28 April, 2005

Hello all.

My fiberglass work has become more tolerable. I am having fun again.
A good friend paid a visit and make many good recommendations for me to work on. My list just keeps growing.
I am at peace with being hauled out. I feel I can get a lot of good things done. I am being patient.

My neighbors are amazing and keep sending me over food. They have a eight year old boy named Forrest. One of the best adjusted kids I've ever met.
Life is good.

I look forward to making it back to Orcas. I'll park on the dock this time.

25 April, 2005

An Unfortunate Story of the Risks of Mooring

Softly: Thump… Thump…
The soft sound, the slight change of motion of the boat woke me up. It was about twelve o’clock at night. Everything was dark. I hadn’t been asleep long, but long enough to be not as coherent as I could have been. I sat up and looked out the port-side window. I thought the Bayside Bar looked awfully close, but, then again, I was moored pretty close to shore.
Thump… Thump…
What is that sound? Last night, moored to a mooring ball off of Point Wilson, it had been a quiet night and the ball itself had joggled off of the bow occasionally, making a similar noise.
I rub my eyes, get up, and look more closely out the window. I looked down and could see the breakers. They looked as if they were right under the boat.
Thump. Then a slight lurch toward port.
My heart picks up as I start to imagine what is really happening. I open the hatch. I look around. Beach. No mooring, no water—beach.
Could this be real. I still couldn’t get my head around it. I duck below and pull on my slickers and boots. I know I will need them. I’m slowing waking to realization that my mooring has failed. It is blowing twenty-five knots and my boat is on the rocks.

This is less a story than a compendium of errors. Bad fortune plays a mean role. I took more advice from others than from myself and not all of it was good. Only today, now five days past, am I starting to gain the perspective I need to fully understand what happened and what was done. Perhaps this telling will help me flesh it out in my mind in some way.
It was a chaotic and traumatic thing that happened—one of the most intense experiences of my life. Unfortunately, I am not proud of my responses. I feel I was unusually dull-witted, un-ingenuitive, and un-imaginative—all great hindrances to problem solving. This is not to say that I did not try my best, but I was not at my best. I was truly startled, taken off my guard. I had no bearing. I was not all that far from panic, though, of course, it didn’t feel that way. I felt that time was against me; I had to act quickly, and I only had one choice. This is a story about perceived choices and the decisions that stemmed from them. It is also a story of teamwork, the goodwill of a community, individual resourcefulness (not mine), and the shear excitement of trying circumstances. Whether I fit all this into the story remains to be seen.

Everything ready, I left Port Townsend late Wednesday afternoon. I had no plans of coming back. All my bills were paid, no more slip, the batteries full, the fridge packed, and plenty of water. I was heading north again to Orcas Island. The wind was west—a good beam reach could take me straight there. But unfortunately the tide was against me. I made terrible time until I relented and turned back to Point Wilson, the northernmost point of Port Townsend and the entranceway to the Strait of Juan De Fuca. There were mooring balls there I could tie to and then get a good start in the morning—with the tide. Mooring balls are used in lieu of anchors. They are heavy cement blocks dropped in the water with thick chains suspended to the surface by buoys, called mooring balls. They are generally considered bulletproof. They don’t drag like anchors, but the chains need to be inspected for corrosion. This one is maintained by the State, but some are privately owned. The westward shore blocked the wind and it was a quiet night, so much so that the ball that holds the mooring chain afloat occasionally bounced against the hull, making an unfortunate banging. Living on a boat, you become accustomed to every sound she makes. You know the ones that are acceptable and tolerate them, but the new or strange ones wake you quickly from sleep and require investigation. I got up several times to check the ball and see whether it was leaving any scratches on my hull.
With the morning light I cast the lines and again headed north. This time I got a great push from the tide and made up my lost ground in less than an hour (what had taken me nearly two and a half the day before). The wind was moderate and coming from the south. By midday I was at my usual anchoring spot in Watmaugh Bay. I was going to make Orcas in one day! I hadn’t done that before. Of course the wind died just as I thought it, but I had timed the tides so well today that the same tide that had carried us out and away from Point Wilson was now returning and carrying us into the Rosario Strait and toward Orcas. A nice lazy way to sail. One of my best days ever on the water.
What’s more, I sailed north up East Sound just as the sun was setting. I was looking into the Bayside Bar and Christina’s Restaurant, wondering if my friends were in there looking out. I even thought about all the tourists dinning in Christina’s all sighing with the sight of a beautiful sailboat coming into the bay. The end of East Sound is small and narrow, very shallow. There is a small island in the middle and rocky shores on either side of the middle. In the middle, directly below the Bayside and Christina’s, there is a gravel beach with some logs washed up against the small sandy bluff.
I knew there was a mooring ball there. Kelly, a friend who lived nearby, had given me permission to use it. It was directly in front of his house. I had even met the owners who had confirmed Kelly’s intentions. It was a great spot. Orcas doesn’t have a great deal of anchorages near the town of East Sound, which is where I wanted to be, so this mooring ball would be ideal.
So where was it? I couldn’t find it right off. Before passing the island I decided to turn around and drop sail into the wind. The bay was too small and tight. As I got closer I couldn’t believe how shallow it was. Eight, nine feet—and it wasn’t even low tide yet. Could this be real? They all said it would be cool. So I came on in.
I found the ball near the island, a little smaller than I am used to. The wind was starting to pick up a bit and I had to us a bit of tact to get the ball where I wanted it so I could rap a line around it and make it fast to a cleat on deck. I did it all without thinking too much. It was eight-thirty and I was wondering whether I should bother getting the dinghy out and going to town. I thought I would rather just relax, make the boat ship-shape, eat dinner, read. I’d deal with the dinghy and town tomorrow.
And this was how it was. I stowed lines and sails. I cooked a meal. I read a bit. All the while the wind was slowly picking up. I had just started reading a book called Adrift, a classic sea story about a guy who is rammed by a whale and sunk in the Atlantic and drifts in a lifeboat for seventy some odd days until he rescued in the Caribbean. The book was making me nervous, but it was educational. He was a writer as well.
I was tired and hit the hay early. After I was down, something kept bugging me, something about the mooring ball. I had thought that most people tie a bowline to the mooring ring at the end of the chain. But, for convenience of departure and arrival, I thought it best to simply do two wraps around the ring and bring the line back to the boat and make it fast to a cleat. Was this acceptable? What about chafe? (This was why I wrapped two wraps around the ring.) So I got out of bed I went and checked it out. The line was well fastened. Chafing gear was in place over the toerail. There was no problem. It was all good.
Back to bed.

