Tag Archives: human folly

Boat as Soul Repair

Vessel Sweet Seas parading in the boatyard

To enter a boatyard is to step into a world dominated by men. There are reasons for this, none that will get to the truth of how this has happened, but it is here a workplace where men are packed cheek to jowl. The men come as fathers, bachelors, husbands, brothers, and braggards. Religious beliefs vary, most no longer drink, all have lived hard lives, none raise as much hell as the hell that landed them here. Lessons have been learned, that’s why they’ve been hired on, fool youth has been completed and their most productive years are before them.

Boats are stood on the hard and secured with boat stands. This first step is done by skilled veterans. Hauling a boat out of the water requires precision, there is no room for error. One team haul the boats out of the water, power washes the bottom and then sets the vessel on the hard where the work will be done.

If you need rigging fixed, carpentry repaired, or electronics debugged there is a specific skilled man that will do the job. Boats from all corners of the globe arrive for services provided here at KKMI in Richmond.

Bob Hennessy will oversee the work done on my boat. I’d come in distraught about the shaft seal failure and it was Bob coming down below seeing for himself the failing prop shaft seal and then intoning in a soothing mellifluous steady voice how to best fix this rascal. I had about 10 ideas how I might do the repair and Bob swatted all those away but one, the surest one, the one his yard recommended, and the one I would use. This is why they pay Bob the big bucks.

Propeller Shaft Seal is the black rubber boot

The man coordinating the services to a boat is something like the conversation you might have with your doctor, or if it is serious, you know if it is life or death, these are the kind of conversations you might have with your surgeon. Bob will explain how they’re going to cut the thing out, in this instance the propeller shaft seal, so I may regain my sanity and boats seaworthiness. I am fond of the part where I get to go sailing off over the horizon to live and love another day. There is no hand holding, there’s no show boating, no taunting or teasing. There are no crybabies. My job is to shut up and follow along learn as much as I can so I might know more about how my brain and my boat are put together. I appreciate Bob’s skillful means. The reason I don’t have to have all the answers is because of men like Bob who do.

Furthest left in image is the Camper Nicholson 35

The boatyard was crowded. Two boats down from mine was perched on the hard a 35’ Camper and Nicholson sailboat. The sloop rigged boat is a Lloyd’s Register of Shipping certified vessel built to the highest standards. The boat is one tough go anywhere take on anything Swiss Army knife of a tool that gives a mariner a snowballs chance of making it through the eye of a tropical depression then not sinking so the skipper and crew may then live long enough to tell. I don’t understand how they’ve figured out how to ensure such feats of daring (reasonable minds may disagree but this could also be considered an act of sheer stupidity) but someone located along the River Thames has quantified the loads on hull and masts and forces of nature and put the name Lloyd’s on the odds of someone making it through with this particular vessel under what can only be considered as a storm-tossed nightmare at sea.

Jesus is the technician handling my prop seal replacement

Sailboats of this kind are here being prepared for long ocean passages. One of the yards senior most experienced technicians was working at the stern installing a Hydrovane, or a wind powered self-steering device. Aligning the wind vane is precision work, the technician fashioned several mounting blocks from a special high strength epoxy resin laminate material. The nuts and bolts must seat perpendicular to the laminate blocks both on the inside and outside of the hull. Close isn’t good enough, right is right, literally each bolt and nut seats flush. The installation requires both patience and a fat purse as these hours add up and the expense is considerable. I watched the technician work two full days and there was still more to do. Fending off disaster at sea doesn’t come on the cheap.

The technician figured that I was trying to take care of my own boat and had bestowed his attention upon me as if by secret handshake, he made eye contact signaling I had permission to speak. Because boats are complicated, much as most marriages, therefore most owners have little time to give to their own boat or the sincere effort needed in keeping their marriage in top condition. I am one of the holdouts attempting to come out a champion of both.

Prop and seal installed

This is the way it was, the way it is and the way it always will be. My working on my own boat meant I was likely an odd and quirky man, that I knew little but tried my best. It doesn’t take a technician long to figure out I’m the rare bird trying to do as much of the work that needing doing and that can-do spirit had earned me a pass and pity depending upon the hour of the day and quality of the whiskey involved.

