Oh hai, Liebster Award!

Presented to me by Bigdumboat and cheerfully Accepted!

 

liebsta

 

I was asked to answer the following ten questions sent by Bigdumboat, who gifted me with the honor. In turn, I have nominated a few more blog/websites that are well worth visiting.

 

1.Introduce yourselves and the boat you are sailing.

Kate, wife, Fabio, husband, Beta, feline companion animal, live aboard a Columbia 29 designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built in Portsmouth, VA in 1965. We are sailing and living aboard when not busy dealing with bureaucracy and other land amenities (sigh!).

2.What’s the length, the draft, the width?

Her Lenght Overall is 28.5 ft, the draft is 4.5ft and the width (or beam) is 8ft.

3.What was it before? (Translation: What was its original purpose or function?)

She was a sloop once. I guess she was built as a family cruiser for the middle class. In the 60′ it was possible to sell a 29 ft. that sleeps six… People must have been very short back then… A previous owner had the brilliant idea to modify the rig and transform her in a cutter (with two headsails instead of the single headsail of the sloop rig) with strong rigging. That gives her a more bluewater character which was what we were looking for.

4.Did you have it built? (Challenge: make sense of this fuzzy question.)

I often dream about having somebody build a boat to my specifications. It’s still a dream.

5.What made you decide to live this lifestyle?

I was living and working aboard boats and I encountered crazy and happy people doing the same with the difference they were not actually working. I contracted the disease. Now I am doomed. I passed the disease to Kate. Now she is doomed. The disease does not spread to felines but Beta travels with us. So he is doomed.

6.What is your boat’s name and why is she called what she is?

The boat name is Tranquility. It came with the boat. I don’t know why she was called so but I love the name, and I think that is her true spirit (see question number 9). The only problem it is damned long, so every now and then we think about changing it into a short one.

7.Is there anything you really miss by living aboard a boat?

Municipal drinking water systems for Kate, a big book collection for Fabio. We don’t know about Beta.

8.What’cha got for power?

We have an electric inboard engine. Our range is very limited and so it’s the power, which makes for very tricky coastal cruising. It allows for manouvering in ports and approaching and leaving moorings. The rest is sail power anytime anywhere. What if there’s no wind? We don’t move. The more we sail the more the battery bank recharges itself.

9.How fast does it go?

We do 6.5 knots under sail in the best conditions. Under power… forget about it. A Tranquil mean of transportation.

10.Can I have a tour? (Translation: Can I come aboard and snoop?)

Sure! Watch your head…

 

Here the Cruisers/Travelers sites I nominate for the Liebster Award:

 

A journey for Driftwood : Three young men circumnavigating the globe, conquering themselves and the world

Ocean Partisan : refitting a 23ft yacht for sea

Uneven Tread : dreamer, climber, photographer

HIR 3 : Sailor from Croatia with circumnavigation project

Katie and Jessie on a Boat:aboard lovely louise

Plankton Every Day : citizen science and untethered living

Astrolabe Sailing : sailing, yachts, adventures and sailing around the world

Sundown Sailing Adventures : a chronicle of sailing journey and other adventures

Small World Big Dream : Kraigle prepares to sail

Questions for our Liebster Nominees:

 

Your task is to answer the following questions. Due to the different experience of the blogs nominated I tried to make some open question. Feel free to modify and adapt them to our story.  Have fun!

 

01. Where are you now? What did take you there?

02. What is home for you? where do you feel home?

03. Did you meet people like you? Do you feel you belong to a community?

04. What do you always carry with you?

05 What’s the thing you left behind that made you feel more free?

06. How your life would change if you can buy whatever you want?

07. What’s your favorite medium of expression?

08. What would make a huge difference for you now?ù

09. The time you thought you couldn’t make it

10. What keeps you going?

———

If you like any of the question that Bigdumboat asked me feel free to add or swap them.

An improbable playwright

         “Writing is a fine thing, because it combines the two pleasures of talking to yourself and talking to a crowd.”

Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living (1935-1950)

 

Writing the play in Old City Hall, Brunswick GA
Writing the play in Old City Hall, Brunswick GA

The last time I wrote a theatrical play I was a student, probably ten or more years ago. Nonetheless when I saw the opportunity to do it again I responded promptly even if this time I had to write it in a second language and a third language too (I wrote few lines in Spanish). This invitation was conformed to my umpteenth and most recent re-statement “I have to write more”.

24 Hour Play is an event that took place last Saturday in Brunswick, GA when six writers, six directors, and a bunch of actors gathered with only 24 hours to write, direct, rehearse and stage 6×10-minute plays, and with the mission to make it happen. I did my part writing “Wanderers”  from 10 pm to 4 am. Writers were given very few rules and a lot was left to pure imagination. Kate also participated acting in one the six plays, called Noir-esque, and showing a great talent on stage. You never stop learning from your partner.

Theater is magic. I have very few stage related experience but every time it is a great emotion and a personal success that I can’t explain. There is a chemical process that happens all the way from the script, to the production, the direction and the acting. In every passage things are refined and polished.

The first time I experienced this process we were a bunch of youngsters randomly assorted to set up a show with only one prompt: the main theme had to be “Black&White”. It was an event organized in a dormient neighborhood city of the Greater Milan. The event featured a B&W photo exhibit, African percussion and choir concert and, of course, theatrical performance. I had no previous experience in theatre thus I was nominated as producer, writer and actor. We couldn’t find many volounteers so somebody had to cover multiple roles. We gathered as many experienced actors as possible and they really taught everything to novices like me. The result was a show of four plays divided in two acts that was very successful.

I witnessed this thing happening again during the 24 Hour Plays. My script mutated through this process as better lines for memorization (and sense!), new ideas on how to set the story and new stage elements appeared along the way. These mutations bred a hybrid that really pleased my senses and understanding. I have to thank the director Megan Desrosiers, and the team of actors Itzel Fernandez, MacKay Hall, Bill Piper, Elliot Walsh who transformed my script in a living creature. I also have to thank Lulu Williamson, Evy Wright and Emmi Shepard Doucette for the big job of making all this happen. I would do it again tomorrow!

Sailing Tranquility

“I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirit.”  

Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way

Sometime during long night hours of boat porn on the internet, I feel my interest leaning toward very small craft and crazy long trips. The closer to the water and the narrower the boat, the better. Light displacement, few control lines, and just the ocean. During daydreaming the discomfort of cramped quarters and little equipment it’s not a real thing, I can just focus on the fun part. It’s such a strong dream that I don’t think about anything else and sometimes I find myself spaced out trying to understand what I was trying to do. No, unfortunately it doesn’t happen only when I am sanding.

Right now I feel like I am in a big calm ocean, but I am actually on land. Duties and bureacratic burdens are forcing me to a prolonged stop from sailing, and they call back my focus to proper life challenges, instead of ocean dreamin’. The calm undermine my spirit but calms give people the opportunity to fix things and get their shit together. There’s no time for that in a gale, when you have to run and fight and stay afloat and hope that things don’t fall apart. How to navigate in calms is probably a work of art: better stay calm in a calm but it’s better stay calm in a storm too. That’s why Tranquility is a perfect name for our boat even if Kate and I think about changing it sometimes as she went through too many plastic and structural surgery.

Well, she still is a tranquil old lady, she knows the ocean and what it takes to cross perilous time. In fact according to the legend in 1991 she survived Hurrican Hugo in St.Croix, she was beached, holed but she came back to life. I am somehow beached (luckily not holed) and I am looking forward to a similar destiny of redemption. Chop wood, carry water.

A tough adventure: Race to Alaska

Just recently I bumped into a boating event that really aroused my imagination and fantasy. It’s a long (750 nm) proving course for self-reliant, un-assisted boats. There are very few rules and the most important one is no engine onboard. You can sail, row, or paddle your boat in 50 degrees waters in one of the most difficult and beautidul scenario on earth.

The R2AK ( Race to Alaska ) is possibly one of the toughest races ever. The organizer is Northwest Maritime Center, “a 501c-3 non-profit committed to engaging people in the waters of our world in a spirit of adventure and discovery“. The spirit of adventure must be high in order to participate to this event. The possible dangers range from low water and air temperature, wildlife  encounters (bears and killer whales), squalls, strong tidal streams and marine traffic.

The modest prize for the winner (10k USD) will keep the stardom of professionals boaters with expensive gear/requirements out of the competition. The sum it’s still some interesting money so will attract a lot of DIY boaters and dreamers with small modern and traditional crafts. This could be dangerous as the money prize may push unexperienced and unfit people to try something out of their skills. To avoid that, the organizers divided the race in two parts: the first qualifier leg from Port Townsed, WA to Victoria, BC will offer a callenging 40 nautical miles open water crossing in the reach of rescue squads; entrants who qualify for this stretch are admitted to the full race which is 710nm from Victoria BC to Ketchikan, AK and where you will be on your own.

