Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Excederin Headache #79

Zebulon, NC

I came across this scene today and took the pictures below.  It happened on the I95 overpass in Smithfield, NC.  

In the picture, you can see the driver letting the air out of the tires.
The boat was not damaged so the driver must have stopped in time. But if the driver was that alert,  I can't help wonder what he was doing out there in the first place.  The minimum clearances on I95 must be published someplace.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Other Guy's Side

Zebulon, NC

The debate over abortion has continued for many decades following Roe V Wade.  I consider myself lucky to be ambivalent on the issue and thus able to view the dispute from above.  I see the validity of the views of both sides.  It all rests on a single fact; a fetus is or is not a human being.  There is very little room for a middle ground compromise on that question.   You are either yes or no.  There can never be reconciliation between groups divided on that question.

Yesterday, after listening to the  Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast for the 80th time, I had an epiphany (i.e. epiphany. a smart-sounding word for realizing you've been practically retarded for quite some time). I realized that pro and anti government views are almost exactly analogous to the abortion issue.  The key question is: do you consider the government as our ally and trust it to act in our interests, or do you believe government to be our enemy and unworthy of trust?  I never saw that clearly before because I'm not ambivalent on that issue. I am deeply immersed the anti-government side.

The trigger to my change of heart came from listening to the "shop talk" of Stewart Baker and his partners on the podcast.  They sound very well informed, sincere, rational, and skilled at predicting the future.  Their views are one-sided but not rabid. Yet I find almost everything they say and do to be offensive.  I once referred to Baker as The Great Satan.  Why? Because I see government insiders as a bigger threat than the bad guys.   Their anti-bad-guy tactics carry anti-liberty baggage.  

I'm probably even guilty of false thinking in my zeal to oppose them.  I'm willing to fall for the trap of thinking the enemy of my enemy is my friend.   But wait! That's not true.  There really are terrorists, foreign governments and regular crooks out to harm me.  They aren't my friends.  I do want protection from bad guys, but I also feel oppressed by my protectors.

I believe that the pro-goverment side is also guilty of false thinking in their excesses of zeal and loyalty.  They think that even when they're wrong they're right because of good intentions. They think government should be trusted because they trust themselves.  They think that people who don't trust them are lunatics. Misdeeds are explained as "bad apples" that should be weeded out if only someone (not me) blows the whistle on them.   They never acknowledge how serious the injuries they cause to liberty are.  They believe that parties injured by government deserve what they get. They never admit that governmental bad behavior is systemic to the extent that some sectors do more harm than good.

The perfect poster boy for both sides is Edward Snowden.  He is either a true American hero, or a heinous criminal.   Very few people are ambivalent on Snowden.

So, am I a member of a lunatic minority?  Not at all. according to the latest Gallup Poll, 49% of Americans think as I do.  But also according to Gallup, a substantial body of Americans are more concerned with other bad guys are thus willing to give government a free pass to do whatever it takes.   Gallup Poll citations to support both views are below.

So, what is the bottom line?  What should we do about it?  I think that the two views can never be reconciled.  We must live with the split until the pendulum of public opinion swings strongly one way or the other.  In the recent past, and for the forseeable future, the pendulum is stuck at close to 50-50.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just Do It

Zebulon, NC

Well, it was a long hard drive to get here.   We had a last minute surprise.  Our grandaughter Sara and great-grandaughter Anna asked to hitch a ride to Dave & Cathy's house where they are going to visit for a while.  Naturally, we are delighted to have their company.

On the other hand, our car was already stuffed full of camping gear, yet Sara has tons of baby equipment.  Fortunately, we could use the canoe as a cargo trailer.  We did that.  I had a bit of fear of being stopped for driving a Beverly Hillbillies type of vehicle, but it all worked out fine.

Before that, I got a call from a W28 owner, and would be cruiser.  He wanted to ask questions about cruising.   Libby and I did our best to answer his questions.   After the call, I realized that his real problem was simply reluctance to take the plunge on such a non-orthodox life style.  I wished I had said to him Just Do It!

Cruising is not for everybody.  That applies to couples and to single people.   They can talk to others, and ask advice, but in the end the only way to know for sure is to try it out.   The magic number seems to be two years.   After two years of cruising, you will almost surely be certain.  Cruising is or is not for you.   If not, then you can give it up and try somethings else.  If yes, then you can finish cutting the ties to land-based life such as houses, cars, and storage bins, and do so without trepidation.

Part time cruising is also a perfectly viable solution for many people.  Indeed, by my estimate, 80% of the cruisers we meed do it part time.   It also seems that after 10 years of full-time cruising, Libby and I are gradually slipping into the  part-time model.

