Monday, April 30, 2012


This is the "do not worry" post. 
Dear mother,
There isn't much internet out in the ocean, so probably I won't be posting or anything for a while.  But there is some internet!  Sometimes a ship might be passing which can post a comment to this posting.  If so, I will ask them to post my position.  So you can look for new comments occasionally.
I might try to stop at an island on the way, well, out of the way.  Isla Clarion is a little bit south.  There is a navy base there, maybe some internet.  And beautiful birds.  But that is weather and food and mood dependent. 
I'll see you on the other side!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A farewell to Mexico

I made a farewell video of Mexico, sort of a compilation of the trip here.  All the food and water and everything is onboard, I am ready to go. 
All I have to do is haul the anchor and set the sails...

Friday, April 27, 2012

More sailing video

I've got almost all my food, and the prep is nearly complete.  And I am excited about going.  But first, I went out sailing the other day on another boat, Lila.  Here is the video.
What's that you say?  Why not a video of my boat?  It is coming, I assure you, but I am practicing on the other boats first, and learning to make a decent video.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Because its there

Why am I going? I can answer the where and the how, and work on the way, but the why is not so easy. Is it to see the sights? I should take an airplane or have someone else along. Is it to see the deep? To be away from people?
There is definitely some ego in this voyage. Perhaps that is not a bad thing. I am a bit like Ahab, seeking to punch a hole through the White Whale and touch the face of God. Except I don't want to kill, but to be judged. I have climbed a mountain to reach for the heavens, to taste my own mortality and be able to step back into life reborn. I wasn't in much danger on the heights, yet I could see the dangers flying past in the thin atmosphere.
The sailing trip will be similar, I think. A feeling of danger and the time for testing my spirit. There might even be real dangers and bad weather for me to deal with, though I am most worried about my own reflection. 30 days without people is a long time.
If upon arrival (the if is always necessary, I think), I hope to be stronger, graduated, or more wise, but I suppose I will have just a memory of a long time sitting going slow upon the waters. Is that worth it? Will the bragging right of singlehanding a long ocean passage be something I even want? I think so. I am always hoping for approval, and here's another way to impress. 

I wrote that a few days ago, but on a different subject, there is a contest!

If you can look up "hull speed calculations" and do some guessing, I will be leaving La Cruz anchorage at 12:00 (noon) on Monday the 30th for destination Hawaii.  How long will it take for me to get there? 
Please input your guesses (by comment or by email) as to the hour and day that I arrive at the breakwater in Hilo.  Closest guess wins a fabulous prize.  
I'm also going to try and call up any boats I see while underway and have them add a comment with my position to the blog.  So look at the comments if you are interested in potential updates to my location.  
I have a few more things to do before I leave, and a few more days to do it.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yelapa River Walk

So I made a video of the river walk.  If you are getting tired of these music videos and want something different, give me a comment and an idea.
I think the video had some problems, so I am trying it again.  Sorry if it didn't work out before


I went back to Yelapa.  I hadn't been for a year, but a bunch of other boats were going, sort of like a race, so I joined in.
I really like the birds that live over there, and because of the river, there is fresh water to walk around in and swim in.  So I did a river walk and went up to a waterfall.
On the way back there was a woodpecker in the tree.  I saw one of these last year with Abe and Katrina, in San Blas, but this woodpecker is really neat looking, and not in the bird book I have.
There was also this kind of nut that grows up there, and last year my dad and I were finding a lot of the shells, and wondering what they came from.  This is a picture of the fruiting body.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another video.... Sorry

Really I am not sorry.  I've been doing these sailing music videos a few times now, and this one might be the best I have done as of yet.  Possibly it is just because I like the song so much, but also some of the footage is better than I have had before.  Why am I not making videos of my own boat?  Well, I will get going on that, but first I have to learn on other boats.  I recommend that you watch for some of the "forwards" that I put in, there are three.  If you can't find them, then I didn't do a good enough job.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gearing Up

I'm Gnashing my teeth and going sailing almost every day, getting the boat ready for the trip across to Hawaii. I hope for a good wind on the 30th, just 10 days away!
Yesterday I went out sailing and chasing another boat, Shamaness. I got some pictures of them, and they got some shots of me! I had just cleaned the bottom, so I was super fast and smooth sailing, and LaFawnda is working awesome with the clean bottom! She is still a bit too powerful, so in these shots you can see the vane is not up to "full power" position, and when the wind came up a bit more she was getting a bit twitchy, maybe more than I would like. So I will "dumb down" the system a little bit to make the motion more in a straight line. Its nice to have a wind vane that is too sensitive, rather than not enough.
For example, I was motoring a few days ago and LaFawnda was steering the boat while motoring in very close to no wind at all. I think 2 knots or less. So the sensitivity is awesome!
Other than that, I just bought a bunch of food. I'll go and buy more in a few more days, and then probably one more big stock-up the day before I leave. And I need to get a little more water.
Then the day I leave, I scrub the bottom again, and off into the blue!
There will be a quiz for you all on the departure day, which is a guessing game. When, to the day, hour and minute, will I arrive? The definition of arrival is the turning around Hilo bay breakwater....
Here are some constants to consider...
Altair is 20 ft, 6 inches at the waterline. The bottom paint is 6 months old. The mainsail has 4 patches in it. The spinnaker is torn, but I hope to repair it before I leave. I can hold 15 gallons of Diesel. Light travels at a constant rate in a vacuum. I will leave on April 30, and the distance is something you can look up.
Be sure to have the guess in by May 20 in order to qualify for the prize. The Prize!
The shots of Altair are from Shamaness. I took the others.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guns, Germs, and other things

