Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A New Inexperienced Crew

Elda, Eva (me), Melinda

Thursday, August 24, 2017. There was deteriorating weather predicted for the afternoon and the weekend. Sahara dust in the air, hazy skies, strong currents, low wind. East winds 5-10 knots, seas 3-4 feet, and after previous north swells, churned seas and poor visibility for snorkeling. The crew: Eva (me), Melinda, David, Elda, and Domingo. We sailed from Isleta Marina, Puerto Rico at 9:30 a.m. to Palomino, and back at 5:00 p.m.
            We had been planning this sail for sometime and had to postpone it more than once due to bad weather. This being hurricane season in the Caribbean, we’ve had Harvey’s in-the-making, and many other tropical waves and thunderstorms in the previous weeks.
Domingo, enjoying a nectarine
My savvy sailing friend had to cancel, and suddenly I only had two couples, dear friends, but with little or no sailing experience. I hesitated sailing but didn’t say anything. I decided to give them specific little jobs—how to wrap the line on the winch for raising the main, hoisting and dousing sails, doing a horn-cleat knot, using a boat hook, assigning each to a small area forward, aft, port, and starboard. I specifically told them that if I asked them to do something they didn’t want to do for whatever reason, it was OK, but to tell me so I could assign someone else to the task.
            It worked out perfectly. Leaving the dock, working on the rigging, tacking and gybing (jibing), and catching a mooring line. Docking at the end of the day, all were assigned the same posts as when leaving. It was clockwork. In a sense, it was smoother than at times I’ve sailed with an overconfident more experienced crew.
            In between, as good friends, we enjoyed stories, shared food and wine, and played with Andariego’s water toys. Lots of laughter. Sea therapy always provides a respite from life’s hectic pace in an island financially bankrupt, but still rich in flora and fauna, its people, and the bounties of the sea.
David, enjoying water toys

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Friday Sail

I love to sail on Fridays because most people are on land. There are moorings galore from which to choose. With less sea traffic, flora and fauna are more present. There's less human noise. The sea and the sails sing to the tune of the stays' metal strings. 

On Friday, 2/24/17, we left the dock at about 9:30 am with SE winds and an all female crew: Brenda, Madeleine, and me, Eva (middle pic). North swells (resaca) and windy, 15 knots with higher gusts (ráfagas) kept us well heeled and cutting waves. Andariego behaved well without hobby-horsing. We tacked three times and moored in Palomino for the day. 

There was a Pelican convention near us and like us, they sunbathed, ate fish (salad Niçoise for us), frolicked on the water, and socialized (top pic).

Unlike the pelicans, we toasted to life with Albariño and Pinot Grigio, and took selfies--Brenda, blue cap and me with khaki cap (bottom pic). In the blink of an eye, it was time to sail back on a beam reach. We got back home at night. 


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ancient America sailing

I'm re-reading this book for a paper I'm writing. It is rich in references on the use of sails by native Americans from north to south, and especially in the Caribbean. The sails were made of heavy cotton or matting (palm fronds). For long voyages, they attached canoes to the sides of their pirogues (piraguas) for stability, storage, and to create a wider surface (for housing and even fire provision), much like a catamaran or trimaran these days. Men and women sailed. Some sources report the use of 2 sails, triangular in shape, later known as the Marconi rigging from the Bahamas. This rigging is now used in sloops like Andariego. They could sail close to the wind. In first encounter days (not discovery), Europeans could only sail downwind following the Gulf Stream currents. Who learned from whom?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sailing with mainsail only

We went sailing yesterday, Feb. 13, for a couple of hours at around 10:30 am. The crew was Wil (at helm in top picture), Jorge (bottom pic), and myself (photographer). We stayed close to Isleta Marina because of our handicap, no jib. 
The wind was from the east and fluctuating, 13-15 knots, a little choppy. It was hazy and clouded to the east. We sailed with only the mainsail because I'm waiting for a rigger to help me replace a cracked plastic piece on the mast top that helps to furl the jib. I've been waiting for a rigger since before Christmas. Riggers are in demand in Puerto Rico.  We had a great sail and reached up to 4 knots speed, even with our jib missing. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

In the groove. Ho, ho, ho! We wish everyone a happy Christmas and a New Year filled with happy, healthy, and hollowed sailing days. Best wishes from Andariego. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Shakedown Sail

