Tag Archives: Jeanneau

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



Prideful Mariner and the Wooden Sloop that Could

The Joy of Painting

What is it about sailing that you don’t get? The
years I devoted to Maestro had more to do with my learning how to show up and
do something. The relationship between the sleek wooden sloop and my character
expanded me. I became a more complete sailor. I learned that I could handle a
lot of things I didn’t think I could handle. Some days I was lost. Some days I
didn’t know what to do next. Some days I’d spend the whole day doing something
I thought I was going to be done with in less than ten minutes. Hah! What I
believe happens to a sailor who repairs their own wooden boat is that the relationship
between the sailor and boat is more intimate. You come to know every plank,
every screw, every part of every inch that is the boat you sail. And then
sailing does one of the best parts of what sailing can do and that is teach us
more about ourselves, teach us about our capacity to learn. Another piece in
the puzzle is the pleasure that wooden boat is as an experience when actually
being sailed. They have their own motion, they make their own sounds. The
reality is that the whole thing is so temporary, a paint job lasts a year or
two. Everything is from the first day forward in decline and the end of a boat
is not lost from the sailor’s sight. It is the metaphysics of the boat, her
soul, her temporary visit into your life, and the certainty of her final demise
that turns the whole experience into something precious and to be cherished.
Much of this journey will come to be felt as a pain, a vivid sharp pain in your
ass. But, isn’t it always like that?

BANKRUPT HEART             THE SECOND NOVEL             

about purpose that gets a man’s juices flowing. Project like this fills a mind
with planning. There was a new project, unexpected surprises. He had seen
drawings of what his boats hull looked like, but this would be Ry’s first
opportunity to see her out of the water, to see her lines, her shape, what
condition she was in. He sat down with his yellow pad and pencil and began
making a list of the tasks he’d face, tools he’d need and the supplies to buy. Ry
began imagining that Jasmine would
soon be set loose from her dock and that her sails would be hoisted, the wind
would blow, and she would sail. It had been such a long haul. One task at a
time; and with that task now completed it was the appropriate moment to begin
to plan for the next.

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith


Total Displacement of Your Fate

Two point Five tons of fun.......

I sailed into an unexpected robust 29 knot steady wind
Saturday in San Francisco.
By October the autumn pattern has taken hold and with it lighter winds. My wife
and I sailed with another couple departing from the Sausalito Yacht Club. The
gentleman owns a Hinkley 43. It displaces 25,000 lbs according to the numbers I
looked up. Our Jeanneau

Sun Odyssey 36.2 displaces 12,500 lbs. There are a lot of
other disparities between the two boats, but lets just stick with the two
vessels total weight. What do these two numbers mean? One thing it means is
that the heavier displacement vessel, the Hinkley was built with the purpose of
sailing offshore, whereas the Jeanneau can sail offshore, but will handle and
feel begin to get pushed around when the wind and waves increase in speed and
size. For jaunts up and down the coast along California the Jeanneau is sufficient to the
task. Properly prepared the Jeanneau could be sailed offshore in the middle latitudes.
The lighter vessel will need to reduce sail area when conditions intensify, and
sooner. Depending upon the seaway it might be that the lighter vessel is more
difficult to settle down against larger swells and surface chop. The lighter
displacement vessels are attractive because they are designed to move in
lighter conditions where the heavy displacement vessels are ready to slog it
out in a blow. The heavyweight champion in the Hinkley 43 range would be the
Hans Christian weighing in at 31,500 lbs. The Island Packet and Westsail 42 all
go north of 30,000 lbs. J/133 weighs 17,500, a Baltic 42 tips the scale at
16,400… these are the boats that answer to their lighter angels…. The Beneteau,
the Jeanneau tip the scales right at 20,000 lbs. A Swan and Hanse get close to
that same displacement as the Hinkley. If you want to think about the character
of a boat a great place to begin is finding out how much the vessel weighs.
This will tell you much about what kind of sailing you will experience. Did I
mention that the A/C 45’s they’ll be racing in San Diego next month weigh 3500 lbs.? This
will tell you something about the nature of extreme sport. You don’t always
want to bring a knife to a fight sometimes you want a feather.

Bankrupt Heart                                                    The Novel

 It was almost
dark when into the channel the motor yacht Finn was piloting appeared. Her
navigation lights were illuminated. The deep throated rumble of the twin
diesel’s produced a resonant basso
profundo tone. Finn tooted the twin air powered horns announcing his

arrival and alerting other navigators to his movement. She was a sizable boat,
fifty feet long, fifteen feet wide, made of wood, displacing more than eighteen

            Philippe recognized her as soon as
heard the motor and approached the deck overlooking the channel. “Come, Finn
might need a few extra hands…”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Water Wonder Dog World

Yacht-Doggie as Sailor


Lacey is a good dog. I tell her that. I say, “Lacey you are
a good dog.” She’s deaf now. Can’t hear me, didn’t listen when she could unless
I said, “Where’s the ball?” Then she heard me! She’s 14 years old now and sinks
like a stone. She doesn’t have the energy to doggie paddle any longer. She
traveled with me to Sunfest in West
Palm Beach, Florida
back in 2003. We did shows for a few days and then we sailed off to the east of
Key West and
anchored off and snorkeled for a few days. Barracuda were mighty impressed with
this furry lure. If I dove in off the stern Lacey followed. She didn’t want to
miss a thing. She’ll bury her head beneath the water to look around, at least
she did back in the day. Now, she’s just an old dog. So, we sail the San Francisco Bay together. On blustery days she gives
me a look like, “who do you think, you’re kidding. You call this fun?” Other
days when things are not too raucous out there she doesn’t mind. I used to
leash her to the stern of the Golden Gate
sloop we owned and she’d spend the entire sail mesmerized by the wake kicked up
as the sloop healed over close hauled. Waves to a Jack Russell are like smoke
rings to a cat’s imagination. She can’t hear much anymore but she still helps
me see the world, or in this case the water, through her terrier eyes…This is
dog as lesson, lessons of wonder, life as never seen before….

