We were awakened at four in the morning by a helicopter close overhead shining a search light into the water. Robert got up and looked out the companionway and Spa Creek Bridge was filled with fire engines and ambulances. We thought someone must fallen or jumped into the water. Robert turned on the VHF radio and about 4:20 a.m. we heard the Coast Guard announce that the "person in the water near Spa Creek Bridge" had been assisted. This morning one of the guys at the City Marina told Robert someone had jumped in the water and wouldn't answer his brother who was still on the bridge, so the brother called for help. The person in the water was fine.
Around the Americas
My second day at the boat show began with a film about a voyage around the Americas on a boat called Ocean Watch. The session was led by Cruising World Senior Editor Herb McCormick who used the session to introduce his book "One Island, One Ocean" about the voyage. Ocean Watch's voyage was the first continuous circumnavigation by sail of the American continents, which meant the boat passed through the Northwest Passage so ardently sought by early European explorers, including John Smith who explored the Chesapeake in 1608. It was a feat that could not have been accomplished then or even a couple of decades ago because polar ice extended too far south. But that ice is melting. They made the passage from west to east starting in Seattle, Wash. They also went around Cape Horn from east to west, in the direction that should have been against the prevailing winds. But the ocean gods smiled on them and gave them an easterly.
It was an epic voyage by already storied sailors made possible by Sailors for the Sea, founded by David Treadway and David Rockefeller Jr. The vessel was a 64-foot steel cutter. The core crew: photographer David Thoreson, first mate Dave Logan, writer Herb McCormick, skipper Mark Schrader and oceanographer Michael Reynolds. Sailor's for the Sea's mission hopes to convert sailors and other recreational boaters into stewards of the ocean and coastal waters, Rockefeller said in the introduction to "One Island, One Ocean." The Ocean Watch voyage furthered that goal by documenting the need for conservation and through taking advantage of opportunities to provide education, especially to young people, along the way.
One story from the voyage gave a telling insight into the consequences of melting ice. Ocean Watch was asked to deliver supplies to ornithologist George Divoky on Cooper Island, a tiny barrier island in the Beaufort Sea. McCormick and two other members of the crew went ashore for a visit. For 33 years, Divoky has spent each summer on Cooper studying guillemots (a species of seabird in the auk family, not members of a British rock band). From 1999 until 2002, Divoky told the Ocean Watch crew, he saw one polar bear on the island. Since 2002, they've been there every year.
"And last year, they were here every day for my last week on the island, a different bear every day," he said. The bears are starving because the seals on which they fed have disappeared along with the pack ice that Divoky could see from Cooper Island for most of the first 30 years he spent his summers there. The polar bears are coming to Cooper Island in search of food - and that would be the guillemots Divoky studies.
"I mean, people ask me if I believe in climate change," Divoky told McCormick. "And I say, 'No, but I believe in polar bears.' When I see a polar bear, I know that's a polar bear. But I also know I was out here for so long, and I didn't see polar bears. So, you now, something's going on."
The saddest images from the film and in "One Island, One Ocean" were of Peruvian beaches littered with trash and dead wildlife, apparently killed by the garbage, which was dumped off shore by incoming freighters to avoid paying the established fees to offload ashore, McCormick wrote.
When the film was over, I asked McCormick if they had done any research on how fast climate change was happening and whether there was anything we could do to change it, he said that's a really big question, telling me what I already should have known - such a question has no quick answer that could be given in the three minutes before the next presentation was scheduled to start.
Then he nailed it.
There are 8 billion people on the planet, he said.
"That's the thing nobody wants to talk about. There are too many damn people on this planet. Nobody wants to talk about it for a lot of different reasons.... We've got to figure that one out."
One Island, One Ocean
Around the Americas on You Tube
Herb McCormick blog
David Thoreson blog
A writing lesson
After McCormick's presentation, I stayed to hear Lin and Larry Pardey again. This time they were talking about adding to your cruising fund with writing and photos. Lin told this story about how she became a writer and about her one and only writing lesson. She and Larry were in Panama and she happened to read a magazine article that made her mad. It said people needed big boats to cruise, but that a few Spartan souls were cruising on 30-foot boats. She and Larry had been cruising on 24-foot Seraffyn for two years. She wrote a blistering letter to the editor saying there were plenty of small boats cruising. Three weeks later got a telegram from New York that said simply, "Prove it. Monk."
