Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
I have just read and signed the online petition:
"Sailing Anarchy YC entry to 33rd America's Cup"
hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition
I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Yeah, that's not enough. So, the new people have been going rabid with their Snowpocalypse broadcasts showing snow and trying to it in new and interesting ways every ten minutes. They are failing.
In the meantime, my neighborhood is loaded with kids sliding down the 62nd street hill, adults walking to Starbucks, and much less vehicle traffic than a normal sleep Sunday. It's nice.
Check out what we do with whales on the beach out here.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
We are spending a long weekend down there and our only other option is to sit in Captain Tony's and drink Papa Dobles all weekend.
Wait, that's not such a bad option, is it?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
"If I can get out and be active and travel and see the world and be able to make a difference in other people's lives, then yes, I would want to have as long an existence as possible."
Of course, shortly thereafter we find out he's got a 38 y/o wife, who must be the other person in which he is making the aforementioned life changing difference.
If I ever say something disingenuous, my fellow bloggers, please slap me around.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
He said I could throw some more money on the table and see what happens. I think I'll let the offer expire tomorrow and see if anybody calls me back about this thing.
Who knew that buying a big boat was a process so similar to buying a house except there's more people involved and they all make you a little nervous?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Kris really likes it; especially for the nice touches the Groupe Finot do in their design. It's a sleek looking boat from the outside, and very liveable on the inside. Definitely a model on our list of what we'd like to have.
This one was on the market here in Portland and just got foreclosed on recently. Apparently, there is a broker in Seattle who handles these sorts of deals and he's got his hooks into it. I don't think the guys who handle repos are the best to get into a deal with. We may just let this one lapse; wrote an offer void date of Nov. 21. We'll keep looking.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
On a side note, since there was essentially no wind on Sunday, we mostly floated and told sea stories. The best had to be Shannon the Real Sailors recap of his Cascade Locks to Hood River race experience. The pictures there are great.
The story's even better when he starts talking about their attempt to recover from the mast-busting end to their racing day.
Apparently, they got out their pathetic little motor and could barely make any way against the Columbia waves and current. They limped into a little cove just out of the main river channel to recover their gear and situate themselves when a local came down and started yelling at them to get off his property. They explained what they'd just been through, if he couldn't tell from the wreckage strewn all over the boat and dragging in the water.
At this point Shannon ranted to us about the international sanctity regarding offering aid to a boat in distress. As polite as they tried to be, asking the guy if they could just use his little dock for a couple of minutes to get themselves situated, they found themselves staring down the unrelenting get-back grandson of former Lewis and Clark hosts.
Yeah, the guy told them to get lost because "the white man has been taking our land from us for too many years. I don't want you on mine." Whoops. They were on somebody's fishing reservation and they were not getting aid in the face of this disaster, no matter what.
So, best they could, back out in the Columbia to try and make way to a boat pull-out.
This post of mine today is in response to Monsieur Homme de Talle's request for proposals detailing who they'd most like to have a supper with from the sailing world. Knowing how limited our imaginations are, the man at the tiller offers us loose restrictions and this time he said our subjects could be dead, alive, real, fictional, as long as we were inspired to detail our reasons for wanting to spend some time with the sailors we choose.
Who would I most want to invite over to my house for dinner from the sailing world? I immediately thought of the characters who've most sparked the romance in me for the sea, travel in general, and exotic locations in particular. Sadly, just about the time of the Tillerman's call to action, Studs Terkel passed away, which, although not a conscious choice of mine, is the general direction I wanted to go with this one; to write something similar to what the man of the people would have chosen.
If you haven't read anything by Studs so far, seek something out and I guarantee you'll find a couple of the gems in the rough he's able to unearth in his man-on-the-street interviewing, researching, and reportage. Similar to Howard Zinn, writer of The People's History of the United States, Studs pursues the story from the other end of the spectrum that's heavily weighted toward the 'great man' bias.
So, who are my men of the people? Away we go and in no particular order.
Denton Moore, who wrote Gentlemen Never Sail to Weather, is a guy I get the impression would be a good companion for an evening supper. All I know of him comes from his book, which I found to be a page-turner. He's honest about the mistakes he makes and his own shortcomings as a captain, especially in regards to a couple of crew he takes on for different passages. I'd recommend it to anyone doing a circumnavigation, with the caveat that I haven't done one. He gives great detail about all of the places they spend time and I thoroughly enjoyed his adventures in Costa Rica, New Zealand, Tahiti, and across the Indian Ocean. He and his wife set out to retire in the Caribbean on a boat and become almost accidental circumnavigators.
Keith Broussard who I went to high school with in Biloxi, Mississippi. I was a military brat, so found myself in spots all over the country. This one place was a quite a contrast to my California roots. Keith was one of nine kids, third from the back of the line, and fifth out of six boys. His older brothers owned the Little Flower, a Biloxi-rigged shrimp trawler and they took me in like one of the family. I had a lot of exposure to the ocean, boats, and fishing and those guys are at the core of it. Would be good to have some seafood gumbo with an old friend.
