Phuket: family; buying a boat virtually; travel plans; European vs. American Doberman(n)

September 11, 2021

I have not updated this journal in almost a month. Things became busier during the last couple of weeks and more recently work started to pick-up. Natalia’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephews came to visit.  It was originally a vacation trip but ended up been also an occasion to get together and mourn Natalia’s father, Eugene Yegorov, who passed away in late August. Eugene and I never talked much, at least directly, because he only spoke Russian which I don’t. It is a petty because I know he had many interesting stories to tell about his days in the Russian military before the collapse of the Soviet Union.  He also loved sailing boats and knew by heart, and could draw, the different types and sail configurations. We went sailing a couple of times in the Chesapeake Bay and in the Greek islands. He enjoyed taking the helm under a stiff breeze, with the boat was heeling, close-hauled.  But even downwind I was impressed by how steady he kept his course.  He was a kind man and always showed me affection. For Natalia’s mother these have been difficult times but life in Phuket is slowly raising her spirits. She is still with us and will likely stay until the end of October.  The rest of the family has left; they’re back in Portland-Oregon. Despite the unfortunate circumstances and the long journey, I think they had a good time here, particularly the kids.  Good kids.  


Two days ago, the broker managing the sale of the Slocum 43 that is on the hard in Cartagena-Colombia sent me the Conditional Sale and Purchase Agreement signed by the owner.  I have 3 days to transfer 10% of the agreed price and 7 days or so to complete the survey. If I am happy with the results of the survey, I have to pay the remaining balance and the boat’s title will be transferred to me.  If there are issues with the survey, I can renegotiate the price and/or ask the owner to do repairs.  If we don’t reach an agreement, the broker returns the 10% deposit and we go our separate ways.  But if we reach an agreement, I would have bought a boat I have never seen, except in photos and videos.  There won’t be a sea-trial either because the owner can’t wait until I am able to travel to Cartagena in late November; there are other offers on the table. So, I am taking a risk, an informed risk. The surveyor should tell me if there are structural issues or whether some of the equipment the boat is supposed to have is missing or defective. He should be able to tell me if there are issues with the hull, rigging, seacocks, rudder and rudder post, steering, or the engine. The main concern I have is about the state of the teak over the deck and potential leaks but, gain, the surveyor should be able to tell me if there are any problems.  If there are no structural issues the sea-trial would be largely redundant. The boat was ready to cross the Pacific after all.  I should be able to take care of anything that is cosmetic. 

Natalia, Woland and I are traveling to Washington DC in early November.  The plan is to stay there for a couple of weeks. Then Woland and I will travel to Ecuador and Natalia back to Bangkok. This year we are not spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve together; first time since the beginning of our romance. I have to be with my mother who is sick and Natalia with hers. In late November I plan to travel to Cartagena, also with Woland, to take care of the boat.  The idea is to go for a shakedown cruise and then most likely leave the boat in a marina. From Cartagena back to Ecuador for the holidays season.  My daughters might also join.  


Woland will be 4 months old on September 15. He is growing fast. The personality and physical traits that distinguish the American and European Dobermans are becoming apparent.  The original Dobermann was bread in 1890 by Louis Dobermann a tax collector from Apolda, Thurinca, Germany. He wanted to have a dog to protect him from the people he was collecting taxes from.  The dog was supposed to exhibit impressive stamina, strength, and intelligence.  It is believed that the breeds involved in the process included the Beauceron, German Pinscher, Rottweiler and Weimaraner. After Dobermann’s death in 1894, the Germans named the breed Dobermann-pinscher in his honor. But   dropped the word ‘pinscher’ a half century later on the grounds that, this German word for ‘terrier,’ was no longer appropriate.   In one of my previous posts, when I introduced Woland, I wrote that he was a Doberman-pincher; he is not.  He is a Dobermann, with two n’s at the end. Doberman-pinchers are the American cousins.   

The Dobermann is a taller, larger and stronger dog. They are known for being stubborn, hardheaded, assertive, confident, and extremely loyal. They are often used as police and guard dogs; their high prey drive and working attitude makes them less focused on family life. While these dogs can make wonderful family companions, they require lots of exercise and are happiest when they have a job. They are extremely protective of their owner and will often bite or intervene physically when threatened. With proper training and socialization the breed can make a much better guard dog. The Marine Corps even named them as their official “war dog” to recognize their strength and courage during combat.

Americans are a sleek and elegant breed that is well-suited for family life. They are often easy to train and are known to be extremely obedient. These gods love their family and they seem to be in tune with human emotions. While they are classified under the working dog group by the American Kennel Club, they are mainly used as family pets, rather than police or guard dogs. They can be protective of their owners, but rarely intervene physically or bite.

So, yes, raising and training Woland is more challenging than expected. Apparently, American Dobermans are easier to train because they are people pleasers who respond well to positive reinforcement. Woland, like a good European, can be stubborn and often needs strong, assertive corrections to establish boundaries and rules.  But I hope my efforts will pay-off.  By now the puppy training book has become irrelevant. Woland does well in the training sessions and has learned all the basic commands. The difficulty is enforcing those commands in everyday life.  Walking on the leash on “a heel” – him by my side without pulling – is not always easy.  Though, I have to say, he is very good when going on walks at the beach off-leash; he follows and comes when I call him unless there is a major distraction. The next stage in his education will start when he is around 5 months with more structured training sessions, an E-collar and a remote control.  There is nothing cruel about it as many people think, and I was one of those people.  The Monks of New Skete are also using the new technology and have written a book about it with another professional trainer Marc Golberg:  “The Art of Training your Dog: how to gently teach good behavior using an E-Collar.”   I will report.   

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