Blog (original)


Updated 3 March 2013:  Our real blog is located at Winds of Time BlogspotThis blog is no longer active.

The Real Blog

posted Apr 3, 2013, 10:14 AM by Rick Donaldson

I have created (and have tested, posted and linked) a blog page at, there isn’t a web page link, no, I don’t have a “domain” (though I might in the future switch this particular domain over to that blog).  No, I won’t write every day, no I won’t post a new picture with every post.  No, I am not looking for the highest friend count, blog posts, followers, visitors and I don’t much care if someone likes me or doesn’t.I write an immense amount of material every day, elsewhere and have other blogs (which I won’t mention here) and they take up a good portion of my free time.  Also, preparing the house for selling has taken up almost all of my time (even a week of vacation where I started at 0700 and worked til 1700 every day, and I worked harder on the house than I do at work).

Basically, I don’t look for advice from other cruisers, bloggers or writers on anything I do any more.  I know what I want, I know what I can accomplish and some of the other “bloggers” out there who write snotty blog articles about how other cruisers should do this, or not do that, or write more, or post pictures or “not be boring” just don’t really get it I guess.

I’m not doing a blog for money. I do it for personal satisfaction, and this page, and my blog are for my personal and close friends (all three of them if they remember me) and really it’s a way for my family to remain in touch with my wife and me.

So… I’d appreciate anyone who reads here take a minute, click or copy the link to the blogspot site and scan there.

I’ll make sure contact information is located here and there.

Once the blog “takes off” (which will really be after we sell the house, sometime SOON we hope) then I will try to write daily, post pictures often, write something cool, interesting, even fascinating and try to keep folks’ attention for more than 160 characters in a Twitter/Facebook World.

JoAnne and I are BOTH on Facebook (her more so than me) and you will be able to send email to us, messages on FB or just post a comment on the blog.

For now… this will likely be the LAST post in this “blog” on this site.

One more thing… the reason for no longer posting here is that friends can’t actually post comments on this site without special permissions and I simply don’t have time to set all that up and give folks new passwords to remember.  It’s much easier for me to use this site as I originally intended and that is to keep it as a “documentary of our process” of getting ready.

This site has accomplished it’s objective and the internal “blog” here has outlived it’s use.


posted Mar 11, 2012, 12:21 PM by Rick Donaldson

Long time, no post.  We’ve been really, really busy with life in general.  Went to the Bahamas in October for a couple of weeks and spent the time staying at the dock on the boat we had borrowed.  There were way to many safety issues with the vessel to take her out.  We didn’t have a ladder, a working VHF/antenna, the engine was rather temperamental and of course there was no dinghy to get us off the boat to go ashore.  So basically we explored Marsh Harbor on foot.This past year we traveled to Michigan in May.  We went up to visit with JoAnne’s Brother, Paul who was having his 70th birthday and had flown in from Florida to visit family and have a big birthday bash.Visited with my dad, and two of my sisters and some aunts, assorted cousins and friends.

This September, my sister Robin who was just barely 49 passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm.  It was unexpected and sad.  She was my “baby sister” being the youngest of the girls in the family.  She had two children, Nicole and Josh and was going through a divorce from what I understand.

According to my count down timer over there, we have 147 days until “Retirement”.  This was our shoot for date and it looks like we won’t make it at this point.  The house still isn’t ready to sell.  There’s way too much work to accomplish and though we’ve gotten rid of a lot of junk we’ve collected in the house, we still have a basement full of crap.  I’m going to remove it in the next couple of weeks to donate things, and basically put the rest in the dump.

We have a bathroom in the basement we had not used in years and it’s a bit of a disaster.  Turns out there was a small leak from upstairs and it pretty much destroyed the drywall in the shower in the basement and rotted some of the studs.  I’ve already started removing the bad and will be picking up new wood, drywall, and associated stuff I need to rebuild the shower.  I’ll be replacing the toilet and possibly the sink as well.

