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Fog?

This state has some of the strangest weather patterns. I know there's a typical marine layer that hangs over the bay until noon usually, but today the fog was so thick I could hardly see two blocks away, and that was twenty blocks inland. Weird city.

It's about time..

I have my first overnight tonight on Star of India as the Cookie!!!

*squeee*

I know I'm late for you east coasties

But finally we have been heard and Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs has come out and played tar monkey on Star of India at the San Diego Maritime Museum!

For those of us on the left coast, the episode airs TONIGHT at 2100. Yay!

More info here.

Oh! Shiny!

Did I mention it's raining? This is good, I miss a good rainfall after not even a sprinkle in months:) Gonna dance in it now.

Here comes the sun, pretty darling

I finally found a job. I think I logged a good 40 miles in walking since Wednesday, walking everywhere in San Diego looking for anyplace to hire. Had perhaps 15 interviews, god knows how many applications filled out. So what am I doing? Well the sweet part is, I'm putting in 20-odd hours as a receptionist at the hostel, in exchange for a free bed.

The rest of my time, starting Monday, will be taken up by my lovely telemarketing gig. (Hate me now, please.) Not selling anything, thankfully, just responding to people filling out those little forms for vacations/cars/whatever you see in the mall and Pizza Hut, getting them to come in for a spiel about a timeshare, and hopefully making extra cash when they show up for the talk on top of a base pay of.. minimum wage (luckily, California doesn't have the assinine minimum wage that Maryland does, and they pay their waitress minimum wage plus tips - not a measly $2.25 plus tips like other east coast states - which means that ideally, one can make a pretty penny).

I had a promising interview with Westin Hotel earlier today as well for front desk work, so perhaps I can drop the phone gig sooner. I also applied to the USPS for desk work.

San Diego Maritime Museum doesn't start until another few weeks, which will fill in the spots.

Starting over in San Diego was harder than I thought. Silly economy. Silly tourism.

I miss my boat family like mad. The Lynx called and re-offered me a gig as Education Officer through December, but I feel like I need to do this.. stay still for a bit and save money so I can pay off debts and afford to do what I want without anything hanging over me.

I guess if anything, the last week at the hostel has made me want to travel even more. Hearing others' stories, making friends with English, Irish, Italians, Ukrainians, Australians and New Zealanders, thinking how easy it would be to pack a few belongings (no fowlies, so much lighter!) into my seabag, and go from hostel to hostel. In a year, perhaps? Why not? I'm certainly not tied down, and if there's one thing I've felt for a very a long time now, is to see "out there." Whether on sea or on land.

So Mom, Dad, I'm safe. Cheers!
Meeeeehhhh.

That is all.

I need loud head-splodey music. And a long bicycle ride. And a puppy.

September 6th.

Starting to allow myself to realize what little is left: $25, a week, a handful of unsent postcards,and a truckload of memories. Promises of tattoed sparrows when the ship returns. Unanswered questions we try to forget about. Desperate hugs and kisses. No promises. Ever. "See you laters" and fevered dancing and drinking in the galley. All these hopes and dreams.

Journal Entries.

July 8, 2008
The sun is shining through a clear blue sky as we lie, engine idling with an early dinner below, tied to a piling at the marina tucked inside Sooke Bay, on the southwest side of Vancouver Island.

We are still another seventy miles to the mouth of the river that will lead us to Port Alberni, but outside our kelp-laden refuge, a thick fog races past and the VHF issues gale warnings. It hardly feels anything like the 30-plus knots that tossed Nina like a bath toy just hours ago.

So I found myself on dock/piling/motor watch. Hoots and Hellmouth play in my ears drowning out the laughter below and the conversations drifting across the water from curious boaters. Since leaving the Foss Waterway and Tacoma, WA, last night, I am for the first time down to just two layers as the late afternoon sun warms our little black boat.

The music’s bluesy folksy quality evokes the bitter sweetness that has been my trip west thus far. As always, much has happened in too short a time for it to seem much more than a very long dream, but it has been too intense for it to be anything but reality.

After a week of dockside tours in Seattle, kept company by the Victory Clipper at the Center for Wooden Boats (a Mecca for small boat sailors if there ever was one), we headed out for Victoria, British Columbia, staled by the Bollard Locks, and nearly ran into the drawbridge that did not wait for us to chug through. We stopped overnight in the foggy little seaport of Port Townsend, and caught up with the news of the day: schooner Adventuress had grounded earlier, and was undergoing rig checks before she would leave for the north. The next morning, we faced NW winds and chop across the Strait of Juan de Fueca. Throttling into headwinds, boats appeared out of the mist from the west. Bounty, Lady Washington, Hawaiian Chieftain, Lynx, Kaisei, sails full. More and more arrived, and we spent our first evening in BC anchored and thrown about in the gusts that threatened to toss me from the boatswain’s chair as I rigged new halyards and re-reeved gear for our lateen sails.

