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Sacramento, California, United States
so salty pieces of coral from surfing Hawaii in the 60's and 70's getting reef pounded living in my body fall through my skin from time to time!

sailing to Oahu

Jimi Hendrix was playing on Oahu. I had never sailed. Surfed Mexico, California, Hawaii! Aw, how hard could it be to sail 90-110 miles from Kauai to Oahu? Piece of cake, right? Remember it was the 60's! This is so bad. We thought we were looking at Kaiena Point,Ohau, knowing we weren't going to make the concert! But at least we were in site of Oahu-wrong! Coy, who had never sailed before, me,who had never sailed before, jeff and Abbott etc. We were looking at the sleeping giant on Kauai! We had done three-sixty's in the night! We sailed on the only tri-marran I've ever sailed on ( except later ) in my life, missed the concert! It was at the Waikiki Shell Ampitheater ( Moon eclipsed . We finally made Nawilwili Harbor! The Skipper tried to give us his boat saying, " It's trying to kill me"! We watched him go stark raving mad not even realising that had we got caught in the channel current we were on our way to Japan! Remember it was the 60's and we were going to see Hendrix. I left out some of the good stuff but I will make up for it later!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooktown ( why is this blog about captcook?)

My wife, Robin was hired by Ben to sail his new boat to Cooktown, Australia from Cairns, Australia. Not that far and yet you are inside the largest living organism on the face of the Earth! Captain Cook lucked out when he sailed through the" Great Barrier Reef", at "Grafton Passage". Or did he? There is a yes and a no here! There are not many entrances through the reef. He couldn't know that at the time because he was the greatest explorer, mapping, and biological ling ( I made that word up ) and making an undefinable world acceptable to a King and Queen a long way away who were just so excited by an idea that the Earth really wasn't flat and that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe! Well I'm still not sure about that one! So, Captain Cook sailed north like my wife when she delivered. What Captain Cook discovered is that once you are inside the largest living organism on the face of the Earth how does one return to the sea? Well he didn't until later. First he ran aground. His log gave an idea of a location pause......remember..these guys didn't have Greenwich mean time or zed. They were pretty much latitudinal dudes. Omega, Lo ran C, Sat Nav, GPS! Yea right! Screw your sextant also! Without a chronometer you can't realize longitude!! I went to the museum in Cooktown Australia. They found all the stuff Cook had his people through off his vessel so they could limp into a foreign port!!! Cooktown today is still a void! Not a port. Anyway, I love the museum because it's real. They only found the spot on the reef within the last fifty years where, canons, etc were off loaded or death awaited all of them. Cook's log is accessible to anyone with a curious mind. I'm amazed he found Grafton! I sailed into Cairns and had one of the most bizarre experiences through Grafton passage, unique, remind me later, to speak of it! Can you imagine sailing ( remember-no engine) with no chart, inside the Great Barrier Reef? It is rough enough with charts!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Carvings, frogs, Kiwi.s and a skipper-missed

I want to talk with you about a friend of mine, Dave Laurie. He was born in South Africa but was raised by his parents in New Zealand from the age of 14. He thought he was a KIWI. But knowwwww! When he sailed his boat with his wife and children ( who were kiwi's )he found out his parents had never changed his citizenship!! How much fun is it to try and clear customs when your skipper is a South African? I'll tell you. Because the politics ( at the time ) are so fucked up with arpartied and the " Kiwi rugby All Blacks " are dominating the world! And because the frogs ( french people ) had bombed " Rainbow Warrior " in N.Z. And hadn't been brought to court even though they were all caught! Oh hell! I love Dave Laurie and his wife Leslie ( legsly) and son, Andrew, and daughter Amanda. When I begged Dave not to sell " Guinevere " he laid one of the greatest thought/ideas of which I have kept a few! Dave said " Robbie this is not my first boat, which I loved, nor will it be my last boat, which I loved, but all of the boats I was allowed to sail led me to the next boat!" I understood! That's why I sail other people's boats. They are to expensive to maintain. People who own boats work very hard to maintain them. They bring one or two people aboard, share a cocktail and on a clear day swear they will sail to Catalina Island and yet never do. Dave sailed and I sailed with him. He's dead now but I swear to you the carvings that his wife, my friend Leslie, has and was with Dave when he traded for them in the South-South Seas are priceless and I hope she has held on to them. I couldn't believe they kept the master/owner of the vessel aboard at Port Villa, Vanuatu-New Hebrides.Dave was pissed!! I laughed for a month-no two!!!Ha! He was pissed mainly because he was out of cigarettes and figian rope does not cut it! Either does their kava. The ceremony is way cool but there is no punch to kava ( ava ) until you try Vanuatuan kava. Whew!!! I loved Dave, Mark

