20 February, 2007

Doug's Boatyard

Gotten some good work done. Finished yesterday in the V-berth (forepeak, front of the boat). It looks good to my standards. I worked fast. So much painting to do. And so much more. I have loads I want to get done and I’m real excited about how the boat will come out looking and behaving at the other end. She’s gonna be dry, she’s gonna be clean, and she’s gonna be ventilated. God help me stay strong and motivated and see my chores through. I need a month or two of motivativation.

The running has been good too. After work, regardless of how tired I am I get out and stretch my legs. The run goes along the coast line, lots of ups and downs, but with great views of the Bay of Islands—always boats coming and going under sail.

Just read a terrific boat. John Wray’s South Pacific Vagabonds. It is supposedly rare, but my god what a story. I want to find a copy ( I was lent one) and send it home to some mates and have it passed around. (I am getting into the swing of NZ dialect.) J Wray built a boat in his parent’s front lawn when he was 20 years old. He had just been fired and only had 8 pounds, 10 shillings—this was in 1931. And he built a tough wood boat without a clue beforehand, no experience at all—only a dream. And he did it. Then his cruising was extraordinary. So many storms. But the S Pacific in the ‘30’s must have been simply incredible. This book is every bit of Slocum’s Around the World Alone or Cpt Voss’s Venturesome Voyages of Cpt Voss, which are two of my favorites.

A fast read to be sure.

Also it is a good lesson to me in my priorities. I can’t elaborate right now. I just finished it last night. But he has a lot to say about dreaming, about modernity—some of which is not so relevant to me—more about the power of dreaming and working hard, very hard at something and how the world can conspire in your favor. 8 Pounds! 8 Pounds! Incredible.


I’m back. When I was running this afternoon I felt it. My blood was hot and mind was rolling over. I could feel the love of life again, the excitement of possibilities and directions. I was enthused, not distracted or overwhelmed.

So, I’m on my way. Tomorrow (Thursday) I’m hauling Araby onto the hard. I have so, so, so much work to do. I hadn’t realized. So my present course is now clear: at least a month in the boat yard. At least. The list is long, very. I was talking to a buddy about rerigging Araby with an inner forestay (extra strength) and then I went and found three broken strands on one of my lower shrouds. Time to rerig the entire boat. Good timing really. This is a good spot to do it.

The time consuming job is the painting. I need to repaint the entire boat, inside and out. I am so excited to see her all sparkly and clear. I hate seeing all this grim on her bottom and rust spots around here and there.

But the list is long and I must prioritize what must be done in the yard ($$$), what can wait, and what can I afford, like a new engine. What I am probably going to do is find or fabricate an outboard bracket so I can hang my Yamaha off the side of the boat. It may not work great, but it is worth a try. Much simpler and cheaper and it goes with my ethic.

By the time the boat is looking good again I think I’ll be ready to sail her, south I hope, Christchurch or Akaroa.

11 February, 2007

Heavy on the Mind



I am really struggling to make the decisions that are just ahead of me in the coming days.  Granted, I know the conditions for problem solving could hardly have been worse: drinking, S.C. vacation, constant socializing, TV, junk food, minimal sleep, minimal exercise—these are all the things that typically lead to my demise and immanent death.

So it is high time to get back on the right foot.  I am home.  I am alone.  I went for a run yesterday eve, slept late and hard.  Already things are becoming clearer.  But, when the time is right, what I need is to follow my emergency plan to health and rejuvenation, which follows:

a)     solitude

b)     fast 4 – 5 days

c)     resume diet with lots of fruit

d)     exercise daily

e)     dream and plan


This works for me.  Not only do I cleanse my body, but I regain my direction.  It feels like rebirth, starting over.  Everything is fresh and alive and I have the energy to pursuit what lies before me.  (And if you'd seen the amount of meat I've eaten in the last three months you would understand the need to cleanse thy body.)





