sailing the NorSea


WEEK 42 2008

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First Post, 17 March 2002
Six Years Ago, This Week, 2002 Five Years Ago, This Week, 2003 Four Years Ago, this week, 2004 Three Years Ago, This Week, 2005 Two Years Ago, This Week, 2006
A Year Ago, This Week, 2007

Saturday 18 October 2008
Saturday - I was talking to my brother Bob, and he had a story about our his old boat. After returning from our trip to Anacapa he decided to try out the newly repaired outboard on the Pig Heavy Weather. It being near the change of tide and there being almost no wind he backed out of the slip and motored into the Sacramento River, heading upstream. About a mile out the motor started acting up. When he checked it the propeller was gone. Apparently the shop that repaired it didn't tighten the nut properly or forgot the cotter pin. In any case he simply raised the sails and ghosted back to and into the marina and his slip, coming to a stop just kissing the dock and stepping ashore to tie up again. No doubt the locals and people in the overlooking marina cafe think he's a tremendously talented seaman to sail into a very small and cramped marina and slip. And you know, they might just be right...

In other "Hey kids, let's have fun sailing!" sailing news Zac Sunderland is now in Cocos Keeling and trying to get some repairs done. He'd broken his tiller, repaired it, but the tiller repair failed while he was asleep and the boat jibed, thereby breaking the mainsail boom:

This morning I got a call from Zac early. I thought that maybe he was excited about his arrival at Cocos Keeling and couldn't sleep. He had been sleeping when he was awakened by a loud crashing sound and the boat slamming around. He ran up to see what was going on and saw that the tiller had come off of the Tiller Pilot causing an accidental jibe. This is when the direction of the boat is changed so that the wind switches to the other side of the boat. This can be a violent motion and causes the boom to crash to the other side of the boat. I'm not clear why Zac didn't have his preventer hooked up but I suppose he didn't feel he was in any danger of jibing under his current point of sail. I cannot imagine what he thought as he looked and saw that his boom had completely broken in two! The boom is the metal bar that extends from the mast to hold down the bottom part of the sail. He wasn't in that much wind at the time (about 15 knots). He figures that the boom was weak because of age and an accumulation of wear and tear from heavy use.

I think a bad jibe, even at low speed, could break a good boom. But he's on the spot and looking at the bits. If the ends of the break are corroded it's something that was in progress and bound to happen sooner or later; if bright and shiny it's new damage from the jib alone. Not that it matters, stuff like this happens on a voyage. Now he's trying to to get it fixed before the local storm season starts. Or, I suppose, he could go 'loose footed' with less power and boat speed, or have a wooden boom made up.

Sometimes I hate to look at that blog, because Zac's doing what I want to do. Except I wouldn't be in such a hurry.

There is a squirrel who has been eating out of the lower bird feeder. I'd take a picture, but every time I stand up and walk to the window my fathers accursed mutt sweet canine companion runs over to the window seat to investigate what I'm looking at, and scares it away.

Book #49 was Dave Weber's Hell Hath No Fury. Eh. It was the sequel to Hell's Gate, and is much the same. In fact I see the outlines of the series clearly. First one side will have an advantage - guns and mortars, then the other - dragons and magic. Each book will have one big battle, and lots of politicking between the really really good guys and the really really bad guys. It is, in short, his Honor Harrington series with the serial numbers filed off, as the diagram of his 'multiverse' makes clear. I feel a bit used when I read it - will there be ten sequels, or twenty? Oh well, no one is forcing me to read it, and it passed a few tired and sore footed hours when I had nothing else to do.

hell hath no fury

And I'm caught up on listing books read, finally, no doubt to my (imaginary?) readers relief.. What next? Dunno. I've a tape of baseball anecdotes, but that seems hardly fitting for the big #50. On the other hand it might be considered biography, or history (sort of), and I'm due for that. Also the library will want the tapes back soon.

Friday 17 October 2008

Friday - a mornings' work, then up to northern California. I hit Livermore at a bad time, essentially slowing to 25mph from there all the way to Pleasant Hill. Sheesh.

I finished Book #48, Cold Oceans* by Jonathan Turk along the way. It was short, only two tapes, and mildly interesting. Turk is a self proclaimed adventurer, attempting in turn to kayak the Straits of Magellan, to row the Northwest Passage, to dogsled to Baffin Island. He doesn't prepare correctly, doesn't use correct gear and generally exercises terrible judgment. He fails repeatedly to finish his 'expeditions' (and doesn't go back and retry with his improved knowledge), and should by rights have been killed. Finally, with his wife along, he manages to kayak/portage to Greenland from Canada. It's pretty clear that it's her better judgment that allows him to finish, and to his credit he admits it.  