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The "Big Island", Lono, Capt. Cook and Sam Clemens

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The Sacramento Daily Union, September 22, 1866
Kealakekua Bay, July, 1866
I have been writing a good deal, of late, about the great god Lono and Captain Cook's personation of him. Now, while I am here in Lono's home, upon ground which his terrible feet have trodden in remote ages - unless these natives lie, and they would hardly do that, I suppose - I might as well tell who he was.
The idol the natives worshipped for him was a slender, unornamented staff twelve feet long. Unpoetical history says he was a favorite god on the island of Hawaii - a great king who had been deified for meritorious services - just our own fashion of rewarding heroes, with the difference that we would have made him a Postmaster instead of a god, no doubt. In an angry moment he slew his wife, a goddess named Kaikilani Alii. Remorse of conscience drove him mad, and tradition presents us the singular spectacle of a god traveling "on the shoulder;" for in his gnawing grief he wandered about from place to place boxing ant wrestling with all whom he met. Of course this pastime soon lost its novelty, inasmuch as it must necessarily have been the case that when so powerful a deity sent a frail human opponent "to grass" he never came back any more. Therefore, he instituted games called makahiki, and ordered that they should be held in his honor, and then sailed for foreign lands on a three-cornered raft, stating that he would return some day, and that was the last of Lono. He was never seen any more; his raft got swamped, perhaps. But the people always expected his return, and they were easily led to accept Captain Cook as the restored god.
But there is another tradition which is rather more poetical than this bald historical one. Lono lived in considerable style up here on the hillside. His wife was very beautiful, and he was devoted to her. One day he over heard a stranger proposing an elopement to her, and without waiting to hear her reply he took the stranger's life and then upbraided Kaikilani so harshly that her sensitive nature was wounded to the quick. She went away in tears, and Lono began to repent of his hasty conduct almost before she was out of sight. He sat him down under a cocoanut tree to await her return, intending to receive her with such tokens of affection and contrition as should restore her confidence and drive all sorrow from her heart. But hour after hour winged its tardy flight and yet she did not come. The sun went down and left him desolate. His all-wise instincts may have warned him that the separation was final, but he hoped on, nevertheless, and when the darkness was heavy he built a beacon fire at his door to guide the wanderer home again, if by any chance she had lost her way. But the night waxed and waned and brought another day, but not the goddess. Lono hurried forth and sought her far and wide, but found no trace of her. At night he set his beacon fire again and kept lone watch, but still she came not; and a new day found him a despairing, broken-hearted god. His misery could no longer brook suspense and solitude, and he set out to look for her. He told his sympathizing people he, was going to search through all the island world for the lost light of his household and he would never come back any more till he found her. The natives always implicitly believed that he was still pursuing his patient quest and that he would find his peerless spouse again some day, and come back; and so, for ages they waited and watched in trusting simplicity for his return. They gazed out wistfully over the sea at any strange appearance on its waters, thinking it might be their loved and lost protector. But Lono was to them as the rainbow-tinted future seen in happy visions of youth - for he never came.
Some of the old natives believed Cook was Lono to the day of their death; but many did not, for they could not understand how he could die if he was a god.
Only a mile or so from Kealakekua Bay is a spot of historic interest - the place where the last battle was fought for idolatry. Of course we visited it and came away as wise as most people do who go and gaze upon such mementoes of the past when in an unreflective mood.
While the first missionaries were on their way around the Horn, the idolatrous customs which had obtained in the islands as far back as tradition reached were suddenly broken up. Old Kamehameha I was dead, and his son, Liholiho, the new King, was a free liver, a roystering, dissolute fellow, and hated the restraints of the ancient tabu. His assistant in the Government, Kaahumanu, the Queen dowager, was proud and high-spirited, and hated the tabu because it restricted the privileges of her sex and degraded all women very nearly to the level of brutes. So the case stood. Liholiho had half a'mind to put his foot down Kaahumanu had a whole mind to badger him into doing it, and whisky did the rest. It was probably the first time whisky ever prominently figured as an aid to civilization. Liholiho came up to Kailua as drunk as a piper, and attended a great feast; the determined Queen spurred his drunken courage up to a reckless pitch, and then, while all the multitude stared in blank dismay, he moved deliberately forward and sat down with the women! They saw him eat from the same vessel with them, and were appalled! Terrible moments drifted slowly by, and still the King ate, still he lived, still the lightnings of the insulted gods were withheld! Then conviction came like a revelation - the superstitions of a hundred generations passed from before the people like a cloud, and a shout went up,
"The tabu is broken! the tabu is broken!"
Thus did King Liholiho and his dreadful whisky preach the first sermon and prepare the way for the new gospel that was speeding southward over the waves of the Atlantic.
The tabu broken and destruction failing to follow the awful sacrilege, the people, with that childlike precipitancy which has always characterized them, jumped to the conclusion that their gods were a weak and wretched swindle, just as they formerly jumped to the conclusion that Captain Cook was no god, merely because he groaned, and promptly killed him without stopping to inquire whether a god might not groan as well as a man if it suited his pleasure to do it; and satisfied that the idols were powerless to protect themselves they went to work at once and pulled them down - hacked them to pieces - applied the torch - annihilated them!
The pagan priests were furious. And well they might be; they had held the fattest offices in the land, and now they were beggared; they had been great - they had stood above the chiefs - and now they were vagabonds. They raised a revolt; they scared a number of people into joining their standard, and Kekuokalani, an ambitious offshoot of royalty, was easily persuaded to become their leader.
In the first skirmish the idolaters triumphed over the royal army sent against them, and full of confidence they resolved to march upon Kailua. The King sent an envoy to try and conciliate them, and came very near being an envoy short by the operation; the savages not only refused to listen to him, but wanted to kill him. So the King sent his men forth under Major General Kalaimoku and the two hosts met at Kuamoo. The battle was long and fierce - men and women fighting side by side, as was the custom - and when the day was done the rebels were flying in every direction in hopeless panic, and idolatry and the tabu were dead in the land!
The royalists matched gayly home to Kailua glorifying the new dispensation. "There is no power in the gods," said they; "they are a vanity and a lie. The army with idols was weak; the army without idols was strong and victorious!" The nation was without a religion.
The missionary ship arrived in safety shortly afterward, timed by providential exactness to meet the emergency, and the gospel was planted as in a virgin soil.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fijian Coup

