Sailing Away Makes You Stupid

You ever feel dumb? Maybe that’s not a nice label anymore. Stupid? No, that’s not appropriate either. Slow minded? There we go. You ever feel slow minded?

I’m not talking about a single incident like balancing a pile of vegetables in your arms and then going to pick up another one and having several you were holding fall out back into a bin, re-picking those and then having more fall out but this time into a stack of shopping baskets you should have used in the first place. I’m talking about the overall feeling of brain power inadequacy that’s evident across a period of time.

Mom, is Grandpa stupid?

We don’t say stupid.

Is he dumb?
No! And please stop saying those words. Grandpa is old and he doesn’t have much to think about anymore so leave him alone
Slow? Is he slow?
Go to your room.

I used to do some things automatically. Changing the watermaker filters for instance. Bing, bang, boom. Done. Now it’s bing, bang, boom, why is it running funny? Putting the right filters in the proper housing would help. Damn it.

Starting the generator is easy right? Not if you forget to open the vent on the tank.

Going to shore and leaving the whole boat opened up and your fly open is not very smart.

Cleaning the bilge and leaving a rag laying over the float switch.

Driving away from shore in the dinghy and dragging the 15 ft security cable the whole way. I could go on but it gets embarrassing. After a while you start to think, I might be losing brain power! I might be getting SLOW!

I used to be relatively smart (stop laughing Deb). I did smart things. I retired and had no desire to do the old smart things so I did new smart things like working to get a boat ready to sail away. Then, I sailed away and now I’m not so smart anymore. Does sailing away make you stupid? (Stupid sounds better so I’m using it. My blog anyway). I’m beginning to wonder if that’s true. When sailors all get together for a pot luck does it look like we all got off a bus from the institute? Maybe not everyone out here has the same issue with loss of brain power. Maybe. I’ve seen signs.

But just in case sailing does make you stupid I have some new personal goals in mind to reduce and maybe reverse this problem.

Make Grandpa Smart Again. MGSA. It’s a new program designed to make me (Grandpa) smart or less stupid. Here are the steps that need to be taken.

#1. Brain exercise.

How active is my brain? Based on the “use it or lose it” theory I would say my brain is a couch potato. What do I do that stimulates that gray matter? Sailing? Ha! We don’t even plot courses anymore. I take a paper chart out and make some pencil marks on it once in a while because it looks nautical but we just plug in our destination and some app written by a French guy (who emailed me to tell me to turn off the screen timeout and it will work better…stupid!) will plot a course for you based on weather conditions. The only thing I really calculate is what time to leave our location to get to a place at a proper arrival time. Other than that it’s pretty easy.

Sure, I have to know how to trim sails to get moving at all points of sail but I’ve been doing that for over 25 years. Not a challenge. There is maintenance on the boat which can be challenging. I give myself some points there. I have come up with some solutions to weird problems on this tub and properly repaired a lot of broken shit. I guess that sparks some neurons but is it enough to keep Gramps from being shunned at family gatherings? I don’t know.

My brain needs something else. Learning guitar has been fun and educational. I read a lot whether it’s news online or a novel. I read about science and keep up to date on the latest science discoveries and news especially NASA. I did take up space in school (cheap joke). I need something more. I thought about getting back into programming. I enjoyed that. I’m not talking about work related stuff but fun stuff like writing apps or doing some boat related instrumentation things like tank monitoring. Always nice to know how much crap is in your holding tank.

Learning Spanish would be fun and useful. I took German in High School. I never needed it or had a chance to use it. I will go to Germany one day and order a beer at the Oktoberfest, maybe ask where the bathroom is. That’s all I really need. Three years of German in High school just to order a beer and take a leak.

Spanish can be used at home and it would have really come in handy at a barber shop in Miami many years ago. I was walking around little Havana looking for a barber. I found one but I could not tell them what I wanted done to my hair so I pointed to a photo (there were about 30 pictures all in a row) on the wall but I didn’t know how to say thirteen in Spanish. They gave me a number twelve or a ten. I looked OK with a fade but the gang symbol shaved in was a big mistake. Makes more sense to learn Spanish.

#2 Fitness

Where do I begin with this? I was always an active person. Not a jogger, runner or weight room fanatic. I was just always moving. My job required me to be on the factory floor quite a bit. Too much actually. I was hardly ever at my desk except when I knew I was retiring. Then, you could see the skid marks going into my office from when I put the brakes on. Being a manufacturing engineer meant you had to always put out fires, or fix stuff. It never let up so I was on the move constantly.

Over the years I managed to involve myself in some sports recreation like hockey and sailing but never anything steady except the usual post holiday gym workouts that were done by April.