Then we have to finish moving most of the old furniture out or trash it.  Most of it was here when the kids were younger.  We don’t “entertain” or “throw parties” here except on the deck so we rarely used this stuff, but it is very old and time to be buried someplace haha.

The next huge project will be replacing the deck surface.  The deck is 20+ years old and even though I stained and or sealed it almost every year, and the wood was a treated wood, the stuff is starting to crack and check badly in places.  We replaced the hot tub already.  With luck when I get those things done, and new carpets and some paint inside and out, we can sell the house.  Lots of work for me though.

JoAnne is going through the kitchen utensils and getting rid of stuff we haven’t used in years, giving some to the kids and some just trashed. We’re down to some porcelain tea sets and none of the kids want them.  She’s thinking “Ebay” now I guess.

So – our “Five year plan” is coming to an end roughly around October this year.  We’re having a vow renewal ceremony in September and a “Honeymoon” we never got. Our daughter Kristy and her husband have been married 10 years at that time as well so we’re doing it as a group.  We even got a nice condo (I hear) down in South Padre Island for a few days.  We have plans to go to the beach, look at boats for sale in the area and go on a pirate ship that has shows.

So – while we might not actually “retire” on August 5th like we wanted to do, we have saved a lot of money, learned a LOT about boats, and especially what we’re looking for in a cruising vessel as well as spent time sailing our small sailboat.

That’s another thing.  I’ll be putting “Winds of Change” up for sale in the next couple of weeks.  If anyone is interested in a 25′ Macgregor Venture with a trailer, dinghy and an Ida Sailor rudder, just drop us a line at  I’ll be prepping the boat for sale starting sometime in the next week or so (she only needs a good bath on the outside and being neatened up on the inside!)

I’ll try to write more often now as we approach retirement – but no promises.

New Dinghy

posted Jul 29, 2011, 12:08 PM by Rick Donaldson

373 days until my “retirement date” as of today.This Sunday past we traveled up to the Denver area and took an older Walker Bay 8′ dinghy with sailing rig and oars off the hands of a seller.  Sails were in pristine condition (Previous owner stated his father used the boat often) and the boat itself is in decent shape.  There are some dings and scrapes all around the boat, but nothing bad or unusual.The mast and rigging is like new.

Rudder I’m sad to say isn’t original, or even parts of the original it seems, but appears functional.

We’re taking the boat out to Lake Pueblo tomorrow to test our ability to row it, and then see how she sails.

If it works out, next weekend we’ll spend the weekend at the lake with our sailboat “Winds of Change” and our new dinghy which has tentatively been christened “Small Change”.  I’m still considering calling her “Pocket Change” which is all we will have left if the current government shenanigans continue.

Don’t get me wrong here… I didn’t name the sail boat “Winds of Change” because I like Obama, and on the contrary didn’t know who he was when we named the boat.  But I’m damned sure going to continue on until retirement in spite of Socialists.

(Hey, don’t forget, I SAID if you don’t like what I’m saying, SHOVE OFF! :))

373 days…

Exasperated with over spending….

posted Jul 15, 2011, 11:16 AM by Rick Donaldson

Time marches on. The world is in a shambles as is the US economy, the job situation, and life in general under a socialist US Government.They have cut out defense budget until we have lost roughly 40% of the people in my own agency – all of them of course are contractors, NO GOVERNMENT workers have been lost. Of course.I’m exasperated with the lack of caring people have about everything from Defense to Opsec, and internal security. Reporting incidents or finding problems and then trying to report them in general falls on deaf ears. Others are not only lackadaisical in regards to security, some are down right rude to those of us whose job it is to make sure of their own security.

Security, it seems is the MOST inconvenient of things and not to be concerned with.

So – with slightly more than one year left until my projected retirement date I have found that I’m disenchanted with this after 35 years of government service.

I’ve tried due diligence, getting angry and now all I have left to do is go home and work on my home a little each night in preparation of selling it – assuming I ever can.

In the mean time China grows stronger, Russia is rearming themselves. Terrorists are back and growing stronger and we vacillate on policy, or worse, we kick our allies in the knees (such as Israel).

