28 March, 2005

This was my favorite line from the responses I recieved from that last story I sent out:
"It [sailing] makes polo sound like a game for sissies."
That is wonderful!!! Indeed, but horses are way faster, and are more likely to run into one another--but polo is rarely played in 50 knot wind with 15ft seas. A horse won't abide!

I have been thinking about an email I recieved long ago, back when I was in Nepal. I never responded. I simply couldn't muster the focus to write what would need to be written. Something, I dunno.
I think I am ready to respond now. I wrote all las night, but it was a bunch of rubbish. I need to find a more concise direction. "Mystery" I think that is it.

The email went as follows. My response I'll publish when finished.

- - - - - - - -

Thanks for the reminder of our place in this world. It has been 4.5 years since I was in Nepal, and I've already become caloused about what we have here.
I'm sitting in an airconditioned house, in a soft office chair, typing on a bad-ass Mac, sipping cappacino from a real espresso machine, and pondering driving my car downtown to watch a friend entertain a crowd with her acoustic guitar. I
n short, nothing I'm doing today involves survival--I know that today I will not starve, I will not thirst (to death), I will not overheat (barring some unforeseen circumstance), I will not get a bacterial infection from the tap water, and my padded bank account will not fall to 0.
I thank God for this, and I thank you for reminding me, if only for a few hours, that I must be thankful for this.

So, let's talk about deeper issues than what ails society. Where do you see God in all of this? Do you believe that He is not responsible for the cleft between American and Nepalese society? If He is responsible, does that make him an injust bastard for letting us have what we have versus what the Nepalese suffer with?
And yet, despite the material possessions (this I believe is God's heart--) there is an underlying human condition. A condition in which people are unhappy, depsite what they are given. A state of destitution within, in the spirit/soul/inner being, that will make someone in American contemplate suicide even though they make a 6 figure salary.
And yet, the Nepalese are surprisingly happy, depsite their poverty. Even so, they are not neccessarily satisfied, because they know what they've heard about America.
I can't tell you how many times when I told folks in Nepal that I was from America, they responded, "ahh, very good country" with a smile on their face.
One family in Deurali (on the way to trek to Makalu) offered me tea and talked to me for a good hour, trying to convince me to set up a visa for them to come live in the US. And do you know what I was thinking when they would tell me this: "yeah, it's alright". Am I a hypocrite or what? Yeah, it's alright. Living in the US allows me to visit Nepal. The opposite is almost never the case.
They would die to live here, and I often couldn't care less. So, what's my point? My point is that Americans are not satisfied with their material possessions, and Nepalese aren't satisfied with their poverty.
My point is that there is nothing in this world that can be sensed that can give life-sustaining satisfaction. Have you even shown up at a place, say a mountain cabin in Montana with a gorgeous backdrop and thought to yourself, I've arrived...just let me stay here forever... And within 24 hours, you're tired of being in the cabin, you gotta get out and explore. What is that? That is the dissatisfaction with material things.
Many things will satsify for a brief time (sex, drugs, money, power, food, even a small cabin in the woods), and yet none of them are long-term sustenance. That is where I believe that a relationship with the Lord God, as revealed through Jesus Christ, comes in.

What is your feeling about the ways of the monks that you've been around? Is there an assurance about the path that they're on? Have you noticed that there are demons in
Buddhism, as there are in Christianity?
But, how do they rid themselves of demons, versus how do Christians rid themselves of demons? Which is more effective? How does the buddhist community compare to the christian communities that you've witnessed? You know what I believe about all of this--so, I won't respond.
However, you should ponder these type questions while you're there. Many people come to Nepal looking looking... They believe that there will be satisfaction in the ancient ways, the many gods, or the god within. And I know that at least some of them leave with a greater respect for the culture without any real inner peace.
And, I know from your email and from my visit, that there is much in the culture to despise (the garbage on the streets, the beggars, the pollution, and even more myopic view of life that our own American one), so perhaps those who come away respecting the lot are deceiving themselves.
So where's the balance? Where's the truth? What's the Truth? In the ancient ways? In the mishmash of kathmandu culture? In the bloated, sleepy ego of the United States? In the humililty and death (and I believe subsequent resurrection) of Jesus of Nazareth?
"Many people come to my country, looking looking..." (A quote from a Nepalese man in a Galen Rowell book). I love you Jonah. It's odd that I feel a bond to you since we've spent so little time together, and yet I feel a deeper kinship with you.
I hope that you'll ponder my questions, and moreover, my questioning attitude. Jesus said, "Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you will find, Knock and the door will be opened unto you..." Who is the actor/instigator of action in the last part of this passage written in passive voice?... How does this relate to what you see in the culture of Nepal?

- - - - - - - - -

That is what it is all about right there. Now, he's a writer, and a thinker. Beautiuful. Thank you.
You see how that is something that can stick with you over the years.

26 March, 2005

Been watching tons of documentories these days. Really depressing, but enlightening.
Here's my best-of list:

Bowling for Columbine (American Culture)
Hijacking Catastrophe (White house)
Unprecidented ( 2000 Election, Florida)
Unconstitutional (Patriot Act )
Outfoxed (Media, Rupert Murdock)
Orwell Rolls in his Grave (Media)

I haven't seen "Control Room" (about the media and Iraq) but heard it was great.

I also watched "Citizen Cane" which was about Hurst, the Murdock of last century. Good flick. The story that goes along with it, about Hurst and Orson Welles is even cooler.

It is rainy and nasty outside. Not doing much. But today, I'm fine with it. My go for a bike ride.
“There are Two things a Sailor Cannot do: Sail into the Wind and Pee into the wind.”
—George Shimert
A Story of Not Quite Making My Destination.

There is nothing “crazy” about this story. I don’t want any of those, “Oh,….you’ve got to be more careful…..yadda, yadda” emails. This is sailing, for god’s sake! This is just how it is sometimes. It isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds, I promise. Because I hadn’t seen anything like it before, I focused on the details and the intensity, which tend to make it all seem a bit exaggerated to me. But it wasn’t all that dangerous or anything like that, just intense and powerful. And not that I don’t want you to write—I live alone out here—please write, but I thought I would go ahead and quell the obligatory objections that always arise from my “less than calm” stories.

Have you ever read the quote by Nelson Mandela, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered?” It is as if we need landmarks, constants by which to gauge our change. Without them we would not notice how we slowly grow or erode. The same dictum works in other ways as well: the parameter being not space, but time. This is a story about how two similar events, separated by several months, helped to offer me perspective on where I have come.

Monday I left port for Orcas Island in the northern San Juans. I wasn’t set to go until after twelve, so I assumed I would dally around close to home, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and catch a mooring ball in Worden State Park, then set out from there first thing in the morning to the islands. The winds were strong leaving Admiralty Inlet and I was having trouble balancing my sails to ease the strain on the tiller. Single-handing without self-steering gear was proving more frustrating than I had anticipated. I wasn’t stoked about three full days of it.
I was taking myself far too seriously.
As soon as I left Admiralty Inlet and entered the strait I realized it was far too nice out, far too nice. It was beautiful; perfect sailing. Why not press on? What was the big deal? Waiting would change nothing. I knew where I was going. The wind was now at my back. I was relaxed and settled. Onward. I took a big breath and resettled in my seat.
Indeed, it was perfect. I made great way heading north toward the islands. I saw but one boat all day. Tonight’s anchorage was on the east side of Lopez Island, the south-eastern most of the San Juans. I dropped my hook just as the sun was setting behind the bay. Watmaugh Bay—it had great cliffed walls and a narrow strait blocked by an islet.
I made a salad and some clam chowder and hit the sack early. When at anchor, I get up regularly to check to see if we are dragging the anchor any. Faulty anchoring is actually the easiest way to wreck your boat. When the tides shift, the direction of the pull can shift as well, loosening an anchor. Or a rising tide can change the vertical pull and dislodge an anchor.

