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MGTOW, “Men Going Their Own Way,” has been getting quite a lot of press lately – and drawing some extra flak from some unexpected directions. Sandman’s video “The Monks Of MGTOW” was a slap in the face to a lot of us; but there have been other efforts by “agents of influence,” in the Manosphere and in the mainstream, to disdain MGTOW or corrupt it or water it down.

The kernel of MGTOW is in the Marriage Strike rules – “do not marry, do not cohabitate, do not procreate.” But it seems more and more evident that they’re a couple of cards short of a full house. They are at the core of “Going Your Own Way,” but they aren’t enough by themselves. What’s missing? After some deep thought on the last few months’ wrangling over MGTOW, I realized: They say nothing about living a self-directed life, rather than a life directed by others or by Society.

There’s something that propels the vast majority of people down the Blue Pill Highway, and I think it could be summed up as “the quest for approval.” So much of what we do is motivated by our desire for approval – I’ll make a case that it was Mommy’s approval that got us toilet-trained! We first went to school for Mommy and Daddy’s approval; we worked for good grades for the teachers’ approval; we took our friends’ dares for the sake of their approval; we spent our money on our Honey for her approval … and so ad infinitum. In the broadest case, we work and strive and live for Society’s approval.

And, of course, the strongest draw, the strongest Object Of Desire from which a man craves approval, is Woman. It’s a special sort of approval we crave from her, a mixture of approval and appreciation and admiration and affection and lust that we label Love. We hunger for it – we get high on it – we center our lives on it, making it “All About Her.” That is at the core of gynocentrism, a powerful force in Society countering our will to Go Our Own Way. We’re pushed to Go Gynocentrism’s Way.

Those hungers are part of being a social being, and a sexual being. And we evolved as social beings, from the jungle to the savannahs, to the forests, to the farms and the cities, even here in cyberspace. But the problem is that we can, all too damn easily, let others’ approval – or the possibility they’ll withdraw their approval – get us off track from Our Own Way, pull us away from our own goals, and route us back onto the Blue Route. And Society has demanded men to live by its rules – of service, of utility, of dispensability – since the days of the savanna.

John Galt answered the demands of Society with the oath he offered at the end of his famous speech in Atlas Shrugged: “I swear – by my life and my love of it – that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

In mind of that oath, I’ve added two more items to the Marriage Strike rules, for a total of five … like the Five Precepts of Buddhism, the rules-to-live-by for that religion (kind of like the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments):

  • Do not marry.
  • Do not cohabitate.
  • Do not procreate.
  • Rid yourself of gynocentrism.
  • Follow your own dreams.

Buddhism’s Five Precepts – do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not be unchaste, do not take intoxicants – were the Sakyamuni’s guideposts to the layman for living the Buddhist life. I offer these five precepts in the hope that they’ll be useful, solid guideposts for living the MGTOW life.

(Note – 30 March: I’ve revised “Reject gynocentrism” to “Rid yourself of gynocentrism.” The idea is not to rant against gynocentrism in others and in the culture, but simply to put aside the conditioned reflex to “think of her first.”)

Poor Poor Victims

Thinking about Men’s Rights today …

Remember the Occupy Movement, from the summer of 2011? It started as a demonstration in a privately-owned park in New York City, with picketers and social-justice warriors pitching a “sleep-in” bivouac to protest the social inequity between Wall Street’s money-makers and “the 99%” struggling to make a living in the recession-bled economy. It went on to spawn more protests, more protesters’ campsites, more disagreement and faction-fighting in the Media, and (predictably) more hateful PR directed at “the 1%” who the protesters blamed for the whole situation.

They saw themselves as “victims” of Wall Street. But that wasn’t all … they sorted themselves out by their “victimhood,” when it came time for any discussions or pronouncements. I personally was fascinated to hear of their “progressive stack” discussion practice, sorting out who got a voice in discussions according to how “marginalized” they were, insisting that everyone “check their privilege” and demanding those of “privileged” groups – white, or male, or cis-gendered, or middle-class, or otherwise “born to privilege” – to “step back” and let the underprivileged others have their say.

