Friday, September 2, 2016

National Preparedness Month

Now, that's a title for you. Who knows better about preparedness than a sailor? There is quite a bit of irony in such a statement, because, as we learn with experience, preparedness requires the flexibility to respond when not prepared.

When I sat down today to chat with you, I wanted to talk about how situations arise, seemingly out of nowhere, requiring the sailor to improvise. There is no formula for success in all cases. Everyone probably has had the experience of being between the proverbial rock and a hard spot.

Heather and I just got back from a sailing trip to Canada. Had some real challenges, with the weather and other boaters. One nutty guy in a very big motor yacht nearly drove us down, veering off at the very last minute.We were becalmed, with all sail standing. He and we were the only boats in sight, for several square miles, and he was actually at the helm, I could nearly tell the color of his eyes. My blood pressure skyrocketed, simply not believing he wasn't changing course. Finally, we went for the horn, but he'd gone by.

Close calls with big commercial traffic, also. Too many for just one trip.

We had some very good sailing, though, so it was a good trip all-in-all and no one died. It was a celebration of the renewal of Belle Starr, who was wrecked in a storm this time last year. She is a great boat and as I often say, can take much more than her skipper or crew. Let's call that the basic rule of preparedness for a sailor.

At the beginning of our trip, while traveling north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, standing waves developed out of a calm sea in mere moments. We had judged our crossing into the San Juan Islands with great care to avoid just such a scenario, yet encountered a turbulent sea we probably should not have been out in. What do you do when turning back is just as dangerous as going forward? Carry on, of course and do the best you can - trust your boat and your skills. In the end, count your blessings and file the experience under the category of preparedness.

While on our return leg, we spotted several wood schooners, apparently headed for the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. We shared an anchorage with Zodiac, out of Bellingham, Washington, in Parks Bay on Shaw Island. We'd never seen Zodiac before, so it was quite a treat. What a beauty!

 That wee tender might not carry many crew, but she's a nice match.

On a different topic, the Wooden Boat Show in Toledo Oregon was a huge success. The weekend before the voyage just described, Doryman was mentoring first time boat builders in the annual Family Boat Build. We build plywood kayaks from scratch, no kits, in three days. It's a lot of work and even more fun. I get quite a thrill from the experience of seeing the builder's pride grow with their creations. This year we had a number of young adults from the local Job Corps program. There were some budding boat builders in that group, I'm happy to report.

Last, though certainly not least, the annual Wooden Boat Festival is coming up next weekend, in Port Townsend, Washington. I am looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Fair winds!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice pictures and the Zodiac is a beautiful boat. The traffic on the Columbia is bad with the jet skis and racing boats thinking they own the river darting in front of the barges and working vessels. It's scary when you can see the whites of their eyes.