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.

"It is with you as with the sea: the most varied names are given to what is in the end only salt water." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, 1833.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sailing in the New Planet


Capturing Sunset from Palomino Island--Fabian and Brenda

            July 18-20, 2011. The planet is changing. To some, it has already changed, and we must adapt. In Bill McKibben’s book, Eaarth: Making a life on a tough new planet, we are reminded that, “it suddenly rains harder and faster than it has ever rained before … global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It’s our reality.” In Puerto Rico, it has been raining since spring, unheard of before, and as I write this, there’s a thunderstorm outside.
Testing the Cobb BBQ
Monday afternoon, Marisol, Fabián and I went to Andariego at Isleta Marina to get ready to sail early next morning. We drove in the rain. We aired the sailboat as we prepared cabins, galley, and checked the engine, rigging, hull, and so on down the checklist. As the evening approached fast, we started the Cobb BBQ, finding a niche for it on the helmsperson’s seat, under the bimini. I’ve used the Cobb before for sailing, but this was the first time in Andariego. I bought this grill in a West Marine in Connecticut many years ago. They don’t sell them anymore, but they are available directly from the South Africa/Florida website. They’re very good on a boat, because they don’t get hot in the bottom or sides, and they use very little charcoal. We used local vegetable charcoal from Adjuntas. Marisol was the chef on this trip, which she performed exquisitely. We barbecued three times in our overnight sail to Palomino.
Selkies--Marisol and Brenda. Palomino's hill
            Early next morning, Brenda joined us. There were overcast skies, but it was clearing up in the east, and we set sail at around 8:30 a.m. It was a bit blustery and choppy, so we reefed the main. Three women and a child (well, a 13-year-old young man), we zigzagged into the wind to Palomino. Fabián was a little seasick, but by the time we moored, at about 10:00 a.m., his cheeks were rosy again. We grabbed a mooring, first try, right behind Palomino’s mountain for protection. We had ALL the Palomino moorings to choose from; one of the advantages of sailing on a weekday. Fabián spied, using binoculars, a big pelican in a nest high up on the hill. S/he was magnificent on her perch. We saw turtles and their favorite treat, jellyfish. There were seagulls, brown boobies, plus the chickens and roosters on the hill. A large fish remained under Andariego for the length of our stay. We threw breadcrumbs overboard and fish came by, but not in the profusion they came when I was younger, when it was actually scary to be surrounded by such a large ball of fish. The planet has changed: “We need now to understand the world we’ve created and consider—urgently—how to live in it.” McKibben’s message may sound depressing at first, but as we understand and embrace the reality, we just might learn to live with and not against nature. He further states: “Maturity is not the opposite of hope; it’s what makes hope possible.” I see hope in Fabián’s eyes. He was another sea creature in the water. We joined him in the fun. We basked on Andariego as seals on rocky mounds. Selkies rising from the sea to assume women forms on land.
            Andariego uses a solar panel to charge and start the engine. We use small solar lamps after dark, and charge our cell phones with solar and wind chargers. Somewhat un-tethered from land oil-based energy sources, weaning from oil seems difficult but not impossible. I say somewhat, because Grendel, the engine, still uses oil and diesel. There are hardy sailors out there who have rid themselves of the engine on board, living aboard and sailing on wind and solar power.
            Tuesday night it rained, but just past midnight, the moon peeked in through the hatches, as if telling us that there is still beauty in the tough new planet. We must also become tough, but with a gentle heart.
            Wednesday morning we sailed back unto the darkened, cloud covered Yunque rain forest. At 9:30 a.m. we were back at Isleta. Brenda had a land appointment. She made a comment on how smoothly and quietly we docked. Everyone had an assigned task—bow lines, aft portside lines, starboard spring lines, with me behind the helm. Calm under pressure is a call for the new planet. McKibben notes: “This is the current inventory: more thunder, more lightning, less ice.” It is important to learn about this new reality from books, but it is equally, if not more important, to witness it and live it directly with nature.
Last barbie bites