Thump… Thump….
Then it all began. First it was the sound, then the shift in the way the boat was rocking. Instead of lying bow-to-the-waves, now we were beam-to (broadside). The “thump… thump….” Sound was the keel catching the bottom. Slowly the boat started to lurch over on her side. The strong wind and waves continually pushing her farther onto the beach, farther onto her side.
From on deck, I hazily appraised the situation. I had to move, and fast. But what was I to do? My boat was on the rocks, rocks and logs—it was hard to tell for the night—I really couldn’t tell for all the seaweed and jetsam.
To the engine! She cranked, but lacked the power to do a thing. The wind the way it was would have made it hard to turn to windward even if I weren’t run aground. I tried backing up. NO going. Eventually she died. (I’m not sure why.)
At this point I start hearing my name, “Jonah, Jonah, is that you?” It was Kelly and Matt. There were in the Bayside having a drink when someone yelled that a boat had landed on the beach. They had never seen my boat, but knew it was me anyhow.
Since I wasn’t in a life-or-death situation the Coast Guard wouldn’t respond. Perhaps it was that and the inclement weather. I don’t know. I wasn’t surprised. It always seemed to me that when in trouble, big trouble, you are generally the only one you can count on to save yourself. I wasn’t pleased, but I wasn’t surprised either.
My mind was depressingly empty. I wasn’t seeing anything clearly. All I knew was I needed to get off the beach. How? All I could think of was to row my dinghy out into the bay with an anchor, drop the anchor, pray it holds, and slowly pull my bow into the wind. If I could get my bow into the wind, get my engine started again—then I would be in business. This was all I could think of.
Meanwhile, Kelly is yelling stuff at me, talking to the coast guard, telling me he loves me and that everything would be fine. An officer came out onto the beach and told me that no one was coming to help me and asked me what I was going to do. No one particularly liked my plan of rowing out. The weather was wretched. But that was the only plan I could think of.

It was here where the story changes direction, where the control shifts. I don’t know what fruit or poison the other possibilities may have bore—I did what I did and it is probably for the best.
It was now that my friend Matt came out. He suggested strongly against the rowing plan. It was high tide. I was on a beach—And I was NOT on the rocks. There were rocks on either side of me, but I was on the only strip of beach around. I was lucky. (I would here about how lucky I was over a hundred times in the next few days.) Matt reckoned that I needed to run mooring lines from my stern and bow and make them fast to the shore. This way, the boat would be held fast to the shore. Since it was high tide, the water would drop away, leaving the boat high and dry and essentially safe. This, he reckoned, was my best shot. As simple as it sounds, and is, it really took me a while to get the hang of what he was saying. I can’t explain why I was so slow.
He was so persuasive, so knowledgeable—his plan seemed much more thought out than mine. Mine was simply the only one I had. He heard mine and liked his better.
“Okay, lets do it,” I said. I started grabbing all my stowed lines. I had an anchor line in the lazzorette, a long, long sea-anchor line in the fo’cle. We ran two lines from the bow and one from the stern. Two kept me from drifting out, and forward running line kept me from drifting toward the rocks to my stern.
My nerves were shot. Why am I staying here? Would this work? Kelly asked me about Vessel Assist? I asked him if they’d come in this weather. He said probably not. I said forget about it—if the Coast Guard wouldn’t come, either would they.
I untied a halyard and performed a tarzan vine swing from the boat over to the shore. God, it was a terrible sight. I was calming down. The boat wasn’t leaking or cracked or holed. It was getting hit, but not more than she can take. The tide was dropping. Everyone patted me on the back, “Man you are so lucky where you landed. Right on the beach!” I didn’feel terribly lucky.
The first thing I had done when I came on deck was run over to my mooring line. It was secure. I pulled on it and found it still attached to the mooring chain. I pulled it on board. Then I looked at it. What a manky, rotten piece of shit. I was shocked. How could I have ever tied onto such degenerate? It was shameful. Perhaps I got what I deserved.

What to do now?
I was at a total loss. Matt started explaining to me boat-rescue theory. He had read on it and knew the famous “boat rescuer” of the N.W., a guy that had actually saved a 1.5 million dollar ferry that had run aground. Everything everyone said to me was encouraging. It was almost starting to be fun. I certainly was learning tons. Matt was a godsend. Slowly, we planned out the next day. Matt would skip work and help me rally some help, dig a pit, bury some anchors and find a boat. I was feeling good at this point, in shock, but better.
The three of us walked back to Kelly’s were we ate some stew and picked our prospective couches. It was about four in the morning. We went back to the boat occationally to see how she was faring. I probably got an hour’s sleep.

At seven I was up, up before the other guys, and went down to the boat. I was still full of the hope of the last evening. It was still blowing hard. The sky was overcast and the waves were continuous.
All hope was dashed when I saw that first morning wave crash against my hull.
BOOM! The sound was magnificent and terrifying. The water sprayed a hundred feet in the air. Terrible. How could she stand such a whooping? The tide was low, but not all the way out. The high side of the boat was nearly dry. BOOM. My heart collapsed every time I heard it, every forth wave maybe, or less. I took some video footage for the archives. “The End of the Grim.” It was then I realized that I may truly loss her. There really was a chance. How could any hull take such a brutal licking? I had trouble imagining it. I snapped some pictures and walked up to the Bayside.
Belinda is the owner and said hello to me when I entered. She summized who I was. I told her the story.
“I can’t believe you used that ball. Gary put that out there five, six years ago, and he just used it for his speed boat in the summertime. It wasn’t designed for boats like yours,” she told me.
That would have been lovely information about a day ago. She knew more about that ball then the owners did.
Quickly, the word got around Orcas that there was a boat on the beach. Everyone had an idea; everyone told me “how lucky I was,” but everyone offered me something, there apologies, if nothing else.
Matt and I ate breakfast in the bar, stared at the boat. Any way we figured it, we needed a boat to help me out. Even if we could use the anchors to get me unstuck, the wind was still so strong that I would have a hard time motoring into it. The rocks on either side so near—it would be a real gamble. The search began for someone with a boat. It was nine am. The physical work in earnest wouldn’t really begin until three pm, that was near low tide when we could bury anchors and dig the boat a trench toward the water.
Back at Kelly’s we listen to his voice mail. There was a message from Carmel: “Is it true? You’re kidding right? Call me back. You must be up by now.” I asked Matt what she was talking about.
“Oh, Kelly left her two messages last night saying that your boat was on the beach.”
I thought that was sort of funny. I wouldn’t have believed a message saying that either, at least not the first one.

