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Posts from the ‘Nibblings’ Category

Home again..

 

With beginnings come endings…. so it is with my ‘there and back again’ adventure.

IMG_20140327_072547902_HDRValinor’s name has it’s origin in that J.R.R. Tolkien adventure tale. At the end of the tale, the heros sailed off to Valinor, the undying lands, with the elves. Well, I’m not a hobbit, elf or hero, and I found no elves to take me anywhere along my adventure, at least none that would admit it. But it does feel a bit like leaving for some final place as I approach the end.

I’m in Solomons as I write this, having sailed from Hampton with friend Roger Long. Roger’s boat’s name,  ‘Strider’, also has its origin in the same Tolkien tale. I will meet some SOS cruising friends at Pirates Cove Marina (Galesville) on Saturday/Sunday, then head back to home and hearth on Monday with my wife who generously consented to my extended wanderings.

It has been a long adventure from Last October 28th when I set sail from Annapolis to now. I would not trade the experience for most anything – interesting, challenging, quiet, fun, sometimes exciting, illuminating, sad, and an assortment of other emotions/reactions that may only become apparent with time to reflect.

This is the last of the posts specific to this adventure. The travel feels appropriately complete. It felt that way when I arrived in Hampton – home Chesapeake Bay waters after clearing Mile ‘O’ of the AICW. I’ll spend some time now thinking about the trip and perhaps commenting on aspects from a  cruising and personal perspective.

In unexpected ways, it has been circular – apart from the round trip nature. I docked here at the Chesapeake Biological Lab, a sister lab of CEES to AEL where I served on the faculty 30 years ago. Doesn’t feel that long! Roger, my occasional sailing partner, is the naval architect who designed the Rachael Carson – CBL’s Research vessel I’m docked next to (…adjacent to which I’m docked ? I was an English major once – more than 30 years ago).

IMG_20140409_195540184It has been fun, occasionally sharing on this blog, hearing from friends and strangers (friends I haven’t met yet) who have followed these travels. I made new friends along the way, and look forward to future adventures of some sort on the water. The sailing community is a fascinating group of folks almost impossible to characterize simply – they each  find some sort of fulfillment in sharing time on the water with others of common interests – or alone.

Thanks to all for being there, sharing your experiences, and I hope to encounter you again in other travels.

Fair winds!

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Fishing the Gulf

What a great day!  A good friend, Joe K, flew down from New York for a few days and chartered a fishing boat. Hooked Up, captained by Jim Bailey, is a 34ft Hatteras and one of the most successful charterers out of Key West.  Joe generously invited me along for my first ever experience with salt water fishing.

We left the Key West Marina just after sun up and headed out on the Gulf side of the Keys. Once across the shallows, crew rigged and set the lines. We had two outriggers and four other baited lines set at varying distances and depths.

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Our general track ran several miles north of and parallel to the keys extending out to the Smith Shoal light not far from the Marquesas.  We had clear skies, plenty of sun, light wind and mostly flat water for a beautiful, comfortable day on the water.

I call it a success … we landed 10 fish – Spanish and King Mackerel – and lost only one. That one put on a spectacular aerial show, but threw the hook in the process.  Here’s what we brought home …. some of which found its way to the dinner plate that evening deliciously prepared by Terri!

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More pix from the day…

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Solo time

Tonight I found myself in a solitary anchorage after a long, pleasant run of 48 miles. The day began with the promise of warming, sunny weather – a promise kept. It is also a reminder of the contrasts. Solo sailing has its joy, and offers time for contemplation as well as the meeting of challenges when conditions are less than ideal. Perhaps more important, it misses the opportunity to share the very special times and places one encounters unexpectedly. Tonight was one of those.

As the sun set, the sky glowed with vivid salmon colors against the blue. I’d post a picture, but it wouldn’t begin to convey the spectacular changing view. This evening will be one of those solo times etched forever in the memories of this adventure.

As the sky keeps changing, and the birds continue their evening songs, I’m reminder of all I’d hoped for in making this trip,and look forward to the remembering and other opportunities to share.

… maybe I’ll post a pic or two later……….