When the morning had come, around six or seven, the wind had shifted all the way around to the north. It was really howling too. The skies were clear, but a high pressure system was over B.C while a low was over Oregon. I figured that was the cause of the northerly. (I could be mistaken.) Watmaugh Bay was north facing, so simply getting out of my anchorage was going to be tedious. I generally try to do everything without my engine, but when anchoring I have it on as a precaution. This instance is exactly why. To keep the bow clear for bringing in the anchor and chain, I don’t usually set my headsail until after I am underway.
I hauled in the anchor. Just before it was up I hoisted the mainsail. The mailsail set as I finish bringing in the anchor. Here, to get out of the bay, I was beating into a headwind with only a reefed mailsail in a narrow bay. I couldn’t get over three knots of speed, the speed I needed to tack (turn across the wind). I had to put my engine in gear to get enough speed to tack, otherwise, unable to change course, I would have drifted into the cliff—there was no other way and no room. So engines do have a valid use after all. (Lesson 1 of this trip.) I got out of the bay without problem.
Now in Rosario Strait, a north-south running channel between the San Juans and the mainland to the east, the wind was coming directly out of the north, directly down the strait—exactly where I was trying to go. No problem, I thought. It was early. It would be slow, but I could tack back and forth, back and forth, slowly making northward way. I don’t remember if I was thinking about the tide or not, but at the time, progress was so slow I was assuming it was working against me. (It turned out that it wasn’t, not yet.)
The weather was invigorating. I dropped the working jib for the storm jib (a smaller headsail). The boat was getting too overpowered, healing over until the gunwales were flooding up to the windows. It was awesome. The intensity, you could feel the power vibrating through the shrouds and lines, all taut with pressure. The swells rolled with great bellies and crests. The crests, meeting the boat on the windward bow, would throw us off the wind. So every time a swell came I had to turn up into it as it pushed us back. This was the rhythm that kept us on course.
Again, headway was so slow with the headwind, the swell on the bow—and I thought the tide as well—that we were hardly making three knots. This slow speed made tacking a bit tricky. I would wait for a gust to get my speed up, and turn up just before a swell would hit. If a swell would hit upon the leeward bow it would push us on over. The real trick, I learned, was to hold the jib to leeward and back it. Normally I would release the sheet and let it flutter as we came across the wind, but now, needing all the help in the world to turn, I realized that by backing the jib, I got an extra bit of momentum to push us through the turn. Once the jib backed, the bow would come fully across, then I could loose the jib and sheet it in on the other side. This was a huge lesson, and I got plenty of practice too.

