30 April, 2007

Araby on the water, with new red bottom paint and white ratlines

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still here

Still here.


Still in Opua.  The weather has been a bit queer.  No wind, north wind, rain, rain, rain.

At least I’ve been learning loads.  I’ve found mentors.  I’ve been reading all about steel hull construction and gaff rig design.   Ironbark showed up and then Zebbeddi (sp.), a Badger, a very simple junk rig. Nice boat. Another Wylo called Ariel came in as well—that makes three Wylos.  We had a good party.


It has been peaceful and exciting, once I got accustomed to the fact that I CANT LEAVE!


I am supposed to be in Fiji meeting my friend Anne.  I was rushing about trying to make it happen.  It was useless.  Can’t fight the weather.  At least I am ready and provisioned.  I had to completely rebuild the top of my outboard, a hassle.  But I think that is through.


So, hopefully Thursday morning is looking good to leave.  Only eight days late!  Not so bad.  But I haven’t left yet!

22 April, 2007

risks of getting involved


The variety of responses to my request for help with Dhundup.  I received everything from rapt praise to red flags, surprise that I should raise money in such a fashion, and vague comparisons to outright scams.

I don’t know what to think.  I am a believer; I trust in people, which makes me gullible and liable to being taken advantage of.  I am subjecting all of my friends to my own vulnerabilities in this affair.

I am not in Nepal.  I haven’t seen Dhundup in years.  Anything is possible.  It could be a scam.  But I know my friend.  I remember him well and I personally can’t fathom it.  It is not in his character, in his life.  He could be pressured by others, perhaps.  I don’t know.

But the cost of not helping could be higher.  What if we can do something, we westerners with so much fluff and comfort.  We have doctors and clinics for each sort of discomfort, companies spend billion on the latest pills; we pay thousands for insurance.

What has he got?  A little Ayuvedic clinic (which can be more interested in prevention than cures).


Is money so precious to us that we are too afraid to risk it for the sake of another’s health and wholeness?

Red flags?  Sure, hell ya.  I don’t have a clue how I’m going to get money from here to there safely, get it somewhere trustworthy.  There aren’t any easy solutions.  I am leaving in two days to sail 1200 miles north to Fiji.  What can I do there?  I don’t even have internet on my boat.  I have no phone.  The logistics are not favorable.


But haven’t we dealt with worse?  With a little thought and cunning we shall persevere.  And not without risk.

And if we shall fail, we may never know.  Ha.  At least there is a comic silver lining.



Thank you for all responses.  This is by far the most controversial thing I can remember putting out.  Any response is preferable to the absence of one, leaving me nothing to learn by.

I mean well, but that isn’t necessarily enough to do the right thing.  I must be aware.




18 April, 2007

A friend in Need

A friend in Need.


When I was teaching in Nepal, my best student’s name was Dhundup.  He is a Tibetan, about 20 years old.  His English was pretty good and we talked often about his past and how he left his family when he was about 10 and crossed the Himalaya south into Nepal and joined the monastery on the outskirts of Kathmandu.  Because he was a refugee, he has no passport and cannot visit his family and the border guards won’t let them within three-hundred yards of Tibet.  His only contact is writing letters.


Mind you, this is years ago.  My memory is never exact about such things, but I remember feeling the strain of being so isolated from your family and having so few resources to remedy the situation.


Dhundup was sort of my liaison between the other monks, especially the little guys whom I cared so much for and whom spoke no English at all.  He also talked about aspirations of one day leaving the monastery and traveling abroad.

It is a bit of a misconception that all monks are spiritual people.  Often monasteries are sort of religious boarding schools; many of the young monks didn’t choose to be there and have little spiritual ambitions.

Dhundup is somewhere between.  He is a good student and a good Buddhist, but still is interested in the mysteries of the outside world, a world that increasingly influences Nepal.


