Two Hundred Miles Downwind

Morro Bay Amel Ketch

Tranquility as harbor

Coffee, always hot black coffee. No cream and no sugar, no thank you. Still even with a cup of fresh brew the skipper and crew were both bone tired. Anchor was hoisted at the top of the day. Deeper water was found as we dodged the kelp taking a course south and west . The jib was unfurled . We set course for Morro Bay twenty miles south.

Here would be our first chance to set foot back on land for more than just fuel. The harbor in Morro Bay would be the boat’s keeper. Her now worn crew needed to stand down. After two days we needed to tie the boat to a dock and once relieved of duty not consider for one second about the change of weather or state of the ocean’s surface. Shore side leave was the order of the day.

We docked at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. I dropped the radar reflector and hoisted the burgee of the Emeryville Yacht Club. Sweet Seas and crew were welcomed guests. We showered and shaved. Down the Embarcadero along the waterfront we took a stool at Windows on the Water. I drank one martini before and a glass of red wine with my fresh shucked oysters, garden salad and chunks of sliced bread. I was back aboard on my bunk and asleep before ten bells had sounded.

Richard Santos Best

Richard Santos- Longtime friend and crew

In the morning the ketch rigged vessel Spirit came alongside the pier. Her captain Tom Valery hailing from Ventura had come from a mooring ball to the dock to spend the day cleaning his 50’ Gulf Star. The one time Newport, Oregon native and musician now attended to an evolving set of new careers. The witty eyed sailor had plotted a post high pressure-high stakes musical career for the chance to go drifting from port to port in pursuit of his own next chapter.

There was a weekly Wednesday night barbecue at the club. Beef, turkey, salmon and veggie burgers were on offer. Six bucks got you all the fixings plus homemade side dishes whipped up by the clubs talented cooks. Conversation ran the gamut from dragging anchor to near misses in dense fog. The sailors with real sea time logged could not be worried about the inherent risks that come with going to sea.

vest

Skin in the Game

Seafarers understand the compact they’ve entered into. There is not much else to say. What choice does a mariner have? By my reckoning there are some risks in life that are best categorized as necessary. You stick your neck out because you’ll never live with yourself if you don’t. Rough weather is not much worse than a bad marriage, traffic citation or a beat up pickup truck with a broken starter. They’ll all make you cuss, drink whiskey and pile on more regret to the pile of mistakes you’ve already been carrying to this fated point in your life.

A yacht club is a collection of stalwart women and men who have some notion that a boat affords them a chance to take a chose shave with their life. There are all sorts of distracting dreams and destinations in the mix, but regardless of the aim or final port there remains the matter of surviving the getting there, even relishing that passage, making the voyage with skill and grace no matter the circumstances. Somewhere in the thing we know as sailing is a soul who needs to see an end to putting off the unavoidable.

gulls and seals

Time spent ocean sailing over the course of my thirty-eight years has been low. Most of my sailing has been in protected waters. I’ve done enough time offshore to have seen plenty. This stint is my longest yet. We’ve arrived in Morro Bay having now logged two hundred miles. Now we are just more than halfway. By my count I’ll have near nine hundred sea miles under my sailboats keel by the time I arrive back at my home port. By that time I’ll have a more intimate view of what my boat and what parts of my insides I’ve not flushed out into the open prior to this challenge. Sailing the coast of California turns out to be both a beautiful and hard won task.

More…  Edited Red Star

Seven Days, Twelve Hours

breach

Humpback

Departed San Francisco Bay Sunday morning 6:00 AM. We turned south at the first set of buoys. By noon Half Moon Bay was off our stern. The rest of the lighted hours of the day were spent watching the humpback whales. The whole day was spent spotting pods. Some whales came so close we could smell their breath. The rattle of their lungs exhaling shook us. Their need to breathe after holding their breath while submerged was empathically written into our terrestrial based imaginations. Even a whale’s breathing is no small feat. .

