...]

Day 21: Still in Cape May...


Our trip was supposed to end in Baltimore yesterday, but we are getting ready for our third night on the boat in Cape May. Amazing how the weather for the first two weeks of our trip was just about perfect, and we only had to make one minor adjustment, leaving NYC a day early and spending that extra day in Mystic - a tradeoff where we came out ahead. Similarly, the past week was a weather fiasco.On Thursday, as we were nearing Cape May, we seriously considered continuing on to Baltimore, but the waves got pretty nasty, and the skies darkened, and we realized that was a foolish idea. I forgot to mention in my last blog entry that as we neared the area just North of Atlantic City, we saw a huge whale. Right by the boat. Amazing - truly breathtaking. We also saw lots of dolphins.Yesterday morning, we came within about 30 seconds of casting off. The generator was running, we were off shore power, and I had the engines going. I asked Ann to come release the dock lines, and wondered if we should wake up Benny, when Ann expressed that she would not be happy if we hit unpleasant waves, and asked me how sure I was that it would be smooth sailing. There was a reasonable risk of bad weather, although I felt we could handle it in our boat. But that did it. I do not want to risk upsetting my crew, especially since I hope to convince them to take boat trips with me again in the future.So, we stayed in Cape May, where it rained pretty hard all day. Before the rain started, Benny and I hit the pool where we swam and tossed the football around for about an hour, while Ann did laundry in the marina. We have a washer/dryer on the boat, but Ann decided that our machine is okay for towels and linen, but not her choice for clothing.Later, we cooked dinner on board - Ann made falafel with fresh baked pitas that we had purchased uncooked at a vegan place in Boston, and which were frozen until now. Pretty, pretty tasty. Then, we got a ride from the marina staff to a movie theatre where we saw Spiderman. We all 3 loved it. Uber back home, and it was time for bed. The wind and the rain were intense, and I got up during the night to check on everything. The lines were holding, and the fenders doing their jobs. Love being in a marina in a storm as opposed to at anchor!We woke up this morning again thinking about going home, but a quick look at the weather forecast, and a discussion with the marina manager on duty changed our mind. He said there were "monsters" out there, referring to the waves, and even the 60-75 foot fishing boats next to us stayed home. Waves offshore were purportedly as high as 12 feet, and although the Delaware Bay was surely not as rough, we did not even consider messing around.Keeping ourselves busy today was a little harder than yesterday. It was too cold and rainy for the pool (which did not open today), and I think we had had just about enough of being in this boat in one spot for 3 days, not to mention living on it for 3 weeks. I spent most of the day working on one of my consulting projects, while Benny played video games, watched shows in his iPad and read his book. Ann mostly read her book. We started preparing some things for our return - packing up and putting things away. Benny and I deflated the paddleboards and stowed them in the crew quarters durning a break in the rain. At times the winds were unbelievably strong, and I had to move one of our fenders to protect our stern.As I write this, our plan is to take our raincoats and umbrellas into town, walk around a bit, and then hit this restaurant for dinner that Ann found, which of course has great vegan and vegetarian options. Fortunately, looks like they have some regular food as well. After this trip, I feel I am owed a major steak dinner, and I will definitely arrange something with some friends. Big, thick, juicy steak, dry-aged to perfection. That's what I need.The forecast for tomorrow could not look better. Good thing, because we really do need to get back home. I love my boat, and I love boat trips, but even good things must come [...]

Day 19: Brooklyn to Cape May


The night in Brooklyn was rough on Ann. The water was choppy, and Sababa was rocking back and forth, at times almost jumping out of the water. Our marina was on the East River, close to where it meets the Hudson, and the large commercial boat traffic had no speed restrictions. Some of those ferries literally fly. (Okay, that's actually the use of "literally" that I hate because they did not actually fly in the air, but they went very fast, over 30 knots.)The rocking and bouncing do not bother me, and in fact, I find them soothing, but they made Ann's nausea from the day before even worse. She did not sleep all night, and in the morning felt like she needed to be on land. We walked to a Rite Aid pharmacy that was 0.8 miles from our marina, and we picked up some dramamine and ginger ale. She took the medication, and we waited about 40 minutes before she came back on the boat, so that the anti-nausea would kick in. In fact, it worked really well, and she felt a lot better.Note to self: don't ever go on a boat trip without dramamine or bonine on the boat. The drugs are not useful if you take them once you're under way, but if you know that the day will be choppy, they can be taken on land, and then apparently, they are quite effective.Pulling the lines off in that marina was very tricky, so we woke up Benny so he could help. The boat was bouncing all around, and I regretted not calling the office for a dockhand or two to help us. I ended up hitting the dock ever so slightly in the back, enough to make me very unhappy.The trip to Cape May was slated to be our longest run of the entire vacation, but it was surpassed by yesterday's long run from Falmouth to Brooklyn. Still, it was a good 6 hours. As we pulled out of the marina, I took one last glance at the Brooklyn marina, where I vowed never to stay again. We'll find something more sheltered next time.Brooklyn Marina looks peaceful enough, but it is notWhile we did not like the marina one bit, the views could not be beat. As I pulled out and headed to the left of Governor's Island, I took a quick shot of the Statue of Liberty, and then turned and photographed the Manhattan skyline again.The view of lady liberty as we were leaving our marinaOur view of Manhattan before heading South for homeToday's run was one of our easiest. A straight shot along the coast with my waypoints set about 60 miles apart. I turned on the radar, set tracking to the waypoints, and I had very little to do. The seas were relatively calm, but towards the end of our trip, they grew to the point of discomfort, probably around 4-5 feet for the last 10 miles. We got out just in time. To our amazement we saw all kinds of small fishing and other recreational boats heading out the inlet as we came in. I don't see how those guys could survive in those waves. Good for them. (or not)Very easy navigation daySince I did not have to focus on navigating, I spent the day looking at the weather forecast for the next two days. Our itinerary called for leaving Cape May for Baltimore tomorrow. However, the forecast at Cape May, halfway in between at Chesapeake City, MD, and in Baltimore all looked horrible. In fact, thunderstorms were listed as possibly severe, and there was a gale force wind watch in Cape May with waves potentially 6-10 feet scheduled for tomorrow. It did not look possible to get to Baltimore on time. I called the marina that I had reserved in Cape May and asked if we would be able to stay a day or two extra to ride out the storm, and they agreed.Then, we had the idea of pressing all the way to Baltimore today. We did not have nearly enough fuel, so the plan we considered was stopping at the marina in Cape May, taking one last look at the weather, fueling up, and heading home - an 11 hour boating day. Crazy. But we would be home.At one point, we decided that this was the plan. However, I kept tracking the forecast, and the best we could do would be a 40% chance of getting caught in a thunderstorm. Benny really wanted to go for it, despite being the o[...]

Day 18: Back on track - making up lost time


We woke up this morning at 7:30 and made up some of the sleep we lost the night before. It felt great to be in a nice marina with full water tanks and calm sea waters. I went to the service office, and they immediately sent out a very friendly mechanic to look at our generator issue. He found seaweed and grass in the water hose that led to the pump, as well as similar debris in the pump itself. After about 20 minutes, he was able to clear everything, and we once again had a working generator!Once again, leaving Falmouth in our rear view mirrorWith our boat in full working order, we set out for Milford, where we were scheduled to arrive yesterday. The trip to Milford would be about 5 hours at 23 knots. We had great clear seas, and I sat on the flybridge thinking that life is good. I reflected on the surprise we had when we arrived in Falmouth yesterday docking the boat.As I was backing into the slip, the dockhand told me to be careful because my swim ladder was sticking out. Ann and I both exclaimed at the same time "We have a swim ladder?" That was news to us. In fact, when we were out in Baltimore before the trip, I looked for a swim ladder, and concluded that since the swim platform goes up and down, there must not be a ladder. But, there it was, on the port side, sticking all the way out. It must have come out in the storm we were in, and the poor thing was hanging out in the water with 23 knots of pressure against it the whole way to Falmouth. It is surprising that it was still mostly in tact. However, it was bent out of shape, and we were unable to get it stowed. Not sure of what to do, I got it in as far as I could, and then I secured it with bungie cords and a fender line. Doesn't look great, but it will hold until we get home and get it fixed.Turns out, we do have a swim ladder! Who knew?Since there were no boats around and no waves on our trip to Milford, I decided to use my time to look at the weather for the next few days. It appeared that today and tomorrow would be calm, but there would be thunderstorms along our entire path on Friday. I dreaded the thought of getting caught in more weather, and I also did not want to get home any later than we already were. I looked at our itinerary and realized that tomorrow's trip to Brooklyn was only about 3 hours. So, I asked Ann how she felt about skipping Milford and heading straight to Brooklyn today for an 8 hour ride, longer than we ever planned on traveling in one day.Ann was a bit under the weather today, and I think a bit nauseous from being on the boat so long. But, she agreed that this was a good plan. So, I canceled the slip in Milford, which we were able to do without having to pay, and I contacted the Brooklyn marina to ask them to ignore my request for a one day delay, and that we were coming today. It really was a long ride, but it was a pretty one. We saw great lighthouses on the way, and nice scenery and bridges.Lighthouse on Long Island SoundAnother pretty lighthouse closer to BrooklynGetting closer to New YorkI called the marina in Brooklyn to see if they had fuel because this long travel day used up almost our entire supply, despite having filled up last night in Falmouth. It turns out that they do not. It took me a while calling around to find a place where we could fuel up. There was no option not to because tomorrow is our run to Cape May - another long trip, and it's on open ocean, so we need to be full for that. Finally, I found a great place in Port Washington in Manhasset Bay. It was an absolutely stunningly beautiful cove, just outside NYC. Once we entered, we got a view of the houses, really mansions, right on the water. The dockhand told us that Chris Rock and Adam Sandler were currently renting houses there, and that he had seen them in town. Nice to see how the other .000001% live.Nice little shack on the waterThis one had a boat as big as Sababa docked in their private pierMaybe next time, I should buy diesel fuel in a more run down area. The bill was almos[...]