I just loved running aground within the leads of Suva, Fiji, Harbor! You would think their government, which was commonwealth sponsored by New Zealand, a prisoner of Mother England, a nation of great sailors and discoverer/conquerors of the unknown world in it's day! Notice my blogs real title? Captain Cook Rules!! So Guinevere, a faro cement, ketch, built in Bluff N.Z. 7'6" draft, full keel, steel ballasted, one yard wide runs aground weighing in at "40" tons, something has to move! Or go and it was never Guinevere. We ran aground five times and always got off with no damage to the boat but much damage to whatever was in our way. It wasn't a power trip, it was weight, gravity, inertia and no brakes! That would be a great invention? Brakes on a boat! A drogue is a type of brake as is a sea Anchor, but running aground is always a problem, especially for fiberglass! Wouldn't a sky hook be awesome? Anyway , I wander, Even with updated charts , radio, etc., it is hard to keep up with what the weather has done with channels and fluid rivers washing silt into traffic channels which sometimes need to be dredged. That was this case. Shit, we wanted a beer! We had already come ashore illegally, without clearing customs to buy cigarettes and a case of quarts of Fijian Bitters!! Anyway we got a friendly tug-boat to tow us off the sand bar we were hard on for a qt. of scotch! I said we were out of beer not out of alcohol! I'll tell you a story later of how and why we never ran out of alcohol!! So we are off and now moored at the Yacht club. Suva is a fun place unless you are sleeping at the stadium on the night that the Indians from India decide they HAVE had enough of the Fijians from Fifi who now are a minority in their own country and are over-run by the third generation of born and raised Indians from India. The only reason I speak of the Indians from India is so you don't think of the Indians from America that slew General George Armstrong Custer!! It really was an honorary rank. He was lucky to be a colonel during the civil war. Why do they call it the civil war? I would think it would be called " The Un-civil War "! That's like Civil Disobedience! There is nothing civil about disobedience! Sorry I rant! An American girl and I were sleeping ( yea right ) at the stadium in downtown Suva which happens to be right next to Government House. The riot was quick and efficient and got the job done because the next morning the Indians from India had a controlliung voice in the politics of Figian government. Can you imagine a group of people coming into your country and breeding like rabbits so that by the third generation their vote is the voice to be listened to! Amazing or what? Duh? Habla English?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sailor of life itself

