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|Capt Bob Cook: Weather Router, Offshore Sailor, USCG Captain, (Master 100 ton)|
I have sailed and loved sailing nearly all my life, or at least since having discovered it 60 years ago. My father introduced me to sailing in 1955. We built a small boat together. I was about 12. It was 7 feet long, plywood and painted blue. We have
always referred to it affectionately, as "the little blue boat". I remember well my first sail, not very successful I might add. The "little blue boat" couldn't go upwind very well if at al! It was on Mauthie Lake, in Eastern Wisconsin.
In college, in Wisconsin and Indiana, in the mid sixties, I was a member of and officer in college sailing clubs. At Purdue University, in Lafayette, Indiana, I taught new members how to sail in Tech Dingy's, Flying Juniors and Gannets. In California, in the late sixties,I taught navy personnel in Rhodes 19's on windy San Francisco Bay. I bought my first boat in 1974, a Melges, 16', "M" scow and raced in many local, state and regional races.
Wanting to move up in the size of boat I was sailing, I began crewing for owners of 30-40 ft sailboats, on 7-10 day, recreational charters in Lake Michigan and the Bahamas. I was smitten. I had found and reveled in, "big boat" sailing, the navigation, the self reliance, the solitude of cruising, and the intensity and camaraderie of racing. My first bareboat charter was a pearson 27 for a week on Lake Michigan. As my ability and confidence grew I pulled groups together, chartered extensively and was always teaching. I sailed Lake Michigan's eastern shore extensively, from Chicago to Mackinaw Island and in the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas.
One cold day in 1982, on the deck of an Islander 30, tied up at Mackinaw Island, MI, I questioned why I was living in the north if I loved sailing and warm weather as much as I did. With the question posed, it didn't take me long to realize the answer. I moved to Florida later that year and joined not one but three SW Florida sailing clubs. I began to charter and race extensively on all kinds and sizes of boats in club and interclub regattas in the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Since those early days I have made and learned by innumerable mistakes. Most sailors do it seems. I have been in gales, tropical storms, hurricanes, have had rigging fail, rudders break, engines quit, sails tear, and have been hard on reefs. I learned over and over again the critical importance of vessel and crew preparation, having backups, navigation and knowing the weather forecast. Today and every day I remember very well all the mishaps and misadventures and the specific contribution each made to what is now the "muscle" of my present sailing skills & knowledge.
1984 marked a milestone in my sailing career, I changed sailing from an avocation to a vocation and I formed Ocean-Pro's parent company, Gulf Wind Yachting, Inc. I earned my USCG Captain's license, (100 ton Master). In 1985 I became certified as an ASA, Advanced Coastal Cruising Instructor and began teaching sailing professionally. I usually average 7-10,000 sea miles per year. Since 1985 I have logged thousands of hours and thousands of miles, sailing all kinds of boats around Florida, the US East coast from Florida to Maine, the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas and throughout the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America. I even squeezed in a 4,400 nm trans-Atlantic race. After 20 years and 150,000 miles at sea, sailing with, teaching and sharing offshore sailing with over 500 aspiring blue water sailors I can say that Ocean-Pro had become what I had envisioned it becoming, a first rate, advanced level, offshore sail training program with a rigorous, real world, blue water curriculum. Since those days I know of at least two of my student crew have gone on to do world circumnavigations. One of them, Larry Jacobson, has written an excellent book about his six year, 38,000 circumnavigation of the globe, "Boy behind the Gate", (video introduction to the book).
In 2002 drawing on my years and miles of blue water sailing experience in the North Atlantic and my strong interest in weather, routing and communications, I decided to convert my active sailing instructional program to a shore based weather and routing company offering weather forecasting, passage timing and open ocean routing to the owners and skippers of yachts making open ocean passages. I studied marine weather and ship routing more thoroughly and applied for and was granted an FCC Private Marine Coast Station license to be able to operate on the long range HF marine frequencies and be able to communicate with my weather client vessels. I have been a licensed ham radio operator since 1958, (callsign K9KKY, (QRZ info). Now in January 2016 Ocean-Pro Weather & Routing has become a respected worldwide weather routing company offering comprehensive weather forecasting, passage timing and open ocean routing to the owners and skippers of private yachts all over the world. Looking back at my years on the water since 1955 I can say that over the years, boats, waters and miles, that there has been a constant theme to my endeavors and that theme has been to sharing it with others, not just sharing how to do it, but how to do it well, safely while having fun.
Capt Bob (Robert) Cook
E-mail: (See Contact page)
Fax: (Same as above numbers. Call first)
Mail: 3012 Sandpiper Bay Cr. D-301, Naples, FL 34112