It is said that the sea seeks out your weaknesses and exploits them. I, being the unpolished and inexperienced sailor, have a plethora of fruit for the picking. For instance, my port-side jib sheet is too long. It must be a spinnaker sheet, a line for a very large, balloon-like headsail. The sheets look alike, one a bit longer than the other. Even though the sheet runs through a block (pulley) and has a knot stopping its end, when I tacked, the sheet was carried overboard by the weather, and because it was so long, it had enough of a bight to carry down all the way to the prop which was free spinning—and there became marred. Just my luck.
It wasn’t even really a mistake. I didn’t do anything all that wrong. So it was a long sheet. Big deal! Well it now was a big deal. I never would have thought that with the end tied it could possibly have gotten that far. From now on I think I will leave my prop locked so lines won’t get wrapped up in it so easily if they do make it there. I had nearly run over a crap trap earlier.
Remember—this is my second time fouling my prop! Oh the shame. At least I noticed this time. At least my motor wasn’t running. At least I know the procedure.
I sailed on. I needed to find somewhere to anchor so I can dive in and un-foul my prop. It was nearly time for lunch anyhow—lets call it a lunch stop. There were some islands dead ahead on the eastern side of the strait. Behind them I could find some shallow water. I wouldn’t even have to tack, which now I couldn’t do without a leeward jib sheet.
To make for the bay behind the island I had to run down wind a bit. What change. When you turn and go with the wind, the seas calm, the wind becomes sedate. You’d swear the weather had changed altogether. The waves seem to loose their muscle and all of a sudden you feel like you are really moving again, which I was.
The anchor stuck hard where I dropped it, nearly in the middle of the bay. It was easy to tell with so much wind weighing on the boat. I didn’t mess around at all. I was feeling warm, knew the procedure. I stripped to my long johns, no socks, clipped on the chest harness, clip-on knife, and webbing to tie myself off with. I tied the webbing off to the stern Samson post, stepped over the stern pulpit, took a few deep breaths, focused and let myself down into the water. I had to regain my breath from the shock of it and then dove right down. I wasn’t quite as methodical, but it seemed to want to come out easily. Three dives did it. I bet not more than a minute, minute and a half tops—but I couldn’t tell you.
I was pretty ecstatic about the success. I had handled it so nonchalantly, a simple matter of course. The last time it had been such an ordeal. I dried off, screamed out with pleasure, naked on deck. Redressed, I ate a sandwich and some fruit. It was then I checked the tides again and realized that the tide was only just then changing. Now the tide would be going out, south to the Juan de Fuca.
Utterly doomed.
There was no way. I knew it. I’d have to anchor out again. I had expected to make Orcas Island and I had gotten only half a mile in four hours. I started looking for good spots on the chart. There were a few mooring balls by state parks that should be great. They were still a ways north, but I still was confident that I could make at least a bit of ground.
During my lunch the seas had grown out in the strait. The swells, still only four feet perhaps, but now coming with the wind and tide, were regularly knocking me off course. It was disheartening and I took it all personally. I saw only one sailboat all day, and he motored past without a sail.
It was brutal. My bow occasionally plunged through a swell like a skewer. It made me question the strength of my anchor lashing, only a double backed clove hitch. Water was flying everywhere. Waves jumped the bow and doused the sails on the other side.
At some point, I snapped out of it—the Nelson Mandela thing—I noticed that things had changed. It was worse now. I hadn’t noticed it gradually, but it was blowing harder, maybe gusting to thirty-five or so. The swells were knocking the shit out me. I realized it was time to go. I was through. The fun was over, the lesson learned. It seemed a gale was on the way.
I hadn’t even gotten anywhere. The bay I had lunched at was still due east. I had made zero northward progress. It was maybe five o’clock. I figured to sail back down and around the island, again, back into the bay and anchor somewhere off the shore, somewhere a bit more protected than where I had been before. I thought better—drop sails and motor into the harbor there in the northern part of the bay. Anacortes was just to the north.
Getting the jib down was a rush and no mean feat. It was done quick and right, but being on the bow, furling sail and then looking down when you feel your stomach drop and you see eight feet of height, the bow dipping fast into the coming, rising swell—then the wave crashes all around you. That lift and drop, lift and drop—like a slowly bucking horse, or a jumping horse, to be like a gargoyle on a prow looking over the streets far below—a fantastic emotion. It was a thrill, but this wasn’t thrill seeking; this was doing what had to be down. And I didn’t want to stay there long and I didn’t.
The weather was so strong that the engine wouldn’t even turn me up into it. There was a cut in between two islands nearly due east. I couldn’t even make it. We had to veer off and go south and around, which was much easier. It is humbling when your engine can’t even head up into the weather.
When we started crossing the bay, heading north-north-east, it was more of the same. We were making two knots, under motor. We were hardly moving—I can walk twice that fast. Was it worth it? This would be a marginal anchorage at best. The marina was out of the question. The fact was we couldn’t go north.
It was time to run.
I then had two choices: to find a safe north-facing anchorage south of us or go out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and heave-to for the night. Heaving-to is a way of parking the boat at sea in heavy weather. Essentially, you just safely drift half a knot backwards, if done correctly. (When I practice, I always make about a knot of headway, which is not good, but I sum it up to not having enough wind.) This certainly would be a decent time to practice. But anchoring would be much more simple and comfortable. Floating around the Strait of Juan de Fuca all night would be rather lousy.
There was one spot on the map, Deception Pass, which had couple of little coves facing up into the weather. It was hard to say from the chart, but they were only a knot or two away, which, heading south, would only take twenty minutes or so. The sun was already setting, so I was anxious to get there so I could see the lay of the place.
The first spot seemed too small and deep. I’d have to drop very close to shore. If the tide shifted, as it would, the boat could swivel around and wind up on the beach. I decided to check the next spot. This spot gave me a much better feeling despite the fact that it had gnarly boulders jutting out of the water to the lee and east, one quaintly named corpse rock. I devised a plan: I would set my anchor as usual. I would be pulling southward. Off the stern I would pitch out my “lunch hook”, a smaller anchor I keep in my lazarette (aft locker) in case of emergencies (or a quick lunch on a quiet day). This way, if the tide or wind shifted in the night, it would then serve as a primary and would keep me farther from the shore. Even if it were to fail, the original should still keep me safe. This is more precautionary and preventative than necessary. After all, anything could happen out here, and there were some ominously named rocks to suggest just that.
Amazingly, it was a calm night. When the tide shifted the boat didn’t even budge. She sat over her anchor all night, never a tug. After a few checks, I slept the morning hours soundly, and even slept in later than usual. No pressure. I was heading back to Port Townsend now. I needed to wait for a change in winds. The VHF said the winds and conditions were the same for the San Juans, but the Strait of Juan de Fuca was 10 to 15’s, not bad. It should be a pleasant ride home.