Think of a boatyard as mansplaining paradise. Here is located a sanctuary where being told how to do a thing right the first time is near divine guidance. A dedicated owner once identified as marginally capable and not some knotted up halfwit going off about a mechanical conundrum, he knows nothing about is for sport and conversational pleasure elevated to be a target of idle chatter. Do I have the will to persevere or will the task at hand bring me to my knees until I am defeated? In the world of advice, the most stubborn of us cannot ask and therefore will not receive.

Heat exchanger uses cool sea water to reduce heat of engine coolant… you don’t pump sea water through the motor

Upstairs in the chandlery is a vast floor of engine parts. An irritable bloke because of how Yanmar sells parts had to look over a schematic online and find part numbers for each individual item I will need to remove and replace the heat exchanger. There isn’t much cleaning a heat exchanger, but there are several steps to the task. This isn’t my first visit to this rodeo. By the last day in the yard the irritable gent upstairs opened the gate for me, he even smiled. I had passed muster as I whiled away day upon day undertaking all manner of tasks that I had showed some ability to complete.

A buzzer sounds over a public address system signaling that it is time for one of the two 15-minute breaks or the 30-minute lunch. Two men bring their dogs to work. Some of the most talented technicians tend to congregate with other most talented workers. The up and comers are men nearing 30. They’ve got plans to prepare their own boat for a future circumnavigation.

My sloop was put back in the water. Because I had opened the cooling system, I had to be careful on start up to be sure the coolant level was kept topped off. The propeller shaft seal technician hustled aboard to check the shaft seal was working as it should. Rather than takeoff immediately I remained at the docks overnight while checking and rechecking everything was as it should be, and my boat was seaworthy.

On her way back to where she belongs

At daybreak I prepared the boat for sailing. Prior to my departure to bookend my experience Bob rumbled again in soothing tones about how pleased he was to see my sailboat made whole and that I had come through the experience without earning the outright derision of his workers.

Ahead of Sweet Seas the racing boat Adjudicator

Slipping the lines, I motored south out of the channel to Potrero Reach then with fair winds on my beam I hoisted my sails shaping a course west out into the bay.

In the deal I’ve come to see fixing a boat as proxy for fixing some broken piece of our soul and out of the repairs, time and trouble invested there sails a spirit open to the wonder and the glory and how we’re all folded into the mystery.

Moitessier imagined his boats to be an alliance, each making the other all the better. That fits what I have come to know. I am back from the yard, I am shipshape, and ready to go with all my heart giving it everything I have. To all of us I wish for “fair winds and following seas.”

The revenge of hubris

Coming now to the nickels, dimes, and the last dog days of what remains of this 69th August I’ve come to know— I leap like a gazelle, eat like a voracious crocodile as what to make of this corner of creation we find the capitalist system to have worked itself into.

Threshold landings taking shape

Threading the needle of my adulthood through the eye of my extended youth has been a work in progress. I delude myself imagining the unrequited love I’d found cavorting along the surfs edge with the throng of nubile bikini clad wanton darlings of times gone by. I the gallant gentleman volunteering to swab sunscreen onto their shoulders and backs. Trustable, useful and mesmerized. Infatuation needs to come with a better operator’s manual for the next visit should this reincarnation thing in fact be true.

The rules are the rules. Ignoring the rules will place at risk the chances of losing the whole game. Instead of that romp in the midnight sun along the shores edge you are left to eat alone at an open all-night Denny’s. Here is located the starting line in the race to win the purest love, a love like no other, the one that changes the solitude that has been eating away inside since being separated from my mom the first day of kindergarten .

Installation for fitting prior to staining

Landing decks have been fashioned. Ends of fresh cut lumber have been sanded, the planks screwed to the frames, rough edges sanded until they were as smooth as the shoulders in need of sunscreen, then coming back to the task at hand I stood the platform on end to stain the new exterior landing’s then let them dry while I drip with sweat in the late summer sun.

Maestro fully restored ready to sail

How I had steered the ship of my life into a boatyard to restore a wooden sailboat had to do with the hubris, this was the blunder I allowed to tyrannize any chance of my ever being less ambitious. I entertained a doozy, the one I nailed my future to, brash and confident that the restoration would take maybe 3 months tops when in fact it would turn into a 7-year task.