The fort at Canada’s first lighthouse threw us the first of many parties, and the reunions started. Old crew, folks I haven’t seen in a year or more, now on Kaisei, Bounty and Lynx. Thursday morn dawned, and we set sail for the first time for the Parade of Sail. Downwind under the mainsail, we headed east at 4.5 knots, and once reaching our mark for the parade, fell off, set all four sails (fore, main, mizzen lateen, and counter mizzen lateen). For lack of better training amongst the long-term crew, it was a case of too many people in the galley and no cooks, with little familiarity with the rig, we looked a little the fool, but once everything filled and the brails were found and slacked, we heeled over to the tune of 8 knots under a 20 knot breeze. Sweet for an old tub like Nina, we ripped past the breakwater and clamoring onlookers. (I guess this should have been my first sign. I know the caravel rig well from time at Jamestown, but the Mate has 10 years of time logged on Nina, and the other deckhand a year. And still they were befuddled by the layout and setting of a rather simple set of sails.)

Once we had docked and prepped for tours, I wandered over to the familiar and still Home-like Lady and Chieftain, and soon twenty-odd rough-and-tumble sailors were making their way to the pub, dodging cars and playing Red Rover across intersections, not drunk with alcohol yet, but, as Davey put it, “intoxicated with life.” From not meeting dress codes to singing louder than the radio in Big John’s brassiere-strewn honky-tonk, we found our third and final port of call at Garrick’s Head. We closed the pub, pitcher after pitcher of the local Honey Brown, singing and dancing chanteys and bawdy limericks off the pub’s porch and into the alley. Stomping and singing so loud, crowds appeared and glasses vibrated across tables. (If there is one thing I love most about West Coast tallship sailors, it is the music. The loud as the hell we want, pounding down beer and lyrics that cement our reputation in town.)

No other evening passed quite the same, but down time meant finding the best pizza at The Joint, where curry chicken and pineapple or alfredo-something slices were the norm. Or an evening with Zach, scruffy from our respective boats, playing the dirty bums sitting in the alley, straight sober, but catcalling and fashion policing the passerby, ending the night in the early morning with a pedicab ride as far and fun as $5 could afford us. Sunset watching from the main t’gallant yard of the Bounty with friends, hashing out past adventures and experiences. Another ‘stache Bash, ending another early morning somewhere in Victoria, the mustache painted on my upper lip forgotten (no wonder...), and an afternoon in Chinatown with a nearly forgotten friend.

Next to Tacoma, stopping in Port Orchard with a sleepover on the foredeck of the Bounty, shared cotton candy from the town carnival, half frozen whiskey (destitute sailors can only afford a certain grade of alcohol), sugary sugary Canadian cake, and cheese and bread.
Vashon Island was a small paradise just north of Tacoma threw a crews’ party with a bluegrass and blues band, the crews dancing until our feet ached.

Tacoma was quieter than Victoria, mostly because the waterfront was separated from the town by the freeway and industrial railroads. Still, as all good sailors, we found the Dock House Bar, all of 200 feet from our docks. Fifty cent drinks on the house beat $18 Canadian pitchers any day, even if it was PBR.

However (sign two) after my captain neglected to inform, and the mate gave me misinformation, I missed the boat leaving her dock for a 2300 fueling the first night in, I became the black sheep of the crew. In all honesty, it seems that far from being able to use the “FNG” excuse, there is little info ever given about anything, from docking to wake-ups to where tools are kept. (When the other deckhand – with a year on board – doesn’t know where shore power cords are kept, there’s a problem. We deckhands did literally nothing aside from steer during watch. Transient docents is all we were, as the captain/mate did everything.) This rubs me raw, because being a new hand, I am clueless, and none of my simple and obvious questions are answered.

So I am looking to pack my bags once in Port Alberni, and jump ship. I have no qualms, no misgivings, no guilt.

After leaving me on the dock to fuel up, I spent my evening and subsequent night at the pub with crew from Bounty and Kaisei, topping it off with a Zoolander-esque pose-off between the boys. Shirtless. I love tallships.

Between that night and other reasons pertaining to my ship, Bounty has become second home. A few of her crew are former shipmates, and the rest of them have become fast friends and family, wingmen, wandering the streets dancing under street lamps like Groucho Marx… And Cookie’s food is damn good; I do not mind washing dishes in exchange for enjoying leftovers.