Robb White, probably most well-known for Up Periscope, was the guy who I read at that 8-12 y/o highly impressionable age. I still love his novel Secret Sea, despite some colloquial and vernacular challenges, when he gets going about boats and sailing and warm tropic harbors, I get swept away.
Richard McKenna, the author of The Sand Pebbles, great movie with Steve McQueen and an even better book. McKenna's written descriptions of the operation and maintenance of the reciprocating steam engine onboard the San Pablo are the most beaufitul poetry. This is a man who obviously found joy and salvation in the feeling of competence he developed operating steam plants onboard Navy ships for his 30-year career. He writes only the way a boy who escaped to sea from Sand Point, Idaho could. I'd like to thank him for the words that helped me get through some long months of 6x6 watchstanding as I did my own stint for Uncle Sam.
Liz Clark, who truly sails like a girl onboard Swell, I'm very much enamored of her writing and doubly so of her photography. I've seen more incredible shots of simple scenes in her work than in any collection I've ever viewed. I willingly admit the photo attraction for me may simply be the subject matter of the equatorial Pacific illustrated by surfing locations I've always dreamed about, mixed with the context I bring knowing the shots are taken by this solo sailor exploring places and cultures I love, but you have to admit she has an eye for beauty in what are seemingly mundane daily moments. Her words are a wonderful companion; tales told with an open eye, full of hope, but feet flat on deck, too.
And of course the Tillerman. For the reason that most who participate in this little corner of the interwebs, this ostensibly-sailing related blog-posting-commenting community seem to be turning in a widening gyre with the little Laser closest to the center. It would be nice to meet you, my friend.
Pardon my sincerity. Back to the snarkiness, post haste.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Sailing tomorrow! We are having a rare patch of clear November skies in Stumptown this weekend.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I didn't vote for change, but I did vote for hope. I found McCain's concession speech to be gracious and statesman-like. It seems to me that if he'd have doled more of that out over the past six months, he'd have made it a closer contest. Nobody likes a cranky grandpa.
Obama has a tough row to hoe and I hope he's waking up this morning inspired and energized to get down to the real work. I would love for this to be a true era of Camelot for America.
Now, back to the sailing. I'm picking up the dinghy today! Sitting here waiting for the broker to call; should hear something before noon.
Unfortunately, I have a class that runs from 1600-2100 tonight, so Love and Coconuts will be sitting in the driveway at our house, where there are only doug fir cones to gather, awaiting that first sail.
I'm guessing I'll be calling in sick the rest of the week.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Some Highlights of Our Past
1961 - Margaret and Billy Holley presented the Holley Cup Perpetual Trophy, to be awarded, annually, to the winner of a women's series.
1964 - Introduction to Sailing Classes were started with Bob Groshart as the lead instructor. Typhoid shots were given to all participating sailors.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Where did the name come from? Look back through these old posts and you'll see where love and coconuts came from.
In the search to satisfy our dinghy longings, we looked around at a few boats and debated how much time and effort we wanted to put into restoration, versus buying something that we could sail away in tomorrow. I looked at a Lido 14 on Sunday, but it had a few issues, including a need for new hardware and fabrication to get the tiller back in place. On the way home I stopped by the local yacht dealer to see the new big boats just arriving. They have a couple dozen big cruisers in the water, and a handful of trailerable boats in the parking lot.
This day I saw a newly arrived Hunter 170, very clean and they hadn't even put up signage. It also hadn''t appear in their brokerage list yet, so I had to track somebody down and find out the details. I went looking for somebody on the docks and took the girls along to also look at boats. We were down there for about ten minutes before my 5 y/o fell in the river trying to step across to the transom of a Hunter 38.
They are both very polite and the 7 y/o had asked "Permission to go aboard, sir." Unfortunately, sibling rivalry took over at that point and in the mad dash to be onboard ahead of one another, the younger mis-judged the gap and went in feet first.
I was able to fish her out pretty quickly, since she had on her super-floaty lifejacket and was armlength's away from me when she went in. We dried her off with some towels borrowed from a passerby and had to head home early.
I called back and got the scoop on the boat. Went and looked at her this morning with the broker. Took Kris over there to look at lunch and then made an offer, it got accepted and the check is now on the way from the bank. I'm expecting to swap the money for the title on Thursday/Friday. Here she is, sporting fall colors just off Tomahawk Island Drive on Hayden Island.
The 170 is an all plastic boat with a self-furling foresail and a nicely roached main. This one is in excellent condition. The previous owner bought her new in 2000 and has only sailed her about 20 hours, while storing her indoors. The sail covers are still a shiny dark Hunter blue and the sails are very crip.
The only thing I plan on doing right away is adding a boom kicker to save everyone's heads. Don't want to lose any crew to a head injury before they get a chance to give it up for some other reason, like having to sail in rain all the time.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The woman who's selling didn't have the rudder handy. Apparently, she bought the boat from a guy who has used it for a few years to teach boy scouts how to sail. He sailed with her each time they went out and he's got the rudder. I don't know if that's because he was planning on getting the repair work done.