Journeyman pointing to the screw I had to extract

Right off the bat you need to know the odds of making it to the end was near zero. The project’s sole volunteer hadn’t much woodworking experience. The hull required 2500 screws to be fastened to fresh oak ribs that had been sistered into place alongside the existing worn ribs. Those laminated oak frames were steamed until bendable then buttered up with epoxy and slid quick into place before they stiffened. I’m exhausted just remembering how the project had trapped me, how there was no way out, that giving up when you are so close would be something I could not bare to carry in my heart, this the scar I knew would be a fatal wounding ending my best shot at living my best life. Quitting the project was not an option. It would be like giving up on everything I stood for, every ounce of character I’d earned, every bit of progress I had made, my phantom General’s had got me into a quagmire, and I would have to fight my way out against having underestimated the scale and scope entailed in the restoration of a wooden boat.

Every screw is bunged after sinking new fastener into fresh ribs

There were terrifying nights during the years while I was working on the sloop’s restoration. Tormented by my folly I’d awaken in a flop sweat. An all but impossible to remove rotted fastener on more than one occasion required the entire day to extract. The journeymen boatwrights in the yard knowing that they may not interfere, that if they did intercede and extract the screw that it would ruin any chance of my growing into a self-sufficient craftsman. The only way to learn how to stand on my own two feet would by being brought to my knees fighting tooth and nail against a screw. I prevailed only after failing in every other way I could devise. The shamanic confidence of the most able craftsmen in a boatyard is always the same, it is hard won, the success arrives only after all the failures have had their turn. A capable boatwright’s skills once earned are never lost.

I am still refining my talents. Being a husband welded by vowing then practiced each day not just by use of your best pieces but also by revision of your least workable parts is at least as stubborn a task as extracting a screw from the plank of a wooden boat.

Spring 2001-2007 from beginning to end

And then there is the ongoing pleasure of loving my daughter-now an adult-but always in my mind the kid. The unconditional nature of childrearing fuels the will to the lifelong task. Doing my best to improve the kid, the wife doing what she can to improve her husband, the journeymen boatwrights not interfering letting the wooden sloop work its will upon the novice craftsman… these are eternal frictions of nature at work. Endeavoring to unlock the mystery of how fixing a thing has the potential to make a well-lived life possible may not be so easy to explain, but it is true. The trial of restoring a wooden boat will render its verdict by etching to memory how you cannot quit a thing until it is complete, and finally when you arrive both boat and man have been forged by the challenge for the better.

Let the garden speak

August is aching over autumn’s scent. The vegetable patch has gone over to the other side. Sunflowers are on the edge of the dance floor. Romeo’s have all been thunderstruck, the only true optimists, the flitting lizards race from rock to rock. The squirrels only know love by lust of the feline skirt chasers. The neighborhood is haunted by brittle dry Monterey pines.

Hibiscus flowers are a powerful antioxidant

The Chinese mail carrier knows this misfit resident by first name. The Japanese maple in the front yard thinks me to be stingy, whereas in the backyard this red bark maple imagines I am a saint. Crows have been absent leaving me to wonder where they’ve taken off to. Acorn woodpeckers are beside themselves chattering away in the live oaks they are so fond of making home.

My neighbor no longer speaks to us without great discomfort, we planted photinia to remedy the view of his deferred maintenance. One day the photinia willing we will not peer into the disorganized cerebral cortex of our neighbor’s procrastinations. Nothing about his untidiness will change.

Voles are rampaging. Attempts to repel by castor oil have met with better than good results- but still they plunder the landscape like Robinhood’s, the rath of the king is soon. They have fallen all the corn stalks.

Heavy artillery is being brought in. Vegan paradox and Buddhist inspired directive to first do no harm, that it would be best if you do not execute the voles has by unanimous consent been voted down. We march on the voles at daylight.

Just One Fig

Then there is the solitary beauty of the one fig on the new tree. There are the hibiscus flower buds multiplying by the day. There is so much promise and such a paucity of tangible results. Gardens in my delusional blind date with fertilizer stir both feast and famine.

The two are concerned over my reincarnation

Chickens next door, in the back, the fence is wire, we can see each other, agreeing by eyesight there is much to recommend, we have a thing for one another, according to my gypsy king philosopher predictions the roost and will of the flock is on my side. There are lifecycles I hold in awe, this tormenting by egg laying is not on my list of things I would wish to try should I return reincarnated as a hen. Wish me luck. Karma because I’ve worked with chickens suggests my fate might well have already been sealed.

