Snippets October 2009
 
   offshore preparation...
  Thursday October 29, 2009   Beaufort, NC   N 34°43.5'   W 76°39.8'

Jack here again...

.

still dealing with BTW (Bob the Whacko). He gives me an ice cube...not a bone, not a biscuit...an ice cube! As though I'm supposed to "sit", then chew it, play with it, put it in my water bowl! Worse...it has an odd taste after he used it shaking up some drink with stuff he calls 'gin'. Fish poison I say


!
Anyway, we're now Day 35 into this journey...getting used to it and not bad...not bad. Meals twice daily...somewhat empty supper plates are left for licking before they wash them... free use of the Mrs. bunk... roving heated sunspots around the deck... and then trips ashore for squirrel hunting and water hydrant boutiques.
But now he's lost it (what do you expect from critters with just 2 legs)...coastal bays, canals, and rivers are fine...but he's talking about going out THERE...deep deep ocean...hundreds of miles from land...1000' or more down to the bottom...no place to stop until he gets to the other side. Hey dude! What's wrong with this side...no snow, no storms, no heavy seas...life the way it should be lived!
No...he's blabbing safety stuff...making me wear a harness and tether attached to jack lines on deck!



makng me wear a "scopalamine patch" so I won't get sea sick...as if!



And then just as I've gotten used to that artificial turf on deck...he's saying 'put it in the shower'.



So you can see why I call him Bob the Whacko.
One thing though...when 'they' are doing their 'watch' crap, 2 ON, 6 OFF...I will be 24 OFF.

Bob here again...anchored north of Beaufort, NC; preparing for an offshore voyage...from here to the Bahamas...about 600 nautical miles plus crossing the Gulf Stream.
What's it like to 'prepare for offshore'?
Besides the 'obvious'... provisioning, preparing frozen meals in advance, topping off fuel and water, securing free floating items off counters (destined to be flying vehicles of destruction), setting up "ON CALL" schedules, verifying we have all the necessary paper charts...there are boat issues, safety issues, and as always...weather, weather, weather.
From memory about 1987...caught in the Gulf Stream with strong current opposing strong wind resulting in chaotic 2AM rooster tails...the galley lockers burst open with cans and jars thrown at us from all directions. Finding them in the dark on our knees with flashlights in our mouths, we eventually repacked them using socks and T-shirts to fill the voids, securing the lockers with bungie cords while listening to the howling in the rigging.

Boat issues...the smallest defective component can become the source of failure...a simple cotter pin lost becomes an unattached cable becomes a dismasted boat becomes disaster...

.

The unseen chafe becomes a broken halyard becomes a sailboat without sails becomes disaster.
So we begin a detailed inspection and operational checklist, just as the airline pilot inspects and checks his plane...bow to stern; and top to bottom looking for misfits



Safety...everyone tests his dedicated life harness including tether attachment to jackline straps around the boat.. No one at sea is allowed on deck without harness and tether, plus a spotter in the cockpit. No more manly micturition off the back scoop. The drogue and sea anchor are postioned and checked. We all review use of the 'EPIRB' ('emergency position indicator radio beacon' picked up by satellite); preset radio emergency frequencies (Securite...Pan Pan...May Day. Fresh AA batteries for red/white personal flashlights....man-over-board drills...location (and inspection) of fire extinguishers...medical kit...life vests...man-overboard-ring...cable cutters...and flares.

Weather...as our day approaches, we check and recheck weather forecasts from more than one source.
With a green light, we apply scopalamine patches (voluntary) at least 6 hours prior to departure; make a contact at home giving our departure time and date; plus 'estimated time of arrival..
Then it is lift the anchor...and don't forget to tie it down...

   the Great Dismal Swamp Canal...
Monday   October 19, 2009   Bellhaven, NC             N 35°32.2'  W 76°37.6'
 

Jake here. Jake de hound dawg...

