Thursday July 8th- Orcas Hotel, Orcas Island, WA- I’ve been working for over one month now on Orcas Island (and other nearby islands) preparing for my upcoming offshore passage south to California. The Bruja Dulce is not entirely prepared, nor am I, but things are finally coming together. The heavy weight of reality is lifting in the warm, north, offshore summer breeze and I think I’m going make it- just in time for a September departure.
Yesterday I felt free enough to sew a kite-aerial-photography rig (an unnecessary but long-wished-for part of my rigging) and test it from nearby Yellow Island, seen above, whose caretaker you can see in the photo telling me, “This is a nature preserve, not a recreation area”.
Enough work has been done that I’ve decided it’s time for me to leave Orcas Island- to drive south to California. I’m going to visit and work with Karisa and the noble crew at Live Power Community Farm near Mendocino as well as my dear friends at Skyline Harvest in the Sierra Foothills. I’ll also be leaving my car in the Golden State, so it’ll be there when my Dad and I arrive by boat in two months.
Right now, sitting on the porch at the Orcas Hotel waiting for a ferry, I’m looking around and noting that I feel a little out of place, and scuzzy- like I’ve been in the wilderness for over a month. I’m wondering if anyone else sipping their coffee here on the porch can sense, or smell, the detachment I feel.
Just this morning I was woken at 5am- anchored fore and aft, alone, in a small and shallow bay off Jones Island- by the sound of an otter eating a crab in my dinghy. A little later, while having my own breakfast, I made the spontaneous decision to make a noon-ferry off Orcas island and begin my road trip south.
I nearly ran aground while weighing the anchors and sailing off of them- the experience and hot sun triggering ample sweat by 8am. Barely cooled down by the short sail back to Deer Harbor- having spent most of the time pulling seaweed off the anchors while Ray, the autopilot, steered through the warm, evergreen scented air flowing over Orcas Island- I broke a full sweat again while docking solo. Then, after packing for the trip and closing the boat up in less than 45 minutes, I hurriedly heaved the dinghy up on deck- realizing as I flipped the small craft upside-down onto my un-shirted back that I had never cleaned up the otter’s crab breakfast. With this coating of juices and too many bags, I flip-flopped as fast as I could, my hands going numb, another layer of sweat bubbling-up, to my die-hard, baking in the sun, no-AC-having Camry- which has been inhabited since early June by a Californian lizard I have named “Toyota” (a story for another time).
I missed the noon-ferry.
Such was the punctuation for this 5-week run-on sentence of offshore rigging work and low-budget self-sufficiency training. A period which was harried by fits of feverish and sometimes desperate internet research and which necessarily included parenthetical weekends of sailing to nearby islands, often alone.
I worked at least five days per week on the boat. About 2/3 of the time I was physically working, and the other 1/3 of the time I spent with my head hung over my laptop figuring out what I needed to do and how to do it (and looking for jobs). I blame this anxious and excessive “screen time” with my not wanting to do much else with the laptop.
However, I am ever grateful to the emerging sphere of collective consciousness that exists within the cloud of the Internet. With it, I was able to tap into the experiences of not only other offshore sailors, but offshore sailors of Tayana 37 cutter-rigged sailboats like the Bruja. The Tayana Owner’s Group forums became daily reading for me.
Off to the right, I have posted an “Offshore Listings” page which outlines this first list of important preparations. A number items have been checked off this list but there’s still some whoppers left to check (and pay for). I plan on writing more about maintenance techniques- to add conscientiously to the cloud- but for now, the new page, these few images, and the video I have posted below will give a glimpse into the nature of the work.
Friday July 9th, Seaside Hostel, Seaside, OR- During this time, my neighbors at Cayou Quay Marina in Deer Harbor have been a godsend. These blossoming friendships have brought me sound advice, valuable equipment, and have bore wholly unexpected treasures. I have learned that trading my own time and no-longer needed items with these kindred liveaboards yields returns many-fold beyond such marketplaces as eBay or Craigslist. My neighbor, Lee, especially, has transcended being merely neighborly, and has helped me immensely. I am grateful to him, Vince, Joseph, Kevin, and Eric. It will be tough to leave this neighborhood in August.
But despite this small marina community, and despite sailing with visiting friends the first weekend in June, it has been a somewhat lonely time. I sailed subsequent weekends alone, venturing 6-10 miles to other islands.
Learning to single-hand the Bruja Dulce in the San Juan Islands has been incredible. On my first single-handed Saturday, three weeks ago, I sailed for five hours in the sun letting a CD Karisa made for me cycle over and over. That afternoon was a peak experience which I’m only just beginning to understand, and which I plan on sharing in full as my time allows. The result of this experience was positive, I became determined and confident. However, there was a strange and torturous side effect: the Al Green song “Tired of Being Alone”, third track on the CD, spilled like milk into my brain- seeping into every last cranny of my consciousness, and sticking like honey.
When I say “song”, I mean three or four measures of the song. It wasn’t the song at all, in fact. It was just Al, and his refrain, “I’m so tired of being alone, I’m so tired of on-my-own, wont you help me girl, just as soon as you can…”
I ate with Al, I worked with Al, and yes, I went to sleep with Al. The first thing my consciousness encountered in the morning was Al- crying to me while I lay in the forecastle.
After 10 days or so, when he seemed to be getting comfortable in the salon of my internal dialogue, I began asking him to leave, “That’s enough, Al.” “Please stop, Al.” After 20 days, “Stop!” “Shush!”. When he wouldn’t let up, these requests sometimes escaped the gravitational field of my sanity and manifest as odd mutterings.
Thursday June 15th, Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, CA – Even as I left left the San Juan Islands, and drove down the coast, Al was with me. On the drive, I concocted a homeopathic treatment. I decided to make a short film, set to Al’s song, so I would be forced to listen to it over and over while planning and editing. Maybe this is more shock-therapy than homeopathy, I don’t know. The treatment helped in my recovery, but there was an obvious cure.
While visiting Karisa during her internship at Live Power Farm, I am asked to help out on the farm- to join the crew in exchange for room and board during my stay. This is my third time staying with Karisa and working, eating, and playing alongside these wonderful people. It is my pleasure. Incredible things are happening here. The work being done, the thoughts being shared (so often the most poignant and cheerful while hoeing or weeding in +100º), the food being grown and prepared, their wild and diverse stories being inked in the fabric of human consciousness, all of it, so wonderful to be a part of- a crew, so……not alone.
I am dedicating, for whatever it’s worth, all the hours I put into this video to the Live Power Crew and the Decaturs. Because, while I happen to have the time to share all of this, they are working 60 hours or more per week, lovingly, achingly, and sometimes sleepily, growing lively food for themselves and 125+ families in the Bay Area- their other passions and interests mostly at bay while they learn and teach the practices which will help the full diversity of life grow more sustainably through people. Their sacrifice will come back many-fold, I’m sure. All the best, and see you in the Bay Area soon- when you can join my crew for a while!
Photos for Karisa and Elijah (because they asked), and all those wanting to see more of what it’s like up in the SJ’s: