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Back on the water

Well, it’s been a few years but it all comes back quickly – except I never was a racer. This past Wednesday evening was only my second sailboat race. The first was several years ago for fun in my then Catalina 30. This time I have the good fortune to be invited to crew on a similar boat, but rigged out for class racing. Even got to fly a spinnaker! Proud to report, we came in first — (full disclosure, we were the only boat in our class). I’ve signed up for the season of Wednesday night races to the extent I can manage. Looking forward to sailing with a good crew and some fun time on the water. Pix follow……

Circling for the start
Good crew, good boat

Remembering

It has been too long since I’ve been able to commit the necessary time to the practice of falconry, and also since I’ve shared the falconry experience with friends. This past week corrected some of that.

It was great to attend the annual Spring Rendezvous at the Archives of Falconry in Boise, Idaho. The primary reason for going was the celebration of lives of falconers who have passed. In particular, my good friend Jim Ruos was added the  Wall of remembrance this year. The Rendezvous had not been held the past couple years due to Covid limitations. As a result, and sadly, some 40 names were added to the wall this year.

Wall of Remembrance

In addition, several presentations by experts on the history and practice of the sport were enjoyed. And, most especially enjoyed was the opportunity to reconnect with friends in the raptor world, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 40years. Hopefully we’ll all do a better job of staying in touch now.

The Archives have been newly expanded and is a remarkably professional facility housing papers, art, books, data and artifacts relating to falconry around the world. There is beautiful informational and art displays.  Adjacent to the Archives is the Peregrine Funds World Center for Birds of Prey which works to prevent extinction, protect critical habitats and educate on the roles and importance of raptors around the world.  Many species are on display, and guided tours explain the life histories and characteristics of these remarkable birds.

Golden Eagle
California Condor

Fall is arriving …

… what a great time to get outside and enjoy the beauty!

The Original British Car Day – 2021

A fun day at the car show!  Spent 3hours viewing some remarkable historic British Marks.  Represented were Aston-Martin, Austin Healy, Jaguar, MG, Mini Cooper, Morgan, Land Rover, Lotus, Riley, Sunbeam Alpine, Triumph, TVR.

It was great fun watching the parade of cars entering the show, and talking with many of the owners about their cars and the restoration work they had accomplished.

Christmas/New Year Greetings

Regardless of your particular beliefs, the Christmas season can be a time to pause, appreciate the good things from the past year, and learn from the not so good. Yes, 2020 has been a challenge, and especially sad for many families. I choose to focus on the good, be grateful for our well being and be optimistic about the year to come.

Here’s wishing you all a safe and wonderful 2021!

Changes

Life is a moving target. To live fully, one must constantly be adjusting their aim. Practice helps, but perfect aim, if achievable at all, comes late.   I would never describe my life as uneventful or mundane. The watchword has been constant change, some minor and happening slowly, others fast and substantial. In any event, it has been an interesting ride – so far.

The latest significant change is my decision to sell Valinor II. That means taking off the skipper’s hat, but perhaps finding an occasional crew spot. My sailing career has been long and varied. I’ve first and foremost met and made good friends on the water throughout my travels. I’ve seen a lot of coastal US (east side), and spent many wonderful days exploring the remarkable Chesapeake Bay. It’s been a good run, and the destination has always been Valinor.

I trust there’s time for more adventures of some kind, and will share as they materialize …..

 

‘Hindsight is 2020’ they say … (This is NOT a political post)

 

We should soon put 2020 in the history book and find our way out of what has been an especially challenging year on so many fronts.

In part, because of the virus and some pretty inconvenient weather systems, this has also been a very challenging sailing season. Add to that some ongoing repair/improvement efforts on a newly acquired boat (late 2019). My enrollment in Spinsheet’s Century Club challenge proved overly optimistic. Not nearly as much time was spent on the water as planned. Even so, I managed to break the 50 day mark …..

First, early in the season I moved the boat to a new location at Maryland Yacht Club on the Patapsco River. It was a friendly and well-equipped site with a very generous sized slip and good marina neighbors.

On the down side, it was a solid 4+ hours sailing time to the Annapolis area where many friends are based and closer to my very familiar cruising waters. On the up side, it gave me opportunities to try my hand at some fun racing. Even a grand-daughter got a chance for some racing lessons at the helm of a friend’s boat.

One such race was cut short abruptly by a broken steering cable – right at the start line. It offered a little excitement and an opportunity to test out the boat’s emergency tiller system.

This new interest in racing led me to enter a novel Annapolis-based event, the ‘2 Bridges Fiasco’. This was the first year for this race which was patterned after a regular San Francisco event. It was perhaps the highlight of the season. We had good winds,10-20 mostly, and I scored an assist from very experienced crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That experience paid off given the 130+ boat fleet, and the staggered start all of which would have otherwise been a bit stressful. We managed a respectable finish in the middle of our class – not bad for a 34ft cruising boat. We topped 7kts and put the rail in the water a few times.

 

 

 

 

Even with the virus restrictions, the Club managed a few overnight cruises with small rafting groups in some lovely Bay anchorages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For assorted reasons, I made several trips down Bay to Annapolis. One of those produced a record time with favorable wind and tide making for a really fun sail. Sadly, the usual weekend raft ups fell victim to the virus constraints.

