Saturday, June 17, 2006

Report: Fremont Fair - The Summer Solstice Parade

Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood calls itself -- and wishes to be known as -- “The Center of the Universe.” While I can’t vouch for that appellation, I can report that Fremont does add a great deal of... um... “character” to the city. For 35 years, Fremont has celebrated the Summer Solstice and -- according to their website -- “the best of our community” with a fair that draws thousands upon thousands of folks from all over the city, the state and quite possibly the universe. Without doubt, the highlight -- though some might say the nadir -- of the fair is an event known far and wide as simply “The Solstice Parade.” Starting with naked bicyclists and including a cast of characters that one might easily imagine could be found at an intergalactic gathering, the parade simply defies description. If you’re ever in the center of the universe at the time of Earth’s summer solstice, you owe it to yourself to check out the Fremont Fair. In the meantime, Macgellan is pleased to be able to share this little video of the Solstice Parade.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Report: Yacht Delivery - Part 2 - "The Experience"

After a few unsuccessful attempts at editing an iMovie short to convey our “Yacht Delivery Experience”, I realized it would be best to simply provide a montage of unedited video clips and let them speak for themselves. All I will offer as an introduction is to say that far from being a “pleasure cruise”, a “delivery” is work! As you will see, we started with high hopes of high times and ended up worn out, half stir-crazy and hoping only that the trip would soon be over. The fact that we were equipped with every modern technology -- radar, GPS and auto-pilot -- was a mixed blessing. While, it made our “job” easier in terms of navigation and boat handling, it made the monotony of being under power with nothing to do but watch the gizmos work almost unbearable at times. The endless succession of “4 hours on, 4 hours off” watches was tiresome enough with a crew of four -- there was at least someone on watch with you -- but it became a true test of endurance when Tom and Jen got off the boat half-way through the journey. Captain Roy and I spent the last two days in a zombie-like battle against exhaustion. All in all, though, it was an excellent opportunity and a very valuable experience. Plus, the fact that I can add “experienced delivery crew” to my resume may very well help me arrange passage in the future on The Voyage of Macgellan! (PS - Sorry about the wind noise in some of the videos... I’ll try to fix it in the future.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Report: Yacht Delivery - Part 1 - "The Boat Journey"

On Monday, May 29th 2006, I got a call from an old friend -- Captain Roy -- who said he had a "delivery" job to move a sailboat from San Francisco, CA to Anacortes, WA in advance of the owner's family vacation sailing around the San Juan Islands later in the month. ”The weather service is predicting a window of perfect weather with strong South Westerly winds. I've been looking at your website and thought I'd invite you to go along as part of the crew. Are you interested?" I explained that while I have had some experience on small sailboats, I have little experience on "yachts"... and none on the Pacific Ocean. "Don't worry," he replied, "An experienced friend of the owner will be on the crew and so will (our mutual friend) Jen. Come on... It'll be a fun adventure!" "Okay," I said. "I'm in!" Early Tuesday morning he picked me up, we met Jen at the airport and flew to San Francisco. After a brief meeting with the owner, we met his friend Tom, rigged and provisioned the boat and got under way. We got hammered by rough seas and bad weather the first night out, but the journey settled down after that. Except, of course, for the fact that we had no wind the entire time and had to motor for 900 miles -- 5 days -- with nothing much to do except stay awake, stay in the boat, not hit anything and keep an eye on the combination of radar, GPS navigation and auto-pilot. This iMovie short, set to a perfect seafaring song by Hobo Jim will give you an overview of our “Yacht Delivery Boat Journey.”

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Musing: Maritime Monotony

Maritimemonotony1About 4 o’clock Sunday morning -- half-way through my watch -- I was just about bored to death. Just sitting there, watching the auto-pilot make an endless sequence of tiny adjustments to keep us on course, checking the radar screen every few minutes to be sure we weren’t going to hit anything, viewing the GPS plotter to see how much progress we’d made in the last few minutes... Ugh! I found myself wondering what it might have been like for mariners of old who didn’t have all our technology. In a fit of I-don’t-know-what, I decided to try a little experiment. I shut off all the hi-tech gizmos, grabbed the helm and actually “drove” the boat for an hour with nothing to guide me but a compass. What a nightmare! A dark, bleak sea and a dim, bleak horizon were all I could see. Rolling waves kept pointing the boat away from my desired course and forced me to make annoyingly frequent corrections. My feet and hands got numb and my back started killing me. What’s more, it was even more boring than watching the technology!

Maritimemonotony2By the time the hour was up, I had absolutely no idea if we were anywhere near the course I wanted -- I had even less idea how to figure it out -- and I started to worry about my inability to clearly see what might be ahead. (Captain Roy’s admonishment to “Stay in the boat and don’t hit anything” was, however, quite clear in my mind!) So, I terminated my experiment and turned on all the gizmos, fully convinced that mariners of old must have been a lot tougher -- not to mention more skillful -- than I am and had a far higher tolerance for boredom than I do. With a tip of my cap to those old tars, I plugged in my iPod and went back to “sitting” my watch. I’ll take the technology, thanks.