Tag Archives: Jeanneau

Slacker Dudes Sailing Baja

Tropical storm Raymond has arrived late this season. Raining here in Ensenada. We will hold here while seas settle down.

A safe passage isn’t just luck. You want to tip the odds of an uneventful sail in your favor? Show some patience and wait for the weather to settle down.

The first leg of our journey was a fine first taste. South to San Jose de Cabo we go. 800 nautical miles to the south and east down the Baja peninsula we head. For a brief while out on the first day there were whitecaps for a spell. Then dolphins came to play on our bows wake, crew was made merry by their sight. 

Entering Ensenada Spirit found her slip right off. We tied up, checked in with the harbormaster, took showers, made dinner and played backgammon. We were on our bunks to read soon after. 

From where we departed in San Diego we sailed east of the Coronados Islands. There are three. North, South and a third called Middle Ground. Charts indicate a sailing vessel may find use of the eastern leeward side of the islands to anchor.

Further south over the horizon Isla Todos Santos hosts pelagic birds, fishing boats and sailors headed north or south. Low and coming into view out of the mist, far off, will be on our starboard beam once we clear from Ensenada.

South of Ensenada it is 316 nautical miles to Turtle Bay. The Bay of San Quentin is more or less one hundred miles. We would make San Quentin in a day, Turtle Bay in two. Now set to sail Sunday we will make our next stop Turtle Bay.

The disintegrating remnants of Raymond continue to have us holding here in port. Fractional memory of geezers in these waters after much discussion agree none can recall an event of this kind at this time of year since forever. 

Our watermaker has malfunctioned. A solenoid (it is always an infernal solenoid) has given up after twenty years. Tomorrow an agent from Ensenada travels for business to San Diego and will return with the necessary German made replacement part. Our agent has a global entry pass making her trip less difficult. Our skipper has no such document and since there is no Rick’s here in Ensenada the agent will expedite getting the solenoid back to Ensenada.

Our Gulfstar 50 has a formidable engine room. There is also an electrical generator, inverter, watermaker, various types of water filtration, water pumps, water heaters and other assorted appliances. Our skipper spends his waking hours in the engine room. The Cummins turbo diesel is a worthy mechanics adversary. The King Kong sized alternator and the thick copper cables that transfer the electricity to the bank of batteries all look to be ready to light up Paris.  

We’ll cruise along at 7.5 knots with the motor spinning at 1700 RPM. Our Jeanneau, a much smaller boat, the diesel cruises at 2700 RPM. Still we are pushing a sailboat that weighs four times our boat and tips the scales at 41,000 lbs. That is a lot of guacamole.

Each boat comes with its own set of virtues and vices. For instance our smaller lighter sailboat, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 36.2 has many fewer systems and is built to thrive in much different forces of wind and sea. 

Because I do not have a complex system of inverters and generators I have much less complicated electrical system to maintain. I have no solar panels and no solar power regulators to maintain. Even a smaller, less complex sailboat needs tending. There are no free lunches in pursuit of coastal cruising.

While sailing is done by sail we use our auxiliary power to help us get in and out of our berths. With the motor running we can make electricity. While running the motor we store extra into our battery bank. When cruising we’ll run our motor each day to top off our two house batteries.

I am due to install a device that will monitor how much energy I have remaining stored. Until this year I have spent my years running the boat by intuition. You don’t want to rush into these upgrades and even more important “if the dang thing ain’t broke don’t mess with it.” This advice works for boats, marriages and marine electronics. Stand alert to truth sailor!

By now our time in Ensenada has stretched out to a length of time that the street vendors know us by name. For reasons I think are self evident many sailboats arrive and never leave.

We wish we knew why but a boat is much like a woman to a man and their coming and going is an inexplicable mystery so confounding as to halt speculation dead in its wake. 

Slacker dudes will find their lives ruined if they make a mistake of judgement and imagine they’re is something compatible with their lifestyle and going to sea. A slacker type will find the discipline of chores and maintenance something like living with your mother-in-law.  