My father…

I thought about my father this evening. I think of him every now and again, but somehow this was not the same. He was a gentle man, and honorable man. He served his life as a clergyman, setting an example that most of us would be hard pressed to emulate. He died young, in his mid-fifties – too young.  Too young to see and know his grandchildren. He would have been proud of each of them. Too young to watch his son grow into an adult. Too young to follow the successes and failures that we all experience. He believed with a strength of conviction that I could not follow, despite all the opportunities he provided to me to accept his view of life. If he was right and I am wrong, I imagine he’s smiling as I write this.

I think we all reach a time and place where we feel a need to remember and honor our parents. We find our own paths, and come to our own conclusions about the nature of life.  My father knew before he passed away that he and I had found different answers. He accepted that, and never sought to call mine wrong. I believe he trusted that we all come to know truth in some way in our own time. I choose to believe that this is our one and only life to live, and that we have one chance to live it in a way that we can be proud at the end that we did our best to live true to our principles. He believed in something more, and trusted in a plan greater than what we can know in this life.

At this point in my adventure traveling south, I’ve paused for a moment to honor my parents. My mother had her own strengths and shared his beliefs, but it is my father that I mostly recall this evening in a quiet spot on a boat alone.  I didn’t know it at the time I packed the boat for this trip, but must have unconsciously thought this time would come. He was a pipe smoker – perhaps his only ‘vice’. I packed his favorite – one of the few things I have of his. I filled it and lit it on the deck tonight and remembered the many time as a child I could smell the fragrance. I choose to think, right or wrong, that he noticed. If he did, then I’m mistaken, or perhaps we are both right, and this mystery of life is greater than we can imagine.

Among many other things, he gave me his heart – in many ways other than the physical that killed him.  While it has been a challenge, it has also been a strength that has so far given me a quarter of a century more than he had. I’ve had time to watch my children grow and the beautiful grandchildren they have produced. It has been a remarkable gift. He missed that.

I offer these thoughts to my family, but mostly to remind other sons to take the time to honor their own parents, and especially fathers for lessons learned – however long it might take to learn them.

I also share this as a gift back to my dad.

Awesome

Doldrums…

Doldrums – (from Wikipedia) .. noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks. Colloquially, the “doldrums” are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation.[1]

 

Sunrise at Shaw Bay

— a common, well-understood term in the sailing community, and one that comes frequently to mind this time of year.  As summer heat builds, it seems only two weather conditions prevail; hot, humid and still or hot, humid and thunderstorms.  Neither condition is conducive to good sailing. So what to do with this time that includes much of July and August?

Some options include:  make sailing plans for when more favorable conditions return, make those postponed repairs/improvements,  catch up on ‘home chores’ and/or seek air-conditioning. These options will clearly fill the time, and are productive ways to do so.

For myself, I’ve been working through a long list of home projects/repairs, finishing a set of companionway doors for the boat, and developing plans for extended sails come September/October and beyond. In addition, it provides a quiet time to reflect on a variety of personal and philosophical issues.

‘Forced’ quiet time can remind us to slow down, think about priorities and the important things in life – maybe even turn off the cell phone and computer?  Among more personal and arguably more important matters, emerge thoughts about why we sail, and why sailing can easily become a way of life.

Lyrics in Kenny Chesney songs, “vessels of freedom, harbors of healing”, resonate with the feelings that often come when on the water, powered quietly by the wind with “nowhere to go, and nowhere to be”.  Whether real or imagined, sailing offers a sense of total freedom to go wherever you choose and the wind can take you.  And maybe to capture just that feeling is the fundamental reason we sail.

Point in time…..

2011 DMV trip - Ingram Bay

Sometimes we feel it coming. Other times we notice it looking back. Rarely are we aware at that particular point in time when our thinking about life – ours in particular – shifts.  But, if we’re paying attention at all, we eventually do notice. And, it does happen whether we notice or not – sometimes more than once.

Much of what is written about the cycle of life and dying has become trite and repetitive. Characters change, circumstances change but the message is constant. No one gets out alive. What interests me are the answers to the “so what?” question and how those answers change. What do we do with the time allotted to us?  I was prompted again to think about it, and capture those thoughts, by an internet friend’s posting …

“The worst that could happen to us is that we have to die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.” Don Juan Matus

A good reminder. Don Juan’s creator, author Carlos Casteneda, is a favorite of mine. Much of what he teaches resonates with my own views of life and living. The above quote sums it up succinctly. And for those who have faced dying up close, it carries even more relevance.

