Blessed Lady

This is the cruising blog of the sailing yacht Mabrouka. The Favorites in the side bar allow those with discriminating taste to filter for just the stuff you want to read. Thanks for visiting, Roy.

13 September 2015
21 August 2015
21 August 2015
20 June 2015 | Marina Mazatlan, Mazatlan, Mexico
15 June 2015 | Marina Mazatlan, Mazatlan, Mexico
15 June 2015 | Marina Mazatlan, Mazatlan, Mexico
15 June 2015 | Mazatlan Marina, Mazatlan Mexico
13 April 2015 | Off Club Nautico, Mazatlan Commercial Harbor, Mazatlan, MX
15 February 2015 | Marina Mazatlan, Mazatlan, Mexico
13 February 2015 | Marina Mazatlan, Mazatlan, Mexico
25 January 2015
06 January 2015 | Mazatlan, MX
24 December 2014 | Marina Mazatlan, Mazatlan, Mexico
24 December 2014 | Mazatlan, MX
22 December 2014
21 December 2014
18 December 2014 | Playa Isla de la Piedra, Mazatlan, MX
18 December 2014 | Mazatlan, MX
15 December 2014 | Ensenada des los Muertos, Mexico

Wings of Morpheus

25 January 2015
Wings of Morpheus
Dream-borne images
Rise out of humid sheets
To fly the crystal evening
I became the night sky
With hair dark streamers behind
And star-glimmered eyes
My delight a silken whisper
Put goosebumps on the wind
Miles were mere nothings
Mountains stepping stones
Then, awakening
I settled, earthbound
Exuberant breathing
Quieted back to rhythm
Searching again for sleep
And the wings of Morpheus

Night Passage

22 December 2014
Roy / Dark and clear-skied
Night passage
Night has swept the sky away
Horizon blazed itself to death
O'erarching is the gone of day
New moon is climbing to the west

Her masts sway through the dark above
And scrape across the Milky Way
My Blessed Lady, one true love
Upon the sea in nighttime play

The stars fall at her foaming bow
To sparkle in the roil and churn
And dancing port and starboard now
They pirouette around her stern

It's dark ahead and dark abaft
But shooting in from far abeam
A porpoise carves a shining path
An arcing spear of glowing green

We hear its breath blow out, gasp in
And then a playful jump and splash
It rolls its eyes and slyly grins
Then giggles at our ocean dash

Hours pass astern in softened swells
They drift away in rolling wake
The stories of the night to tell
Another day is on the make

Then rising from the golden east
A blazing sun has shown its face
Mabrouka, blessed lady beast
Is charging in a joyous pace

Toward who can answer where or when
But when we get there we will know
To stay awhile and then and then
Depart together on we go

On the Sea of No Regrets

21 December 2014
Roy / Dark and clear-skied
Moonrise on the Sea of No RegretsStrange bay, strange country
Skies overhead wheel into night
Stark lights ashore soften on the bay
Rippling to shadows as they approach
What has brought us here
Pushed by the life behind
Drawn by the void ahead
I vision long nights at sea
Masts scraping stars from the sky
Their shards falling in showers
To light foaming waves at our bow
And trail sparkling green in our wake
Long days under the sun's unflagging gaze
As eastern mornings glow anew
As western skylines are set on fire
Lost loves behind me, new ahead
One or many is a mystery
For now aqua waters reflecting blue sky
Framed under bending palms
Clasped in arcs of white sand
Remain inspiration enough
Postcard destinations along the way
But for a sailor it's the journey
In that lies the true promise
Pudding in the pie
I set sail tomorrow in hope
That my random course is set
For that someone I dare not dream of
On the sea of no regrets

Technology versus survival

27 May 2014 | Lee's Landing Marina, Freemont, WA
Roy / Cool and a little grey
From the cover of Ayn Rand's The FountainheadWill technology be the death or the savior of the human race? Does its cultivation encourage the dichotomous gains in wealth that so few are enjoying at the expense of the many? Is it the expression of some factor in the human genome that effectively relates us more closely to viruses than to the great apes?