The sails were in fine shape and the rigging is all in good shape, with the running rigging having been replaced this summer. Kris is going to look at it this week and we'll make a decision before next weekend. The plus is that it's under a thousand bucks to get into and restoration will be inexpensive and good experience for us.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Part of Kris's and my mission is to sharpen our sailing skills by getting as much time under sail as possible over the next couple of years, before shoving off for blue water. We've been looking for opportunities to crew with other folks, as well as searching around for a reasonably-priced sailing dinghy to get some practice on while we target our finances on the big boat purchase.
In the process I've spoken to, or exchanged emails with owners of each of the title boats from above. I've also considered a couple of lasers that the local clubs have listed on their sites. The Lido 14 looks the most promising at this point and there's an active fleet ten minutes from my house. Although I haven't heard from her owner yet (a yacht broker we have been working with on the big boat is putting us in touch with her), I've got high hopes.
Pickings seem kinda slim around here for a trailerable sailing dinghy and the guys who have them and post them for sale seem reluctant to part with them even though I found them precistley becasue they had been posted for sale. Lest you think the problem is on my end, I have not asked about price, nor did I send annoying strings of emails asking questions about boat equipment or condition. I've simply requested a time/place to check the boat out.
The guy who posted the Albacore lives in a small town, eighty miles south of us, fondly referred to as CowValley. They have access to the Willamette River, which is pretty sheltered by high banks at this point, so, I imagine, this guy must have to drive an hour to the nearest lake to get in any real sailing and, being a farm town, I also imagine the sailing community is, well, standing long watches.
I found the Albacore posting last Friday and emailed him immediately, since Kris and I were headed down to Corvallis for the weekend. Serendipity, I thought as I hit the send button on my email interface. My son was playing on Saturday night and we had already planned to head down with the vacation home on wheels to spend the weekend. Maybe we come home with a new boat too...
So, what does the guy say? "Sorry, I'm out of town this weekend."
Here's a clue for you folks, if you post something on Craigslist on a Thursday/Friday, expect to be around that weekend.
Makes me think his wife made him post it and he didn't really want to sell.
Either that or it was some elaborate secret agent message that I stumbled into and gave the right response initially, but missed the follow-up code words.
The search continues.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
We named the house we are in now the Hale Nani Mino'aka, which is Hawaiian for House of the Beautiful Smile and describes how I felt about Kris and our new home together when we moved in to this place 2 1/2 years ago. Although it looks small from the angle in this picture, especially dwarfed by the McMansions we are trapped between, it has a 100 ft. driveway and plenty of room inside.
However, like I said, momma likes new stuff, so we began our search for a new retreat, which when we found it, we were leaning toward naming Pu'uhonua, Hawaiian for Place of Sanctuary. So, there we were, all set up to make the move to the new retreat when the builder filed for bankruptcy protection.
We had made an offer and they had accepted, but we'd given ourselves extra time, planning on closing in 45-60 days. Kris had a bit of a breakdown and cried it out on a Friday night and we spent the weekend hashing out our options and deciding how and what to do. I called on Monday and told the realtor we were going to withdraw the offer. We were able to back out of the deal, since the situation had changed with the builder, and that was the point we started asking ourselves what we really wanted to do with our future.
A couple of the places we looked at were very nice, lots of room, great neighborhoods, and the sort of houses where you end up for the rest of your life. That's where I get stuck. It would be great to move into some place, live on a hill, hoity-toit with neighbors and friends and live the good life, but then what do you do after a year or two has gone by? You're still there, god willing, and a long life ahead of you. That is where the dream of the s/v Clarity starts.
We have talked about looking for a resort in the South Pacific that we could run as a couple, or possibly moving back to Hawaii and living working there, but, still, there you are and the rest of your life is coming at you down that same one-lane road. I want to sail away. I love Portland, I love Hanalei, and I love my friends and kids, but I also know that there is a world out there that I belong too and I want to go be part of it.
Now more than any time it's possible to stay connected to family and friends with email, blogs, etc. Why not take advantage of that and go live our life traveling? That's where this adventure began. The first thing we worried about was leaving family and friends. We aren't leaving, we will just be living in another home. Now, rather than live our life on that one-lane road, waiting out time, we are sailing away and we expect you all to plan the occasional trip to share in our life. We'll supply the accommodations.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Maybe you've got other worries, Sam.
Okay, that's probably it for political rantings; back to the sailing.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
2. Cross the Columbia Bar, turn to port, go South for a month.
3. Costa Rica to Galapagos with Aunt Dodo.
4. Galapagos to Marquesas passage.
5. Spend a Northern Hemisphere winter in Kiribati and surf deserted reef passes everyday, while living off the hook.
6. Sail into Sydney Harbor and spend a couple months on Mark Gately's lanai.
7. Up the inside of the Great Barrier Reef.
8. A season in The Maldives.
9. Back to Africa in a boat (Kris).
10. A season in the Caribbean on the hook.
11. Crew a Transpac race (Greg).
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
I started following Liz Clark's adventure on her Cal 40 "Swell" after reading about her in one of my surf magazines. She's a cute little surfer girl, but no lightweight. She knows her surfing and writes honestly about her struggles with backside barrels on Tuamotu reefs, amongst other adventures. She gets down and dirty in the maintenance of her 40+ year-old yacht and she is doing a ton of solo sailing, making stops at isolated reefs all around the Pacific.
