Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Bishop of Norwich

Hats off to John Vigor for this one.  See his July 19 post.

As the hands finish their evening repast it is the custom on Traveler and many other naval vessels to close the meal with a glass or two of ruby red port.  Traditionally, the decanter starts at the right hand of the host who pours himself a glass and passes the port to the left.  It then makes it way around the table in a clockwise direction as tradition dictates.  "Why clockwise?", you might ask. Some say this represents the passing of time, others say it frees up the sword hand for fighting.  Most likely it is only because most people are right handed and find it easier to pour with their right hand.   John claims it has roots in the Coriolis effect, that which makes high pressure weather systems cycle clockwise in the northern hemisphere.  He also claims we should pass the port counter-clockwise when we venture south of the equator but that is a matter of debate.  Sailors remember this clockwise tradition with the saying, "Port to port."

When at table, it is considered bad form to ask the neighbor to your right to "Please pass the port."  Instead, you can say, "Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?"  If he knows the tradition he will pass you the port.  If not he might say something like this, "No sir, I don't.  Why do you ask?" and your reply would be, "He is a terribly nice chap, but he always forgets to pass the port."

To get the decanter moving, you might also say something along the line of, "Do you have a current "pass... port?" while looking at the decanter.  But back to the Bishop....  The Bishop of Norwich (John Sheepshanks 1893 to 1910) was quite a drinker in his early years and was known to hog the port decanter through two fill ups before passing it to the left.  In his later years he'd developed the habit of nodding off at the table just as the port was making its rounds and so had to be prodded to pass the port.

At our table we have another tradition around the passing of the port, or the drinking of anything for that matter.  We toast. To propose a toast, just hold up your glass, make your statement, then while clinking your glass with all others at the table make eye contact with one and all. Sometimes, like the Bishop of Norwich, a non-eye-contact guest at the table must be nudged to look up. Once everyone has establish eye contact, then down the hatch it goes.  Proost! Cheers! Salute!

Popeye's Last Supper 

From Left to right - Alice the Goon, the Sea Hag, Poopdeck Pappy, Brutus, Professor O.G. Wattasnozzle, Olive Oyl, Popeye, the Jeep, J. Wellington Wimpy, Rough House the cook, Swee' Pea, George Geezil, Castor Oyl

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Seven Fires Across America

Esta Ton on Angel de La Garda
We left you last in May in Puerto Don Juan, way up the inside coast of Baja California Norte. Since then we've traveled thousand of miles, mostly on pavement.  I thought it was time to catch everyone up on our doings.

Leaving the calm waters of Puerto Don Juan behind we sailed Traveler over to the Bay of LA Village and anchored just  off the beach.  What followed was some provisioning and a nice little lunch/internet break at Guillermo's RV park, restaurant, and hotel.  After rowing  back out to the boat in a building sea we had a wonderful sail north to a little anchorage on the west coast of Isla Angel de La Guarda called Esta Ton.

I'd found the GPS coordinate for Esta Ton in one of my guides and was sure glad to have it as it's impossible to find with the naked eye when approaching from the west.  We tucked in there for the night and headed south in the morning, sailing slowly then motoring around the end of the Island for an anchorage at Isla Estanque, staying well away and upwind of the lagoon to avoid the swarms of bobos, little non-biting flying insects that swarm by the thousands.
Angel de La Garda and the Midriff Islands are in the northern Sea of Cortez

See some fantastic pictures of Angel de La Garda by photographer Blake Crosby  here.

We continued south the next morning and soon arrived at Isla Partida where we motored the dinghy out to the sea lion colony to watch hundreds of the stinky fat fellows frolic and bellow.
That evening, the bugs descended on us like a plague.  Bobos, mosquitos, gnats, everyone came to visit our little house on the water.  After many assassinations that left our walls and ceiling spattered with bug guts we finally got to bed, the caterwauling of millions of birds echoing off the cliffs making the place a spooky retreat.  We'd read about Isla Raza, the next island South as being a protected breeding ground for Heerman’s Gulls and presumed that's what we were hearing from our quiet anchorage.
Isla Raza

The next day we hopped down to Isla Raza and sailed in close to see that every square inch of shoreline was covered in birds.  Heerman's Gulls and Elegant Terns mobbed the place.  Staying upwind to avoid the guano stink we rounded the corner and made our way to the next island south, Isla Salsipuedes where we cautiously found our anchorage on the rocky west side of the narrow island.   We had a great  hike, loved the location, and vowed to return.  That evening we were attacked fiercely by the little flying demons and decided it was high time to get away from these bugs and high winds and head back over towards the mainland.
Isla Salsipuedes

The morning brought fresh northwest winds that freshened up even more as we galloped along sailing east out of Salsipuedes then just north of San Esteban.  By that time the seas were pretty rough and we wanted nothing more then to find someplace sheltered from the wind, waves and swell coming in on our port quarter.  The swift tide swept us north as we closed with the southern shore of Isla Tiburon so while we were making 6 knots over the water we were really crabbing northeast at about 4 knots or less on the GPS.  We finally found the anchorage of Bahia de Los Perros around the southeast corner of Isla Tiburon where we stayed for two nights, getting good shelter from the stiff northwest winds.  That layover day we took a nice long hike finding hundreds of Murex shells.  At the end of the beach on a little elevated point was a  little concrete memorial.  You see these everywhere in Mexico and they usually mark where someone died.  Inside this mini house we found some plastic flowers, a few little shells and tokens and a lit candle.  Yes, a lit candle.  Looking around we saw no boats in sight, no fishermen, no ghosts, no pangas, nada.  A little creepy.

Our whole cruise from Conception Bay north to the Bay of LA and across the Midriff Islands was marked by the absence of other power and sailing vessels.  Most of the time we had anchorages to ourselves and saw only occasional small fishing boats as we made our transits.

Leaving Tiburon, the last of the Midriff Islands, we headed towards Bahia Kino on a southerly hoping to find a little protection in the bay there from the south wind.  As the day progressed, the wind rotated around westerly then settled into a blasting northwest wind... again.  The waves built and as we approached Bahia Kino we realized there was no way we'd anchor in that shallow bay on a lee shore.  Reluctantly we beat our  way out of the shallow water and set a course south, veering away from the land to try to get more water under the keel.  What followed was a rough night, no sleep, and the problem of arriving at our preferred anchorage before the sun came up.  At 4:00 AM we changed our destination to Bahia San Pedro further down the coast and arrived there just at sunrise.

We "farmed" a huge ball of sea grass on the anchor on our first attempt in the bay.  After tediously pulling off the weed we joined the crowd just off the beach, got the anchor set well, ate a quick breakfast and went to bed, thus finishing up our solitary journeys in the the almost-northernmost Sea of Cortez. 

One night in Marina San Carlos and one night in Marina Fonatur Guaymas and the boat was clean enough to haul out at Marina Seca Guaymas, our old familiar yard.  The same day we hauled out we caught the Tufesa night bus to Phoenix, arriving in the morning to buy a 1998 Oldsmobile mini van off of Craig's List.  A few days later, fully licensed and insured we drove back down to Guaymas and began to get the boat ready for the long hot summer.  This time, in order to keep our sanity in the 90 degree heat, we got a cheap hotel in town (Suites del Sol) with a working air conditioner.  We'd get up at 6:00 AM, drive to the yard, and work until about noon.  Then we'd run some errands and go back to crash in the hotel AC til 6:00 PM or so then go back to the yard to finish up a few projects before the sun went down and the mosquitoes came out.  Working this way we finished our tasks in three days flat!

Measure things and make lists of supplies needed from the states.
Remove center seats from mini van and stow inside boat cabin.
Build a bed in the back of the mini van.
Remove genoa and fold.
Remove main and fold.
Stow all sails below.
Remove the Bimini.
Remove running rigging or use messenger lines.
Wrap blocks, winches, clutches in tin foil.
Take fuel out of the outboard, and Honda generator.
Defrost, clean, refrigerator.
Empty water tanks, pull off inspection ports, clean thoroughly.
Remove all food from cabinets - give to guards or stow in the car.
Clean cabinets, put down boric acid.
Deflate dinghy and stow on cabin top.
Move clothing and camping gear to the car.
Wash and stow bedding in plastic bags.
Stow all cushions in plastic bags.
Stow all galley stuff in plastic bags.
Exercise thru hull valves and stuff them with green scrubbies.
Cover windows with foil.
Unplug power and water.
Disconnect house batteries.
Tarp front deck, lower mast, top deck, solar panels, and cockpit.
Tighten the jack stands under the boat.
Make our escape.