What you want in the mariner that has taken leave of their senses and possession of a sailboat is an insatiable appetite for puttering. You’ll want to fuss over things. If a thing isn’t broken perhaps you may try to fix it before it breaks. Rebuilding your equipment ahead of schedule is a kind of pocket protector form of behavior.

Many great sailor have traveled the globe while spending the entire voyage either in the engine room or hunched over a workbench trying to bring some piece of machinery back to serviceable life. 

This is the way it has been, the way it is and the way it will always be. We don’t go to sea with the boat we want or the boat we go to sea with the tools we have and as we sail we discover along the way that there remain tools we still need.

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

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.

Send in the Clowns, Where are the Clowns, They’re Already Here

The sense of common decency is a rare commodity these days, a very rare commodity indeed, something that has all but disappeared in this day and age. Brazen means someone without shame. The parties that have taken an entire nation hostage just so that they don’t have to reveal certain unspeakable facts certainly have no concept of what shame is.

Beppo Grilla, Stand-Up Comic, Italian Parliament Member

home away from home

 

There’s a crazy little shack beyond the tracks
And ev’rybody calls it the sugar shack

(This particular shack is on the banks of the Carquinez Strait…)

Why of why can’t we punish, strip of privilege, stop listening to, or force them to admit they were wrong? Alan Greenspan should be stripped of his pension for not doing anything about the housing bubble. Jean-Claude Trichet Europe’s Central Banker now retired for blowing bubbles in Greece, Portugal and Ireland; utterly preventable and of course another doer of nothing at the least should be told to shut up and go home. Beppo Grillo the Italian stand-up comic turned politician suggests Berlusconi’s money and access to media has earned him a free get out of jail card and why?  Spain’s government and silly royal family both have squandered a great deal of good will as they’ve allowed all manner of cronyism to infiltrate policy. That one will break my heart as Spain is a great country and their young democracy is as delicate and new since the end of Franco’s rule. But, let’s get back to these peaceful and enlightened shores for a moment. Timmy Geitner for doing nothing about Libor, only the single largest looting in the world’s financial system and the best Tim could do is send a memo to England’s regulator? Really? Phil Gramm for his wreckage called  credit default swaps. Add Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin to that train wreck. Anybody see a pattern here? Major policy mayhem, tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs or are working for less or part time. I don’t understand why we must suffer buffoon’s that upon failing in the arena of public policy. And then the mentally deranged society known as all of the Republican House of Representatives, and sad to say too many House Democrat’s that should know better have just voted to undo the as yet implemented new law that was going to try in the least most weak way to regulate credit default swaps… This is our world. This is not a pretty picture. This is not going to end well. And you wonder why so many of us are feeling kind of neurotically pre-apocalyptic about the world that we live in? It is the stuff of human folly.

 

HOT SPRING HONEYMOON

“And everybody knows that,” Keefe explained, “and it’s why everyone trusts you. We all know you wouldn’t steal a thing from nobody, but you’d probably have to fight off the temptation twice as hard as average person.”

“You think that’s what qualifies me for the job?”

“Sure it does, you got as much passion as you got regrets, and that’s just exactly the kind of shaman this cave consecration is going to need.”

Sunday aboard our Sailboat

aircraft carrier

 

 

What about a gentle breeze, warm sun and our dear friends Lori and RJ aboard our yacht Sweet Seas for an afternoon of conversation? While basking in the light, dining on guacamole, eating enlightened chips… toss in a beer, a glass of wine, steady beats from our favorite  jazz station….

We do a lot of kids shows. I wrapped a weekend at BayFest in Berkeley on Saturday, a fundraiser at Indian Valley Grammar School in Walnut Creek on Friday! Where we raised a handsome sum, you see those of us that have learned how to play to kids, we didn’t just learn to play to kids because it was another gig, another revenue stream. We play to kids because it is our passion…

The world wobbles and the world gets it right. Today at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor four of us dialed in the love and did one afternoon right down the middle, we pitched the perfect game, the hole in one… and we’re ready to do more…

 

Good Man to Go with a Good Woman aboard a Blue Water Vessel

Handmade Excellence...

