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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Worldwide Weather Page

Welcome to Promise's NEW AND IMPROVED Worldwide Weather Page! Now bigger, now better, now truly worldwide!

Please patronize the sponsor of the Weather Page:

Current conditions on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands:

To find out if there are any weather watches or warnings posted for your area, or any state in the U.S., go to the
  • Weather Warnings Map

  • For marine weather information, forecasts, and links to other weather-related sites, visit

  • For worldwide oceanic conditions and marine weather, visit
  • Weather Underground

  • For current ocean data including wave heights, wind strength and direction, and water surface temperature, anywhere in the world, check out

  • And from NOAA,
  • Ocean Prediction Center

  • For current conditions and weather forecasts, you can visit the following sites:



    Click here for SAILcast weather

    Click here for Summer weather

    Click here for Tropical weather

    And don't forget WeatherMatrix:

    WeatherMatrix - Worldwide Weather Enthusiasts

    By clicking on the images below, you can see current satellite photos for each respective world region:

    Continental United States


    Gulf of Mexico


    Eastern Pacific Ocean


    Australia & New Zealand


    Middle East

    Northern South America

    Central South America

    Southern South America

    Northern Africa

    Southern Africa

    Fair Winds & Blue Skies!

    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    How You Can Help

    Promise is finally afloat once again, but unfortunately, the skipper's health has taken a sudden and debilitating turn. He has no insurance and his medical bills are piling up.

    There are several ways in which you can show your support.

    First, you can make a donation by clicking on either the Pay Pal button or Amazon Honor Box below, as you prefer, and using your credit card or Pay Pal account:

    Amazon Honor System
    Click Here to Pay

    If you prefer to make a purchase, you can click on the following banner link to go to where you'll find your favorite on-line stores selling all of their best products. A small percentage of your purchase will go towards Don's medical bills, and it won't cost you anything extra:

    If you want to purchase books, there's only one place you need to go:

    Lastly, you can help by buying directly from our on-line store:

    Support This Site

    Promise and her crew thank you for your support.

    Fair Winds and Blue Skies.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    My Struggles With The Workbench

    April 13, 2005.

    As mentioned elsewhere, Promise is currently stored on the hard in the boatyard on Virgin Gorda. Unfortunately, the boatyard is no longer in charge of any work your boat might need. You either have to find someone to do the work yourself, or rely on a particular organization which contracts with the boatyard to do work there. This organization is The Workbench. Promise was stored in the boatyard when I went down to the BVIs to check her out in April, 2003. She needed work, but I figured I could do a lot of the work myself and have the folks at The Workbench do the major stuff. Everyone assured me they do excellent work -- maybe they do, but the hard part is getting them to actually get started. I talked with the owner on the phone once in May before I bought the boat, as I wanted to know if he could examine the motor, which was out of the boat and needed some work, complete any needed repairs and install the motor. He assured me he would be happy to do so. After buying the boat in July 2003, I attempted to contact The Workbench numerous times by phone and email, but none of my messages were returned, so in September I sent them a 2 page letter detailing the work I wished done, and asking them to contact me. I received no response. In November, the broker I bought the boat through made a trip to the BVI and he offered to check in and see how the work was going. He was shocked to discover that they hadn't even started yet. He talked with the office manager who told him that they had indeed received my letter (she even showed it to him), and they were just about to contact me to schedule the work. In fact, he was told, as soon as she was done talking with him she was going to go right in and email me. I never received this email. When the broker returned, he phoned me to tell me what he'd discovered. He was not surprised to find I had received no email, and he suggested that I email them. I did this, but again, received no response. In January, 2004, I emailed a person at the boatyard and asked her to light a fire under the people at The Workbench. This person was also told I would be contacted immediately -- again I was not contacted. Desperate, I emailed The Workbench in April and told them that I assumed the problem was that they either could not do or did not want to do the work and, if I did not hear from them by the end of the week, I would start looking for someone else to do the job. I received a response immediately. It was full of ambiguous BS about the difficulties inherent in the job and various excuses (for example, they claimed they were waiting for the previous owner to deliver the motor -- he claimed he was waiting for them to pick it up -- they both work in the same boatyard, but The Workbench never made arrangements for pickup or delivery). I replied to this email asking several questions, trying to get some information, but my questions were never answered, so I then started actively trying to find someone else to complete the work on my boat. (I also discovered that they were telling people that they had heard nothing from me!!!) This apparently got back to The Workbench as, out of the blue, one day in May I received an email from them saying they'd completed the inspection of the motor and (such a surprise) it needed work, which they apparently couldn't or wouldn't do, don't know which, so they found a local fellow who repairs motors on the side who would do the work for me. At this point, summer of 2004, the slow time of year, The Workbench actually did finally get some work done on the boat, and I started to relax.

    Then a new problem developed. For whatever reason, Promise has no cockpit sole. I've been trying to get The Workbench to install a new one since the beginning. I let them know that I wanted it installed as soon as the engine was ready. I didn't want it to get ruined by rain. Well, they put everything off so long that once the rainy season started the hull kept filling up with water. They gave me a choice of putting in a pump or installing garboard drains. Garboard drains are plugs in the hull that can be removed to let water out. Of course, if they fail, they'll let water in as well. Well, my view is that I don't want any more holes in the hull than is absolutey necessary, and besides I could always use a pump, so I told them to put in the pump and asked a few questions about it. My questions were not answered; however, 2 weeks later I received another email stating that they hadn't installed the pump, and asking me to reconsider the garboard drains--in fact, they insisted on putting them in. Meanwhile, Promise had been filling with water regularly for the entire 2 weeks. So I finally gave in and OKed the drains.

