Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Brief, Bad Poetry

I have three women in my life,
Cassandra, Adra, Hope.
They all need more attention than I can conjure up.
Hope is rotten, but Adra nearly fixed.
Cassandra sits and drifts alone there in her slip.
Her lines are slack and cobwebbed,
her motor baking in the sun.
I wonder if I ever will see the poor thing run.
I haven't spent and hour in more that just this month
doing more than making sure the pilings haven't rubbed.
I miss her jaunty burbling,
I miss the feel of wind.
I wonder when I'll have the time to sail my girls again.


There she sits, you eye her over.
You know those lines, touched like a lover.
The cool smoothness made you shiver,
in every inch which you uncovered.
You hoped to touch, to love and mind
her every mark and metal fine.
But life and time have not been kind.
You have only now to spend, two hearts, two hands, two faces
then you go off, now on your own, and her to other places.
The moment fleeting, where truth and dreaming mingle,
one moment in a day you didn't feel so single.
You smile without thinking, her visage in your eyes, the adventures you had hoped to have...

But space and time have not aligned and this is all there is.
So take today and sail away and know what it is to live.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Catching Up the Blog

Day off in the Adirondacks.
  Catching up my blog is like trying to catch the bus you missed by one stop. You're behind and can never run fast enough to beat it even though you can see it at the next stop. So little has happened boat-wise this past year and yet it seems impossible to get it all into words. Nevertheless, I will attempt it.
  Last summer after trailering Cassandra home from Greencove Springs, FL she sat in the driveway on her trailer. I had intended to launch her but I was called in to work for a month, almost non-stop at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, MGR, and then spent ten weeks away in the Adirondacks working at Long Lake Camp of the Arts. I then returned to work once more at MGR. By the time I had any free time most of the summer was gone. I was able to get on the water as crew for a week or two bringing my friend's new-to-him Valiant 40 home. Big boat. Nice boat. I find it intimidating, and I am a little in love with it. :)
  My two dinghies, Adra the puddleduck racer and Hope the pram, spent the summer laying atop one another beside the shed and suffered for it. The gunnels on both are rotten now and will need to be replaced. Adra will simply have her sheerline lowered by 3 inches. This should reduce her weight slightly making her easier to carry and a little faster on the water. Hope, I hope, will just need the old gunnel material removed and new will be epoxied in place, taking care to really encapsulate the pieces and prevent future rot. Pictures of both repairs may follow.
Hope in progress
Adra on Lake Ontario

 That brings me to current day. I have a month long contract with MGR again this summer working on Saturday Night Fever. To fill in the time and the coffers until that job starts I have been assisting a friend with his canvas business. Today was my first day back on the lake in what seems like years courtesy of  a client's boat. Sailboats are once again beginning to fill the docks at the marina; it is refreshing to be around sailors and friends again. Occasionally I am struck by the number of things I know from the obsessive reading I am wont to do. Sometimes it seems I know more than people who have been sailing twice as long as I have. Of course, most of what I know is simply book knowledge and theory, and we all know how much that does in the real world.
  Keep sailing.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Open the floodgate.

This is an excerpt from my personal log on November 23, 2013, this is my second day away from Someday, I anchored alone in Upper Dowry Creek (35.535334,-76.534005 on google maps).

Sitting down to dinner, cheese mashed potatoes, hot sauce, bread, koolaid; and the rain is just starting to patter down on deck. A fiberglass fencing foil sits opposite me, wedged in behind the starboard cushions with the other detritus of my trip so far, tiller pilot, welcome packet, lantern battery, lengths of rope, all tossed haphazardly in exactly the same place every time; in the way, clutter organized only by my memory. I find my self wondering if Don's boat ever looks like this.
I wonder sometimes if Shawna would have enjoyed this. I don't think she would. Today I don't feel so alone as I usually do. I am not sure why. Maybe for the first time in a while I'm excited to be in my own head, alone with thoughts I haven't been able to think or write down in almost four years.
Anger, addiction, sex, emotion,
affliction, reaction, depression, obsession,
novice, expert, what's the distinction?
Distraction, extraction, compensation, too much
too late to save that attachment.
House and Hope, home's a boat
to run and hide from my Hyde
and turn back pages of endless rages
while I look on to where I've gone
and future hides behind my back.
I turn, and turn from where I've turned to
there's another bridge I've burned through.
Body, mind, rebel at self, yet cling
and climb on selfish self
looking for pity instead of help.
Who am I to run away instead
of seeing every Sunday, the face I loved
 and broke and lost for want of
self restraint? I'm gone. I'm lost.
I see only water, leaves, and shore
home is homeless, home is nowhere.
Possessions and professions possessing expressions
trapping our hearts and hands,
turning towards the things of man.
We are lost, I see no hope, save the
symbol I tow behind my boat.
Cassandra, destroyer of men,
followed by tiny Hope again.

No perfection, just direction.
Pointed South but still aimless
they know my boat but I am nameless.
No song, no voice, just rig and hull.
Syrens call; their teeth are dull.
Eyes bright with other prizes I sit by in silence.
I want to want it, the bars and beer,
women, pool, stolen showers, dinghy too.
I can't, they're not for me,
they're idol's food unfit to eat.
I have no place where I belong.
You have kids and I float on.
I'm old. Even strangers see that I am
older than my body's life span.
My beard is grey with lives gone.
My eyes hide, in blue, their storms.
I shiver even when I'm warm
and dream of things I've never known.
The question, it seems, is, "When was home?"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Picking up the pen

  I've been told repeatedly now that the blog needs an update and I know it does, but the ambition to write kept failing me. I guess today is the day it will hold.
   I believe last we left off Tine and I were in Green Turtle Cay, newly checked in and sated with expensive ice cream as a treat.
  From Green Turtle we sailed to Great Guana Cay, stopping along the way in a bay of sea grass. Why would we stop in sea grass you ask? Simple, Conch live there. We spent about 15 minutes diving and pulled up 6 conch, then continued on to anchor in Settlement Harbor. The winds picked up that night and swung our buddy-boat Hermes into shallower water. He had to get into his dinghy at about 3AM to reset his anchors and in doing so lost his wallet overboard. That night we ate out first Conch salads. We took to the dinghies the next morning when the winds died off and managed to get the wallet back minus a credit card or two that floated away.
  From Guana we headed to Marsh harbor, Tine's last stop on the trip. She'd done what she set out to do, she had enough adventure for a while and had seen me across the gulf stream and Marsh Harbor was the nearest airport with service to the US. Tine could tell the story better than I, but I will do what I can.
 On the night we got to Marsh Harbor Tine packed up everything she'd brought onto the boat and a couple of the souvenirs. We left the boat at 4AM and walked to the airport, a lady heading the same way gave us a ride the last half mile or so. There was some trouble finding a ticket agent who could actually sell a ticket for the flights leaving that day, but finally Tine was able to get onto a flight to Nassau, eventually taking her to Rochester where Mom and Dad got her and brought her home.
  I was sad to see my sister go, but I could tell she wasn't enjoying herself as much as she could have. Over the following weeks Don and I were able to have numerous conversations and dinners without me feeling like I should be entertaining my sister. It was a little lonelier without her, and dinners were less exciting (I only made curry for myself once). Don and I spent about a week in Marsh harbor before hopping over to Man-O-War. That, I think is going to be a different post. My pen is starting to run out of ink here.
 Till next time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bahamian Towns

Today's post will involve an in-depth description of a typical Bahamian town, hence the brevity of this entry.

Bahamian towns are small.  Comically so.  If you find yourself in the mood to wander for awhile, you best prepare yourself to walk the same block half a dozen times.  If you're lucky, there's a road.  More than likely this road will resemble a wide sidewalk.  It's okay though, because not too many people own cars.  It seems frivolous when it takes longer for us to get to the mailbox than it does for them to get to the grocery store.  This doesn't stop them from owning golf carts though; no siree.  I guess it makes sense for toting groceries and the occassional home appliance, but Brian and I both found it amusing when someone drove by on a golf cart and we passed them in town five minutes later.  I mean, if you can see your destination from your vehicle, you probably don't need to use it.   

Oh, and once you get into town, just walk into a garage somewhere, because more than likely it's a grocery store.  If not, then it may be the customs office, or perhaps the local restaurant.  Because, seriously, they all look the same.  It brings new meaning to "working from home".  This probably explains why they are only open about four hours a day.     

