Tag Archives: Teachers

Sleepless Nights

Beating

Windward and Northbound

The shrill howl of the wind in the shrouds kept waking me. We were holding at Cojo Anchorage waiting for the winds to drop. Passage north through Point Conception was timed to advantage our trip north on this chance.

Winds finally dipped but not until we’d hoisted anchor and strapped our safety harness on. We sailed close to the wind due west. One beyond Government Point we were exposed to a much more moderate sea than we’d expected to find. Winds remained down at 20 knots steady from the northwest.

For two hours we kept our course offshore fourteen to eighteen miles until we turned back pointing now toward Point Arguello twelve miles north of Point Conception. Once tacked we were ready to gain precious miles of latitude up the coastline. Within ninety minutes we’d sailed ten miles. Since the day before when we’d left Santa Barbara sixty-eight miles behind us we’d gained not one degree of latitude.

We’d been anxious about rounding Point Conception. Stories of mariners halted by heavy weather had haunted our minds. We’d amplified these tales of sailors who had come before us. We’d taken seasickness medication and strapped our safety harnesses on. I was at the helm and my first and only mate stood at the ready on the mainsheet.
solitude at cojo

Solitude at Sunset

As is true of most sport there is a degree of danger. Batters are hit by balls, gymnasts twist ankles or worse… in all sport when stepping up to the plate whether or not you win or lose the game has the potential to injure those on the playing field.

For twelve hours we made more miles north. We had to tack back out off the coast several times. The first three hours gave way to a less fraught sea state. Winds eased for some of this period. Within three hours range of Port San Luis the afternoon breeze kicked up and the mix of chop and ocean swell made for an uncomfortable sloppy passage.

The boat seemed all the more capable. Our confidence by now greater than before we’d started off this morning. We still remained humble to our task. Based upon the seas we’d transited this morning we believed we could sail the boat through what was kicking up in front of us. We had that much determination. Doubts remained at the ready.

Much more sailing is ahead. Conditions have deteriorated and we are holding until Sunday afternoon in Morro Bay. Next leg is 24 hours north nonstop. This is a chunk of coast with few places of any kind to anchor. Most are described as suitable for emergencies only. We’ll take turns at the helm while the other crew member sleeps. One hour here, one hour there, neither member of the boat is to be left alone too long.

pelican on wing

Alone on Wing

Our passage on this leg will test physical endurance. Winds are expected to be on our nose, seas to eight feet in height, and surface chop short and average. The risk is if this sea surface chop steepens it can make northward progress more tedious and weary perhaps even sicken the crew.

For now we are on a mooring back and forth to town to get exercise and purchase provisions. We’ll sleep and catnap in preparation for Sunday. By midday Monday we’ll hope to tuck into Monterey while we wait for the next chance to complete our passage from Catalina Island back to San Francisco Bay.

I expect we’ll find more pleasure than peril in the next one hundred and eighty miles. With each mile sailed we gain a degree of experience, slightly more surefootedness, a sense we are skillfully making our way. Then, like that even that slight bit of hubris is examined for its power to entrap and trick a crew into unanticipated mishap.

Stay humble, keep a hand on the wheel and the mind focused to the task. Making a safe passage requires a persistent unwavering humility. Even with all of that in this sport where anything can happen to a boat and her crew a healthy dose of circumspection may not be enough.

buoy off montana de oro

A View Back from Where We’d Sailed

Edited Red Star

Ode to Practicality

 

knowing better

Compact but Powerful Anti-Bucket Brigade Member

Fixing toilets and bilge pumps is in the let’s getaway and go cruising deal. You want to go sailing then you want to become a crackerjack marine toilet repairman. You want spare parts and hand tools at the ready. When the time comes you want to make quick work of the chore and put the whole stinking mess into one part of one piece of your morning.

