Just so you have an idea who's behind this blog – and who's working hard to make a radical change to his lifestyle –
My name is Dennis McNeely. I grew up in a family where engineering was king. We had fun on vacations, enjoyed camping, hiking, and swimming, and the great outdoors in general. We also had fun playing baseball (or football, or soccer, or hockey, or whatever) in the street – but as we grew older, many of my brothers and sisters gravitated toward engineering careers in one way or another. I spent a lot of summers working as a grunt on a land surveying crew, and later worked with a builder full time – handling the planning necessary for land development prior to construction. That work morphed into a construction manager, and I began taking care of all the care and feeding of all the contractors and suppliers for both the development and construction of various commercial and residential sites. Add to this a couple of failed marriages and four children – this were a very busy and stress filled time in my life.
I started a small land development construction company, thinking that I could escape the endless confines of employer rules and requirements, but you're never truly your own boss… and the stress continued unabated. Construction was booming, but I didn't see how the market could support all the new construction, and began adding environmental permitting to the list of services we could provide. That new business supported the company when the economy collapsed. The nature of the business changed, but a common thread remained: stress.
I've always had an inventor's mindset – always looking for a way to make something easier, or faster, or require less power. Whether a process or a mechanism, I've never been able to leave well enough alone. I came up with a new suspension system to prevent vehicular rollover, and the Army got wind of it and signed me on to do a few years R & D to develop the concept. I modified the castings used for manholes and storm drains in roads, and the Michigan Department of Transportation began specifying them for use in some of their road renovation contracts. I came up with a new shower that might benefit diabetics and those with sports injuries, and Wayne State funded additional research to check out it's merits. I couldn't do it all, and so passed the environmental business on to my brother to better pursue the inventions.
Through it all, the open water has beckoned. I learned about the Great Loop, and decided to outfit a small boat to live aboard. The boat is only 22 feet long, and I'm 6'2″ and just a little over 200 pounds – so a shoehorn will figure prominently in preparing the boat.
This is the story of that dream, the research I've done going in, the preparations I'm making to ready myself and the boat for extended cruising, and logs of my time on the water. That gives you a thumbnail sketch of my history – now let's explore the future together!