Friday, May 27, 2016

April / May in Seattle 2016

Finally after the all time record winter for Rains in Seattle we have more sun days than rainy days.

The barges hauling containers and all sorts of other stuff to Alaska are always interesting.
A screen shot taken from my Marine
App shows the tug to be The Alaska Titan

Bound for Whittier Alaska, the 120' tug looks small,  he has a ways to go.

Sun on the Patio is time to grill.

I stopped counting agter my 100th different PNW ale but that is no reason to not try something new.

We got a new volunteer gig at the ACT Theatre

A play about America's famous assassins, it all adds up when you consider their stories back to back.

This Little Steam Ship is having it's boiler reworked.

Rack and Pinion steering

Kelp just floating along.

Indigenous kids spiffing up the CWB Totem Pole.

Pirate out front on a fabulous day of Teaching Sail now Students.

Still considering trawlers, this is a Sockeye 45

Widgeon is for sale, really like the looks but just to big for us.

Still Swinging at the Chicken Park.

There are many of these old wood Chris Crafts completely restored $$$$

To busy to get the story on this one/

Drew is getting brave enough to start climbing with the big kides at the Blue Swing Park.

Cruise Season officially starts and Thousands come and go from Seattle as three cruise ships depart Seattle every Wed. and Sunday.

These type of ships common on the Gulf coast are a novelty up here. This Dockwise vessel is hauling away an old Dry Dock, guess someone in Mexico wants it :

Just when I thought the building boom was done in South Lake Union, More old  buildings are cleard for the amazon variety.

Whoops, our mistake to go to the REI flagship store on the first day of their spring Sale. about 200 people in line to checkout.

Always an interesting vessel on Lake Union

April in Seattle 2016

April was kind of like wait and see. If Wand'rin Star sold we would resume our boat search, especially since we already have a slip waiting for us in Eagle Harbor. We lowered the asking price of Wand'rin Star one more time and then started considering a plan to bring the boat to Seattle if there were no firm offers by May.A search for trucking companies, a few emails to our broker Kent Little in Kemah, and calls to boat yards here and in Kemah to make plans for de-commissioning and re-commissioning. The pleasant warmer weather made all the difference. 
As I write this we have evolved well into May and it seems Wand'rin Star is destined to return to the PNW. A contract with a Texas Trucker has been finalized we are just waiting on a date from the Trucker which is sometimes first of July. I will be heading down Early June to get preliminary de-commissioning completed and make arrangements with a rigger and boat yard for the work. May has also brought news of a new family member arriving around November 22. This baby girl will be our third granddaughter and the second child for our Seattle family. Just as we were starting to wind down our grand-parenting it has all started back up again.

May teased us with a early week of summer like Seattle weather, all sun and 80-89 degree temps, but the spring returned to normal with highs 65-low 70's and spotty rain. Just as I am about to go to Kemah I get a call from a broker and someone is interested in Wand'rin Star. I'm trying to be patient but it is hard since so much time has been spent already planning to have the boat moved here. Going to Texas anyway and what will be will be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Which Came First, Wander or Wonder?

The weekend night concierge at our condo building suggested a book to me that one of his friends wrote, "Three Years in a 12-Foot Boat" by Stephen G. Ladd. It is an adventure story of 37 year old Ladd's three year journey in a very small. home built sailing/rowing, vessel down United States Rivers to the Gulf Of Mexico and eventually through the Panama Canal to the Pacific coast of Columbia. Then onward across South America's rivers to the Caribbean and then Northward through the Leeward and Windward island chain to Florida where he secured a car and trailer to return to his home in Bremerton, Washington. Ladd was no stranger to taking off on a seemingly crazy adventure. Right after graduating high school he traveled around alone throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He even spent a month in a Moroccan Prison. When he returned home at the age of 20 he entered Harvard and eventually became a City Planner in communities near his hometown in Washington State.
His account of his three years in a 12-foot boat was sort of the feather that broke the camel's back. After reading so many adventure sailing stories, cruising blogs and, historical explorations such as Earnest Shackleton's my brain demanded that I just stop and try to find the common elements that seem to encourage persons from all types of background to leave their everyday lives to seek out their own adventure.
Ladd describes his want to take off on such adventures in many ways throughout his book but "wanderlust" is the word that he continues to return to. The short definition: wanderlust is a strong desire for or an impulse to wander. As you are in the quest to understand the desire you also run into "wonderlust". As a noun wonderlust is a desire for something strange and surprising, astonishment or admiration. This can cause an obsession with traveling to find adventure, excitement or escape from routine and responsibility, the desire to be in a constant state of wonder as in "Joe had a serious case of wonderlust: he was bored of anything ordinary."

Still trying to understand wander and wonder as it relates to humankind. I feel that it is somehow just innate in our DNA. Early man had to wander around just to get a bite to eat, not sure if they wondered about anything but surely at some point they had to wonder. Slow but surely humans wandered in search of food, water and more inhabitable environments long enough to populate most of the earths surface. Surely there must be a place to get a bite to eat that is not always extremely cold or extremely hot year round. Groups or tribes wandered together. Someone wondered enough to find a way to make a fire, then some dude made a wheel and and people stopped wandering around so much. They built more or less permanent shelter and communities. Once they exhausted the food and other stuff they began to need  in their neighborhood they sent out explorers to find more to bring back to the Queen Ant. The thing about the explorers though is that they were organized groups that had a mission. Many had large commissions that came with promised wealth and large support teams. They sort of wandered around till they found stuff and then brought it home to the Queen Ant. Humankind seem to evolve out of the pressing need to wander, especially since if they crossed the other tribes borders they could get killed. Economies developed to the extent that the tribes could trade their stuff for other tribes stuff. But there were still some pioneers, explorers and some mysterious lands like the Arctic, Antarctic and other far away lands. The expeditions led by Sir Earnest Shackelton to the Antarctic is certainly among the top survival stories. Shackelton and his men endured extreme hardships yet he was able to bring all his men back alive. I certainly have not read all the accounts from the explorers of planet earth but I have a hard time imagining anyone else who had to endure a more difficult mission than Earnest Shackleton and come out alive. Shackleton had a crew of able bodied men to help accomplish their feat. Large expeditions certainly had the elements of wander and wonder, but most had the additional motivations of riches, power, and/or notoriety. 

What about all the people who wander alone? 
Of course my recent blogs about Jousha Slocum sailing around the world alone contributed to this diatribe but there are all sorts of humans that have survived and died doing all sorts of incredible adventures from flying (where's Amelia?) , hiking, climbing, swimming, rowing, and many fruit cake ideas that bring into to play the need for the Darwin Awards:

Reza Beluchi is one of those fruitcakes but he did not even come close to a Darwin Award, after his first failed attempt and rescue he tried again:

What separates those that succeed in their endeavor and those that fail?
1. Preparedness? Bob Bitchin said "The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude".
2. Luck? See number 6
3. Is it a matter of tolerance/intolerance? Either physical, mental , and/or cultural
4. Fear or Courage?  Fear and courage that is healthy or fear and courage that puts one at risk.
5. Cultural Responsivity?
6. Perhaps the "Laws of Attraction" are in play?

Stephen Ladd and Joshua Slocum certainly had the appropriate attitudes to end their quest successfully, One could argue that Slocum was much better prepared due to his long career commanding ships sailing the worlds ocean. When it came to tolerance I think Slocum and Ladd were pretty much equal, however Ladd shared much more of this side of him in his book than did Slocum. I believe they were pretty well matched on cultural responsivity, appropriate fear and courage as well . They both new and understood their own limits when it came to surviving in and among desperate communities. When they were challenged they each found a solution to their own survival.

How does all this translate to the cruising couple?
There are a lot of couples out there cruising the worlds waterways and oceans. Most are not on an expedition, they are just out there wandering around and often wondering at their own ability to actually be so independent far away from  the modern resources we all become accustomed to and take for granted on a daily basis. They develop a shared tolerance for each challenge they come upon in their travels. The person that is least tolerant tempers the other, the one that is most tolerant stretches the other. They sort of meet somewhere in the middle, thus the shared tolerance for anything perceived as different. They will also form some type of shared cultural responsivity. I think both fear and courage come into play. If that is true then certainly the Laws of Attraction have a big foothold in anyone's experience.

For instance due to the "Cruisers Net" many sailing around from island to island form a image of what to expect at their next destination due to the advice and warnings from those that come before them. The cruisers net is most helpful for navigation and weather reports but less valuable when it comes to how to interact with the culture that you are about to experience. Often the advice comes from some arrogance or fear rather than acceptance and respect. It is not uncommon to read sailing blogs that complain of the treatment they received on some Caribbean island and then read another's account who had a fantastic experience. Cruisers as a class are pretty tolerant and resourceful in general but sometimes they allow their "privilege" to rear its ugly head in someone else's country. Here comes the Law of Attraction.

In a more extreme example there are certainly countries where extreme poverty and or lack of government create hostile environments for your average cruising couple. Here is a map for 2016 on Piracy risk by nation:  A few  years ago there were a couple of reported incidents on private yachts in Venezuela. The SSCA or Seven Seas Cruisers Association issued a bulletin warning all cruisers to avoid Venezuela. However I read in in the same year some cruisers had uneventful and even excellent experiences cruising Venezuela. One couple cruised Venezuela purposely, the other couple were forced into Venezuela by storms when they intended not to. My guess is these people had the tolerance of Slocum and Ladd and fit into the Venezuelan culture without pissing anyone off and they were smart enough not to put themselves in compromising positions.

The Royal Caribbean's "Explorer of the Seas" leaving May 18,  Seattle to Alaska. At 1,025' it is the largest cruise ship to visit the West coast.
With 3,114 passengers the Explorer of the Seas will be a lifetime experience for many who take the Seven day cruise to Alaska. To some of them this will be a huge adventure on a ship in the ocean for the first time in their lives going to a distant corner on planet Earth. Each find their own comfort level when it comes to wandering.

Soon we will be able to restart our wandering aboard Wand'rin Star. For at least the next year or so our wandering will be confined to day or weekend trips as our second Pacific Northwest grandchild is due in November. We may even squeeze out a short voyage up to the San Juan Islands in the not to distant future.

Lee can tell you about it:

Just taking a stab but I think the wonder comes before the wander

Friday, May 6, 2016

In the Wake of the Spray - Kenneth E. Slack

A good sailor friend, Tom Arnold, of Corpus Christi,  Texas recommended that I read In the Wake of the Spray after I published a blog about attending one of the speaker series at the Center For Wooden Boats where the Great-Great granddaughter of Joshua Slocum, Susan Slocum Dryer spoke,

Written by Kenneth E. Slack, the book is an exhaustive research into all of the "Spray Hulls" built after Joshua Slocum's successful sail around the world alone during 1895-1898. The copies of Joshua Slocum's Spray varied widely from exact copies to enlarged copies with several deviations. Slack gives a lot of insight as to why anyone in the 20th century would want to build a copy of a vessel that was originally designed and built in the late 1700's. The hull that Joshua Slocum rebuilt was already 100 years old when he refit the entire vessel in the late 1800's. The lure of the Spray hull is primarily in it's sea keeping abilities. Two of which stand out: 1. the ability of the crew to balance the sails so the vessel will self steer for hours on end and 2. the ability to sail through storms, even very serious storms without shipping any big water or waves on deck. Safety and self steering are all important on ocean voyages, especially for short handed crews. Slack's book goes into great detail about these two features of the spray hull design in great detail, even so far as to provide the drawings so you could build your on if so motivated.

In the event you are not motivated to build your on but still want such a handy little ship then you of course can pay someone else to build you a copy. These days you can have someone like Bruce Roberts to custom build a Spray hull of any size for you. just see . OR you can actually buy one that someone else has started to build but is incomplete for one reason or the other at bargain prices
There are many used Spray hulls for sale by owner  as well see
or the Brokerage market
I never got around to reading Joshua Slocum's book until well after we bought Wand'rin Star so all of this interest in the Spray hull design never entered into any of our considerations as we searched for our cruising vessel. Wand'rin Star has shown to be a very safe vessel even in big seas and high winds. The self steering though is by a very dependable autopilot. I have to admit above all other considerations, some type of self steering system and safety are the top of the concerns when it comes to long distance cruising.

What continues to amaze me that even in this age of modern yachts and technology, this very old idea of how to sail across Oceans is still relevant.I am sure Slack's book just intensified the interest in the Spray hull. There are a couple of more books out there written about Joshua Slocum so I will find time to read them just to see what they add to this incredible story that continues to be written along with each new Spray that sets out for yet another world voyage.