David Roper

Dave Roper is a regular columnist for Points East. Next to sailing, telling and writing stories is Dave’s favorite pastime.  His most recent book, Watching for Mermaids was a three-time Boston Globe bestseller www.watchingformermaids.net. His writing has been published in eighteen languages.  Dave has been a yacht delivery skipper, captain of a 135’ Mississippi River stern wheel cruise ship, and life-long cruiser along the coast of Maine aboard his 31’ Independence sloop, Elsa Marie.  Dave is the founder of A-Script, a career advisory and resume writing firm in Marblehead, MA.  davidroper00@gmail.com

‘Silence in the Age of Noise’

January 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

For Christmas my dear wife gave me two books with the word “silence” in their titles. Perhaps she was trying to tell me something. They are both amazing. I haven’t shut up since. Really, though, I seek silence. On land. At sea. It recharges me. Gives me time to wonder. The downside, having experienced the space of silence and solitude, is a low tolerance for noise. We are gregarious creatures, looking for others and social approval. We have issues with the hermit. The hermit’s weird, right? I remember, last summer, seeking solitude and sailing around to a little cove I was sure would be empty. I was stunned to encounter a rafted group of perhaps 20 center-console outboards crammed intoRead More

‘Boat Talk’ with Clevis and Pinhead, the Shackle Bros.

November 20, 2017 at 12:00 am

Well, you are about to embark on another enlightening, informative, instructive, illuminating, enthralling and clarifying episode of “Boat Talk,” hosted by The Shackle Brothers. As a bonus, we’ll also have a new round of The Puzzler, designed to stump all of you; or at least those of you with very limited brainpower. So here we go – oh, and we welcome your questions for future “Boat Talk” columns. Here’s our latest write-in, from Arthur Schloggle, Lowstat, North Dakota: Mr. Schloggle: Hello Clevis and Pinhead, my wife Gladys and I moved to New England recently and are thinking of joining a yacht club. We have been studying those in our area to see which one might suit us. We’re not yetRead More

‘Boat Talk’ With Clevis and Pinhead, the Shackle Brothers.

September 25, 2017 at 12:00 am

As a devoted fan of “Car Talk,” the much-loved call-in radio show, I could never understand why there were never similar format shows on other subjects. Why not “Wife Talk,” or “Husband Talk,” or “Parents of Teenager Talk?” Why not “Boat Talk?” Well, you are about to embark on the first installment of “Boat Talk,” hosted by The Shackle Brothers. This is a somewhat radical departure from my normal column after all these years, and I have no idea if it will be approved* by either the Points East editor or – way up the corporate ladder – by the publisher-in-chief. So here’s my plan: I’m just not going to ask anybody. Granted, this may be hard to slip byRead More

Listening to your inner ear

August 28, 2017 at 12:00 am

“A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.” Lord Nelson Until he went to sea with young Cubby on his sail back from Maine in a small cruising sloop, Big Red hadn’t been seasick and never dizzy when he got ashore. That was because he’d spent his life navigating the calm waters of the Mississippi River. But that changed after he’d been on the ocean for 28 hours, then stepped onto land. From “Rounding the Bend: The Life and Times of Big Red”: “How far is it, Cubby? ‘Cause I ain’t walking. I ain’t even sure if I can walk on level ground after all this rocking,” I said. When we made it to shore in theRead More

Insufferable opinions: Who’s a curmudgeon?

July 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

“You should keep your opinions on all this boat stuff to yourself, Dave,” my dear wife said the other day, just after I’d picked up the mooring and settled down in Elsa’s cockpit. “They’re really just observations, not opinions,” I replied. “People are different. They have different learning curves from one another. Different philosophies. Just let it go, Dave.” Over the 35 years of our marriage, she’d put up with my insufferable “opinions” on the following: boat designs, boat shoes, shiny boats, mainsail covers, mainsails not raised, overpowered center-console boats, cockpits, docking, anchors, sea boots, instrument pods, huge dodgers, blisters and barrier coats. So I won’t give my “observations” to her anymore. Instead, I’ll give them to you, gentle reader.Read More

Tech and humans: It takes two to tango

June 26, 2017 at 12:00 am

I used to be scared when I went to sea. But it was a healthy fear that was good for me, and got me this far. Then along came the kind of technology that exuded certainty, almost saying, “I’ll handle this part. I’m always correct. But you handle your part; you’re the human in this equation, so don’t drop your vigilance. It takes two to tango.” The technology (radar) was correct on the bridges of the liners Stockholm and Andrea Doria on July 25, 1956. At 10:45 p.m., the Stockholm showed up on the Andrea Doria’s radar screens, at a distance of about 17 nautical miles. Soon after, the Italian ship showed up on the Stockholm’s radar, about 12 miles away. What happened nextRead More

Escaping to Live the Dream? Maybe.

May 22, 2017 at 12:00 am

Robert Pirsig became a sailor subsequent to the success of his five-million-copy bestseller, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” He also easily broke my publisher-rejection record, with 121 publishers saying “no” before one took him on. He holds the Guinness record as the most rejected bestseller in history. For years, I’ve been aiming to break it. Mr. Pirsig finally left us, crossing the bar this April. During his life, our wakes never crossed, but our paths nearly did. Pirsig was from Minnesota, where I went to college and graduate school. In 1975, I read his book, which is still on the top of my fascinating and intellectually challenging list. Back in the mid-’70s, in my “I’m going to beRead More

Retiring before 30

April 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

“I don’t know, Paul,” I said in an uneasy tone as I sat on the couch of the big-time yacht broker who’d set up most of my boat delivery jobs. “I need to draw the line and quit this business before I’m 30. “I’m not getting any younger.” Even at 29, I was feeling time’s winged chariot at my back. Was I going to be a boat bum for my whole life? Wasn’t it time to grow up, stop delivering boats, and get a “real job”? Plus, I had this girlfriend. “Just this one more job, Dave. This is a plum one. I promise,” he said, leaning back in his chair. I smirked: “You always say that, Paul. You saidRead More

Boats as reflections of one’s stage of life

March 13, 2017 at 12:01 am

It was in the midst of a long stretch of nothing as we headed home from Maine – hour after hour of incessant, greasy, undulating seas and an occasional glimpse of land off Cape Neddick – when my old psychologist friend spoke. We’d both been quiet for a while, which was okay; after thirty-five years as friends, we didn’t worry about filling ‘awkward silences’. “You know how many boats I’ve had, David?” “Not too many, I hope,” I said. “One can’t be without a boat.” “No, but now I’m thinking, because of where I am in life, maybe I’ll be getting something smaller.” “So how many boats have you had?” I asked, starting to count in my head my ownRead More

What makes Points East work?

January 27, 2017 at 4:15 pm

In the midst of this year’s Points East holiday gathering I wondered, as I have done yearly at this event, why does this magazine “taste” so good? Why the devoted readership? Why the nearly 100 percent staff attendance at this party, year after year, many driving from afar? Why the immediate sense of camaraderie despite most of us being  face-to-face only once a year? Why virtually no staff turnover, despite the hardly scintillating wages. In short, what makes it all work? Think about it, what makes a great stew? First, one needs to start with the right pot. A hearty stock can’t be created in a flimsy pot. And it needs a tightly fitting lid. The two founders of PointsRead More