The day I spend trying to perfectly get my head around our plan. It wasn’t my plan, after all, but Matt’s. Matt impressed me with his ingenuity. He had a creative way of doing things. His Dad had been an aircraft carrier captain, hence his sailing experience. I considered him a blessing. Where would I have been without him?
As the tide dropped, we noticed the rocks. Unbeknownst to me, there were two boulders in the beach right against my beam (the fattest part of the boat) taking the grunt of the force of the waves. This was a terrible sign. As we dug around them we found that the damage wasn’t so bad. This was nearly all the damage the boat had sustained so far. But as I went inside I found that the damage had indeed cracked the hull, however slightly. The fiberglass had delaminated, slightly flaked just enough to where a trickle of what had penetrated through.
This was so sad, tragic. It is a naval loss of virginity, except that nothing is gained by the loss. But the tide had dropped to such a point as to no longer beat against the hull. We went to work removing the boulders. To get them out of their holes, we would lift them up on a side and slide gravel underneath them, then the other side. We did this over and over until we could easily roll the boulder on the beach. As the wound dried, I took a tube of Sikaflex (like a caulk, a bedding compound, white, strong, and sticky) and started filling in the grooves with a putty knife. Inside I infused the crack with a nice bead and then coated it over. I was overjoyed by it. It was a good clean job; I knew it would hold. Hopefully there weren’t any more such injures hiding about.

It impossible to relay just how fast the day went by. All day people popped in to say this or that. The reporter for the Orcas newspaper interviewed me and said I’d be on the front page. Carmel found us and promised to find us a boat. Hours passed in minutes, seconds.
Two people led me to find a guy who had a boat. We met at the Bayside at three. HE explained his responsibilities, his boat, his experience. He was a great and nice guy, but when we got to the price I was surprised. He wanted $1500. I was expecting a large sum, but that was more than I had expected. I told him that I thought Vessel Assist would do if for $800 - $1000.
“Maybe,” he said. “Les is a friend of mine. Let’s call him and see.”
He whipped out his cell phone and called up Les, the Vessel Assist guy. He put me on the phone with him.
“Are you the got who got rocked up in East Sound last night?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Why didn’t you have me haul you off them?”
I made up a variety of excuses, weather ect, and summated that I really didn’t know. Why didn’t I? Holy Shit! If I had just had this guy come out last night I would have saved my boat a night’s worth of pounding. Was I hoping to get it cheaper? Nothing is worth your boat getting pounded.
I never made that call last night. In all the commotion—I never called Vessel Assist—someone else did. Or maybe no one did. Les heard about it over the VHF. I never talked to him. I “assumed” that he wouldn’t come. If I wasn’t bummed out before, I certainly was now. Really I was just more bummed. Yet another glaring mistake—or oversight—whatever. Another place where I was not as sharp, not as diligent as I know I could have been. I could have been off that same night. Perhaps I thought he was too far away. It doesn’t really matter anymore.
Les is $150 an hour, an hour here and an hour back. So that’s a minimum of $300. If we do a good job getting all of our work done, I figure he could have me our fast—like twenty, thirty minutes. Since I’m not taking any water—of course I’ll have to check well when I’m back in the water—I don’t have to towed anywhere. Three hundred yards up the bay there is a county dock. I can tie up there for the night.
It sounds like five hundred dollars. It’s a deal. I tell Les to show up between ten o’clock and eleven, just before high tide. There should be enough water, and I don’t want my boat to take any more of a beating than it already has.

Once again I’m feeling good, real excited. Everything I’ve heard today was new and interesting. I didn’t know anything about this sort of thing. For over a thousand years this was the way people cleaned their boats. (Of course, they would check to see that there weren’t any rocks under them.)
In the afternoon there was a period of slack wind. I took this opportunity to take my biggest anchor out in the dinghy and drop it as far out as I could go. We used a three-hundred foot sea-anchor line and a two-hundred foot anchor rode (line). All in all, we were using nearly 1000 ft. of line for the anchors and boat moorings. I used nearly everything in the boat.
Three anchors we buried at low tide. When the water came up, we would use these to pull the bow into the wind. Once this was accomplished, the further anchor would help steady the boat and pull it farther from shore. We were planning how we could do the job without the boat—so the boat would be more supplemental than essential.
Without the rocks under the beam, the pounding of the rising tide had no edge to crack my boat against. Her old, old fiberglass hull was thickly build—literally bulletproof. She was the first fiberglass boat manufactured on the west coast. Today’s boats aren’t nearly so robust and thickly laid.
I sat and stared. I wanted to understand every element of the plan. There were flaws that needed to be worked through. For instance. We needed to pull on all three anchors at once. But they had been rigged individually—only one could be pulled through the windlass (winch) at a time. This was a dramatically weaker system. It was too late to re-rig the anchors. I solved it by running three blocks (pulleys) from the bow stem. One anchor would go to the anchor windlass, but the other two could be run to winches on the mast and in the cockpit. All three could them could be utilized in tandem. It was perfect.
I ate some food and took a thirty minute nap at Kelly’s. I visualized the whole process. It would work. I was gearing up.