It’s time for me to finally “give up” on trying too hard. I have to get through this to retirement.

That doesn’t mean I will quit my job, or stop working as hard as I do now, if not harder. It just means that I’m about to quit trying to make change happen. I’ve failed at it and daily am ignored about my remarks or my comments on how to improve things.

The costs associated with “process changes” forces the new process to become overly expensive and even obsolete by the time it is instituted, and more expensive than the less-efficient “process” that is being replaced. Given the learning curves for everyone, instituting a new process/policy change is more expensive than leaving in place the previous, perhaps less efficient process.

Then there are those who plant trees and grass – in a high desert to “green things” when there’s not that much water, and damn it, it’s a desert. All of this costs others their jobs. Money going to buy and plant trees costs the livelihood of many a contractor. But damn, doesn’t the Air Force base look nice and green?

This world is stupid. I’m tired, and I don’t think I can handle this crap much longer.

Ah retirement….

posted Jul 15, 2011, 11:06 AM by Rick Donaldson

Ah retirement….The time of your life when you are supposed to sit back and enjoy the money you’ve saved, your grandchildren, or in our case, the ability to cruise the world in our own ship.Starting on my first day of retirement the clock will be used to determine our location on the planet (along with a GPS, sextant and other assorted devices to help you determine your actual location… on the planet).

The regular calendar will be used as paper. Something to write on, and pretty pictures, perhaps of Colorado Mountains (instead of Island shots like we have hanging on the fridge today) not to determine the day of the week or the cycle of the year.

Instead I have created a new calendar. It is three months long. Each month is 122 days long, so slightly more than 365 days.

The first month will be June, the second month will be August and the last month will be June. There will, of course, only be four days in a week. The days will be Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday. There will 30 weeks per month, 30 holidays per month and 30, 3-day weekends each month (Friday through Sunday of course), unless you want to count the holiday as part of the weekend, then instead there could be 30, four day weekends. Alternatively, you can take three day weekends each week, or four day weekends at any time you wish dividing out all of the remaining weeks into any sort of subdivision of weeks as you so desire.

During the month there will sailing, nice weather, and some bad weather. Ten percent of the year there will be “bad weather”. That is there will be roughly about 30 days of “bad weather”. It will rain, or the sun won’t shine, or it will be downright dangerous with 30-40 knot winds, rain, hail and lightning. We won’t sail on those particular days.

Other days during the month there will obviously be work to be done. Fortunately it will all be boat related and we can do it on any day of the weekend we wish, without it interfering with other weekends on either side of the current week.

All those extra four day weekends (or three day weekends and holidays if you prefer) will be there for you to get all that work done you couldn’t do before you retired, like varnishing wood, cleaning decks, doing rope work and regular maintenance.

Thus, with this newly created calendar I declare my retirement encroaching upon my job now. A year from now (give or take a month or two) I’ll start using this calendar to help me keep track of days from then on.

Oh – one last thing, hurricane season falls flatly in the middle of that yearly cycle and of course those particular times will be noted carefully and we will be long gone from the place hurricanes will come.

Now – that of course is my own Utopian View of Retirement.  We all KNOW that there is no such thing as Utopia I hope, and that while this seems to be the perfect calendar, I have a feeling that things won’t be quite so… ummm “Utopian”.

I am a realist and know that (given the fact my house is full of CRAP right now and I’m working to delete it from our lives to make our lives easier to retire….duh….working to be able to not do work….) I know that the day we purchase our new home (wherever she is now, and whatever sort of vessel she might be) we will start working in earnest to retire.

That means unless we buy a perfect boat (every one knows there is no such thing) we will have work to do.  Repairs and replacement of things like safety gear.  Installation of an HF radio and computer for emailing our family.  New standing, and/or running rigging.  Checking the anchors, rode and lockers to see if things are functional. Then there’s the windlass.  Sails will need patching, replacement or perhaps a complete upgrade.  Engine work will need doing, daily.  Cleaning, sharing the cooking, doing the dishes and figuring out where we’re going, how to best provision ourselves, ensuring we have supplies, spare parts, keeping the log book, and a million other things.

Hmm… living in a house full of crap isn’t so bad I guess.



posted Jul 15, 2011, 10:54 AM by Rick Donaldson

Do you have any idea how much CRAP you collect over the years?  JoAnne and I have been married for 34 years in August.  We’ve raised five children and lived in the house we’re at now for nearly 22 years.The house is full of stuff.  We have close to ten THOUSAND books.I’m a “collector” of junk too.  Electronic junk. Stuff I “can use later”.  I’ve kept old, broken radios because they contain vacuum tubes, parts and stuff I can use to fix other things.  Never have really fixed all that much stuff, but I’ve got parts! In fact, now that I think about it when I HAVE gone to repair something I’ve ended up purchasing new parts because, frankly I couldn’t find the old thing (whatever it was) that I KNEW I had in a box someplace.

We have old carpet.  After five children, two dogs (at various times) plus two cats (at the same time) and various pets I was stuck with my kids cuz I’m a pushover for my kids and doggies, the carpet has definitely seen better days – like the first day it was installed incorrectly to being with and got that damned wrinkle in the middle we’ve never been able to remove….

The house requires painting, inside and out.

But before the painting, and before the carpet can go, we have to remove pretty much everything in the house.

JoAnne has thirty-plus music boxes.  She’s at a loss as to what to do with them. All were gifts from me at Christmas (each year we’ve been married).

My ham shack is more like a junk room.  I have a radio, partially dug out that I promises to a friend.  I’m STILL digging for all the things that go with it so I can mail it to him.  /sigh

We have a bedroom that we’ve mostly emptied (ours, we moved into one of the other rooms temporarily) to remove the bed, carpet, paint and put in new carpet.  Man, that’s a lot of work.

I’ve started on the garage too.  I gave a lot of old wood away because, well, I was keeping it in case I needed to fix something.  We loaded a pickup truck full.  Ouch.

There are old bikes, an ancient sled that needs repairs, tools of all sorts for the garden… wait, I don’t HAVE a garden.  I have a bunch of power tools and other tools, many of which I will sell off or trade for things I can use on the boat later.

We have slightly over a year and 13 years of work to do.  This is looking difficult, but not completely out of our ability.

Now, if I can just get my five kids to come over for a few days to help paint, or move things… After all those years of raising them, you’d think they’d be willing to help mom and dad retire finally.  But… I have my doubts they will be doing any painting on MY house. They all have their own CRAP to work on.

Posting on Forums

posted Jul 15, 2011, 10:45 AM by Rick Donaldson   [ updated Jul 15, 2011, 10:52 AM ]

I help to run a site called “The Trans Asian Axis” web site.  We are concerned with the Russians, Chinese and other US “adversaries”.  I have, for many years run forums, or BBSes (in the old dial-up days) and dealt with plenty of political stuff.But to be honest I’ve not posted on hardly ANY of the cruisers/boating forums now for just about two years.It its beyond me how people who pride themselves on “getting along” with the rest of the world can’t get along with each other, without extreme intolerance of people who don’t think like themselves.

All well and good.  I’ll post occasionally to respond to a question about radio stuff, but even there (where I AM an expert) some moron comes along to completely disagree with real and sensible practices to scream about how stupid someone like me is, with, you know, no experience or anything.

Forums these days for the most part are so laughable because of the so-called “experts”.  Those who have credentials are one thing (such as myself) who try to supply information that can be useful.  The self-appointed, experienced “experts” though – they are the ones who do things THEIR way, without listening to any advice at all, that end up hitting the reefs.  Such is life I reckon.


posted Apr 28, 2011, 1:34 PM by Rick Donaldson

Time as they say marches on.We have set up bank accounts, paid off bills and are finishing paying on the house and a few other small things.  Today I changed the calendar countdown on the right side of the page to 5 August 2012.  That’s going to be our retirement shoot-for date.  With luck we may be able to sell our house.The market pretty much sucks these days – and of course the city is attempting to “devalue the market” – perhaps trying to force me to stay here and never retire.  That’s not happening. 🙂

Even so, it’s nice to see a real count down now, one that I can count on (no pun intended) to be pretty accurate – again, based on selling the home.