I suppose the Bahamians know no other lifestyle, and I suppose there are tons of people who like the laid-back island vibe.  Not me; sorry.  I like a nice big sign that will tell me exactly when I can come in and buy Spam and allow me to browse at my leisure without feeling like I need to make small talk.  Anonymity.  That's what I missed about America.  I can do whatever I want and people probably won't notice; but down in the Bahamas if you aren't a local you immediately draw attention.  And being a blatant tourist is, quite possibly, one of the most uncomfortable feelings (besides, perhaps, admitting to the locals at the checkout that you willingly would spend $6.50 on a can of Spam).

So anyway, next time you go to run errands, take time to appreciate your giant strip malls and road signs that remind you that you probably are not following the speed limit (since, by the way, there aren't any of those either).  Savor all the impulse buys at Target and find freedom in the endless aisles at Wegman's, because there certainly isn't any room for that in the Bahamas next to all the golf carts.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Checking Things Out and Checking Us In

So, last we left off, Brian and I had just reached the Bahama Bank.  While making it to the bank was a big accomplishment, we still had about 24 miles until we reached the anchorage for that night at Mangrove Cay (pronounced "key" for those not familiar with Bahama lingo).  After 12 hours of motoring, this was the last thing we wanted to do, but the promise of a full night's sleep was too good to pass up, so on we went.

To celebrate our big push across the Atlantic, we made a big batch of guacamole and some fresh limeade.  We also cut the motor to give our ears a break and tried sailing.  After two hours barely making two knots, we made the command decision to suck it up and motor the rest of the way (having a motor grinding away can really wear at you though, so it certainly was not our first choice). The only positive to motoring at that point was getting some sort of breeze because, FYI, it's warm in the Bahamas!  When sailing properly, there is usually enough of a breeze to keep things pleasant, but trying to sail with no wind in full afternoon sun and three hours of sleep...let's just say our victory buzz wore off pretty quickly.

Fast forward several more hours and the two of us finally spot a little spit of land in the distance.* 
Almost immediately after anchoring off Mangrove Cay we received a transmission from Brian's friend and former co-worker Don checking to see if we arrived safely.  Unfortunately, we were just far away enough that we could receive his call, but he couldn't hear our response.  After a couple of failed calls we turned our attention to our respective cans of vegetables for dinner and resolved to try again in the morning.  

After the same futile attempts the next morning, a larger boat offered to relay a message, counting on his higher mast to get a signal to us.  Success!  And with that we headed off towards Don.  Brian got to sail off his anchor for the first time that morning (much to his pleasure), but the winds starting waning again and we were forced to start the motor.  A little ways into the morning, Luna** started cutting out a bit.  Uh oh.  So we tried sailing as Brian pulled the motor apart.  After a bit of tinkering, Brian managed to get things working again.  He thinks it was probably some water in the gas line which seemed to pass through on it's own.  Now things were (and still are) running like a champ. 

By mid-afternoon we reached Great Sale Cay and Don came over to greet us in person.  After a visit to the beach to explore, the two of us went over to Don's boat ("Hermes") for some fresh snapper.  It was a vast improvement over our cans of vegetables the night before. 

Don's Pearson 33 "Hermes"
The next morning the four of us (Brian, Me, Don and his dog Pubu) headed down to Fox Town where we were to wait out a "cold" front for the next few days.  Brian rigged his Genoa for the journey and with the extra volume in the sail we cruised at about 6.5 knots which was quite the surprise for all of us.  Cassie is a fast little thing when she wants to be!  About five minutes into our morning Don caught another huge snapper which served us well for plenty of future dinners.

Don's snapper caught on the way to Fox Town
Cassandra with the Genoa up
Sunday morning Brian and I went for a swim.  It was nice to move around for awhile after all the sitting that past week.  Brian took advantage of the shallow water and played with his snorkel and fins and Cassandra and I had a bit of a bath; while the salt water doesn't make you feel clean, it beats being covered in sunscreen and sweat.  That evening one of the people in the anchorage invited everyone over to his boat to visit.  Here we met half a dozen people from Australia who had purchased two boats in the U.S. and were sailing them down the coast and then back home.  After exchanging sailing stories and some dinner with Don, we packed it in for the evening. 

