27 October, 2004

Have I mentioned a movie called Hijacking Catastrophe?
This is one of the most compelling doctumentories I've ever seen, or imaged. Anyone interested in politics, or the state and direction of our country, would certainly be amazed by the connections that it draws.
I'll find the website where it is availible and post it.
Stu - it is a must see.
(I'm gonna see it again tomorrow night:))
This is one of my favorites.

It is a dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get. -Annie Dillard,
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, pg 15
Sunday, October 24, 2004

I am sitting by the fire, the fire! My boat is warm for a change. I got the heater going at long last. Everyday something new, something changes, I see something I didn’t see, I imagine something I hadn’t thought of. I’m still trying to re-imagine the cabin—how better to organize the space. But I get ahead of myself.

Problem solving has been my theme. It is me—there is no one else to fix my problems. For example: my sink started clogging and came eventually to a standstill. I wanted to get Jim over and say, Hey, Jim, whaddo I do about it. Jim is busy; I need it fixed; I decided to just tear it all open. If it makes a great mess—it had to be. I open it, pull the drain pipe off of the through-hull fitting in the process (if I could pull it off, it needed attention and tightening anyhow). Hey, a discovery!
After getting the pipe separated, I found that the clog was a result of particulates clogging up behind a one-way valve, a valve that keeps the water being sent from the bilge to the thru-hull from backing up into the sink. The divider had gotten clogged. I unclogged it and I didn’t even make a mess; a Tupperware beneath the pipe caught all the backed up filth. Grey water nothing, this was black.
Now, the pipes are cleaned out, I know I need strainers on my drains in the sink, I know exactly where the problem is if it happens again, I know what type of one-way valve I have so I can keep a spare, and I know that everything is tight and squared away under sink. Also I learned that that particular through-hull is not ideal and I may replace it in time. It has a spigot-type handle as opposed to a good 90 degree lever which is standard.

This all comes about because, since I quasi-finished the electrical work, I have been re-organizing the plumbing system. It used to involve a hot water heater, a head, two water tanks, a water pump. Water pumps and hot water heaters take electricity and are unnecessary. I decided to take out the head, the hot water, and the pump. Instead I would install two manual foot pumps, both for the sink. One pump would pump fresh water from the two fresh water tanks to the faucet. The other, to help further conserve fresh water, would pump salt water into the sink—this would be for things like washing dishes or the like—perhaps to be followed by a cleaning rinse of fresh water. This new system would be preserving both electricity by eliminating the electric water pump and hot water heater and water by bringing in salt water. It is economical and also systematically isolating: now, if the batteries die, we don’t loose water. It is also redundant. After staring at the sink for a long while (who needs a shrine for meditation when an engine or plumbing system are equally enigmatic), I realized that I could put a three way valve in to one of the pumps. This way, if one of the pumps were to break, which happens, I could swing a lever and switch the salt water to fresh. I am proud of this little bit of craftiness. But could I effect it?

I spent a whole day rerunning the water hoses, running to and from the marine supply store replacing joints and valves and such, finally got it all in. Now the pump. It needed a lot of support for all of the leverage it would endure and there wasn’t much beneath the sink that was up to the task. From my little garbage selection I found some old cabinet doors I had thrown out and took the jig saw and started cutting squares. I screwed the pump down securely onto two of these stacked upon each other. Then I cut another square with a v-shaped notch in it. This I screwed onto the face of the pump. In the front of the sink there is a cubby hole—there I cut a notch down to the floor big enough for the foot lever to fit through. The pump I put in the cubby hole and now, with the wooden front and base, I had plenty of material to screw into.

This isn’t how any professional would have done the job, but there wasn’t any professional around. A professional came aboard the other day and explained to me how “he” would have done it. The gist was the same, I think.

