Monthly Archives: March 2011

My Sailing Adventure on the High Seas

By this time, you’ve probably heard that Katana, my new race boat, did not finish the 800 miles to Cabo San Lucas.

I took ownership of Katana one week before the start of the Newport Beach to Cabo race (which we won last year in all three categories).  The point of entering this race was twofold:  1) to qualify for TRANSPAC (“Trans-Pacific” – a race from Los Angeles to Hawaii) in July – my ultimate dream, and 2) to shake the boat down and get her perfectly ready for TRANSPAC.

Days before we started the race, we were concerned about the weather forecasts – high winds and high seas – which were unusual for the Cabo race at this time of year.  The night before the race, it seemed most ominous, but by morning, it seemed a bit less so.  We started the race prepared for bad weather, which was forecast to begin on Sunday, but the storm conditions moved in quickly.  The boat was handling the confused seas and high, gusty winds very well.  Our one big issue was the number of serious leaks filling the front of the boat with ankle high water (I didn’t know it in advance, but some of the seals had not been finished in time – ugh!).

One of our crew became seasick in spite of wearing the “patch,” and became incapacitated.  As the conditions worsened, as the skipper, I decided to turn the boat around and head back to San Diego.  My boat is 47 feet long, and a number of larger boats (up to 70 feet) had already turned around.  Some boats were damaged and turned around for safety reasons.  Even we blew out two downhauls (jib and main), but the boat was still seaworthy.  Since this was a test run for the boat, I saw no reason to risk the crew (we all wore life vests and were always tethered in while we were on deck).  Basically, this wasn’t fun, and the conditions were worsening, and I simply did not want to risk the welfare of my crew/friends.  They all have families and ultimately, I am responsible for everyone when aboard my boat.

When we turned around, we were now going downwind on crazy waves, and the boat was doing over 20 knots – that WAS fun!

We thought we were safe when we closed in on San Diego Harbor, but the nightmare was just beginning.  As we approached land, I told my crew that once we got her in a slip, we would button her up and clean her up in the morning.  It was going to be time for a hot dinner and hot shower and then a warm bed.  But it was not to be.

We dropped the main and tied her up.  The a squall hit us with ferocious winds.  We dropped the jib, and I tried to turn on the engine, but the propellers wouldn’t work.  We were now without power, and huge winds were pushing us into the rocks.  It was so ironic – after dealing with the open ocean, we were in dire trouble so close to safety. My boat captain, Kit Will, and tactician immediately got a small jib (foresail) up, so that we could have some steerage and for 1 1/2 hours, we made circles while my navigator and I tried to get the Coast Guard to help us as well as Vessel Assist.

Frankly, I was devastated to realize that the Coast Guard would not come out and help us (I guess their budget cuts call for coming out after disasters occur), and Vessel Assist was not readily available.  After my navigator had several calm discussions with the Coast Guard, I got on the phone and told them we were in deep trouble of losing the boat and the crew against the rocks and we needed help now!  Finally, a Coast Guard cutter came out at the same time as Vessel Assist arrived, and we were towed into the slip.  Remember, all of this was taking place during a squall.

The next morning, Kit, my boat captain, jumped into the frigid water to check out our propellers.  Unbelievable.  A two-cent length of fishing wire, complete with hook, was wrapped around the propeller!  That is all it took to put nine people and one boat in serious trouble.

When we finally made it to a hotel, it was 11PM, and all we could do was order pizzas from a local establishment that still delivered at that hour.  We were exhausted, soaked, and seriously tired.  We put away a lot of pizza, the guys had beer (delicate little me had a glass of wine), and boy, did we all ever sleep through the next morning.

It was the most challenging experience on the water for me so far.  My crew was amazing when it came to handling all the different types of situations that cropped up.  It took me most of the week to get my energy back, but now I’m ready for our next adventure: a race known as “The Border Run.:”

Thank you for all your good wishes and support.  If you have any questions, please go to, sign up for the Dr. Laura Family, and email me.  I’ll do my best to answer.

The bottom line for a sailor?  We all came home safe.