I love her blog and find her pictures outstanding! Tons of great shots at sea, as well as in places like Kiribati, Bora Bora, Tuamotus, on and on. She's got a great eye, capturing the beauty in details of local life, realistic shots of the daily life in the boatyard, alongside postcard-worthy images of islands adrift in amazing seascapes. AND the girl can write. I predict a successful book in the future.
I was born at Edwards AFB in the Mojave desert, where my father was stationed at the tail-end of The-Right-Stuff era. I grew up all over the country, living on or near AFBs and saw my father go from an enlisted wrench-turner to an officer. He went to night school until they sent him to get a B.S. in computer science, followed by an M.A. in management. I was set up to think that the military was a good home.
The Air Force might have been, but the Navy was tough. Too much time away from the family. I hated it. So why the Navy? I wanted to be a diver. I went in and told the recruiter that's what I wanted to do and he told me "No you don't." I said, "I don't?" He said, "You want to be a nuke!" I said, "I do?" And that's what happened.
Later I figured out that one of the tests I took qualified me to go to nuclear power school and the recruiter was required to get a certain number of guys signed up for nuke school billets. If he didn't make quotas, he was headed back to sea and the shore party in Portland would end. I don't mind helping a guy out, but at the impressionable age of nineteen, I kinda feel like my best interests took a back seat to this guy's desire to avoid sea duty. There are a lot of things that happen in life that you figure out later might have been steered a certain direction for someone else's purpose. I guess it's part of the package.
Let my life be an object lesson to your kids. Don't kick'em out of the house when they are nineteen. Especially if they've just started to make decent grades and find a niche. Ugh.
Not much sailing news on the home front. Kris and I are making great progress on getting into a boat, however. We've sold a few things, refined our plan, and we're on track. This is the period where we spend lots of time looking at boats and trying to make the right choice between something we can live with and something we can't. Lots of compromises between practical livability and, well, flair, such as wooden interiors, fancy fiddles, wine bottle racks, dish dryers, and the list goes on.
I'm learning a ton, however. I'm perusing the blogs you see on my list regularly, and the list is growing as I connect to more from the originals. The forums at Sailnet and Cruisers and Sailing are great places to get some information, as well as some practical experience sifting through loads of opinion for the nugget or two of helpful info. These sailing folks seem to have more than their fair share of opinions.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Rank: 4,647,702 (update - October 20: moved 2,706,351 spots to 1,941,351 ; watch out world!)
Or, maybe I should lapse into despondency about the futility of modern life (as if W and his cronies haven't raised this thought in my head every day for the past 7+ years), since there are likely only 3-4 million of those billions with computers, a few of them most likely running multiple blogs, which means I'm at the bottom of an extremely long ladder.
Oh, well, at least I'm not number two*, because as every parent of toddlers knows, number two is the pooper number.
Technorati also offer an authority figure (okay, it's really an authority number, but who am I to resist a pun, when they were the thing by which The Bard was undone? [or a bad couplet, for that matter]), which is some indicator of how many people are linking to you. So, if you're a blogger and you link to me, I'll get some aww-thore-uh-tay (October 20 update: authority = 2; very funny, Mr. Technorati. Been reading my blog, have you?)
Right now? I got nothin'.
* All of the numbers, other than blogs ranking and the pooper number are irresponsibly speculative guesses on the part of the author of this post.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Navy Nuclear Power School in Orlando in the mid-1980s was staffed by both line officers, most of whom had served on ships or subs and were getting some shore duty time managing our daily lives, and limited duty officers, who were grabbed upon completion of a physics or chemistry graduate program, shown how to tuck their new shirts in, and shipped to Orlando to teach us enlisted guys the basics of nuclear science and the related disciplines.
We sat through lectures about heat transfer and fluid flow, worked out complex physics problems, learned about interstitial point defects, and a whole bunch of other top secret stuff that I'll probably get arrested for if this blog ends up in the CNO's hands. The see-en-whatchoo-say? That's an acronym for Chief of Naval Operations. Like most bureaucratic organizations, the Navy loves acronyms. I suspect that creating many acronyms is a way of making up a new language, without it having to be something that adds any value to anybody's life; knowing how to use a bunch of little codes is a way of signaling other members that you are in The Club.
Letting civilians into the military during wars has resulted in a hijacking of the secret language. In fact, those draftees ended up adding their own acronyms that took off and have gone into the mainstream. Two of the best are SNAFU and FUBAR. Look'em up.