This is the good part.
So I hook it up; I screw it in, tightly. All done. I immediately start pumping……..nothing. Ah. I turn the sink on. Pump some more. Sputter…air….sputter. Nothing.
Nothing. How could this be?
Of course.
I did it. It is perfect, flawless. I think through the whole process. My mind goes to muddle. I start opening and closing valves, only vaguely aware of what I was doing or why. I was flailing. Was the through-hull fitting open or closed? I hadn’t thought about that. Did I just try it this way or that?
Damnit, the pump must be broken.
When I bought the pump, I had only bought one. I needed two, but I figured I would wait and see how the first one worked. I don’t understand the logic, they’re returnable. So now I didn’t have any way of testing the pump by plugging another one in. It was late and I was clearly not thinking clearly. In the morning I’d run to West Marine and buy another pump and tell them they sold me a bunk one.

So, in the morning, cold and cuddling my hot chocolate, I crouched down to look at my flawed masterpiece. I wanted help, but I built it—who could help me but me. I opened up the floor to look at the piping from the beginning, at the water tanks. They get hard to follow under there and I had to pull on each one to make sure of what went were.
And there I noticed. There was a twist under a shadow, a mirage for a blind man.
An Error!
A valve that was meant to divide between the two tanks and the pump, was misrun. The pump was where tank two was supposed to be—which I had off. The pump was sucking on a closed valve. Excitedly I unclamped, moved hose/pipe, reclamped, neglecting my now warm chocolate. I also now new that my previous notion of a mistake that I had redone yesterday, and was a hassle, was askew, and now would have to be redone for a second time. But now I knew I was on the right track.

Now bleeding and sore. The last corrections made—water, glorious water, flowed like glistening mercury from the palm of some Castalian nymph’s hand—oh. . . I waxed utterly poetic. I smiled in triumph. A good way to start a day. It seemed so easy.

It had to work: there is water, there is a pump, here is the faucet. We have suction, hose and valve—make the water move. It all seemed so simple, I couldn’t believe that it hadn’t worked the first time. I didn’t know what else to do; I had done it the first time.
I’ve already destroyed a fifty dollar solar regulator by short circuit and a forty dollar fuse by inadvertently drilling into the side of it. Oops. Live and learn. I’m sure worse lies ahead.

It is fun; it’s like solving riddles. You know there is a correct answer. So if it’s out there—find it. There is a way through the maze. Think of those little wrought-iron puzzlers, the ones with triangles and chains, and squares all tangled together, and you know they can be separated some how, but it looks and feels impossible. But it’s not—try until it happens. If someone can do it, than you can do it—it just might take a bit more time and effort.
That’s how I feel. I don’t particularly know what I’m doing. A little common sense and ingenuity get me going. When I hit a wall, I sit and stare at it until my gaze makes it crack and crumble, or until I notice a shadow, and a dip, and a cave, and a labyrinth under the wall and out the other side, then down the same road.
And again.


Oct 27

On the same note, yesterday I hooked up my other water pump – and again – Nothing! I couldn’t believe it. There wasn’t anything that could possibly go wrong, which made it all the more daunting. Everything worked right next door with the other pump – how could something get mucked up in three feet of pipe and one valve.
I sat baffled for some time, but having learned from the last fiasco, I decided to be systematic.
I won’t go into the details, again, but just before I tore it out of its little cubby hole, it occurred to me that perhaps THE SINK WASN’T ON (all the way. It was open, I thought, but only one turn, when it took two turns to open it.)
Holy cow! What a drama.

25 October, 2004

This is the kinda work that makes it hard to stop for things like eating lunch.


"When I was a very young Zen student, caught up in the problem of evil, I once asked my teacher, 'Why does shit smell so bad?' He said, 'If you were a fly, it would taste like candy.'" - Stephen Mitchell

20 October, 2004

I've been journalling a bit at night. Haven't had time to get to the library during the day to use the internet.

All is good. All is great!


October 11

Life is worth living because of days like today. It wasn’t because of how fantastic or exciting or intense or flawless or exceptional – or any other sort of grandiose ideal – the day was, but because today was a curious piece of the puzzle; it was one of those pieces that I needed to figure out so the other following more obvious pieces could follow. Today I met Eric Allen.
Simple that may sound, meaningless possibly. Who is Eric Allen? He’s a key; he’s a holder of mysteries; he’s a teacher; he’s a man who can fix my electrical problems and teach me how. But would he? Will he be distant and professional or will he be a friend and peer? Will he be available? Would he understand my project? Today answered these questions and opened up new opportunities.

I’m avoiding telling the story. I’m sorry, this must be a drag, but, you see, it is late, I’m tired and I want to go to bed really. Let it suffice to say that Eric Allen is a diverse, intriguing, able and pleasant guy. He is a patient teacher and a like-minded thinker. He and I have already begun ripping all the old wiring out of the boat. We have a plan. We ate bread and drank a growler of beer and told stories about our lives and times. They are not dissimilar. Tomorrow should be a full day.


Oct 14

The most amazing transformation is taking place. The boat is growing. Eric Allen (Nature) is creating something out of nothing. I don’t know what the wiring was really like – but it is totally changed – and very good, very much for the better.
The control panel Nature built is incredible, and just a quick night’s work. We’ve only been working for a few days. He’s saved me money at each corner, though I believe we’ve ‘overwired’ the boat, probably good for when I want to sell her though. A bit many lights for my liking – but I bet in the end I will totally agree with Naich (short for ‘Nature”,
He’s a hell of a guy, gets real intense when he is working. Doesn’t talk much. Doesn’t multitask well. But he does a great job and is doing me a huge service. I need to go call Rob and thank him for the connection.


Oct 17 ?

I don’t even know what the day is. I guess it is Sunday. It feels like a day, just a day, it could be any day. “Nature” and I have been working day and night to rebuild my electrical system. We got in a lot deeper than I had intended. Money well spent though. I didn’t know what I needed until I got it. I am still learning – slow osmosis.
I feel a glorious sense of being overwhelmed. I am at the headwall looking up. The face is gargantuan, but I know that every move along it is life, is worth living. A climbing metaphor!
I have now succeeded at one project. The first. Now on to the second. I thought tonight, Why don’t I go out and meet some people. Then I thought, I don’t have time. Even if I met someone I wouldn’t want to hang out with them. All I care about is working. I am obsessed. Sometimes being obsessed is fun, even healthy. There is still so much to do. I haven’t finished putting all the light fixtures back in. The compass light needs to be wired. I need to re-run the propane line aft into the cockpit. I need to find a windvane and dingy. I need to install the solar panel and fix the running lights, maybe replace them. One of my spreader lights is out as well.
I need to tune-up the engine. I need to get the alternator, no, the dynamo to charge my battery bank. I need to investigate cutting a new hatch into the sole of the cockpit for access into the rear of the engine room, but this can wait. I could go on on on, but the list gets more trival, unless I’ve neglected something important, which happens. It is hard to keep it all running in my mind, hence the ‘overwhelmed’ line. I’m getting better at prioritizing.
It is such a thrill to have cabin lights. I have working lights, good charged batteries; I can hook up to shore power. All this was impossible before yesterday. Soon I’ll have a working water system. Then a working diesel. Sometime after that I will be in the water. Then my education will shift from learning the systems to learning to sail: navigation, currents, single-handing, fast sail reefing, anchoring, charting course. Can I read the compass where it is? Will I want a bimini? Where will I pick up a mooring for the next few months? Should I move to Bellingham so I can take classes at the tech school?

I did at last get out for a run, my first. I haven’t taken the time. Today was a dreary rainy day. My first day off. I slept in and lounged. Read a couple books; drank cocoa; worked on some lights and wiring. In the afternoon I drove up north to Fort Worden, an old naval base, guarded the channel in the nineteenth century against attack. I ran along the grey beach, desiccated spruces and dark sand. Families were out picnicking, not as chilled by the weather as I was. They played in the sand. A little girl with galoshes jumped in each puddle in the parking lot. I told her that there was a great big puddle just over there and pointed to the ocean.
The beach is such a change from the Carolinas. The colors are all darker. Even on wintery days, the sand, water and sky are lighter greys. When the sky and sea turn deep blues, the sand can’t follow and the dunes and grasses never feel too fearful. But looking at those desiccated spruces out on the point, the deep clouds that seem to live there, even the rocks on the shore appear to have paid a price.


Oct 19

A more mello day, but another huge day forward. Installed an AC panel. I did a lot of the work. Me and EA were in good chill mood. Ran some errands. I VOTED!! An absentee ballet. I order my recepts and manuals. I don’t want to write another laundry list.
Then what shall I write?

A brief description of the boat.

The boat looks like a navy blue spaceship. Its hull is sleek, hourglass shaped, slowly tapering down to the keel. The deck is sandpapery, cream-colored, almost white. It is narrow, cockpit in the back. The cabin trunk raises up with narrow walkways around it. The mast and boom sand atop the cabin trunk. The foredeck is open, a cleat in the middle, a pulpit in the bow just in front of an anchor windlass. The deck is shaped like a great eye. The stern as well as the bow is narrow and overhanging the water. Around the cockpit are a few winches, nothing much else. The tiller (for steering) enters through the floor of the cockpit. Behind the tiller and cockpit is the lazerette, a compartment below the deck for stowage.

Forward from the cockpit is the companionway, the entrance to the cabin. Step down some narrow stairs and to your right is the propane cookstove, three eyes. I like it very much, clean and new. To the left is the sink. The sink and counter are all laid in granite. There are two ice chests for storage. On the port and starboard are two settees. Forward still is a door through a bulkhead. What formerly was a head is on the right, now a storage closet / workroom. TO the left a hanging closet. And then the v-berth, essentially the bow, it is a v-shaped bed with storage lockers underneath. At the foot of the vberth, at the very bow is the chain locker, where the anchor chain stays.
All along the way are port lights (windows), five on a side. In the v berth I have a hatch opening upward to the deck.

What I have spent the last week working on is what is directly aft of the cabin and underneath the cockpit. Standing at the companionway, between the sink and stove, facing aft, beneath the companionway is a control panel. In the panel are all the switches for the electrical system that are now installed. It is an amazing piece of work. It is pretty to look at, but the backside, when it is opened, is like finely combed and braided hair, of red, black, white, bundled and coiled so neatly. Fantastic.
Underneath that panel is the engine room, where all those wires attach to the batteries. Right now this is largely wasted space, behind the engine that is. All the way from the rear of the engine to the lazarete is empty space that is hard to reach. I’m going to cut a hatch in the floor of the cockpit to gain access to it.

19 October, 2004

busier 'n hale

Been re-wiring like a madman. Learning tons.
Been writing a little at night. I'll post it all tomorrow maybe.
Almost done with the electricity, now on to the plumbing....


"The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longe feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.
-Albert Einstein

11 October, 2004

Met Eric Allen today. Great guy! We are going to work on the electricity. Spendy stuff, but it is a clutter and is utterly unmanageable. We looked at the last boat he was working on and the order was 'beautiful' - 'beautiful' is the word, yes, for wiring. It was. I want beautiful wiring, wiring with labels, wiring with nice bundles.
This way I can figure it all out. Very exciting.

08 October, 2004

A truly soggy day in Port Townsend. Last night the boat shook and shuddered with gust of dry wind. I feared the boat might tip off its chocks. Then the rain started and hasn't let up.
All attempts at reconnecting my phone have failed. I went to the bank and bought rolls of quarters. If I could get to CostCo I know I could get a 3 cent /minute phone card. At least it is out of the way - on to the next errand: the stove.