This is not what this letter is about, however, though it is about Dhundup.  Dhundup is my friend and we have been in contact regularly since I left Nepal in 2002, 2003 (?).  In his last writing he told me that he has been in chronic pain in his abdomen.  It has gone on for over a year now and the clinics can’t tell him anything.  This is what he wrote:


“My stomach pain started in may 2006 near the bladder. Slowly it effect to the left Kidney and left lung. These days my left ribs cage and back bone are paining. I am afraid that slowly it will cause cancer if i don't check to good doctor and hospital. This is my full wishes to get the good doctor if you could favor me. This is all for you today. Bye.”


He needs to visit a doctor in a proper hospital but, as a monk, has no money to afford such a visit.  I don’t know why the monastery can’t pay, though I know they are always poor.  Perhaps they’ve already expended their resources on the clinics he visited.  I am looking into it.


I am Dhundup’s one western friend.  He wrote to me for help.  If not me, then who?  Or, better yet, why not me?  I want to help him and I need your help to do it.


I want to raise some money that I can send to him in order that he can seek treatment for his malady.  Who knows what it is or whether it can be treated or whether this effort will raise enough to attempt it.  But it doesn’t matter in the end.  I will try.


It has been my ambition to do grassroots charity work.  Well here’s a chance.   Help me if you can.  Dhundup is a good friend.  He is in pain and needs help and we can do something to help him.

If you see fit, send a small donation to this address:


Jonah Manning

Attn: Lockie Oliphant

1699 Woodlake Dr.

Columbia, SC  29206


This is my sister and she will have it deposited into a special account from which I can wire the money to the administrator of the monastery for the purpose of Dhundup’s health care.  Since monks occasionally obtain sponsorships, I think they are used to dealing with money in this way.  We shall see.


Send me any thoughts or commends.  I am shy about writing for money, but this is an important and personal cause for me.  I don’t expect much, but help if you can.  Every little bit. . . as they say.




Mt Bledisloe Run

My Marathon
It's done.  Eight years I've been thinking of running a marathon.  And now I've done it.  It was good fun.  I had a beautiful day.  My route was great--saw next to no one.  It was a bit hilly.  I should call it the Mt. Bledisloe Run.  I started on the top, ran down, then around, then back up--four times.  THe loop was about 6.6 miles.  Convenient.  The last slog back up the mountain was a little trying, but it was a very small mountain, more of a hill.  
I am now back in the water at long last.  It is about time.  I was out way too long.  But now I am anchored next to the Wylo and a host of the most amazing boats: a Wharram, a 22" that has circumnavigated, a brig from Port Townsend named Rat Bags, a true Spray replica--on and on.  Good fun.
I am planning on sailing for Fiji on the 25th of the month.  I am meeting my friend Anne in Suva on the 11th or so.  She's been living in Kiribati for the last few years working for the Peace Corp and is just finishing up.  I haven't seen her in years uncounted, so it will be good fun to see her again and have her sail about for a while.
Fiji is the sort of place you could spent a lifetime sailing around.  It makes it hard to say how long I will stay.  But it is also quite dangerous--lots and lots of reefs.  My neighbor Nick lost his last boat 30 years ago on Astrolabe Reef, a reef directly between me and Suva.
But it is time to go.  Araby has never looked so good, and there is still plenty to do.  The Farymann is finally gone.  At last I am truly engineless.  Ah, it is such a relief and a joy!  No prop dragging through the water. I can't wait to see how she sails.  I have lightened the boat in other ways, but nothing too substantial.  We shall see.  She feels good, feels happy.  And she isn't listing to port any more.  And her waterline is so much nicer with the high red antifouling.  Damn I like it.


02 April, 2007

The Rise of the Phoenix

The name of Brian’s new Triton is s/v Phoenix.  Could anything in the universe make more sense.

Tell me this world isn’t amazing.

01 April, 2007

100 Years Flood, Again

Mud Flood:

Most Rain in shortest time, ever, in New Zealand (northern anyway).


Last time I was at anchor in Daniel’s Bay, Nuku Hiva, when I storm rolled in that turned a vacant ridgeline into no less than 37 waterfalls, entire plantations of bananas and coconut trees were lost, roads vanished.  Daniel said it was the worst flooding in his memory.  And he was old, and he has since passed on.