()

and de year be 1861; yep...March 1861. The boss man sez 'der gonna be war 'cause the new president Mr.Lincoln promises to free all 'n us slaves...and suren 'n hell; North Carolina white folk ain't goin' to allow 'dat. We bin livin' here at Feeder's Cut for generations 'cause ole George Washington (now ded) put lots' n'us here to dig 'dem dam canals. The Mrs'. folks built Wilkins Lock with junip'r trees; but it dun rotted 20 years back, 'bout when her maw 'n pappy both died with 'sumption, so she muved down here to be with Will...or as I call him...BTW (Big Tough Will 'cause he ain't 'fraid a nuthin'). Will ain't strong, but he be the best'n fast'st man makin' dem cypress shingles with 'is broad axe and shingle shave.

Folks 'den load 'em on flatbed boats and pole them down Feeder's Cut to the Great Dismal Swamp where they get tak'n all 'round de country....maybe de hul wurld.

Yep...all on 'count of Lake Drummond and the Dismal Swamp been thick with cypress trees, juniper trees, 'n mistletoe gum trees...but it mostly be the cypress thez after.

Here de map showin' where we duz live and dat mean ole swamp...

Trouble is...Lake Drummond and the Dismal Swamp be 'bout 12 feet higher 'n Norfolk at the Chesepeake or Elizabeth City down by Albermarle Sound and Cape Hatteras...so doz plantation owners put us'n all to work for gen'rations building dat dismal canal with lot's a locks to lift boats up...load 'em with those shingles, and den lock 'em down towards the big cities. We even get tourist boats from Roanoke which we gotta pole thru dem canals

...but also now, there be lots of escaped slaves from way down south runnin' thru here on the 'Underground Railroad' towards the free North...     .
I betcha 'dez gonna be a war...

Bob here...and the date is October, 2009 as we slide down one of America's most serene placid and bucolic waterways...the Great Dismal Swamp Canal.  

Jack's been all over the place...could be the aroma of swamp scents from shore but 10' off either side, where a low canopy camafloges abundant critters ; but Jack also keeps peering over the edge, deep into the 6' canal...

as though he hears generations of hounds and folks that lived their entire lives here in slavery, building the canal, side cuts, and many scattered locks...once numbering 7 in total...now just 2 at both ends...once made of wood (which rotted); then stone (which collapsed); and now steel.
The Swamp surrounding Lake Drummond was named "dismal" by a Col. William Byrd 1728 writing the area was "...nothing but a dismal swamp that wasn't fit for man or beast" (now home to 30 species of mammals, 70 species of birds, 100 varieties of butterflies, and unknown quantities of vegitation). The water is a dark "amber tea" from natural tannins sunshine leached from blackgum, cedar, and cypress
But principally it was the cypress trees on Lake Drummond with intense commercial value (cypress being nature's most rot resistant wood of quantity) that prompted private investors, including young surveyor George Washington, to get Virginia legislative approval in 1787 for canal construction. Not completed until 1805; the 22 mile stretch was progressively widened from 10' to 50' today with repeated revisions (financed by lotteries!!),as canals became the mainstay of commercial transport, much as planes, trains, and 18-wheelers are today. 1814...20 ton decked vessels carried cargo. 1829...Halfway House opened Christmas Day at the state line, half in Virginia and half in North Carolina...ideal for "all purposes of life, as eating, drinking, sleeping, marrying, and dueling"; now buried into swamp history. 1861-1865...fiercely protected by the Conferacy to allow transport around the east coast Union blockade. 1866...Passenger service began, dying into decay as the automobile swept America. Finally purchased by Congress in 1929 from the Lake Drummond and Water Company for $500,000. 1988...placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today...the Great Dismal Swamp Canal hosts boats like svNavigator with Jack, the Mrs., and BTW on board...

