Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

The summer continues and I must admit that I have begun counting down to the end of the season. Although it may be hard to believe by pictures etc., I am ready to move on already. I once read a book in which a sea captain was giving life advice and said "find the one thing that you never want to get through, thats what you should do". He discussed how our entire lives are based upon the idea that we need to finish or accomplish whatever we are doing at that moment (progression through school, moving up the ranks in the workplace etc. etc.). I am discovering that if I am going to make a career out of sailing, I need to get involved in teaching younger people. There was a family that came out for the "unofficial knitting cruise" and there were two girls, 9 and 10, who were so much fun. I got such a kick out of hanging out with them and teaching them some of the sailing stuff (they loved the foghorn and trying to spot boats/buoys in the fog) that it made me enjoy work that much more. When I can teach kids that come sailing, and then they can successfully help tack etc., I feel so much more that my job is DOING something.

I think I will be home around early November, and am looking forward to spending some time relaxing and getting off boats for a while. If anyone has a good idea for work during the winter, let me know!

I have been reading a lot lately, keeping up on my American Literature by reading Jack London. The three stories I have read so far, "The Sea-Wolf", "White Fang", and "The Call of the Wild" all offer interesting perspectives. The Sea Wolf was great because it is about a sealing schooner sailing the pacific, and most of the descriptions of the boat I can easily picture and understand. The character of Wolf Larsen, captain of the schooner, is fascinating also as it serves to challenge so many of the idealistic thoughts of our age. Wolf Larsen is extremely harsh on his crew, and the idealistic character "Hump", a literature critic who is saved from drowning after a shipwreck by the schooner, questions this. He asks how Wolf can treat his crew like this, as they all have certain human value. Wolf Larsen retorts that the only value that any of the crew have is how hard they work for him, otherwise they are useless on the boat, and just taking up space and food. How can humans place value on other humans? Who measures that value? Larsen claims that the value of life is only the value of ones own life, as nobody else really values another's life. This is rather depressing, and many would not want to admit this possibility, but often times it seems to true.

Another interesting philosophical poser is raised by Larsen and Hump when discussing bravery. Who is braver; the person who is actually scared and faces his fears, or the person who is literally fearless. In this case, Wolf Larsen is fearless because he is in permanent defiance of life. Even though he suggests his value comes from himself, he seems to fly in the face of all danger, making him fearless but is he brave? Perhaps the first step in overcoming fears or struggles is to remember to acknowledge that we have them, then we can better progress.

A good book, I highly suggest it. Also, reading "White Fang" really makes me want a dog...

(Also, the picture of the rocks was when we were close to leaving Swan's Island headed south toward open ocean. The swells were massive and it was a struggle to remain standing upright on the deck because of the pitching and rolling. We dunked the head rig which was pretty amazing)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

There Be Whales Here! (Or Not)

For those of you who have been on the edge of seats etc. waiting for another blog post, I apologize for the month delay. Things have been relatively "normal" around here, or as normal as things can be. Although I am loving life in Camden and on board Angelique, I am starting to miss people and places that I did not think would keep a hold on me, but have. I am currently working on finding jobs for the winter, so if anyone has any good ideas for me, feel free to let me know! On to stories:

Our last trip was a whale-watching cruise which turned into more of a wave-watching cruise. Our first day we left Camden, set four lowers plus gaff topsls and proceeded east toward MDI (Mount Desert Island/Acadia National park) at a "decent" speed of 9.5 knots. Not too bad! (The fastest I have seen this summer was a couple of weeks ago, we raced a rain squall with four lowers, half topsls and did 11.5). We made it to the south end of MDI, a place we have been before called Bass Harbor, and made preparations for an epic day of sea-sickness the next day, as we were planning on sailing offshore about 20 miles to Mount Desert Rock. Most were prepared to trade feeling miserable for the promise of breaching Humpback's, but alas, both sea-sickness and whales were avoided. Although we missed out on seeing whales, we did see puffins and had a great day of sailing, during which we probably covered 60+ miles of ocean, ending our day in Southeast Harbor, MDI. The highlight of this day was that early in the morning (7:30am or so) Mike offered me the wheel and I did not give it up until Mount Desert Rock, 20 miles later. I love driving! I had never really had to steer by compass course alone, and so this was a new experience for me but I think I did relatively well for having large-ish swells etc. The rest of the week was wonderful, we hit at least 7.5 knots each day, which is all one can really ask for. I have included a few recent photos.