Day 17: part 2


We were not bored at all stuck on our mooring ball in Cohasset Cove, MA. In fact, we were super busy calling around to all the marinas between there and Newport, RI to see who could take us, assuming the seas were favorable enough for us to travel. The predicament was that some marinas said they had space, but only if we would commit and pay for the slip. Slips range from around $250 to $400 a night for a boat like ours, and we did not know where we would be able to get to, so we did not want to shell out the money, and thus, we could not guarantee anything.We were able to find a slip in Sandwich, MA, right at the entrance to the Cape Cod canal, but when we called back a couple of hours later, they said that someone snagged the slip from under us, since we did not pay. Given our lack of water and Ann's general feeling that she wanted to get off the boat, we decided to at least make a run for Scituate around 3pm. If the seas were really scary, we would just turn around and anchor again in Cohasset. If it was uncomfortable but not scary, we would make it to Scituate where we had a slip on hold. That would be an unpleasant hour to go 6 miles, but worth it to be on a dock with water and security. And, if the waves were not too bad, we would go as far as we could.The problem was that by 2:30, I was not able to find a single place past the Canal that had any availability for tonight. I must have made a dozen calls to all the different marinas. Then it occurred to me to try the Kingsman Yacht club in Falmouth where we stayed on our way up. They remembered us, and they told me it is against their policy, but they could hold a slip for us, and if we could make it there, it was ours, and if not, we would not have to pay.As we left Cohasset Cove behind us, Ann commented that she wanted to forget that place as quickly as possible. Pulling off the mooring ball and raising our anchor, I had to agree.The view from our ill-fated mooring ball at Cohasset CoveI decided to drive from the flybridge despite the cold air. It was 59 degrees and very windy when we pulled out. Initially, the waves seemed pretty manageable, but then we hit some big ones. Benny came up and told me we needed to go to Scituate because he did not want to travel in these waves. I had a sinking feeling that we were not going to get far today. I implored with him to see how he felt when we turned South, because the waves were coming from the East, and I thought that taking the waves on sideways would be less dramatic than head on. In fact, that was correct, and pretty soon we were surfing on top of the waves going in the same direction, and that is actually fun and not at all scary.  Benny agreed. We clocked in at 26 knots for a while with engine load at 85%. That is extremely good for this boast! I spoke with Ann, who was down below, over the radio on channel 73 (Lady Ann, Lady Ann, this is Sababa, over - yes, that's really how we communicate - using the marine radio and a portable that I keep inside), and we agreed to push on to Falmouth.Pretty soon, the waves dropped to 2-3 feet, and when we reached the canal about 75 minutes later, the water was still and calm, and we were so happy.The cape cod canal was our first calm waters in 2 daysAlthough it was still chilly out, we felt like the nightmare was over, and excited to tie up in Falmouth soon. We arrived just in time for a beautiful sunset, and I felt nostalgia for Elana, who was so into the sunsets on the trip with us. Lucky Elana managed to miss all of our adventures with the storm.A peaceful evening at lastAfter arriving in Falmouth, we could not fill our water tanks fast enough. Ann was already in the shower as the water was coming in. I washed down the boat while Benny excitedly hooked up his video games. Without the generator, we did not have enough power for him to play video games on the mooring ball, as I did not feel that was a good use of our inverter and house batteries in a crisis situ[...]

Day 17: Cohasset Cove


I suppose this blog got a lot more interesting the last couple of days. Nothing like a little drama to spice things up.When I left off last night, Ann and Benny were lying down in the salon because they did not feel comfortable in the bedrooms with no heat and greater rocking motion. It was warmer upstairs, and this way Ann could keep an eye on things. Neither of us slept much. Every time I started to fall asleep, we would get hit by a big wave or something, and I would jump up and check our bearings with respect to the channel lights. I don't think I ever slept for a full hour. At 5:15 a.m., Ann was concerned that the mooring ball was banging into the hull of the boat, and she asked me to go take a look. I walked out to the bow and adjusted the anchor a couple of feet, and noticed that this new setting was bad because the anchor line and the mooring line could get tangled. So, I put it back the way it was. It was wet, rainy and 55 degrees, and I was in my pajamas, so not the happiest camper in the world.I tried to go back to bed, and I think between 5:30 and 8:00 the three of us must have slept a bit. The biggest concern I had was our supply of drinking water. We were down to just a few bottles with minimal prospects for leaving here today because the forecast was not very good. Four to seven foot seas in the morning, going down to 3-5 this afternoon. I was also worried about power. The generator needs a mechanic, and our inverter would not turn on.I called our home mechanic, and he walked me through getting the 2000 Watt inverter working. With that in place, we can run the outlets to charge our devices, and even use the microwave and the toaster, but not at the same time. My plan was to run the main engines periodically for a short period of time just to keep the house batteries charged.We are also just about out of water in our tanks. So, I asked our mechanic about using raw water from outside the boat - the water we are sitting in. There is no mechanism on the boat to pump in that water, but we can scoop it up and drop it into our toilets to flush. I will say this about Prestige in Baltimore, their customer service is amazing. Their main mechanic has been on the phone with me throughout the last two days, and he's always proactive friendly and patient!After we ate breakfast, Benny and I took the dinghy to shore and filled up our two gallon cooler and about 10 empty bottles with fresh water from a hose. Now, with a working inverter and plenty of drinking water, we feel better, but we would also like showers, and Ann commented that she really wants to get off the boat.We spent the rest of the morning making tentative plans for today. We checked on the availability of marinas ranging from 6 miles away all the way to Newport where we have a paid slip that will not be refunded. We also canceled our reservation in Milford where we were supposed to be today, and postponed our reservation in Brooklyn. We also checked on the availability of mechanics to fix our generator water pump at various places.At the moment, the dockmaster here thinks that there are 6 foot waves out there. We saw a crabbing boat go out and then come back about 20 minutes later, apparently giving up on their outing. Not a good sign. So, we are staying put for now. If we get any indication that the weather is improving, we are hoping to take the boat over to the next town over, Scituate, MA. It's a 6 mile run, which will take us an hour if the waves are really bad, but could take as little as 15 minutes if we can go fast. We have a slip on hold there, and that would mean power, water tanks full, showers, and even possibly going into whatever town there is to find food.As I type this, a 36 foot sailboat passed us on the way out and we overheard their conversation with the dockmaster on channel 10 saying they are deciding to brave it. The dockmaster told them to come right back if it's too rough, so we'll see if they come [...]