So, back to Nuke school (which was sort of a weird thing to call it in the penultimate moments of the Cold War), where I was taking classes from those LDOs straight out of grad schools in Berkley and Boston. The best one was this hot little blond Ensign, named Heisel. This being the eighties, and all nuclear-powered vessels being front-line warships, the Nuke program was a boys club. Only men could go to war at that time. My understanding now is that women are in the foxholes and on the front lines in aircraft carriers, et.al. I don't have any problem with that. I know that my biggest fear while serving on my front line ship was not the gender of the guys I was working with, but the intelligence level. A cigarette butt in a fuel tank full of a couple hundred thousand gallons of jet fuel was the thing that I feared far and above a silkworm missile from the Ayatollah.
And so but then back to Ensign Heisel and the rest of the LDOs. She would stand on this podium at the head of the class, wearing her officer khaki skirt and stroking up and down her thigh, while a classroom full of 19-26 y/o sailors watched her answer a question. Did she know what sort of reaction this was causing? I'll never know. What I did find out, however, is that all of these teachers were not only LDOs, they were also direct input, which if you put the whole together, in the right order (like in the title of this post) in an acronym, comes out as my favorite of all time.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So, pretty funny, eh? Reminded me of a (mis)adventure of my own from my Navy days. We were out to sea for a month or so, in transit from the Philippines to Thailand, with some at sea international maneuvers thrown in with the Australian Navy. At the end of our trek, we anchored off Pattaya Beach for five days liberty.
Being in the engineroom and anchored too far away for an extension cord to reach the shore power outlet meant we had to keep the engineering plant steaming, so my liberty was cut by a fourth. It would have been half that, but the other underway engineroom supervisor and I worked a couple of the upper-level watchmen extra hard the last two weeks before we arrived to get them qualified to stand an auxiliary steaming watch, giving us four watch sections to cover the time we were anchored.
I steamed the plant for the first day and night and then hit the beach for the last three nights. It felt good to kick around on solid ground with the freedom to walk anywhere I felt like going, after a month-long stretch at sea. I explored the little beach side town, did some shopping, picking up gifts for my wife and new baby back home, and then found a hotel swimming pool to relax alongside.
As I sat down I overheard the two guys next to me talking in Aussie accents about their own engineroom duties. When I introduced myself, and they knew me for a fellow hole snipe, they offered me a 'gin and tonic' which I happily accepted. I tipped it up and took a sip of straight gin. I coughed a little and said, "That's a stiff gin and tonic" to which my new found mates replied, "Yeah, we ran out of tonic about an hour ago, but still have plenty of gin." To me this incident is an illustration of the split between Englishmen and Aussies. Although they will stand on form, and continue to call it a G&T, damn if they are going to stop drinking for lack of a mixer.
As the sun began to fade away and the gin ran out, I said goodbye to my (at this point highly inebriated) friends and headed downtown to try and catch up with some of my shipmates. Pattaya faces west on the Gulf of Thailand and has a long beach that's wider on low tide. Toward the south end the beach ends and a seawall begins. Above the seawall is a long row of buildings that house all sorts of money-making propositions. The first of which was a kickboxing arena (found a recent picture [to the left]; it looks like the kickboxing either expanded to include a beer garden, or got replaced by a beer garden). Most of the businesses along Pattaya Road are open air, so as you walk along you can see the current kickboxing match-up, the latest t-shirt styles, and who's drinking beer in the handful of bars along the way.
I found my engineroom crew in a bar about 200 yards down from the beach's end and stopped in for a beer with the boys. Lucky that I had the gin in my system because these guys were well down the road of stupidity and it would have taken a lot of beer for me to catch up. Did I say lucky?
As time went on I caught up on the beers, while drinking and dancing with the local girls in a big group. As the bar got more crowded, a couple of us got up on the actual bar, toward the back of the building. I turned toward the Gulf and could see the Wabash anchored a half-mile out to the West. By this time I was pretty soaked in sweat from the dancing and took my shirt off as I turned back toward the crowd.
By a coincidence of timing, two important things happened that led to the events I will describe forthwith. First, the guy next to me had drawn everyone's attention as he was encouraged to chug a bottle of Singha and, second, the song Tarzan Boy (one-hit wonder Baltimora: who it turns out was a gay Irish dancer, named Jimmy McShane lip-syncing and fronting an Italian pop-song making songwriter/producer; sort of Milli Vanilli meets Lou Perlman, with some Fabio and Liberace thrown in) kicked off with its trademark jungly disco beat. Just as these two worlds collided and this tragically happy coincidence occurred, my shirt came over my head and I turned around, swaying to the lyrics "Jungle life, I'm far away from nowhere, On my own, like Tarzan Boy" and the little Thai girls, who'd been cheering my shipmates beer-chugging, began hooting and whistling and gesturing to me, as though we couldn't have choreographed the whole thing better if we'd thought to.
I occasionally hit my marks and nail the timing, only because I've seen it all done before and I'm a great mimic. Having arrived at this moment so serendipitously, I took my cue and I tossed my shirt to the ladies, the perfect picture of Tom Jones. With loud approval they signaled that they wanted more. My brain having been reduced to lizard-size by this time, I reacted as requested and, to the pounding rhythm accompanying the Tarzan yell "oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh" I kicked off my Sperry topsider, spun in a circle, and shoe number two followed, sailing out into the sea of inequity.