As I surveyed my anchorage, I noted that it would be a tricky exit without my engine—I would need excellent exit strategy to pull it off, but I felt it could be done and since it was morning and I was full of vigor and renewed esteem, I had to try for it. The strategy involved something I had learned from the day before, a backed headsail. The wind was faint. When I pulled the anchor, we hardly drifted at all. The engine was running at idle as usual, but this time I had my storm jib hanked on and ready. I figured a way of keeping it out of the way of the anchor, and yet still available. When the anchor was aboard, I raised the jib and sheeted it to port (windward). The calm wind allowed me to do this. This is, in essence, a backed sail, the same theory that helped my tack with low speed. This time I had no speed. I was facing north. The wind was coming over the port from the west. The idea was for the wind to hit the sail and spin me around to starboard / east. The mainsail was up, but sheeted out. When the wind hit, hopefully it would spin me around then I could sheet in the main and gain some speed to run out the back with the wind on my beam, hopefully in front of the rocks. That was the trick. It was sort of a sailing u-turn from a standstill.
I didn’t expect the wind to be so light. We hardly drifted at all. A gentle gust came and, like magic, the bow started to turn to the east. Then more calm. We were slowly turning though. The rocks were lurking, waiting for me to blow it, to drift to far. Then the wind picked up and blew us full around. I sheeted in the mainsail; the jib was now were it aught to be, and we were on a beam reach (90% to the wind) with plenty of room to clear the rocks.
That was my coup of the day.
I couldn’t believe it. It was a great trick. It was perfect. No engine necessary.
Once in the Strait of Juan de Fuca it was lovely soft, smooth sailing. This time the swells, now milder, were at my back. Of course, halfway home, the wind came around nearly 180 degrees, almost to the south, what would have been a great breeze to make Orcas Island on, but I was almost home. We were running seven and a half knots, cruising. The wind backed off to the west, driving me right from the beam. I was home just after lunch.

Parking was a jiff. Parking used to be my most dreaded part of sailing a boat. Did you know I ran over my bike with my boat once. That’s talent!

23 March, 2005

The New Deal

I should start by saying I don’t have any stories to tell here. I did run over my bike with my sailboat—that was an unusual and spectacular event. I raced in a regatta which was fantastic. My diet is vastly improving: I’m eating primarily raw, live foods, essentially salads, fruits and nuts. However, the best thing was an impromptu trip to the San Juan Islands. We went out for a day sail around the Bay and didn’t come home until four days later. I met an amazing girl on that trip, the kind of person who glows through eyes, who sees everything through its positive and beautiful nature. I haven’t met anyone like her for a long time. These things are in my journal, but not here.
Sorry. (See “An Average Sailing Adventure or a Great Story about a Toothbrush”) This is a more philosophical email.

Everything is changing it seems. You think you know something one minute, then the world turns upside down, or more truly, simply shows you a new view of what you thought you knew. Now you aren’t so sure anymore.
The last few weeks, if not the past couple of months have been something like this for me. I make a plan. As I approach it the more I learn its flaws and infeasibility. Then I have a choice: to remain stoic and trudge on through in good stubborn manly style, or do I revise, sit down, scrap the plan and start fresh all over again.
A friend once criticized me for always saying one thing, then doing something else entirely in the end. This has always bothered me: Should I be more steadfast and stick to the plan? I feel like I am constantly misleading my friends and family. However I don’t see the logic in sticking to outdated logic for the sake following my former ignorance as to not mislead. I never give my word or swear to a thing. ‘Revise and move forward’ has been my way. But I hate misleading people and if frustrates me to do so.