Day 16: part two


This is a continuation of an earlier blog post that I wrote today. I left off where we were attached to a mooring ball, and everything was finally okay.Well, that was what we thought.So, around 6pm, the dockmaster comes whizzing by on her small boat and gesticulating wildly. I run up to see what's going on, and she yells through the pouring rain that one of our lines to the mooring ball has chaffed and torn completely off, and the other is about to go. By some miracle, she had decided to patrol and come by and see how we were doing. We had been keeping a close eye on the swinging boats around us, but had not looked at the lines on the mooring ball, and we were minutes away from completely breaking loose, without knowing it and without our engines running. A real near disaster. We would have charged right into the moored boats behind us, and according to the dockmaster, taken out all the boats in the marina. Probably a slight exaggeration, but it would have been seriously ugly. My god.The wind and the rain were pretty fierce, and the current was very strong. Even in this cove the waves were high. I immediately started the engines, and we began quickly thinking about what to do. We had some back and forth yelling with the dockmaster about whether to set our anchor, to go back to Boston and what other options did we have? We asked about tying up to the private yacht club dock, and she insisted that we could not go there because it was private. Ann yelled back that this is a serious potentially life or death situation, and the dockmaster said that we just couldn't do it.Ann and I talked and decided that at this point, with our boat about to break free, and under these conditions, we were just going to head to that dock and tie up and fight with the yacht club people if we had to. Would they really kick us off the dock and send us into the rough seas? I'd rather deal with the problem of an upset yacht club manager than this storm.I started up the engines, but immediately something did not feel right. The joystick control gave a warning that I only had partial power and control. What the hell does that mean, and why now of all times? The current brought us really fast towards the dock, which seemed small as we approached it. I did not have the power to fight it with the joystick, so I grabbed the main thrusters and the bow thruster and tried to slow our approach. As the bow would not come around, Ann suggested that I switch our orientation and go port side in. That was a great suggestion, as I would not have made it to the starboard side in time. Benny had to move the fenders to the other side with lightning speed, which he actually accomplished. He was amazing.I actually don't know how I did it, but I managed to get the boat lined up nicely with the dock and to stop it just right. I don't think I could do it if I tried ten more times. The port side engine was reading zero load, and the starboard was working hard. Later, in my thinking about this, I decided that I probably had just not started the port side engine, which is why the joystick wasn't working. It was a very hectic time when I was starting them, and I must have just not turned the key hard enough.Anyway, Benny jumped off with a stern line, and I managed to keep the boat close while we got a spring line and a bow line tied up. Sure enough the marina manager came rushing over and in a very forceful voice told us we could not tie up on his dock, and that this was private. I came off the boat and in as calm a voice as I could muster I said, "Look sir, I understand your position. I am just trying to keep my family safe right now. We can't go back out because of the storm, and we can't attach to the mooring because we came off of it. I am tied up here to catch my breath and figure out what to do."He insisted that the dock could not hold our boat which was too heavy and had too much windage. He said that the ti[...]

Day 16: Boston to Newport, RI - route interrupted


Everything on this trip was going great and on schedule, until today.Yesterday, we had a very nice visit with Tamara at Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire. She has a lot of friends and is extremely happy there. We took her out to lunch and the to buy some supplies. After a few hours meeting her friends and some of the other parents we headed back to the boat in Boston.The whole family finally together againThe forecast for today called for lots of rain, but no thunderstorms. I checked the marine forecast last night, and it predicted 2-3 foot waves - nothing we couldn't handle easily on Sababa. Unfortunately, I did not check the waves forecast this morning. Bad move.It would take us about 4.5 hours to get to our marina in Newport, RI. Elana left for the airport around 8:30 a.m. She was going to take a water taxi to the airport, but it was raining, so she took a Lyft and texted us when she got there. We will miss having her on the remainder of our trip home. I was a bit displeased with today's forecast because it meant I would have to drive from the lower inside helm while still dodging the crab pots that littered the route to the Cape Cod Canal. It's not as easy to spot the pots from below as it is from the flybridge. Little did I know the pots would be the least of my problems today.Before we got under way, I decided that despite the rain, I wanted to fuel up. We probably had enough fuel for the whole trip, but "probably" is not the best practice for a boat trip. When we got to the fuel dock, it was raining pretty hard, and I was concerned about getting water in the fuel line, so I held an umbrella over Benny who opened the tanks and filled them with diesel. Up to now, I had been the one fueling, and Benny was not familiar with the burping of our tanks, which spit up diesel if you let the fuel flow too quickly. So, he learned the hard way. After about 35 gallons in the starboard tank, all of a sudden fuel shot up everywhere and hit him in the face and covered his body. Luckily it did not get him in the eyes or mouth. He was not a happy camper, but he did finish the job for a total of 150 gallons between the two tanks.Despite the rain, which was increasing in intensity, Ann and I decided that we should pump out the heads. We had enough capacity to get to Newport, but it seemed silly to travel with almost full waste tanks if we were already at a fuel dock. While Benny and I dealt with the fuel, Ann opened the tanks, and then I brought over the hose from the dock, and we pumped out the good stuff. Pumping out proved to be the best decision we made all day, and arguably the only good one.As we got out of Boston Harbor, we encountered several challenges. The waves were starting to get bigger. More pressing, my starboard side windshield wiper got stuck, and independent of that the windshield fogged up. As I was trying to get the defroster working, I noticed a huge ship coming towards us from the port side. I pretty much had no visibility at this point and was barely moving at a crawl, and in fact, the strong waves and current were pushing me backwards. We had all just dried off and changed from the fueling in the rain experience, and none of us wanted to go out and manually try to get the wiper working, but I resigned to doing it. Just then, it started moving again, and the defroster began working, so that was lucky. We got moving with all systems in order, went around the big ship, and I got us on a plane at 22 knots. Let me emphasize (especially since my parents are reading this) that we were never in any danger, and it was just a big stressful inconvenience.As we got further into the sea, the waves became much bigger. We had a few huge jumps and hard landings, and everything on the boat started flying around. Lamps, wine glasses, iPads. And we heard crashing sounds from below. I slowed to about 8 knots, and we were able to handle the w[...]

Day 14: Falmouth to Boston


We left Kingsman Yacht Center at 8:30 a.m. at high tide. The water level was more than 2 feet higher than when we arrived, which was very helpful here because of the narrow, shallow channel. It was about a 20 minute no-wake ride, as peaceful as can be, but a little chilly up top.Leaving Falmouth behindWhen we got to the Cape Cod Canal, our cut-through to Boston, it was just 70 degrees, and moving at 23 knots felt cold, so I put on a sweatshirt and was still a little uncomfortable. We had a 65 nautical mile trip ahead of us.Our trip from Falmouth to Boston, through the Cape Code CanalThe canal is seven miles long, and stunningly beautiful. There were a few picturesque bridges along the way.Sababa's wake with a cool bridge behind us in the Cape Cod CanalWe were traveling at our cruising speed when a coast guard boat in the canal radioed me and asked me to switch to channel 13, which apparently you are supposed to monitor here. He asked me if he was pronouncing my boat's name correctly, and I could tell he had a sense of humor. He then admonished me that the speed limit in the canal is 10. Since I was doing 23, I quickly slowed down, and we took the rest of the canal at a leisurely pace. Ann went up front and sat on our bow benches, which we hadn't used yet on this trip.Ann loved the ride from up front in the canal at a calm 10 knotsAfter the canal, we entered open ocean, which on that day was as calm as the canal. No waves at all. Flat. As I revved up to planing speed, aiming for 23 knots, the air felt colder than before, but I had to stay up top because for the entire 90 minutes that we were out in the open, the water was littered with little buoys marking some kind of trap. In Maryland they are crab pots. I don't know if here they are for crabs or lobsters outside Boston. The water was over 80 feet deep at times, and yet we could hardly go 250 feet without seeing a series of pots. It is much easier to spot them from up top, so I stayed up despite the chilly temperature, and I had to pay attention and dodge the pots the whole time. I was not able to use auto pilot or auto tracking the rest of the way.These annoying pots filled the entire route to BostonAs we approached Boston Harbor, the city skyline came into view, and everyone joined me up top for the magnificent landscape. We passed one of my favorites, a tall ship that was coming out of Boston.Amazing tall ship leaving Boston Harbor As we turned towards our home for the next two days, Constitution Marina, the buildings all came into view. After two weeks of travel we reached our furthest point of the trip. Very exciting!We finally arrive in BostonI was surprised and disappointed to learn that Constitution Marina (so named because it hosts the USS Constitution) did not sell fuel, so we will have to make a stop on our return on Monday to fuel and pump out. I backed down the alley at the marina and tied up along a long T-head dock.Tied up in downtown BostonBenny did a great job washing down the boat from all the salt water that splashed when we were at sea. Next, I want to teach him how to run the entire boat so that next season I can relax while he takes over.The kids were very helpfulOnce we were settled into our slip, it was time to explore Boston. We visited Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and Quincey Market, where we saw a wonderkid musician performing, and the kids and Ann had some bubble tea.The market area is always hoppingWe explored the waterfront area, and Benny and I took a long stroll among the fancy mega yachts in the harbor, while the ladies shopped for sunglasses (Elana's shades broke when one of us landed on them in the dinghy while getting back in after swimming). Then, we met up again and had dinner at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that came highly recommended called Clover Food Lab, which even I enjoyed. Next, we walked through Boston Co[...]