Ants made a dash for water at the kitchen sink. They have been removed. I sent a letter to their agent asking they not return we’re in the middle of a different scene from a different movie and it doesn’t include these rogue invaders.

Pole beans are coming up, the kale is not, the spinach hesitates. I’ve a whole furrow prepared for collard greens.

I’ve a pile of rocks I’ve promised to move on last time, after having moved them the last time on three previous occasions. Seems as if things change and the rocks mark the exact location of where the next changes are located.  I’m trying to imagine changing without having to move a pile of rocks. This appears to be harder to do than simply busting my butt moving a pile of rocks one more time. The house wren in my yard sees the futility in my actions and flitters about experiencing a deep knowing that this rock piler can’t possibly be a more intelligent species.

Our red Mandeville we hope will climb the new lattice work I’ve built. The ferns have been moved and are happy in their new neighborhood beneath the oaks. None of these preferences were known by this novice gardener. I’m getting the hang of understanding that under certain conditions each plant will thrive should their needs be met. Like the pile of rocks, I seem to have a knack for picking the perfect place for many of my plants to struggle.

Montara Manzanita

I have potted a manzanita that I will Banzai. Shears are sterilized. I’m waiting for this native bush to reveal itself further. This manzanita hales from the coastal hills of San Mateo County near Montara. I have taken a stinging bit of criticism for bringing this specimen 20 miles further inland than is native to this plant, but so far the glorious Montara manzanita likes what it sees.

On my short list of indigenous trees to plant are madrone and buckeye. Madrones are notorious for being difficult and this is believed to be a perfect fit since I am so difficult myself. Buckeye grow wild in the neighborhood, but I’ve had no luck sprouting one. This tree blossoms in early spring and loses its leaves by early July. I’ll put it near the Meyer lemon tree that tends to ripen its fruit in the last days of autumn. I think the two trees might appreciate one another for their being so out of sink with most all the other plants in the yard. This is the plant world theory of opposites attract.

I’ve revived much neglected roses that are now scaling new heights on posts and wires I’ve constructed. Raspberries are gaining height and putting on good size. I’ve a thornless marionberry I’m especially pleased with.

Grapevines require proper pruning. I’ve ordered more wire and stakes for the vines to use. Netting will likely be necessary to protect next years fruit.

Density seems to be something I have no knack for. I’d been warned to give my blueberry bushes plenty of space, so they don’t stress each other by being planted too close. The cantaloupe has wanted to do more. The yellow squash has overtaken one of the raised beds and will not concede an inch to its neighboring plants.

By late afternoon the patio umbrella is opened. I sit out of the sun where I’ll read. We’ve had lots of tomatoes, sunburst squash and basil to add to the pasta. I’d prefer whole wheat pasta but use chickpea pasta reasoning there is benefit in it providing my body with a good source of protein. I have no strength of character around whole wheat pasta and will finish off any amount I’ve cooked. I see this as a proxy battle where in my youth I would indulge in all manner of enticements, dancing until sunrise, sleeping until afternoon, kissing my loves until they were convinced, I’d imagined it was my kisses that had provoked their surrender.

Hard won wisdom like my pile of rocks I’m fated to move to make way for change is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Knowing better is not to be confused with authentic goodness. I take the chickpea pasta to be the proxy for knowing better and the authentic goodness to be the whole wheat pasta.

I mean to do good work in my garden but my strawberries know I am weak.

Suisun Bay’s Flying Monkeys

Owl Harbor the day before

Owl Harbor curves like a crescent moon in the delta off of the San Joaquin River. The entrance to the slough is landmarked by the scuttled remains of a tug and dredging crane abandoned decades ago.

Boats vary in size and type. There are old motorboats, a newer 45’ ocean going catamaran. It wouldn’t be the delta if there were not variously configured houseboats, the most common are constructed with aluminum siding. One in particular featured four potted pomegranate trees, not large but well fruited.

All kinds of boats for all kinds of people. This is the time of year when the playful are jumping off watercraft into the water. Whole swarms of enthusiasts congregate in the water with a favorite floating device and beverage and for hours to idle away the afternoon together with their barking dogs.

