Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Great Dane and Other Salty Dogs!

Since I got my first post up, I have already had questions about my corgi pooch, the sweet, sweet, loyal and multi-talented Diamond Lily.

Unfortunately and quite sadly, I have had to leave her on land. At 14, though spry as ever, she simply is not up for the seafaring life. She now lives with a best friend, Suzanne, her toddler, Basi, and a trembling little fox terrier named Bellaboo.

I have cried endless tears over leaving her, but the Lilster is happy with her family in Boston Harbor. At the marina store they call her by name where is known as Lily Langtree and seems to have evolved a life of her own as just another one of the colorful characters.

Speaking of colorful characters, we have met a few of them on the docks of the ports we have visited. In Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island we hobnobbed with the ever interesting inventor, Charlie Faddis and his wife, TJ who runs the Historic Lynnwood Theatre, and their extended family. And there was Rich, the salty live aboard on the strangest, yet most elegant ferrocement ketch I've ever seen. He had many tips on docking "a big girl." For couples he had the following advice, "You put the woman at the helm. She usually has a better driving record, and she's rarely strong enough to catch the boat on a dock. Let the more athletic man do the hard physical stuff." Good sound advice, however, I am no where near ready to drive this giant 18 ton steel womb into a marina full of fancy schmancy yachts! Hey, I'll even flash my titties (if need be) to get the dock angels to materialize and help catch our lines, but I'm not driving. Nope. Not yet anyway. In time. For now I am content to blow kisses from the bow to those who help us make it in or out without involving insurance companies. This boat seems to be a real challenge to back up. Bow thrusters, as decadent as they may have seemed to me in the past, sound a bit more reasonable with each close call.

The most delightful fellow thus far was Scotty, the seventy something grinning dock walker who appeared to expertly catch our lines and pull us in against the winds of Boston Harbor. He's a regular there, and knew of our arrival even prior to our VHF call to the marina. He claimed a girl with a couple of little doggies (Suzanne) told him to watch for a big black sailboat. Before we had finished cleating Nomadness to the dock, Steve asked if maybe we should haul her back to take up less space. You know, as a courtesy to other boaters? We didn't want to be the assholes who take up two parking spots. To this Scotty replied in his thick, melodic accent, "They mess around with the chihuahuas and move them about, but they won't mess with the Great Dane. And in this circumstance, I'd say you are the Great Dane!" And he was right. In fact when my pal, Jib, called to say he was doing a sail by, he commented, "Damn, girl, you've got the biggest mast in the Harbor!" To which I quipped, "I know."

We have a running joke about Nomadness being "The Great Dane."

Now a dachshund non sequitur.

These are Max and Teddy, companions to Steve and Tammy, a sailing couple who took their 50' ketch Skybird three quarters the way around the world. Tammy has a book out about the adventures and new blog too. They live in Boston Harbor.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Agile as Cats

Something I have noticed in comparing my life on land to my new life on the water, as well as the observations I've made of others, has to do with degrees of awareness and levels of stress. In my land life, when stress climbed higher, my level of awareness often waned. As somebody striving to be health conscious and as somebody in the Work, I make efforts to lower stress and raise awareness. I was often caught in my worries about bills or romance dramas or... you name it.

Now I am noticing that life on a boat facilitates the lowering of stress and fosters greater awareness naturally. On the water one has to be vigilant even in calm times; there are so many things that can hurt you, so many things that can go wrong in the blink of an eye, something new to learn every day and so much breathtaking beauty to behold, that one's awareness becomes keener by the day. You can see this awareness in the movements of sailors. Sure, they may be hunched up from lack of headroom, or swagger from the habitual adjustments to the motion of a rolling deck, but they never waste a movement or expend more energy than needed. In other words, they are aware of themselves and their surroundings. And good sailors never hurry, they know they have time.

Sailing seems to melt stress away. Stress arises from focusing on what might happen. When one is fully engaged in what is happening there is little space in consciousness for projection into the uncertain future. I think this is why sailors often have a aura of health about them and even the old salts who sometimes drink way too much, seem to be sharp as tacks and agile as cats.

The Adventure Begins

Well, well, swell. At long last I have set sail aboard the s/v Nomadness in search of my strange new life and live new strangers and new reasons to laugh in spite of the terror of the situation. My able and brilliant partner, Steve Roberts, has provided the substrate for our journey in the form of an 18 ton raised pilothouse steel sailboat.

I abandoned my land based life of librarianship about six months ago and took the plunge into what I've come to know as the technomadic lifestyle. It is true what they say about having to let go of something to be ready to grasp the next opportunity. Ask a trapeze artist, they'll tell you.

It is twelve days now since we motored out the Swinomish Channel and left the chic but cold little town of Laconner in our wake. We have traveled a mere 120 miles, but already the list of new friends and accounts of harrowing experiences is filling pages of my journal. (Thanks, Patty--I'm finally using it!)

This space will be used to log my inner and outer journey, share our experiences through words and pictures, and allow friends and family to track our geographical journey. For those who know me, the choice of title for this blog will seem natural, I have a flair for the dramatic having spent years doing avant garde theatre and running a performance space. A couple years ago I discovered sailing and something very deep and long asleep awoke and demanded attention. "Take to the water" the voice whispered. I thought it over. I love to travel but hate cars and planes; I love being in nature, but need socializing. I love solitude but despise routine. Ahh... the cruising life suits me well. And for the first time in my life, I will have the time and space to write. Not to mention an endless flotsam and jetsam of material and colorful characters to people my stories and ignite the imagination.

Today I write from Boston Harbor, a darling, home-towney little marina just north of Olympia which is the southernmost tip of the Puget Sound and my home on and off since 1983. From here we travel north to Seattle for some engine maintenance (diesel injectors for those who care) then on to Port Townsend for some plumbing upgrades
(don't ask, but if you must know the gritty details visit Steve's Nomadness blog where he discusses all aspects technical). We'll probably crash the Latitudes and Attitudes party and once the hangover is over, we'll head north into the wilds of British Columbia, so stay tuned good people, the adventure is beginning...