Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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A day in the life… of working from home

Inspired by the Bartleby column in last week’s issue of The Economist“Diary of a home worker: The challenges of concentrating during a lockdown” practically had me in stitches. If you subscribe to The Economist, don’t miss it!

In the spirit that imitation is the highest praise, here’s my (lightly fictionalized) “diary”:

6:10 Wake up and look at the clock. Hold inner debate about going for a run this morning. Roll over.

6:30 Reach for phone to see if running buddy has texted to cancel. She has! Breathe a sigh of relief and text back “No worries – tuckered out from our 9 miles the other day…”

6:31 Receive reply from running buddy saying she’s wiped out from home-schooling her 7th grader with his short attention span and inability to focus on Zoom classes. Text back and thus begin conversation on pros and cons of technology.

7:12 Realize been texting with running buddy for over 40 minutes! And it was all about the internet sucking up time! Oh, the irony. Text goodbye and jump out of bed.

7:15 Open cornflakes box and realize it’s running low. Panic that the store won’t have anymore. Realize with relief that there are 5 more boxes in the pantry from the last Costco run a month ago before Costco started limiting the number of customers and what they could buy. Idly wonder when official rationing will arrive.

7:20 Take coffee and cornflakes out on the porch and stare at the ocean. Happily some things never change. Like The Morning Stare. The ritual of staring at the blue horizon, coffee in hand, is the same at sea or ashore. The best part of the day.

8:00 Start to feel guilty about not sitting down to work. Compromise by looking at emails, most of which are from banks about how they are dealing with covid-19. They’re really just trying to calm us all down so we don’t withdraw all our money. Delete.

8:15 Look over spread sheet of accepted or published articles for which money is owed. Check bank statements to make sure nothing is incorrect. Email editors to remind them of money owed.

8:30 Open blank word document and stare, waiting for inspiration.

8:32 Go to the bathroom.

8:34 Glance over List of Ideas. Decide that all of them will probably be considered callous in view of the pandemic. Has to be about the pandemic.

8:45 Look up news articles about covid-19. Disappear down the rabbit hole.

10:00 Run across article about practicing mindfulness during the pandemic. Get up from computer and sit on the floor to try it out.

10:03 Stomach rumbles. Go fetch a snack. English muffin? Bananas? Go for bananas: they grow in the yard so won’t be affected by rationing or store closures.

10:17 Go back to blank word document.

10:20 Running buddy texts with idea for social coffee break over Zoom. Rush to change out of pajamas and move laundry basket out of view of the computer’s camera.

10:40 Go back to blank word document.

10:41 Look up from desk at Dad’s watercolor of childhood home in British Columbia. Sigh nostalgically for the days when crossing the US-Canada border required only a driver’s license.

10:43 Sigh nostalgically for the days, three weeks ago, when crossing borders was even allowed at all.

10:45 Wonder if will get to see friends from other countries ever again.

10:46 Wonder if will even get to see friends in the continental US ever again.

10:47 Close eyes and remember to be grateful for all the things done and seen in life. Sigh with relief and gratitude for not being sick with the virus.

10:48 Wonder if have in fact contracted covid-19. Go wash hands vigorously. Wipe down keyboard and phone.

10:50 Check email to see if editors have responded about outstanding payments. They haven’t. Start composing long overdue replies to personal emails.

11:46 Tsunami alert siren goes off. Remember that it’s the first day of the month and it’s only the regular test.

11:47 Nuclear missile alert siren goes off. It’s also a test. Or is it the world’s worst April Fool’s joke? Or is it for real?? Are the conspiracy theorists correct??!! Is that what’s next after Bio Weapon Covid-19??? Panic!!

11:49 Breathe deeply. Console self with knowledge that that brief spurt of covid-19 panic buying will also provide food for weeks in the fall-out shelter. What fall-out shelter? There aren’t any. Shrug. Go back to emails.

NOON Reach the emails from Francophone friends which must be replied to in French. Re-read them all. Decide just don’t have the energy.

12:03 Open the fridge and stare, wondering what to make for lunch. Salad on the grounds the lettuce is the most perishable? Grilled cheese sandwiches because vaguely depressed and comfort food sounds really good right now? Decide on salad since didn’t go for that run this morning.

12:40 Finish salad and eat a piece of bread and cheese anyway.

12:47 Eat a square of chocolate. Eat a second.

12:55 Go back to blank word document.

13:00 Go out for a walk before that rain cloud that’s hovering to the south gets any closer.

13:10 Happen upon neighbor also out for walk. Feel awkward and embarrassed about standing 6 feet apart to converse.

13:20 Decide that intended short walk will be much longer. Feels so good to be out of the house.

14:08 Starts to rain.

15:00 Return from 7-mile walk, drenched from the rain. It was worth it. So much healthier than sitting in front of the computer.

15:02 Take a hot shower, put on dry clothes, and make a cup of tea and a piece of toast and jam. Start to read The Economist.

16:15 Realize been reading The Economist for an hour. Quickly wash up tea things.

16:17 Remember haven’t returned call from friend on the East Coast. Realize it’s too late again now with the time change.

16:18 Go back to blank word document.

16:19 An idea comes! It’s both sailing and pandemic related!

19:30 Stomach rumbles. Just want to finish this paragraph….

19:35 Can’t ignore stomach any longer. Go make dinner.

19:50 Stir the curry around again in the pot. That’ll make it cook faster.

19:51 Do the same to the rice.

20:05 Finally sit down to dinner.