In other words, let the “greater victims,” the “oppressed,” do the talking. Let them flaunt their “oppression,” display their scabs and their scars, and voice their victimhood and their demands – and the rest of you, the “privileged,” you just shut up. It spawns an underlying competition between different races, sexes, genders and classes, to prove who’s “more oppressed.” and deserves more of a voice.

The Oppression Olympics.

Now, I’m not denying that some people, some groups, get a rawer deal than others. I’ve seen it. I haven’t been “victimized” so much as others, but guess what? The markers used for “Check Your Privilege” don’t mean much when you’re a child of a poor-but-proud single mama, working hard to stay off welfare in the richest county of the United States. And the Oppression Olympics have become the States’ system for sorting out who needs more help, more benefits, more laws to favor them, more “empowerment.”

And that brings me back to Men’s Rights … and what might be the biggest obstacle faced by the Men’s Rights Movement: Men are poor ‘victims.’

Not “poor victims.” No, we are lousy as victims. We are so obviously at the Pinnacle of Privilege, that when men speak of their grievances – their very real grievances – they’re laughed off the stage.

Women, on the other hand, are “obvious victims.” They’ll show you. They’ll snow you with their evidence of “discrimination,” of “suppression,” of “second-class citizenship.” The Women’s Movement has been piling up this evidence for way more than a century, from Seneca Falls forward, and they have so well campaigned for a reversal of this “inequity” that now, the central purpose of the Laws and the Courts would seem to be the protection, the succoring, the empowering, and the benefit of those Poor Poor Victims, The Women Of Today.

And there just isn’t any room left for men at the table.

Men also tend to let go of their “victimhood,” given half a chance. Look at men who are the victims of divorce – and wouldn’t you say men are victimized by a system that routinely gives the complaining wife not only the benefit of the doubt, but the benefit of keeping the kids, the family home, and a sizable hunk of the man’s income, future earnings, and pension – with the threat of jail, of debtor’s prison, if he doesn’t keep up the payments? But the men struggle – they strive through – and the majority manage to carry the load as they get on with their lives. Their ex-wives? How many of them flaunt their “victimhood,” while they’re living on the ex-husband’s alimony and child-support payments? While they’re poisoning the minds of their children with hatred for the “Daddy” who loved them, tried to raise them well, and is still paying for their well-being?

The biggest issues of the Men’s Movement tend to crowd around divorce law and the practices of “Family Court.” Issues like shared parenting, and paternity fraud, and divorce fraud, and the ignored side of Domestic Violence (women’s violence toward their men, which is half of all domestic violence), are the raison d’être for the Movement.

But they fight in vain, because men are poor, poor “victims.”

Maybe men would do better without “being victims.” Maybe we’d do better by avoiding the problems of Family Court, paternity fraud, divorce fraud, and living with a potentially-violent partner.

Maybe the better solution is to Go Your Own Way. At any rate, I think so, and I practice what I preach.

Going Your Own Way – going Galt, taking part in the Marriage Strike – isn’t about fighting the Men’s Rights fight – or fighting against it; it’s about avoiding the issues altogether. That may not be “effective action” politically, but it is on a personal basis; and to misquote Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party,” I can’t save everyone so I’ll have to save myself.

It’s a simple solution – don’t get married, don’t cohabitate, don’t procreate.

To quote YouTube vlogger Razor Blade Kandy:

I can’t fix the divorce problem within my culture. But I will never face divorce. I have removed divorce as a possibility by avoiding marriage; that’s MGTOW. I will not have my children taken away from me, nor will I be forced to pay child support, because I have no children; that’s MGTOW.

Yes, that’s what I advocate. That’s what I do.

I am NOT a victim.