Day 13: Nantucket to Falmouth


Yesterday, we spent a full day on Nantucket. Getting to shore involved using our dinghy, and tying to a very busy dinghy dock, usually two boats deep, and having to walk on other people's boats.Our dinghy MD 8790 CS bunched in with all the rest.The town is lively in the evenings with lots of bars and restaurants. There are no chain stores allowed in Nantucket, so even the car dealership (yes there is exactly one) is family owned. We spent a good deal of time walking around the various streets around town. We saw this woman on her balcony painting a gorgeous scene.A nice place to paintStarting at 1:00 pm, we took a 3 hour nature and history tour of the island. Our 4x4 van stopped before we entered the beach area and let out air from the tires, down to 15 PSI. We then drove on the sand of the beach for quite some time. There, we got out and walked towards a lighthouse. On the way, we saw seals in the water, and a couple of unfortunate looking seals who seemed to be stranded on the beach. We were told that regulations require not approaching within 150 feet of the seal. We followed the rule, but some other bozos got right in its face taking pictures.This guy did not seem happy to be hereOn the side of the road, outside the beach area, there was a lone air pump that our guide used to inflate the tires back to 40 PSI.After the tour, we came back to Sababa, and I grilled veggie burgers for the vegans, and then a real hamburger for myself! It felt nice to eat our own home made food for once, since every other dinner on this trip was in a restaurant. For the most part, we eat breakfast and lunch on the boat and dinner out, although if we're in a town for the day, we might eat lunch out too. Most days, though, we are under way on the boat at lunchtime.Grilling the lone meat burger once the veggie ones are doneAfter dinner, we took the dinghy back to shore and walked around taking in the sites of the town. Here are a couple of pictures that sum up the views in Nantucket.By ordinance, all the houses have the same sidingThe definition of peaceful - dusk on NantucketIt took 11 days, but I finally discovered something I don't like about this boat. The last 2 nights, on the mooring ball, we did not have shore power, so we used the generator. It is a fantastic machine and produces more amps than even our 50 amp shore power connection. But, as it turns out, the generator is on the other side of the wall of the master stateroom, just inches from our heads when we sleep. Luckily, it was cool enough that we did not need the air conditioning at night, so I turned off the generator before bed and ran the boat's fancy blue lights off the house batteries. By my calculations, we burned 40 gallons of diesel running our generator for the two days on the mooring, excluding 8 hours each night while we were sleeping. All the fuel came from the port side tank. At first I was puzzled when I noticed this morning that the starboard tank had substantially more fuel than the port one, and then I realized that the generator had been drawing from the port side fuel tank since Wednesday.Today, we woke up early as usual, and I was glad to see that the previous night's forecast of a beautiful sunny day was correct. Getting off a mooring ball is so easy. We just take the mooring lines off the bow cleats, toss them in the water, and we're done - on our way. No lines or fenders to secure; no dock to depart. So easy. I charted our trip to Kingsman Yacht Club, just North of Falmouth at about 50 nautical miles, a quick and easy run. We left Nantucket Harbor at 7:45 a.m., and set course for Nantucket Sound.Our route today from Nantucket to just North of FalmouthI ran Sababa at a comfortable 22 knots, with a strong wind from 10 O'Clock. I was alone up top on the flybridge most of the way while the kids slept and Ann had breakfa[...]

Day 11: Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket


I have always dreamed of having a boat and visiting Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket by sea. I finally realized the trip. Today was the shortest leg of our entire journey, a mere 27 nautical miles from Oaks Bluff on Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket Harbor, where we latched onto a mooring ball.Martha's Vineyard to NantucketOur setup at the dock in Martha's Vineyard was a bit unusual, and getting out was tricky, so we woke up the kids around 7:30 to get their help, after Ann and I had done some early shopping for bagels in town. We pulled our fender from the mid ship piling and attached it back onto our boat. The boat was touching both pilings with fenders, so I had virtually no room to maneuver. While Benny released the stern lines, I had to keep the boat even, and also far enough back for him to get back on while at the same time not hitting the dock or the boats on either side of us.As I pulled forward, Ann and Elana had to released the spring lines, and we noticed that on both sides, our lines were intermingled with lines from the other boats. I quickly had them pull the lines out through the loops, which isn't that easy with 50 foot lines as the boat is moving forward. Fortunately, we pulled it off without a hitch and were on our way.Leaving Martha's Vineyard behindIt was a bit chilly up top on the flybridge, but I didn't mind, and I was just grateful that there was no fog today after yesterday's long trip. I navigated alone on the bridge while the family stayed more comfortably below (except for a short spell where Ann took over so I could go down to the bathroom). The whole trip took just over an hour. As I pulled into Nantucket Harbor, we noticed some gorgeous yachts, ranging from 80 feet to 125, and the moorings here, unlike anywhere else I'm familiar with, can accommodate boats well over 60 feet.As I approached the harbor, I noticed a famous lighthouse called Brand Point and snapped the following photo. If it looks familiar it's because I photographed a replica of this very lighthouse in Mystic at the Seaport Museum. The one here was built in 1901 (rebuilt after fires destroyed an earlier version), and the one in Mystic is relatively new, so it's in much better shape!Brand Point Lighthouse on NantucketI hadn't fueled up since Providence, and our next two legs are going to be longer, so I contacted the harbormaster and asked about the fuel dock. I got some unclear instructions, and so I pulled down a narrow alley into one of the most difficult docking situations I've ever encountered. Between several large boats, with pilings on one side, and a narrow dock on the other. A strong current was pulling me into the fixed pier, while the wind was working against it at a perpendicular angle. The owner of the closest boat to me seemed quite displeased with my efforts, and we quickly learned that this was not the fuel dock. I had to back out, just as a large boat was coming in. The situation was pretty overwhelming, but I managed to get out unscathed and chalked it down to a docking lesson. The fuel dock was around the corner and easy to manage. After fueling up, we pumped out even though our waste tanks were only between 1/3 and 1/2 full because we are going to spend 2 nights on a mooring, and I subscribe to the "pump out when you can" theory. Once we were done with these chores, we got on our mooring, and set upon removing our dinghy and getting ready to explore Nantucket.Sababa on a mooring ball in NantucketFor the remainder of our time here, we will use our dinghy to shuttle ourselves back and forth to shore. There are a couple of dinghy docks on land for that express purpose. However, they are so overcrowded with these tenders, that we ended up tying up behind a couple of dingy's and climbing over them to get to shore. It's common practice, and ev[...]