I’m a big fan of traditional yachts. Here is Chris and Helen’s. Lyle Hess designed this vessel with the Bristol Channel Cutter in mind. She displaces almost twenty thousand pounds. She is made of wood. Chris built her in New Zealand. While her hull is made up wood she’s been sealed (in fiberglass?) and LPU painted. Helen and Chris have sailed her around the world. Chris helped me on a few problems with my wooden sloop Maestro. Building a yacht of this type requires something on the order of seven thousand hours. Having worked along side Chris it is impressive to compare the speed and accuracy of his work with mine. Not only does my work go slower my work doesn’t look as good as Chris’s work when completed. When I lived in the same marina I used to pause anytime he was working on a project to observe how he approached the thing, what tools and techniques he used. In matters such as wooden boat repair not only are there unusual tools there is also an oral tradition to the craft. Much of what you might want to know isn’t written down. The way to do something is passed from one craftsman to the next. You want to know if someone knows what they are talking about take a look at their boat. I enjoy being aboard their fine boat. It is a place where every inch of every part of their boat is an example of skill, seamanship, and wisdom. It is rare that we are allowed to enter into the very inside of the results of a person’s handmade best efforts. I admire this couple and their fine yacht for what it says about how much beauty they see in the building and maintaining of a classic blue water sailing yacht.

BANKRUPT HEART                      THE SECOND NOVEL 

“Creating the
universe was really pretty simple, one big bang…and boom, the whole of creation
in one flash. You’d think after a stunt like that it would be so simple, what
in the name of god would have been so hard about making a good man to go with a
good woman?”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Sailings Unimpeachable Reliable Sources……

Lifeboat Ready to Launch on Stern...It is that diagonal orange object

Sailing is a thinking man’s game. The equipment is complex and so are the sailing skills. And like all human endeavors there are a host of actors, some good and most of the rest? Well, we’ll wish those bad actors a safe voyage as they go about hazarding their own lives at sea. If you look at a big ship you’ll always see that they come equipped with lifeboats. A ship of any size can sink, and any sinking ship is going down because of human miscalculation. If it is equipment failure it is a human that failed to manufacture, maintain or replace the equipment. If the ship hits something it is because a human being wasn’t keeping watch. If it goes aground it means a pilot wasn’t steering the boat in the right direction. And of course
if it is a hurricane, tsunami, lightening storm, collision with an aggressive whale, asteroid falling from the sky or other marvelous acts of god that get us killed at sea we can take comfort in knowing that at least in this case it is our own damn fault for deceiving ourselves into believing that such a thing could never happen to us, those kinds of things happen to those other people. Relatively safe voyaging is never perfect, but for those who simply must take to sea it beats never going because of what you know about mankind. In fact many go to sea because of what they know of mankind. Obtaining good training, finding the best information, and identifying the best most experienced sailing mentors you can find is going to prove crucial to your life. As much as I esteem Bernard Moitessier it should be duly noted he crashed one boat into Mauritius, lost a second in the Caribbean and the last in Cabo San Lucas when Joshua was swept ashore at anchor by Hurricane Paul. So, by all means take what I have to say with a grain of salt, think this through on your own, be careful, you’ve been warned, my hero was a three time loser.

BANKRUPT HEART                      THE SECOND NOVEL 

“So, Mike, tell me when was the
last time you were talked down off of a limb you climbed out on, you know what
I mean? According to my understanding on these matters, a man has to do what’s
in here,” Nick pointed to his temple, “and down there,” he pointed somewhere
south of his belt buckle, “they both get to have a say so, they get to speak
their piece, about what a man has to do, and then once its settled, just let
the chips fall where they may.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith