Unplugged Time Travel

Joseph Conrad wrote that the work of a writer is to reveal the truth so the reader can for one brief moment, experience what it is that the writer is endeavoring to communicate and in that brief moment, the reader will  have absolute clarity and escape from his everyday existence.

A flip of a switch sent my household to the beginning of the 20th century at 6 o’clock this morning. Our house went dark while winds and rain battered outside. My mind had already been racing down the hill to the water’s edge where my obligations and charters were being buffeted by a strong southeastern storm. Needless to say I saw the digital clock go out and heard the furnace turn off as I was already awake and aware of my liabilities out in the elements.

This is the day when the power left our home for fourteen hours.  This is also the day when I watched my eleven year old daughter fly across the pier apron while hanging onto her umbrella in a 50 knot gale because she was loyal enough to volunteer for boatyard storm watch detail with her father. This was the day when I had to ask myself how do I make Sunday morning coffee and how can I watch the golf tournament without electricity.  The coffee was the easy part.

My children took it in stride and by nightfall, we were living the life of an early 20th century rural household not unlike my own clan had enjoyed near the Ozarks.  Sitting by the fire watching my children study their lessons by candlelight. Listening to them talk in the quiet air without distractions. Playing charades with my daughter while my wife prepared a meal in a candle lit kitchen. Walking in the rain around my neighborhood, discussing the status of our shared dilemma. Reading by candlelight in a warm bath with absolute silence in the air.  What was the problem again?

I was reminded of this question in just one millisecond when our home roared back from it’s time warp with a surge of  invisible energy, bringing with it lighting, the whirring of appliances and the humming of a furnace. Just like that our simple day had ended and we were reminded that we were no longer innocent.

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Evil Kneivel Edmund Hillary and Me

I am a daredevil. Not in the true sense of the word, but in theory I believe I truly am a thrill seeker. No I am not about to jump Snake River or climb Mount Everest but,  I like them, am putting it all on the line. Maybe I am more gnarly than them because I am putting it all on the line all the time!  I was watching videos with my daughter  on Vimeo the other day when we discovered this crazy cat who flies down mountainsides with a winged suit only to bale out at the last moment with the assistance of a parachute. A parachute? Come on, how wimpy is that. I wish I had a parachute too. The guys name is Jeff Corless or something like that and he is truly fearless but what does that make me?

Sir Edmund Hillary was fearless too, but all he had to do was climb up and then climb down. True he made his own route and had to commit completely to the challenge but so do I, everyday and I don’t even have the luxury of a Sherpa like Tenzing Norgay. Yes I am “ex” Sherpa and am endeavoring to scale the mountain. A mountain without a summit. A mountain which appears at the moment to be more of a cliff than anything else. Oh yeah, I don’t have any ropes either.

Evil Kneivel is my favorite though. He is more aligned to my style of daredevil-ism. He commits fully to the task with little or no options for failure. Its all the way or nothing baby. God bless him. You see, as a fellow daredevil I put it all on the line every single day without a crowd of fans, without a Sherpa and without a parachute. So if you really want to experience the thrills of a daredevil, I would advise you to buy a small business with employees and tons of overhead, the more the better. You see if you pile on a ton of debt and other obligations you will be in the same exact place as Sir Edmond Hillary, Evil Kneivel and Jeff Corless. The only difference is that you probably won’t die,  but where is  the thrill in that anyways?

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Happy Holidays and a little announcement too…

xmas_wreath_300HAPPY HOLIDAYS and THANKS for placing your trust in me and my survey practice this year. As a marine surveyor there is nothing more exciting than to receive a call requesting my services down at the water’s edge. I absolutely love the challenges each vessel presents and the trust you place in me and my expertise.

As many of you may know, I was a stockbroker prior to entering the boatyard business and that I wrote a book about my experiences.(The one with the horrible title) For 13 years I  learned a great deal about the financial markets while earning the trust of hundreds of clients serving their needs.

So, after a long and windy road around our waterfronts, Tina and I have decided that I return to Wall Street. I am incredibly excited about bringing my passion and personal experiences in the trenches of small business to bear assisting clients with their needs and challenges.

I will be starting next week with a major firm and will continue to provide marine survey services for you when requested.

I look forward to working with you in 2016 and may your Holiday Season be filled with Joy and Happiness!




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An Alameda Thanksgiving 2015

My first few weeks in Alameda found me residing in a company owned travel trailer beneath an enormous steel roof in an industrial storage yard on the west side of an old navy base. The Alameda Naval Base closed in the 1990′s leaving behind a distopian grid of empty streets and oversized concrete industrial buildings. Like weeds springing from broken concrete an eclectic collection of businesses have taken hold in a few of the gymnasium sized buildings. Countless others stand dark with shattered windows and peeling paint.
Around 430 every morning a lone stake bed truck would rattle and roll into our company yard clanging and banging. Loudly shouting in an unidentifiable dialect, the sole occupant exited and commenced beating an empty oil barrel with a steel rod.The ringing percussions created a hellish harmonic pulsing down from the steel roof through my spaceship thin aluminum trailer walls straight into my ice cold ear drums.
The expletive screaming visitor would relentlessly continue the tortue for about 5 minutes and then after screaming one last blast, he would get back into the truck, slam the door and leave the compound. So this was my wakeup call for weeks but I could only laugh in reflection. I concluded that my life wasn’t that bad afterall. True I was living far away from home in an old trailer beneath a large steel roof but as best as I could recall I had never felt the need to beat an empty steel barrel while swearing into the predawn sky. Obviously this poor soles wife and children had driven him into a place far worse than I had found myself. I laughed again thinking how lucky I was to have a family who had not allowed me to devolve to such a state. Yet…
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Nauticus Epicurus



Here is a great question. At least I believe it to be. When did the first person head out into the bay on a sailboat solely in pursuit of pleasure?  After a few clicks I travelled back in time to the Bay of Naples and to a beach enclave in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius called Herculaneum. The Martha’s Vineyard of its time to be sure.

In its heyday over 2400 years ago Herculaneum’s beaches were lined with the vacation homes of  Italy’s one per centers. They would spend their days in pursuit of pleasure as Epicurus advised, sequestering for peace and freedom from fear and pain. Good stuff to be sure.

Unfortunately in 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius put an end to Herculaneum and the people who resided there but no volcanic eruption, earthquake, hurricane or financial melt down can permanently erase the lifestyle they had perfected.

I suggest that on your next visit to the water’s edge and as you see your harbor come into view, remember that your goal is geographically ubiquitous and scattered all along  the human timeline.

Have a great week end on the water! AK

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