Friday, January 21, 2022

A life on the ocean wave…

Frances Diebler with Grendel. Photo by Carole Musgrave

Frances Diebler with Grendel. Photo by Carole Musgrave

CRUISING LIFE by Frances Diebler

Hello. My name is Frances Diebler and I’ll be writing a sailing column each week. I want to give you some of my background so you know a little about my experience on the water.

My husband, Herman, and I have been sailing for forty years. We first learned to sail in the late ‘60s and never stopped. Our first boat was a Grampian 26 which we took from Westport, Connecticut to Block Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and to several ports in between. We advanced to a Grampian 2-34 which we sailed for many years exploring the waters and ports of New England. In 1983 we bought a very fine world cruiser, a Passport 40, which we named Grendel.

We still have her gracefully bouncing at the dock beside our home here on Marco. This glorious boat was truly capable of world sailing and has indeed so. Grendel was ready to go anywhere she wanted to go, but we were not. We needed a lot more challenges and learning more before we could take off for foreign ports.

We sailed Grendel throughout New England from 1983 to 1988. At this point, Herman and I felt both he and Grendel were competent enough to take an open ocean non-stop trip from Connecticut to Bermuda. Herman, along with our eldest son and two sailing friends made up the crew. On a fair day in June, Grendel and her crew set out from Connecticut to Bermuda. Five days later they arrived safely. Our daughter, younger son, and I flew. After a week’s stay we prepared for Grendel to return home. Yes, Grendel was truly a bluewater boat.

Since then we have sailed extensively throughout New England, the Chesapeake, two coastal trips from Connecticut to the Bahamas and back, and a five-year trip from Connecticut to sail throughout the Caribbean Island chain, to islands off the coast of South America, then on to Venezuela. Finally, we sailed Grendel back to the United States and made

Frances Diebler

Frances Diebler

a permanent home here on Marco Island.

Since this is a water community with many different boats and boating interests, I would like to present to you some of the many things I learned along the way, from cooking and galley skills to emergency measures taken when something unpredictable occurs. Some sailing-related subjects I hope to talk about are: weather information and interpreting weather information; navigation skills; and materials that are essential for a safe passage. Safety is always first and foremost in importance when traveling in open waters, especially if you are traveling overnight or are on a several days’ long passage.

Don’t be reluctant to read these articles thinking that you are only going day sailing. You do not have to be miles out into the ocean on your way to a distant island for something to happen. Things happen! You could be day sailing in the Gulf when there is a sudden weather change or unexpected equipment failure occurs. You must be prepared for “turns of fate.” This preparation is a result of forethought or planned response. Traveling in channels and populated areas demands your undivided attention. Do not depend on the other guys to have a lookout. You are the Captain. It is your responsibility to your crew, your boat, and the boats around you to safely navigate your vessel through traffic, docks, and marinas as well as the high seas.

Much of the information in the articles to come is not just for sailboats, but rather for both sail and power. Many of the subjects, such as safety, navigation, outfitting the craft, and planning a trip, are for all boaters. The emphasis will be on cruising, living aboard overnight, or for extended passages. This pertains to all boat operators both sail and power.

Check out the next edition of Coastal Breeze News for a review of anchoring options for various boat types.

Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island.

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