Day 10: Providence to Martha's Vineyard


It's been ten days since we left Baltimore. We are getting noticeably better at running the boat and taking care of all the details. I no longer feel overwhelmed by the size of the boat despite jumping 12 feet in size since my last boat. Once you live on a boat and run it almost every day, you start to become familiar and comfortable with it.Yesterday was Benny and Tamara's birthday. We celebrated by taking Benny out to dinner in an Indian restaurant with his aunt, uncle and cousin, and then went to a vegan bakery known for their deserts.With Ann's brother Michael, his wife Amy, and of course cute little RebeccaEarlier in the day, we took Amy and Rebecca out in the dingy for a ride around the harbor and the Bay. It was a bit choppy, so we didn't stay out too long. We also rode the paddle boards for a bit.Dingy ride with Amy and RebeccaToday was a travel day, and we headed out for a 65 mile boat ride that was supposed to last around three hours. Things did not go as planned.Day 10 route from Providence to Martha's VineyardIt started out beautiful. Gorgeous morning, and after a quick pump out, we pulled out of the harbor and left Providence behind us.Pulling out of our marina near ProvidenceAs we turned towards the Bay, I felt completely at peace and could not imagine anything being more serene or beautiful than our surroundings.Entering the Bay South of Providence to head to Martha's VineyardUnlike two days ago when things felt like they were going wrong, today I had all the navigation data in my multi-function display due to the chip I had purchased, and I felt confident and excited about the short ride ahead.We passed some beautiful scenery. I love all the lighthouses and bridges around here.Beautiful lighthouse with a bridge behind itWe even saw some swans.Swan swims next to SababaAnd all of a sudden, we were going almost blind. FOG EVERYWHERE. Could not see even right in front of the boat. So, of course, the first thing I did was slow to barely moving. I then started blowing the horn about every minute and listening for other horns. Occasionally, I heard them in the distance. I regretted not having a fog bell on the boat and made a note to get one installed when I get home.Of course, the most valuable piece of equipment in this situation is radar, and I am fortunate to have taken a 2 day intensive course on radar and AIS at the Annapolis School of Seamanship last year. So, I fired up the radar, and I got an error message. The radar could not work. Communication error. Seriously?!? I had used the radar every day on this trip, and I did not really need it, but we never had a problem. Today, it was an essential safety tool, and it did not work! I went down below to the main helm, put the boat completely in neutral so we floated, sounded the horn as I worked and did my best to get the communication working. I rebooted all the equipment, tried a few variations on the startup routine because I figured it had something to do with the order that things booted, and finally it worked!Radar showed me where other boats were and helped us stay safe in the fogI cannot stress what a lifesaver radar is when you can't see in front of you. It is pretty scary, you are gliding slowly, about 6 knots, through the fog, and you cannot see more than about 200 feet in front of you. The radar does a good job of showing you the other boats, who is in your path, and when you need to be alert. AIS is extremely helpful too, and on one occasion, I was able to communicated with another boat and arrange for us to each move 20 degrees to starboard as we approached each other. I never saw him, but we were on course to come within 400 feet of each other, and crossed about 1/4 mile apart and could not see each other. On another occasion, I heard the faint beep[...]

Day 8: Mystic, CT to Providence RI


We left home a week ago today. It sure feels longer than that. On the other hand, seems sad that there are only 2 weeks left on our adventure, and only one more week with Elana aboard. She is flying home next Monday, after we visit Tamara at camp on visiting day a week from today. Tomorrow is Benny's birthday, so Ann is searching out vegan restaurants in the area, and we'll have to celebrate with Tamara when we see her in a week.Yesterday was our full day in Mystic that made up for the day we lost in New York due to weather. We all agreed that we were better off in Mystic. Early in the morning, I woke up the kids, and the three of us went for a 2 mile run into town and along the water. Then, Elana and I pulled out the paddleboards and paddled up Mystic river for two hours. It was a great way to see all the boats and the other sites in town. Unfortunately for Elana, at one point she fell into the water, but she claimed the water was refreshing and was not hurt.Paddleboarding up Mystic RiverMystic has a famous drawbridge, and although we did not have a camera with us on the paddleboat tour, I took a picture later from land. We paddled under it when it was down and had to duck as we went under.Mystic's famous drawbridgeWe spent the afternoon at the Mystic Seaport Museum. This was a phenomenal experience that I highly recommend to anyone who visits this area. It's a large complex full of small buildings each containing an exhibit. The theme is boating and early American life. There are also several boats in the water that can be toured, and some very nice exhibit halls.Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the SeaI really enjoyed touring the big boats as well as a replica of a Nantucket Lighthouse. We're spending 2 days on Nantucket later in the trip, so I will look for this one.Nantucket Lighthouse replica at Mystic Seaport MuseumAboard the Charles MorganLooking up aboard the tall shipIn one of the exhibits, they had black and white murals, and they provided props for people to dress in period costumes and take pictures in front of the murals, as though they are in the shot. Elana and I took several shots, and I posted my favorite one on Facebook - my first posting on this trip.Elana and I in our 1920s shotMinutes after posting this shot, I got a text message from one of my closest friends from grad school, Liorr Karasanti, who recognized this picture and wrote me, "Are you in Mystic?!?! So am I!!!" Liorr lives in Long Island, but she happened to be in downtown Mystic after bringing her daughter, sister in law and niece to a concert at Mohegan Sun the night before, and they were in a coffee shop hanging out before heading home. I was a short walk away, and we got together and hung out for a while and reminisced about old times. Small world! Thank you Facebook!With my dear friend Liorr, who happened to be in Mystic - we haven't seen each other in over 15 years! She still looks the same!This morning, I was up very early, before 6:00, and I tried a few ideas to get chart data onto my plotter. Nothing worked. I even dug up an old chip that I had used on my previous boat, thinking that might work, but it didn't. I was pretty stressed about getting through various channels on both ends of the trip and having to navigate with my iPhone app instead of my chart plotter. After Ann got up, I took a shower, and halfway through the shower, the water stopped. I had a premonition that I might be in for a rough day. It was either a busted pump or the tanks were empty. With heart pounding (because I did not want to imagine how I would deal with a busted pump or even broken impeller on this trip), I went up and checked the gage, and luckily, the tanks were empty. I guess we're taking a lot of long showers because I had f[...]

Day 6: Norwalk to Mystic, Ct


It rained all night in Norwalk, and when we got up, it was still raining hard. However, the weather forecast showed that the rain would let up some time around noon, and although thunderstorms were coming, they would not arrive until around 5:00 pm in Norwalk. The forecast for Mystic, our destination, was better, and although there were thunderstorms in the morning, the afternoon looked clear, with thunderstorms coming again in the evening. All of this to say that we had a window leaving Norwalk at mid day and getting to Mystic around 4:30.We desperately needed to pump out our waste tanks, so as soon as there was a break in the rain, we headed over to the fuel dock and pumped out. Elana has become very handy on the boat, and she handled the bow line and helped me with the dreaded pump-out routine.Elana helping with the bow lineOf course, as we pulled out of the marina it began to rain again, so I drove the boat from the inside helm - first time ever. As soon as I tried to chart our course, I discovered that I still had no chart data in my MFD, and I had to use my iPhone app and the in water navigation aids to make our way through a somewhat tricky channel to get back to Long Island Sound. Visibility was low, it was raining, and my equipment was not ideal. I was pretty stressed out for about the first 20 minutes. Then we found open water, and I got the hang of using the app instead of the chart. The rest of the way was simple, but we encountered our first day with some waves. I'd say average waves were about three feet, and we were bouncing around. Still, the boat handled it great, and we were able to do about 21 knots without any discomfort. It was 66 degrees out and raining on and off, so none of us were up top where we normally like to ride, and we stayed inside the whole way. The water is deep in the Sound, and I noted the depth sounder reading 188 feet at one point. Unfortunately, we did not see any dolphins or other sea life. I guess those are more common in the ocean.Norwalk to MysticWhen we got close to Mystic, we found an easy to reach fuel dock, and I was impressed when my crew jumped into action, we had the lines and fenders in place in under a minute, just as I was pulling up to the dock. A huge improvement over our earlier experiences, and everything was handled much more calmly and smoothly with Ann, Elana and Benny each comfortable and experienced in their roles. Professionals!The rest of the way to Mystic was in a marked channel in a no wake zone, and I was easily able to navigate it without any equipment, which was good, because according to my chart plotter we were on land some of the time. I wrote to Navionics who provides the data chip with the maps and asked them how come I have no data on my charts. Haven't heard back yet. Looks like I'll be dataless on my charts until Martha's Vineyard in a few days.As we approached Mystic, we had to wait for the railroad swing bridge to open. I called on the radio and the bridge tender said "5 minutes". About 15 minutes later, a train went by, and then 5 minutes later the bridge opened, and we went through. The one bad thing about a marina next to a train bridge is that you are next to a train bridge, so now every 15-20 minutes a loud train goes by, and they seem to feel they need to honk when they are on a swinging bridge. We are docked about 50 yards from the tracks. Let's see how late they run...The spinning train bridgeAs soon as we got through the bridge, we saw the dockhand signaling at our slip. It was a scary looking docking situation. I had to turn us around in a busy bridge crossing channel with another large boat coming behind me. Once I did that, I had to back into a slip right next to another boat about [...]