Andariego's new inexpensive air conditioner

Mike Wagner
On Sunday, September 22, 2013, the autumnal equinox, I went for a little shakedown sail with two marina friends, Mike and Willy. They both have sailboats moored at Isleta Marina. Mike is a live-aboard with a dog named Pebbles, and works on construction for a living. Willy has a sailboat and a place on land where he sews canvas works for sailboats and furniture upholstery. They’ve both done work in Andariego.
Mike had helped me install a small air conditioner in the main cabin hatch. We attached rope handles to move it to the dock finger using a winch. I don’t want to sail with a bulky ac over the hatch. It had not been tested. I cannot lift an ac by myself but I can move it using winches. Willy had made the ac’s canvas cover, which can be left on when the ac is on or off protecting the digital elements from direct sunlight and rain, but with screen canvas on the back to allow air flow without taking the canvas off. It works beautifully.
Willy Angleró
We sailed from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. around the bay, wherever the wind blew, without a port in mind, just sailing. The t-shirt I wore said it all: Are we there yet? Who cares? All worked well, except we found a small rip at the head of the mainsail. Willy said he could fix it. I had used sail tape previously, but obviously that is not a permanent or reliable solution.
Mike took the helm for a while as we headed toward Palomino with a gentle ESE wind. It wasn’t windy enough for his taste, but enough for me preferring cruising to racing. Willy sailed toward Icacos, as we made a big loop to head back to port. As I sailed back in, all was handled smoothly, including the re-installation of the ac using the winch. The temperature outside was in the upper 90’s but the heat index indicated 103 degrees Fahrenheit. We celebrated a well-spent afternoon with a few cold beers. It was nice to have the ac cooling the main cabin again.
Eva's t-shirt

Stars as Teachers

The Egyptian Goddess Isis is often depicted as veiled, as noted in the picture of Auguste Puttemans (1866-1927), Statue of Isis, located at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa (Wikimedia Commons). Isis is by no means the first or the last manifestation of the Mother Goddess. Her story, with Osiris and Horus, marks the passage of the sun, moon, and planets in the backdrop of stars. As most mythical stories, theirs evolved with humans’ first encounters with stars.
Primal myths are the stuff of primal astronomy – the extended metaphors our ancestors used to describe the cyclic movement of the celestial bodies; their infinity (consistency), births (appearances), deaths (disappearances), rebirths (re-appearances). When humans first looked at the stars in earnest and unveiled the adage, as above so below, they had no words to describe what they saw. Expressions of awe became syllables, and then metaphoric stories helping us to understand the lessons from our star teachers guiding us from dark (gu) to light (ru). They taught us how to connect stars to the cycle of the seasons, animal migrations, plant sprouting, climate, and spacetime. It is the story in the syllabic ancient Sanskrit mantra, sa-ta-na-ma (infinity, birth, death, rebirth). The story behind each syllable describes the passage of the Moon, Venus, the Sun, the Constellations, as well as the passage of Life on Earth.
The largest constellation, later known as Virgo, became the Great Mother (wisdom, Sophia), upholding the law (Libra), justice (Scorpio), sustenance (the Milky Way); this being only a small section of the observable ecliptic trajectory of 12 constellations, innumerable stars and the stuff of stars (planets, satellites, asteroids, life, dark matter).
            When we stopped looking at the sky for guidance to understand Mother Earth, these metaphors degenerated into religions and history (or twistory, as The Little Prince called it), blinding ourselves from what is hidden in plain sight in nature, trading harmony for disharmony. When was the last time you saw the stars? When was the last time you laid down on the ground (or a sailboat deck away from city lights) to see the passage of stars from east to west, as we move in rapid stillness from west to east? Only when we are ready to continue the natural evolution of our ancestors, from paupers to corporate giants, will we again begin to unveil Isis.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Missing You

I have been kept so busy at work lately--writing, writing, writing-- that I've missed logging in. I have sailed but missed writing my lately metaphysical 'Captain's Log' here. It is 6:00 a.m. As I prepare to go to Andariego, I am minded to write and commit to sharing sailing stories. May there be more entries in the coming months. Right now, I am also testing posting logs through my iPhone.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ho, Ho, Ho

     To all sailing spirits who love the raw nature of the sea, the radiant light of the sun, a canopy of stars, and sharing with kindred souls.
      May the new year bring new shores to explore, gentle winds, and following seas.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Through My Looking Glass: The V-Berth Hatch

Jupiter (Institute of Technical Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR)

November 4, 2012, midnight hour, Isleta Marina.  Pleasantly exhausted after a day sail, I went to sleep early, around 9:00 p.m., in Andariego’s forward cabin. Sometime around midnight, the light of a star peeking through the V-berth hatch woke me up. I checked the Distant Suns and Star Walk apps in my iPhone. It was Jupiter. Overcast skies, only a few selected stars peeked through the veil of clouds at a time. The hatch is small so my selection was even more delimited—but rich.
Cancer Constellation (Wiki-The Stars in Cancer)
The first constellation I identified was Cancer, the Crab. The moon (waning gibbous, 66.7%) was astronomically in the Cancer Constellation. With intuitive imagination, I was able to see its pincers and form. This fascinated me, to the point of awe, because before going to sleep I had been reading a book (The Quest for the Zodiac: The Cosmic Code Beyond Astrology (1999) by John Lash) about the difference between the astronomy or sidereal ecliptic and the tropical astrology ecliptic, the stuff of popular horoscopes in newspapers. They don’t match.
Technically, you have to move one constellation back to get the actual constellation in the sky (not the horoscope sign) where the sun was on your birth date. Astronomically, mine would have been Cancer, a water element, rather than Leo, a fire element in the popular horoscope. Coincidence?
After cloud curtain calls in the hatch theater stage, I recognized Gemini, the Twins. Outside the ecliptic, I identified the little dog, Canis Minor. Then there was Orion, the Hunter, with his three shiny stars for a belt. As I dozed off, after Jupiter’s wake-up call in the midnight hours, I saw Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, the bull’s eye. Sixty-eight light years away, Aldebaran, the red star, is a reminder of my life’s passage, and that looking at stars is to look into our past, individual and evolutionary. As one looks into the deepest depth of the universe (the self) even through the hatch of a small sailboat on a cloudy night, the book’s question invokes mental shivers: “How is humanity living through me?” (Lash 99).
The ‘writing-in-the-sky’ was not clear to me but at some deeper level, seeing the moon in Cancer after reading about it made me understand something I cannot express with words—a most difficult confession for a PhD linguist. In semiotic terms (a branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of signs), this is something that I want to pursue in my sailing adventures. Perhaps I can call it, astro-semiotics
I’ll finish this entry with a quote from Empedocles, a pre-Socratic philosopher: “A wanderer exiled from the great origins, in former times I was already a boy and a girl, a bush and a bird, a mute fish in the sea.” (Lash 89). I am a wanderer rediscovering the language of the stars. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Night Sail

On Friday, April 6, 2012, there was a full moon rising. It was the tail-end of a small craft advisory. The wind was still a little fresh with remnants of the north swells that had played some havoc the day before. It was perfect for a night sail. I checked the moon rise time in my AyeTides iPhone application; 6:42 p.m. AST. Sue, Mike, and I sat in Bona Roba (Sue's sailboat), and on a whim decided we had one hour to get Andariego ready for a night sail. We walked from dock A to dock B, and set to the task.
We left the dock at Isleta Marina sometime after sunset, which was at 6:37 p.m. The sun set behind dark clouds. It was dark, and indigo hues with silvery sparks engulfed us as we raised the mainsail and unfurled the jib. We left Isleta Marina to our starboard, as we headed to the lights at Cayo Lobos. The moon made her grand entrance between these two points; big, round, aflamed in yellow-orange tones midst indigo blues.
A balm for our sorrows, deceptions, as well as a toast to life, happiness, and all that is divine in us all. Impossible to capture this in a photo, Sue nonetheless made an attempt to photograph it, as we sailed so fast, bobbed up and down with occasional cockpit splashes, and danced with the waves and the wind.
There is something very special about sailing at night. The Fajardo Lighthouse becomes a guiding star, juxtaposed to the moon's mesmerizing lighthouse-like beam reflected on the water. Andariego's red and green tenuous headlights and orange glowing compass light were bearing witness to the three souls on board. A moment in time, a wakening call, the light in the darkness of our being.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vive la Différence!

There is a difference between sailing with men and sailing with women. My attempt is not to state that one is better than the other, but that they're different and enjoyable in their own way.

Nelson, Bob, and Fred

Sunday, February 25, 2012.  Sailing with Men. There was a small craft advisory warning, ENE winds 15-18 knots with higher gusts, and the seas were 3-4 feet with north swells.  Sunny, threatening storms. The crew: Eva, Betty, Nelson (savvy sailor), Bob (former owner of an Island Packet 35), and Fred (twice winner of best sailor of the year award). The plan was to go to Palomino.

Normally, I wouldn't sail with a warning, but the men were keen. They were sea knowledgeable; the only kind of men with whom to sail, especially with a warning. We left the dock at 10:00 a.m. and returned at 1:00 p.m. It was very gusty, so we tried sailing with just the mainsail. The men displayed their best sailing rhetoric, argued about the best rigging for the weather, raised voices, cajoled, and insisted that in sailing, where quick, sharp decisions require fast reflexes, yelling is a must. And they yelled, and laughed, and boasted sailing strategies, and took in all the weather could muster. The weather obliged, sending high swells, gusts, and menacing clouds in the horizon.

Betty's body rebelled with all the tossing and turning; sea sickness engulfed her from beginning to end. A trooper nonetheless, she was a good sport, in spite of her mal de mer. The men were like athletes in extreme weather sports. Me, I learned a few strategies for rough weather sailing, which are always welcome. I enjoyed seeing how much weather Andariego could take with full sails and with the mainsail alone. For a brief moment, Andariego was heeling a good 30 degrees and we were washing boards. Though I did not enjoy the feeling (I certainly didn't want to see my keel while sailing that morning), I observed what he could take, before I requested to roll the jib, which the men did immediately. We never made Palomino.

Fred wrote in Andariego's log, "What a treat! ... Such a clean well cared for boat. Well equipped. Very impressed."  Nelson added, "Fantastico! ... It was a windy vigorous sail, and we got all we could handle without a reef. Beautiful boat too." Betty wrote, "... You were also so understanding and forgiving of these guys who yell! Thanks for the day and for your friendship." There was nothing to forgive; they were sailors having fun. I was also a sailor having fun. But then I saw a dark set of clouds in the distant horizon. I requested to return and call it a day. A great crew, they went through all the motions to head back. Nelson checked his radar connection and verified that indeed it was a strong weather front. He added in the log, "You're a good weather forecaster." As we docked, Fred missed grabbing the aft lines (the break) with the hook and I tapped the dock box with the pulpit. No damage done, but not a smooth docking. The rain started so we had our lunch in the main cabin. We hosed the boat and left Andariego immediately to catch the ferry back home.

Punta Águila, Palomino
Friday, March 2, 2012. Sailing with Women. There was an 'exercise caution' advisory but no major warnings, ENE winds 14-17 knots, and the seas were 3-5 feet.  Sunny with scattered clouds. The crew: Eva, Betty, Margarita, Sue, and María. The plan was to go to Palomino.

We sailed out at 11:15 a.m. and returned at 5:15 p.m. Everyone was assigned a task as we were docking out: bow lines, starboard spring lines, port side, aft lines. I had to go in reverse making sure not to hit any of the concrete fingers and columns on the way. The crew was ready to fend off from their post. It was done smoothly.

As we headed out, the food (enough for a weekend sail) was put away, waters served and the conversations started. As we passed our first green marker, we got ready to raise the main. It was jammed halfway up. In a Socratic mode of problem solving, we asked questions, checked, asked questions again, until we realized the main halyard was jammed by the lazy jacks. Sue sorted it out and Maria raised the main without a problem. Sue was behind the helm most of the way. We sailed with the main for a while, until the wind subsided. We unfurled the jib, and with two tacks, we sailed straight to Palomino. All sails down without a hitch, we caught a mooring on our first try, celebrated our sail and had a regal lunch. Margarita brought homemade hommus and grapes. Betty made her famous Gazpacho soup. There was tarragon dip and Maria's dip with pimentos. Wheat roll-ups, marzipan, pan sobao, Margarita's mojito with yerbabuena, and wines.