 
 
   Hey man, just don't go there...
Saturday  October 17, 2009  Elizabeth City, NC       N 36°17.8'  W 76° 13.0'
 

Jack here again…

Yep, Jack the Jack Russell, along with the Mrs. and BTW (Bob The Whacko)…coastal floating towards warmer weather.  I’ve seen some amazing sights for a Maine back woods hound…a 3 mile expanse of soft sand beach carpeting by one legged gulls standing in military formation facing the wind; that is until I, the Jack, brought them to flight with a dash towards their center.  Some amazing scents… that bloated beached bellied up fish designed  to lacquer my scruff, until BTW pulled me off mumbling  “#!%@?&# dawg!”.
But let me tell you one place to skip….no, not just ‘skip…’avoid’…Atlantic City. 
Do no go to Atlantic City.  The City is so broken, bleak, musty, and rotted,  BTW anchored Navigator across from the City Basin (took him 4 attempts!) in Brigatine, NJ in 12’ bilious  black mud. Surrounded by condo after condo;
 
by multiunit after multiunit; stacked with "Private" locked gated piers.
 Not posted, but obvious…”Cruisers Not Welcome”…”Stay away”…”Dinghy Landing  Prohibited”. 
He beached our dinghy in simple plain mud, carried me up a broken retaining wall, heading towards provisions in a small mall….concrete and asphalt 360 degrees save for the scattered perfectly edged  grass intermediary plots.  SUVs creeping along with rolled up windows and pasty appearing persons puffing their  cigarettes.  Not another single dog seen.  I mean…there just were no other dogs.  No dogs…no scents…pure  wasteland.  As Mark Twain said:  “people without dogs…can’t trust them”. 

More on Atlantic City….BTW relates his friend’s story landing there in the late 70’s, finding the city in its downward spiral with Burt Parks and Miss America fading while the casino debacle was expanding .  So dark, dismal, and dangerous; they eventually tied to a piling.  But venturing ashore in the dusk, just as that impression formulated, they found an orange tabby cat at the end of its lifeline, tail-less, deflated, and awaiting the mercy of death.  It looked up with that one remaining dying eye as if to say, ‘where have you been...where is your cudgel?’  They named it Shoals.  It ended up adopting the boat owners, living aboard for years, and when it got old, it moved to an apartment on E 93rd St.  off Park Ave, where it became a favorite of the Russian Orthodox refugee priest next door.  It loved to sit next to the stereo, listening to the Beatles ("number 9...number 9...number 9...").


But the test tube where those cells were generated?  Probably just the same dark and smarmy swirl, not far below the surface, or back a couple blocks from the slots.

It is good to be transient.
  Let BTW carry on...

Bob here, known to Jack as BTW…
Atlantic City!  Not my cup of tea. Not worth a can of Alpo.

Once…once the evening skies were filled with migratory fowl forming waves of swirling motion…but now it is blatant bloated  empty casino towers spewing metallic chrome colors all night, visible 30 miles away like midnight Christman Caribbean cruise ships, blanketing out any coastal navigational aids.




The birds…they are not here.




 DDT did not drive them away from this marsh land…we did!  And now they are gone…gone to where? Where did our flying  companions go?  I need to know... 'cause I'm heading that way too.

As a kid, my dad took our family here; he to the famous Convention Center (still standing), while Mother and I with the twins bustled in a stroller did the famous Boardwalk (now crumbled wood and twisted metal beams).




 We heard “Here she comes…Miss America” before they also left towards Vegas as the one armed bandits built  towers with restaurants, hotel rooms,  and covered garages to keep you dry between car and blackjack table; valet parking of course!  But the man said…the politicians said …’the casino will save us’…'jobs, revenue for schools and development'.  On came the tsunami of workers, bringing their angst and sense of futility with stories to make even Stephen King sadden.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
              madness, starving hysterical naked,
       dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
              looking for an angry fix,
       angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
              connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
             ery of night”  (Alan Ginsburg…”Howl”)

Early May 2007, I'm bringing  svKathryn boat north solo.  We (she, Kathryn boat, and I)  anchored in the very same spot across from Atlantic City.  The wind,  forecast to be a small front, became not just a ‘blow’, not just a ‘gale’ but a full force ‘storm’ of Beaufort strength  with 50+ knots of wind.  From the galley side  ports (windows), you saw road signs toppled…sea kayaks tossed off those precious private piers.  In just 12’ of water, only 12’ of water!…200’ of chain out (I mean 200’!...usually you anchor with 36’ at that depth…but here we had 200’ of heavy 3/8” chain behind  a 45 lb. CQR anchor)…we watched boat after boat drag for 48 hours while hourly we checked and checked and double checked  2 point references, wondering…fearing in the howling  of the night…when is it  our turn?  Unable to sleep with both the fear and the noise...even mumbling that prayer known to those of us known not to be true believers:  “If there is a God…please protect me…and I will do a hundred…no, make that  a thousand…s”.  I have been through gales but don’t take me through that again.  Thank you God
.
Early October 2009, I’m ashore in Atlantic City and comment to folks how exciting Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  With reverberating silence and ugly eyebrows raised against me, I know it is time to leave.  “…won’t be back this way again” (Peter, Paul, and Mary…Leaving on a Jet Plane)

It is good to be transient.

   maritime history...
Thursday       October 8, 2009    off the New Jersey coast    N 40°20'  W 73°56'
 

Jack here again...

Finally the Mrs. is back on board...now my 'needs' are better met...

new toys..                                      .

snacks...                                        ..

and an appropriate lap position...

 

So much better than what BTW (Bob the Whacko) would dole out in his Scrouge manifesto.  He wants to talk about 'history within the townships we pass'; while the Mrs. shows pictures of the new wood pile at home.  She contracted for 2 cords of split, dry, delivered hardwood for the winter stove. (If BTW had any energy working but part time, he might have done the cutting 'n slitting himself...but historically he's only good with lighting matches).  Usually the wood comes delivered by a small dump truck...dumped beside the house whereupon BTW and the Mrs. would hand carry and stack the sticks in the garage; but this year her source was a 'ole codger with only a small pickup holding 1/3 a cord....so he over 6 trips, he simply backed the truck into the empty garage and unloaded the wood sticks right there...no fuss, no moving from an outdoor pile...brilliant!     
Of course, I Jack won't be there this winter to snooze by the wood stove because BTW still intends heading south...and he now wants to ramble, ramble about maritne history.  Get ready to snooze.

Bob here again..
Over two days, we three eased pass Rhode Island and Connecticut coastal townships rich in maritime history...whaling...cod fishing...ship building; the stuff we were stuffed with in schools about Indian land transfers (outright theft), Revolutionary struggles, industrial expansion, and now modern urbanization into one large concrete slab from NYC to Boston.  But elow are 'little known', often 'wish to forget' snippets hidden in their historical societies, interspersed with some pics of Newport's charmed compact homes of the 1780's.

Newport: a major center of pirate activity during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The most famous pirate based out of  Newport  was Thomas Tew...so popular with the locals; after one of his pirating voyages, it was reported that almost the whole town came out to greet him.  

Point Judith:  named after young Judith Thatcher who rescued a ship on the ledge 17th century.  A most colorful explanation concerns a certain Nantucket sea captain, lost in the fog off the point. The captain's daughter shouted that she spotted land. The captain, unable to discern anything in the fog, exhorted his daughter to "P'int, Judy, p'int!"   .
The last US ship sunk by  German submarines WWII went down off Pt. Judith.

Westerly: named for the settlement's location respective to Rhode Island's geography, being the westernmost town in the state. Home to Dr. James Babcock 1700s, one of Rhode Island's first physicians and also later State Chief of Justice; who in his 20's eloped there from Newport, remaining  hidden from parents for 10 years   .

Watch Hill:once occupied by Niantic Indians in the 1600s, subsequently an important lookout point during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War (why so many wars along coastal New England?), hence the community’s name. Watch Hill now most noted for its expensive palacial mansions, but other historic landmarks include the The Flying Horse Carousel, the oldest continuously-operated carousel in the United States   .

