Ahoy from the high seas, Matey!

There is more to life than computing. For me, one of the other great pleasures of life is sailing.

One Sunday, at 10:44 in the morning, I cast off the last line and untethered my boat from the dock at Alamitos Bay in Long Beach. I was free and clear of land and on my way to the Isthmus at Catalina Island. I backed the boat slowly out of my slip and then put the outboard motor in forward and started outward into the channel.

I own a Pacific Seacraft, twenty foot long, ocean going cruising sailboat named SWAN. She has a full lead keel, is heavy, slow sailing and a wonderful pleasure to handle. I take her as often as I can to places up and down the Southern California coast. And I sail her by myself. I am a “singlehander” because my boat lacks some of the accouterments that would make her comfortable for my wife to accompany me. Never-the-less, I find she has all the amenities that I need to keep me comfortable for however many days I might remain aboard wherever I might end up.

On this particular trip I am headed for Twin Harbors on Catalina. My sailing time is approximately seven hours dock to mooring. I plan to be gone four days. My trip is not completely computer free however. I do not claim to be like the sailors of yore, who watched the sea and the sky and navigated by the stars. I am much more modern.

Before leaving harbor, I have checked the ocean weather on the National Weather Service web site, I also have set my destination on my Magellan Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver that really is a small computer that takes information from a group of low orbit satellites and gives me my position on the surface of the earth to within a few feet. I use the display that gives me my compass heading and distance to the Isthmus because many days, while in the Catalina Channel, I cannot see land in any direction.

Another recent addition to SWAN is a RayMarine Tiller Pilot. This is a device that I attach to my tiller and it automatically steers a course that I enter into it by a set of push buttons. It is electrically operated and has an internal electronic compass that holds my boat steady on the course that I have set. This means that the usual five hour open ocean voyage between the Long Beach breakwater and the Isthmus no longer is the back aching, sore shoulder adventure fighting the winds and waves by hand. Not for me now; electronics all the way.

Incidentally, I also have an am/fm stereo radio so I have music in the background while sailing. My cellular telephone is charged and ready the entire trip. There is a marine radiotelephone unit that can be used in case of emergencies. A handheld radio is there to talk to the Harbor Master at my destination and a two-meter amateur radio to talk to friends ashore. And I can charge my boat’s battery by means of a solar panel that I carry with me.

No, I am not like the sailors of yore. I am surrounded by computer like devices and other electronics that make for a pleasurable and safe journey wherever I take SWAN. Never-the-less, I still am at sea and subject to the vagaries of Mother Nature and her oceans. I have experienced her furies but my boat is sound and I just do my thing.

If you would like to hear more about modern sailing, or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit our blog at “”.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet at the Tustin Area Senior Center. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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