Betty and Eva
Then we went for a swim. We talked and listened to jazz. While I was in the water floating about and enjoying the day, I looked at my watch, thinking it was shortly after noon. It was nearly 4:00 p.m. We put away leftover goodies and sailed into the sunset with the wind on our backs. A smooth sunset sail, we docked quietly, without any glitches. Betty was never seasick and remarked in the log, "Best captain, best crew, and absolutely my best ever day of sailing. I'll never forget it ..."

We packed and cleaned up. Some had to go; most stayed. Then we sat down in the cockpit area as it darkened, sharing thoughts of the day and about sails to come. Someone looked up the mast and noticed the moon just above it, as someone else softly remarked that Andariego had an awesome anchor light.
and the rainbow welcomed us back

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Puppy Rottweiler, Geese, Dead Batteries, New and Dear Friends

Cielito, Ceiba with Palomino in the distance

Friday, February 3. I met with dear friends and fellow sailors (Sue, Margarita, Betty and me) in Cielito, Ceiba to celebrate life. From Sue’s beautiful home, one can see Palomino, the island that, little did I know, I would sail to in the morning. After an 8-hour lunch and joyful day, I spent the night in Andariego.
Four sailing women on land
Saturday, February 4. The plan was to sail with Ángel and his young family early on Saturday morning to Luis Peña. There were five souls in Andariego. The engine would not start in the morning. After much problem-solving, that which true sailors do best, it was deduced that the batteries were faulty. Neill, in San Juan, helped us conclude that the lead oxide in the old batteries had been converted to lead sulfate, short-circuiting against its next-door serial neighbor. We took both batteries to West Marine, where their meter declared them dead batteries and adviced, “Replace Batteries.” New batteries later, the engine started without a problem. Our late afternoon start made us reconsider our destination. We sailed to Palomino instead.
As we left Isleta Marina, I saw a black small head in the water. At first I thought it was a turtle, then a seal (but the last Caribbean Monk Seal spotted in these waters was in 1952, now extinct), finally realizing it was a small dog. The puppy Rottweiler was swimming toward Andariego, seeing us as his only salvation. Had we not passed by, he would have swam himself to exhaustion; there was no shore nearby. I went in reverse, as Ángel grabbed the net on a long pole from down below. The puppy was rescued in the net, brought aboard, and wrapped in a towel. We went back to the dock and gave the puppy to Kurk, from Andariego’s next-dock sailboat. I live with two rescued dogs at home, Desie and Falcor, but I never thought I’d rescue a dog at sea. We felt very proud, happy, and celebrated the successful rescue quite a ways into Palomino.
We grabbed a mooring on Palomino’s north side, near the interesting rock formations, protected by the hill from east winds. Ángel, a geologist, explained how the rocks that look like stacked blocks were natural formations, shaped mainly by the rain. After a swim and an early night, scattered clouds played peek-a-boo with the moon, and played misty on me, until I secured the hatches.
Palomino sunrise
Sunday, February 5. The sea gremlins were not done with their mischief after rendering the old batteries useless. The engine started beautifully in the morning, but the gas stove died soon after starting it. The meter read that there was propane gas left; it was lying. The Cobb barbecue came to the rescue. Ángel managed to almost boil water in the Cobb, enough to make coffee. He made scrambled eggs with cheese for all on a flat pan on the coals. For lunch, you guessed it, a barbecue grill. Midst barbecue extravaganzas, we saw a flock of geese flying northwest in perfect V-formation. South to north, north to south, without a stop in the tropics. What a treat to see these beautiful birds flying so high in their ancient migratory display.
We docked in the afternoon, and my new friends helped to clean Andariego after our short adventure, making him look shiny and new, ready for the next new adventures.
Andariego's new caring friends

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Christmas Sailing

Qué el lucero de la Navidad nos guíe a un rumbo de pax in terra,
Qué en el silencio del mar oigamos la música cósmica de las esferas,
 y nos deleitemos en la creación del universo.
Somos estrellas, peces, y naves,
árboles, piedras, arena, y plancton,
viento, agua, tierra, y fuego – infinito
Qué no olvidemos nunca ser y estar maravillados en este mundo encantado.

May the Christmas evening star guide us towards pax in terra,
In the silence of the sea, may we listen to the cosmic music of the spheres,
and delight in the creation of the universe.
We are stars, fish, and sailing vessels,
trees, stones, sand, and plankton,
wind, water, earth, and fire – infinity
May we never forget our sense of wonder in this enchanted world.