 *   *   *

Community Organized Compassion and Kindness posted an illuminating article on “Empowering Women” a few weeks ago. It could have been subtitled “The Female Chameleon;” its theme is the way that women change their opinions, ideas and philosophy as readily as they change clothes. There’s nothing new in this observation; Giuseppe Verdi highlighted it in Rigoletto’s “La donna è mobile;” what struck me is the way the article laid responsibility for this on the men who enable it.

One of the classic sayings about owning a boat is that there’s always something that needs fixing; the corollary is, even if everything’s working, there’s always something that needs improving. My boat is no exception, and though there’s little that needs fixing on a simple boat like mine, I’ve found plenty of things worth improving.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This winter, my project is to build a new “dodger,” or “spray hood.” This is a canvas shelter, with vinyl windows, built over the entryway from the cockpit to the cabin. It’s supposed to keep spray and maybe rain from getting into the cabin, and to provide a windbreak on a chilly, blustery day. A sturdy one can (and should) give you something to hang on to, when you need to go up on deck. The one that came with my boat was wearing out; the stitching was breaking down, I’d replaced all the zippers, and this summer I decided that it was time to for it to be retired and replaced.

Then I saw a better idea, at the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s Annapolis Gam. It was a “hard-top” dodger, with a rigid top canopy made of thermally-formed, high-density polyethylene (“StarBoard”),with zip-on windshield and side curtains. It was billed as strong enough to stand on … certainly it was strong enough for me to mount a semi-flexible solar panel on the top, and add a whole lot more to my existing solar-charging system. I could also have the top built so it extended back over the cockpit, giving me a little more shelter … It looked good. It looked great. But their estimate looked daunting. Their hard-top dodger was priced at some $3500, and the solar panel I was contemplating would be $1500 more. Not so good. I had the money, but that was more than I wanted to spend. I got some more estimates, but it was “back to the drawing board.”

A few weeks later, I found an ad in Boat US Magazine, for an engineered-plastic “hard top” that wasn’t as impressive – but a call to the manufacturer proved it was a whole lot more affordable. This one was made of extruded, cellular polycarbonate sheet material – kind of like corrugated cardboard – with an optional, sturdy aluminum edge. The “Premier” edge-frame was plainly strong enough and wide enough to give me a substantial “grab bar” – and it could be built long enough to hold a pair of 100-watt, semi-flexible solar panels I’d seen at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, that cost $300 each!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I worked up a cardboard pattern, taped it on my existing dodger frame and sent my measurements off to “HardToTop.” They couldn’t build a top to fit the frame of my canvas dodger – the curves weren’t right for their top to fit – but they could build a new frame; and their hard-top and frame would cost $800. So I went for it – “Chaaaarrgge It!” as Wilma Flintstone used to say in the Flintstones cartoons.

A couple of weeks after Christmas, I got the new hard-top and support frame. I fitted the frame on the boat – then the Winter set in; cold, blustery, snowy, rainy, too much of a mess for me to do anything until mid-March. I was able to dry-fit the panels with the outer frame, figure out how to fit the solar panels and their cables, and cut notches in the frame pieces so I could run the cables inside the frame.

Finally, in mid-March, we got some warm (or warm-ish), sunny days when I was able to fit the hard topDSCN1249 to the frame. The first day, I dry-fitted the panels and slip-fitted the outer frame in place – then I drilled and fitted the panels, adjusted everything to where it seemingly needed to be, and finally caulked the panels’ edges and bolted them in place. “So far, so good” – there were things I might have improved, but the hard-top fit as I needed it to fit and it would provide me plenty of shelter!

The weekend afterward was rainy, sloppy and blustery, but Monday was warm and partly-sunny and suitable for me to fit the solar panels and the cabin-top braces that would make my “solar dodger” strong and sturdy.

I had a lot of “visionary” tasks to manage, to make everything work. I drilled the dodger frame and pulled wiring for the solar panels through to the underside of the frame; I taped down the solar panels, with “extreme outdoor” mounting tape, as I’d figured they’d need to be placed on the top. I installed connectors beneath the hard-top, and led the solar-panel cables through the frame as I’d envisioned. I drilled and tapped the mounting screws for the “MC-4″ connectors, and finally I put it all together, with the aluminum frame and the stainless-steel struts that lock the hard-top in place.