Day 5: NYC to Norwalk, CT


Day 4 was a land day in NYC and not worthy of its own blog post, since there was no boat travel. I will say that Chelsea Piers marina, while well located, is not the best place to stay. First of all, the Hudson River is really rough due to its proximity to the Ocean and the non-stop heavy shipping traffic, and Elana got nauseous a few times just sitting on the boat. Secondly, there are no amenities of any kind, such as showers, restrooms, etc. However, there are many to do there, including a golf driving range, a pool, an ice skating rink, many types of gyms and fitness classes and more. That said, our only activity at Chelsea was to jog along the water early in the morning. In the afternoon, we saw a broadway show, School of Rock, which I have to say was quite entertaining. Ann got us 3rd row seats with an isle - the absolutely ideal place to sit!Great Broadway showBesides seeing a great show, we did not do much in the city. Our meals were low key, and the one big dinner reservation we had was for Thursday night, and we ended up leaving before then. As we suspected all along when we planned this trip, we were not able to keep to our original itinerary. The plan was to stay in New York City until Friday, and then to head to Norwalk, CT. However, the weather forecast in NY and in CT for Friday was bad. So, we moved our itinerary up a day, and headed to Norwalk on Thursday instead. We will make up the day by staying two days in Mystic. So, trading one NYC day for a day in Mystic. Actually, I think that's a good tradeoff, as even in 2 days we had our fill of the city.NYC to NorwalkI'm finding the marinas to be pretty flexible with cancellations and moving days around. Hopefully that will remain the case because as long as we are a day ahead of schedule, we'll have to shift things around in several places.This morning, Ann and Elana walked back to the vegan restaurant By Chloe and picked up "pancakes" and other breakfast "food", and as soon as they returned to the boat around 8:45, I had everything ready, and we headed  out for a 43 nautical mile boat ride to Norwalk. The Hudson was pretty rough, and in fact that was the roughest water we've encountered so far on this trip. We took it at around 10 knots so that Ann and Elana could eat in peace. Benny was still asleep.Leaving Chelsea Piers behind usAs we circled Manhattan, heading South on the Hudson, I took in the views of Manhattan one more time. The East River is extremely heavily trafficked with commercial vessels and ships, and I had to stay really focused, but I managed to snap a few photos.Just passed under the Brooklyn BridgeSo many pretty bridges around ManhattanOnce we got past Hell Gate (much ado about nothing), we headed into Long Island Sound. The water could not have been more calm. Not even one foot waves. We are getting spoiled. In the Sound, we saw the deepest water we've seen on the trip so far.Instrument reading 111.4 feet of depth.Had one hiccup leaving the Sound. My multi-function display plotter on the boat did not have chart details coming into the channel. So, I had no indication of depth or channel markers. I had two choices - just follow the channel markers and trust them, and use my waypoints to make sure I'm on course, or pull out my charting app on my iPhone and navigate using that. I ended up doing both - using my iPhone but following the waypoints on the charts and the channel markers. I will have to do the same when we leave tomorrow. Probably stressed me out more than it needed to, but I'm kind of a high strung person, and better safe than sorry in boating.About 75 minutes after entering Long Island Sound, we arrived at Norwalk Cove Marina where we tied up stern-[...]

Day 3: Atlantic City to Chelsea Piers in Manhattan


Concerned about the forecast for thunderstorms in the afternoon in NYC, Ann and I set an alarm for 6:10 a.m. this morning. We got up and immediately got the boat ready to go. At 6:25 we were under way. Our route took us along the East Coast of the United States, about 2-3 miles from shore in many spots. This was to be our first test of mother nature - the first time we were committed to several hours in the open ocean, which we believed was a completely different boating experience from previous outings. However, the weather was fantastic. The waves, to the extent that we had any, were 1-2 feet at most. The ride was relatively smooth. And there were dolphins everywhere, a wonderful sight I don't think I'll ever get used to.Atlantic City to ManhattanAs we pulled out of port, we took one last look at Atlantic City, and I got a gorgeous shot of Ann on the bow putting the lines away as we headed into the sunrise at Atlantic City inlet and turned to port to head North to The Big Apple.Sunrise silhouette of Ann as we leave Atlantic CityAbout an hour into our trip, we passed by the Shore house of our friends from New Jersey, Shery and Michael Jay who came out to the beach early, around 7:30 just to wave and see us go by. They saw our boat, and we saw two small people who we thought were them in the distance waving, but we couldn't be sure. Text messages confirmed that they saw us, and I was kicking myself for leaving my binoculars below deck in the crew quarters storage area. That's what happens when you leave port half asleep early in the morning. We'll try  to see them better (with binoculars!) on our return trip home.After about three uneventful hours of boating, we approached the Verrazano bridge, which I remember crossing (by car) as a child when we drove to Brooklyn to visit my grandmothers. It was a bit nerve racking coming under the bridge because of the heavy amount of large ship traffic with no clear indication of where recreational boats such as ours were supposed to go, but it all worked out.Approaching Verrazano Narrows BridgeAfter crossing the bridge, we got our first real view of Manhattan. What a skyline! Still makes me sad to see New York without the twin towers. I don't think I'll ever get over 9/11. Every time I see New York I think of it.First view of ManhattanSeveral moments later, we passed the Statue of Liberty. I wish they had a public dock where we could stop by and visit, but I'm pretty sure that only the tour boats are allowed to stop there. Anyway, we got our money shot, which is what really matters when you are a dedicated blogger.Statue of LibertyAs we approached the city from Jersey City where we fueled up, I thought of another photo to take. Note the reflection of the city in the window of Sababa. Love this shot. (Benny always teases me when I compliment my own pictures.)Approaching the cityAs we made our way to Chelsea Piers, Ann noted that you could see the Lincoln Tunnel in our navigation chart on the plotter, and that I should take a picture. So I did.Chart plotter shows us about to cross above the Lincoln TunnelWith Chelsea Piers only minutes away, Elana adopted a happy pose.She loves New York!This marina is known as a rough water marina. The boat shakes back and forth non-stop, and docking in this rough waters was a new challenge, but also confidence building, as I pulled her in slowly and smoothly with no hiccups. Starting to feel good about this docking thing, always the most stressful part of boating. If I can dock it here, I can dock it anywhere. It's up to you, New York, New York!Tied up at Chelsea Piers; I got this docking thing!After tying up, I spent a good 30-40 minutes wash[...]

Day 2: Cape May to Atlantic City


We "slept in" this morning until 7:15 after getting to bed later than usual in Cape May last night. The kids were still asleep, so Ann and I had breakfast and got the boat ready without them. We pulled out of Cape May at 8:00 and headed towards the inlet into the Atlantic Ocean.Leaving Cape May behindThe trip today was 38 miles along the Eastern Coast of the US. The most direct route took us about 5 miles offshore. We could still see the land the whole time. As soon as we left the inlet, I could feel the waves, although the ride was pretty flat. I don't know if we even had 1 foot waves, but you somehow could sense that this was no longer the Chesapeake Bay. As soon as we turned North, I spotted dolphins, and called out to Ann. Elana and Benny showed up around that time. We slowed down and tried to get close, and we saw plenty of them but were not able to get any good pictures. The rest of the day, we were surrounded by dolphins all around us. Spectacular site! The trip took less than 2 hours.Day 2 route, along the coastSo far, we've been extremely lucky with weather. However, tomorrow's forecast in New York looks a bit dicey with a reasonable chance of thunderstorms starting at 3:00 pm, so we are planning on leaving the dock in Atlantic City no later than 6:30 a.m., which should get us in well before noon. I decided not to fill up the fuel tanks here, as we have around 420 gallons left and 95 nautical miles to go tomorrow. The trip to NYC should require about 250 gallons, so we can easily do that, and then we'll fill up there.Under normal circumstances, the weather is a casual conversation topic, but when boating, it is everything. A bad day can be really serious if the weather is not right. We check the weather forecasts all day long.The trip to Atlantic City was easy and uneventful and very different from boating in the Chesapeake where I've done most of my water travel. I really like using the radar in the ocean. I took a 2-day course in marine electronics at the Annapolis School of Seamanship last year which focused on radar, and the open waters of the Atlantic make the radar extremely useful, to the point where I think I would seriously miss it if I didn't have it. I always get into gadgets, and this boat offers limitless opportunities for me to geek out. Ann seemed surprised that I read the entire 400 page manual for my chart plotter/radar/AIS multi-function display. Well, maybe not too surprised.Approaching Atlantic CityTied up in Atlantic City; first time docking stern in. Nailed it!Once we got settled into our slip in Atlantic City, I washed down the boat and then headed to the Borgata to play some poker. I played 2-5 from 11:30 to about 4:00 pm and had a decent winning session. If I hadn't lost my chips in one of the first hands when my QQ ran into AA, it would have been a very big winning session, but I spent most of the time just clawing back and was happy to book a modest win.Arrived at Borgata. Before picture of starting stack.After picture of stack, right before cashing out.Later, our friend Aliya from New Jersey met us at the boat, and we went to Buddakan at Caesars for dinner.Dinner with our good friend Alia Ramer from NJ at BuddakanBack at the marina, we have a great view of the Borgata at night, and are ready to turn in early because we need to start very early tomorrow.View of Borgata from our marinaNow if that damned band would stop playing that loud reggae music right by our boat, we could get some sleep! Oy.[...]

