I would be remiss if I did not reflect a bit on the recent Space X achievements of the past week. You see, I am a Space Geek, there I have finally said it. This has been weighing heavy on my mind since I was 6 years old. I am pretty sure I was the only kid in the 1963 North East Md Halloween parade dressed as John Glenn, it was a silver suit with a plastic John Glenn mask, it didn’t fit very well I remember but I was so proud to wear it. I thought quite possibly every kid in America held John Glenn as a hero. We gathered around the TV for the next 8 years watching in amazement as first the giant Redstone rockets took off then mighty Saturn 5 rockets eventually carrying man to the moon. We gathered again as a family to watch Neil Armstrong take the first step for mankind onto the moon, I still hold that moment vividly in my mind.

I think looking back I am just about the perfect age for the whole space exploration, race etc. As a matter of fact it was a great time for science as a whole I believe, President Kennedy had laid the gauntlet to land and return man from the moon by the end of the decade, the Russians were running neck and neck with us in their own space flight efforts, the Mercury 7 were hero’s of all kids, and the nation as a whole cast their eyes to the stars.

I became interested in Astronomy around the age of 10, I saved my money and for Christmas that year I chipped in with my parents to buy a Mt Palomar 4 1/4″ reflecting telescope from Edmunds Scientific in New Jersey. At one point my mother who saw my interest took me to The Franklin Institute to meet one of the staff Astronomers and peer through the telescope ( I discovered nothing) and marvel at the equipment they had in the observatory. At that time MT Palomar Observatory in California had the largest reflecting telescope in the world at 200″ in diameter. Now the largest, The Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands is 409″,,,,,,,,,,,wow!!! We lived in a corner of my Grandfathers farm (still do) and my friends Bob and Don Warfield help me convert an old pig pen into an observatory and science lab. We would flop the tin roof back and watch Orion rise high in the winter sky. One night we were inventing some sort of liquid concoction, it caught on fire, we put it out in time but that was pretty much it for our science lab.

I went from there to being the President of our Space Science Club in high school under the leadership of our planetarium teacher Miss Chamblee. We had a great little group, holding night viewing sessions on the roof with the school’s two 6″reflecting scopes, we held class sessions in the planetarium for visiting younger classes from the county, held a couple of parents open house evenings and learned a great deal we no longer have planetariums in the county, they dismantled the two we had, what a shame!

I studied the night sky endlessly, around the same time I bought my first Tom Swift book entitled Tom Swift and his Rocket Ship. Tom at that point would have been just a few years older than me, and instantly I had someone I thought I could model my life after. You see to me science holds all the wonder and mystery a young mind seeks, its adventure, its challenge, its beauty but I guess looking back I just wasn’t quite smart enough to achieve what I wanted via college. I still read my Tom Swift books periodically, takes me back to a simpler time.

So we jump from there to present day, the Falcon X rocket, largest in this generation, watching that lift off reminded me of the Saturn 5 lifting off from Pad 39 of yesteryear. An amazing site, and the fact that they land the engines back on the cape to be reused again blows my mind, just like Tom Swift! Although the center engine could only for one of its three landing engines and was lost at sea it is still an amazing feat. Elon Musk and his team of engineers have now taken the place of Tom Swift in my mind, this guy has the mind of a true explorer and I feed on his enthusiasm. And the pictures of Starman in his red Tesla Roadster cruising through space takes my breath away, that first live picture I viewed sits beside the image of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon in my mind, one grainy in black and white, one sharp and colorful, both pivotal moments in my life.

I’m excited, I’m enthused, I’m overjoyed, I am a space geek, and I am proud!

Pacem in Terris

PS, Starman is blasting David Bowie full volume from the car stereo, there is no air in space therefore no sound waves to vibrate therefore no sound, sorry

Episode 5

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Join me as we talk with Dave about his early boating experiences on The Chesapeake Bay, what led him to start publishing a boating magazine locally and what the future may bring. Also just a little on his other passion and publishing a monthly car show magazine in the Tri State area. 

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The Island

We moved effortlessly along the hard packed sand of the island, we had arrived only hours before aboard Cu Na Maura our well found sloop. It had been a night of rabble rousing among the inhabitants of Furnace Bay. The crew consisted of myself, my son Ryan and his two friends Jamie and Calum, we had set out for the island the day before from our home port in Cara Cove. Our goal was treasure, as always, to achieve that goal we had to cross an exceptionally tricky body of water known as the Susquehanna Flats, around Carpenters Pt and down the busy Havre De Grace channel.