And I’m proud of the results.

DSCN1289

I’ve got some more work to do with the “Solar Dodger.” I’ve got to install the “awning strips” around the lower edges, and I’ve got to call in Galesville Yacht Canvas to make the windshield and side-curtains. And I’ve got to hook up the solar panels to the charge-controller, so they can feed my batteries. But I’ll have an “embarras de richesse” of solar power when they’re hooked up … maybe even enough to install a refrigerator!

It’s worth considering.

 

——————————-

Shedding of the Ego is a new blog by MGTOW legend Barbarossaaaa, and it is off to a great start. The first article I read (and I’m still in the midst of reading) is “Are Seasoned MGTOW Bored With The Red Pill?” by contributing author Kolinahr, and I heartily recommend it.

From the start of this blog, I’ve been putting my attention on the “Men On Strike” phenomenon – the “Escape From The Village,” the marriage strike, the reluctance of men to put themselves into the mink-lined man-trap of “Just Cupcake And Me And Baby Makes Three (until Cupcake kicks me out)” Society. I wasn’t exactly a voice in the wilderness, more like another voice in the choir – and the ‘choir’ keeps getting bigger and louder, and more and more men are paying attention.

A few days ago, CNS News published an alarmist, wringing-their-hands article about the growing extent of this “Escape” mind-set. They’re pointing trembling, panic-shivering fingers at the “civilizational catastrophe” that 70 percent of men, age 20 – 34, are not married.

Viewing this from the perspective of Traditional Conservative Churchly-ism, this is quite horrifying. These “Peter Pan men” are accused of living “in a state of “perpetual adolescence” with ominous consequences for the nation’s future,” according to spokeswoman Janice Shaw Crouse (author of “Marriage Matters”) … who further asserts that these juvenile slackers “have failed to make a normal progression into adult roles of responsibility and self-sufficiency, roles generally associated with marriage and fatherhood…”

Yes, they’re leaving the marriage-go-round.

horses-fleeing-carousel

Has Janice Shaw Crouse considered why these “Peter Pan boys” are abandoning the “sacred” roles of “responsibility and self-sufficiency … associated with marriage and fatherhood”?

(Hear the hollow laughter!)

Crouse’s plaint is overwhelmingly concerned with the “bleak prospects for millions of young women who dream about a wedding day that may never come.” She gives absolutely no attention to the concerns, the worries, the fears, of the young men who are supposed to “man up” and marry these women; though after she’s gotten the bit in her teeth and ran with her sob-story for several paragraphs, she deigns to mention that feminism might have played a part.

But then she characterizes that “part” by feeding right back into the “evil evil men” syndrome, and declaring that “after decades of feminism … young men are now the ones who set the parameters for intimate relationships, and those increasingly do not include a wedding ring.” (So saith CNS News.)

And the rest of the article continues with the same man-shaming tone – that the problem with Society is that “Peter Pan boys don’t Man UP,” get married, and take their proper place on the Plantation. I’ve linked to the article above, and you’re welcome to explore it for yourself.

Excuse me, Sister Janice of the Order of Our Lady of Infinite Responsibility, but I have another explanation for the Lost Boys’ reluctance to join in the bonds of Holy Slavery, er, Matrimony.

Society used to take marriage seriously, and it was all about the marriage, not the Wedding.

Marriage was, indeed, a transition from “boy” (and “girl”) to adulthood. The partners in the wedding CONTRACT – and yes, even with the Separation of Church and State, it was a contract under civil law – agreed to conjoin their identities and combine their resources, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance …” (From the 1928 “Book Of Common Prayer” of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church – the vows my mother took when she married my father.) And the singer from the church choir would have sung “I Promise Thee” while the new Mister Newlywed slipped the gold ring onto the finger of his Blushing Bride. And they might have been intimidated by the breadth and solemnity of their vows – but well they should have been; marriage was supposed to be ‘forever.’