Our little group's focused cheers drew in more of the crowd, until the whole bar was bouncing and singing along (at least they had the oh-oh parts down; not sure anybody knew any other words; I had to look it up myself to ensure I hadn't misinterpreted, even though I've been singing along to it for 20+ years) with the manufactured electronica while pointing at me. Who am I to deprive the people of their entertainment? I unzipped my hiking shorts to "Night to night, Gimme the other, gimme the other, Night to night," slid them down and flipped them out to the crowd.
So, I guess this is the moment of truth, right? You're wondering to yourself: boxers? briefs? commando? Frankly, I don't recall, but I know there was at least one more stanza in the song and I had one final article of clothing. The Navy issued us Fruit of the Loom briefs, but I'm pretty sure I ditched those things right after boot camp. I think I must have been wearing boxers and at this point, the crowd wanted them.
And so but then to the oddly-accented encouragement of some Italian pop-mercenary, singing the strangely apropos words "It's all right, You won't miss home, Take a chance, Leave everything behind you, Come and join me, Won't be sorry, It's easy to survive," I slowly bent and worked my boxers down to my ankles. Stepping out of the left leg hole, I stood and flipped my right foot out over the crowd, tossing my shorts (and probably swinging a couple of other things) out to the masses, in the way that only a 23 y/o with no concept of consequences could do.
I took a chance. I left everything behind me (maybe in front, but I was in tune with the spirit of Jimmy's lip-synced request). And, to my surprise as I write this 22 years later, I wasn't sorry. I was, for a brief moment, happily liberated right up until the song came to an end a moment or two after my unveiling. What to do?
They always say, "Leave'em wanting more" which, of course, takes on whole different levels of meaning when a man is standing naked in the room, so, once more on cue, and again without much rational thought, I turned toward the Gulf and did a swan dive out the window, into the ocean. I had about ten feet before I hit and tucked to round off underwater.
When I came up I was facing out to sea with cheers coming from above and behind me. I turned, treading water and saw faces leaning out the bar and waving. Underneath the faces were the poles and piers holding the building up. I looked right and left and didn't see anywhere that looked like an access point back up to the bar or the street, so I started swimming back toward the main beach.
I stroked along for two hundred yards, mostly in the shadow of buildings, which were all similarly propped up and offering no apparent access to the street until I reached the beach just past the kickboxing palace. As I crawled out of the water, it dawned on me that I now had to return the same distance that I just swam, on foot, naked, down a crowded street.
With my fishing tackle in hand, I began the walk. Surprisingly, only about a 1/4th of the folks on my side of the street, shuffling down a crowded sidewalk, seemed to notice that they had just passed a naked man. One guy who did notice was sitting just inside and open air bar, facing the sidewalk. As I passed by a woman carrying a bottle of Singha on a small serving tray, placed the beer in front of him. He put his hand on her arm and said, "Hold on, baby, get me another, would'ya?" Then he handed his beer out to me and said, "This one's for you, sailor."
As I came back to the bar in which I'd last been seen clothed, a loud cheer went up. I saluted with my beer and my clothes were tossed back my way. One of my shipmates said that they had considered throwing them out to me in the water, but I'd swam away before they could gather them up.
Obviously there's no moral to this story, and, without passing judgment, there would seem to be very little morals involved either. I still wonder at the chance that I could have hit a submerged post, or a shallow bottom and broken my neck. But I didn't and I don't dance naked anymore, which is by no means a loss to anyone as I'm on the wrong side of forty these days and not quite the dancer I was at twenty three.
The Sailing Life had a newly arrived Beneteau 40' in the commissioning stage. Still had some grease pen notes on the hull and the mast had yet to be stepped, but it was in the water.
We looked around at a few of our favorites, the Hunter Deck Salon models being at the top of the list. There are two DS 45s (picture to left from Hunter Web site) and one DS 41 in the vicinity. The 45s have been sold and the 41 is still available. We are both very interested in these models as they have more room in the main salon for living, as well as for storage.
Our boat for today's sail was the Hunter 38. This 2008 model had been sold to someone locally, who used it for less than a year and decided to bump up to one of the DS 45s moored a couple of slips away. So, she's in excellent condition and the main salon still has that new boat smell.
Kevin briefed us quickly on our roles for mooring when we returned and we were underway. After we got out in the main channel, Kevin gave me the helm, pulled up and stowed the bumpers, and started prepping us to get under sail. I helmed us out to the main river channel and then handed it over to Kris so I could go help Kevin and learn a little about how to setup and trim this boat's sails. That was the last I had my hands on the helm.
Kris was reluctant to take the wheel, even though she was sitting right next to it, and I ended the discussion by just walking away and telling her it was all her's. The winds were very light and blowing upriver, but it was a joy to shut the engine down once we hauled out the mainsail. After that we unfurled the foresail and made an easy 1/2 knot across the Columbia on a port reach, occasional puffs giving us the slightest bit of heel. We jibed upriver a couple of times, fell off, turned her into the wind, and began tacking back down the river, the apparent wind picking up noticeably.