Day 1: Baltimore to Cape May, NJ


I woke up just after 6:00 a.m. this morning full of adrenaline. It was finally time to start our trip. Months of planning, so many details, an unexpected new boat that we could not have even imagined buying a month ago, and the time had finally arrived. I did not want to wake up Ann, so I stayed in bed for about 15 minutes, but then I had to get moving. With everyone sleeping, I took care of some details - moved the water hose from the dock to the boat, put our empty luggage in the crew quarters, which we use as storage, removed the remaining covers from the bow and stowed them, and secured the galley. At around 6:50, I woke up Elana, and we went for a 2 mile run along the inner harbor. Beautiful morning, and lucky for me, I am still able to keep up with her - barely.When we got back, Ann was already up and having breakfast. Elana and I took showers, and I started getting the boat ready. Turned on the generator; pulled the power cords and stowed them; turned on all the electronics; turned on the main engines; plugged in our route to the chart plotter, and we were ready to go. Benny was still sleeping, so Ann, Elana and I released the dock lines, brought them onto the boat, and we were off! (enable FLASH to watch this video clip) allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />As we pulled out of Harbor East marina, Ann and Elana brought in the dock lines and the fenders, and I piloted and navigated from the flybridge.Heading out from Harbor East MarinaLeaving Baltimore behind us.Our route this morning was 118 nautical miles. We cruised along just below 6 knots through the inner harbor area for about 15 minutes until we were ready to get on plane.Day 1 route, through the C&D CanalAs we approached the Key bridge, I brought Sababa up to 23 knots, at 89% load on the port engine and 92% on the starboard one, and we were planing.As we approached the Key bridge, I set a cruising speed of 23 knots.Elana and Benny assumed the teenage position, despite all the beautiful scenery around them.What teenagers do on a boat.We followed the shipping channel up to the Elk River, which connects the Chesapeake to the C&D Canal. I had timed our departure to hit the Delaware River at 12:30, and despite some no wake speed in the C&D, we arrived about 15 minutes early, which was just fine. Water in the Delaware River and the Bay was as calm as can be. I had heard many stories of the rough waters there, and so it was with great relief that we had a completely smooth ride. Even as we approached Cape May, NJ and looked out on the open Atlantic Ocean, there were no waves. It was sunny and 77, and in fact, up on the bridge we had to put on sweatshirts because it felt chilly.Our new boat, which we've only had for 2.5 weeks, handles great. She leaves a pretty big wake behind, and we had to be conscious of that because it really impacts other boats if we're not careful.Sababa has quite a wake. We almost knocked over a sailboat in the C&D Canal, sowe learned to be more careful.We saw a couple of pretty lighthouses along the way in the Delaware Bay.Pretty Lighthouse on Delaware BayBeautiful lighthouse near Cape May inletAfter leaving the Delaware Bay, we were in a no wake canal for several miles. We tried to get on plane in several stretches where it is allowed, but our wake was too big for the canal and we were knocking boats left and right, so we [...]

Day Zero


We took Gimel to the dog walker's house around 12:30 and then left home at 1 pm. Loaded up the car, and left home for 3 weeks. It took us about 3 hours to unpack everything into the boat and settle in. Then, Benny and I watched the US/Panama Gold Cup soccer game while Ann and Elana walked around the Inner Harbor looking for a place for dinner.Watching US Gold Cup soccerWe walked around the harbor, and most of the restaurants had 45+ minute waits, so we went one block away from the water and got into P.F. Changs with no wait. Eating with my vegan family means little or no sharing for me, but that's okay.Dinner at P.F. ChangsAfter dinner, we walked to Harbor Place, and my good friend the talented Michael Rosman was performing. He does amazing feats of comedy. I took a picture of him juggling knives and a torch with his son Ethan while riding a 9' unicycle (Ethan's was "only" six feet high) and wearing a kilt. Ethan happened to be downtown on a date and got roped into the act by Michael.Michael and Ethan Rosman riding unicycles and jugglingWith Michael Rosman after his showLater, we walked to Harbor Point and checked out this awesome new spot in Baltimore. The harbor area is really growing and improving fast. I took some nice shots of the city along the way. All these pictures were taken with my iPhone. It does such a good job, that it's the only camera I brought on the trip.Inner Harbor is beautifulA nice view walking back to the boatAfter his last show of the evening, Michael visited us on Sababa, and we hung out for a while. Tomorrow, the plan is to go jogging with Elana and Benny around the harbor at 7:30 a.m. and then cast off at 9:00.[...]

One more day!


We are leaving home tomorrow and spending the night on the boat. We'll leave Sunday morning for our first leg of the trip, to Cape May. The weather forecast could not be better! I've been tracking it all week, and it looks like we lucked out so far.
Sunday morning forecast - no rain in Baltimore, perfect temps. A great start!
The Delaware Bay is known for strong currents and about 5 feet of tide, so timing the approach is useful. Looking at the tide tables for where the C&D Canal meets the Delaware Bay at Reedy Point, high tide is at 12:29 pm, so that's when we want to arrive there, and hope to ride that tide all the way down to Cape May, saving us fuel and a faster, smoother ride than we would have against the tide. So, I think casting off around 9:00 a.m. should be about right. As long as we don't get a strong SouthEasterly wind, we should be fine.
High tide at Reedy Point at 12:29 pm 
Yesterday, I flushed the water tanks and filled up with 210 fresh gallons of water. We won't drink that water, but it's used for showering, washing dishes and fruit, and hosing down the boat. Today, we are going to fill the fuel tanks, which take 581 gallons of diesel, and tomorrow afternoon, I'll pump out the waste tanks, so the boat will be as ready as can be.

I went over all of the systems with a mechanic yesterday, checking the oil levels on the engines and the generator, inspecting all the systems, cleaning out the air filters and water strainers, and loading spare parts onto the boat. 

We have been bringing our supplies and clothes onto the boat over the last several days and unpacking, so we will not have too much to bring tomorrow when we move aboard for three weeks. We will do some shopping for food and other provisions tomorrow, and there is supposed to be a musical act on the party pad by our boat in the evening, so we will enjoy that before we go to bed for the last time in Baltimore until the end of July.

It's getting real!

8 Days and Counting


It's finally almost here - the trip we've been planning for months and dreaming about for years. In the last few weeks, we kind of lost our minds and decided to buy our lifetime dream boat, a Prestige 560 Fly. We knew we would do this some day, and decided what better time than right before our 3 week boat trip to Boston? We named the boat Sababa, a Hebrew word that indicates that things could not be better, and with a boat like this, and this upcoming trip with my family, that's how I feel!Here is the view from the back:Sababa will be our home for 3 weeks in JulyAnd from the side:Side view of Sababa, measuring 3 inches shy of 60 feet long, with a 16 foot beamOver the last six months, we mapped out an itinerary with several key milestones that include poker and shopping in Atlantic City along with dinner with Aliya and Dan from NJ at Buddakan, a "drive by" to waive at the Jays on the NJ shore, a play on Broadway (School of Rock), pizza (vegan for some) in Mystic, Ct, visiting Amy & Michael (Ann's brother and family) in Providence, Martha's Vineyard, biking in Nantucket, touring Falmouth on Cape Cod, and the highlight of our trip: stopping in Boston for two nights to visit Tamara at Camp Young Judea in New Hampshire during visiting day; and let's not forget, Peter Lugar's with Cousins Kenny and Laurie in Brooklyn on the way home. Finally, we may be joined by the Geva boys in Brooklyn for the final stretch back to Baltimore. Click for our full itinerary.Elana, our aspiring writer, has been commissioned (a paid gig!) by the magazine marinalife to write a story about our adventure that will be featured in the Spring or Fall issue, giving the perspective of an 18 year old on this great adventure.I charted out the route on google maps:Rubin 2017 Summer TripExpectation is that we will traverse about 1,081 nautical miles, putting about 52 hours on each engine, about 70 hours on the generator,  and use 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Value: Priceless!My plan is to post a blog at least every travel day to share details of our adventure, along with pictures and insights.[...]

Ransomeware: Should you pay?