It isn’t that way any more – or, at least, not necessarily.

your-own-ceremony

Nowadays, the Church has far less say about the state of Holy Matrimony that is supposed to follow from the Bridezilla Wedding and the Awesome Honeymoon. Once the Bride and groom (use, or lack, of capitalization intentional) sign the State’s wedding contract, they are subject to State law – which is to say, to the standards and requirements and prejudices and sexist bigotry of the State Family Courts. And guess what? Those Family Courts, certainly not in the USA, are not part of the judicial system established by the Constitution of the United States. They are increasingly revealed as a law unto themselves – with White Knight judges who will discard any prior arrangement, prenuptual agreement, or police-rendered evidence, to make sure that “Ms. I’m-Not-Haaaaaappy” is coddled and cared-for in the Divorce Decree.

It sure-as-hell wasn’t that way when my mother divorced her husband in 1953. I’ve got the divorce decree in my fire-proof strong-box. The modern Cupcake gets everything – the house, the kids, child support, debt relief, et cetera, ad nauseam.

Why is it a surprise that the Modern Millenial Man sees this for the one-sided, man-shaming, man-blaming, man-plundering deal that it is – and refuses to take part in it?

If the TradCons would like to have even a Hail Mary prayer of fixing this, they’d better put their lobbying dollars into de-fanging our Family Court system. I am not holding my breath.

The Last Dance

It’s been a long time … two and a half years … since I’ve posted anything here. There’s been a lot of water gone under the keel since September 2012, and a good few notable events. But it may be the most notable event was the wedding.

No, not my wedding! Not even if I were carried to the chapel by flying pigs.

This was the wedding of my ‘adoptive’ nephew, Charlie. He’s been centered on Holly, a cute-enough girl but not one to my own tastes, for years and years. They bought a house together … they sold it, and bought another … and he proposed to her last year, in a situation she couldn’t escape (as if she’d wanted!) aboard an airliner from ‘home’ to Las Vegas.

Charlie was raised Catholic. Holly – damn if I know, it’s most emphatically none of my business. Indeed, I was aware enough that it was none of my business, that I raised no protest with the Lamb To The Slaughter and I even let him take Halcyon, my fiberglass mistress, as the site of his Bachelor Party.

And … I was part of the ‘family party’ when we filed in to Saint Whats-er-name’s Church and they traded vows. Holly was as cute as she could manage to be, in her long-train bridal gown. Charlie actually wore shoes to the ceremony, with his nicely tailored suit, though he had changed into his usual flip-flop sandals when he got to the reception. He was wearing them when he danced his first dance with his wife – his wife! – Mrs. Holly P—!

But what got to me … was his dance with his mother, to Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You’ll Dance.

If you’re not familiar with the song, well, it’s like a mother’s affirmation of her hopes for her child. It is tender and wistful, and chock-full of “I hope you’ll …” wishes and advice. As Womack told The Today Show, “You can’t hear those lyrics and not think about children and—and—and hope for the future and things you want for them. And those are the things I want for them in life. I want them to feel small when they stand beside the ocean.” And each verse closes with,

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance … I hope you dance….

It means so much more than “stand up and shake to the music,” doesn’t it? It means the whole sweep of love – romance – sex – marriage – and -onward, per the program.

And it stuck in my craw. It was four minutes of reminding me how I’d sat all of that out – largely for the sake of the one person in my life who, in my head and my heart, deserved, merited, and needed my loyalty and love and support. She’d given me all of that, as best she could, while she raised me from her newborn love-child to my adulthood. And I “sat it out” with her, till the day she died.

They say that if a man remains unmarried until he’s forty, there’s practically no chance he’ll ever get married. I was 48 when Mom went West, and there is no way I would consider marriage today.