Friday night, July fourth, the USCG gave us a full tour of the Eagle, including entry into the untouched aft cabin, where Hitler spent time during the war, and we retreated to the stern of the Bounty for fireworks and watching a few vessels battle underneath the explosions. The next evening was an entry into Tacoma, full of events like the “Magic Lantern,” an 1800s-era show of sailing still and animations in the beautiful old Pythian Temple; taking in the chic and young at the art/fashion show TacomaOpolis; and the crème de la crème, a brilliant hilarious drag show. The following evening toned down a bit, watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and the Bounty-starred Pirates Thirty with crew in the Bounty’s galley. (Last night I dreamed my cock was a giant tri-masted Spanish galleon.)

We left early Monday night, following Lady into the fog, for a plodding several-day transit on Nina.

July 9, 2008, 1340 hours

I always look forward to the first rays of sunshine, or when the sky clears enough for the light to turn the dismal steel gray chop and haze of fog into a blue-green with a blue blue sky, mountains peaking from behind mountains, beyond more mountains, tipped with patches of virgin white and spotted with towering pines. God’s country.
Days of perfect weather and Crayola colors are nothing to these spare moments, and it is both in the savored and the despised times that one smiles, knowing that the sun is just beyond this watch.
I am off watch now, and rather than retreat to what hours before was a windless and dry haven of darkness, I lie in the sun, sopping it up like a lizard on my floating rock.

2249 hours

It is nearly tomorrow, and Kaisei has just joined the marina next to Lady. As Capt Kyle and I walked to catch her lines, I still sober and the rest of the crew smelling of Budweiser and Jim Beam, I broached the subject, apologizing for not being too social and nearly jumping at the chance to visit the other ships. He nodded, saying he knew of my desire to jump ship, that I wasn’t cut out for the “dog and pony show” and needed to sail. And sail often.
While he may or may not know all my reasons, that’s the simplest, most honest-sounding answer I can come up with. The type that looks ludicrous on a resume to anyone but a sailor.

July 15, 2008, 0231, somewhere around the WA/OR border

I cannot help but write at the most inopportune of times. It is a little before my watch, and unless I focus on writing, the ick will come back. Mysterious, blame-it-on-supper-not-seaway ick, for I am also wheezy and dizzy. (After discussing it with ship’s medical officer, we blamed it on my sanding teak caprails earlier. Apparently the oils in the wood is highly allergenic to some.)

But not that that matters. My mood is far more resolutely happy, for we are two days out from Port Alberni, BC, eighty odd miles from land and lifestyle, and heading south. The twelve of us on the steel and aluminum Kaisei, a ragtag bunch of excellent sailors and gypsies, bent on rebuilding a boat from the scrap pile that was neglected for four years. She is the utter opposite of Niña. The red-headed stepchild of ASTA, cool and quirky as hell (After my first tour below, before I was thinking of hopping aboard, I exclaimed that she was “stupid awesome!” to the engineer. The description stuck.), and something so much bigger than myself. She is a warm haven out here, and her roll, roll, roll, roll, bounce, roll, seems a little skip to be back “out to sea.” The three best words to hear on the radio.

“Once again we are on your waters; keep us safe and there will be more!” – Captain Jake’s “The Wolf” offering to Neptune

July 16, 2008, 1424 hours

We continue our sail south, NNW winds following us, a well-timed jibe every eight or twelve hours, over 100 miles offshore and off the edge of our charts. The water this far out is a deep cobalt, slightly darker than Kaisei’s hull, and the sky remains overcast and gray as it has for the last two days. The wind has slowed to 5-10 knots, making five knots seem like a snail’s pace.

There’s a line that’s sometimes repeated, a cry of “oh god, the seas are so big and my boat is so small!” Someone reminded me of that call in Port Alberni, asking if I’d ever felt that way in heavy weather.

I can’t say I have, and I’ve experienced some crazy weather. Until this morning’s 4-8 watch. The sea was placid, no breakers. Just an occasional roller to make it seem as if we were sliding on a skin of leather. The wisps of wind, the seemingly barely moving vessel, and the occasional luffing staysails gave the appearance of not moving on a still expansive lake, where other peoples, lands, vessels, were nonexistent. That is being alone on a very big ocean.

More to come...

Mood? All of the above, please.

The ideal nightwatch menu: lychees and cotton candy. Not that this has been tried or anything. The boats lie at anchor off Vashon Island, waiting to sail into Tacoma, and we are loved.