Last night as I was coming back from the store, which is conveniently just across the street from the boatyard, under the empty traffic light before me crosses what looked like a wolf. Of course it wasn't a wolf - but it was a coyote. It calmly sauntered across the intersection and across the road and stood steadily near some trees on the other side. A few teenagers also coming out of the store heckled at it and then it dipped into the dark trees along the boatyard.
I stopped to think about it. It all happened so suddenly and without any great intensity. The animal was probably only forty feet away. It might as well have been a dog, but come to think of it I've never been so close to coyote (alive) before.
OCT 6, 2004

The Keystone ferry is throwing off its lines. The sky is the perma-cloud grey and the temp is a moist sixty-seven. This morning I decided to take the trip back up to Bellingham to retrieve the things that I left there weeks ago. My friends have since moved out but it was refreshing to see Nate, their roommate and my new friend, and his dog, Molly. We chatted and he told me about some climbs he had done recently. I was/am jealous. I wish I had the opportunity / I wish I had had the opportunity to do fun easy alpine routes like him. It seems Washington has so much to offer. When people talk about mountaineering, they generally aren’t talking about Montana or Colorado, more often Idaho or Utah – but mostly it is the Cascades. The Freedom of the Hills is published by the Mountaineers – a group of climbers from Seatle. Rainer is such an aesthetic mountain. I could probably go on and on. I am inspired to live here. I even like the weather.

I haven’t been struck by the aloneness yet, not like I expected to be. I have had too much on my mind, too much to get done, always a bit more than I was capable of. That may be the trend for a while to come. I have a new home, one that is in transition, one that is still slowly opening itself to me. The boat and town still carry mystery to be uncovered. Sometimes, for no particular reason, I will be walking down the dark, quite street or sitting on deck or biking through the shipyard, and everything becomes instantly lucid, time stops, eternity is revealed: Look where I am; this is my home, my life, my future—It’s incredible! I feel like I have to scream out. I need to relieve all the energy that is suddenly welling up at the instant.
I don’t.
I will soon. I am still new to this jungle and don’t yet want to proselytize my small existence to the world at large for fear of being eaten.

Tomorrow I call Eric about electricity, Bob about diesels, the university about classes. Then to the debate. Oh, such fun.

06 October, 2004


P.O. Box 1531
Port Townsend WA, 98368


I love it here. I am making progress, though slowly, everyday. I'm buying some necessities: buckets, rags, drill, shore-power cord; I borrowed an extension cord from Jim. I rented a storage locker today and cleaned my car and boat out. All the sails, anchors, books, climbing gear, skis, all extranious stuff not used daily - it's all in storage. Now the boat is gutted and ready to be cleaned, then de-wired, then re-wired. Today I got the gas/water/oil out of the bilge - the fumes were erking me.
Tomorrow I'll get......no - tomorrow I'm going to Bellingham to get my pack. I left my pack from my last trip there when I unexpectedly found this boat. My lamp, my phone, my hat, my camera - lots of goodies are there. I found out that I could do a pre-pay plan for $15 / month with my phone - much simpler than the pay phone.
The library is great. Good computer access. Good books. Some folks have made some good recommendations to me.

How 'bout these debates........

05 October, 2004

MISSOULA - Already there and gone. Spent a fine day with Stu, Wendy and Chelsea in Kooteni Canyon hiking about. Ate some great sushi at B's. Dined in the China Buffet with AJ. Hotspringed with Wendy. All in all a great stay.

BUT I HAVE NOW ARRIVED. - I drove Highway 12 all the way and it was wildly long, but it was beautiful: rivers and curves and grand conifers all the way. I saw the finest view of Mt Rainer I've ever seen. It just appeared. Out of nowhere there it was, standing in the plain. amazing that something so great can just sneak up on you like that.

I drove past Mt St. Helens. Nothing was happening though. And now I am here. I slept on my boat last night for the first time. Today I drove about organizing, trying to find something, somewhere to get a start on. In the midst of so much work sometimes it is that first effort that is so hard.

It is coming. I am not so scared as I was. One day at a time.

Oh, and to all of those who doubted, who downright disbelieved in the ole Dancer's ability to make it. Believe! She made it. We only had one blown tire. The brakes needed replacing, normal. And on the last day my taillights gave out, a police officer was nice enough to point that out to me. So I've been using my hazard lights instead. No biggy. Running like a top. Better than my bicycle - both tires are flat - and it's almost five. If I'm gonna fix 'um it had better be now.