October 30, 2009
October 24, 2009
Actually - we have made progress:
We have way less money now.
And our mast is held up by shiny new stays and lower shrouds. We're still waiting on the main shrouds because it seems who ever initially did our rig cobbled it together out of parts that our extremely experienced riggers say they have, "never seen anything quite like." So they've had to order a few unexpected things - which of course are on back order.
The upshot is they are impressed we made it as far as we did. Fab.
For the first week we were here I panicked about how far behind our non-schedule we were falling. In fact I was a pretty stressed right up until yesterday. But then, as we paid for an unplanned engine repair and I took on another last minute writing assignment (which will almost pay for the engine repair), I thought about all the loose commitments that pepper our calendar and tried to sort out how we could make it all work.
So we've traded the whole non-schedule, schedule for no schedule at all. We're now at the mercy of the wind, our moods and my work schedule. We're not trying for the South Pacific in March, not worrying about where we are for Christmas, heck we're not even sure where we'll be for Halloween - which we're not telling Maia, she's pretty sure we have that one in hand.
It's all sort of freeing - in a disturbing sort of way. I can't quite tell if I'm giving up or letting go - the two things can feel remarkably similar some days.
The thing is, living with this much uncertainty isn't as easy as people think it should be. Consider all those straightforward questions that people ask:
Where are you going next?
Where can we send you mail?
When would be a good time to hang out?
What are you doing tomorrow?
Would you like to order now?
None of them have answers.
None of them.
Well, we're pretty sure we're doing our laundry tomorrow and I'll take a beer, but aside from that, Maia's Magic 8 ball has a better chance of predicting the future than we do.
October 12, 2009
If you’ve ever traveled with a child you’ll know there are certain magical moments that come when you find a place that causes them to fully engage and leaves them wonderstruck. It’s in sharp contrast to those other moments, the ones when they are hungry, thirsty, tired, bored, cold, hot, have sore feet or want to buy that tacky souvenir and that one too.
So when we got to San Francisco and started choosing what to do and where to go, Maia had her own ideas – and a chocolate factory (which I pointed out didn’t actually give tours and only had a retail store selling regular priced chocolate) was inexplicably at the top of her list. Riding on the cable cars barely rated, she didn’t like the hills. And the other options only got a shrug.
The thing with kids though, is even if they don’t like the stuff you like, it's easy to learn to love the things they are fascinated by. There is something about that moment, when time slows down and every thought they are thinking is pure and clear on their face, that lets you know you’ve been privy to a moment of enchantment.
It’s worth searching for – even if it takes you to places you never meant to go. And makes you speed through the places you really thought you would linger.
For those wondering about our rig, we moved to a dock in Alameda this morning. We're really pleased to have arranged for Glenn Hansen to be our rigger (and equally thrilled that our dollar is doing so well for when it comes time to pay him!) Glenn will be taking apart the cap shroud that failed and will let us know what happened to the damn thing. Then we'll get to be a sailboat again!!
October 7, 2009
We need to leave when the weather is right for leaving.
I was thinking about this the afternoon before we left Eureka. A silver-haired fisherman named Ken had slowed his boat down while passing our boat and pointed out a dock on Indian Island. “That’s my dock. You can go for a walk on the island. There’s lots of deer.”
We decided to go for a quick walk before heading to the grocery store to load up on passage food. We couldn’t take long because in the morning the perfect weather window was opening up – one with flatish seas and almost no wind to strain our damaged rig. But the lure of Indian Island’s storied shores made us squeeze it in before shopping and readying the boat to go south.
Our walk was nice – we saw a red-bodied hawk, snowy egret and heard a deer. Then just as we were leaving, to rush to the store before it closed, Ken and his partner Linda invited us into their historic old cabin. The practical side of me wanted to get going – we had food to prepare, routes to program into the GPS and stuff to store away.
We followed Ken into his cabin and learned when it was built. All through the rooms were clever built-in cabinets, the sort of building modifications that always mark the homes of sailors and fishermen and ones that made me think of the books I needed to put away. He showed us old pictures and told us how Eureka had changed over the years. I wondered if San Francisco had changed since my last visit.