Now it is back.
Each plan I have made regarding sailing has had to undergo the knife. It started years ago before my mom died. I moved to Palma Spain to sail around the world working on other people’s yachts. That plan got immediate revision. In the Caribbean I ended up going south instead of east, then back to school instead of to the Pacific. On and on.
This time the plan was to sail to Hawaii. At first it changed quickly. A man I respect quite a bit here asked me why Hawaii? I didn’t have a great answer really: I don’t even remember why. Why not the Marquesas, he asked? (S. Pacific islands) I didn’t know. I hadn’t even thought of it. Of course! I wanted to get out of the U.S. Hawaii, as I was slowly learning, was a real challenge in many ways, very poor anchorages, short-term mooring in many places, tough surf. The Marquesas would be great.
So that was the first change; that was maybe a week or so ago. But this change only opened up a whole new set of questions: first, timing, and the second, crew. These weren’t new questions really, but now the spotlight was more firmly upon them.
I don’t have any crew.
I did temporarily, but it didn’t work out. For me the question of whether to go it alone is a fundamental existential question. I’ve always gone alone. It has been the only way for me to get things done. I feel most effective. But I am older now, and this life is really something I want to share. I really want a partner but fear it will sap my ability to think creatively and focus as effectively. (See Bob—It comes back to the suffering artist paradigm from our Prosody class. I tell you, it’s true!) I do have an attachment to suffering. I’m seeking therapy! I want to succeed at whatever it is I do so badly, that I don’t want to sell it out for the comfort of company I love. Please, someone, convince me this isn’t the case. But of all the highly creative and effective people I have studied, they were mostly single and distraught—or outright crazy (Blake). The list is dumbfounding. So I’ve been bending my mind on this point endlessly—well, for years actually. I always have loved the sage-hermit archetype.

Timing is becoming an increasing problem. For the Marquesas, I need to leave as soon as possible. I have to beat the hurricanes of the summer as I head south of California, but I can’t leave here until the last of the winter storm season ends. This window is rapidly approaching and I am still unprepared. I haven’t practiced various tactics I need for heavy weather. In general I just still haven’t done enough sailing.
This was my conundrum.
My options were thus: If I wait I could have crew, but won’t make the south Pacific this year. The season there ends in November, the start of typhoon season. To go now would be to go it alone and less than optimally prepared. A brave endeavor indeed! I am crazy enough, if I felt in my heart that that was my path. But I don’t. It is this doubt that has been troubling me.
SO: I wait. What a shame it would be to miss all the amazing sailing that can be done up here. I want spend my summer in B.C. and Alaska sailing and shaking out the kinks in the boat and myself. I’ll hopefully get my residency in Alaska where I’d like to live if I come back to teach or something. And I can work on getting some crew. We’ll see what happens with that.
Who knows??
Now I have time to figure some of these things out. Summer in the northwest, fall and winter in Baja, then to the Marquesas in March—much earlier than I could go from here this year. Then I’ll have far more time to work westward through the S. Pacific before November when the storms come and have a much better idea what I want to accomplish by doing so. Much more relaxing.
This is the new plan.

Next week the boat should finally be dialed out and ready. I would have sailed back to the San Juans today if we hadn’t had a pretty rough gale. It’s been nice though, sitting by the fire writing. I nice change.
Install an auto-helm and mend a sail—that’s all I care to do before the sailing in earnest begins. Some friends have told me about the Queen Charlotte Islands up in B.C. They are all protected; old native villages are preserved there. Totem poles are still standing or toppled around on the beaches. It is supposedly magical and unlike anywhere else, and totally quiet this time of year. I’m trying to get a friend or two interested in a little skiing / climbing / sail exploration of the northwest for the summer.
New plans are such fun. They always feel like a step forward. My Dad wholeheartedly agrees. He never liked the solo-sailing paradigm. Too bad.


Since writing this, I have gone on a great little trip and will have a funny little story to go with it. Soon.

18 March, 2005

Up the mast for three days.

