Furled Sails

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No sooner had we furled our sails and there he was, half of one of my favorite minimalist sailing couples.  It was his telltale Dodgers cap and stogie that confirmed it.  I ran over like a 1960’s tween chasing the Stones.

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 The cabin of a small yacht is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat. ~L. Francis Herreshoff

Drifter

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Summer

Falmouth Cutter

“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers or the burden of parental expectation. I can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past or motivated by the future. I focus on the present because that is where I am destined to live.” 
~David Levithan

Night Riders

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The sun went down right about the time my crappy headlamp burned out.  I was sitting in the late remnants of twilight as the cool of the evening came creeping over me as quickly as the darkness.  My bike was in pieces as I felt around in the dark re-assembling my steel steed by feel, it was looking like I had a long night ahead of me.

Surly Karate monkey

I heard the distinctive crackling of dirt and saw the beams of lights heading my way as I jury rigged my wounded bike.

Night riders Are you ok?

Me I threw my derailer and broke my headlight.

Night riders Wanna follow us down?

Me No, I’ll just find the fire road and make my way back to town.

Night riders You can ride between us it will be fun.

Me OK :)

surly karate monkey

I rode between the two night riders, with extremely reduced vision in the inky black night.  We made it out and had what at that point was the best ride of my life.  I made two new good friends and learned to ride without shifting.  Because I couldn’t see much of the trail I had to learn to feel the contours of the land and anticipate an unseen line becoming one with my bike.  I’ve been cycling my entire life but that was the night I became a cyclist.  Sometimes letting go teaches us more than holding on.

surly karate monkey

It isn’t any easier to explain to a seasoned cyclist why I ride a single speed than it is to a complete novice.  They are simply too far removed from the cycle to understand concept of simplicity.  My bike has no suspension and one gearing, all I have to do is ride.  My legs and arms are my suspension and my gears.  My heavy old steel bike is built for no other than me from her stem to her tires each piece has been added or removed to achieve the ultimate riding experience.  When I finish building her she will be as reliable as she is fun to ride.  I carry all the tools with me to fix anything that may go wrong leaving my mind free to soak up everything from the tarmac to the trail.

I don’t have fancy panniers, shiny spandex or a single piece of modern bicycle touring gear.  My tent is a plastic tarp and my cook gear is an old metal bowl.  Because I know almost nothing about long distance cycle touring I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  This journey will begin with absolutely nothing and last exactly one day.  If I survive that first day and choose to stay longer I will.  My fitness both mental and physical will determine what I need verse what I want.  My budget for the journey is $500.00 and Im leaving with 3 days worth of food.

It isn’t about having all the answers and knowing everything before I leave, its about learning as I go.  I don’t have any plans or destination in mind, this voyage is about the journey.  I am seeking the path less peddled.

I was talking to a cycle guide yesterday and asked about his tours.  He told me he charges $3,000.00 per person for a 4 day unguided tour.  He provides food and shelter and roadside assistance if necessary.  That $3000.00 tour all neat, safe and pretty, wrapped up in a shiny box represents half a years living expenses for me.

I expect there to be bad days and days that make the bad days look like good days.  I’m still nursing a wounded knee, pulling, pushing and I assume hiking with a near three hundred pound load between the dog, bike, me and our gear.  If my system fails miserably I’ll make it better.  I have been doing quite a bit of research online but that really only adds up to entertainment, I won’t know anything till I put my foot to the pedal, turn the crank and roll down that unknown road we call life.

Bicycling is a big part of the future.  It has to be.  Theres something wrong with a society that drives a car to workout in a gym. ~Bill Nye

Time Marches On

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When a man walks into a room he brings his whole life with him.  If you listen he’ll tell you how he got there.  For the first time in my life I have a willing participant, the boat is rocking and the world is my oyster.  Unfortunately I have missed my window, life has caught up to me in no uncertain terms.  The tide is turning.Falmouth Cutter

Timing is an interesting thing, you never know when its too late until its too late.  This year has been a roller coaster all things equally in love, romance, finance, and family.  I’ve done everything I can to ignore reality but its there smack dab in the middle of my life.  I waited to long for what ever it is I thought I needed and wanted and now that I have it my time has passed.  My obligations have changed, winter looms over my head and my new reality is my constant companion.

In 30 days Sookie will go into mothballs and I will leave the Salish Sea.  It isn’t that I have changed or that my dreams have changed, its just that my priorties have changed.  I think about selling Sookie but she isn’t a boat, she is an extension of me.  I could store her but storing her in the Pacific Northwest unatended will reverse all the time, energy and hard work I have put into her.  An unused boat will quickly become a ball and chain, a never ending leash tying me to what I know, love and need but can’t have at this particulare junction in my life.

It seems like a lifetime has slipped through my fingers but that plian old life of mine has been a good one.  I’m young, happy and healthy and most importantly loyal and flexible. The tides are turning and I’m slowly coming to terms with a new journey.  I was born a sailor and always will be one.  I know that I have held on too long and while this journey is over I’m not letting go, just changing my course.  As this portion of my life is being packed up a new and exciting one is manifesting before my eyes.  Freedom comes in many forms but it never comes easy, my gloves are laced up and I’m stepping onto the ring.

When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.  ~Nelaon Mandela

The Salish Sea

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This is the country of oysters, salmon and the jewel of the Salish Sea, Dungeness Crab.  There are literally hundreds of islands, bays, estuaries and river inlets.  You couldn’t explore this area in a lifetime.  I’ve seen Orca’s, whales, dolphin and sharks, Eagles, Blue Herons, Vultures and Hawks.  There have been storms and calms and everything in-between.

Falmouth Cutter 22

Of all the sightings in the Salish its old friends that I run into here and there again and again that make cruising this place so special.  Some heading north others south, east or west.  It doesn’t matter where you go or when you go there the Salish is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Sailing, hiking biking, beach combing or just sitting on the dock of the bay nowhere on earth will you find the absolute beauty and deversity of the Salish Sea.

Summer is the best time to visit the islands but the winds are challenging.  From the end of June till September the winds typically blow under 6 knots or over thirty if they blow at all.  Today is July 20th and there are only 4 more weekends till fall starts to march in.  The lazy days of summer are coming to an end, the sun shines a little less brightly every day and dips into the sea a little earlier each evening.  Enter the shoulder seasons, the tourists are gone, the islands go to sleep and the best season for sailors and voyagers begins.

All you need for cruising the full six months of the shoulder seasons are a good set of foulis with lots of warmies stuffed below, a small heater and a good hook for the blustery fall winds that blow here and there.  I always try and have the boat securely tied at the dock by November 1st, the windy season around here where the wind can blow up to and over 50 knots for days on end if not weeks.  From November though the first of February is day sailing season picking those wonderful perfect winter days to get out on the water and stretch the sheets and shake the sails.

It takes a lot of work to live this simply, perfection isn’t what you achieve, its how you achieve it.

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