Joy Filled Memories – Ocean Biology and a Bit of Astronomy

About six miles East of Rye Beach, New Hampshire lies the “Isles of Shoals”. A group of small islands any one of which can be walked end to end in a few minutes. The ground is mostly granite and if one looks closely they will see the age layers of the granite are vertical not horizontal. I was told this sideways “up-turning” was caused during an ice age. Also, I remember catching flounder out there so large it was scary. (I was young.) The main island has an old wooden hotel used as a retreat for a religious group. There was a very small church made of granite and very old.


Above is a chart showing the coastline of Cape Ann Massachusetts and North to York Maine. About fifty miles top to bottom and almost my entire world during the summers of the 1950’s and 1960’s. All this was long before GPS navigation and modern e-charts. “Inland Navigation” was accomplished by knowing your starting point, your direction of travel, and speed. (“Dead Reckoning”) To this day I remember the 12 ton – 36 foot “Tinamalyn” traveled 8 knots (9.2 MPH) when the propeller was turning 2000 revolutions per minute. [Tinamalyn was the name of the boat – a composite of my mother’s name “Tina” and my sisters’ names – Mary and Carolyn. The “Dingy”, lifeboat, was “Capt. Bobby”.] Most weekends during the summer we spent in Rockport or York. During the week, the Tinamalyn was docked in the Merrimack River.

Today with the GPS on your cell phone, you can determine your location easily within a couple of feet. Way back in my youth, we had to take bearings of known objects on the shore and plot position on the chart. When lucky, the accuracy was about a half mile. If the shore was too far and out of sight, one might use a radio direction finder and still have the error factor of a half mile or more. Still better than the very old method of using a sextant. However, the sextant was fun as a hobby.

The “Power Squadron” (now called US Power and Sail Squadron) was a hobby club of volunteers that taught small boat handling, and navigation. My dad ended up teaching the more advanced classes that involved celestial navigation. Several times during each summer, he would take a half dozen or so students out on the boat (at night) and have them practice their astronomy skills (identifying planets and stars) and then measuring angle of celestial body to ocean’s horizon with their sextant – thus determining our position. (Not my pictures, but showing a bell buoy, whistle buoy, and sextant.)


My job was to bring the boat about 5 miles off shore and only my dad and I knew this predetermined location. We would leave the Merrimack River and head East. Being extra dark nobody noticed my passing the bell buoy and about a mile later the whistler. Quiet waters meant the buoys were not making much sound. At the whistler I’d turn North for one mile – determined by dead reckoning and a quick bearing on a water tower I could ID from flashing red light. The students were on the back deck taking their sights and when satisfied they would come in cabin and give me their determined latitude and longitude position. Give or take three square miles was a success. As a boy, it was fun being considered a peer with the adults.

The trip from Newburyport Massachusetts to York Maine took us by the entrance to Portsmouth NH and the Portsmouth Naval Station. It was not unusual to see the large Navy ships coming and going. I remember very well watching one of the new nuclear submarines surfacing less than a half mile away. That was exciting. My only time feeling FEAR was on a day I was traveling along the “Catwalk” (about 9 inches wide) and looked down to see about nine sharks traveling alongside. That day I held the handrail extra tight.

The best times for this Newburyport to York cruise was at night. Simply majestic and a bit spiritual. Being several miles from land, the were no lights to blind us from the sky. Especially on the small moon nights it would be breathtaking to look up and see all the stars. To the port side we could see a little land and the lights were just barely visible. I remember especially one night at a time the lighthouse on the Isles of Shoals was off the starboard bow, I looked to the stern (rear of boat) and saw the wake all lit up as if filled with millions of fireflies. (Left = port = red running light. Right = starboard = green running light)

I had seen this before, but never when the sky was so dark, the water so calm and the feeling so peaceful. Over fifty years ago, and I was thinking: “This is a moment to remember”. With the exception of legally required running lights we would be in darkness. Turning on a cabin light would blind the person at the helm. That said, even in darkness, our eyes did adjust to see over the ocean pretty well…. unless someone turned on the dang cabin light. I placed a “Heart” on the red course line in the above chart. Judging by position of lighthouse and my memory this was our position when I had this beautiful moment. (Again…. not my picture but a fair representation of the view. The wake (waves) behind the Tinamalyn was much higher. Also, view of ocean was darker if I remember correctly.)