Mystic: Pequot Indians...95% eradicated by small pox donated by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Also the setting for "Mystery of the Whale Taboo"...Hardy Brothers 47th book.
In 1697 schoolmaster John Fish set off controversy allowing 'girls' into classrooms. With the community averaging 6 children/family, 'girls' increased his enrollment and salary' giving him time to lecture the community on family values,that is until his wife ran away with the debonair piano player.  Laws in 1700 did not permit divorce for 6 years after seperation, so poor John for 6 years continued to teach but could not remarry.  Poor John.  Margaret Lake in early 1700s received a land grant from the Massachusetts Bay Colony...the only woman to receive one   .

New London: home to juxtaposed CONN College for women and the USCG Academy, accounting for roudy weekends and robust sales of 'morning after' pills; also considered New England's whaling center second only to New Bedford, Mass   .

Old Saybrook: at the mouth of the Connecticut River named by President Clinton as one of 14 US Heritage Rivers; with numerous outside parishes including Lyme (home to our infamous Lyme disease). In 1701 with a grant from England for a 'collegiate school', Old Saybrook hosted a small college, later moving to New Haven...now called Yale.   

Branford: in the mid 1800s, a most popular resort with >20 large hotels; 1974---first US hospice.  95% white 1% black 2% hispanic (2006 census)  

New Haven: origin of the National Student Strike following the 1970 trial of Bobby Seale and the Black Panthers.; 2001...3rd highest per cap income in the US.  2006...32nd. 2006 census: 62% white..37% black; today >15000 illegal Hispanic immigrants   .

Milford:  Abigail Merwin 1759-1786...a young mother hanging wash saw redcoats ferrying ashore in long  boats...grabbed her child and with a metal pan ran house to house successfully alert townspeople..."the redcoats are coming"; considered  the female equivalent to Paul Revere.  Oyster huts of 1800---thatched beach huts covered with seaweed...recently  Schick (shaving supplies), Subway (fast food chain), BIC (pens   ).

Bridgeport: home to P T Barnum where the circus wintered and firetrucks even today display the logo "where the circus never left town".  Also home to Frisbie Pie Co and thus heir to frisbies.  In 1860---Abraham Lincoln addressed a crowd of thousands in the auditorium with folks crammed into the outside mall.  In 2006---George w Bush addressed a small group in the Polka Dot Playhouse on health care reform.  

Norwalk: Connecticut's state song, Yankee Doodle, has Norwalk-related origins. During the French and Indian War, a regiment of Norwalks irregular was assembled to report as an attachment to British regulars. The group was commanded by Col. Thomas Fitch.Assembling at Fitch’s yard in Norwalk, Fitch’s younger sister Elizabeth, along with other young local women who had come to bid them farewell, were distraught at the men’s lack of uniforms...so they improvised plumes from chicken feathers for the men to wear in their hats. As they arrived at Fort Crailo, New York, the British regulars began to mock and ridicule the rag-tag Connecticut troops who only had chicken feathers for uniform. Dr. Richard Shuckburgh, a British army surgeon, added new words to a popular tune of the time, Lucy Locket..“stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni”, macaroni being the London slang at the time for a foppish dandy.
Norwalk... also home to the state's largest most public trial when Michael C. Skakel (born September 19, 1960) was convicted in 2002 of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley, his fifteen-year-old neighbor.  He was sentenced to 20 years to life and remains incarcerated. Skakel is the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy   .

Stamford, Connecticut  where one can head due North, due East, due South, and due West and you will be in New York State.  Also the world's highest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters, with 9/10 residents posting high school degrees; 46% with college degrees; and home to Benny Goodman, Chris Lloyd, Gene Wilder, Cyndi Lauper, Jackie Robinson, William Buckley, Walter Cronkite, Dr. R Jarvik (Jarvik artificial heart), and Will Shortz, puzzlemaster   .

So there you have it...

 

 

 
 
   string theory...
Saturday       October 3, 2009       Newport, Rhode Island        41°28.5'N  71°20'W
  Webster's Dictionary  definition of "string theory"
"a theory in physics: all elementary particles are manifestations of vibrations of one dimensional strings"
 
   
  "String Theory" as seen on svNavigator...
 
 
   
   
 home             top             comment
      
 
 
 
s