It’s now mid-November. I’ve relocated the boat back to Annapolis at my former marina in preparation for some over-winter work. The process of setting her up for winter is underway, but final winterization is on hold pending the chance for a few more day sails. So, hoping for some moderate, breezy days and friendly crew to share some bittersweet time on the water. Barring a change in current plans, Valinor II will have a new skipper by next season. Stay tuned for new adventures………

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Well, we settled here, approaching a year now, where family has been for decades. Family names on streets and the odds that many of the folks we meet are somehow related. You would think we knew the area. Not so well it seems. It has taken company from our motorhome travels and distant Colorado friends to encourage some exploration. So, here is a quick look at Thurmont, MD and surrounding features.

Within 40mins we have several National Parks including Antietam Battle Field and Gettysburg Battlefield. Both of which should be on every one’s list to visit. The associated foundations have produced amazing films and displays that do everything but put you in the battles. A remarkable look at that piece of history.

 

NPS is doing a wonderful job renovating the facilities and displays at the C&O Canal, including rebuilding the aqua duct, and re-watering to float a canal boat, in Williamsport – which also has Civil War history as a hospital town.

And a walk along the tow path offers assorted photographic opportunities…

Closer to home is the Catoctin Mountain NP with assorted hiking trail (not far from Camp David). Of family interest is the now defunct mountain spring still. During prohibition in the ‘20s, local folk built a rather extensive facility capable to producing large quantities (18 500gal vats) of whiskey …. until the revenuers found them. It seems gunfire was exchange and a revenuer shot dead. A distant relative was found guilty of the murder and incarcerated for some years. The back story says the revenuer was shot in the back, and his partner (behind him) was engaged in an affair with his wife. The subsequent assumption follows that our guy was innocent, and the truth covered up. Always fun to have ‘interesting’ relatives 😊

Then came the tour of the local covered bridges, all three of which have been fully restored and have accompanying parks on beautiful streams. Anyone would provide for a beautiful picnic, and wade in the creek……

                  

 

Then there is the giant slide (covered) at a local church park. Built in the early 1900s.

 

 

Throughout much of this part of the Country, the winery industry has grown. The hard scrabble ground that offers poor farming, makes for good grapes. At least three wineries are close at hand. And a stop at one gave us a great tour and explanation of the wine making process – not to mention an extended sampling of their wares. It pays to go at off times …

On coming Home – a sequel*

While resting on my newly acquired boat and feeling very much at home, I began thinking about the meaning of Home. What is it that draws us to a place that we feel is home? Is there some underlying biology to it? And so, from where did we come that would leave that trace?

Biologists and other scientists work to describe HOW we came to be as a species (along with all other living things). We think we’ve got it. Philosophers try to explain WHY — all absolute conjecture. Yet, seemingly buried in our DNA or elsewhere is some innate knowledge of both how and why – and from where. It’s buried so deep we are never certain, if we’re honest with ourselves, of what we profess to believe, or at least we shouldn’t be.

So, in that buried knowledge, do we have some understanding of what home means?  Why are some of us driven to try to explain? Is there something profoundly important that understanding would reveal? From ‘ashes to ashes’ we simply recycle our beings. Is death the pathway to home … returning elementally from whence we came? In that sense, do we not all return home to the earth in the end?

Most likely never consider these matters, being free then to pursue their lives unhindered by the questioning and frustrations of inadequate understanding. Others choose to leave this all up to one or another god and its associated religion – and accept that dogma.

At the very end of any puzzling of this kind comes the unanswerable question of where did this universe come from and what preceded it if anything. Thus, from whence did we come? Nothing-ness, along with infinity, are concepts our brains seem incapable of grasping in any meaningful way. What do we know but not recognize or understand about this yearning for home? What is different about those of us who feel this yearning so profoundly? Are we the same ones who feel so deeply for the health of our earth?

See, it’s risky to simply sit on a boat with nothing much to do.

‘Coming home’ is a frequent expression having nothing to do with opening a door to our house. What images connote home? Why? What do they have in common? Among many singers/songwriters, Enya sings “I’ll find a way home”, Sissel sings ‘Going home’. Many people will recognize that feeling about a place that they’ve come home to – a comforting, belonging feeling. When asked to explain why, what it is about the place and the feeling, most will struggle for an adequate answer.

What prompted this rambling essay? I’m back on the water after a solid-ground excursion of a few years. It feels like coming home. For me, that’s a sense of ‘rightness’, calm, familiar, peaceful, belonging. My boat’s name Valinor is from Tolkien’s middle earth tale. Valinor is the ‘undying land’ to which the heros sailed at the end of the story – a comforting thought of going home.

All is good when sitting in a boat in a quiet back water with no demands of self except the constant conversation that carries on in our minds, aware or not, and a child’s repetitive question, why? Why does this feel like coming home?

Perhaps it’s just simply that home is the saline sea from whence we came – if the biologists are right. The philosopher’s ‘why’ question is more interesting.

*see the earlier ‘coming home’ post.

Searching…..

Almost three years ago I traded sails and house for wheels.

 

It was a wonderful two years traveling the Country, but now it’s time to trade back.

Motor home is gone and a new house renovated.  Back in the Bay area, and almost feeling settled……..then sitting still isn’t an option.  So begins the search for a new “Valinor”.  She was a wonderful sailing partner, and we covered a lot of water together. This time will be a step up from her 30 feet by 4 to 6 more. Looking forward to cruising the Bay again and reconnecting with my sailing friends.

Stay tuned for the search process … have already passed on several Catalina 34s and 36s and a couple Beneteaus looking for that ideal boat – solid, clean, well equipped, 34-36ft with walk thru transom. Yes, there will be a dog on board so easy access from and to the dingy will be important.

Look forward to meeting on the water!