Last night I was over on another boat and we got into a most interesting conversation, that I would like to share some of the things I learned... Unfortunately it is of a political nature. I must be growing more conservative in my old age, so here I am writing about politics.
Its about guns.
Some of the fellow sailors down here are Canadian, so they come from a land with different rules, and the whole "right to bear arms" leads to contention. But I am beginning to understand why the USA started up that amendment, and why it was near the top of the list. It is important. In a society there are many things that drive the balances of power, such as money, or food, or strength of arm (like a big dude at school), or strength of arms (the guns). In a place such as China, where the general public is not allowed to have guns, then that kind of power is very highly concentrated in the military, which is controlled by the leaders. Supposing the leaders are unpopular, they have the upper hand, whereas in another country (say that this country exists, just pretend) where the power of armament is more spread out, if the leaders are unpopular, they can be replaced.
But at the same time, I think that there are many things that can force the balance of power, and in the USA only the guns have a nice amendment to try and diversify. There isn't much about spreading money around, (Socialist!!) and for certain, money is effective in keeping the leaders in office, with the whole lobby thing.
So I am more understanding about the second amendment, but I don't think I agree to it that much anymore, since the "powers that be" are still much stronger than me no matter how many guns I have.
As for life on an island, having a gun is a tremendous balance shifter. If I were to have a gun on my boat and a pirate comes along without one, I have the huge upper hand.
Actually, a lot of this thinking came about when I was watching "Lost" the TV series, over the last few weeks. Its a dumb part of the show that comes up quite often, that someone has a gun and the other does not, and you get to watch the drama that comes from a power shift.
If you look at the picture very carefully, you will see a joke.
I also am starting another course of antibiotics, in order to try and cure the infection in my toe, where I kicked a sea urchin a long time ago. This is the third try, and it is tenacious. So watch out for urchins. I got a double course of antibiotics, so I can have an extra set if something happens while on the way to Hawaii.
And lastly, I plotted out the course of the sun through the year in Longitude shift. So if you look out every day at the same time (say noon) and watch the sun, it should move west and east over the year in this pattern...

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Actually, the boat is called Great Bear, or will be. But it still says Tumbleweed on the sides, and I like that name better.
So a while ago I was walking along the marina here and I saw a nice looking ketch sitting there with a young dude working on it. Then again, later, I saw the same dude working on the boat again. And again. He was always working on the boat. Sanding and painting and such. Eventually I met him and found out he is a cool guy, despite being a Canadian, and he is also a surfer. So we went surfing once at a place I hadn't been before, since you have to drive there. I had been trying to convince him that he should untie the boat from the dock since the moment I met him, and take it for a ride, but he is a diligent worker, and does a quality job of things, which takes time. I, on the other hand, do poor work and make things that just barely hold together and need repairs often, but for some reason I get the job done very quickly and then go sailing a lot.
Finally we went out sailing in his boat yesterday. It was the first time I had sailed a ketch, though I had been aboard two masted boats before. I got to play with the balance of the boat and it was very nicely balanced. And I made a movie of it.
The boat balances so well, I am reasoning, because it has two masts, which are like two feet to stand on. The single masted boats have a more tricky balance by using the main and jib to push against each other, but when you have two jibs and two mains you can balance the smaller ones and then use the bigger ones for power. And that is what we did.
I love a mizzen mast now. But I also don't want to have one on a boat. Sadly, the wonderful balancing act of the boat (going upwind) isn't worth the nuisance of having the mast in the way over the cockpit, the hassle of an extra sail, and how that sail blocks having a rack and shade over the cockpit. So I won't have one. And, since mostly boats that cruise are looking to go downwind, a boat that balances still needs to balance downwind, and the mizzen was all tied up and not in use for that direction. So I vote it off the island, sadly. I like it and don't want it on my boat.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A restless night

So last night was a very eventful night. The swell has been really big lately, so I sailed out to go surfing at Burros, and after a killer evening session, I was paddling back to the boat in the dark. The sunset was really nice, but someone had said that they had seen a shark swim by, so I was a bit nervous, but I made it home safely. Since my feet had still been hurting I was really tired and fell asleep quickly.
Sometime in the night I had some weird dreams about the boat crashing into rocks, and I woke up to find everything rocking around a lot. My heart rate shot up of course, since I figured the anchor had slipped, but then I heard something hit the side and I realized it was a boat. Someone had pulled up alongside and a couple people had got on board! They weren't making any sounds, but the boat was moving all over the place from the waves and the extra weight all at once, and I didn't think they were going to be friendly, so I grabbed for my big flashlight that I keep under the steps and for my kukri (a big knife that my brother gave me) . One of the guys came around the corner of the dodger and I blasted him in the face with the light, and then ran up to push him overboard. I got him into the water, but he grabbed onto me so I just went in with him. As I fell I could see there was another guy onboard in the front, and it looked like they were trying to cut the anchor loose. So they were going to try to steal the boat!
I hit the water wrestling with this guy and tried to drag him down to the bottom, but he let go of me and I went under the keel and then popped up the other side to get up the ladder. Thats when I saw the dorsal fin slide past me and then I heard the other guy start screaming. So there was a shark!
I managed to get back aboard Altair, and then got the light which I dropped in the cockpit and blasted the guy in the front (they were looking at the guy in the water getting eaten) and started yelling my head off.
Maybe he figured it wasn't worth it, because he jumped back into the panga and pushed away, while trying to get the motor running.
Anyways, after that it was a quiet night. And since it is April first, I hope you were fooled.