September 12, 2008

A Traditional Future


It’s Friday night. If you look up “Friday night” in the Gifford Family Compendium of Language and Culture (GFCLC), you’ll find:

Pizza. A complex milieu brought on simply by dough and “stuff”, enabling simple people to become uncomplicated from rigors of a complex week. Follow religiously.
It’s a terrible definition really. Our literal interpretation is to make enjoyable, good food from scratch and by the time cleanup arrives a decidedly fun time has kicked the pace and stress of last week in the arse. I’m tired; I don’t want to make it I would to whine. Behan would point to the GFCLC. I closed mouth, grabbed the flour, and… After a few thousand thin crust, cheese or not, red sauce or pesto, or no sauce, myriad of toppings and combinations, I finally understood.

The first few Fridays living onboard Totem brought no pizza night. The idea of cooking pizza on a boat oven is like surfing with a dial-up internet connection. Juvenile pressures forced a heated confrontation with our galley equipment. Turns out, our Friday pizza night does work for us sailors to.

Tradition held it that in the British Navy old, the captain would read the Articles of War to the entire ships’ company every Sunday. This legal document contained thirty-six points describing behaviors deemed punishable -mostly by death. Fortunately, the kind of drunkenness, foul language, bad steering, and general pissing off of the captain described was rarely seen amongst sailor types.

Clearly, the intention of the Articles of War was rooted in preserving the health and well being of the crew. As we settle into a new life aquatic onboard Totem, I feel a strong pull to carry on this tradition. As captain of a young crew, I may need to spin the original language a little. For example, everywhere it says “shall be punished with death”; I’ll tone it down with “shall have a time-out alone in their cabin”.

In all seriousness, we’ve been asked a lot about pirates and storms; but what Behan and I go to bed at night thinking about are kids overboard, fire, or serious mechanical failure. Our “big trip” is present tense and in every sense, safety onboard is all important. I think this Sunday we’ll work together to adapt the Articles of War into the Articles of Safety; then make a Sunday tradition of practicing them. But now, it’s Friday night and time to go flip the LPG solenoid, heat up the oven, and choose the toppings for our pizza.

September 7, 2008

Life in Alameda


handling the heat
Originally uploaded by behang

Our first week in Alameda flew by. It has been HOT- many days pushing triple digits this week. I realize that's peanuts compared to what we'll experience in the Mexican summer next year, but hey, we're thick blooded from life in the Pacific Northwest! Of course, the office I'm going to is still climate-controlled enough to need a sweater, but back on the boat it's toasty. There have been a few days the kids played entirely down below to beat the heat, although even that's warming up with water temps around 75. Of course, all this sun drenched glory (we've not had much "summer" for a while near Seattle) has also given rise to fun and creative ways to cool off. Swinging kids out on the spinnaker pole, as demonstrated above by Niall- was a sure winner.

It's an amazing community at Gate 11 of Marina Village. Although we expect to stay about a month longer, I am already sure I'll miss it when we move on. We started with the best arrival- old friends Jim and Diana, waiting on the dock to catch our lines. They've gotten us properly oriented, from helping shuttle our crew to the airport (and me to Trader Joe's!), orienting me for the commute into San Francisco, and introduced us around the 'hood. It is so friendly, I'm frankly taken off guard- and absolutely love it. The marina is full of people who have been, or plan to, take a walkabout-by-boat like we do. Cruisers who welcome us as their own and offer all maner of help and advice, from offering to loan a car to must-see spots on our cruise south. Yesterday was a marina "yard" sale, which lasted for several ours- until a party broke out. Barbeques in the common area by the gate fired up, coolers of chilly beverages began appearing, boxes of fresh fruit and veggies from residents who have shore-side homes here as well. Sitting under the shade of a patio umbrellas, getting tips and talking story with the new neighbors...this place is easy to love! The juju is such that it seemed the most logical thing in the world when Niall and I had our paddle around the marina interrupted by a "HEY, BEHAN!" from a passing catamaran...friends we've made from a distance while sharing our plans, now sharing the same waters. Laureen and the rest of team Hudson on the Excellent Adventure rafted out for dinner en famille, more stories and plans to share.

We're watching the gribs this week, hoping for as charmed a passage for our friends on s/v Don Quixote. Also hoping to meet up with the s/v Third Day crew on their jaunt up to Alameda for a Ha-ha pre-party...as long as they're willing to leave their boat back in Port San Luis. We're not joining these fellow kid boats on the Baja rally, but hope to see them all down south of the border over the next year+.

Girls are playing with their dolls in the v-berth...Jamie and Niall are off to pick up parts at West Marine...I'm going to see if I can find the bottom of the fridge. Life is good! More pictures on Flickr this week, click through images to right of the blog post for the latest.