Others have observed that things come to us when we need them. Or at least we notice and give them currency at important junctures in time. I discovered Casteneda and Don Juan’s teachings at one of those junctions. In retrospect, it was arguably my ‘point in time’ when I began looking at life differently. The consequences of such a shift are not trivial, nor are they instantaneous. It takes time to internalize such a change and make it real in our daily lives. It is a cascading process, one change leads to another and then we notice we are not the same person we were – sometimes a pleasant acknowledgment, other times a rude awakening, occasionally frightening. I see this process as my mission in life. “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t” – Richard Bach.

The best we can do is to live our lives consciously, thoughtfully, and aware that the time we have is uncertain.  Don Miguel Ruiz (‘The Four Agreements’) offers good counsel, “Always do your best.Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.”

27 days and counting….

The sun may be shinning, but there’s still a bite to the cold wind – a reminder that winter isn’t done with us just yet.  On the other hand, crocuses and daffodils are poking green leaves up through the leaf litter.  Official Spring is now just 27 days away, and long range weather forecasts have fewer below freezing temps!  While a late season storm crosses the country, as an optimist, I choose to believe the worst is behind us and sailing season is almost here………. Those who were fortunate enough to have sailed south for the winter may begin thinking about the return trip.

Winter seminars are giving way to boat-centric events, planning meetings and crew parties. The calendar is filling up with all such gatherings. Firm dates are set for boat preparation:  re-fitting sails, servicing the engine, general cleaning and organizing.  Slipping dock lines and raising sails isn’t far off now – and the cycle repeats……..

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Watching the weather to take advantage of those first warm days!

Off Season Fun!

I think it fair to say that, among other characteristics, sailors are fun-loving creatures – maybe a bit of a cross between pirates and otters. In any event, we’re never inclined to pass up a good party.  That’s especially the case during the off-season when those of us confined to land by the cold look for like-minded company to at least talk about sailing and plans for the coming season.

A party is what we got over the weekend, organized by the Annapolis Sailing Club  – good fun, good company, and great music provided by Pint & Dale. As their press release says – “If you can’t hear the wind in the rigging when William Pint and Felicia Dale break out in song, then you’re not listening.” It was a great program of sea shanties, and even a bit of sing along. 

Go here to read more about the duo, hear their music http://www.pintndale.com/ .  And that rather odd looking instrument is a hurdy-gurdy – you have to hear to appreciate!   Try here for a sample……… http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/wpintfdale3

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The evening provided opportunity to visit with old friends and make new ones. Skippers looking for crew and crew looking for boats – always in the background and the makings for a fun time!

Plenty of food and ‘grog’ to go around, all brought by the 70 or so folks that gatherd for the evening.

Mid-winter blues

January 21 – Awoke to a cold and gloomy weather report for the next week or so ….. hardly a surprise for mid-January. Then, we’ve had only one significant snow fall, though there’s still time for more.

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It’s the sub-freezing temps (teens) in this week’s forecast that sends me to the calendar trying to imagine Spring.

The Spring solstice, March 20th, is a significant marker on the calendar. That’s the day when daylight hours equal the night And, going forward, days that are now becoming longer do so at a much quicker pace – and get warmer!  The Spring solstice is also my target date to re-commission the boat – the formal beginning of my sailing season.

Just two days ago the loft called to say my mainsail was ready having been cleaned and minor repairs made.  The new head sail being built should be ready soon. Bimini and dodger were re-installed a week ago, and now the sails will go back on very soon. Only the engine and fresh water system to de-winterize – just waiting to get past any serious threat of extended freezing temps.

So, forgetting for the moment the cold air descending on us, I check the calendar and count days – just 50 to the solstice!  Spring is just around the corner.  counting ..49..48..47……

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…even Washington, DC may soon take on a more sunny appearance……… he says optimistically.

 

Think Spring…..

On these cold days, with the holidays behind us, here’s a thought to warm you (even if only in your mind)…. there are places where the sun shines and the sand is warm on your feet ……

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Orient Bay - St Maartans

Orient Bay – St Maartens

….and Spring is only eleven weeks away  🙂