Deverey is the harbor master. This is a skilled position. You’ll need to be able to spot a roustabout at first glance, former outlaws and a weak willed man that may soon become a lawbreaker. Since women can go bad too it takes some sixth sense to flush out the soul that may be in a corner of their own making and all too ready to entangle Owl Harbor in their drama.

This is just plain old everyday run of the mill way that the human condition and a boat harbor interact with one another.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Barry aboard a rather out of its place sports fisher, something you might see of Cabo San Lucas, in the Carolinas, maybe Key West. This is a the curviest vessel visiting Owl Harbor, the light green hull has been buffed out, two voracious CAT C18 diesels are resting below in the engine bays. Long of tooth, rascal and renegade, Barry appears to have wrapped his fate around his dreamboat, living the 60 gallons an hour at 20 knots all head full speed dream.

This is how it is here at Owl Harbor. Barry will move to Half Moon Bay in September then cruise south to Catalina Island by the middle of October. No right thinking mariner will linger this far north once the summers over and the first edge of autumn has been spent.

Up with first light and into a monster ebbing tide against a wee bit stronger blow than had been accounted on. This return to San Francisco Bay was harsh pounding against steep chop and a moody gray frothy and foaming sea. We feared the flying monkeys would soon attack, then a bolt of lightening, a refinery explosion could end our journey. We pounded against the Suisun Bay’s unkindness.

My second on this passage has sailed south to ports of call south of San Francisco. We have visited Monterey, Morro Bay and Ventura. Nothing was as belligerent and unwelcoming as yesterdays bashing into what Suisun Bay had on offer.

We redoubled our efforts. Every move, every effort was made to get the boat through and keep crew safe. A few days before sailing into Owl Harbor took all of 4.5 hours time. This return to Benicia extracted 10 hours.

We were concerned about being struck by asteroids, a train derailment and catastrophic crash off a trestle that might sink our boat and end our one chance at this thing called life. What other unanticipated horror might befall the fate of two chastened mariners?

We could be run down by a cargo ship, boarded by pirates, eaten by sharks, drenched head to toe by such a procession of waves as to leave us shivering our timber’s, and indeed the Suisun provided an infinite dousing of our desire for something slightly more gentle than what we were to receive.

With grit and grim dark humor we sailed on into the teeth of this beast of a mere ordinary Monday in late July. It was not hot as was the day before, it was overcast and the sky murky, gloom was hung into the heavens and there to see. Late afternoon we set our anchor in Dillion’s Point. Safe and sheltered now, thirsty and hungry, just another day of playing with boats.

Anchored safe at Dillion’s Point

We both spoke of flying monkeys because our trip out of the delta back to the San Francisco Bay could not have been more frightful. We took a good one yesterday and gave it all we had. You are sure you didn’t want to be there. I promise you the Suisun will give you all the hell you will ever care to take..

Making it Real

Laura is a Category 4 hurricane barreling through the Gulf of Mexico’s overheated waters taking aim at East Texas-West Louisiana. The timing of Laura’s arrival is a national nightmare. Predictions are for tidal surges to reach up to 30 miles inland.

Driving through Oregon and Idaho Sunday and Monday I was in thick smoke from wildfires. The haze stretched 400 miles. The scale of our disasters, both political and environmental are unbound.

Patriots that gave their lives for our freedom

Fight like your life depends on it. Don’t think for one second if the current executive office holder can cage those children that he won’t eventually get around to caging your children. Authoritarians don’t play nice. You get on the wrong list and your share of nice is coming to a startling end. Guaranteed by 180k souls that have already found out.

Wildfires are bigger, hurricanes more powerful, our newest pathogen is easily spread, it kills, hospitalizes victims, wreaks havoc on internal organs. Somehow we have gone merrily along the road of denial as our world becomes ever more unmanageable.

Our most populous state, California has in the last five years been terrorized by the largest fires in its history. In 70 years California’s population has gone from twelve million to forty million. Arriving with this rising tide of authoritarian sympathizers and left coast liberals is a mentally deluded leader with no talent for confronting reality.

Look it is now only a matter of time before one of California’s wildfires comes racing down the hillsides toward one of our treasured places. Berkeley, Palo Alto, Mill Valley are all in harms way. What does the day after we lose the fight to save one our city’s look like?