Everything was ready. The sun was setting and the tide was coming back, filling the beach with rushing water. The wind wasn’t as strong as it had been the night before, but still a gusty 12 - 20 knots. Night fell. Everyone hung in the Bayside, drinking beer, eating soup or something warm. I sat outside and stared: was everything in order, was I ready? All the tools and the dinghy had been brought up high on the beach. The mooring lines had again been made fast. The rocks had been removed. The cabin was orderly; the deck was orderly. The tow boat would be here between ten and eleven o’clock.
I walked in and out of the restaurant. Matt said he wasn’t coming out until he could see the lights of the tow. It was only about fifteen minutes later that the four vertically-mounted spotlights came down the sound.
It was still early. The boat hadn’t so much as rocked on her keel yet. But almost. Although we decided to wait a bit, we still started the exodus in motion. Matt and I grinded on the anchor winches. They were taut and not really budging us. Slowly the restaurant started to file out and encourage us. I needed their help. Kelly, Carmel and the rest of the rabble would have to man the mooring lines and let us go, or, if we were to fail, tie us back to the beach so that I wouldn’t drift into the lurking rocks fore and aft. Also, they had hold of halyard which runs to the top of the mast. By pulling on it, they would turn the mast and keel into a sort of pry bar, making a lever of the boat and hopefully freeing it from the gravel and clay beneath.
The rabble took on a mob mentality, yelling and shouting. “Tell them to pull; tell them to pull.” Matt would yell back to them, “Shut the hell up.” I was talking to Les, the Vessel Assist guy, over the VHF, and he said that he couldn’t hear us when we were screaming. I told him that our yelling didn’t concern him—we were trying to keep the crowd in control.
With the anchors tensioned and the rabble rearing at their bits to pull on the masthead, we relented and told Les to give us a slight pull on our bow. With the slight pressure coming from the boat, we gave the crowd the go ahead for a pull on the mast. With the downward tug and the outward tug, the bow nudged outward.
We were moving. We grinded in further on the winches. Les gave us a little more power, the guys on the halyard one more tug. We slowly inched outward. I watched the tiller, hoping it wouldn’t get contorted or twisted with the dragging of the rudder.
Slowly we inched out. It felt like it was forever. We pulled and released the three anchor lines. We set them adrift. Tomorrow at low tide I could come and unbury the anchors—they weren’t going anywhere. When at last we broke free, Matt and I got a roaring applause from the gallery. I stood astern and screamed a cheer back to them. Matt managed to man the tiller and steer us deep ahead, thus avoiding the rocks beside us.
I grabbed two buoys and stern and bow lines. The county dock was a mere hundred yards ahead. For the lines I would have to resort to a 3/8” accessory line and a new halyard—my other lines were being used elsewhere. We were down to the bare bones now. It was pitch dark. The water was still rough and windy. Being pulled from a foreward starboard cleat by a powerboat into the wind is not such a simple steering job. It was quite unruly actually.
Luckily, we had completely forgotten about our kedge anchor, the big one we had set way out into the bay. All this while we had been dragging the line in the water. Matt discovered it and realized that it was still well set. It was now off the starboard side. We were constantly falling off to the port, so we used it successfully to provide a starboard pull, keeping us on line for the dock.
Les was already docked and now was pulling us in with a winch. Slowly. We crept toward the dock. As rough as it was I didn’t want to get too close. When we tossed over the bow line I was surprised how short the harnessed it in. Only when I released it a ways did I understand how bad it was. Grim was bucking like bull. But we were off the beach. This was amazing. I checked below and everything was dry and sound.
I checked my stopwatch and it read that Les had been here for exactly forty-five minutes. Not bad. Two hours of travel time plus forty-five minutes—that’s about three hours--$450. A lot better than the $1500 I had as my other option.
However, I had been warned that Les had the tendency to rip you off. I have a tendency to let people rip me off. So I was prepared.
I looked how my boat was jostling about and considered moving it to the lee side of the dock. Matt thought it would be a hassle. He understandably tired. Les agreed it would be mildly challenging but could be done—more money for him. I let it go. I was relieved myself. This was not great, but it would do. This was a dock after all; it couldn’t be too bad.
Les started running the paperwork. As I went to hand him my card I asked, “How much?”
“Seven, seventy-five.”
“What? How’s that?” I said. “$150 times three hours is $450.”
“Look, it’s an hour just to get here and an hour and a half back. He, pointing to his deckhand, is another fifty bucks an hour. You don’t think I’d come out here alone do you?”
“When I called you on the phone I asked you specific questions. I asked how much an hour? You said one-fifty an hour. That’s what you said and that’s what is fair for me to pay. That was the deal.”
Les then flipped out. “Where would you be if it weren’t for me coming to bail you out. Middle of the night and this sort of weather.” I don’t him I appreciated all the help. I am very thankful. But all the same, I expected to be treated fairly.
He started cussing and yelling, “Don’t you ever call me to help you out again”—that sort of rabble. It didn’t really bother me much. I was too worn down. He dropped the price down to five, twenty-five. That was about right. Carmel was walking down the quay just as Les was starting to simmer down. She had a quizzical expression on her face, like “is everything all right.” I smiled at her.
Les left without a word and went about sorting out the boat. Even now, tied to the dock, she was taking a beating. I doubled up my bow and stern lines, put chafing gear on them to protect them against wear. My spring lines (long lines that run fore and aft that stretch with the force of the tide or wind) had been used on an anchor and I resorted to temporarily using a halyard which doesn’t stretch nearly enough.
This was a tough trade. I was so ready to have everything over. But it wasn’t. She was still taking a licking. I couldn’t relax even yet. I made fast everything as well as I could and walked with Carmel back to the bar. I got many a pat on the back and found Matt sitting at a table totally inebriated, a beer in one hand and a Yagger shot in the other. That didn’t take him no time, I thought. We toasted our success. I ordered a Red Stripe and sat down with Matt, Kelly, and Carmel. They were much pleased by my “Les Story”. They were proud.
And then a bluegrass song came on.
This was just what I needed. I took Carmel by the arm and led her to the open floor. We twirled and twisted and swung. All my batterings and agonies drifted behind me with the waning tide. We had fun. We danced to three or four. Matt, now, in explaining all that I owed him, now listed learning to dance as a prime reinversement. “That would be my pleasure,” I said.

I made it back to Port Townsend three days later. The following day the weather calmed and I moved my boat around to the leeward (downwind) side of the dock. The sun came out and we all slept a bit. My boat had never been such a wreck—sand and mud and gravel in everything. I cleaned and cleaned. Carmel had never been on my boat before so I wanted it to look a bit more presentable the second time. The weather was warm and no wind.
That afternoon we went to the sauna and soaked, we went for a hike and watched eagles fly about. All was so calm and good that I could stay the night at Carmel’s instead of on the boat. I went and checked on it rather continually all the same.
The next day, now a Monday, I heard on the VHF that northerly winds were expected for Tuesday and the following couple of days. Excellent news! I wasn’t sure how long I was going to have to wait for them. Now I could get back to Port Townsend. There I knew the people who could help me get my boat back in shape. All day I made ready to sail.
I had hundreds and hundreds of feet of line to coil and stow, three anchors. I was supposed to have four. One, my smallest, a little lunch hook, strangely disappeared—with a length of rode attached. Oh well. The sun helped to dry everything out. Carmel came out and I turned on some music and we danced around the dock. Docks, strangely enough, are great spots to dance—the breeze and space, the soft rocking of the water, no people.
That night I took Carmel out to the nicest restaurant in town. Kelly is the head waiter there. I wanted to get dressed up. Carmel and I showered up and got snazzy. Good food and Kelly took real good care of us.
When I woke at six the wind was dead. I told Carmel to leave me and come back later. After an hour or two, after a nice hike out on Madrona Point, the wind was perfect, twelve knots out of the north. Carmel walked up just as I was preparing to shove off. She threw me the bow line as I motored away and cheered as I set my mainsail.

Finally I am getting some distance. It is frustrating to have something like this happen; it is frustrating to have to learn from so many problems at once. Certainly, it is not all my fault—but I have many, many things I could have done much, much better. Why didn’t I check the mooring line more thorough, or, at all? Why didn’t I talk to Les the first night? Why didn’t I try to row out an anchor the first night? Why didn’t I try and remove the rocks under the beam when I first discovered them? (I was told they were bedrock and weren’t moving—this was wrong.)
So many things I didn’t try. So much advise I simply excepted on faith. “Use our mooring ball. It’ll be great.” In the end, I handed much of my own responsibility over to others. I learned a lot from people like Matt. I wasn’t able to visualize what he was going for, and, in the end, worked well. But my plan may well have worked and wasn’t all that different except that it necessitated a difficult and risky row. I have taken such risks before. I wasn’t going to drown. So what if I flipped my dinghy and got wet. I go inside and get dry—it’s a risk we take. But I didn’t. I passed.
Why didn’t I move my boat to the lee side of the dock the first night? I knew it would be safer. It was obvious. Matt and Les didn’t want to. Matt was exhausted. I didn’t want to trouble him. I was lazy. I quit one step short of completion. That night, I rubbed through my chafing gear and into the core of one of my bow lines. The line wore a grove into my deck beneath the forward cleat. The stern spring line wore a grove into the wooden toe rail. The buoys scuffed through my new blue gelcoat (paint job on topsides of boat). The stress on the boat’s cleats I can’t calculate—but it was bad. It didn’t have to be such a rough night.
I have a lot to think over. I’m excited to learn some fiberglass work. Everyone tells me the damage is nothing, no big deal. But it is a bit mournful to be back in the yard again. At least now I can truly finish up my last jobs. I need to put new head gaskets on my engine. Also I sucked some gravel in the water intake—that will need attention. There are a few other tasks.
The sun remains bright and I’m slowly coming around. I bought a cheap grinder yesterday and started tearing away the delaminated fiberglass. As I write I am waiting on Larry Grobe—the local fiberglass guru to offer a little advice.
When I tell the story I laugh about it and try to smile. Jim the last owner of the boat, commented on how much I have been thrown so fast in my sailing life. Good for learning, hard on the stamina. But the boat made it through. I made it through. If I ever want to park on a beach I now know how. And I know just how tough my boat really is. She is a tank. If I see you any time, I may show you the short video footage I shot. Try and imagine—a camera can never show—just the beating she was taking. Imagine the sound of those waves beating against her hull, pounding her against those two rocks. Imagine the sound of it. Imagine my heart seeing it.

21 April, 2005

Back in Port Townsend
Back on the hard.
I have a big (not really) gaping (sort of) injury in the side of my boat.
It hurts me.
It's ugly. Where did that come from?

Can you tell I am honery and down.
I am.
I put my boat on a beach. I trusted things that shouldn't have been trusted.
Maybe i was only an instument of difficult fortune.

It was hard.
We made it through. But now I am back where I started. I have work to do and need help doing it.
And now I am kicked off the computer

17 April, 2005

The weather has cleared
The sun has come and the wind has calmed
I moved the boat to the leeward side of the dock
I have time to spend with Carmel until the wind changes
When the wind shifts to the north I will sail to Port Townsend,
pull the boat out of the water
and start the repairs.

But she's afloat.
Life is good.

16 April, 2005

From the beach
I am now tied to an exposed and roudy county dock.
It is two am.
What a freaken day.

15 April, 2005

My boat is currently on the beach.
Say a prayer for me.

11 April, 2005

The Practical

The reading and research I've been doing isn't naval at all, but nutritional. I started by adjusting to a raw food / live food / sun food diet. Primarily, not entirely.
I learned how little I knew about health and diet. So now I have turned to reading tomes like “Healing with Whole Foods” and “Conscious Eating”
The stuff is really moving. There is so much I can do to improve my health.

Here’s what is happening, in brief:
-all organic
-mostly vegetarian
-eat local when possible
-don’t stuff myself, I eat with chopsticks
-chew more thoroughly
-love my food and the cooking , preparing process
-eat for my type, Ayurvedic and blood type, and heating versus cooling foods

-fast regularly
-breathe more deeply
-sauna and sweat (exercise?) regularly

What this all means is that I eat fruit and smoothies / lassies for breakfast, a salad for lunch, graze on nuts and gorp during the day, and cook something for dinner like stir-fry, steamed veggies, thai peanut curry, spaghetti, ect – whatever.

I need to fast more regularly and sauna when possible. I already exercise, but stretching breathing and chewing more slowly need work.

Okay, enough. But it is fun to learn about your body; it’s stuff I can use the rest of my life, which now, hopefully, will be longer, fuller, and happier. Yea.
Chaos of the Mind -
reactions to a love story

This is such an exotic feeling for me.
I feel torn, curious, anxious—the suspense is almost more than I can bare.
What does she feel? What does she feel?

It seems so unfair. Here I am. My heart is here to read. I have no secrets or veils. Carmel could, and probably will, read this.
Why does she get to know my feelings while I have to remain in quandary? Life.

There is a sort of sick pleasure, like a suspense thriller. If, that is, we progress and learn and grow.
If it all fails it will utterly suck.
I guess my fear is that she, by knowing my heart, will somehow use it to game me, to make an orchestrated event out of our relationship instead of letting happen what will happen, letting it flow, having fun with it.

I don’t know.
Perhaps I am simply a child and need reassurance. But so much hasn’t been said and hasn’t been done.
Of course, we’ve only spent a few days together.
But why do I feel like we are so far beyond that?
Is this the cause of my doubts and concerns. Something is off, strange, unsettled. I feel like I am too open, too vulnerable, not really myself. I have moved too far forward, a place she hasn’t moved to yet.
Is it so?

Is there something unattractive about such brutal honesty? That is how I feel. My honesty is not masculine, not machismo. I could put up a better front, but that isn’t me.
Well, it is most of the time—I’m not normally so gushy and blubbery.
I’m just a damned romantic. I love intimacy. I fall easily.

Is she wise to protect herself? Am I dangerous this way?
But I still love all those I have loved. I have been true and honest and sincere.

Thinking about this writing I’m putting down, I have to laugh at the shift in my life.
I used to write about sails and plans and books.
Now I am writing about my emotional confusion, delightful and torturous though it is.