I have made many mistakes! And yet I have made none! Traveling distances dosen't make one wiser or more filled with a truth or a triumph; and yet! It does! Sailing is one of the greatest teachers of things, places and relationships. I have sailed hard to get to places with uncomplecated people and also sailed easy to get to places with very complex people! So what? Here is the what and the how about it! Paul Hogan, a golfer, said "I can play 18 holes of golf with a person and know him better than a so-called friend and neighbor I have known for many years"! I paraphrased that for the reason that over the course of a " 24 " hour commitment, day after day with your sailing family, you begin to know each other on a level way beyond how you are familiar with your next door neighbor. So here are some thoughts I would love to describe to you. !) People are great- governments suck! 2) Currency like passports are transitory ! They also fluctuate at the whim of whatever or whoever is popular at the moment! ( In Vogue ) 3) When all else fails bring t-shirts and levi's and you can barter! 4) Introduce your captain ( even if you are him ) by the best orator you have aboard! It has to do with tradition and is guranteed to get the results your vessel needs to survive in a world that has nothing to do with N.York or L.A. They really don't care! 5) Always , when clearing customs turn in a big gun! That way they know you have a small gun hidden on your boat to protect your family and they are totally cool with that. It really is about face or the losing of face! I sailed with one skipper who turned in his cat ( a real cat ) and shotgun ( a real shotgun ) and showed me a secret compartment that he kept a " 45" for emergencies. But only to protect his family! Does any of this make sense? It does to me and to other sailor's who have travelled through these cunt-ries! In the Solomoms we paid a"Light Fee" of $ 110.00. For what? We had charts that showed the positions of the 21 lights that the U.S. had built and provisioned to be maintained for perpetuity! We paid the didge but found only one working light! I'm not complaining, I'm only bringing to your attention how exciting it was and is that we here in America profess to have no graft or bribes or corruption and yet we hide it so well! I prefer a country that is what it says it is and does what it says it will do! Don't you? This is a big laugh for me and I will treasure your thoughts if you can relate to what I'm saying! Governments suck, People are wonderful!!!! It is a great Ocean out there, I hope you find the time of your life spending some it on vessels. islands and continents that bring to you the joy that it, so far, has delivered to my porch! Until our next voyage, Aloha Pumehana. Robbin

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Proper Course: Tillerman's Top Ten Blogs of 2009

Proper Course: Tillerman's Top Ten Blogs of 2009

ahhh Fanning Island (atoll)

What a strange place! Shaped like the letter C we sailed into the mouth of the C. What I would learn later is that inside a lot of atolls in the Pacific Ocean are lagoons. Shallow, colorful and filled with unique life forms that defy descriptions. The entry ( the gap that makes a c a c ) between tides is in stasis. Great diving until the ebb or flood creats a current kind of like when you flush your toilet in your very own bathroom ( head-nautical)! Try and swim-motor against that! Really. In fact, the four-hundred and fifty people on Fanning Island have pier-end port-0-pottys that drop directly into the inside of the lagoon. So the out going tide is one big toilet flush. I heard you go UUUHHHHHHH! Don't do that. All mordern sailboats now have a "y" valve that is locked when you are slipped! At sea you may pump human waste through hull but not in port. Chum? When you are on a sailboat with 8-10 people aboard it requires a lot of pumping to get all the waste underboard-outboard so you may begin the same process again on the manana! The reason I am spending time with this crap is that Mark and I surfed perfect four foot waves just outside of the entry into Fanning. We had brought our surfboards and happened to catch a great little swell which Judy, Marks young lady, took some pictures of. It reminded me of small Bobo's on Kauai. If you weren't careful your fin would touch bottom and there were a couple of spots where you had to use the face of the wave to go above and around a reef obstickle. Reef sharks were plentiful but it didn't bother one of the guys off of Ginseng, Ben's boat! He body surfed with Mark and I. No kidding, sharks o'plenty! Reminded me of Pakala ( infinities ) on Kauai! Maybe if we're lucky Judy will send me one of the pictures she took that day and I'll post it! I'm sure the poop in the water at Fanning killed Ben. He was a Congressional Medal of Honor holder from Korea. Special to me because my parents were married there and I was conceived in Korea. Had to mention that. Ben got a staff infection. Mark got a similar infection. Ben died in American Samoa. The infection had entered into his bones and they could not quench the fire and it consumed him. His boat "Ginseng", that he had built with his own hands sold ( I heard ) for 25 large! Mark lived. To this day I'm sure Mark survived because Mark had Judy to insist that he apply proper medication and because Mark had surfed and was very aware of how damaging coral infections especially in the conditions I have mentioned above can be! Mark had surfed Mexico and survived Montezoma's Revenge!!! He didn't rebel against medicating a cut that seemed so small having a wisdom and a sense of self-survival that I beleive Ben didn't have or had forgetten! He actually said on Fanning, " It's just a small infection, it will pass!" Shoot, Fanning's only access to the outside world is a barge that brings supplies three times a year from Tarawa! The island's radio isn't as good as Sea Rover's Ham!! Shiza! I liked Ben but could not have sailed with him. Kindest and wisest man you could ever speak with on land but he kept us awake at night belittling in very loud phrases his crew day in and day out. I'll bet you even he was surprised that it was staff infection instead of Davey Jones that got him and of all places, Pago Pago, Samoa.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We missed Christmas

Just by inches on a chart did " Sea Rover" miss Christmas!! How can one miss an Island in broad daylight that you are looking at? The same way that you can find an atoll by it's reflection on the bottom of a cloud formatiom giving you a heading towards an object in the middle of no where that has an elevation of 4' at it's highest point! Anyone who has sailed the "South Seas" knows that a current runs fast above and below the "Equator" fluctuating between four degrees north and south moving about four to six knots parallel to th equatorial line! So we, on Sea Rover, a Cullen Archer, double ended, norweigian keel, faro-cement, slutter; unwilling to start the Yan-mar to over heat our feet on a teak deck that was already drying out from lack of any moisture due to the prevalent weather written about by every sailor who has managed to bypass the conditions required to get from a northern to southern or vise versa, decided to head for Fanning Island!!!! Screw Christmas, Bah, Humbug! So. Mark and Judy and Corrine and Skuppers decided to flow back to Fanning. I'm glad we did. I hadn't realized how many ships had run aground on Christmas! Now, I can see why and how. My next small story will be about Fanning Island. We stayed there awhile and learned much.

Lanai Or " Bust "

A friend or so it seemed for so many years has died. July 6th, 2009. Now that he is gone I will speak about him. Some will say " You should not speak un-well of the dead", but I say now is the time to speak the truth about a friendship that I carried a lot longer than he due to the resentment towards me that laid buried under a guilt-ridden, so-called weakness of the moment; an action he considered un-manly, that festered like a bodily wound unattended until it had absorbed his very self in regards to me! Whereas now, and for years that I had no knowledge of, instead of friend ( out loud ) He thought of me ( secretly ) as his enemy! And yet not I! But the infection from an event which I am about to explain that shaped his thoughts and ideas forming a complete understanding of what went wrong off Lanai that night! We'd been working on a " Block Island " 45' ketch (49' from bowsprit to bumkin )spending all we had in dry dock on Oahu. It was time to see if this boat could sail! The year was 1971, early. I had just sold my resturant ( I had partners ) The Rice Mill, Hanalei, Kauai. Larry, Bob and I decided to sail to Maui. The trouble began when the wind picked up ( with swells ).....Here is where skippers are good but they are capable of making bad decisions! In the course of sailing across the Molokai Channel ( one of the reasons America Cup potential racing challengers practice there ) the potential for diverse wind and swell configerations was beyond us with our limited sailing experiences. Years later Eddie Aikau ( someone Larry and I both knew ) drowned or disappeared off these islands going for help. This was a terrible thing. Larry and I can remember when they established the first life guard station at Waimea Bay, Oahu. Eddie told us ( he was the life guard ) that we could no longer body-surf Waimea shorebreak ) We were pissed!!! We had 5 people aboard when we left " The Ala Wai " Boat Harbour! After that, the swells, thunder and lightning and wind were so horrific that we had to shorten sail! Easy for me to say now that I have sailed half the Earth! How does one shorten sail? But then, to be a novice, a babe and to have the entire known forces of nature, a swirling lighthouse that appeared to be 6' away, hearing the pounding surf on shores that I could see the white mists of battered water rising as vapor and falling again to return to the rocks on shore that had carved into a slow or sometimes rapid oblivion the lives of not only the sailors aboard but the dreams of the builders themselves to die in the open ocean or on a foriegn shore never to know or be known the unrealised dreams of all who chance like the roll of the dice, that from the " greatest unknown ", we all who sailed that day would find ourselves on many a distant shore! I'll never forget and either did Larry! How he looked me square in the eyes and said," Mairum and I are going below. The ship is yours and Bob's. If we arrive at a safe destination I will sign over title as I never want to sail again as long as I live!" So there you have it. Larry went on to sail many boats. He sailed " the New Carthigianian" from Sweden to Lahaina. He got his skippers licencse including a "six pack" running tourists down the Napali Coastline on Kauai!!! I purchased that package! I'll never be able to tell anyone how special Larry Byfield is to me! But he is my friend. No matter what he has said or thought about me. You see people the truth about all things is this. It is that love is a one way thing. Love is given without the thought of receiving. I gave Larry Byfield, my friendship! Whatever came back is a blessing! He was so afraid that I would tell someone that in a crisis situation he had broken down! That would suggest that I never had! Shit!!! I have seen grown men cry when they face their own demise! So Larry died. He is my friend. I wish he would have returned my calls!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rock Island Fever