We must not surrender what so many sacrificed to preserve

Like pretending that a highly contagious pathogen wouldn’t emerge crossover from wild animals to infect mankind was to put it succinctly just dumb. And then there is the matter of how deadly a new pathogen might be.

So as we try to scale our troubles we might well consider the corner we are in and how best to extract humanity from this tight spot. First we’re going to have to fight this virus. Getting this bug under control will be no small or easy task but we can’t do much else until we do. Second, we’ll be digging out of a horrible economic collapse and like FDR we’ll need to put millions back to work building an energy system for the 21st Century. Third, we’ll be busy prosecuting the cult that erupted in our midst and followed their dear leader over the cliff. In the midst of all of this we’ll be fighting wildfires and seeking emergency shelter from gargantuan climate emergency fueled hurricanes.

We start by voting. Don’t vote for people that like caging children, want to take health care away from citizens, like to cut taxes on billionaires and send the working stiffs off to foreign wars. Use your head and get a grip about the superficial color of another human beings skin. We are out of options and fascistic alternatives make matters that much worse.

Time to not just be safe but to get real.

Chicken on the head

Lacey leaping through her hoop for a doggie biscuit

The Godzilla of guffaws, the legendary Carl Reiner passes over to the other side where he’ll be opening for George Burns and Gracie Allen playing to the better angels in the longest running show … eternity.

I’ve had a good 46-year run. Remaining in show business is a basic genetic drive. Doing whatever it takes is in the tissue. You will gladly live out of a suitcase, sleep on a park bench, and travel constantly forsaking family and friends for one more crack at that audience waiting to see the act.

Sabbaticals are custom made for pandemics. Now is an especially good moment to put the act down.

Writing a new bit, rehearsals, practicing your moves, perfecting a new stunt is all well and good but show people count on the juice an audience gives them. We are adrenaline junkies. We live for the buzz. If you can tolerate deprivation you too can hitch your wagon to the dream.

Here on the wayback machine in the video below are several routines. my idea of comedy is well, more or less just my idea and to some hardly the stuff of paying the bills even if as it happens it did.

I know your time is valuable, skip ahead if you must, but do yourself a favor and enjoy my work with a live chicken. You’ll enjoy. As I said so many times, “we’re just a couple of old clucks looking for a couple of young chics…”

solo in time of the virus

Berkeley Pier on Autopilot

Weekend walk was solitary. That in the age of the virus is a good thing. Work on the front courtyard continues. We’ll have guests over sometime at the end of next year. Herd immunity it turns out with a vaccine that is only 70% effective might mean the end of this long period of social isolation may continue for the conceivable and inconceivable future.

Courtyard one board at a time

I’ve two or three actionable items on my agenda. Submitting my current novel for consideration to be published, plotting and planning a romantic comedy, and penning a few more good climate emergency jokes. Of course our climate emergency is serious business but so that we can think our way through to solving this crisis it is wise to help the climate scientists find ways to help the public understand not just the scientific peril we face but to help lift our sagging spirits as we all pitch in and try and save ourselves from ourselves. Just explaining that much turns into an intractable and unbearably long sentence. More work to do, but as we are all finding out we’ve got nothing but time for as far as an eye can see.

Imagining Napa County

Mason is a firefighter. Ruth is an old girlfriend. This is just one of several pairs of relationships locked together in a fight to save what remains of an overrun Napa County…

Mason’s mind was too full.

Ruth was infuriated or not, the irrationality of her anger was hard on the lieutenant’s civic sensibilities. The resolute Canadian surveyed the eyes in the crowd, judgement didn’t matter, Claudia’s contemptible expression on her face was dismissed and irrelevant. The insubordinate woman grabbed Mason, clinched him in her arms and disobeyed department rules and regulations and kissed the man she shared her bed with. After having her way, Ruth leaned back glaring eye to eye until certain Mason fully appreciated the status of her womanhood. Mason stood stunned and that stunning was enough. Ruth hustled off with her flock of mutineers.

Mason dead reckoning with Sheriff Sullivan addressed his superior as an equal. “Anyone hurts her, anyone, I don’t care who they are, they’ll have to answer to me, the father.”

The Bugs of the Sea of Cortez

Another Perfect Day

Anchor holding in San Francisco off Bay View Boat Club. I spent the night on the hook. Here in 1980 I visited the club to attend a meeting of the Dinghy Cruising Association. The DCA trains sailors to cruise by dinghy. Sailing long distances, sleeping and eating aboard a 14’ sailboat requires considerable planning and skill.