For this second leg there is not a predetermined course. The only two obligatory waypoint are Seymour Narrows (a treacherous channel famous for strong turbulent tidal currents) and Bella Bella. The participants choose their route, which can be in the open ocean or following the Inside Passage, so the strategy and the type of boat will be the key factors.

During the summer the prevailing winds blow from the NW, on the nose, but generally light and variable when storms and rain come from the SW. Offshore the southern branch of the North Pacific Current (California Current) is unfavorable until boats reach half of the course and encounter the favorable north branch, Alaska Current, but in order to take advantage of oceanic currents boats would have to sail far from land.  On the Inside Passage route entrants have to face strong tidal currents, rivers and any kind of coastal hazard, and possibly have to cover a bigger distance.

Under this unpredictable and generally adverse conditions the organizers are expecting a minimum of 3 weeks for the first boat to reach Ketchikan in Alaska. Around that time a “Sweep boat”will leave Port Townsend and covering 75 miles per day, will disqualify each participant reached, offering a tow and assistance. If their estimation is correct it means that the winner will move at an average speed of 1,5kts. This estimation include possible layover time for rest/provisioning, which is not forbidden unless the help is prearrenged by a team. Entrants could land and find assistance, repair the boat, camp and hunt/fish along the way (beware of Grizzlies!), or book a night in a hotel, provided it’s not pre-arranged.

Endurance is going to be the vital skill to win. The boat who can achieve steady progress in the variable conditions of the race has the best chances of victory. This mean the boat shouldn’t stop overnight keeping a crew member on watch all the time. Constant but little progress will pay in the long term and to do so boats need a crew of at least tw0, a shelter for cooking and resting, and enough storage capability to carry water and food for the entire race. You look for maximum light air performance if you sail, and the ability to propel the boat without an engine in adverse wind conditions (tide stronger than wind).

This is what makes the Race to Alaska so exciting. Beside the extreme weather conditions and the challenging course what really triggers my interest is the fact that so many different boats will compete. I am sure that will push people to invent some new boat designs and build interesting hybrids, using classic boats that where designed when engines were not an option. It’s not even 150 years since the first engine was installed on a boat, and humans have been sailed all over the planet for thousands of years without one.

So which boat will be the winner of the first Race to Alaska? No one knows, the course conditions are unpredictable and for sure we are going to see many different crafts on the starting line. Here I enjoyed playing and I imagined different boats types compete for the first place:

1. Sailing trimaran

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Trimarans have a very good overall sailing speed, they can be fast in light airs, but difficult to paddle/row and subjected to drifting in non favourable wind condition.

 2. Sailing Tri-canoe

canoepage17full.jpg

This concept is becoming pretty popular among camping/cruisers for the wide range of uses in different conditions. Shallow draft, light air performance and paddles. Beside some series production most are custom built assembling different crafts. The double handed designs are usually very light and with minimum space for provisions and gear, but it’s not impossible to customize or even build a more heavy duty version to fit this race.

 3. Yawl-canoe and dories

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There are a lot of classic canoe/skiff/dory designs that can be sailed and rowed, and can accomodate two people plus gear for a non-stop trip. Traditional working crafts are epitomes of seaworthiness. For sure we are going to see a lot of them at the starting line.

4. Kayak? (Freya Hoffmeister will think this race is a piece of cake for what she has done so far)

20.-Packing-the-long-awaited-custom-Epic

Slower but virtually unstoppable, with daily average of 30-50 miles per day can make it a possible winner if sailing crafts encounter adverse conditions. a bigger tandem kayak would allow for overnight sleeping altough not a comfortable one.

5. Viking longship?

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Big crew, shelter (and shields!), it can be sailed and rowed. Bear coats foulweather gear included

6.Row boat/canoe?

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As for kayakers these crafts may be slower but virtually unstoppable. Designs offer lightweight boats with shelters and a potential big crew. I wonder what might be the best balance between crew number/overall weight.

7. Traditional First Nations Canoes

canoe_costume_kwakiutl.jpg

First Nations of British Columbia Coast have been invited by the oganizers. Hopefully they didn’t forget their traditions and should still have the knowledg of the race course and the necessary skills to survive and complete the race.

 8. Mod70 Oman Trimaran

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Probably the fastest racing boat on earth (ocean), even in rough conditions. In 24hrs of favourable winds she  can cover more than half the total distance. We won’t see this boat on the starting line, but a fast performance bluewater sailboat can really be competitive in this race taking the outside route and hoping for the best.