Is this boring to read?
I guess that isn’t my problem: “I don’t choose the news, I just print it.” Indeed. But these are my two worlds. I hope I bring them together. I hope I don’t fall flat.
I am so shy to sound optimistic due to the threat of jinxing myself.
Remember my partner I had lined up? I didn’t even name who it was for fear of jinxing it—and it still feel through.
Everything falls through it seems.
Life here, for me, is often all about endurance. What can I bare? You work on something, then it breaks. Then you fix it, but it’s wrong, so you have to do it over. My plans are the same way. From one to the next. I can never get to attached.
Is this the same?
Is this only another step toward a goal, another step that might crack and crumble, another failed attempt that only moves the time and my experience.
What am I learning?

I can’t let go of this one I don’t think. I don’t want to.
You don’t love your dinghy, but we love people.
Carmel is spectacular. She is special and I know it.

But does she feel it? I am petrified by the word “friend” which I heard her use today. Can I really be this insecure?? Amazing how love changes you, brings out your fears and doubts.
Am I not so strong as I think myself, or does it just sound particularly bad on the written page?
Who am I to her?
Am I comfort, a friend, comic relief, a crutch, a distraction—or is it more?
Does she want what I want?

It really isn’t fair that Carmel can read this. What will she think?? I am not going to stop writing for the sake of non-disclosure.
I’m not even sure what I am disclosing. Chaos of the mind.

So Carmel, what are you gonna do with it??
Get to know me, love me and come to the Pacific. Says I.
The Sproutings of a Sappy Love Story.

Love stories are certainly not my genre, but what am I to do? Relationships happen; we meet people, some of whom we turn to feel strongly for. This is a story of how I came to meet, know, and adore a girl named Carmel.

I think it was a month ago today, now the 7th of April, a couple of friends and I had sailed for Orcas Island in the San Juans fifteen miles north of Port Townsend. We reached the island in the afternoon, inflated the dinghy and went ashore to find Dustin a toothbrush and some food for supper. By circuitous ways we found ourselves in Callalo’s Restaurant for dinner with the promise of an open-mic night at eight pm. We ate and slowly slouched into our chairs as the two days of sailing began to takes its toll on us. Dustin fell asleep as the first diva started to play on her guitar.
The closer we were to leaving the more the bar filled with ladies, ladies of all ages. It was dazzling in relation to the size of the island. This was a small island after all. I remember a blond woman who got up to sing—I didn’t remember her name at the time—but her name was Carmel. She sang Joni Mitchell in ocapelo, sang a Bob Marley song as she strummed the guitar.
I am not a good sedentary listener of live music. Here I was on this N.W. island, good music playing, people all over—I really wanted to dance. The music wasn’t ideal—I like bluegrass—and there wasn’t much of a dance floor to speak of. But all this was about to change. The next group to take the stage was a fiddle player and a guy with a “strung washtub,” CCR style. They were boot-stompers. People in the back started moving about. I couldn’t stand it. A girl was sitting with us, and she refused to dance with me. I tried her a couple of times, no going.
There was a problem: there really wasn’t any place to dance. I went to the restroom. As I came back, I saw Dustin get up and ask some people, “Hey, can we move this table so people can dance?” The stranger takes charge! Everybody was like, “No problem, man, Go for it.”
Ah, my time has come, I thought. I looked around to my right. There I saw a blond lady with shining eyes swaying as if she liked to dance. I asked her. She jumped at the chance without a thought. (Asking someone to dance still as the ability to make me a bit nervous.)
We were the first to take to the floor, and, as it would be, the only ones to take the floor. We had all the space in the world; we had good music—and Carmel was certainly no laggard. She followed easily. What she didn’t catch the first time, she caught the second. She danced with such pleasure, relaxed not too serious or nervous, not trying to hard to do it right. No, she smiled and moved around the floor, kicking her feet up, laughing, smiling at me as we went. It was a raucous good time.
People cheered and clapped. The guys played one more for us. I realized I was about to fall on the floor with exhaustion. I needed water! I was wearing my heavy wool pants and tall rubber fishing boots. Sweet dripped from my temples. Carmel was flushed too, but with a joyous smile under her eyes. I told her we’d slow the next one down a bit. That would be fine, she said.

I actually did fall to the ground (on my knees) after our last dance. My god, I love to dance to bluegrass. I was bushed. Carmel danced it so well even though she said she hadn’t danced that way before. People came up to me and smiled and shook my hand. The open-mic was over. Time to head home to the boat. That’s all I was really thinking about. My body was through for the day. Then this guy named Kelly came up to me and introduced himself. He thought our dancing was terrific. (Clearly has seen much bluegrass dancing!) He asked me where I was from, yadda, yadda. Then he said that he was a good friend of Carmel’s, who walked up just then, and they were going to go to Kelly’s for a drink—just the two of them—and asked if I’d like to join them.
Tired as I was, I was able to note that Kelly was gay and appeared to be trying to set me up with Carmel. But I couldn’t see how it would work. I was with two other guys and had to make it back to my boat. (My dinghy was parked only a few houses away from Kelly’s.) I told them I wasn’t sure of whether I would make it—maybe. That was the best I could manage. I said thanks for the dance and goodbye.
In the meantime, Dustin had been talking to a girl named Becca and she was going to give us a ride back to the dinghy. As we hopped in the car she mentioned that she had a couch, and if anyone wanted a spot they could have it. My other mate, Kenny, jumped on that. As we drove toward the dinghy, we stopped to talk to a friend of Becca’s who decided to come over for a drink.
Now, at last, I started to formulate a plan: ”Dustin, you all go. Just stay at Becca’s. I’ll pick you up in the morning.” Two guys, two girls—seemed a great place for us to part. They complained, “come on, come on,” but I was resolute. When they sped off I walked up the road to Kelly’s house.
But of course, I didn’t tell Carmel I’d actually show up—so she didn’t either. She had gone home because she had to wake up and landscape in the morning. Kelly got out a whopping plate of leftover pot roast for me and some of Carmel’s wine. I ate large—and I wasn’t even particularly hungry.
Kelly got Carmel on the phone for me. Kelly tried to rouse her from her bed but wasn’t successful. I just wanted to talk: who was this girl? I could feel that she was interested in me, saw something in me. This, frankly, is rare. What is more, I felt the same way. I’m not sure why. She was attractive, a great dancer, but even then, all I could clearly remember of her were her eyes. Her eyes were deep and wonderful; they suggested many lifetimes of experiences; they were mysterious and childlike for all else. That was how I knew. It was also her manner, the way she carried herself so lightly; her feet barely touched the ground. I could tell she would be more comfortable barefooted than shoed. Light seemed to hover about like a soft wind through her hair.
Remember, I was in a bit of a haze—don’t mind my honey-soaked words.
Now, actually talking for the first time, the seed was set. What would happen? What could happen?? I wrote down her email and phone number. She said some kind words before I hung up, and I did so with a great grin and a sign. I spent an hour or two talking gay politics, culture, and history with Kelly before heading back to my dinghy.

Like mangy dogs Dustin and Kenny dragged themselves back aboard about eight the next morning. Kenny was in far superior shape, having slipped off to sleep early. Dustin wasn’t nearly as fortunate. With great pleasure we mocked him for his shameless debauchery and drunkenness. A day and a half later we were back in Port Townsend.
Dustin and Kenny went their ways and I went back to work. But now I had a little thought: what about this girl I met?? Can this work out to be something meaningful? Can this be real, to sprout from such a fleeting meeting?
I think it was the very first email I sent to her that I laid it all on thick and heavy. If I was going to start, I’d start all out. I asked her if she was intuitive and compulsive—could she trust a glance and a dance to lead her into a relationship with a man, and, what’s more, with a man who is leaving shortly. (I was still of my old plan to sail to the S. Pacific in a few weeks.) Could I coax this girl to go…with a stranger? It was a long shot, but by my own philosophy—this was precisely why it would work. The regular paths don’t often pan out for me, but the improbable—it works just when you most need it to.
So I laid it on, gave her my plan, and told her I wanted to get to know her. In the end, I would talk to her on the phone before she would receive this email—so I got to do it all over again vocally. With this first phone call, small but poignant little “things” started to happen. I would say coincidences, but that would be to mis-speak. Coincidence implies luck or accident—but that is to underestimate the universe. She had already been planning a trip to Hawaii (my original plan) and Kelly had made her promise to come to Baja with him over the winter (my current plan). She had spent time in Kauai and longed to be back there. You look at her and you know she belongs in the islands, her skin, her nature—it all belies it. I know this now having spent more time with her, a second trip to Orcas.
The first obstacle was finances. She wasn’t ready; she had some debts that must be paid before any sort of adventure could be made. It was both amazing and somewhat eerie to be talking this way—about the future and all—with someone known only through a dance. It was also extremely exciting, but I tried to remain somber and realistic about our chances. 9 out of 10 opportunities never pan out for me.
But the more we talked, the more email I read and wrote, the more I realized that this could be special. Carmel has a vitality that I need. I need positivity, love, smiles, and confidence. She often rights in CAPS and with lots !!!!!!!!—her pleasure and joy seems to be larger than regular diction and punctuation will allow her.

It was time to get back to the islands. I was thinking about her a lot. We only talked from time to time, but I learned of her family and history, but the phone and letters were insufficient. All I could still see were her eyes. But as it turned out, getting back would be no easy feat. The weather had turned. I tried once and was pushed back to Port Townsend. The weather was such that a friend reckoned the skiing, at least, should be great. Winter had finally begun! So last Thursday a friend stopped by and asked if I wanted to go up to Mt Baker for a day of skiing. I was stoked. Skiing, of course!
Mt Baker is in northern Washington. We took a ferry to the mainland, drove into Bellingham for the night and skied the next day. On the way home, I realized that a town we passed on the way, Anacortes, had a ferry to Orcas. I could be in Orcas that very night. If the weather wouldn’t let me sail—why not catch a ferry in the mean time??
I told the guys my plan and to drop me in Anacortes. When I got there I called Carmel to clear my plan with her. She sounded stoked so I hopped the ferry and waved to my boys. Tired as I was, my smile denoted the importance of the time. What would come?

A few hours later as I walked off the ferry I could see Carmel’s hair blowing in the wind. It was dark, about eleven at night. We hugged and smiled and went to her car. I loved it immediately. It was an ’83 Civic. It’s a total hoopdie like my old dancer (except it gets something like 50 miles to the gallon). No rear view mirror, no tail lights, no tabs, no insurance—only on a small island where you know all the cops could you dream of such madness. It was my sort of car.
Her house too, was as I would have it. Tiny, yurt-like. It was circular. One bed, no chairs, no couch, a small bathroom, a shrine-like table, a sink, fridge, and stove all stuck together, a drum and a guitar, all secluded up on a hill with firs and cherry trees. It was perfect.
She played a few songs on the guitar. She was nervous. I tried to make jokes to lighten the weight of the situation. Here I was. I was staying. How to progress? We talked and drank tea, sort of stared at each other. Carmel had to work the next morning, Saturday, then had the next day free. I honestly tried to let her sleep, but we yapped on and cuddled until it was late.
It was real.

The little “coincidences” that revealed themselves were astounding. I can’t ever remember so many in so short a time. Here’s a brief list:
We talked about poetry. The first poet she asked me about was Robert Service. Grandma recited “The Cremation of Sam McGee” to Mom, and Mom to me. It is the only poem I have memorized—and was written by the first poet she named, Robert Service.
We talked about books. The first she mentioned was The Alchemist, her favorite book. Of course, it’s mine (one of several) as well. Anytime someone mentions that book, I always counter by asking about Siddhartha, they being so similar and so great. She didn’t know it right off, but it sounded familiar to her. As it was, the book was in her back seat—a friend had just given it to her. She had forgotten.
We went into a sports store to buy a present for a friend’s birthday. She said, “I was thinking about buying a headlamp for him,” and shows me a lamp. That exact lamp, among many others on the rack, was presently in my backpack in her house. I smiled and said that it was a very good lamp. Walking straight from the lamp, she walked to some gloves and said that she liked these as well. This was more than I could bare. Among all the many gloves there, she had, again, picked the same gloves that I had in my pack. Amazing! And yes they were great gloves. But, I said, I knew of some a bit better. They were cheaper and more rugged, only five bucks. She knew them. They were made by Atlas and she also had a pair.
(Really—the best gloves ever.)
Making a toast with wine, simultaneously, we both say, “Salud”—not “Cheers.”
Walking up to a couple of horses at pasture, we both “nayed” simultanioulsy and in the same manner. It was eerie.
Sushi—unagi is our favorite kind.
Diet—she is only the third person I have ever met to try the same raw food diet that I am using.
And most poetically, there is a picture drawn by her grandmother. It is of a sailboat in a small harbor at sunset. When Carmel thought of it, she noticed that it looked identical to the harbor where I first anchored when I came to Orcas. (Strangely, she has another separe picture that looks identical as well.)

