Black is black
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is all about regulations — many of them aimed at herding cats, like me, into wearing a proper uniform. To complicate compliance, rules change with a regularity that sets those slow to adapt or resisters, like me, almost constantly out of sync. I have not been on patrol for quite a long stint and during my hiatus I have ignored the details, as well as the broad uniform rule changes. I confirmed last last week the summer ODU (Operational Dress Uniform) required black athletic shoes which I didn’t have.
So here I go. Read more
We are near Santa Cruz as my watch ends and it is decided we will wait out rough seas churning north of Point Conception. I’m both relieved and disappointed when during the sparsely attended lunch the plan to anchor is announced. I wanted the excitement of a fast night sail, but was not quite sure I would be up for it. We will stay put, rest and wait for calmer water to develop probably near midnight, the end of my next watch. Most everyone is suffering from seasickness, or from side effects of medication to prevent it. Only I, the skipper, first mate, engineer and the cook seem to be none the worse for the unsettled ride. Men not on watch snore in their bunks. I make my way forward to my cubbyhole careful not to invade their berths while reaching for a handhold. Ed is laying in his bunk with his arms folded over his pasty white face.
“Are you okay?” I ask concerned by his waxy appearance.
While the likes of Ellen MacArthur, Sharon Sites Adams, Amanda Clark and Gail Hines have contributed so much to sailing, to have a woman on the water, fully and undeniably in charge of a sailboat, is still very much out of balance with the number of women sailors. Even when I am declared skipper of the day, I am likely to defer or even relinquish my charge to Ed if the going gets rough.
For the Pancake Breakfast cruise, though, I could not be deferential. Ed would not be on the boat as he usually is, nor would he be shore-side to launch or retrieve Bliss. He was 1864.19 miles away when I told my mother I was going sailing for the weekend.
“Where?” she asked, the pitch of her voice raising an octave.
“Oh, Lake Pleasant, on Bliss.” I answered as nonchalantly as possible.
“I thought Ed was in Florida?” She paused, waiting for me to tell her she was wrong.
“What? Are you stupid?” Read more
As we near Point Conception, the ocean folds into a field of slippery hills, each wave piling an ever greater volume of the sea before us. I have relinquished the helm to John, clipped onto a jackline and lurched forward to cling to, and lean against, a trio of shrouds. They are arranged in a comfortable triangle, seemingly for my support while standing watch. Our impermanence is confirmed by each wave, a child of the vast communal body of water, of the same makeup but unique. They slip under my feet; under the deck; under my mates, sleeping, reading, cooking and perhaps playing Mexican Train; under our tiny dryish world. Each ridge slides under our puny mass.
For this watch, and the last, we have seen an abundance of jellies sliding past with the waves. Translucent orbs, milky with plum splashes, they wash past the hull trailing gelatinous lace. They’re a staple for Mola mola, a fish I would love to see. Read more
After bobbing near Balance Rock for over two hours, and ultimately throwing in the towel to end our sailing club’s annual ladies race, I was reminded why Ed and I belong to the cruising club and not a racing club. We have been married for nearly three dozen years, or as we like to joke; 68 years of wedded bliss—34 years for Ed and 34 for me. All that love went down the head over Ed’s inability to be the ubercrew I dreamt of having for the annual woman’s “fun” race, ironically named Sweethearts.
Once again, as happens every year, except for the few occasions we have had the good judgment to invite a referee aboard, we have had a call-the-divorce-attorneys brawl during Sweethearts. This year was especially godawful. I had my mind set on finally ending the decade-long string of Sweethearts defeats to Diane.
Sweethearts started badly with Ed refusing to raise the main the moment I ordered him to make it so.
He insisted instead—no, he argued—he must first prep the rest of the deck, messing with of all things …
the barber haul! Like I would need THAT before my main! Hello! Surely this was insubordination, if not outright mutiny. But I let it go, even though the other boats were already jockeying for the start and the thought of a corrective keel haul flitted through my mind. After much cajoling, Ed jumped the sails smartly. Good job Ed! But, dad gum it, the flag halyard fouled. Arghhh!
“We don’t need the flags! Leave them be!” The wind began petering out as if to aid Ed on his flag freeing mission. I know he cannot sail without our flags flying nicely. I would go so far as to say he has a fouled flag phobia. I have gone up the mast solely to clear the burgee block to ease Ed’s consternation. Flag fiascos seem to be oddly common aboard Bliss. So I can see it coming. In my view we should have left the freaking burgees in the truck. Everyone knows they cause unwanted drag. So what does Ed do? He leaves the deck, goes below, fetches the boat hook, perches on the boom—boat hook in-hand—and begins wildly swiping at the now limply dangling flags, just as I had determined I must tack to catch the narrow river of wind that Diane alone was enjoying.
“Get down! NOW! Forget the %#@ halyard! Ready about! Helms alee!”
Then the fight started.
For one week you can watch my interview with Jackie Mahaney on web TV. In the interview I explain how I came to write and publish Sailing the Pink Sea, and talk about breast cancer survival. Hurry, it is only up for viewing for one week. I have to warn you though…I have scary bad hair. (It is even worse than my normal uncombed messy mop.) It may be more pleasant to listen and not watch! It also shows vividly why even men should wear makeup on TV. I still say, “I have nothing to make up for!”
I could not discern if the moisture was falling under its own weight, or if we were simply interrupting its suspended state as we stood waiting. Water spouts had been spotted in the area we were planning to sail. One woman described pulling her car over to let a squall pass so she could see the road to the marina. This was not the weather we had hoped for. Read more
There are some great women sailors. Isabelle Autissier, the woman who inspired me, was credited by BBC Sports with “smashing sailing’s glass ceiling”. Autissier had the ear of the sailing gods but was bedeviled by astounding bad luck in her Around Alone races. In 1994 after flying past the pack Autissier capsized in the Southern Ocean. She had the same bad luck again in 1999. In 1996 she was disqualified when she needed assistance to repair her broken rudder. Australia’s Kay Cottee, was the first woman to circumnavigate the world alone, non-stop and unassisted. Ellen MacArthur, the current darling of sailing who held the record from February 2005 until early 2008 as the fastest person to round the globe, is a peanut of a young woman at 5′, 2″ and perhaps 110 pounds.
I wonder, how did these women get so good at sailing? Read more
Every ounce of plastic ever made is still on our planet. — Sailors for the Sea
In a 1998 survey, 89 percent of the litter observed floating on ocean surface
in the North Pacific was plastic. – United Nations Environment Program
Most Americans who bothered to make a resolution this year, probably vowed to lose weight. Me too. Yes, even though I am a puny 108 pounds, I hereby publicly vow to lose 10 pounds. Sounds excessive? No, actually it is most likely a too tiny percentage. I hope to reduce my plastic garbage this year by ten pounds. I have yet to figure out just how much ten pounds of plastic amounts to, but I bet, when measured against the mass of goods I buy, use, then simply toss (even into the recycling bin), that ten pounds is in fact a very modest reduction for a year. I may indeed be setting my goal too low. Read more
Quantity, distance, speed, depth, wind — aboard a boat the list of things to be measured, accounted and considered is long, if not innumerable. The goal, almost always, is to have just enough. My Rule of Just Enough is to never lack but certainly not to have an excess. Read more