Quote of the Week

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be.  Be one.
               – Marcus Aurelius
                  121 – 180 A.D.
                  Roman Emperor

Vote for Non-Union, Single-Sex Classrooms

New York City recently issued a progress report on the difference between non-union and union charter schools.  The 49 non-union charter schools operating in New York City significantly outperform the charter schools whose teachers operate under a contract negotiated by the United Federation of Teachers, which puts a stranglehold on what the school can do.  Non-union charter schools earned an overall average score that converts to a B-.  The union charter schools’ average was nearly 10 points behind the non-union schools, earning these schools an average grade of C-.  In each of the three categories in which the schools were graded (attendance, student efficiency rates, academic progress or improvement on New York State English, Language Arts, and Math exams), the non-union charter schools outperformed the UFT-represented charter schools.

We ought to drop-kick the unions out of our schools.  The unions are not there to make sure your kids get a good education.  The unions are there as a political bully group and money-making apparatus.

I’ve said it a zillion times and will continue saying it whenever given the opportunity:  in addition to non-union schools, our children should also be educated in single-sex classrooms.  Simply putting girls in one room and boys in the other is not the point.  In fact, there have been public schools which did just that, and had everything happen the same as usual.  That gives you a bad outcome.  The idea of the single-sex education format is it creates opportunities that don’t exist in the co-ed classroom.  Teachers can employ strategies in the all-boys classroom and in the all-girls classroom which don’t work well or at all in the co-ed classroom.  So, the teachers need appropriate training in professional development.

In parts of Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa and Illinois there has been a dramatic improvement in grades and test scores after adopting single-sex classrooms, but that’s because they did more than just put the girls in separate rooms.  In each of the schools examined, teachers received training in practical gender-specific classroom strategies and the best practices for gender-separate classrooms.  Researchers at Stetson University in Florida completed a three-year pilot project comparing the single-sex classrooms with co-ed classrooms at a particular elementary school.  Students in the fourth grade were assigned to either single-sex or co-ed classrooms.  All other relevant parameters (class size, teacher training, etc.) were matched.  Here’s how it came out:

 Boys in co-ed classes:  37% scored “proficient.”
 Boys in single sex classes:  86% scored “proficient”
 Girls in co-ed classes: 59% scored “proficient”
 Girls in single-sex classes: 75% scored “proficient”

What’s interesting is, when they do the training, you see a whole difference in how the boys’ classrooms and the girls’ classrooms look.  For example, in the boys’ classrooms, you’ll see boys all over the room.  They often have music on, they’re given something to do with their hands and they’re given individual projects.  In the girls’ classrooms, they’re all sitting there lined up, sweet, compliant, and listening.  Girls and boys are different.  Boys bounce off walls and do much better when you don’t constrain them to a seat.  When some of the boys were in co-ed classrooms, they were labeled as “learning disabled” or with ADHD.  Many of the boys who scored “proficient” in the single-sex classroom had previously been labeled as having ADHD.

The proof is there.  At minimum, there’s no distraction in single-sex classrooms.  But you’ve got the ACLU, the National Organization of “I Don’t Know What Kind of” Women, the American Association of University Women and other groups jumping up and down screaming that this is some kind of discrimination.  This kind of blind, ignorant hysteria is really annoying because it doesn’t speak to the needs of the children.

So, in non-unionized charter schools, kids do better.  Single-sex classrooms, where the teachers are specifically trained to deal with how girls and boys learn are superior.  If you don’t have access to those, then try homeschooling.  Notice how you teach your sons and daughters differently, because you know how to get their attention, and it’s different with each gender.  The little girls are just dying to please, and the little boys are bouncing off the walls.  They don’t have to be ADHD to bounce off the walls.  They just have to be male.

Interview with Premarital Counseling Experts

Dr. Roger Tirabassi has led popular pre-marital seminars in California which have prepared over 1000 couples for marriage.  He and his wife Becky have co-authored Seriously Dating or Engaged: A PreMarital Workbook, which gives couples the tools they’ll need for enjoying a lasting relationship.  I wanted to talk with them to find out exactly how they prepare couples and what they’re finding in today’s social environment: Listen to the Interview

Quote of the Week

Anyone acquainted with Ireland knows that the morning of St. Patrick’s Day consists of the night of the seventeenth of March flavored strongly with the morning of the eighteenth.
               – Author unknown

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Interview with Parents Who Had Wrong Embryo Implanted

It’s a nightmare no one wants to live out in real life.  Carolyn and Sean Savage, undergoing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer, had the wrong embryo implanted, yet they brought the baby to term and then turned the infant over to his genetic parents.  I wanted to talk to this courageous couple about their heartbreaking journey.  Listen to the interview here.