What I can't seem to decide upon is my immediate direction from here.  I am not at all certain, as I was, that I should remain here for the year.  I don't know where that confidence has gone or why.  I am now considering loads of other choices:  sailing back north to see Herb and Brian and maybe Anne.  Maybe heading south to Tasmania and around Australia and around the Cape of Good Hope as quickly as possible to complete a circumnavigation in two years and change.


All I feel for sure is that my first obligation is to my ship.  She needs to be hauled out and cleaned.  She needs painting from end to end, inside and out.  I suppose this is as good a place as any to do it, but I'd consider heading down to Wellington as well.  The time is now.  Clean the boat, look at engine repair/replacement, find her a home if I chose to head back to Akaroa or Wanaka.

The logistics of trying to maintain a boat and live onshore or difficult for me to manage.  Many do it, but they spend much more than I am now willing to.



I have been battling another bout of severe loneliness.  (This is another issue that is far worse for me when I go back to SC.  I am more comfortable here.)  It seems to get worse with age.  If feels somehow terminal since I haven't met anyone new in such a long time. 

It frustrates me to waste so much thought and energy and time when I have such important things that currently need my attention.,   I sit and ask, "why, why, why"—there is no answer, I know there isn't an answer (or do I?), but I ask again and again.  I want to get past it—and I will—I always do.  But since Martina left, and with her all hope of a future, I have been rather despondant.

It is very empty, not having someone to place your hopes upon.  Come to think of it—I think I've always had a woman for whom I shared some sort of infatuation:  Meagan Tailor when I was little, Elise Caskey in highschool, Genny for ages, then Wendy and most recently Martina.

But these things change with age, even if the sentiment remains just the same.  As you age the meaning of the relationship grows.  Now, when I consider a relationship, it is with the knowledge, and hope, that I may die with this person—and what is more—if I don't, I may die alone.

Interestingly, I am not afraid of being alone or dying alone.  I have been scolded in the past for accepting or even desiring these things.  It is that I am unsure of the future that is ahead of me.  I don't know what is best.  And it is this confusion that make the loneliness and isolation so hard to bare.

If I were sure I wanted a life alone, or needed solitude to do what I wish, then it would be far easier to brush away longings of a shared bed and shared experience.  But I don't know.

I can't imagine how I can do some of the things I dream of, cruising Chile or Antarctica without a partner.  How?  Crew?—I suppose, but it isn't the same.


And what am I to do about it?  Nothing.  There is nothing to do.  I must live as I live, do what I do and if I meet someone who shares my dreams and my passion, then, perhaps, hurray for me!  But if I don't I am still obligated to my life and my direction. 

When I left Port Townsend I expected to do this thing alone.  I knew it would be hard.  But then I found such community and I never felt alone.  It was easy.  But now that struggle is upon me and it is different than I imagined it.  It is much more mental; it is a thought issue: loneliness is distracting.



But I expect all this to lighten up soon.  I will serve Araby and thereby raise my own esteem.  A path will come and once again I will revel in my freedom.  After all, it has afforded me such wonderful opportunities.  It has been my life.  It is only in weakness that I query after the future and demand answers.

Actually, only now does it come to mind the last time this happened: it was just after I put Araby on the rocks on Orcas Island.  And the situation was so much the same.  I had kept a bad diet; I wasn't exercising—I wasn't healthy at all.  And I was ridiculously lonely.

And it was that summer I studied nutrition and I fasted and I got well overnight and was back in the game.

Ha ha.  I remember.  It was so similar.


And also: February has historically been my worst month of the year.  This can't help.





"Train. . . train. . . take me on out of this town"

I loved Wellington.  I could live there for a bit probably.  From the dock everything was at my fingertips—there were no less than three climbing walls within a third of a mile!  That was a first.  The free museum I've mentioned, but the food—never before have I seen such myriad Indian and Chinese joints.  There was nearly nowhere else to eat.


In the end I finished the boatwork which was assigned to me.  Since it was largely cleaning, I did it repeatedly so that it would remain clean until the owner returned.  There is a train that runs from Wellington to Auckland and though no one had taken it, all agreed that it was "supposedly" excellent, traveling through areas of NZ that roads didn't.  Being a twelve hour trip, it would be more cozy than a bus, or a hitch.  Sounded good to me.