    They contacted me later about additional work that was needed, new standing rigging, and I asked them to send me cost estimates...which I never received. After numerous attempts to contact them, I finally received an email from The Workbench saying they would be happy to finish the work, but it was charter season now and there would be a bit of a delay while they concentrated on the multi-million dollar charter boats. They said they would get back to me in about a month. This was in September, 2004. I have had no further messages from them. I sent them 2 emails in December and another in January 2005, but have received no response from them at all. I have no idea what work has been done or how much money I owe. In fact, one of the last emails I sent to The Workbench included a request to let me know if I owed them any money -- I have not received a reply, so I'm assuming I owe them nothing!!! Should be interesting when I go down to pick up the boat.

    I've come to realize that if I want any work to get done on Promise I'm either going to have to do it myself or at least arrange it in person. Thus, I have decided that no matter what I'll be relocating to the Virgin Islands this summer so that I can get this work done. And what's the moral of the story? Well, that's for you to judge. But, if you happen to find yourself on Virgin Gorda and your boat needs repairs, you'd better be pretty handy or pretty rich, because only then will the work get done.

    P.S.: And those garboard drains they insisted I install last summer? They have not yet been installed.

    Why She's Named Promise

    April 12--

    A little background on why I named the boat Promise. Well, she represents just that, a promise -- one I made to my best friend. His name was Shep. You may have seen him listed as First Mate Emeritus under Ship's Info. Shep was an Australian Shepherd and the love of my life. He and I were "best friends, bosom buddies and life-long pals", as Fred and Barney used to say. Shep was a very special dog -- he was born on St. Valentine's Day and everyone who saw him fell instantly in love with him. I'll get a photo up as soon as I can and maybe you'll see what I mean. Unfortunately, he had a bad birth defect, the result of an accidental merle-merle cross. If you know anything about breeding dogs, you'll know why that's bad. (If you don't know anything about breeding dogs, let me just tell you, that's bad!) Anyway, he was born with what is known among Aussie breeders as "ocular dysgenesis complex". What that means is he had multiple problems with his eyes, he was blind in the right and couldn't see out of the left and, to make matters worse, he was deaf as well. I was the only one who believed he deserved a chance at a happy life, so he became my constant companion. Maybe it was his physical problems that gave him his outlook on life, maybe it was St. Valentine, I don't know, but he was the sweetest, happiest dog I've ever known with a unique personality all his own. But I digress. The point is, I made several promises to him over the years, and I managed to keep all but one.

    You see, Shep loved the sea. He loved being on boats or even just near boats. He could stand on a dock for hours facing into the wind, sniffing the sea breeze. Well, we'd both do that. And I promised him that one day we'd have a boat all our own and we'd go sailing 'round the world and find out what that odor was he was smelling and find where it was coming from. But time goes by, and life was rough for us. I had a hard time finding good work and just as I'd get some money saved up something would break or something would go wrong somewhere and just like that the money was gone. But we got by and Shep was happy.

    Then on St. Valentine's Day of 2001, his 11th birthday, Shep went into a seizure that wouldn't stop. I took him to the veterinarian who gave him some medication to knock him out and stop the seizure. Despite his physical problems, Shep had enjoyed good health most of his life, although recently he'd developed diabetes. That probably complicated things. He spent a few days in the hospital and had a bunch of tests before he finally came home. He seemed exhausted and for the first time in his life looked old. After a few weeks, he seemed to improve, but then he suddenly developed diarrhea -- a problem with his medications. Back to the vet for more tests. He became weak, and I had to carry him up and down a flight of stairs 3 times a day so he could go outside and do his business. The diarrhea went away after a few weeks, but then one night he started vomiting, and it was obvious he was in pain. This time it was a trip to the emergency vet. Numerous x-rays and tests later, he was diagnosed with a bad gall-bladder. More medicines. He was getting weaker. He could only stand up with my help and I had to continue carrying him outside. I was missing work because I'd rather stay with him. He was still alert, though. Fetch was one of his favorite games. He could barely stand now, let alone chase the ball, but one night we had a fun game of fetch -- Shep laying on his side on the floor and me sitting a few feet away. I would roll the ball towards him so that it would stop just next to his nose. He would watch it for just a moment, as if it might suddenly roll away, then reach out and grab the ball. He'd chew it vigourously for a few seconds, then spit it out right back to me. But he got tired after about 30 minutes. He got tired easily at this time.

    After a few more weeks and a few more problems, and to make a long and painful story shorter, Shep came looking for me one day. Something was wrong, and he knew it. I looked at him and he was cyanotic -- completely blue -- he wasn't getting any oxygen. Another trip to the hospital and more tests. He spent the whole day there, but I finally took him home. All he wanted to do was lay in the grass; Shep loved the outdoors. Eventually, I put him inside -- I had work to do and I needed to know he was safe in the house. Later, when I went inside to give him his nightly meds, he was gone. He had laid down and died.

    I have always regretted not having the opportunity to take Shep sailing on our own boat, but I haven't forgotten the promise I made to my little buddy. I sold the house, a house I'd bought just for him so he'd feel more comfortable, and used the proceeds to buy a little boat and fulfill a little promise. A promise to my best friend...

    A boat named Promise.

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