I installed a new track on my mast for a storm trysail. I am pretty stoked about it. Now I have about a week before a few things, the last things, I ordered to come in. Today and maybe tomorrow I am tidying up and finishing a couple small jobs then I want to head up to the San Juans for a little solo sail, if the weather permits.

It was easy last time but I am anxious to see how the sail is alone. How much time will I have to stay at the helm? What if I get into a blow?The boat steers nice enough that I can lash the tiller for short periods, on at least one point of sail she will totally steer herself. But the downwind runs are what bother me. I still need some elastic, or something rubber to use in a sheet-to-tiller system I want to use for steering. So without that system in place I may be stuck at the helm ninety percent of the time.
That would be rough - but I wouldn't be the first.

I am planning on being gone for a week or so.

16 March, 2005

A Roller coaster of a week

Man have I had some questions, doubts, concerns, existential crises this week. Everything has been thrown into question. I have re-evaluated everything. Is what I am doing feasible in the timeframe I am trying to do it in? Do I go it alone, like I always do? (Yes, Widge, I know.) Or is it a time for a change?

Just from a dance with someone I felt something special, rare. It was on my first trip in my boat. Is she my companion? It would be ridiculous to ponder such questions for such a chance meeting—but she feels the same way! And yet we are strangers.
So strange.

Should I wait for her to be ready to go? Should I wait for myself to be ready to go?

Actually, most of these questions are now a bit outdated. I stayed up last night staring at the fire until I figured it all out in my mind.
I have comfortable reactions to whatever my happen. First, I need to get to know Carmel. Then see how I feel.
Continue to sail and see how I feel.

Time seems to work through these matters, but I am so glad to have my mind back where it belongs.

Other than all this, I have been sailing and studying, preparing, talking, tying loose ends.
All is great. I talked to Carmel for a long time and am sort of in shock.

11 March, 2005

Time is nearly at an end. The sailing is happening. The travel is happening. The boat is responding.
I can see the end, changed though it is; it is time. I feel good, good and ready. I can do this. The boat is becoming my friend.

Did I mention I wasn't going to Hawaii??
I am going to the Marquesas in the SOuth Pacific instead. Much better I think. But I have to hurry.
My god I feel great!

(Carmel, are you reading???? Come along!Come along!)

Should I mention I met an amazing girl - but I don't even really know her yet. But she knows how to smile, to dance, and she has deep eyes. What else matters?

09 March, 2005

"A Normal Sailing Adventure or a Great Story about a Toothbrush"

Another initiation.
This one perhaps more important than its predecessors. On Sunday, I was preparing for a daysail, as was everyone. It was a beautiful day. Several friends were taking their boats out. I recruited a couple of friends to come out with me. We even picked up a few more in another harbor on the way. We were six and a dog.

We were having such a good time one of the girls said, “We should just keep on going until we reach the San Juans.’
I could tell she was mostly kidding, but also partly serious. I thought about it: Why not? I’ve been itching to go for months and months. So I pushed it. “Let’s go.”
She was serious. So were a couple of other guys. A couple of folks had to work on Monday. In the end, three were in, three couldn’t make it, though were bummed not to be able to. What we did was come along side another boat we had been shadowing and playing with, and said we had some crew that needed to jump ship. We depowered our sails until we could cruise at the same speed. I pulled alongside and everyone jumped over—except the dog. He was handed across. It was a fun stunt!

We were off. My crew were two guys, Dustin and Kenny. I had never met either one of them before Saturday night: we all went out together. Neither even lives in town. Both were visiting old friends here. They were only packing daysail stuff—essentially a warm coat. All the same, we were off to the San Juan Islands.

Our “daysail” turned into a four day cruise through the islands. We had some great winds, some long lulls, a long night, an early morning, a open-mic night on Orcas Island, a couple great galley cooked meals (courtesy of Dustin), some “wing-on-wing” downwind sailing, and lots of jokes, good times, and epic beauty. If I manage a story out of it, it will be a quote from Kenny, who was infinitely quotable: “A Normal Sailing Adventure or a Great Toothbrush Story.” Indeed, it is a great story about a toothbrush, rare have I heard a better.