What the hell is " rock Island fever"? Is it like " cabin fever"? Oh! It might be like " Saturday Night Fever"! UH-H-H-H! Yea, that's it! All of a sudden ( years) time just slides away from dreamers, who have not fulfilled anything on their wish list! So they just pass on to their children their frustrations or a few geological, political/teritorial-historical, racial realities that they, the parents, thought might help that child along it's way, empowering said child to grow to a better emotional and physical understanding than they ( the parents) had the opurtunity to achieve! Rock fever is when your parents take you to an airport on your island. They celebrate with their neighbors as 14 children, harvested, to fight for their country get on an airplane to fight a battle against " the enemy"! Was Viet Nam our enemy? So if your boy survives I guess he is free of rock fever! Then they go to college on the G.I. Bill. He marries a haole on the mainland and they live happily ever after with the law degree and their 2.2 children somewhere over the rainbow! So you are free now of rock island fever. You can go visit your grandchildren in Nebraska or Kansas or Iowa! Their religion and values have changed but there are very few rocks because they have been moved. I've never had rock island fever, though on the island of Kauai, there is only eighty miles of road. Within the sphere of weather, humidity, time, climate, temperature, swells, views, people, beaches, elevations,it changes driving back! Whew! It is a very large small island! How does one get bored living in Paradise? Where is paradise? Aloha

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Life ON The River

You have just got to love paddling a canoe through a marked speed zone on The Sacramento River! I would casually wind my way through a matrix of moored boats anchored and docked like a little city on the water. If I saw a human being I would shout out, " I just cut my speed to four mph so my wake wouldn't disturb your boat at rest "! They would laugh and offer me a cup of coffee if it was morning or a beer in the afternoon. I must admit I loved the solitude of the long stretches of river where there is no human contact but coming upon pockets of civilization had its rewards also. It's amazing what a joy a simple conversation with someone is after not speaking for 24 hours or more! Walking on " Sea Legs " to a store to get beer and supplies was always an adventure. Finding a place to park and getting your first glimpse after climbing the levee of the possibillities of finding a head or a store wasn't always a given. There are outposts on the river that have a post office, a store that carries very little, a bait shop but no toilet or gas station. Forget about a pub. So you just never know what you'll find when you top the levee. There were a few days there when I wished my canoe was equipted with a port-a-potty! When I stopped at Rio Vista and went into town I felt like I had just come into New York City! The contrast from extreme isolation to total sensory bombardment was so severe it felt like culture shock! Usually I exhibit 100% extroversion. But after zero human interaction for long periods my people skills flew out the window leaving me speechless as if dumbstruck. This turned out to be a blessing in disquise as most farm or fish orientated small towns don't need a hyper-metabollic, machine gun, word firing, companion starved, bread shopper in their store! So I shopped, saying very little, went back to my canoe and continued my journey. As the days went on the river cast a spell on me re-birthing me into one of her children, altering me to her course and ways and moods. I love how subtly the city gets washed out by the ways of the country. Admitedly it's not for everyone but it's for me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Power Trippers