Kris was excitedly calling out the boat speed as the wind picked up and bubbles began to flow under the transom behind us, our speed inching up toward three knots in a close reach to starboard.
There was nothing near a regatta, but a handful of boats were playing around in the light air. Our early fall day warmed steadily, turning into a nice day as the afternoon approached.
I'm sure Kevin thought we were pretty goofy, although he was a good sport and answered all of our questions about the boat, sail trim, and the local yachting/racing scene. He even shared some of his own adventures from the local beer can and club races.
After a couple of tacks down river we came about and pointed her into the wind so we could start up the diesel, haul in the sails, and head back to the dock in time for a late lunch.
Guess who helmed us back in the channel?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Those things happen and they look great on film and they stick best in memory, but the bulk of time spent in search of waves is a lot more pedestrian (amphibian?). Most of my time has been spent paddling around, working into position, especially on windy days, and a lot of staring into the distance. Rather than a frenetic music-video experience, I find myself drifting, floating and reflecting on my life. I've spent a lot of time studying the way water moves around near shore, the rips, currents, swells, and waves that eventually form up and break as that ocean energy pushes into shallower water.
The wind is a large part of the equation, and can quickly turn a session into something fun, when it shifts and blows offshore, holding up wave faces as they try to pitch over themselves. Alternatively, a fun session can quickly get messy and blown out when an onshore breeze kicks up and starts blowing the tops off the waves before they can form.
I've learned to spot a rip current and use it to get myself out into the lineup quickly. A spot I surf in Baja sits inside a little bay with a rocky cliff projecting out into the ocean on the North end. The waves pump into the little bay and the water that builds up in the bight has to move back out and, with the right swell, it will push along the beach to the North and then right out along the base of that cliff.
The first time I paddled out there I was nervous about how exactly it would play out, but I had scoped it pretty well and, although it was a very narrow little rip, it looked like the water was moving swift and true, right out to the back of the lineup, without exposing me to any breaking waves and the potential to get pushed onto the rough volcanic rocks. With a dozen other surfers surveying the spot, I was the first to test it out and after a half-dozen waves, followed by the express lift back out, I was quickly joined by a handful of surfers boldly riding my wake.
I know a few things about the near-shore seafloor, too. And can easily spot waves breaking over sandy bottoms, versus the more powerful and consistent reef breaks, which I love. When a surfer has surfed a spot long enough, he begins to know where to go, and when to be there. He knows what the wind and swell reports mean to his spot and he's always in the right spot out there in the water. He's got it wired.
It's pretty clear that some of my surfing skills and knowledge will fit with my sailing needs. I also have a pretty good base of experience with ships' systems, having run an engineroom on a Navy oiler. I even have some book knowledge specific to sailing, having read volumes of marine-related material including sailing blogs, novels, circumnavigation reports, maps and charts, technical manuals, ad infinitum. However, what really appeals to me about this adventure that Kris and I are embarking on is the things I don't know. And that's a lot.
I could spend every day of the rest of my life sailing and studying sailing and I'll never learn all there it to know, nor will I go all the places there are to go. I may get one or two things wired, but all I have to do is pull up the anchor, make sail, and I'm on a new course to something I don't know.
So, here's to not knowing. I hope I know enough to stay safe. I think I know enough to take risks that I can afford to take. I want to know enough to challenge myself to learn more. Most importantly, I know that I'll never know it all and that makes life look more interesting.
Here's somebody who is certain that she knows a lot more than me and you, including what's best for us.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm realizing that this dream I've had since I was about twelve and read my first Robb White novels, was only missing one key ingredient, a fellow sailor to go along with me. I was somewhat affixed on the idea that my dream was a daydream and not something to actually do. Why? I don't know. Maybe I knew I needed to do some emotional-growth work, and so sought out partners who would challenge me in a relationship, as though it were some sort of contest on a hot tin roof. Now that I'm with a partner who meets me and only challenges me to be a better faster stronger me, I'm struck by how close I am to, and how capable I am of making the life I want into a real daily thing.
Best response so far, Kris sent a link (to a boat she's interested in) to a designer she works with. His response was, "That is a super-sweet boat! 150k is a great deal for a floating house! You could sell everything, buy that, and have hundreds of thousands left over. Then you can sail the world and live on love and coconuts."
Love and coconuts.
If we hadn't already named the boat Clarity, I think we'd have to go with Love and Coconuts.
The beauty of laying it all out in the spreadsheet is that we can see each step on our journey and we can chart or progress as we make way toward the larger goal. There are a raft of boring logistical tasks to take care of now, but each one (selling household items, etc.) is made more interesting for the progress it gains us in fulfilling our dream; the sails are beginning to rise up the mast, where they will eventually fill and be trimmed to our liking.
We are spending a lot of time looking at boats now, these initial explorations helping us to negotiate what design elements are essential, important, and attractive. I like the solid practical feel of the Catalina yachts, while Kris is drawn more toward the French design aesthetic in the Beneteaus and the appealing little liveaboard touches of the Hunters. Of course, spending time in any boats salon reinforces the dream. We had the opportunity this past Sunday to look at a boat that currently has a couple living onboard and Kris was much interested in how they had appointed themselves inside, taking note of the hooks and snaps holding pots and pans on the galley wall, the candles burning in the main salon, incense in the head, and a few of the other creature comforts that fit in a small space.
