8:50 AM 8/3/06
For me, the ocean is a place that keeps me riveted to the reality of the moment. A place which is always changing and one that keeps me focused and alive in so many sublime ways. I feel comfortable there. I am always learning new things and honing the art and craft of crossing large amounts of water. Dwelling on land as need be, building, fixing, preparing, before heading out to sea again.
12:25 PM 6/20/09 hst – Kona dry dock (again)
I wrote the above three years ago and here I am back in the same relative place again. Desire is a shambles bordering on a disaster. The three years of dry heat, volcanic sand storms, intense UV, salt, ozone, acid rain from the volcano and, (don’t forget) the bees, have not been kind to her. Rubber is melting, turning to tar. The other day I picked up a graduated plastic cup that I use to mix paint and epoxy. It shattered in my hand like glass.
The bilges were full of rain water and diesel: rain water from all of the leaky deck fittings and diesel from a fuel hose somewhere between the engine and fuel tank. The whole outside of the boat is coated with a chalky white UV ray oxidation of the paints and fiberglass, metal corrosion from the salt and acid rain and a fine black grit everywhere from the volcanic soil blowing around.
The Marina staff set Desire down in the work yard. After wiping the tar off of my hands from the bike lock jacket that holds Desire’s main hatch closed, I dig through her main cabin like an archeologist returning to a long lost site. I take a pick-up load of sails, boxes and assorted boat equipment to a rented storage locker while I sort through the rest of the boat. For two days I wash and scrub the dirt and oxidation off of the hull and topsides and pile tools, deck equipment and near term parts/projects next to the boat.
The bilges keep filling with diesel tinged water every time I wash the boat. It’s refit triage – doing the best I can to get things sorted and organized.
Meanwhile, the truck I borrowed from Steve starts having problems at speeds over 30 mph. Seems like a fuel thing so I swap out the fuel pump and filter. No change. I take it to a shop and they want $550 to change the plugs, wire, distributor cap and rotor. Steve buys the parts for $80 and we install all the new parts the shop suggested. No change. Steve suggests we call a tow truck that he knows and take it down to his mechanic in Kealeakua. The tow truck shows up and it’s too small to haul a herking Ford F-150 long bed. A second truck shows up a couple of hours later and the truck is gone.
Sans transport, I do what I can with the boat. More bad news – the entire battery system is essentially fucked. I can’t get any of the radios to power up even with the charger on full blast. I need to replace all 5 batteries in the 3 separate banks I have set up on ‘Desire’. At this rate she’s sinking faster than I can bail her out. Thank the powers that be that she’s sitting solidly on her keels on a relatively stable concrete pad here in the Kona boat yard.
Dan calls to tell me he may have a ride on a big boat called the ‘Lynx’ in the upcoming Trans-Pac race. That’ll be at least mid-July before he gets here. But then I’m not going anywhere fast with ‘Desire’ and the later I leave Hawaii for the mainland, the faster my passage will be. As long as I get to Seattle before the snow and ice, I should be all right.
So here I am, again. Stuck on a semi-deserted island, my boat a shambles and miles to go before I sleep. I have to get ‘Desire’ wet again – even if I can just get her out of the harbor and she sinks. In that scenario I could raise her to the surface with my non-patented emergency flotation system (assuming I can get THAT operational), drag her up the mountain, set her keels on a winds swept lava flow and convert her into a nice, nautically themed cabin. I’ve already draw sketches of her with an added cockpit sleeping loft and the v-berth virtual office array.
While getting her back to her former glory should be my primary focus I don’t think that’s practical right now. With bull headed determination I know that I can get her floating and functional again. After that I could do what it takes to take her get her blue water capable again.
Maybe I’m inspired by my days in Brooklyn and what I accomplished there. Today Dan and I reminisced about the time I took him and my brother Dirk bridge climbing. We summitted my favorite, the Manhattan Bridge, via the east tower route.
The Manhattan Bridge has a series of huge suspension cables draped between 4 sphere topped towers. These ornamental spheres are approximately 6-7 feet in diameter and although the appear solid from the ground are actually made up of cast iron verticle slats. Furthermore, each of these globes sit on a short pedestal that has an entry hatch underneath. Besides the ocean, these balls are one of the most dramatic spots I have ever been in.
All three of us squirmed through the hatch into the interior of the globe. Leaning back against the curving slats, we enjoyed a 360 panorama of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. To the east and west, the massive suspension cables curve down to the road surface far below. Gazing through the slats, it looks like we are about to roll down the track of a massive pinball roller coaster – like in modern art museums and fashionable bus terminals. Being inside a globe perched on a pedestal 400+ feet above the east river, there’s a simultaneous impression of being inside giant golf ball on a tee. At any moment a cosmic golf club could swing out of the heavens and whack us across Manhattan and the Hudson River into the back woods of Jersey.
You are truly on top of the world.
Ultimately it comes down to the two most fundamental questions of human nature. How did I get here and where am I going?