People unfamiliar with the sailing world need to be brought up to speed on this odd new quirky corner of the sporting world they’ve stepped aboard. First off wear non-scuff white soled shoes. Don’t ask why  like some rotten spoiled child— just, do it. Second if you use the toilet don’t put anything down that toilet you didn’t eat or drink. I am not a man of faith  but believe me toilet paper flushed down a head cannot bring any good to the future career of a toilet repairman looking to get off early. If you find yourself in a relationship with a marine toilet for heavens sake have an able bodied seaman explain how  your personal human plumbing works and  this dang completely odd marine toilet thing interfaces when the two mysterious waste elimination systems are joined together while enjoying a romp upon a storm tossed sea. You will be surprised to learn that there is nothing simple about the urgency of having no reliable or workable place to go.

knowing better three

That is a lot of Broken Toilets right there…

Bilge pumps are all about getting water inside your boat to go outside. The physics of bilge pumps has to do with lift. You are lifting water and every gallon you lift— repeat after me— weighs seven pounds. It doesn’t take long to figure out that lifting ten gallons of water is the equivalent of lifting???  You see what I mean? So I have a particular passion for keeping my electric bilge pump in first class (it does the lifting-I’ll do the sailing) condition. I want that puppy shooting water out of my boat with wild abandon. I want my bilge pump thirsty. I want this beast wanting and ready. About the only thing a non-sailing passenger needs to understand about the technology of bilge pumps is that it isn’t the pump it is the location of the pump and the natural inclination of the designer of sailboats to place the bilge pump in the most impossible to remove and replace location that can be devised. If designing a boat is difficult then designing a serviceable location for a bilge pump is virtually impossible. If you want to have a real conversation about the circumstances of the human condition I would recommend locating a veteran well driller and listening to what they have to say about the whole task of lifting water in sufficient and reliable enough quantities to make property viable and human beings anywhere near happy. I presume that the engineering that goes into keeping a brassiere in top working condition constitutes a very close to the same kind of hands-on challenge to those engaged in the deployment and use of such vital lifting devices.

knowing better two

Floating Repair Station

There are of course a whole host of systems and devices that for no reason whatever that you or anyone with half a brain you trust can understand seem to keep working in spite of all the forces in nature arraigned against them. Cotter, clevis and hairpins come to mind. Gaskets and exotic high pressure oil and waterline hose fittings are in this category. The cutlass bearing is a book unto itself. If you don’t know the difference between standing rigging and running rigging don’t ask. Just replacing one of your two or three water pumps on your exotic diesel engine can require a call to Chase/JP Morgan Bank. We’re no longer talking waterline we’re talking credit line.

This quagmire of technology once mastered is what you will bet your life on while for no fault of your own having decided that what you really needed to do was sail two or three thousand miles across ocean so that you might not feel quite so utterly misanthropic. Just so you know not fifty years ago most sailors solved most of what I’ve just explained by using a device known as a bucket. This is a handy-dandy all purpose device that may be used in the event that all else fails. One more caveat about karma, thoughts as things, manifestors and self-sufficiency. A sailors willingness to use a bucket in the event that all other possible devices have been rendered out of working order is in inverse emotional resistance to a certain person you are close to who has spent most of the past twenty urgent minutes prior to breaking down and finally resorting to using the bucket repeating over and over again these magic words— I should have known better…

Edited Red Star

April 23,’18 Little Bird Love

Life through the Eyes of a Child

Hero Three

Ribbon Dancer from Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy

Spring Carnival 2018

I have this audacious gut instinct that our teachers across our country are forcing us to use our brains for their intended purpose. Like for one “think” about our most precious renewable natural abundant resource. For what seems like my entire lifetime we went wobbly on aiming our geostrategic sociologically vital insight about the truth of how the world works. And the way it works is that our children hold the key to our future. Got that pilgrim? Our kids count for everything.

Located inside the heads of these odd little replacement parts that are coming up to take over where we left off are these sentient creatures. This generations best and brightest have sitting atop their heads a brain. This is basically our meal ticket, insurance policy and device we’ll use to extract our buttocks from the stinking mess we find ourselves cornered in.

Hero Two

Handing this Mini-Mighty a Chance

My belief system is fully engaged. My bias tuner dialed to full volume to drown out the nincompoops trying to sell me a toupee or sheep’s clothing. We want nothing to do with a society that doesn’t invest in its future. We want everything to do with a tomorrow filled with the most skilled and talented munchkins we can conjure up via the greatest conveyor belt to a better world known to man—- it’s called an education.

Simple enough right? Educate the kids, fix the climate, turn down the volume on stupid and turn up the sound knob on smart. If you don’t have the time- not to worry- our teachers do. I know some underpaid educators who can’t wait to do the most important work our nation can ask of her citizens. Having a family is not enough. We have to love our children—all of our children. We show that love when we support an increase in teachers take home pay.

 

Buy a book, book a show. Either way I promise you I’ll make you laugh. That’s my job

Edited Red Star