He is aided by strangers repeatedly - on just the dogsled trip it's the Inuit who give him a caribou hide parka to replace the down jacket that would have inevitably have iced up inside, who tell him where to fish, and an Inuit hunter 'who just happens' to be going ahead of him in a snowmobile & thereby leaves tracks for him to follow, and who 'accidentally' drops a jerry of diesel heating fuel at a critical stage. Clearly the knowledgeable locals are watching out for the out-of-town fool.

Amazon reviewers give the tale four stars, but I wouldn't want to travel with Jon.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Thursday - Stupid Dodger's. That was one of the worst ball games I've ever watched. Three errors by a shortstop in a single inning, in a playoff game? I'm glad the series is over, I couldn't take any more.

Book #47 was King Solomons Mines*, by H. Rider Haggard. It is a bit dated - but then it was first published in 1885. What seem obvious cliches and denouements were fresh and original then, well, for the most part. Novels had been around for a while, after all... Anyway, a fun read, and almost nothing like any of the various movies that I've seen that were purportedly based on it. It might be fun to get all the movies and watch and compare them. Perhaps one is true to the book?

A thing or two struck me. Haggard was obviously a novice at planning bush trips: our intrepid adventurers are setting out across at least 160 miles of pathless desert, so they each bring one gallon of water. One gallon. They bring ten pounds of food (!) but no tent or awning for the daylight hours; they do bring three rifles, three revolvers and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Alan Quartermain, the narrator and old African veteran has a nickname: Macumazan, which means 'ever vigilant' or 'unsleeping'. But time and time again he is surprised or tricked, by Zulu's, by white men, even by - I kid you not - a little old lady. But there is humor as well, particularly at the expense of the naval officer, Captain Good, who provides the books' comic relief.

Recommended. This has been my "commute" tape for the last week or so, now I need something new.

I thought I might follow up King Solomons Mines with Haggards' She ("She Who Must be Obeyed"), but find that according to it exists only in a highly abridged audio format - 2 audio cassettes. KSM was ten. Odd.

Well, onto Plan B: LibriVox has She, Return of She, and She and Alan for free in MP3 format. Problem is that my Explorer has the stock Ford AM/FM/Cassette/CD player, it predates MP3's. I suppose I could update that - the CD player is unusable anyway these days, with skipping problems.

Then onto the lesser known She versus the Martians and that new favorite: Indian Jones and She!

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Wednesday - a long hot day. But it could be worse, I could be fighting forest fires in hotter and windier conditions as some are doing, in the Southern California canyons. And, in mid afternoon, it cooled down a bit, from the 90F or so, due to a high haze layer. I had thought it was haze, until I saw the sun halo. That is characteristic of ice crystals at high altitude. I took a photo of the halo's reflection off the Explorers' back window, so that I wouldn't damage the camera:

sun halo

Looking it up on wikipedia, it was probably a 22° halo. Neat.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Tuesday - the fires are still burning. We could see helicopters going in and out of Camarillo airport, with the big water buckets beneath. Big Chinooks and also the smaller single rotor jobs. As yesterday, very windy in the early morning, fairly calm in the afternoon.

There was a full moon, glaring down at me as I drove home on Ca-126 for a brief stretch this evening. Very bright. I suppose the Santa Ana's blow all the moisture and dirty air out to sea.

Book #47 was Martin Van Buren, by Ted Widmer and Arthur M.Schlesinger. AMS is the series editor, this is in the American Presidents series, so Widmer is probably the primary author. He's good too, since he makes Van Buren interesting. Like all the AP series it's a bit short, but well done in this particular case. Van Buren was a cautious and calculating politician - no one would call him a statesman - and was responsible for the serious establishment of the political party as an organized system in American politics.

The early leaders: Washington, Adams, Jefferson claimed to dislike and disapprove of parties. For Washington this was probably true, for Jefferson untrue, for Adams...mostly true. Parties existed, particularly after Jefferson,  but there was a polite fantasy that they didn't: gentlemen didn't run for office, they merely acceded gracefully if it was thrust upon them by others (Jefferson for example, working furiously behind the scenes for a nomination or win was a master of this illusion).. Van Buren swept that away and established a fairly rigorous and disciplined system in the state of New York, though there were later issues when he left the state.