I have often struggled with the contradiction that lies within a probable future where we humans will be so successful at individual survival that we are likely to kill ourselves en masse by starving and polluting our planet. If the news seems finally to be taking note of the imbalance of wealth in America, will it become increasingly apparent that a similar imbalance grows between the rich and the poor nations of the world? Many apocalyptic future scenarios envision the two factors reinforcing one another with the relatively few rich living long, healthy lives that are fed off the labors of the many, plague-ridden masses. I do, indeed, fear that our ever-growing ability to extend and improve the lives of the few will come violently up against our inability to feed and care for the many.

Doug is a friend and one time co-worker who, years ago, stoked many a conversation over spaghetti and cheap red wine with his opinion that we ought not try to improve man's condition with such expensive and time consuming endeavors as researching a cure for cancer. He never seemed to be concerned with the possibility that that missing cure might one day save his own life. I always supposed this was because he was a young and robust man who assumed a sense of indestructibility that was inflated even beyond that of the rest of us at our young age. Though I lost touch with Doug long ago, I assume that he still enjoys an impression of temporary immortality similar to mine, but wonder if advancing age has moderated his opinion.

I knew Doug to be a really nice guy who displayed no personality characteristics that I might ever have compared to Hitler or Stalin. I never knew him to espouse racial cleansing, infanticide, or elitism of any sort. Though he exhibited all the hallmarks of intelligence and caring that made me value his friendship, he had what I can only characterize as a quaint simplicity to his outlook. It makes me smile to think back on the example that he never referred to a rubber spatula by that term. To Doug that common kitchen implement was a "peanut butter jar scraper", a perfectly descriptive term for the device that equipped him to take advantage of every last smidgeon of that goopy resource that was so precious to him as an impoverished bachelor.

Whether Doug chose not to or just failed to see that his opinion could turn against him poses a critical question in the fate of the human race. I believe that we do have the potential within us to eliminate cancer, indeed to extend life to years that were once unimaginable. That I do not believe that our planet has the ability to sustain such success, certainly not for all of us, means we do have to grapple with the result.

My understanding does not extend any further into the relationship between technology and sociology than my own humble thought processes take me. I am, by training, an engineer, so you would expect me to tend toward technological solutions to particular everyday problems. On the other hand, I think I have always related to the world at large in more of a thoughtful, even artistic way. As I look back on my thirty-five year career, I now know that I became a naval architect because it offered a profession where technology strove for a happy marriage between the rigid, mechanical world of a ship's machinery and structure and the immense, but fluid forces of the sea. As a stereotypical Libra, this suits my personality. It satisfies my need to balance the world around me.

So, I ask whether we humans have either the will or even the ability to moderate our success in a moral way? Is it possible for us to share our scientific and medical advances in ways that improve the lives of every human on Earth, not just a rich, elite class while imbuing everyone with self-control that keeps us from over-running the place? We would have to overcome both our own propensity to take advantage of those advances and our fear that others would take advantage of us if we didn't. Ultimately, I think that is the question that faces the human race. We enjoy the innate skill to devise ways to survive, but also suffer from the innate inability to curb the individual survival instinct for the benefit of the race. I believe we must all simultaneously choose to overcome that inability or face up to a future of growing inequality and the eventual anarchy and strife that will result.

A Small Death

13 November 2013 | Lee's Landing Marina, Freemont, WA
Roy / Cool and grey

I had spent the previous hour or so dallying with a couple of painting projects for Merry Maiden, then taken the pleasure of a cruise on my bicycle down the docks of Fishermen's Terminal to survey the fishing boats and pleasure craft. This is a pastime that yachtsmen and yachtswomen the world over have indulged in, probably, since boats first floated. There are few things better to while away a casual hour than to wander a marina to admire the graceful curve of a classic bow or the robust orange-brown glow of a well varnished rail.

The Safari Quest was tied up at the end of the first dock. You may remember her as the adventure cruise ship I'd met while nestled behind Jedediah Island during my respite from the October gales that had hindered my southward passage from Desolation Sound. I rolled down the ramp and out along the narrow float, hoping for a familiar deck hand to chat with, but the Quest was silent with dark, brooding windows that peered from white house sides above her deep blue hull.

As I put my foot down, steadying my bike with one leg, I noticed a brief, dark flutter in the water about 20 yards out. The sky had nothing but grey to lend to the silver ripples on the dark surface, so it was not immediately apparent what had caught my eye. The shape had gone still, but I stared a little more intently, trying to discern the outline of a small branch, its bark darkened by the wet, or maybe the peaks of a tiny polyethylene island rising up from an errant, mostly submerged garbage bag.