Just about the only choice that I can say is almost always wrong, is to sit home dreaming about living the cruising life, but not actually doing it.  Once again: Just Do It.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sigh, End of Summer

South Burlington, VT

Wow, it is hard to believe that it is time to leave.  The summer went by fast.   We had a wonderful time.  Jen and Pete were very gracious hosts to allow us to stay for such an extended time.  Thank you very much.

If we had Tarwathie here, we would have departed two weeks ago.  But now it's time to go anyhow.  Our rough agenda is:

  • More family visits.  First with Marilyn in Mechanicville, then John, Cheryl, grandkids and great granddaughter near Rome, NY.   Then to North Carolina to Dave & Cathy's house.
  • Libby wants to spend a week or two on Dave's garden.  I want to go on a canoe trip with Dave.
  • Head south, camping along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I have dreams about seeing the parkway in full fall colors, but that may not happen.   I hope that Dave will let us leave the canoe with him over the winter.  Perhaps he could use it for additional trips.
  • Reunite with Tarwathie in Green Cove Springs.  I have (at least) two boat projects to work on before the spash.
  • Splash and start heding south in Florida.   We would like to attend a Westsail Rendezvouis in Cape Canaveral on November 6.
  • We will most likely spend Thanksgiving in Vero Beach and Christmas in Marathon.  Then we are back into our winter life on board.

Every year I write on this blog that end of summer (and end of winter) is a bittersweet experience.  It is true.  We hate to leave, but we miss Tarwathie, and we look forward to next winter's life onboard.  We are very lucky people to enjoy such a fun life style.

Monday, September 14, 2015

1001 Pots, A Visit

South Burlington, VT

During our recent trip to Val David, Pierre took us to the village to meet his friend, Kinya Ishikawa.

Kinya is a true character.  The kind of person that we all delight in meeting.  He has found his way to do the things he loves doing in life, and he is happy with that.

Kinya is a prolific potter.  He is also very generous.  He helps teach autistic children.  He also sponsors the 1001 Pots festival in Val David every year.

Kinya offered us tea.  As we sat he described coming to America, then to Canada.   He also said that he found a secret place, 500 miles north of Val David where one can find a special mushroom much desired in Japan, and worth a small fortune.  Kinya said that he was getting too old to drive there.   Libby started to offer to drive him, (typical Libby).  He replied, "Thank you, but then I would have to kill you."

Kinya's 1001 Pots garden is a wonderland of artistic imagination.  I recommend it as a tourist destination to anyone who can visit that areas.

Kinya Ishikawa 
His teaching studio
Libby and Pierre enter the 1001 Pots Garden
Kinya lit this smoky fire to welcome us
Love this roof.  Kinya says it is beautiful in winter.
Even the paths are paved with pottery.

Illness At Sea

South Burlington, VT

That's how I feel today.  First Jen got it.  Then Jen's assistant, Allie got it. Now me.  I hope that Libby escapes it.  The bug seems to last 72 hours.

How would we handle illness at sea?   Sea sickness is the most likely problem, but other sicknesses and injuries are always possible.  

It has happened before.  On our first year cruising, Libby got seasick.  I remained at the helm 24 hours without a break.  I got really dopey, and we were lucky to make it ashore without an accident.  Ever since then, I've been much more conservative in planning offshore passages.  I perceive that scenario as the #1 risk that could cause injury or death.

What else could we do?  There are three obvious remedies.

  • Bring additional crewmen.  We have done that in the past precisely because of the sickness risk.  But we didn't like it much having non-family aboard.
  • Abandon the requirement of keeping a 24 hour watch.  Not only does that violate the law, but it could be really stupid with coastal sailing.  Think of Frying Pan Shoals for example.  Out at sea, and far from shipping lanes no-watch might be considered.  Single-handed circumnavigators do it all the time.  I say, that is not a viable solution for the types of cruising Libby and I do.
  • Heave to and wait it out.   I'm ashamed to say that we have never practiced heaving to with Tarwathie at sea in different conditions.  That makes us unqualified to make that maneuver.
Anyhow, we are not getting younger.   This particular risk weighs on my mind all the time when anticipating blue water passages.  I'm afraid that the result is that I narrow our envelope with every passing year.   I might be willing to risk my own neck, but I love Libby too much to risk hers.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Magical Trip

South Burlington, VT

We just returned from a three day trip to Val David, Quebec, Canada.   It was GREAT!

We visited sailing friends Christina & Pierre and their son Alexandre at their home near the top of a mountain in The Laurentians.  The home itself is a marvel.   Pierre built it himself, starting from ruins of a previous house.   Most of the house is rustic, but one add-on room is modern.

Alexandre is a budding professional singer, and on our first night there, he put on a show just for us.  It was great.

We also got to visit the artists community in Val David.  More on that in another blog to come.

We also got to see the video of how they built their steel vessel from scratch starting with just plans on paper.   Many people start such projects, but few finish.  This couple did fininsh and the vessel is worthy and comfortable.

We consider Pierre and Christina among our dearest friends.  Perhaps we can persuade them to come to Marathon sometime.

Pierre built this place by hand

A bit of Pierre's art in the yard.

Now Libby wants hinges like this on Tarwathie

From France, not cut, but grown in this form.

Cool in summer, warm in winter, always a comfortable place.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Two Unsung Knots

Zebulon, NC

Boaters, and in particular sailors, are supposed to be knot experts.  There's a lot of truth in that.   We deal with ropes and lines every day, and we rely on using the right knot for the purpose and on executing it correctly.

A knot must do three things to be "good" in my book:

  1. It must be easy enough to tie so that we do it correctly.
  2. It must serve the purpose.  A knot that comes loose in service fails this test.
  3. It must be easy to untie.   The thing that makes bad knots bad is often that they become difficult or impossible to untie.
Beginning courses on nautical knots always start with the bowline and the clove hitch. True enough, those are the most frequently used knots.

The next (advanced) step might bring in the square knot, the double half hitch, and the rolling hitch. I use both of those daily but I have not bothered to teach Libby how to do them.

Really advanced courses get into obscure, and rarely used knots. Knots that serve mostly to show how smart you are.

Two of my favorite and frequently used knots are almost never mentioned in knot tying courses. The slip knot and the trucker's hitch.

Slip Knots

The only thing most people know about slip knots is that to untie them, you merely pull on the ends. That makes many sailors believe that they are insecure and inappropriate on a boat.

However, when the main loop of the slip knot is penetrated by an objects, they will never come loose or become too tight to untie. For example, I use a slip knot to tie a line to the tiller. I create the knot, put the loop over the tiller and draw tight. It will never come loose while the tiller sticks through the loop, but pull it off the tiller pull the ends and it unties itself.

I used a slip knot to make a great lasso to catch the fluke of our Luke Anghor Bessie when she is out of the water and needs to be made secure. It is an ideal lasso that can be pulled tight and easily loosened at any time.

Trucker's Hitch

When you need to lash something down on deck, a trucker's hitch is the one and only knot you should need. (That's why truckers use it, duh.) It is very easy to tie and untie. It has the overwhelming advantage of pulling the line taught without the use of turnbuckles.

I use trucker's hitches to lash down our solar panels, and to lash down the dinghy. When we take the mast down and must carry it above decks, we use lots and lots of trucker's hitches.


The following two videos will teach you how to tie a slip knot and a trucker's hitch.

The second video actually ends the truckers hitch with a slip knot to make it easy to untie..  How cool?   I end it with a double half hitch instead.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Too Busy To Blog

South Burlington, VT

I've been lax on writing blog posts this summer.   My excuse is that we have been very busy (see below).

Last Thursday, Libby, Jen and I took off for the coast of Maine.   We stayed at an AIRBNB place in the country.   Friday, we did Freeport, then Boothbay Harbor.

On Saturday, we were joined by my sister Nancy and her husband Karl.  The five of us spent most of the day at the new (since 2007) and delightful botanical garden in Boothbay.   It was a professional visit for Jen because she got lots of ideas for plant species to make her clients happy.

After that we
for Rockland to eat in one of my favorite places in the world, the Rockland CafĂ© Bar.  Yummy.

We didn't have a place to stay for Saturday Night.  Jen did some research by phone and found a "room" for all five of us close by.  It turned out that the room was an entire cottage lavishly decorated and furnished and right on the water of Penobscot Bay.  It was really charming.  The only down side was that we had to listen to the proprietors endness stories about his homeland in Ireland.

Suday, we continued north.  We stopped to photograph the Islesboro Ferry (sorry Dick and Cathy, we had no chance to stop and visit).  Then on to the charming little village of Bayside (sorry Don and Margaret, we had no chance to stop and visit).  Finally on to Belfast.  Belfast is one of the places on Libby and my short list of places we would like to live if we weren't cruisers.

Today we are off to our fourth camping trip this summer to Valcour Island.

p.s. In times past, when we traveled to places where I had no Internet access, I wrote blogs anyhow, and simply posted them when we got back.  So what excuse do I have for not blogging more often now?  I can blame the iPad.  Because of the phone and iPad, I don't carry a laptop around so much.  In fact, my small and light netbook computer we left on Tarwathie this summer.  I'll have to watch out for that in the future.