Tag Archives: Bernard Moitessier

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 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

Experience or Judgement

Can’t Blame Everything on the Bossa Nova

20121228_183745

What Having a Hard Time of Things Looks Like

 

Odd jobs ate my week’s allotment of time. Hidden among the thieving chores and tasks were the weeds. So I performed the banishing act with a gas powered filament line empowered whirling dervish of a whacker. Then, fabric softener was purchased and the salt encrusted lines aboard my sailboat, not all but some were machine washed. Car was a disaster and had to be cleaned. My personage a disaster and had to be scrubbed to within a hair’s breath. My personal maintenance has gone on day in and day out. Thistle, thorn and stickers excised. Dust, pollen and cobwebs wiped away. Sunscreen having served its function removed. Bites from bugs soothed by calamine. I have been tattered, battered but none the worse for the wear.

Thoroughly exhausted the organizing pleasure of what remains of the day is to get horizontal with the current book- The Logical Route by Moitessier. There seems to be a safe and sane serenity space located on my bunk. First, brush teeth, turn on reading light and hold my book in the light with my rosebush punctured by venomous thorns hands. Moitessier’s narrative has been entrancing as it strips the bark from the present to remind us of the always here waiting for us to notice- eternal. His attention to detail- not just any set of particulars- but the concerns of a penniless in pocket abounding in wealth beyond all measure in spirit adventurer opens a space to an unexamined inner world. Moitessier’s gift is to reveal a more intimate testimonial, a more honest accounting of the circumstances he dared to overcome.

Filling the water tanks to the boat, cleaning toilets, putting pots and pans away, make a cup of coffee. It has been that kind of week. Many tasks have been technical. Cut this, acquire that, split the cable apart and insert this thing in there, seal it back up with heat shrink tubing, affix wire ties, onto the next chore. As is said often preparing to sail offshore with even one misplaced matchbook can spell disaster.

Most of what passes for skillful passagemaking is the mental faculty we describe as judgement. Experience is insufficient. Judgement is key.

As always may I suggest buying a book or booking my show as a gateway to fun and laughter….

Edited Red Star

 

May 1, ’18 First of May

Wind and Wave

Akumal headlands small

Shoreline

We are sailing from San Francisco Bay to the Channel Islands this summer. Aside from working on the to-do list and planning is to take pause from preparations and spend time reading Bernard Moitessier. The French-Vietnamese circumnavigator’s maritime narrative reads as lyric verse and Farmers Almanac guidance.

Clutter can accumulate within the mind while preparing a sailboat. In this modern era there is the risk of having too much equipment. Electronic navigation has radically changed the task of keeping an accurate course and position. Automatic Identification System-allows two vessels to view the others information while approaching and take evasive action or as needed to hail by VHF radio. Add the weather satellites and telemetry from the ocean buoys being caught offshore in an unexpected gale is much less common now than in earlier times.

Moitessier reads more as an example in how to exercise judgement. He nudges less seasoned mariners to unloading expectations, Turn the keys to your life over to the seas rhythm and wavelength. Be with the wind and the waves. Listen to the music of the bow wake. Technology can veil the visceral, anxiety can turn attentions inward, the long list of things you didn’t get done before shoving off can distract.

Sweet Seas

We untether from a land based time and begin living on that other scale on the inner clock. Nothing much happens when sailing resembling the pace of the modern world. You become acquainted with the pace and rhythm of the clear and present. Here and now with hundreds of miles ahead asks the voyager to get comfortable in their own bones. Impatience, the odd pace of life at sea, unrealistic expectations will contaminate the mind and fog the lens of judgement. Exercising untainted judgement is the highest form of voyaging art. The best decisions determine whether you and your boat will both live to tell.

Edited Red Star

Buy a book, book a show, and be sure to come back for no good reason other than to have a look-see. I’m right here mate.

Bernard Moitessier Pelagic Wisdom for Celestial Loons

Inscription from the author

“I am a
citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh
yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders,
where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of
wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea.”

Bernard Moitessier

            If you don’t
know anything about sailing and would like to know more you could do a lot
worse than to head to your favorite book vendor and acquire anything written by
Bernard Moitessier. I had the great fortune of studying celestial navigation
aboard his world record setting steel ketch Joshua in 1981 in Sausalito. He was a capable navigation instructor.
He spoke with a French accent. At that time I didn’t know his life story and
had no idea he’d been born in Viet
Nam. He embodied both East and West. He
looked all French to me. I knew he was a circumnavigator. I knew he had gone
alone non-stop one and three quarters time around the world aboard Joshua. I
knew right off at first sight that he was a romantic, that his life was a story
of the poet, the soul, the delicate balance between foolishness and courage.
Seeing sailing through Moitessier’s prose is to transcend the practical, the technological
and instead penetrate to a man who has found a method for speaking about the
natural wonders of the oceanic world. Yes, he can be practical. But, it is his
spirit that shines in his books. His bed aboard Joshua was lush, sizable, with
an abundance of velvet pillows and thick multiple colored quilts and goose down
comforters. It was mysterious, celebratory, it was a refuge, a place where deep
sleep could be found, spirits revived, a place where lovers could play. Joshua
was at first sight a no nonsense sea boat. Her purpose was visible even to a
novice. Here the boat and man stood, a team, a boat with a hull made of steel
and a man with a soul infused with the heart of a poet. So, as I suggested at
the outset of this essay and I emphasize at the end. Where do you go to find
out about things? Who do you trust? I would suggest that a place to begin would
be by reading some of Bernard Moitessier’s books. He will prove to be a
reliable timeless guide to the art and craft of sailing the oceans of the world
by way of the soul.

BANKRUPT HEART                                 THE SECOND NOVEL 

“He’s heading out?”
Kristine asked.

“That man loves
open water.” Jackie couldn’t manage a smile. Lenny’s leaving was just as well.
“Those close calls, the false alarms, break a girl’s heart when it turns out to
be nothing.” Jackie was pensive, she reconsidered, “It was better than that.
Must have been, when this one ended it hurt like hell, worst heartache I’ve
ever had.”

“Sometimes a man
can tear a hole right through us,” Kristine said.

“Men will do that.”
Jackie lamented. “But, I’ve never been drawn close to a man who’s not full of a
fight. I like the brawlers, someone you can argue with, I’m talking about a man
that’s trying to make something of his life.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith