Monday, July 10, 2017

Entropy and My Own Space Station

7 July 2017

The chaos of loading Daphne.
To see were I am:

Also to read the story that I wrote for Popular Mechanics about flying to Houston last year:

if the link doesn't work, copy and paste:

I am now on Day 4, having sailed two days, and done boat projects the other two.  I am trying to get Downeast, but going faster would sacrifice a certain style.  I’ve spent too many days of my life feeling like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  While my schedule and tendency to cram things in dictate that I still must do a bit of this, now that I’ve put to sea, I am slowing down, in that I’m taking the time to do things in the spirit of preserving a certain style. 

I am currently at anchor is Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island, a two day sail from Rockport Harbor, where Daphne is splashed each year.  I got here last night and am seeing friends not seen in years, later this afternoon.  Finally I have cleaned and waxed the topsides and the top strip of the hull.  This, having thus far being neglected in favor of getting Daphne in the water, has been weighing on me, as I do not like to neglect anything on this ship that takes such good care of me.  My other “layover” day was of the same ilk (at Pulpit Harbor, North Haven), but entailed lots of little projects needed to get fully ready for three weeks on the coast.  Connecting the single side band radio wire, securing the solar panel wire, checking knots, inventorying the cotter pins, and various other organizational tasks.  Thanks to all that, the girl is looking sharp!

Finally in the water and floating!

The other day, I marveled at what a different life it is out here on Daphne.  I slide right into the routines and the rhythms and how different it is than my teaching life during the school year.  But I love this little ship more than I can express.  When aboard, it’s as though I’ve dropped myself into a world that’s ever stimulating.  I think it is endless.  There is the mechanical diesel engine, the plumbing of the water tanks, the electrical system, the VHF and HF radios, the weather systems, the geometry/physics of navigation and sailing, the spiritual connection to the world around me...It is endless.  And so on days where I’m stay put to see friends or to avoid certain weather, or just to keep up my style, I’m happy as a clam.  There is an urge to explore the land around me, but there is often a stronger urge to master my craft, the art of being a sailor.  I have my little spaceship, and for certain, it’s the spaceship and the journey that are the important things.  And what a spaceship and journey! 

Waterproof VHF radio in my chest pocket, PLB
(Personal Locator Beacon) strapped to my shoulder strap.
40 nautical miles yesterday and my $40/month pre-paid iPhone account won’t give me data anymore.  So I’m without email, but it still feels like a luxury to be able to make calls and send text messages.  For the weather, I’ll have to switch on the VHF radio and listen to the computer recording of the weather broadcast, eventually working its way to the marine forecasts, eventually then working its way to the section of the coast that I’m on.  No more maps that show the radar returns, I’ll just have to look to where the wind is coming from to gauge my chances of rain.  Heading east and heading back in time!  Eventually my phone might not work anymore and so I’ll try to make contact with my HF radio. 

In the fog, crossing Bass Harbor Bar.
I’ve been aware of Entropy for some reason this trip.  Entropy in that chaos is always growing.  Daphne is a ship that I care for, and in most cases, she is not getting younger.  A careless move can cause damage, to her and I, both of which could be disastrous, never to be the same again.  We’re both breaking down on a slow decline.  We can reduce the geometric slope of the line, but in the long term, we’re both going down hill.  But while that’s happening to the physical beings, my mind is on the upswing.  Twenty years ago, I remember thinking, I don’t mind getting older because 20 years from now, I’ll know a lot and have done some interesting things!  And so as the body gets older, the mind learns new things (and certainly forgets some too, but hopefully I’ll remember the important things.)  What Daphne and I lose in physical strength and flexibility, we gain in experiences, memories, skills and capabilities.  Ships are made for the sea, so we must accept all that comes with it. 

So when it gets down to it, I’ll make some notes, listen to the weather forecast, play a bit on my plastic ukulele and write in my journal.  Each day is precious, whether sailing Downeast at 7 knots (speed record for yesterday) or just doing some “housekeeping” like the Apollo astronauts would do on their three-day coast to the moon, I’m having a good time and soaking up every minute. 


And it’s kind of like I have my own space program but I am responsible for every aspect of it.  The mission design, vehicle maintenance, weather go/no-go officer, provisioner, tester, debriefer, recorder, chef, navigator, pilot and general astronaut.  It makes me wonder how many astronauts have put to sea by themselves on a small boat…

Pulpit Rock and a sunset over the Camden Hills from Pulpit Harbor, North Haven.

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