Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Unplan

I read today on Skylark's blog about long term plans and how, inevitably, they change. He mentions how he read a post on a sailing forum by a sailor named Dave, (S/V Exit Only, which changed his perspective on long term plans. Dave's take was that plans change and long term plans are silly and not worth your time. Instead, Dave believes in "unplans", plans that refuse to look further than 6-12 months into the future.

I couldn't find the link to the original post but Skylark posted the text on his blog, Skylark: Sailing Adventures on a Cal 34, and I have reposted it here since it was that good.

Personally, I know my life has changed drastically in the past two years and deviated quite far from where I thought it was going to be by this point. My long term plans have changed to accommodate completely different goals at least 4 or 5 times since graduating college. I was going to be in law school, working on my PhD in psychology, getting my master's degree, an officer in the Coast Guard....etc. I've also noticed that when I have a strict plan, I tend to get stressed out when I'm unable to adhere to it, even though it doesn't impact anything all that much.

I guess that's why I like goals or plans without a timeline. They're something to work towards and give you motivation but don't put you in a box and restrict you from being distracted by life and living. I really try to live by unplans with goals in mind but its posts like the one below that remind why its such a good idea in the first place and how you really can't count on the future; you just have to enjoy today.

"You have long range plans with lots of assumptions about the future. 

My experience is that life is a non-linear experience, and assumptions about the future are not worth very much.

Long range plans to me only have meaning for six months to twelve months in the future, and even then things can change radically.

I wrote a page on one of my websites called "The Man With The Unplan".

THE MAN WITH THE UNPLAN*** I am the man with the unplan

I am the man with the unplan. What is the unplan? The unplan is simple: my long range plans are firmly set in jello, and are therefore subject to revision, reversal, and massive change. Although I know who I am and where I am going, I don't have any long term plans set in concrete.

My life is full of maybes, perhaps, and possibilities, but real long range plans are clearly out of the question. Three of my colleagues who had long term plans are no longer alive, and the handwriting is on the wall and in clear focus. The message says, "Today is the only day I have, and I need to make it count for something good."

I used to be a man with a plan, When I was halfway through college, I made a plan to go to medical school, and I did it right on schedule. But after that, the unplan took over. When I was an intern, I planned to become a pathologist, but instead, I became an eye surgeon. I planned to practice general ophthalmology, and instead became a retina and vitreous surgeon. I made a plan to work overseas in Saudi Arabia for five years, and instead stayed for eleven years before I set sail on the ocean of my dreams. I planned to spend two years sailing around the world on my yacht, and it took eleven more years to complete my circumnavigation.

Life has been full of twists, turns, and reverses, and it's easy to see why I am the man with the unplan. I didn't realize I was the man with the unplan until I had a car accident in New Zealand. When I rolled the van I was driving, I broke two legs, five ribs, one scapula, and I punctured one lung. I spent nine days in the intensive care unit, had three operations, and received seven units of blood - all of this was quite unplanned. I stayed in the hospital for two months and gradually regained my ability to walk. It took six months to be able to bend my right knee ninety degrees, and that made it difficult to climb on and off my yacht.

While I was hobbling around on crutches in Whangerei, New Zealand, I passed a real estate office that had an advertisement in the window for waterfront property - one kilometer of ocean frontage. At the bottom of the advertisement were the words, "For long term plans." I looked at those words and burst out laughing. Those words - long term plans - were massively presumptuous in the world in which I lived. In my world, I didn't know if I would ever walk normally again. Skipping and running were out of the question. First, I had to progress from hobbling to limping. Even my trip around the world on my sailboat was up in the air; I didn't know when or if it would ever continue.

I realized then and there that I was the man with the unplan. Although I had a general direction to my life, and I had a list of things a mile long I wanted to do, I no longer had solid plans or even a schedule. My life was full of possibilities, but long term plans were a thing of the past. When you are fifty old, and you don't know how much time you have left, you leave the long term plans to young whippersnappers who feel like they are immortal.

Since that time, I have been living more in the moment. I have a general direction to my unplanned existence. I planed to sail across the Atlantic Ocean sometime in November, December, or January, conditions permitting. I will probably cruise in the Caribbean from January to June, and then I will arrive back in the USA in June, July, or August. That's my unplan.

The truth is, I was never very good at squeezing my life into any type of mold, and plans are sometimes the most restrictive molds of all . Anyway, the majority of my plans have turned out different, maybe even better, than I had hoped. So I have decided to stick with my unplan and see what happens. One thing you know for certain, we will be surprised when we see how it all turns out.

By the way, God, if you happen to be listening, I would appreciate it if you would extend my unwitting and unplanned existence for another forty or fifty years, because there is so much to do and so little time, and I want to make the next fifty years into a real adventure. I promise I will do better this time. Amen."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wind Turbine off the Coast of Cape Cod

Does anyone know more about this?