The next morning Don and Brian went over to the rocks just offshore to look for lobsters.  About an hour later they returned with half a dozen crustaceans on which to sup that evening.  With that eventful morning behind us, we set off for Crab Cay.  We spent the night in a large bay which we had all to ourselves, and the next morning we started for Green Turtle Cay.  Another front was to come through in the next few days, and White Bay in Green Turtle Cay was a safe spot to wait it out.  Green Turtle is also home to one of the customs offices, so Brian and I took advantage of one of the days there to get ourselves checked in.  During the three mile trek from town back to the dinghy, the clouds started rolling in.  About half a mile from our destination someone with a golf cart took pity on us and drove us the rest of the way back.  We arrived not a moment too soon; almost as soon as we took shelter under a porch the clouds opened up and it poured rain.  I took advantage of the fresh water pouring off the roof and washed my hair as best I could.  Brian decided he would rather be dirty than wet and cold.  To each his own, I suppose. 

Once things started dying down we got a pint of celebratory ice cream to share (for $9 I might add); boy was it good!  Had it not been so expensive we could have easily had another one (calories are not a factor when you live on a boat). 

So there you have it.  After a week in the Bahamas we were finally legally in the country.  Keep checking back to hear more about Green Turtle Cay and beyond. 

*For those who don't know, the islands in the Bahamas are comprised of eroded coral and sand, so they are relatively flat; that means they don't show up on the horizon until you are almost on shore.  This is excellent for those who wander around and plunk their anchor down whenever they see fit, but for those who actually want to know where they are, it's best to have some fancy charts or a gps handy.

**The proposed name for Brian's new motor.  Since Jackson got him all the way to Jacksonville, we figured Luna will either get him to the moon or it will never die.  Either outcome seems favorable at this point.        

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Crossing Over

*Since WiFi hotspots are few and far between, rather than getting a post from Brian, the next few updates will be from his sister, Christine, who just returned home after living aboard for the past month.

So much has happened since last updating, so it will take a few posts to get everyone caught up.  Rest assured, we made it to The Bahamas and have been cruising around happily, but let's rewind a bit...

The last few days motoring down the intracoastal were the same as ever. Long, droning hours with a motor and multimillion dollar waterfront homes.  Eventually, after one final push we made it to Lake Worth- a common jumping-off point for The Bahamas, and our last stop in the U.S.  We got in Monday night, February 3rd, which gave us a full two days to prepare the boat (and ourselves) to cross.  Tuesday was spent in town traipsing around Palm Beach trying to find everything we needed.  By mid-afternoon we were both worn out enough that salads from Publix, a quart of chocolate milk and a bench in the shade were an oasis of relief.  By nightfall we had a dinghy full of provisions, and Brian had to make multiple trips in some pretty choppy water to get everything back to the boat.  It's a good thing I trust him, because sitting in the bottom of that dinghy seemed [as Mr. Samuel Arrow would say] "definitely unsafe."

The next day we moved from the anchorage in the northern part of Lake Worth, to one a bit further south, and within spitting distance from our exit point.  That night we had a pleasant surprise.  Our Dad just happened to be flying in to Palm Beach that evening, and we watched the sky until he flashed the lights on the wings.  It was the best way anyone could have seen us off that night.  After that, we managed to get a few hours sleep, and then at midnight we set off across the ocean.  As per our parents request we were armed with life jackets and harnesses, though it was hardly necessary.  The water that night was as calm as ever.  It was more treacherous navigating through weekend speed boat traffic than crossing the ocean that night. 

After several hours in the dark, Brian and I noticed that splashing through the waves made the disrupted water glow- a phenomenon, I believe, called "bio-luminescence."  I didn't even know such things were possible.  It made me feel like all the little plankton in there were saying hello and wishing us well, and it made watching the dark water a bit less frightening. Also around that time we entered the Gulf Stream and noticed a subtle change in the air.  Instead of smelling like dirty water and city, it was warmer and sweeter, and every few hours we would notice it getting fresher and fresher. 

Sunrise the morning of the crossing
Twelve hours after leaving Lake Worth, Brian and I reached The Bahama Bank.  All of a sudden the ultramarine blue turned to aqua blue, and instead of being in hundreds of feet of water we were in twelve feet.  It's hard to describe the feeling when you witness something so amazing, somehow it puts into perspective the sheer vastness of the world.  Being in such a small boat and floating around on such a huge ocean...it made the momentous moment seem almost inconsequential (though perhaps if you asked Brian he would disagree).

Arrival on The Bahama Bank
 So, that takes us up to The Bahamas- February 5th.  There's obviously more to come, but hopefully this will appease any anxious followers.

Until next time,
Your guest blogger, Tine