Just as every surfer manifests his total identity, reveals his very nature, tells someone with a discerning eye, who he is and what he is about while riding his wave, so do all who drive their vessels on our water highways! It doesn't matter if it's a sailboat ( tri-marran, catamarran, or mono-hull ), powerboat, jet-ski, surfboard, canoe, kayak or sailboard! We tell each other a lot about ourselves by the etiquite we demonstrate while launching, using and picking up our vehicles. we are being scrutinized every step of the way by the curious and the furious! Why do stink-boat captains hate sailors? Why do sailors hate powerboats? Why do mono-hull sailors dispute with multi-hull sailors? Why do blue-water sailors have a hard time rubbing elbows with racing sailors? Why does everyone hate jet-skiers? We all know why, don't we! I'm a blue-water sailor who doesn't enjoy racing but my wife is a racing sailor. She enjoys blue-water. I enjoy power boats with my friends, and even though I prefer mono-hulls have had great sailing experiences on multi-hulls! The point that I would like to share with all people who use water for pleasure is to share it. The gracious skipper gladly follows " the rules of the road ", not because he has to but they come natural to him. In the course of upcoming posts I'm going to share with you good and bad stories, good skippers and good skippers making bad decisions! Ha! On this latest canoe journey I was thankful for the few arrogant stinkboat drivers who relished showing me the size of their rooster-tail! Some stretchs of The Sacramento River are not only tedious but hynotically monotonous. The timed stroke repetition mixed with the heat would have been maddening save for the occassional ego-centric, power mad, big-waking, engine screaming, powerboat trippers!!! Little did they know as they roared by, peddle to the metal, knowing they were showing canoe-boy who the " River " belonged to! I turned to dance with the beautiful waves they sent this ancient surfer, gleefully riding naturally what I have been doing my entire life, laughing at how divinely poetic God is! What they thought they were sending me was a devastating wake with a definate possibillity that I might be swamped! But what they couldn't see or know was God laughing at how he had used their ignorance and rebelious arrogance to give his friend ( me ) some bitchin waves to play on! Ain't life grand?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf71tBYXbmk

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tide, Current, Wind and lahaina ( unmerciful sun in Hawaiian )

My fourth day out I realized that the motion of a canoe has the same effect on our equilibrium as a rolling deck! Sleeping on land felt like I was bobbing along in my canoe. It is a quite pleasant sensation! Very soothing. It helped me to sleep because my sunburn was more uncomfortable than painful and the illusory motion mixed with fatigue and the beauty of the skies smoothed me into oblivion. I needed to find a place to retire because just past Antioch I could not fight the head wind against tide any longer! I wasn't making any noticeable headway and was not enthralled by the view of miles of factories and warehouses! Without a drastic wind change it was fruitless to continue beating myself up for so little reward! I thought I would sleep on it and see what Mother Nature delivered to me in the morning. The night before while sleeping on a steeply pitched sandy beach near Rio Vista the incoming tide attempted to drag me and my sleeping bag into the current for a midnight swim! As it rose I kept ahead of it until I could go no further as I had run out of beach and was backed up against a potpourri of sticker berries, vines, bamboo, bushes and trees! In the middle of the night I was forced to get in my canoe and seek dryer, above the high tide line, lodgings! So! Wouldn't you think I had learned a very valuable lesson? The closer you get to the ocean the more drastic the rivers behavior is altered by tidal influences. Don't forget that river paddlers! Ha! I found this perfect little dock in the Estuary area. It was a fixed dock with a flood-gate open-close wheel at the end of the dock. Two 12' planks just wide enough for my sleeping bag and slightly protected from the wind that had halted my progress, perfect! I was looking forward to sleeping on a flat surface for the first time in days. I woke up to water lapping at the bottom of the 2x12's. I couldn't believe it was happening again! I moved my damp sleeping bag to the rocky pathway ( if you could call it that ) and watched in awe as the delta brackish salt-water covered my bed with six inches of water! I imagined myself asleep under water as if I had refused to budge and remained where I had been sleeping such a short time ago! When I had layed out my sleeping arrangement the water had been five feet below me and the boards were bone dry looking like the desert remains of a cow head with bones bleached and cleaned by the heat from an unmerciful desert sun!!! I chuckled to myself all night. Between my sunburn, the tidal battle day AND NIGHT, opposing wind, three foot chop on the nose, and fatigue, I was probably delirious. Joyously delirious because I knew and know that I was having not just an experience but the time of my life!!

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