I just read on that Ken Salazar has just approved plans for an offshore wind farm off of Cape Cod. Apparently the plan includes the construction of 130 wind turbines. The company, Cape Wind (I'd link to the company's website but it seems to be down right now), says it can start power output by 2012 and the eventual goal is to power about 3/4ths of the homes on the Cape.

I think they'd be kind of fun to sail around. I could see how they might hinder helicopter rescue but how close could you get to them? I'm not really sure but this is definitely a win for renewable energy.

There are more links below:
Boston Globe

Monday, April 26, 2010

Abby Sunderland's Change of Plans

Just read on Abby Sunderland's blog, Zac Sunderland's little sister, that despite trying to go for the youngest, solo, non-stop around the globe record; there is going to have to be a change of plans.

She is headed into Cape Town to get repairs done on her auto pilot which ends the non-stop aspect of her trip. Kind of bummer. I feel bad for her. That has got to be disappointing, especially when Jessica Watson should be coming into Sydney in just shy of a week.

I know that when I do my circumnavigation, I'm going to stop quite a bit. I see that as half the fun. Going new places and sailing to get there. [sigh] Alas, I'm also not going for a world record, so...there's that.

Anyhow, you can read about it on Abby's blog here and at the NY Daily News here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dock Talk is Helping Me Go Places!

Let me back up a second. 

So about 2 month ago or thereabouts, I thought it would be a good idea to look into how much renting diving equipment would be. I am open water certified and I figured that people in my area were probably looking for someone to scrub the bottom of their boats for relatively cheap given that we have a bunch of racers in the area and the cleaner the bottom, the faster the boat.

The problem is that I have a tendency to procrastinate and and be a bit lazy at times. Not always. Far from always. But sometimes. 

I did look into prices though, which was good. But that was about it. I still haven't dug out my wetsuit or found my open water dive cert.

However, while I was helping out Race Committee on Wednesday, there was a woman there who I've known for quite some time. She helped out at my brother's Cub Scout meetings, worked with my high school band as a chaperone, and I've raced against her and her husband most Wednesdays last season.

Anyway, she mentioned that she needed the bottom of their boat cleaned and wasn't looking forward to their usual person since they scrub too hard and take off the paint (which really is intense and they are scrubbing too hard). I felt the time to seize opportunity was upon me. 

I let her know I was open water certified and she asked if I would be available this weekend to which I responded I was.

I'm pretty stoked. It'd be nice to have a little dive/boat bottom-cleaning business on the side. I'd get some dives in and make some money on the side. Not a bad deal. 

Now I just gotta do it...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Night Races Start Today!

So I'm pretty excited.

However, the way that Round Bay Sailing Association (RBSA) does it is that every boat captain that signs up has to be RC (race committee) at least one Wednesday and my captain, at least twice in a row now, has taken the first race of the season to be RC to get it out of the way. So no actual racing today (unless someone needs a foredeck guy this week). However, I do get to help out with RC, which I've never done and I think every racer should do to get a better understanding of rankings, PHRF, handicaps, how much crap RC gets...etc. Should be fun and I'm looking forward to it. Not necessarily the racing, but just being out on the water with some regularity again.

And I would like to hone by ability to toss up and douse a spinnaker. I learned the basics last year but I'm still working on the speed aspect.

So I get to do that this week but hopefully a race next week.

This is our boat, Tango Too, last year early on in the season. I'm the furthest forward.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chinese Tanker on the GBR: Part 4 - Explained

gCaptain has the full story here. Essentially, there were a series of missteps and safety overlooks which include fatigue, inexperience, and using the wrong chart.

The Australian Government's Safety Transport Bureau offers its preliminary investigative report here.

President Obama's Pirate Executive Order

So I had it on good authority (my dad - who is a maritime attorney) yesterday that Obama signed an Executive Order stating that it is illegal to acquiesce to the ransom demands of pirates. After a bit of searching (it wasn't even in the Federal Register yet!), I found the text on a maritime blog here but it is also available in a nice printable format here. Basically it doesn't come out and say that paying ransom is illegal but it could easily be interpreted that way.

It seems the Executive Order is aimed at Somalia militants and anyone assisting them, as pointed out in this AP article. That makes sense but it seems like it could ensnare anyone paying ransom to the pirates since it could be construed as "financial assistance" although I think that would be a bit of a stretch. Getting mugged is not the same as giving to charity.

There is definitely some concern in the shipping industry and shipping companies are being told to consult with the US Treasury Dept's Office of Foreign Asset Control before paying any ransom. That viewpoint was found here.

