Thursday, July 29, 2010

Got the grey matter?

By grey matter I don't mean the unused part of a mans body between his ears, I mean FOG.  Since there seem to be a current theme on the other blogs of "sailing in darkness", I might as well share an embarrassing story of my early days of sailing.

Being top of my class in sailing school and really loving navigation, I got a position on a 36ft yacht as navigator and "jack-of-all-sails".  This was a recreational yacht, so no serious racing, etc , just the Wednesday night regatta and occasional weekend offshore cruising.  

On the first off shore cruise, it was also my first encounter with navigation blindly and relying only on instruments.  We were approaching a small bay, where we would anchor for the evening, and visibility was down to 2 meters.  So  the seasoned skipper decided to reef down the iron sail to a near idle.  

All of a sudden none of the headings on the compass, GPS or chart plotter were the same.  We could here the waves break over on our port side  and to our right I knew were unsafe waters too.  What to do?  One thing we could trust was the traditional compass so we used that for our heading.  The GPS and chart plotter had the same way points, so we used that to track our progress on a old fashioned chart.  Every 2 minutes I would track our progress on the chart and shout to the Skipper 5 degrees to port or 10 degrees to starboard or keep her steady. 

my Picasso inspired art work - "navigation in the grey" 
We eventually made it to our anchoring spot, even thou it felt like forever. It was one on the most stressful sailing times of my life and as one would have it, as soon as we anchored, the fog lifted an we were in a beautiful bay drinking sherry.

Lesson learned:  
If you go to slow, your electronic nav systems can't pin point your exact course/heading. So go faster.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Whale Tale

There has been a lot of hype over the Southern Right whale that jumped onto a 33ft yacht in Table Bay, Cape Town.

There are a lot of people that think it is a fake photo, since the Skipper is looking ahead with the whale leaping out of the water right next to him.  

BUT what they don't know is that the skipper, Ralph,  is a yoga master and thus very relaxed.  I have personally been out sailing with him. Even in 35 - 40 knts wind, 6ft plus swells,  he keeps his cool and steers Intrepid with confidence and experience.

I am so glad that no one was hurt, since it could have been a totally different scenario if he landed forward or aft of the mast and rigging, flipping the yacht.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Phuza Thursday

In South Africa we have adopted many traditions form our friends on the other side of the big pond: Tequila Tuesdays, Wacky Wednesdays, Casual Friday, etc.  But being South African we have our own too: Phuza Thursday.

'Phuza' is a Zulu word, meaning drink.  Since this has no reference to a specific type of drink, all the colorful people of our country can enjoy this day and feel united.  Children can drink sodas, the dogs can drink water, the English can drink tea, the Jamaicans can drink Rum, the French can drink Champagne, the Boere(farmers) can drink brandy & coke and I,  . . .  .I can drink red wine.

Since it is Phuza Thursday today, I will not bore you with a long post, but leave you with a quote form a book I read:

She always considered the sailboat to be a remarkably therapeutic device.  Just a few minutes on the water purged away the daily stresses while calming the emotions.  She often joked that the country needed more sailboats and fewer psychologists

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sailor Math

So I haven’t sailed in 2 years 4 months, all just to come to the root of who I am, Smilicus.  I usually understand better if the problem can be put into numbers or equations.  It gives me a sort of unclouded, objective, quantifiable view of the bigger picture.

I believe one can easily express yourself (especially myself) by the following equation:

X = L + P + S

Gibberish you say.   Well let me explain

L = Love 

P = Passion

S = Sailor

S = B + Y
B = what’s in your blood(figuratively)  &  Y = other stuff

So let’s define it a bit further. Y (Other stuff) is all the nonsense society wants from you: Car, work, house, clothes, etc.  Although it is a big part of one’s daily life, it is not necessary big part of your being. I believe B(lood) is something that we certainly can’t stay clear of. In this floating soul’s case, it is sailing.
Thus, if you give a closer look to the equation for Sailor (S = B + Y), you will see that when the “sailor becomes you”, there is no P(assion) or L(ove). Since Sailing is in our B(lood), it can’t fall under P(assion) or L(ove), you agree?

I love my wife and she is a big part of my being. I can’t bear to be away from her for too long or not have her in my equation. So thus L(ove) is part of me and my world can’t be without her. L(ove) also includes friends, family and mans-best-friend (sorry not cats).

P(assion) includes those things you are passionate about.  For me it is wine, mtb and boats.  This definitely makes up a part of ones being, so needs to be accounted for in the equation of this floating soul.
If we stay true to the equation, we can see that no matter how you write it, bold, italic, etc S(ailor) will never equal X(me, you).  It will always just be a part of you and if it is your whole, you are not complete X.

X(smilicus) = L(ove) + P(assion) + S(ailor)

I am S(ailor) no more!  I am SMILICUS and I sail.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Gelato Effect


In my previous post I ranted regarding going cold turkey. By trying to sail more and more (on different boats, etc), I was left with the gelato effect. Bear with me and I will try and explain. 

The gelato effect ~ too much leaves you with less.

When I was young we only had normal, boring ice cream -vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. One day I heard about an Italian gelato shop and went to get my scoop of heaven.  Standing there, mesmerized with all the flavours, I heard a voice: “Which one would you like to taste?” 

O, decisions. I started off with one flavour, then the next and the next.  And when I found myself, I have tasted them all, just to start all over again (I have forgotten the first ones I've tasted). Finally I closed my eyes and just pointed at one.  Then that voice was there again: “Regular cone, Sugar cone or Tub?”

Spoiled or rather confused by choice I struggled to make a decision.  Then that voice was there, yet again: “Single or Double scoop?”

I left the shop confused and undecided, but vouched to start all over again tomorrow.

The sailor became me the day that my passion became my obsession. It took over my existence and left no more time for anything else....everything revolved around sailing, unfocused sailing. 

No matter how much I sailed, the need was still there.