Now, a confession. I started this post after Charlie and Holly’s wedding, almost two years ago. In a few days, they will celebrate the first birthday of their baby daughter. And “Uncle BeijaFlor” will be there, to smile and congratulate the parents, and hold their little one awkwardly in my arms, and hand her off to some doting relative or family-friend as soon as it can be managed.

And truly, when their daughter grows to adulthood, and sets forth on her own life’s journey … when she gets the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope she’ll dance.

*  *  *

I’ve been away from here for a long time! And I’ve had a wealth of excuses to let this site lie fallow. My biggest has been my involvement as a moderator on Going Your Own Way, a forum devoted to MGTOW philosophy and practice and the MGTOW lifestyle (for lifestyle it is – it’s not a movement. Feminism is a movement. So is peristalsis.)

But there’s more going on in the world than that, and more going on in my life that isn’t part of that. I’m going to pick this blog up again, at least tentatively – I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Playground Proofing

(Okay. Pardon me for tooting my own horn. But before I published this one here, I decided to send it off to A Voice For Men. I’m publishing a teaser here – the full article is here.)

I am old enough to remember flat, wooden-board swings in the playgrounds of my childhood. A flat wooden board wide enough for an adult’s hips, hanging on sturdy steel chains from a really high (to a child’s eyes) frame. A kid could really pump high on one of those swings, high enough to feel himself almost floating above the seat at the top of its arc, high enough that I never dared jump out of it at full swing. High enough to be scary; high enough that a fool or a daredevil could get hurt on it. Boy, they were fun.

I am young enough to remember when they swapped those wooden boards for thick flexible straps like little hammocks. They weren’t made for a kid to pump them, to swing high and feel the excitement. I couldn’t get a good swing out of them, anyways. They were made to keep a kid from falling off. They were ‘playground proofed’ to keep a kid safe – an admirable goal, I assume – but they had a hidden cost: A kid couldn’t fly high and get the thrill. And nowadays, when I look at playgrounds, I see that so much has been done to ‘keep a kid safe’ that it’s hardly possible for a kid to have fun on the stuff any more. They were designed for mommies, not for kids. And they’re deserted.

Well, it’s more than playgrounds that are ‘playground proofed’ nowadays. We find this same ‘protecting from consequences’ as a major, almost a prime, goal of modern society. What’s even more striking is that this ‘playground proofing’ is being conducted, directed, mandated, for the benefit of one class of people over another … a privileged class that has been historically protected from their bad choices, from their folly, from their mistakes and their consequences, by the other ‘class’ which were carefully taught the goal of keeping them safe, and warm, and comfy, taking care of their needs, and protecting them from harm, even if that meant protecting them from their own folly and not giving them the chance to learn from their consequences. But their bad choices and folly and mistakes have gotten so out-of-hand, their ‘needs’ so overblown, their demands so greedy and their complaints so outrageous, that more and more of the ‘underclass’ is turning its collective back on them and leaving their care and protection-from-folly to the hands of the Mommy State.

The name of the privileged class? Woman….

(The rest of this article is on A Voice for Men. Read it there. AVfM is to Beyond The Sunset as a B-2 Stealth Bomber is to a hummingbird. I am so proud …!)

“Otto” The Autopilot

One of the problems of solo sailing is that you still have to sleep. You still have to eat, and fix your meals, and use the head. You have to leave the boat to make its own way, when you do these and if it can’t stay on course, you’ve got a heck of a problem.

There are a few ways to handle this, but only two of them work if you’ve got a sloop (like mine) with a helm wheel (like mine). You can install a mechanical device that keeps your boat pointed correctly in reference to the wind (a wind-vane system), or you can install an electrical/electronic device that keeps your boat on the magnetic-compass course that you want to follow more-or-less … an autopilot. For a boat like Halcyon, the electronic solution costs about one-third the price of the wind-and-water-powered version, and it requires a boat-owner to do a lot less modifications to his/her boat.