The weird thing is that this brings a new issue to light. What is the best course of action legally? Killing pirates before they take your crew hostage or paying the ransom and dealing with the legal recourse? What is the best course of action morally?  Engaging in a firefight with Somali pirates (people left with no other choice in life but piracy) which could kill people on both sides or continue to fund acts of piracy and perpetuate the problem?

Hard to say...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chinese Tanker on the GBR: Part 3 - The Arrest

Ok, so I guess you could say that I'm following this story now.

The captain and the chief officer of the Shen Neng 1, the ship that grounded on the Great Barrier Reef, have been arrested. The ship dragged for over 1km (.6 miles) after it hit bottom on April 3rd. The general concern seems to not only be the destruction to the reef, which is extensive, but also the amount of oil that leaked and what the bottom paint that got scraped off the hull, will do to the surrounding coral life. According to the BBC, the bottom paint and oil will disrupt seabird and turtle breeding grounds.

Best guess seems to be 10-20 years to rebuild it. You can read the BBC article here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race

I didn't do anything boating related this weekend.

I took the weekend off and went hiking up in Westminster, MD with my girlfriend, Danielle at the Hashawha Environmental Center on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day for it too. 75 degrees and sunny is really hard to beat for just being outside. Sunday I went to the Washington Capitals hockey game in DC instead of sanding. However....

I was reading a mini-interview with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (as I tend to do occasionally) from Sail Magazine and it lead me to a link of a race that he founded. The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. I'm not quite sure how I missed the reference in Adam Turinas' post but it probably had a lot to do with me not knowing anything about the race to begin with. 

After reading how it is a round the world race for people who may or may not have any sailing ability, an "opportunity for people from all walks of life to compete in a round the world yacht race", I promptly signed up. Its not that I don't think I have any sailing skills because I certainly do. I guess I just like to be humble about it. Plus, any sailing expedition where the boat is provided sounds good to me.

 So not only is it sailing around the world; its racing too! How could I not sign up

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chinese Tanker: Part 2

So as an update to the Chinese Tanker that grounded on the Great Barrier Reef, gCaptain had some great graphics I had to share.

Additionally, they think that the mate was sleeping which caused them run aground.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chinese Tanker Crashes into Great Barrier Reef (GBR)

The title pretty much says it all. Apparently where the tanker crashed was closed off to shipping. Thanks to gCaptain for bringing this to my attention.

The Bloomberg story is here.

The NY Times story is here.

Below is Australian news coverage of the event and some AP raw footage:

The Beginning of Spring

This was quite a productive weekend for me.

I got off early on Thursday and after visiting my local dive shop, Sea Colony Aqua Sports, and finding out some prices for renting diving equipment and picking up some screws from the hardware store, I made my way down to Surprise. I had to check out the diving equipment rental prices since, not only am I planning on cleaning the bottom of the Surprise next weekend, but I'd like to see if I can make some extra boat money scrubbing other people's boats as well this season and I'd like to know what its going to cost me.

Anyhow, no time like the present right?  I got onboard and took out the hand sander and got to work topside. I was able to do it a lot faster with the hand sander than I had anticipated and I stained both sides with the cetol in pretty short order. I was on such a roll I stained the step into the cabin as well, since it had been sanded during my dad's and my new hatch door misadventure and hadn't been touched since.

While I was waiting for those to dry up, I put the new screws into the bottom of the whiteboard and since those were a bit bigger, they bit and held on nicely.

The new Surprise whiteboard

Afterwards, I took a note out of O Dock's handbook and relaxed a bit. Enjoyed some LandShark, read a bit more of my book, and took a nap.

Saturday, after my dad and I put some jib rollers onto our middle shroud, we took Surprise out for a calibration run. With all the relatively new instruments, we like to calibrate them every so often. The wind was blowing 9-17 knots out on the Magothy and it was a bit chilly out by 1600 so we didn't put the sails up but did accomplish the calibrations at least. I also the learned the different wind forces (AKA the Beaufort Scale) as well which helps put the "we were in Force 9 winds!" dock talk into better perspective.

My dad at the helm

View going into Magothy Marina

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sir Edmund Hillary Picture

So I finally found one of the pictures with Sir Edmund Hillary:
Pictured from left to right are June Mulgrew, Mom, Allen (my brother), Sir Edmund Hillary, me (at a chunky/awkward phase of my life), my little sister KC, and my dad.

Abby Sunderland Around Cape Horn

So just to update, Abby Sunderland, Zac Sunderland's little sister, has recently rounded Cape Horn and become the youngest person to do so as far as the reports are saying. She is on track to become the youngest, solo, non-assisted sailor at the age of 16.

I wasn't doing anything nearly that cool at 16. Playing trumpet in high school marching band and homework don't even begin to compare to sailing around the world.

Anyhow...if you're interested, her blog is here.

I should have posts from the weekend up soon!