20:30 Wash up dishes. Hold inner debate about going to bed immediately after eating. Tell self once again that earlier dinner would really be healthier.

20:40 Sit down to read. What to choose? The Tao Te Ching to try and get mindful? Ayn Rand to get riled up about the end of civil liberties around the world? On the Beach for some end-of-the-world prophecy? More covid-19 in The Economist? James Michener’s big ol’ tome Hawaii that’s been on the reading list since moving to the overseas territory (ahem, state)?

20:41 Pick up a murder mystery.

21:30 Bed time!


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Lightning…

…is, for me, one of the most fearful things at sea. Your boat’s mast essentially acts as a lightning rod, being the tallest thing for hundreds of miles. Not much fun to contemplate in an electrical storm.

squalls in the ITCZ

Squalls in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (around the equator)

Of course, all prudent sailors ground their masts so that any potential strike will go down the mast and safely out into the ocean, typically via the keel. If you don’t ground your mast, that electrical current will find the fastest way to water, which can be through the hull at waterline…. You can figure out what happens next. Even with a grounded mast, though, lightning strikes are still terrifying. A friend of my family had her boat struck twice – fortunately at anchor with no one aboard – and the damage was significant, especially to the electronic equipment, all of which was destroyed.

Ominous, leaden sky before lightning storm

Ominous, leaden sky heralding the worst lightning storm I’ve ever encountered

As a child, I kind of enjoyed thunderstorms – seen from a safe distance and from behind the windows of a snug house. As soon as I started sailing offshore, though, I started hating thunderstorms. I’ve been lucky so far, but a couple close calls have given me a healthy fear of anvil clouds and the lightning they bring. My next installment (online here) in my “Toughest Passages” series for Ocean Navigator magazine recounts these episodes.

 


Celebrating offshore sailing: CCA awards

Here is a great article about this year’s Cruising Club of America awards.

Home

I already mentioned Jean-Luc Van Den Heede‘s incredible achievements in an earlier post, but I thought my readers would also enjoy hearing about the other awardees. The French solo sailor Guirec Soudée is the winner of this year’s Young Voyager Award, and the Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy this year is being awarded to another young sailor, the 32-year-old Irish singlehander Gregor McGuckin, Van Den Heede’s fellow competitor in the 2018 Golden Globe Race. You can read all about these amazing sailors in the article I linked to above. They’re soon to converge on New York for the awards dinner – I wish I could be there too this year to honor all of them! Congratulations! 🙂


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Congratulations, Jean-Luc! 2019 Blue Water Medal goes to French offshore racer Jean-Luc Van Den Heede

I thought my readers might enjoy the press release about the remarkable sailing achievements of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, this year’s recipient of the Cruising Club of America’s highest honor, the Blue Water Medal. (I ghost-wrote the release 😉)


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Cover girl Celeste

Flying Fish 2019 coverToday when I opened my post box, what did I see but lovely CELESTE on another cover! In the photo she’s rollicking along before a strong northwest wind en route to San Francisco from Cape Flattery, Washington a few years ago. Flying Fish, the biannual journal of the Ocean Cruising Club, also ran my story of the passage, including many more photographs that didn’t make it into the first version of the story, which ran in Ocean Navigator magazine. Here’s the cover (above) and some of these new/extra photos:

Plus one of my favorites, that I got from the 7-foot rowing dinghy on a windy day in Southeast Alaska:

Sailing past waterfall


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Beating Winter Blues

PY Feature_Dec2018About a year ago, my article “12 Liveaboard Tips to Beat the Winter Woes” came out in Pacific Yachting magazine, and now it’s up on their website here, just in time for winter again. Hope you enjoy it, especially while staying snug and warm ashore somewhere! 😉


Worst Weather Challenges and other stories

ON201911

Recently, I’ve been writing a series of features for Ocean Navigator magazine. My series covers the toughest passages in my 50,000 miles of offshore sailing and it’s been a fun way to look back on many years of voyaging.

The first part of the series came out in the September/October edition of the magazine and is up online as well: Worst Weather Challenges. The second one is out in print in the current issue and covers our worst underway breakages. It also just came out online: Worst Breakdowns.

This current Ocean Navigator edition also has another piece I wrote, about a fascinating historical reconstruction going on in Maine – of the colonial ship Virginia, the first English ship built in North America. Last but not least, one of our photos is the cover image for the issue! (See left.) The catamaran pictured is the sleek and fast 57-foot Gunboat Vandal whose crew we met in 2018 in the South Pacific on their way to New Zealand.


Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum article online

Celeste leaving the Alaska Peninsula for Kodiak Island

Sailing in Shelikof Strait, Alaska

My Cruising World magazine article that I mentioned in the last post is now online. You can read it here and I hope you enjoy it! Thanks again to all the sailors who contributed!

https://www.cruisingworld.com/how-to-get-mail-at-sea/

 


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The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum and other stories

Celeste in Kenai Fjords

When it arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago, I was excited to see that the most recent issue of Cruising World magazine features an article I wrote after surveying a bunch of fellow sailors: The Sea Gypsy’s Conundrum. One of the big organizational hassles for offshore sailors is what to do about a permanent address and about receiving mail while voyaging.

01 Post Office boxes

Mail is actually the easier half of this equation, as much of it can be dealt with online nowadays, but the permanent address issue – required for tax filing, applications for foreign visas, and renewals of passports, bank cards, driver’s licenses, even boat documentation – is a little harder. So I sent out my survey questions to a bunch of sailors and got about two dozen responses, all of them informative and interesting. A big thank you to all of you who contributed! Continue reading