Because of the DCA I took my sailboat by trailer to the Sea of Cortez in 1985. There my girlfriend and I sailed off to the islands near Bahia de Los Angeles. Aside from having every kind of bee, wasp, hornet, fly, mosquito, and noseeums feasting upon our flesh it was an altogether unremarkable sailing experience.

Bay View Boat Club circa March 2020

Then while digging out a site for our tent we encountered an unusually significant number of small scorpions living in the soil. Then, there was the matter of the enormous iguana population. Like everywhere we went the iguanas were perched on rock and rim top of every hill and canyon we explored.

Fortunately because of very high winds for 48 hours we were allowed the pleasure of exploring without the insects as they were grounded by the weather. Not so much the iguanas or the scorpions. We had thought it might be prudent to retreat back to the village from where we started but that would need to wait for winds to recede. 

With such violent winds blowing we dragged the sailboat up onto the beach. To secure the boat we collected large volcanic rocks and filled the hull half full to keep the boat from blowing away. Our tent the only safe bug free location on the island failed the first night and we slept with makeshift poles we fashioned from remenants of trees that had been washed up in our lagoon.

An adorable field mouse with a rather unique kangaroo styled set of rear legs spent evenings jumping up and peeking at us inside our tent. It was almost cute, A flashlight was used to dash down to the sandy shoreline at night where the worlds largest outhouse without the house and with the out was located.

Island Magic

Bring lots of bug repellent if you intend to go Sea of Cortez island hopping. Depending upon the time of year there are less or more insects. I’m telling you so you know. As best I can tell this travel tip is rarely mentioned. I don’t know what islands the other writers have been visiting but the islands I visited were the buggiest places I have ever visited until a few years back trying to make my way to shore through a mangrove forest twenty miles out of Key West on another uninhabited island or key as Florida describes them.

I prefer my adventures to be not too hot and not too cold. Not too dry and not too wet. Not too dull and not too exciting. I think adventure by sailboat is most often in the range of what we might all consider reasonable. But, you know like all those workshops you attend, all the bolt cutting, emergency transponders, life rafts and flare guns you stow aboard but seem to never use? Maybe you just might want to reconsider why a previous adventurer is suggesting you be prepared.

About two miles up the bay there is a cruise ship terminal. Offshore there is a ship that has been ordered to standoff the coast. Aboard a passenger has died as the result of contracting the coronavirus. Death is no laughing matter. Heartbroken survivors of the deceased will forever be changed by this event. Still we are going to need to to buck ourselves up and get up and get on with our lives. I’d imagined sailing alone on the bay for a few days would provide a respite.

Downtown San Francisco

I’m seeing a weekend of weeding in the garden, a walk with my wife on a trail, and lots of popcorn and binge watching some as yet unseen Netflix series. This might be a good time to remain in place, at least here in Northern California. I think we all know people who haven’t changed one thing yet. That won’t be true much longer. Take care of yourselves out there.

Patagonia Whisperer

I traveled down to Tucson. Stopped in Quartzite slept in the back of the Volvo. Renting a room from midnight to early morning isn’t any fun. Sleeping in the back of a station wagon suits me fine.

As success and money have found their way into my life so has travel by air, hotels and rental cars. Air travel passes over the ordinary people and places I find matter. I don’t want to just come and go on a trip. I want to be with what I find in between.

An isolated high desert town with fifty miles of uninhabited highway between what comes next riles up the pangs unavailable to a citizen living in a megalopolis.

Driving down a main street with every parking place empty is an opportunity. Crawling along heading the other way on this street is an old man and a big dog in a pickup truck.

I get out and walk a few blocks. The pace of life is apparent. Living within a mile of a twelve lane freeway choked all day with traffic wears a nervous system thin.

Setting aside time to feel lonesome will revive the sagging spirits. There is a medicinal quality to an aimless walkabout in the middle of a town that’s been grinding along at a slow crawl. You can hear your own footsteps. A thought in your mind gets the attention it deserves.

By the time you have circled back to where you started you’ve got a fresh list of changes you want to make. There are recipes you’ll want to try, friends you put on your list to call and a promise to take better care of your spouse.