I know I need to get out and about more but I also except the fact that I don’t like exercise. I really don’t unless it’s fun. To just walk the same path every day, week and year would kill my drive. Boring. Hockey was fun because I could hit people 😀  Sailing was cool of course. Morning walks are good if I have a coffee and some tunes. If the coffee starts working early you can get some good cardio on the run back.

I have plenty of excuses but the main one for walking is downhill blows my knee up. I have no ACL in my right leg. Uphill no problem but going down is brutal. The knee lasts about 2 miles and then I limp bad enough that cars pull over and ask if I need a lift.

Biking. I like bikes. Biking is easy on my knee. I had a blast riding the bike trails in Jacksonville. The parks there are amazing for bikers. I had an old trail bike (sort of) at the time. Rusty and not safe for the trails but I hit them anyway. Good fun. Some of the pro riders would look at me with distaste. They were in their stretchy clingy outfits and I had cargo shorts and sweat stained t-shirt. They had shock absorbers, gloves, tinted goggles and biking shoes (WTF). I had a rust encrusted old bike with questionable tires and a super padded comfy gel filled seat for my flat ass and a pair of old Keens. They blew through fast and furious. I just missed a tree and slid down an embankment into a stream I prayed had no gators in it.

They fist bumped afterward and placed their bikes carefully on a roof rack while drinking electrolytes. I came off the trail muddy and scraped and tossed the bike into the back of the old Chevy van and popped a beer out of the cooler. So much fun. I went back many times to those trails and did plenty of beach riding in the mornings.

More bike riding is in my future. Less time sitting on the boat is in my future. Flat land is in my future. Walking (2 miles max), biking and way more exercise is definitely in my future.

Why didn’t we get out more on the islands? I don’t know. We are both kind of social misfits so maybe that has something to do with it. We kind of stopped exploring as much as we did when we first started. When we get to a new island we get the urge to check it out but once we’ve been there a couple times we say screw it. Sometimes the cruiser gang gets a tour going which is a lot of fun. There should be more of those. You get to see the island and meet people, or stand around by yourselves smiling at everyone like a dufus.

Exercise helps the mind. Keeps you sharp and alert and you definitely feel better afterward. Gramps could be trim and smart… or in the hospital. We’ll see.

#3 Eat Healthier.

But, you’re vegetarians so you’re stuffed with vegetables every day so how much healthier can you get?  Ha! Just because we do not eat meat does not mean we eat healthy.  Down in the windwards fresh veggies can be hard to find. I take that back. The fresh veggies you are used to eating back in the states are hard to find. Local fruits and veggies are easy to come by but they’re not what I’m used to. The spinach is bitter and some of the greens have to be cooked a certain way else they will hurt. Plenty of root vegetables can be found but I’m not a fan. When you do find some food you like you have to eat it soon because it will rot very quickly. I would be healthier if I wasn’t so picky about the local stuff.

Sometimes I get a craving for a certain food. Fresh broccoli is hard to come across depending on the island. For a few weeks there was zero broccoli. When I found some it was like heaven on the tongue. I was afraid I was going to over cook it and ruin my only chance. This gets old after a while. Do I have to hunt for vegetables every week?

So overall we’ve been on the not so healthy side of nourishment. We’re not starving but we’re not getting enough fresh food. We’re not eating bad food but it’s not great food. The good thing about living in the islands is their lack of interest in consuming sugar. Sugary foods are hard to find. Snacks are hard to find as well. A large grocery store in the US typically has a full aisle stocked with snacks and then has little stands scattered throughout the store plus there are snacks in smaller packages at the checkout. Down here you don’t see that. We might see a small section of an aisle with snacks and all the bags are smallish. No candy aisle either and sodas are not very popular. Let’s face it sugar is evil and we are happy to not have it so readily available. 

The islands were a blessing in that respect. Our sugar consumption is very small and it shows in zero cavities since we left and definite weight loss. My plan is to eat more fresh food and whole grains. Veggie stands have been easy to find here on the islands but limited in variety so I have to get over my lack of interest in root vegetables and other strange looking things in those bins until we get somewhere with food I recognize.

#4 Cut back on the Happy Juice

I’m not a heavy drinker (GTFO! No really). I do not drink liquor except on special occasions like climbing a hill to the top and celebrating with under the counter rum flavored with Mary Jane and what not, only to be carried to the bottom by a friend(Thank you John). I only weigh 150 pounds and whatever I drink goes straight to my brain. Good thing I have a big ole head.

I come from a long line of beer drinkers and I can hold my own in that department. OK, I used to hold my own. Now not so much. It doesn’t take too many to get me silly nowdays. I like beer. I will always like beer. I enjoy a cold beer just about every day (OK Kavanaugh). Lately though it’s been interrupting my sleep and if I drink too much it may trigger a migraine. The migraine research is still ongoing but I have my suspicions.

I like to drink socially and Debra is a big part of that social life and Miss Debra has cut way back so I am trending in that direction also. I have to say that since the reduction in happy juice I have been dropping the gut and feeling better. Also I am sleeping better. So maybe I just savor the few beers I typically have and get really happy once in a while.

Most islands are geared towards tourism, and bars and partying is a common thing. When we first started this migration south we were definitely in party mode. Why not? Nothing wrong with that. After five seasons the party started to wind down a bit and we just didn’t want to wake up with the blahs two to three times a week so we backed off. It’s still very hard not to get caught up in the continuing party lifestyle but other friends our age have started cutting back as well. There is a party here every day and if you can handle it you will have a great time. I’m not preaching. I’m actually jealous. I wish I could do it.

How does cutting back on beer make you smarter Grandpa? Well you have that whole brain cell theory where alchohol wipes them out. There’s that, but when you wake up all fuzzy and your day is spent lounging in the cockpit trying to recover from the night before that means your brain is not working on something more entertaining or productive. You’re a sloth. Having two or three days of this slothiness (pretty sure it’s a word.) is not a good way to be. Over time you get stupid.

But you’re over 60 so why do you care? Eat, drink and be merry because fuck you’re old.

Because I want to be over 80 that’s why! I also don’t want to be a drunk dumbass…except on Thursdays. There’s something about Thirsty Thursdays that make me want to get out and free my mind. Mostly though, I don’t have a whole lot of time left for wasting a day or two with a hangover. They hurt.

#5 Social Media, Internet – The time waster

OK, the people that are on Facebook all the time are going to frown on this one and tell me it’s what you make of it man! You don’t have to be addicted to it! Right.

Facebook is fun at times and it’s nice to stay connected but geez it’s turned ugly and it’s a damn time waster. The only good thing I see with FB is keeping in touch with friends and family and maybe events happening in your area. The rest of it blows. Don’t ever get your news from FB. Geez, it’s like they took Fox “news” and radiated it until it turned zombie and started eating peoples brains.

I noticed a lack of young people on FB recently so I asked some younger friends and family what’s up. Too many olds, they said. We ruined it with all the politics and bullshit. Way to go angry old men of the world.

I keep up with world events. You should. It’s smart. Find the right news sights and subscribe. Just don’t spend all day popping in and out and hanging on every tweet or update. It’s addicting and really a big waste of time unless you’re a journalist. I just started backing off on this but I want to grab the phone every hour to check in. The real test will be hen we have unlimited wifi. Oye.

#6 More Family Time

We really miss our family. It’s to the point now where we think more about them and what they’re doing then we do about where we are and what we’re doing. Does that make sense? The Grandkids are growing up so fast that Debra and I feel we are missing out on some really fun times. We would like to be a bigger part of their life and many of you probably remember your grandparents fondly. We don’t want to be mysterious.
We knew as the years passed we would miss them more and more. Some days it is depressing knowing you are not with them on some adventure. All you see is the pictures of their smiles but you don’t hear their laughter. It can get to you and make you sad. We’re not out here to be sad.

So, what does all this mean Mr. Personal Improvement?


Changes! Yes, many changes. I have come to the conclusion that sailing away makes me a bit of a dullard. Now, I really should define that a little more. Sailing/Cruising CAN make you a wee bit lazy in the brain. There are other factors involved (some listed above) but for me, sailing/cruising is making me kind of a dim bulb and the time to act is now, so that I may retain some of what I’ve got left upstairs. The brain is like a muscle right?

Don’t you like cruising anymore?

We love it! If we didn’t have Grandkids we’d probably stay out here and probably go back to the States for shorter visits. Sorry kids but you’re not as cute as the Grands. The cuties back home are the magnets pulling us back.

Cruising has been a gift that has changed us forever. We’re different people now. We’ve lost our rough edges. They have been smoothed over by travel and visiting other people and places and experiences. Living on the water is adventurous and calming. Plenty of highs and lows to deal with which makes life interesting. But, like any lifestyle it can get repetitive and boring after a while. It can also get more challenging as you age.

Does this mean sailing/cruising is over for us guys? I don’t know. I think so. We’re going to park KN near family and do some work on her while living aboard. In the Fall/Winter we will decide what to do. At this point in our lives we don’t look too far ahead. All I know right now is I need some other stimulation besides floating on a boat in paradise. I’m restless..
and getting stupid. Apparently.


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
                                                                                       – Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

This was written in the past. No too far back. Not sure why it was never posted. Oh well.