I could go further down that road, but what is the point? The point is made: music as well as all of these small little events and actualities gave us a stirring sense of predestination—that somehow this was “meant-to-be”. It is a haunting sensation to feel that when the actual experience of the person you care about is so limited.
We went to a birthday party of a friend. We ate and played drums. I hadn’t drummed in so long; it was a real joy. Everyone was amazing and friendly. I couldn’t have felt more comfortable.
Sunday, we woke and went to a sauna / hot tub. It was in an old rustic resort, not yet bereft of its original character and charm. Clothes were optional and not preferred. The hot tubs offered a view over Doe Bay that could rival, almost, some of Idaho’s hotsprings.
One thing I love about Carmel is that she hums and sings as she goes. Music seems to be always with her. One night she played guitar as I read Walt Whitman poems aloud. Sometimes she read me her poetry. She’s always singing.

How much should I share?
What is important is that what we dreamed had began to manifest. It is real! We are more alike than I could have hoped, but in more unexpected ways.
I stayed about four days. I met lots of the island and we drove around to little niches here and there. We talked a lot. On the whole, we took things very slowly. This seemed almost awkward to me considering the emotional bridge which I felt had already been built. Now that I’m not leaving the region for a few more months (August / September) we have time, time to learn and figure each other out. I think we are in the same place. I hope we are. I feel we are. I want us to be.

I got home last night. One ferry from Orcas to Anacortes, a bus, then a great hitch with a fellow writer/teacher all the way to Keystone (Port Townsend) Ferry which took me home. I slept hard last night and today the rain is falling just as hard. I’m excited and surprised. I keep a measure of doubt and uncertainty—but I am overwhelmed and curious. I want more, but how do I move forward?
I now have two lives which need reconciliation. I didn’t think about sailing when I was with Carmel—I was enmeshed in the adventure of finding a new lover. How can I focus on my path to becoming a real sailor and still pursue a relationship in Orcas?
Soon I am leaving Port Townsend. My boat is about ready. My engine needs help—that is the one catch. But I am free to sail up to Bellingham and ski again, to Victoria and bike the island and visit Baloo. The season is nearly here to travel farther north—or I can stay in Orcas with Carmel. How do I balance? How do I do it all?
Carmel is now important to me. Sacrifices are necessary. I want to see what will come. I am excited. So much is happening, but I can’t lose my way. I need her help.

This is pretty much where I stand in things: blessedly confused! If only spring would drive away some of the rain and offer fair sailing winds. If only Carmel would fall in love with me, and I with her. What is grander than having love in your life? That would be the ideal. From there anything would be possible, nothing unlikely or unattainable. She’ll teach me to surf and I’ll teach her to sail.

02 April, 2005

Gains and losses

The weather has altered but a hair.
It’s blowing and howling, chasing itself in circles. All my desire and attempts to get out and back north to Orcas Island have been thwarted.

I’ve read a good deal, finished up my odds and ends. All that remains is to epoxy two pins for my autopilot mount to be finished.
And then two things happened simultaniously:

My friend Dawn walked up and told me she was house sitting for some older folk. Having lived on boats herself, she knows how nice it is to get off, to cook in a real kitchen, take a long shower, sleep in a fluffy bed, even watch tv.
So she asked me to come and stay a night.

For a moment I was torn. I was about to finish that epoxy job. I was concidering cursing Posiden like Odysseus and taking to the water the next morning and going, going, going until I arrived at Orcas, even if I had to sail south around the globe, and hence arriving from the north. If I finished the job I could leave early.

Then Heath walked up. I figured he was just passing by or something. As we started talking he said that he and Ty were heading to Mt Baker to go skiing tomorrow and if I wanted to go up with them.
The idea grew slowly from a kernel at first, then erupted like a split atom. SKIING!! Damn right.

The weather, horrendous for sailing, would be dumping snow at altitude. Winter had arrived at last. (This year went from fall straight to spring, and now to winter.)
Of course I’d go. Both.
Tonight I’d go with Dawn, cook a good meal, enjoy some great conversation. Tomorrow I’d finish up and pack my skis.

And so it was.
Thursday night we arrived in Bellingham. The snow was falling, has been falling, still is falling at Baker.
It was heavy, but incredible.
In the morning was some of the worst I’ve ever skiied in my life—heavy powder is my worst, plus we had no visibility—everything was white without contrast. Terrible for me. In the afternoon though, after following and imitating a far superior skier, I had a great breakthrough.
At last I started linking some steep choppy-snow alpine turns, using good pole plants. I’ve never really done it well in steep snow or choppy powder.
But I started getting it.
I skiied so much better in the afternoon—really had a good time, screamed out with pleasure.
It was still dumping when we called it a day.

This is where a bit of tragedy and destiny intervened.
I don’t like to lock things up. I am very trusting. At Snowbowl in Montana, everyone leaves all their things in cubbyholes, unlocked. This is the way it is.
I figured I’d do the same at Baker.

When I came back, my coat was gone. It was an old sacred coat. It was covered with epoxy and cauking stains. It is stitched; the logos are inked out; the zipper has been sowed—It is my coat. It ain’t worth much to anyone else.
All the same, someone else decided they wanted it. I hope they need it.
The coat was old, and I wore it every single day. It will be missed and I am not sure how to fill its spot in my life.
Moving on.

On the way back to the Keystone ferry, the ferry that would take us south to Port Townsend, I could look out west and see Orcas Island in the distance.
If the boys dropped me off in Anacortes, there I could catch a ferry to Orcas. Later, to get back to P.T. I could catch a bus or thumb south to the Keystone Ferry and be home. No big deal.
I could go to Orcas. Why not? The weather was still bad. I couldn’t sail. Work was slow. Why not go now?

Well, I did.
Now I sit in the Orcas Island Library, a beautiful new-looking library. It’s Saturday and there are fifteen locals outside weeding and cleaning the Library park gardens. It is a wonderful place here.
Carmel told me that her father had read in the Tarot that I wouldn’t be back here for months—no wonder it was so hard to get here. I had to fight against the currents (and winds) of the universe to arrive.
But it meant a lot. Now I am here.
What will it bring??

It is amazing, and the experience is like a leaf in the tide: it all feels inevitable, like it couldn’t be otherwise. Synchronicity is everywhere now, beautiful little treats of fate.
I am going slow, not wanting to miss the fine details of moments that, in the end, become touchtones. The beginnings are so fragile, yet so vital and......what word suits??
Think of your own beginnings. Aren’t theys special in so many ways? Wouldn’t you love to replay them, relive them slowly.
The learning of another’s soul, the opening of their story, their life, family, background—the stories that fill in the secrets of her eyes, the mysteries of her laugh, all slowly become integrated in such a larger experince.
Wow, what times as these.