Month: October 2015

TraFAILgar Day

On October 21st, 2014, Trafalgar Day, the Bacliff Exploration Society launched Autosharktypus, by all accounts, the first Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) to grace the waters of Clear Lake Texas. The goal was for it to transit a couple of miles, remaining close to shore, ending up at the pub Boondoggles. Autosharktypus had worked fine the night before, but on this day it was not to be.

This effort was made to satisfy our sense of humor for the most part. After all, when rocket scientists aren’t allowed to build rockets they tend to get bored. If there’s any worthwhile takeaway from this story its that if you want anything memorable to happen in this life you can’t be afraid to fail. It is after all the only proven path to success. And who knows, if you get it right, you just might end up at Boondoggles!

Enjoy the video:

Back on the Water!

September 26, 2015.  After 3 long years Solitaire is ready to sail.

This has been a long time coming. On November 21st, 2012, Solitaire completed the voyage from Satellite Beach, Florida, back to Clear Lake, Texas, with a Volvo saildrive full of oily watery paste. There were four of us onboard, Zoran, Shaun, Erin and myself. We had a spirited sail from Fort Myers to a mere 50 miles from Galveston, where the wind died. We limped the boat into the slip the night before Thanksgiving, but it was clear at that point that she would go no further without a new propulsion system.

Now that the repower is finally complete, it is time to shake down the new power plant, and get to know Solitaire all over again. Normally, this would not be a sane time to take one’s family for a sail, but even with potential undiscovered mechanical issues, I figure Solitaire is more reliable than most boats around here, and plus, I hedged and joined Towboat US. Gosh I must be getting old.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the changes I made going from a saildrive to a conventional shaft drive. My only two minor complaints are that Solly could use a bit more prop, and the tiller vibrates a bit more than it used to. I can fix the former, and live with the latter.

It was a beautiful Saturday sail. Just when the kids started to get whiny, the dolphins showed up. Wow. I owe the species Tursiops Truncatus a six-pack of beer, and mark my words, I will deliver.

All hail the philosophical wisdom of Jack Handey:

“It makes me mad when I go to all the trouble of having Martha cook up about a hundred drumsticks, then the guy at the Marineland says, “You can’t throw chicken to the dolphins. They eat fish.” Sure they eat fish, if that’s all you give them. Man, wise up.”

-So say we all.