We had made the trip several times over the past two years, a well worn path shown under Cu Na Maura’s keel, a well found crew on a capable ship, and easy passage, or so we thought.

The day broke as many others, we were in the grasp of the mid summer Bermuda high on the Chesapeake with warm tempatures and humidity to match. The breeze was light out of the south, a slow slog around the point I thought. The sky to the east was red as the sun boiled just on the horizon. “Red skies in the morning, sailor take warning ” repeated in the back of my mind somewhere as I peered into the rigging looking for the tell tales high on the main sail. The barometer had been dropping over the last 24 hours or so as a precursor to an incoming frontal boundary and wind shift, we knew it was coming, we didn’t know when.

I ordered the cabin below to be stowed for sea, the morning meal had been served, it was the off going watches responsibility for making these preparation. We were running a port and starboard watch rotation 4 hours on 4 hours off during daylight hours 2 on 2 off overnight. The sun arcing higher in the eastern sky had a bit of a halo around it impressive as it appeared also brought it own feeling of foreboding.

I’m not exactly sure what it was, a slight shift of the wind on the back of my neck, a change in the rhythm of the deck moving below my feet, but at that moment I felt uneasy, as skipper on a sailing yacht your instinct bears prime consideration in executing your duties. I looked about the horizon, smoke billowed up from the beach to the south of us on Spesutie Island, probably an abandoned camp fire. To the North the mighty Susquehanna flowed as always from 426 miles North in upstate New York, to West though a low line of ink black clouds were slowly forming on the horizon. The glass had been falling for 24 hours now as we anticipated a pesky low from the Canadian Maritimes moving South towards the DelMarVa peninsula. I felt uneasy as my crew were all young and yet to be tested in a frontal passage such as we see here frequently on the Chesapeake Bay, I called all hands on deck.

I typically go the second reef in the main right away, too many times I have thrown in the first reef finding it was not enough for some of our typical frontal passages here on the bay and would rather not be struggling with that at the most inopportune time. We tightened down the tack at the mast with the Cunningham and cinched it on the mast cleat, I use a block through the clew at the back of the sail with a single reef line, we tightened that and tied n our crinkles. The reefing gear on the Genoa is simple and effective, we can adjust it on the fly as needed. I called for all crew to be in their PFD’s and latched to the jack strap if on deck. We stowed for sea below, we settled in and waited.

Cold fronts for the most part are very predictable as they cross the US west to east. Cool arctic air forms into a mass over the Canadian Maritmes and moves south and east via the jet stream.

One eye on the glass and one to the sky is really all that is needed, at this point I had both eyes on the sky as a black mass of clouds roared down the Susquehanna toward our position. Typically the wind hits ferociously, one minute it is blowing 5 to 8, the next it is blowing 20 to 30 knots.

We had Cu Na Mara prepped and battened down the best we could in preparation for the frontal passage, the sails all reefed to the smallest point, the hatches dogged down watertight, the crew well prepped, fed and anxious.

The initial gust of 20 knots or so laid us over on our side quickly, Cu Na Mara struggled at first, then dug her shoulder into the warm bay water, lurched forward and quickly stood back up and picked up speed. We had a clear path forward for a good 2 miles or so and I was confident of my position, my ship, and my crew.

As typical the blow lasted 30 minutes and slowly subsided, it was early evening, the front moved over us, the rain had stopped, the wind had died down to a comfortable 5 knots and the breeze was fresh. When these fronts move through pushing the hot humid air from the region we are left with cool dry air, the visibility is remarkable to the horizon, the air smells clean, we have a new start, until the next air mass rolls through.

We ghosted up to our anchorage off of Sand Island, dropped the hook and sent a scouting party ashore. The cook was prepping the evening meal, the scouting party came back aboard bubbling with excitement to have been on dry land and ready for the event no meal. We ate heartily as pirates do, using our hands instead of utensils, laughing, belching, making off color remarks and having a great time celebrating a successful passage across a dangerous body of water, and a challenging weather passage all in one long day.

It was approaching midnight, the crew still restless dove off the transom for a night swim, I cautioned them about creatures in the water, they looked at one another laughed and continued. After 45 minutes or so of this I called them back aboard and told them to hit the rack. After all we had to make the same passage back tomorrow, and they all need to be at school Monday morning. I was not going to write absentee notes for a bunch of 6 graders for missing class because of a pirates weekend on the Chesapeake Bay!

Episode 4

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We chat with Tom and Steven Connell on the history of the Bay Breeze and the future expansion

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