But it moved again, as if the supposed flotsam had rolled over to find a new equilibrium and expose a different chunk of underwater shape. As more of it emerged, its silhouette became an animated jumble of black against the bright wavelets that proceeded solemnly down the breeze. I could now see a small, beaked profile and wings that struggled to fly themselves free of the clinging water. If I did not see a frightened eye, I at least imagined it.

Whatever type of bird it was, it never got close enough for me to know it. Something black with, perhaps, a few white under-feathers in its wings. I do know that it attracted the attention of the marina's other avian residents. More than one squealing seagull swooped and circled. The boldest actually plucked its smaller cousin from the water for a moment. Perhaps the load was too great, for the hapless bird was soon dropped back into the drink. I suspect it just proved not to be of the gull's taste, for I have seen them scavenge more unwieldy meals than a blackbird.

If there had been a small skiff nearby, I would have commandeered it for a humanitarian mission. There were none, so I had to content myself with an imagined rescue, scooping the beating, dark body from the cold wet and subduing it with warm hands and whispered shushes until it could be placed on Terra Firma to recover its wits and its life. As it was, I could only watch the drama play itself out, though I prepared a small cheer, a rah-rah-sis-boom-bah to be proclaimed discretely if it succeeded, against hope, to lift itself above the water. Lord knows, it tried. It tried and tried and tried, but I could see it tiring.

A gathering flock of crows took up grandstand perches on the boats and piers overlooking the scene. Several times four, five, six of them would swoop and swirl above the doomed bird, cawing their own raucous cheers. Perhaps the victim was one of their own and they were shouting encouragement, "You can do it! Try harder! Don't give up!" I don't think so, though. Are crows cruel enough to laugh at a foolish bird that tries to swim? Perhaps that's why they call it a "murder" of crows.

In the end, there was no one either to rescue or to dine upon the dark, fluttering morsel of life. I stood helplessly and watched while, over just a few minutes, the struggle became more and more abbreviated. Finally, the angular shadows that had tried so hard to free themselves settled to become indiscernible from the rippled surface.

Stirring myself, I pedaled thoughtfully away to continue my dock tour. Occasionally throughout the day this small drama of death has replayed itself in my mind. It seems funny, in a world where our television screens are splattered nightly with human blood, where our news is punctuated from greeting to sign-off with war and terrorism and murder, that I should be bothered to write about a tiny being smaller than my hand and its losing battle against the clutches of a body of water that had played its heartless role with neither malice nor pity.

Perhaps it was the elemental character of an event that occurs countless times in every second of every day that caught my eye. I think that, for each of us, in the end of ends, we face this same struggle while fellow mortals may swoop and caw, cheer and encourage, watch and mourn. Whether or not we believe that we are only our bodies or that we come from or go to some greater place than this life, we will each one day flutter against inevitability, fighting to exhaustion with wings of desperation to free ourselves from cold, wet, death. But in the end we can only relax, finally, to be hidden beneath the grey and silver surface of eternity.

I don't trust anyone's version of death, much less the characterization I offer here. The definition changes with time and circumstance. This particular one was more stark than sad. It was only a fact of life. When my time comes, it will be a fact beyond which I, for one, will only know what I alone then know. That's life.

Fallen Soldier

09 September 2013 | Written on Princess Louisa Inlet, Canada
Whatever your imagination paints in
The brooding cliffs above

What might have been millennia of quiet days and nights for Princess Louisa Inlet are blanketed by the incessant conversation of Chatterbox Falls. We were only the most recent of yachtsmen to make the pilgrimage to this coliseum of beauty to be lulled into serenity by the constant murmur of the rushing waters.

At first we just heard a great crack above the falling waters’ sound, ...a sharp report that had no apparent source. It ricocheted off the nearer walls, then repeated itself further and further down the Inlet. As the initial rifle-shot sounds echoed themselves to sleep, a growing growl filled the basin of basalt we were anchored in and we finally looked up to see that a gargantuan slab of stone high up the cliffs had shifted downward, teetering on its heel as jagged shards the size of apartment complexes rushed to get out of its way.

Beginning in a slow rotation outward, the grey behemoth lost its grip on the mountain and added a downward slide in giving up its millennial fight against gravity and erosion. The evergreen forest grappling up the jagged ramparts of the mountain’s fortified face trembled in victory as stalactites of dripping stone wept for the loss. One of the great warriors was falling to its doom.

Time caught up with the glacial pace of the first few seconds and thousands of tons of crystalized earth began to scream down through the wooded walls above the bay. The main body of rock, though, did not bounce down the cliff, it ripped its way. Tall cedars were scattered in a cataclysm of green and brown, exploding outward whole and in huge toothpick splinters. The fallen soldier’s dive into the water was led by thousands of boulders, collateral damage that splattered the mirrored surface.

A huge wave rose upwards in counter-point as the warrior stone drove downward, building continuously as the rock tumbled to its silent sleep. It was a great green knight wearing foaming white plumes that charged through the anchorage with a battalion of foot soldiers in flanking maneuver, lifting up 40 foot yachts and shaking them at the ends of their anchor rodes. On the lucky boats the lines parted and they simple rode up and over, but my Mabrouka had 120 heavy feet of 3/8 inch triple-B galvanized chain and a 60 pound plow anchor set firmly into the rocky bottom that gave up the fight less easily than the laminated mahogany and spruce sprit it hung from.

After the waves passed and Mabrouka settled peacefully on the field of battle, the sprit’s shattered structure hung akimbo from her quivering bow, still threaded to the bulwarks by the unyielding chain. The wave, like that first great sound we’d heard, eventually quieted itself against the granite shores around us and the water resumed it’s silent, glassy observation of the sky overhead. Yachts gleaming in shiny stainless steel and white fiberglass rolled themselves back to stillness. The ones at the dock on the far side of the bay bumped and jostled against each other and the floats until they, too, came to a disheveled rest.

The space left by the great catastrophe was filled with silence while the pitiful human bystanders tried to absorb nature’s sudden pronouncement on their insignificance. Five thousand sheer feet of cliff, though newly scarred, resumed its watch from high above.
Vessel Name: Mabrouka
Vessel Make/Model: CT-41
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Roy Neyman
Mabrouka and I have been partners in crime since October 1998, hanging about in West Coast waters, first in San Diego, then in Seattle. All of that time we've lived together aboard. [...]
I've called this blog "Blessed Lady" because that's my preferred translation from Arabic for "Mabrouka". She's a 1980 CT-41, one of several clones of the original Bill Garden design Mariner ketches. At 50 feet from the tip of her mizzen boom to the tip of her bow sprit, she's 16 tons of [...]
Mabrouka's Photos - Main
Photos 1 to 10 of 10
On the streets of Freemont
Street art edited.
Elvis the stuffed cat is a memento of my daughters at the age of about 5.  The peace sign was a gift from good friend, Karyn Borcich.  Thanks to both!
This is Swan as I knew him, though in a more rugged environment than we ever shared.  We usually met at the coffee shop or at Voula
This is of Swan as I would also like to have known him, ...cigarettes, cameras and wine.
This is Steve hosting our Elliott Bay Design Group company picnic at his vacation home in Darington.
I never went fishing with Steve, although he let me try out his fly casting rig in the river by his house during one of the company picnics he hosted.  I
The winter slip on Lake Union
Temporary raft up with Molly Bella near my old slip at Stimson Marina
This album shares photos from mainland and Baja Mexico.
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 1 March 2015
The beginning of the South Pacific cruise, heading to San Diego and Mexico
1 Photo | 6 Sub-Albums
Created 15 August 2014
Killing time with local sailing and projects before heading south with the Coho Ho Ho cruiser's rally
56 Photos
Created 29 June 2014
Kathy and Karyn (with a "Y") used me as an excuse for a party. I was just fine with that!
25 Photos
Created 31 May 2014
On Lake Union where Mabrouka and I spent the winter
20 Photos
Created 31 May 2014
Shakedown cruise to Port Townsend
7 Photos
Created 25 May 2014
Gunkholing in the Seattle area, with me and Mabrouka getting our sea legs back under us.
50 Photos | 28 Sub-Albums
Created 14 April 2013
Custom made sailing skiff hand-built by NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, WA
18 Photos
Created 21 March 2013
Pre-retirement cruising pics
27 Photos
Created 21 March 2013
Photos accompanying Projects blogs.
43 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 12 March 2013