Nine months ago I was safely at anchor as the flood waters rose and receded.  Today I am ashore.  But I am no longer on ground—I am in the mud.  For two days it has been raining, rain like a southern summer thunderstorm, where the clouds open and solid water drops as a wave from the sky.  But it wouldn’t pass.  Oh, you’d think it would, but it would come back all the stronger.

          It has been most enjoyable.  How can I work?  I found a few things to content myself about the cabin, a little fancywork here and organizing there.  But a new neighbor with an exceedingly fine DVD collection lent me a handful of disks just before the rains started in earnest.  It seems divine providence.  I have kept the tea hot and the computer running.

          This morning I finally ventured out.  Too much of a good thing and life becomes mundane.  Dressed in full foulies I was not at first surprised.  Nothing special, much rain.  But then I found a boat on the beach, broken mooring chain.  So it really had been blowing out there.  Then I noticed that every dinghy on the dock was full to sinking with water. My god.  That’s simply not normal.  Down by the beach the 12” runoff was pressured with water, spouting it far from its end.  I walled the coast trail to find it collapsed and hardly passable.  In my seclusion, much had been happening.

          I was surprised to find a new stream running past the bow of my boat.  I didn’t understand until later the evil portends this minor slide held.  The bow of Araby is butted up against an embankment with Richardson Road just above, and part of the steep embankment had given way and slide under the boat and now water was streaming freely there, threatening to bury my anchors, chain—even my dinghy which I had leaned there.

          Thankful that I had risen from my sedation in time I moved my remaining gear out of harms way.  I laughed out loud about such a ridiculous thing: a boat in a flood while ashore.  Dense, I still didn’t realize the full implications of what was happening, what could happen.

          I looked around the boatyard to tidy any things of Doug’s that could be washed away.  It was still raining hard, but the windy part of the storm had now passed.  There were at least two streams in the yard now.  As I looked again at my boat, a crashing. . . more a gurgling, mushy sound issued from above me and, amazed, another slide tumbled, burbled down to my feet.  “My god,” I thought, this is getting outrageous.  It wasn’t dangerous; it was small.  But it was starting, dimly, to dawn on me just how stable everything was.  New Zealand is a very hilly place.  You could say the land aggressively fights the influence of gravity.  But the addition of a few million tons of water, and the land quails and gives way.

          I walked up to the road to the understanding that, yes, this is pretty bad.  Each way I looked I could see downed trees, debris, and masses of thick clay smeared across the road.  One slide was so massive I had trouble getting through.    And this is just a short dead-end road.  The road to Paihia is far worse. 


Terry is a friend who runs a yacht charter business off the dock in front of the boatyard and lives high on the hill above, the hill that is quickly leveling itself.  He had heard that the road to Paihia is blocked in five places and the road to Whangerei is flooded worse than anyone can remember.  Essentially, we are trapped.

          I went home to get dry, have some tea and laugh about the whole mess.  Half naked, as poured my first glass, I felt a shudder and heard some strange noises that I couldn’t understand, and now can’t even remember properly.  My credo is Constant Vigilance, but one would think you could be a bit more lax when your boat isn’t even in the water.  Dense, you see, I still didn’t get it.  I couldn’t imagine anything serious, so I figured just shorts and a coat would do.  No boots.  I went out and checked the bow.  The boat looked clear.  No worries.  Ah, but there was a new slide, just to the left of the other one, part of the road even.  Oh, and the older one was really flowing now.  I noticed that a pile of wood and sleel railings were being overcome and pushed over my cradle.  Actually. . . indeed, this is a problem—now, finally, things start to move in my head.  The cradle doesn’t look right.  Actually—it looks broken.  It is twisted.  How the. . . Serious indeed.  I now wished I had my boats.

          I should take a moment to describe the deal.  Imagine a railroad track that leads down into the water.  A car rides down those tracks and the boat floats up onto, or into it, a cradle on wheels.  Imagine a cradle like a logging trailer: there are two uprights on each side of the boat connected by two main beams, a beam between the two forward uprights, and a beam between to the two aft uprights.  The two beams are connected by the metal frame of the car, and, I think, two cross beams.

