Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Tomorrow I hope to spend the day working on Nomad. She doesn’t need much but I would like to dress up some of the wiring and see what I can do about the minor water leaks. Deb hopes to meet me at the marina after work where we can look at new screens for the companionway. Mostly I think we both just want to hang around Nomad some. Its sill a little hard to believe that the retirement project has progressed to the point where we actually own a boat and know at least the rudiments of how to sail her. At the moment I think I more about sailing a boat then I do about maintaining a boat. I wonder about things like stuffing boxes, how much water is too much water on our side of the hull, what is the best routine for putting up sails, stowing fenders, (for some reason I keep wanting to call them “bumpers”) what would be the best way to run all the sheets, should I try to figure out the rest of the jiffy reefing, stuff I never knew anyone ever thought about. Yet sailors have been thinking on things like these for hundreds and even thousands of years.

Somehow that strikes me as something special. My industry, aviation, has such a short history. There are even photographs of the very first powered flight. When I worked for the University I flew a 1929 copy of a 1917 airplane. (It didn’t fly very well. There is a reason we don’t build them that way anymore.) My grandfather was born before the first powered airplane ever left the ground. One could reasonably count me as a “greybeard” in the aviation world. I have 30+ years of mucking around airports and hangars, 10,000 hours in the sky, a couple of type ratings and a whole list of letters after my name; ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, A&P, IA, DME. I have been a D.O.M., D.O.O., Check Airman, Chief Pilot, Chief Inspector, and my beard really is grey. But at most I am only of the fourth generation of “greybeard” in the industry of the air.

On the other hand sailing has a history that stretches back before there was writing, let alone photographs. The physics of sail, wind and keel haven’t changed since the dawn of human kind’s first explorations of the sea. I’ll bet you could pluck a deckhand right out of the 12th century, drop him down on Nomad’s fiberglass deck, and he would be able to hoist and set the sails without a word spoken and on his very first try. He might marvel at the lightness of the sailcloth, gaze puzzled at the depth finder screen, run the nylon sheets though his hands with wonder, and would certainly have no clue that the big chunk of metal under the steps could make the boat go without the wind, but he would know how to sail the boat. I don’t know why that strikes me as being pretty cool, but it does.

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