Shearwaters, gulls, and pelicans were spotted. Sea lions were hunting along the entire route as we motor-sailed five to eight miles offshore. We hadn’t counted on running the motor so long. When darkness took hold we diverted chasing a forlorn red flashing light across the bay to Monterey.

buoy

Buoy as Spirit Guide

Night fell as the seas kicked up. All we had to hold onto was the light from Point Piedras Blancas. Our plunging ahead on compass course, the blackest of nights, not another vessel appearing either on our horizon or electronics was a way of the gods telling us that we had this piece of coast to ourselves. Whatever we found was what we deserved. We had played right into fates hands.

nav desk

Knowing Who and Where You Are

An hour from the anchorage at San Simeon we began bending our course to where two weary mariners would sleep. Slowing as we approached the shallows. Dodging kelp reading the lighted marks to the diminutive safe protected anchorage we dropped our hook and once she bit hold the longest day came to an end. We were forty-five hours south of our departure. Sleeping in shifts along the way. But, by now we needed dreams to sweep our minds clear. I took a few compass bearings to orient the sailboats position. Once I was sure she wasn’t going to move my  chance to take of myself and let my boat take care of me turned to my advantage and I placed my weary sailors body on my bunk and was soon long gone and away.

More…

Edited Red Star

Tickling Artistry

clock and pressure

Take Your Time, There’s No Pressure

Back in LA. My life had been overtaken since the end of April. Shows at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, off to Kona to visit family, preparation of boat to sail offshore to Santa Catalina Island, house preparation for going on market, circus arts summer camp instructor, attending Hall of Fame ceremony for Shelley Switzer for her work as artistic director with the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival; add the Saskatoon Bunny Hug 30th Anniversary Celebration of the quirky and brilliant Canadian performing duo Flying Debris and there goes what we know as time as it is related to the comedy of being overscheduled.

New sails arrived. A house received a facelift. There was an oil change, books devoured, and lots and lots of vegetables eaten. The Berkeley Bowl is a venerable institution.

There was the no small matter of moving from one storage unit to another. Culling through possessions, sending unused but still useful items to thrift stores, other items to the dump. I tried selling a double oven on Craigslist only to be inundated with scams, trolls and con artists. That was a modern day wakeup call.

food

Eating for Health

Napa County’s Measure C an oak woodlands and watershed protection law went down to defeat in California’s June primary by a razor thin few hundred votes. Important to mention because a fictional version of this event is the subject of my fourth novel and more than three years of my time.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the brilliant Steve Aveson, the man I toured with in the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Sidewalk Circus in 1974-1975 went from his anchor seat at KRON-Television in San Francisco back to New England after a two year stint. We managed a few sleepovers and one bon voyage party in this period of time. Lucky to have had him out here and will miss him like a right arm.

Shakespeare Brothers

Al Krulick, Steve Aveson and Yours Forever (My New Stage Name…)

Reading a sailors 1956 account of sailing and shore side life while in South Africa and while crossing the Atlantic. I have found the sixty-four year old tale jarring to my sensibilities. Our modern day frantic pace of life, the complexity of the new technologies, the fingertip access to any fragment of information we may want is all so smarter and more than clever. Still there seems more than ever to have been spun fog, veil and confusion. We are less able now to make a sensibly constructed holistic narrative of where we are and what we might best do.

The shelves in stores are too full and too complicated. Engineering demonstrates a disdain for simplification. I can’t be sure I will even know how to turn on a television in a hotel room— forget about grasping the embedded algebraic function in an Excel Spreadsheet.

In 1956 a sailor with a copy of Nathaniel Bowditch’s Practical Navigator, a chart, sextant, compass and chronometer could leave sight of land and arrive after a long ocean passage of thousands of miles within a six thousand feet of their planned destination.

Sextant Moon Light

Moon, Light and Destiny

Technology is not only revolutionary. Disruption is our moments primal scream. I look at a gridlocked highway and wonder why the engineers have no answer for the chaos, pain and suffering the automobile is inflicting on us all. We have arrived at a moment with the finest cars than can barely get anywhere. We can fly to the moon and still nearly fifty years later not know what to do once we have proven that we can go there.

As is the case for most of what passes for communication in this day and in this age I am reminded of a cryptic note by Charlie Pierce on Twitter, “Hello? Is anyone listening?”

Edited Red Star

As always buy a book, book a show. Tickling is my art

A Circus Show School

shoes

School of Circus Dreams

Circus summer camp is a portal into the mosaic of my heart and hope. In this station of my life helping youngsters look beyond the finite horizon to what is beyond animates a piece of my own biography. I was that misunderstood boy busy box, the over loveable squirming unmanageable never quite able to be quite entirely quiet kid in class.

Whatever national lunacy going down in the media last week was not going on where I put my time and energy. Sure I was worried about our students. We have no metal detectors, no fences, gatekeepers. Circus camp was taking place in an ordinary city where we go about our business assuming we live in an open, free and safe society.

My schedule is pressing. I want to at least send out this emergency flair of hope. We are better than all of this. We are a loving and kind people. We are the mother’s and father’s who traveled and performed and who now teach. We are guardians and our duty to the future is paramount. To be entrusted with 95 new souls means to keep both hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.

diablo

Toys as Gateway to a Good Life

Two young brothers were in my group. If not alert to the impulse you’d peg them as troublemakers, as class disrupters. Once I realized how silly my expectations were, how they were never going to act like the best behaved girl of the same age, from the same neighborhood, in the same class things only could improve. All I had to do was sprinkle some time and attention their way. All I had to do was appreciate those two lads, point them toward opportunity and then watch as their imaginations and playfulness took flight.

The two boys noticed right off I was making room for them and in exchange they met their instructor with a measure of mutual respect. I had 95 separate, distinct, individual experiences with our future. I worked my tail off and I’m grateful I had a shot at sharing my circus dream with my community’s children.

Edited Red Star

 

 

 

 

A Stitch of Time

On the Hard in Preparation

Fresh wind bit my neck. I’d turned sizing up the blow. My sailboat is a capable partner to be running with. Going against this howler would tax the durability of the helmsman’s spirit. Not destiny but the downwind harbor made this leg of the journey a more valued lesson.

With the compass I read a course heading South and the least bit of West. I am making my way quick as life will allow. For a lapse of necessary time I anchored secure in stillwaters claiming refuge.

Sacks of fresh potatoes, tins of garbanzo beans, jars of tahini, cubes of sugared ginger, pounds of dark roast coffee to buck up sagging spirits…. provisions meant to stiffen a spine and strengthen resolve.

Time itself is thrown into question. How much, how dear, how little, when to go, will we return, is this the moment? Does passagemaking make the kind of expeditionary sense in such a compact and well charted world?

In an event horizon measured by lifespan what piece of this sail– in all its vicissitudes– can be refracted and focused to provide a more accurate glimpse of what has been too self-sure arranged within?

Can a closer brush with the front range of our ambitious questing to the unexplored corners sail us any nearer to the more fully realized self we hear whispering to us in the wind?

Forces scaled to the size of nature’s wit and wisdom have a way of clearing the view from a cluttered mind. A good passage is what we find and feel from start to end— pieces of the experience can provide a sailor with satisfactions found out of reach just beyond the horizon. A good passage is a promise fulfilled.

End of Day

Crypto Jaw Droppers Here

I’m Just Reading the Signs Peeps

Sign Post One

There’s a Call for You

I didn’t recognize the number. The voice message warned that I was wanted, that there were warrants for my arrest, an all points bulletin had been sent and the police were engaged in an active manhunt. To avoid all of that I was urged to call the number left in the voicemail— now!

I’d received an email that same morning. Someone had tried to change the password to my blog site. Moments later I unexpectedly received a Facebook Messenger notification from an associate. Much the same as the voice message the Messenger message urged me to call this number—now!

I’m racking my brain for my previous crimes. The label I removed from the electrical cord? Marijuana possession- illegal lane change- turn signal deficiencies- bulk bin nibbling- pity party- wishful thinking? What have I done! Why me?

I’m a showman, a juggling act, I had a cute dog then she passed. Lighthearted, breezy style, good natured… Somebody? Anybody? What gives?

Don’t click on that! Our email has been weaponized. My bank routinely “fraud-lock’s” me out of my account.

I’m reading the depressing Cambridge Analytica data driven politically motivated psychological cyber warfare stories from the Guardian. Mercer funding Bannon went offshore where they could then disrupt what are supposed to be free and fair elections.

Zuckerberg is in Europe on Tuesday digging his toe into the linoleum beneath his seat where he is testifying. Wonderkind’s post adolescent prodigy can’t quite invent an app that can defang the duplicitous arrows he has unleashed from his crypto quiver.

Criminality is not just venal— it is mostly brutish, thuggish and smug to the point of not quite so intelligent as the smartest guys in that smoke filled room might have imagined. The brightest bulbs don’t play in those rooms because they read the stories, they know the endings, and it isn’t going to so swell for our digital goon squads.

Monday’s harassment is a testimonial to what? The way it is? The cost of living in a free and open society? What unintended consequences looks like in this psychologically armed for scam and profit social media landscape we now all trudge through?

Be careful not just for what you wish, but for what you click for.

Buy a book, book a show…

Edited Red Star

Getting Rid of Stuff

There is no compromising with your stuff

compromise

Immutable Law of Stuff Riddance

The social activity director has been asked to leave the room— Close the door behind you— All those deadlines, all the things you said you’d get around to but you never did, all those— things?

Yeah peeps it is stuff time again. Toxic recycling center here I come. Second hand stores you’re next. Craigslist for items that still have value— picture’s already posted. The rest of the burden will be my burden to bear. Yeah, I got digital media devices. Yes, a terabyte sized solid state hard drive the size of Tinkerbell has done a fair amount of downsizing and cardboard box eliminating. But, there remains—-more stuff.

Then, there is the immutable law of not needing something until the day after you have discarded the very thing you have lugged up and down stairs, across stateliness, at great expense until you fall into that feverish state where relinquishment becomes sacrament. The newborn proud disposer of previously acquired indispensable stuff you’ve never used finally goes only to turn around a come back to haunt you. First, you buy it, then you never use it, then you try to lose it, only to have the thing come back and bite you in the regretful backside of what was once somebodies idea of a good time. This is stuff’s swan song doing dirge and death march, also known as the local-not nearly nearby as you’d like it to be county garbage dump.

I do not think of myself as a materialist. I have basements, garages, storage areas and overstuffed lockers that argue otherwise. Closets, drawers and shelves put a man like me at risk. I’m more able to resist that next shot of Wild Turkey than  I am able to discipline myself at the mailbox and just toss away another catalogue of mail order stuff that can be here to clog my life by the day after tomorrow.

The whole idea of not getting a hernia is like hoping I won’t get wet while swimming. A pair of gloves that’s what I need, that and some kind of plan. I’ll need to go through things one more time to be sure. I wish the whole idea of having a spring cleaning wasn’t even a time honored tradition, because as things go I could first off enjoy getting rid of that little nattering nuisance of a phrase. Of course words are cheap and stuff is heavy, not item by item but when you figure how much all this stuff weighs on my soul you get the idea right?

I’m starting tomorrow. Things have to change. There is no avoiding the fact I have to get rid of more stuff and worse still is people seeing you getting rid of stuff ask if you’d be willing to take some of their stuff off their hands—? Sure, put right there, I’ll see you when you get back from Tuscany, have a great time. You know where I’ll be.

Buy a book, book a show… let’s do stuff together….

coffee

Hot as Hell, Dark as Death

Edited Red Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author-Entertainer