          When the slide intensified and started moving the wood and spare rail, it slide into the forward main beam, on the starboard side.  The pressure was so great, it pushed the car itself backward and partially off the track.  There was another boat on the track behind me, right behind me, inches behind me.  First my windvane hit his bow pulpit, then the pressure, still mounting bent my windvane until its bottom bit hit his bow roller and stopped all reverse progress.  This is not a good thing.

          But, as far as I could tell, the cradle itself was broken—the main beams, both of them, seemed snapped.  How else could they twist like that?  This meant that at any moment the uprights could give way and my boat would fall over, unsupported.  This wouldn’t be a good thing either.  The thing to most surely be destroyed would be my rigging, which is only a few days old.  Ironic.

          So my neighbor and I went about, barefooted with 2x6’s, digging them into the foot-deep clay and supporting them under the rubrail.  It was only later that I figured out that the main beams were not in fact broken.  Both were severely twisted, but still servicible.  So my boat wasn’t going to fall over, and this was a good thing.

          But now at least, finally, the gravity—no pun—of the situation was upon me.  For a while there I believed Araby might fall over on her beam ends.  Bloody serious business.  Now, I needed to be concerned about my windvane.  The bummer here was that there was nothing to be done.  Cinderella, the boat behind me was all that was keeping me from sliding perhaps further.  And at this point any change was to be considered bad.  The amount of damage done to the vane was done already.  It was in stasis.  The mud, however was not.

          Rumbling above; another slide.  We all ran clear.  It didn’t make it all the way to the yard, but it appeared that Araby was right at the head of a shoot, not a happy place.  We’d have to cross our fingers.


I had readjourned for my tea when I heard Terry calling outside. He informed me that all of Richardson Street had been ordered to evacuate their homes.  Two five thousand gallon tanks high up on the hill were feared to be unstable and would come this way.  He said, if I wanted, I could go and stay on one of his charter boats.  I didn’t much care for this idea but didn’t want to be a bull headed fool either.  He said he was on the way to the yacht club as a policeman was going to be there and update everyone on what was happening.  Venturing forth once again seemed to be the prudent choice—I could carry the tea.

          Donning my betrodden wet foulies I bushwhacked my way to the yacht club, tea in hand.  The place was packed.  Not only were all the Richardson Street folks there, but apparently there were numerous people stranded in purgatory: all roads anywhere were closed, all power down, phones down.  Apparently the army was trying to find a way through.  Ah. . . a war zone!

          I watched a bit of the news, but there wasn’t much really.  Some of the worst flooding in memory, yadda, yadda.  The rain was supposed to let up today.  A high to the west and a cyclone to the north had created a sort of funnel with unlimited precipitation (from the cyclone).  Well, at least that made sense anyway.

          I left and walked down to the docks to see some friends.  I had heard that Ashby’s—the other boatyard—had let a 45 footer fall out of her cradle to the ground.  The wind being the culprit, I think.  This is a sad thing and I wanted to go see for myself.  I didn’t make it.  Because of the rain, when I arrived aboard some mates were knee deep in a bottle of rum and beers.  The older folk staggered home and left Dave, Kathy, and me to pass the story candle around the table and recite a tale of any nature or veracity.



A few hours later, I am now back home.  I can still hear the water running where it shouldn’t be running.  The rain is still slightly falling, a mere drizzle.  But what is truly amazing was the color of the water in the bay as I walked home.  Just amazing.  I’ve seen turbid rivers silted to that sort of milky brown—but never a great body of water like the bay.  It appears thick enough to walk on.  And everything perfectly calm, no wind, no lights no sound; and you can smell the mud, the soil, the land suspended, being carried out to sea on a high, high tide.  An awesome thing. 

          So perhaps tomorrow, if the sun comes out and the water stops this running, I can get a shovel out and start digging.  Doug and I’ve got a cradle to fix, a windvane to straight, boats to move—but nothing happens while we’re knee deep in heavy clay.  And it doesn’t look light I’ll be driving anywhere any time soon.