Like many CyberSecurity researchers yesterday, I received press inquiries about the massive NHS ransomware attack in Europe. A Washington Post reporter asked me if victims should pay the ransom, and I gave a long and somewhat nuanced answer. The reporter clearly did not have enough space for my full response, so she summarized it in her story stating that I do not think the ransom should be paid, giving two of my reasons. First and foremost, you are funding the bad guys and "legitimizing" their approach from a business perspective. Second, there is no guarantee that the attackers will actually restore your files or that they won't demand more money the next day.

While I hold these opinions, I think the real-life answer is more complicated. It is easy for me, sitting in my office, logged into my computer with access to all of my important data, to say that you should not pay. However, if I were in an emergency room, and a patient came in with a serious situation that required me to log into a hospital system in order to enable proper treatment of this person, and a ransomware screen said that if I paid $300 in bitcoin the system would unlock, it is hard to imagine that I would not do everything within my power to help this individual.

Ransomware attacks are a particularly nasty form of extortion and blackmail. Whenever you succumb to these threats in any context, you risk further abuse. My general philosophy is to take the immediate loss and figure out how to move forward without paying any ransom. Of course, there are circumstances I can conceive of where even a infinitesimally small chance of recovering from a situation would be worth everything material that I have. So clearly ransomware hostages need to consider each occurrence on a case by case basis.

The best way to deal with ransomware, obviously, is to avoid it in the first place. Keep meticulous backups on a regular schedule. For some ransomware, such as the one in the recent attack that locks people out of their systems rather than just encrypting file, backups may not be sufficient. Strong security is the best antidote to ransomware and other forms of attack. But at the end of the day, if you are faced with a "should I pay" decision, you will have to weigh all the factors and make the best decision based on your circumstances.

Maryland election "audit" not really an audit


On November 7, the day before the election, I was excited to learn that Maryland was planning on auditing the election. I assumed that this meant that for many precincts, the ballots would be recounted. I even commented on this on Fox45 News, expressing my approval.

Well, it turns out that this "audit" is not actually going to audit the election, and no actual ballots are going to be recounted. In fact, what Maryland is doing pretty much defeats the purpose of having paper ballots. The whole point of paper ballots, which many of us fought very hard for, is to have a definitive record of each voter's intention, which was viewed and handled by the voter, and which can be independently recounted. Such paper ballots are not subject to wholesale electronic fraud, which is very difficult to detect.

Unfortunately, the Maryland "audit" is only examining the electronic record in the scanning machines. No actual ballots will be reviewed. So, any errors in the scanning process will not be detected. The Maryland process will not detect any errors (intentional or inadvertent) in the software in the scanning machines. But, isn't that the whole point of an audit?

It is disingenuous to call what Maryland is doing an audit. While the Maryland electoral votes went to the loser in this election, and so ultimately the results in the Presidential election cannot change if an audit reveals anything wrong, as citizens, we should be very concerned about the integrity of our voting process. Calling Maryland's post election process an "audit" is highly misleading, and we need to fix the process for future elections.

Paper ballots are only half of the solution. Without proper audits, manual recounting of ballots in a statistically significant way, we cannot achieve trustworthy results in our elections. If the next governor's race or Congressional race is very close, we need to know that we have a process in place in our state that guarantees that we can have confidence in the outcome.

Here are some useful articles on this issue:

Making technology real


Ever notice how some shows are more realistic than others in their portrayal of technology? Consider the popular TV series “24”, an entertaining but laughably implausible program, where, satellite imagery captures absolutely everything that happens anywhere in real time, and where the government can easily decrypt any cipher. On the other hand, shows like The Good Wife and Mr. Robot clearly utilized expert consultants to achieve more genuine descriptions of technology. I think movies, such as the recent “The Martian” and my old favorite, “Sneakers”, which employ expert consultants, have a more legitimate feel, even for lay audiences, and the final product is better when the use of technology and science is realistic. Three days ago, I was approached by movie producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard of Imagine Entertainment with an offer that will be hard to refuse. They are working on a film project about a team of hackers that manages to subvert the primaries of both parties in a US Presidential election. I’ve been asked to consult with the screenwriters so that their portrayal of the hackers and their activities passes the “sniff test” as they call it. In other words, they don’t want techies to cringe when they see the movie. Without spoiling the plot (which would result in huge sanctions due to the strongly worded NDA I had to sign), the story is quite fascinating. The hackers are able to systematically infiltrate the underlying tallying mechanism used in every state, despite the wide variety of systems. Even the caucuses are not safe. On the Republican side, the system is rigged so that a bigoted, childish, and boastful billionaire demagogue runs away with the election. The hackers are so skilled that they manage to also rig exit polls so that nobody even questions whether the results are legitimate. On the Democratic side, the hackers are more careful, and keep their candidate in second place, and orchestrate a surge midway through the primary season. They manage to keep an unlikely, over-the-hill, radically liberal, self-declared socialist in the hunt, by carefully manipulating the primaries and caucuses such that his rise seems gradual. According to the script, alongside the hackers is a well-orchestrated hijacking of the media, whose coverage feigns outrage at the success of the two surprising candidates, while at the same time providing  just enough cover to the story so that the public believes it. Word is that Larry David is being considered for the role of the Democratic candidate, but the studio is struggling to find someone to play the Republican. Perhaps the character is just not credible enough. Rumor has it that Charlie Sheen is angling for the job, but Imagine Entertainment feels he is too likeable.The producers have not shared the ending with me yet, and I’m dying to see how it turns out, but I have to say, that making this scenario believable is the biggest challenge I have ever faced. For some reason they insist on paying me in small denominations of unmarked bitcoin, deposited to an untraceable Cuban account. The coins are only valid on April 1 in odd numbered years.[...]

Analysis of a holdem tournament situation


I found myself in a typical tournament situation the other night that we often face, and I decided to analyze my options away from the table the next morning. It was the middle stages of a $100 home tournament. The blinds were 300-600, and I was in middle position with A8o and a stack of 6,025. Blind levels lasted 17 minutes, and we were about halfway through the level. We were down to 7 players at my table, and there were 4 players left to act. With 10 big blinds and a medium A, I decided to shove, hoping everyone would fold. Sadly, I ran into TT and did not improve and was knocked out.I think we often find ourselves in this spot. Everybody knows that when you get down to 10 big blinds, you should shove or fold, and the question is how good a hand do I need to shove, or should I be patient and wait for a better hand or later position. So, I hope this analysis will be useful to others. Obviously, I could not do this full analysis in real time while I was playing, but I will now explore this the way I would have if I had been allowed to leave the table for a while, go to my computer, and then come back. Doing this type of post mortem will hopefully help me develop an intuition to use when I’m at the table.The question when contemplating a shove is what is your expected number of big blinds (EBB) at the conclusion of the hand. If you fold, your EBB is 10. If you shove and everybody folds, your EBB is 11.5, a 15% increase to your stack. So, we need to know how likely it is that everyone will fold and how often you will win when called. In general, your EBB when shoving 10 big blinds is:EBB =  p1 * 11.5 + p2 * 21.5wherep1 = probability that everyone foldsp2 = probability that you win when calledIf EBB is greater than 10, then it was a good play, otherwise, the expected number of big blinds is smaller, in which case, it was a bad play. This analysis assumes that everyone has you covered, and ignores several other meta-game factors. Calculating p1:First, let me describe a calling range for each of my opponents, based on my knowledge of their play, their image of my shoving range here, and their stack sizes. (Real names have been replaced with pseudonyms for privacy.)Mike (immediate left) 9k stack: 77+, AK, AQ, AJ, KQs, which is a 7.5% rangeMark (button) 20k stack: 66+, AT+, KQ, KJs, a 10% rangeLisa (SB) 8k stack: 22+, AT+, KJ+, a 13% rangeJulie (BB) 15k stack: 77+, AK, AQ, a 6% rangeSo, having assigned them a range, it’s easy to calculate the probability that a shove will get through. It’s the combined probability that each of them folds (for purposes of simplicity for the entire write-up, I’m going to limit the discussion to the case where exactly one person calls and ignore multiple callers, which would have a negligible effect on the analysis.):.925 * .9 * .87 * .94 = 68%So, independent of my hand, when I shove in this situation, I will get a fold 68% of the time. However, my deep stacked opponents should open up their ranges significantly against me in this spot. In particular, the two big stacks, Mark and Lisa, should be much more willing to call. Let’s say that these guys adjust their range to: any pair, any 2 broadways, 9Ts, AT+ and A5s+, which is a 20% range. Then, the probability that my shove gets through is .925 * .8 * .87 * .8 = 52%So, against players who adjust their range, my shove gets through about half the time. So, the values I will use for p1 are 86%[...]