In that vein, realizing we have a lot of work to do to bring the house up to “market standards” I’m not planning on bring the house up to the max possible amount of money that might be made.  We have discussed this a lot and decided on a final amount of money we need in the cruising kitty to keep us going for five years.

Five years is a good long cruise.  Can we continue beyond that? Absolutely – my retirement pay will kick in at age 60 so as long as we can work it so we can sail and cruise for 5 years, we should be ok.  Even if not, we can and will stop off, find jobs and work long enough to take us out again.

Over the course of the last year though, many things have come together.  We’ve manage to get out and sail in the Virgin Islands for ten days – and explored a lot of places, tested our skills against charts, navigating through coral reefs to Anegada and back out again.  Visiting Foxy’s at Jost Van Dyke, watching a near disaster as two of our crew members were near run down by a dingy (one saving the other) – and I endured surgery myself when all that was said and done and I returned home.  Had to have an abdominal hernia repaired that I’d managed to get sailing our little boat on the lakes in Colorado in a massive wind storm that exceeded 40 knots at a couple points. (Not on purpose though!)

We’ve collected lists of things to do, have and keep, sell and get rid of.

We’ve created some decent bank accounts.

I’ve personally been learning to cook. (I still am a lousy cook, but at least it’s edible now!)

We’ve been studying First Aid, bad weather sailing, anchoring techniques and fishing for cruisers (good book by the way).  I’ve been working on celestial navigation (I’m glad there are GPSes these day, but I certainly want to be able to actually figure out where I am using a sextant!) and we’ve collected some books we will want aboard the book – all related to things like repairing engines, rigging and such things.

Basically, we’re slowly preparing.  One major thing that is going to need to take place is the “Clean out” of the house.

One never knows just how much junk one collects until there’s an inventory.  Granted it wasn’t really an “official” inventory but a cursory one of each room, and we realized just precisely how much crap people collect and KEEP for no apparent reason.

Most important to us are things like family photos and albums some going back to the 1950s of family.  They will, of course be passed on to my kids to maintain and keep passing on.  My genealogy records are another important thing to me.  My wife has 30+ music boxes that I have bought her as gifts over the years.  She’s yet to decide anything about them.

Guns… yep, we have them. We will probably sell them.  Given that there are so many hassles carrying them to foreign ports, I’ll likely sell the majority of them, keep a few in storage with one of my sons or sons-in-law, and perhaps take one with me while I’m still in US waters.  On the whole, I don’t really see that I’ll “require” a weapon for protection – one never knows of course, and I grew up with guns and have used them all my life for hunting, target practice and in the military.  I am comfortable with them – but just as comfortable without.

I don’t expect pirates – but then again, no one expected the Spanish Inquisition either… /grin

Fortunately, if I DO run into real pirates – I’ll keep cold beer and a cutlass, just in case haha (Yes, I am training in various forms of sword fighting, not that I will likely require those skills, but they certainly have kept me in decent shape most of my last 30 years or so).

I reckon that’s about all for now. I’d not put anything in the blog for a long time and had questions about why.  Simply haven’t had time, and didn’t really have a whole lot to say.

Fair Winds


Retirement is fast approaching

posted Mar 22, 2010, 12:17 PM by Rick Donaldson

Ok, 704 days as of today.  Lots of things to do with the house yet before we can put that up for sale.  But, things are looking ok.As long as the government doesn’t tax me to death now to make me pay for someone else’s medical care.Oh, too late I’m told. They passed that idiotic “health care bill” late last night.

Today is the anniversary of the British Parliament passing the Stamp Act in 1765.

This led to the American protests of ‘taxation without representation’.

Some how, I can see History Repeating Itself.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

posted Mar 17, 2010, 7:03 AM by Rick Donaldson

Just a wee note to say Happy Saint Paddy’s day to all our friends.  Hope you’re wearing green!

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