So it is that I decided to entrust Halcyon and (and my own skin) to that latter, electronic system … decided, with trepidation and reservations, because of the less-than-stellar performance of a similar autopilot system on my previous boat, Bossa Nova. And with my first little day-sailing voyage using the new and improved Raymarine X-5 Wheel Pilot, I am thoroughly delighted with the device as it runs on Halcyon.

Otto the Autopilot, on board Bossa Nova (artist’s misconception)

As I suggested, I had some prior experience with autopilots because I decided to put one on ‘Bossa Nova,’ my Macgregor 26X … which is best described as ‘a 26-foot sleep-aboard sailing dinghy.’ The MacGregor 26 series are trailer-borne day-sailors with enough amenities to work as a weekend-or-vacation getaway for one, or a couple, or a man and wife with two young children … or so they say. I’ve used it as a vacation home, and as a funny-shaped travel trailer, and it worked well enough for me by myself; but it’s a very light and ‘nervous’ boat, built for protected waters and/or excursions in the best of conditions. Because I was sailing solo – the whole point of my sailing, because I don’t expect or plan or wish to need someone else sailing with me – I needed some ‘help’ to keep Bossa Nova on-course when I had to take down and flake down its mainsail. And ‘Otto’ did a pretty good job of that. Otto was noisy, though, and drank up the amp-hours from my electrical system, which (on a boat like this) wasn’t all that capable and strong to begin with.

But … don’t the world-cruisers, the people who are sailing away for real, use wind-vanes? I should say, wind-and-water-powered steering systems, designed to keep your boat following the wind, and costing you not a watt-hour of battery power. A cursory check of long-distance-cruisers’ Web sites reveals this is the case. But is a wind-vane system like the Cape Horn (the one I’d like) well-suited to sailing the Chesapeake Bay, for someone who just wants to extend his horizons a little beyond the local area? And would the next buyer of Halcyon – if I decide she’s not quite enough boat for my dreams – feel comfortable about a wind-vane?

Between the money, and the difficulties I envisioned installing the thing, I decided that the autopilot makes more sense for now. The easiest thing to install would be a ‘wheel pilot’ that attaches to the helm wheel directly, and only Raymarine makes one of those any more. When I spotted a sale at Defender, a mail-order boating supplies firm, I put in my order for the whole kit, plus an instrument housing for the control head.

Halcyon’s autopilot, driving me home.

The installation wasn’t all that hard, but it took time and I made a couple of bad decisions in mounting the stuff. One problem was that Raymarine had cooked up a new networking system that meant I had to install a ‘backbone’ close to the control head. Another was that I let a well-meaning friend talk me into mounting the control box in a place where I found it would not be able to be cabled up; the old-style control head with its cabling system would have worked fine there, but I couldn’t get the cable through the helm pedestal. Oh, well, live and learn, and take care of the cosmetic problems when you have to. I also had to order a longer device cable and a special ‘right-angle plug’cable directly from Raymarine. And I had to find places to put the parts, access routes to pull the cables through from all over the boat to the power pack, ways to make access holes to do the final cable-leading to that control head, power connections, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So it took a few days of work, spread out over several weeks. But finally I got it all installed, all hooked up, ready and steady and sturdy and strong.

And the results are very satisfactory. I’m not trapped at the helm, able to leave it wheel-locked for only a minute or so. “Otto” takes care of things well, if not exactly ‘efficiently’ – moving the wheel in response to every wave, every burble of wake, every excuse it gets. I’m not sure how much electricity it’s using, but I have solar panels to mitigate its energy use and I’m thinking about where I might put a couple more panels if it turns out I need them. The new control head is more sophisticated, ‘smarter,’ than the one on Bossa Nova. It’s a definite improvement, and very liberating … I can sit at ease in the shade or even sunbathe up in the bows of the boat, and let Otto take care of steering. In wide-open waters I could take a nap while letting Otto run the boat – which is critical, as I will need to be able to ‘catnap’ through the night on ocean passages.

With Otto at the helm, my horizons are extended – dramatically.

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