     Bankrupt Heart                          The Second Novel 


      “Finn possesses such character. I
know your friend well. I think the loon loves his boats more than he loves his
women.” The man began to walk down the dock.

            “You do know Finn,” Ry finished his
thought. “Right about now I’d say there’s a woman trying to change his mind
about that.”

            “God bless the woman for trying. We
should all be so lucky.” The man waved goodnight.

            “What is your cat’s name?”

            “Her name is Asia…I
call her Catalyst, she owns this neighborhood.”

            Ry laughed. “I used to own a whole

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith


Going Up the Mast

The Imaginary Mast


I have tried a few times now to go to the top of my mast. It is 45 feet off the deck of the boat. I needed to go up and have a closer look around. It wasn’t like I made this up. It is what a prudent sailor needs to do. The locking hex headed nuts needed to be inspected. As they say, ‘been there
done that.’ My good friend Rich Santos worked the winch from the cockpit. Getting up to the first set of spreaders was comfortable. I wasn’t frightened of the height. From there to the second set of spreaders was another fifteen feet. More or less I was now somewhere in the range of 34 feet at the spreaders with another 11 feet to get to the top. I had a piece of mystery plastic sticking out of the top side of the furler. It has to be removed. Easiest way was to use my hand. This is what I had to do up there. Now there were things I had to do, and things I wanted to do up here, but I wasn’t comfortable and so I did what I had to do and got out of there. Part of my problem was I was using a lot of unnecessary muscle power because I was concerned about taking a fall, and since it was certainly likely to end in a fatality I was literally hanging on for dear life. I was getting very tired up there. My muscles were aching and I was getting more and more fatigued by the minute. My bosun’s chair didn’t fit well and that played a role. A more robust halyard would have made my nerves a little more settled, or better yet a second halyard as a safety back up. You
read these line test strengths and they all seem incredibly reasonable until the line is being tested with your own weight. It might be that a second
halyard from the tip of the mast as a safety line in concert with a better bosun’s chair might make all this high adventure more workable. Might be I’m working at my limit and might be time to look for other work. On the other hand might be that sailing is doing what I wanted it to do all along; forcing me to work at my limit.

Bankrupt Heart                         The Second Novel 

          “Loneliness fell upon Ry like lousy weather. Finn’s dropping by helped. He’d call Sophia once a week. That helped while he talked to her and didn’t help after he hung up. Jackie kept an eye on him. He appreciated that. Mort was rock bottom. After he’d hang up that’s when the demons really ate at his solitude. Still while his fear of being alone for the rest of his life occupied his worries at least there was the boatyard, the work on the mast to keep him focused.”

Copyright Dana Smith 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Changing Fears

The Lull Prior to the Forgetting

Subliminal acts are regular feature length phenomenon of our minds incessant working. We are often unaware that our minds have hijacked our
thinking and that in fact what we are doing is fearing something, worrying about something, planning something, solving something all the while we are doing an altogether different task with our mind. We often describe worrying, or being frightened in negative terms, but more to the point is that it isn’t so much negative as not productive to be in the grip of worry or fear in a mindless way. Then these things kind of take the steering wheel of our lives and drive us off in all sorts of unexamined directions all the while we remain almost oblivious to what it is that is pushing us. The structural limits of the way our mind is organized makes for some stunning insights into the nature of our talents to focus and sustain that focus and remain aware of what we are doing. These lapses in our focus allow all kinds of mischief to occur right under our very nose. The best example of gripping change happens while I am sailing. These increasing fears are related to the increase in the velocity of the wind. I am focusing on adjusting to the higher velocities, doing what is needed to bring the boat under control, but even once the boat is adjusted for the higher  velocities the wind loads on the boat are transmitted to the sailor by way of the wind roar, the tilt of the boat, the pressure you feel against
the sails, and the higher skill levels required of the sailor to cope with further adjustments should they be required. Just about the time you have that all sorted out in your planning process you realize that underneath all of that is the fact that it you are a bit tense, a little more alert, concerned, and possibly just flat out feeling some degree of fear. I don’t mind higher wind velocities, but I do mind not being aware that whatever I am feeling sometimes has to wait while I bring the boat back under control, so that I can bring my fears back under control.

Bankrupt Heart                       The Second Novel

Finn looked at his friend. He was back on his feet. “You’ve done well with Jasmine. She’s looking like someone owns
her, cares for her…”

            “A raucous spirited boat.” Ry said. “If I could find a woman to go with her I’d be known as the man who had everything.”

Change the Light Bulb… That’s Easy

Not Always Liking Change...

Fear of change comes into view when it requires hoisting up a mast of a sailboat to change a light bulb. The mast on this Jeanneau sloop measures 45 feet from the deck. One person goes up the mast to do the work while a second is depended upon to winch the worker both up and then back down safely. Fear and trust are not intellectual when doing this work.  Fear doesn’t seem to be located in the mind although it does seem to clutter it. It seems out of the mind and in the body where it advertises its presence…slight shaking, sweaty palm, rhythm of breath. When looking aloft from the first spreader to the next spreader and then from there up to the top of the mast I get the opportunity to stare right into the jaws of my instincts. Then, as if a symphony is playing my mind becomes orchestral…heart is timpani…hello gut it says, are you sure you want to do this? Yes, I am sure. I don’t want to do this. People who tell me they are bored, that nothing ever happens to them. Have I got a cure for you….