One night in Phoenix with Eva, Brevin, Blake, Diane and Tom.
One night in a Motel 6 on I-40, what luxury!
Two nights with Barb in Albuquerque talking about right wing christian terrorists.
Two nights bandit camping in central Colorado.  Visit hot springs.
Three nights at Desiree and Damon's Cruiser's retreat in Palisade. Such sweet people.
Six more nights camping in national forests... Visit hot springs.
brought us to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state and a wonderful, end-of-trip hike.

When we camped, we would find a forest service road, usually gravel or dirt and we'd go a mile or so off the pavement until we found a turnout and a fire pit.  These encampments are everywhere in National Forest or BLM lands.  We'd ALWAYS make a fire and heat up a little dinner on the camp stove.  Connie would play some music and we'd share a bottle of wine before going to bed in the back of the mini van.  Quiet, peaceful.. nice.

Another guiding aspect of our road trip was the search for hot springs.  We'd stop at a library or coffee shop and use the laptop to find hot springs near our route, then try to visit them later in the day.

By the time we got to Washington state the burn ban was on.  Luckily for us we were home by then.

Gosh how I enjoy the fires.  Connie too.  I didn't realize what a firebug she is, but get a fire going, put a stick in her hand and she's at it poking and rearranging to perfection.  We experimented with various methods of building the fire.  We'd gather the wood, stack it in little piles by size, then create the base and the structure.  Connie prefers the crisscross method and I mostly used the teepee model.  Over our seven glorious nights of fires I adopted Connie's crisscross method as the best on the planet.

I know that when contrasted with the larger issues effecting your life here in the modern times talking about the different methods of building a fire might not seem very important.  Connie and I are leading more simpler (though sometimes more complex) lives so the mundane can take on great importance for us.  KISS!
Sort wood by size

Stack in crisscross design

One match if the wood is dry

Teepee method. 

We arrived in Olympia smelling like bums.

One of the many Michaels that we know loaned us his Oly apartment for the summer so we settled in there, washed our dirty bodies, clothing, and car and set about finding me a wardrobe for when I go back to Harborview Med Center to do some hourly work through July. Connie's enjoying spending time with her kids and weeding the garden beds at her rental house.  On the weekends I'm taking Amtrak from Seattle to Olympia to re-consummate my marriage and during the week I stay with Seattle friends, do the standard bus commute, and clock my eight hours catching up on open work tickets with the HMC Finance IT team.

So that's what we've been up to, the standard stuff that we do every summer for the last three summers.  Jim Kitchen at Puget Sound Sails is making us a new main sail. We are ordering new isinglass for the dodger, giving the sewing machine a tune up, researching how to mend or replace a steel diesel tank, and talking to Scott and Karen about another attempt next spring to visit Hawaii.  What?  Yes, we are thinking about attempting Hawaii again.  Sounds like a mountaineer saying, "Yep, we're thinking about attempting Kilimanjaro again this season.

Life is so different here (in the states).  It ain't Mexico.  Here you have clean sidewalks, smooth roads, nice parks, and big trees!  I was very happy to be back in the States and enjoyed our cross country trip immensely .  Then at the end of the trip in Seattle there was that first morning when I walked up the hill to work.  As I walked my nose was accosted by smells of stale tobacco smoke, diesel, urine, and believe it or not, rats. Yes, I can smell rat pee and poop wafting up from the basements of old buildings.  The city air is filled with sirens. Most everyone is really white and they constantly stare at little flat electronic devices.  Catch someone's eye and smile and you get a little shy grin or a quick cut to the side.  People drive fast and talk loud.  Look, what's that? Some campers, right here in the city.  There are tents pitched on the sloping ground next to the freeway overpasses. Those guys look a little scruffy, huddled in small groups smoking cigarettes.  No glorious fires for these folks!  Would they use the crisscross or teepee method?

Thanks for listening. Now get out of here and do something worthwhile with yourself!