Keeping a ready mind open for an ordinary day is no mean feat. If you can hear the chirp of a sparrow clear as a bell you’re on the path. You might use the position of the sun to locate your own sense of place. Clouds sweeping past above will be noticeable in such circumstances.

A walk through Patagonia won’t be anything fancy. Won’t be any high priced homes, won’t see any new cars, but there will be a chance to hear from a crowded out piece of who you are.

Bacon Wrapping

Back to the Basics

Facts like cholesterol are stubborn things.  Eating meals described as whole food plant based at first blush seems simple enough. Try eating oats not oat flour, eat oranges not orange juice, eat dates not sugar processed from sugar beets.

The civilized world doesn’t seem to be able to do anything with Brussels sprouts. Cafés tend to prepare Brussels sprouts by first boiling, then slathering in various oily glazes, smothering in onions, frying and spicing until the little devils submit and surrender.

Snobbery is a fantastic thing and has spread to every corner. Condo owners in downtown San Diego are intolerable and for good reason. Portlanders are unbearably smug and superior coffee drinking people. By the time you whittle the list down to Buddhists and Vegans, well there is no higher ground.

Compared to describing what you eat as “whole food plant-based” and instead using the term “vegan” to explain your dietary lifestyle possesses so much more concision. Describing yourself to being a vegan means you can be superior without being long-winded. With one word you have identified yourself with the non-keto types. You are part of a movement sweeping the globe. Just like that you have set yourself apart. You are a plague upon every happy hour within driving distance of a tennis court.

Pasta as Canine

Wherever you might end up on this crazy ride called life it is reassuring to know that the universal truth that everything tastes better wrapped in bacon transcends gimmicks, fads and hysteria. From the most splendid penthouse in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights to the smallest casitas sited on the lowest point in Death Valley all of minor god’s hungry creatures rejoice in the glory of wrapping this that or another thing in bacon.

Disinvitation like a spike pounded into a naughty vampire’s heart is how to cope with veganism. Give vegans free range. Let these quirks of human evolution go ahead and believe they will live longer even if all the bacon wrapped in everything believers know they will live a far shorter but far happier satiated life.

This is how omnivores will contain this rising dietary superiority craze. Lower blood pressure, declining cholesterol levels and being in the possession of measurably improved triglycerides cannot possibly be the path to the cessation of suffering. In fact, this trifecta of vegan tyranny must only make matters worse.

Barcelona for Calcots con salsa Romesco…

How many well meaning otherwise normal, wrap bacon in everything hosts, have been stricken with excessive stress while trying to prepare a vegan acceptable deli tray? That their surprise parties have collapsed in upon themselves does no measurable good. Helping vegans is not just a thankless task, it is a bacon wrapped in everything guilt ridden task.

An acquaintance suggests that “we can ill afford to let vegans gain further traction, distracting us as they will provoking us to have even one second thought about how we use or do not use bacon.” Bacon shaming cannot be allowed to become a thing. A bacon-less world is not a world most of us can imagine. Living pig free is an alternate universe. The world famous BLT is the Holy Trinity and Miracle Whip of high sandwich arts.

It is unlikely the people against wrapping things in bacon will ever outnumber people advocating for bacon wrapping.

Bacon wrapping, television and Facebook are those rare but necessary inventions. No matter how much weight we gain, how annoying the commercials or how awkward and antisocial Mark Zuckerberg is there are things we will just have to put up with for the greater  bacon wrapped in everything good.

Dividing our world in two, one group wrapping everything in bacon and the other merely existing in some sort of hellish bacon free reality is almost impossible to imagine. As bacon eating collapsed and the ensuing swine extinction event threatening the pig’s barnyard existence how would our world cleave itself into two more easy to understand shame based factions?

Slaughterhouses would become a thing of the past. A sow’s ear would cease to exist? Pork belly futures would be delisted from the Commodity Futures Trading Association. Even the great billionaire Sheldon Adelson understands the basics of successful enterprise. There is no such thing as a bacon free casino. Bacon free and gambling is joined at the hip with whiskey, tobacco and access to reasonably priced hookers.

As all of you know bacon wrapping will end on the same day as the pigs learn to fly. An International Vegan Wing Building Convention is on the schedule for the Sands in Vegas. Toothpick futures are down and the best thing ever to happen to cantaloupe has now been thrown into doubt.