With each twist in the conversation my mind would slip off. I’ll make chicken stew for a passage dinner, with extra potatoes, I thought, as Ken began to walk us down the coast – describing each contour and harbour the way only a fisherman – who has seen every bay in every type of weather can describe. I thought about needing more ginger ale as he talked of storms. It tried to recall where I had stashed my hat and mitts while he told us about his garden – not because I didn’t want to hear, I wanted to hear.
I wanted to sit by candlelight, sipping wine and listening to his generous stories.
The desire to stay conflicted with our need to leave and we said goodbye. Ken gave us a jar of sparkling peach jam, for passage sandwiches, he said. Maia could make those while I cook, I thought.
We thanked Ken for his gifts – the jam and the stories.
And we prepared to leave.
In the first light of morning I looked back at Ken's dock and then I looked forward, toward our next destination, hoping for a gentle passage.
October 3, 2009
Fortuna is a small town; nestled amidst a number of other small towns, in an area the
Actually, I realized it wasn’t a tourist event when one of the organizers expressed shock that a visitor all the way from
The focus of the festival was the local cidery – which was celebrating its 100th anniversary (it even has a few original old trees). I have a thing for heritage apples, it grew out of my discovery of the old orchards in BC’s Gulf Islands (which blossomed into several articles on the topic) so anytime I get to eat an apple from a really old tree I’m pretty much sold on the outing.
It’s easy to be sarcastic when faced with a sweetly hopeful small town event, to mock the church ladies selling their cute little hand-crocheted doggie smocks, to poke fun at the egg smash game and at the local museum, which boasts a display of over 400 types of barbed wire. But despite the fact we came from somewhere else, knew no one and were at a local event for local people, we were welcomed warmly.
And for a moment, when I chatted with the antique store lady and eavesdropped on a conversation between Joy and Linda about Clare’s daughter who was pregnant with twins, again and would need everyone’s help, I wondered what it would be like to live in a little town where someone called Anna won both 1st and 3rd place in the pie baking contest and where people celebrate 100-year-old apple trees with pulled pork sandwiches.
October 2, 2009
This is an especially good question when we arrive in a lovely port like Eureka, California. The old town has loads of history – starting with its name. The Greek word “Eureka” means “I have found it!” The name’s a reference to the role the city played during the 1849 Gold Rush when the Josiah Gregg expedition rediscovered the entrance to Humboldt Bay (it had been found and noted before – but then lost because it’s a very narrow river opening). Given its popularity with gold seekers, in 1849 California was in dire need of a second safe harbour, beyond San Francisco. And despite its tricky bar (where the bones of more than a few ships rest) Humbolt Bay was the answer. In 1850 the first ships arrived soon after the town was established by lumber barons and gold miners.
Considering this intriguing history, it’s easy to imagine us getting up early (to the sounds of local bird life and the lapping of water on the hull.), having a leisurely breakfast (while reading the local paper, which we picked up in town on our arrival) and then spending a short while tidying up the boat before heading to shore. There we would explore the historic old buildings, pausing to admire the stunning examples of Queen Ann architecture nestled side-by-side the old Italianate style ex-brothels and saloons before taking in all of the towns highlights – like normal tourists.
It’s not like that.
We do get up early. Madaket, the tour boat run by the Humbolt Bay Maritime Museum, wakes us each morning when it blows its whistle before heading out on an early tour of the bay. The boat has taken to including us in its narrative and when it passes we hear a voice over the loud speaker booming out a story about Canadians fleeing winter by boat and making their way south.
When we do get to shore (after Maia has done her school work and I've finished my assignments) we bypass the typical tourist offerings – our budget will only stretch to include so many attractions and we have stuff to do. We need to find the grocery store, laundromat, hardware store, book store, marine store, gas station (because the fuel dock is closed and we’ll be ferrying jerry jugs of diesel back and forth to the boat until our tanks are filled), post office and pharmacy.
We do vary our route while we run our errands – to take in different streets and different views. We see the nice shops that attract tourists – and even wander inside to pick up a post card now and again. We read the restaurant menus and peak through the windows of hotels.
When we arrive in a touristy place like Eureka, we understand we’re not tourists. Rather than spending our days on sojourns into the redwood forest, we look for docks where we can fill up our water tanks. Rather than exploring the entire city – we content ourselves with knowing the strip of waterfront across from our boat.
I sometimes wonder though, when we miss the galleries but learn the life story of a clerk at the marine store, if spending a week living in a place, rather than visiting a place, helps us to know it more deeply?