The Crash of 1837, second only to the Crash of the Great Depression occurred during his second year in office, and pretty well put an end to any ambitions for a second term, or much accomplished in the first term. Even then American's liked to blame the hapless incumbent president for the economic woes he generally justs inherits.

Martin Van Buren was famous for one other thing: he popularized the use of the word "OK" by using it in his speeches: 150 years later it's still one of the most widely used words in the world.

Presidential Biographies read so far:

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
John Quincy Adams
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Marten Van Buren
Abraham Lincoln
Teddy Roosevelt
Harry Truman

Next, I suppose, is Monroe. James Monroe is the last of the Revolutionary War veterans - Jackson was a boy then. Also another Virginian, I think. Van Buren was succeeded by Harrison, for a week or two, until he died, and his VP, Tyler, took over.

 Monday 13 October 2008

Monday - man, those Dodgers' are out to give me a heart attack. Well, if they win the next three straight they can still make it to the series.

Back at work - the county doesn't take Columbus Day, so neither do I.

Driving down from Lancaster and entering onto the I-5 from the 14 I could see the flames off to the east, just a few miles away. Very striking against the pitch black smoke, and the smoke silhouetted in turn against the lightening morning sky. The winds were strong, and rather than going up the smoke was kept down close to the ground, and dense. Tim tells me they've fires down in the San Diego area as well.

The winds were strong all morning in Camarillo, Santa Ana's, they started to die down in the afternoon.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Sunday - well, how about those Dodger's. I'm not sure why the Dodger pitcher almost beaned that guy...something from game 2? Still, it was a win and I'll take it.

Book #36 I hereby declare to be Juggler of Worlds, by Larry Niver and Edward Lerner. It's sort of a wrapper, combining all the old Beowulf Shaeffer stories into a novel, with fairly good results. It's all tied together from the viewpoint of a United Nations agent tasked with spying on aliens - specifically the Puppeteers. That part is well done, but once the new stuff is included with the thread from this years Book #10 Fleet of Worlds, it becomes a bit bogged down and not as interesting. A good read none the less, recommended.

Book #46 is Neal Stephenson's Anathem. It's an interesting book. It imagines a world where there are universities, of a sort. The twist is that the inhabitants of these are ordered in groups that only interact with the outside world (and each other, to a large extent) at specified intervals - some yearly, some once a decade, some once every century, and some once in a thousand years. An alien spaceship appears in orbit, and this society has to start interacting with the outside world, and the aliens. Well done and interesting. Also lot of discussion about the actual reality of what I take to be platonic ideals in geometry and math (and elsewhere). It runs out of steam at the finale and just sort of... ends. Nonetheless, recommended.

With Anathem we are progressing arithmetically once again:

#1 The Family Trade
#2  The Hidden Family
#3 Around the World Single Handed: The Cruise of the "Islander"
#4 The Last Colony
#5 The Sea For Breakfast
#6 The Barbarians
#7 The Outback Stars
#8 Spindrift
#9 The Clan Corporate
#10 Fleet of Worlds
#11 The Sons of Heaven
#12 A Day on Mars
#13 Alexander Hamilton*
#14  Spindrift*
#15 The Third Lynx
#16 Lando*
#17 Lord of the Silent Kingdom
#18 GPS for Surveyors and GIS
#19 Over on the Dry Side
#20 Cruel Zinc Melodies
#21 Crystal Rain
#22 Daddy Long Legs
#23 Evil For Evil
#24 The Escapement
#25 Medieval Bridges
#26 Pastoral*
#27 Devices and Desires,
#28 Pale Blue Dot*
#29 A Sailing Primer
#30 On The Wrong Track
#31 To Ride a Rathorn
#32 Halting State
#33 Iron Sunrise
#34 America's Victory*,
#35 A Sundial in a Grave: 1610: A Novel.
#36 Juggler of Worlds
 A Dark Traveling.
#38 The Broken Worlds
#39 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay*
#40  In a Sunburned Country*
#41 By Schism Rent Asunder
#42 Still River
#43 Galileo's Daughter*
#44 No Highway*
#45 Monsarrat At Sea*
#46 Anathem
#47 Martin Van Buren
#48,Cold Oceans*
#49 Hell Hath No Fury

Picture of the Week
dawn fields in Camarillo
Photo Notes: Before dawn near Camarillo.

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