A buddy, the ship's accountant, let me use his cell to make the call.  I was disappointed to hear that the fare would be $100, more than the $40 I was expecting.  But the accountant overhead, asked what the price was, and declared that Andiamo would cover the cost, only fair, he said.  With that, I booked my ticket, very pleased.  I thought I must have done good work on the boat to deserve such a fine bonus.


Around midnight, just after passing through an intersection on the way to were I would stay that night, we heard a screeching noise and looked back to see a car sliding through the red light.  If we had been about eight seconds slower we would have been t-boned.


In the morning I made the train and snoozed for the first few hours.  It would be a long ride and the area north of Wellington is my least favorite bit of NZ.  Eventually I went to the rear where there are some couch-seats and a rear window.  It is sort-of a lounge area for whomever cares to use it.  As it happened, no one ever showed up to kick me out.  Myself and a car racer and a few other folks talked for hours back there.  We crossed 352 bridges, or viaducts as they were called by the conductor.  Some were rather magnificent and the trip was very nice indeed.  Very relaxing.


Once in Auckland I found my way to Westhaven Marina where Michie and Toby have been keeping their boat Ahodori.  With a little help I found them and ate a fine steak and drank some wine and rum.  (Michie's cooking is not to be easily forgotten.)  Catching up was a great time; I haven't seen them since Tonga, maybe late October.  Seems like ages ago.

The next morning, Saturday, we hopped in their van and drove up to Whangerei to visit some other friends and see if they could acquire a cheaper berth there. After some prolonged coffee drinking I left them for the hitch up to Opua and home.  I managed it in two rides, with one long detour, a pretty one at that.


I was incredibly lucky to find my dinghy still floating (barely) still with the air pump inside.  (I was foolish to leave the pump in the dinghy where it could easily have been stolen when I could have locked it in the car.)  Neglegence.  I was fortunate.  Always plan as if you are leaving forever.  I thought I would be gone five days, and only now, after 2+ weeks, am I returning, in which time there have been monsoon-like rains and flooding.  (That should be a personal record for clauses in one sentence.)


The boat was dry and as I left it.  I cooked a big pasta dinner and went to sleep.




10 February, 2007


Back at last.  The boat is well and my dinghy was not fully sunk or deflated on my arrival.  I have laid in bed all this Sunday in celebration and recovery.
More to tell about trains, friends found, and mental / spiritual quandry.

03 February, 2007


New Zealand hospitality rolls on.  In fact it is indomitable, like a freighttrain.  They say, "Another rum?"  I say, "no, a water will do me fine."  They nod.  A couple minutes later they show up with a water and yet another rum.  Last night I was actually dragged away from the bar for attempting to by a round for me table for a change.
I'm still living on Andiamo in the harbor of Wellington, still eating the food in the fridge.  As to the work I am supposed to be doing, well. . . I needed a day to find a watch ($3.50) and do some writing.  The next day was rainy and a friend, Stephen, came over and stole me to the museum for the afternoon.  The next day I worked but then raced a small catamaran called St. Laurence.
I didn't know it but St. Laurence is the fasted boat in all of Wellington, of any size.  Thing goes 25 knots. . . and it's only 28 feet long!  Off the hook.  And guess who I sailed it with?. . . . Ken and Barbie!!  And they 'used' to be a couple (for 8 years--they are both 27).  Today I raced the same boat with the owner and Ken.  Both races, yesterday and today, we won, won big, won by ten to twenty minutes.  We flew.  I've never done anything like it.  We hit 16.9 knots, the fastest I've ever been under sail.
My only plans for leaving involve sailing another very fast race boat for here back up to Auckland after the BIG race this coming weekend.  I will find it hard to leave before that.  There is so much to do here and I am being shown such a good time.  There is a world rugby competition going on today and yesterday and everyone gets dressed up like Halloween--it is one of the wildest parties I've ever seen.  I spent hours walking around people watching last night.  Wellington is a riot.
All is well.