OK, the ocean water in Maine is very cold, but York was a great place to be – especially if you were a kid. I’ll have to write about more happy memories of these times, and eventually mention why York was so special.

Prayer Is a Very Serious Activity.

For those that like “TRUTH” here is some truth.

Prayer cannot be taken for granted or treated lightly. The “Lord’s Prayer” (the Our Father”) is frightening if you think about it.

….Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us……”

Do you see what is being said to Our Lord? We are telling GOD that if we fail to forgive our neighbor that has offended us – then we do not want God’s forgiveness for our offenses against Him! As an example, a well meaning neighbor points out to me a bad behavior and near occasion to sin that I am committing. Maybe he is right. Maybe he is wrong. None-the-less, I respond with anger, hatred, and cruelty. I exterminate that person from my life. I never speak to that person again.

Do I really want God to forgive me my trespasses against Him in the same way? Do I really want God to respond to me with anger, hatred, and cruelty? Do I really want God to exterminate me from his existence? Do I really want God to never speak (or listen) to me again? Dear God, please continue to have more mercy for me than I have given to my neighbors.

I see only two choices. 1. Go to Hell. 2. Pray that I do a better job of forgiving my neighbor and THEN DO a better job of forgiving my neighbor. In this example, talking with my neighbor that criticized me will be a good first step that will give honor to God, and Grace to my soul.

Prayer is not a happy story to bring us a quick fix when upset over circumstances. First of all, the circumstances we are experiencing are known to God and He is allowing these experiences to happen. All our neighbors have been given a “Free Will” by God. Some of our neighbors will intentionally use this free will to do bad. Satan rejoices when people are hurt because the resulting sadness is Satan’s way to sneak unnoticed into our souls. Add anger, hatred, and cruelty to this sadness and Satan has easy entrance into our lives.

We cannot expect prayer to change circumstances as much as we should pray that prayer will change us. How we react to an injustice will determine our happiness. We need to pray that our behavior and our response to injustice (or perceived injustice) will be in keeping with the Will of God.

…Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”

We first need to change ourselves, not our neighbor and not the world. Prayer is the way to make changes in ourselves for the better with the help of God. THEREFORE, prayer requires introspection. We need to look at our weaknesses and wrongful behavior. This is not easy and a true honest examination of conscience can be down right depressing. In fact, praying harder is more depressing. This is hard work that may make us sad at times but will put us on the road to a happy eternal life. Put off the pain for now, and live the pain later and for eternity. If prayer makes us depressed and ashamed we are probably talking with God. If prayer makes us giddy and happy, we are talking to ourselves or possibly Satan.

We never know when our time here will be up. We do know that we will NEVER reach perfection here on Earth. We do know that God does not expect us to be perfect. He expects us to try to be more perfect today than we were yesterday.

As a child, I would pray that my alcoholic mother would stop drinking. She did not stop until she died. As a child I prayed for laws that would ban alcohol. The government did not ban alcohol and now Satan is adding laws to include mind altering drugs to our society.

As a child, I prayed as a child. God did hear my prayers. God gave me a righteous father that by example kept me from liquor and drugs. So, as an “Adult Child of an Alcoholic” I have some resultant insecurities but I am not a drinker…. by the grace of God. My children do not abuse alcohol. Our friends are non-drinkers or very light drinkers.  My prayers were answered in that God has kept the pain of alcoholism totally away from my adult life.  I feel deeply sorry for those living with an alcoholic.  I thank God He has spared me this “Cross” in my adult life.

As an adult in prayer I ask that the “Sins of our Parents do not visit upon their children”. I pray that this next generation with education and the Grace of God will turn away from all self harming activity.