04 March, 2005

This is what it is all about. A letter from a student and good friend:

Dear friend,

                  This is first excellent mail that you have sent me ever now. I am very happy to read. I got a very good advice from you. I haven't expected this kind of mail from you. This is nature for every living people. YOu are great for me. Of Course, my future is on my hand and not for you to Ivor. You have done good for me in the past and this time you have given me very short and nice advice. I can't forget it. i can't lie to you and i don't want to cheat you. Of course you have written very nice advice. Even in next time mail, sometime write these kind of advice for me.

        When i was small age, i haven't got such a sweet advice from my family or my friends. So i was in expections. But now i know and i will carry on your advice. what lies beyond on me is lack of imagination and the nature of the world. Once again i am saying Thank you for your kind advice. Now i am stopping here. I am in India. I hope i will be here for some weeks. I want to learn computer. I spent your money to the computer course.

                This time i am very happy because of your good advice. i can't cheat or lie beyond my friend. Thank you for your kind help. Bye. take care of your health. Wish you all  the best in every step. I will pray for your success. Thank you, Your friend, ########

03 March, 2005

Well, not much special here.

Spent part of a day in a sailmaker’s loft
Been reading a great book on heavy weather sailing—actually very encouraging stuff.
Raised my mainsail and played with my reefing system (inefficient) and pondered better ways. Also the best way with what I’ve got.
My belly has been upset because of my sunfood diet. It ain’t easy, but I like it.
Ooh…I found these delightful things—olives stuffed with jalapenos. Fantastic! My new fad.
I am beginning to embark on my windvane journey. I’m not psyched about it. It will be costly. I have found so many shotcuts, but I don’t know about this time. My fingers are crossed.
My bike is in the shop being repaired from my running it over.
New handlebars and shifters. I’m lucky I didn’t bend the frame around that piling I had tied it too. Very lucky.


- Central fuse $45.
I accidentally drilled a hole in it while widening the screw slots.

- Flexible coupling. $400.
Ouch, my biggest. I wrote a story about this one. I wrapped a mooring line in my prop. I was lucky here in that I could have destroyed my transmission instead.

- Bike $150
Ran it over with my boat, while it was tied to a piling. Bent the handlebars, the neck, broke the right gear shifter. Basically, I got away lucky.

- Hole in Sail ???
It must have been sheeted in too tight and rubbed on the spreader. I can probably just so on a patch.

- Hole in inflatible dinghy $0 + time
Don't know where this came from. Haven't even used the thing. The dangers of storage. All it needs is a patch, which I have.

Okay, not much of a list. I know I can do better than that.

01 March, 2005


I've been out sailing 3 out of the last four days.
Sailed in the Shipwrights' Regatta and had a barrel of fun. Beautiful days. The Bay was so beautiful, filled with boats of all kinds.

Then Sunday, an old friend from Antigua, Chris Anderson came to town to see the boat. I haven't seen him in years. We sailed and he taught me tons of tricks. He's a captain now on a boat in the Bahamas.
With a little luck he will come to Hawaii with me.

It is both exhillarating and a bit scary to finally be sailing. yesterday was a lot of beating to weather. The elements are so strong--it is intimidating. But each time I learn more and more. The weather I hope will get better and better. By the time I leave I hope I am psychologically as well as physically prepared.

At last the time is NOW
A novel new way to wreck a bike???
......run it over with a sailboat!

Yes, indeed. I ran over my bike, my new bike mind you, with my sailboat.
Impossible, you say? Nothing is impossible for me. If the probability is slim - for success or for utter failure and defeat - I'll draw the ace.
The bike is on ground. The boat in the water. And yet I brought my boat in to dock at just such an angle that as I turned into my slip, my shroud, a wire rigged from the top of the mast to the side of the boat, hooked around the handle bar of my bicycle, leaned against a piling on the dock. The shroud did quite a number on the headset of my bike and one of the petals (??).
The true irony of the story, if the land/sea paradigm isn't enough, is that I had been warned the day before about parking my bike there. It was illegal. I knew that. Against my better judgement I parked there anyway. When I looked at my partially mangled bike, there was a pink warning on it that it should be moved.

Yes, but the sailing was great.