Selling the house is the next major step.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The s/w firm I'm currently working for (look for this to change soon) employs an agile development approach and at the end of each two-week sprint we do a post-mortem exercise to review what is working well and what isn't. The approach there is to have each individual write down on post-it notes the things they want more of, less of, and stay the same. Kris and I took the approach of writing down every discrete item we were thinking about with regards to our desire to make the move to a cruising life.
We took all of the notes and stuck them up on the wall. There were about sixty notes posted all over and the next step we took was to begin moving them around and arranging them into groups that made sense. We ended with three groups: business/financial concerns, transition tasks, and knowledge and experience we need to gain over the next five years.
After this we pinned up a couple of 2'x3' sheets of paper on the wall, added headings to the top and ended up with four categories, having split the business category into a Portland living-aboard phase and an underway phase.
The next step we have to take is to organize all of this into a timeline. So, that's where I will be this coming Sunday morning.
Oh, yeah, the intial phase involves selling a bunch of stuff, including a house, a condo, a BMW Z4, a pick-up, and a bunch of smaller things. I took the first step and posted a surfboard and a bike on Craigslist. The bike went the first day.
Look at that main salon. Of course, you might not want to have white cushions in a living room that's going to be rolling around, but not many people think about that on Sunday afternoon, sitting with a charming yacht broker in a beautiful, teak-accented, French-designed sailboat cabin. Another exciting thing is the stripper pole right there in the middle of everything. Can't wait for the first Friday night we get to spend in our own version of this dreamboat.
And so but then this how it all started for us, at the least the shopping phase of things. I have actually been dreaming about making a move aboard a boat of my own for more than thirty years. I started reading sailing stories as a boy and was immediately drawn to the independence, self-reliance, and freedom to wander.
Now as Kris and I search for our perfect boat, the boat that speaks to us, we find ourselves passionately engaging over each bit of each boat. What works, what doesn't? And we haven't even begun to factor in how things will be when we are underway.
So, the shopping continues, while we also are scheduling charter trips. Our first mission will be to charter with a qualified teaching captain, to help us gain the knowledge we'll need to set out into blue water. The British Virgin Islands seem to be a hotspot of sailing and chartering activity. Our first trip is tentatively planned for next April, when we'll fly down and learn the basics of keelboat sailing over a weekend, and follow that up with a week-long catamaran charter.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Yeah, so I've changed course and added a partner to this blog. Meet my wife, Kris. Can I get a 'Vive la France'?
I met her when I was forty and married her when I was 43. I took her to Hanalei and woo'ed her and then brought her back a year later and married her on the beach at sunrise.
She makes me happy and she likes to sail. So, we are going sailing.
What about the boat? That's coming, hold on. First of all, the name, sailing vessel Clarity, comes from a moment of, well, clarity that my wife experienced a few years ago at the Seattle Boat Show. She was a member of the Columbia River Yacht Club at the time and went up to Seattle with a few fellow sailors. They were power boaters and had all met on some of the cruises the YC sponsored.
Kris and a couple of the other girls worked their way through a couple of Lemon Drops when Kris had one of those moments of pure insight that we all experience at a time or another in life. As the moment of realization swept over her she said, "It's amazing the clarity one experiences after fourteen Lemon Drops."
Shortly thereafter a tattoo followed, and continues to follow her around to this day. It's the chinese symbol for clarity, or clear blue water.
There it is. The name of our boat.
So, what kind of boat is she? What was her maiden name, you ask? Ms. Hunter? Mademoiselle Beneteau, perhaps? Maybe a Grande Dame? Or a Taiwanese Hylas by way of Boston?
Well, the short answer is I don't know. I'm leaning heavily toward a Catalina, somewhere in the 37-47 range, but I haven't bought a boat yet.
As far as the original intent of this blog, I had set out to create a log of my attempt to change my life after three years of struggling to recover from a car accident. The goal hasn't changed, but the means have, I guess. The quote on our masthead (!) is from that self-professed non-navigator, Captain Ron Rico.
I admire a man who ploughs ahead with the intention of making a memorable journey taking precedence over the desire to plot a specific course. Yes, this may appear foolish to some of you. In that case, plan your plans, plot your course, and let me know when you set sail. We'll be out there, because if it's going to happen, it's going to happen out there and we'd love to meet up with you and share our excellent whiskey sour recipe.
So, stay posted as we make this journey from our current indentured homeownership to a life of cruising.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I took Sunday off and ran after work today. My first run in a few months. I took Hank again and walked about half of my three-mile loop. My legs have never felt as tight as they did the first half-mile of the run. I stopped in the Garden Home Rec Ctr park and stretched on a bench. Felt a little looser as I continued. Walked through another park and tossed the stick so Hank could chase it. When we got home Hank crashed; I guess we are working ourselves into shape together.