That was in the era when you only got telegrams when somebody died, she said. They didn't know anybody in New York and for a while they couldn't figure out what on earth the telegram was about. Finally, they realized it was from the magazine editor. With encouragement from Larry, she set about writing an article that would prove it. They were having dinner one night with a friend whose wife was the South American bureau chief for UPI. Sometime during the gathering, Larry said his wife was going to be a writer. The woman asked Lin if she'd like a private writing lesson. Lin said yes and went to visit the woman the next day. The woman sat her down with some paper and told her to write a story from the dinner the night before. An hour later, the woman came back and asked Lin to show her the story. She didn't read it, she just told Lin to go back and cut half of it out.
When she came back the next time, she asked Lin to show her the story. Then she told her she'd just learned the two most important lessons about writing. First, there's a story in everything, it's up to you to find it. Second, your words aren't precious, you can get rid of half of them. (I hear echoes from a previous lifetime...)
It was a great way to start a session filled with great information about writing better articles, taking better pictures and selling them to sailing magazines, by a couple who've written 11 books, in addition to the magazine articles, videos and DVDs they've produced.
Lin and Larry Pardey's books
...And a sailing lesson
I went from ways to make money to ways to get rid of a fair chunk of it. Don Street's session on offshore preparations reminded me of our need for a passive way to generate power - he's not much of one for running engines or generators.
He recommends at least two sea trials in 25 to 30 knot winds to test the integrity of the boat's rigging. We try really hard to avoid 25 to 30 knot winds. Seeking them out will require a whole new mindset.
Some of his recommendations went right over my head because I don't have enough experience, but some I think I understood:
*Take a good look at the boat's pumping capacity - 10 gallons a minute is not enough.
*Put a T-valve or a Y-valve on your engine's saltwater intake and run a hose into the bilge. If you get swamped and the pumps can't keep up, let the engine suck water from the bilge.
*Make sure your steering cables are not worn and that you have replacements and know how to install them.
*Install your emergency tiller and go out and sail dead downwind and see if you can steer with it. If not, go back to the drawing board.
*If you lose your rudder you should be able to get the boat into a harbor by using a drogue to steer or if sailing wing-on-wing, sheet a staysail dead downwind and the boat will wander 20 degrees or so, but will steer.
*Check your rigging very carefully and have a rigger go over it.
*If you have a sloop rig, have a removable staysail, don't depend on reducing the size of the roller-furling jib in heavy winds. The reduced jib is located too far forward and can cause the boat to be blown sideways when it comes out of a trough. A good proper double reefed main and a staysail will handle most blows.
*A heavy weather staysail sheet should be twice the length you need and looped through the sail's clew instead of tied on with a knot. Knots will hold if tied properly, but often aren't.
*A storm trysail track should always be on the port side of the mast.
*Make sure you have a preventer on your boom. He explained how to rig one, but I'm afraid he lost me. Robert explained to me how to do it later.
It's hard not to like a guy with Don Street's sense of humor even if he does make you feel out-of-your-league and not very bright to boot. I expect it might help if I read his books "The Ocean Sailing Yacht, vol.1" and "The Ocean Sailing Yacht, vol. 2" which he recommended with the caveat that new materials and technology have come online since they were published in the 1970s. They're out of print, but still available on Amazon. There may be new stuff out there, but in my limited experience (see blog entries on the shallop "Explorer") Don Street was right when he said there's nothing in yachting you can invent, it's all been invented.
The Ocean Sailing Yacht
Don Street's blog
A dingy traffic jam
I spent the remainder of my time at the show picking up LED lights and cleaning solution per Robert's orders. Then I sat on the dock waiting to be picked up and watched the dingy shuffle for a while.
We tried to go to a fundraiser where Lin and Larry Pardey were giving a slide presentation at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, but it was delayed because of the boat show and we wanted to get an early start for St. Michaels on Monday, so we went back to the boat. We were starving, so Robert made quesadillas and black beans. Yum. Then we walked downtown to get some eggs at the CVS, but they were sold out. That's OK. I love walking in Annapolis.