Thursday, July 18, 2019

Throwback Thursday - The Front Door

We are indeed back to the land of predictable front door views, but this post helps me remember why we love cruising so much.

The Front Door

The inside of the boat is the same as always. The dappled sunlight on the oiled teak, Starbuck's green leaves hanging down over the closet (our mold-eating ivy plant), the smell of whatever happens to be in the oven at the moment wafting around, the coffee steaming, the boat gently rocking. You really couldn't tell from in here whether we were anchored in Coles Creek at Carlyle, or sitting at the dock at Oak Harbor, or in the anchorage at Magothy River. The inside of the boat is home, no matter where we are.

The weirdness begins when you slide open the companionway and look outside. At the moment we're still in Back Creek outside of Annapolis and there are literally thousands of boats within a 5 minute dinghy ride. They come and go all day, waving and smiling and even hollering across that they used to be from St. Louis as well. When we lived there, every time I opened the front door was predictable. The same sidewalk, the same trees, the same neighborhood Some people find that comforting I guess, but I have to tell you that taking the comfort of home to places where every time you open your front door there's a new neighborhood, is some sort of magical. A bit like Lucy's foray into the back of the wardrobe. It's not quite Narnia, but magical nonetheless.

Back Creek, Annapolis

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Throwback Thursday - The Destination

Whether you're preparing to go cruising, or whether you're transitioning to land or to another boat or adventure, feeling like you're never going to get there is a very common thing. I wrote this post less than a year before we left, but I suspect I'll feel exactly the same when we transition back to the boat at the end of our time here.

he Destination

I follow a blog called Terra D'Agua which, if you've never been, is worth looking at. One of the two writers, Tassio, wrote a thought-provoking piece about the destination being the journey. His quote:

"Who gives time to meet the paths of a place is usually rewarded with surprising moments of pure authenticity. For sure the stop over on the city or next port is really appreciated but when I travel I try not to focus only on my port of arrival, my destination is sometimes in between a place and the other."


I was thinking a lot on that quote today because it seems like the path to the destination of our departure is getting farther away instead of closer. The house won't sell, we're having mechanical issues, the mountain of things that would need done to actually move out of the house if it did sell is astronomical, etc etc. It discourages me sometimes because I keep celebrating birthdays in the meantime.

Then today, even though we couldn't sail (no water in the lake), I got a lot of canvas work done and Tim got a lot of teak cleaned and ready for refinishing, and we had some good times with friends at the marina, and for the moment it occurred to me that our departure, while it's a goal, is only a piece of the journey we're already on. 

So for now my destination is in between a place and the other.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Learning and teaching

There are now two Ukuleles living in our little apartment. The original Blue Soprano gifted me by Daughter Eldest and Family nearly two years ago, and a new wood Concert Uke with a finish as deep as on any good teak work. It is a pretty thing, with a slightly deeper tone and offering a little more room on the fret board on which my mechanic’s hands can fumble. I play them both, with Blue being my companion when I’m out on the road. That doesn’t happen very often, but it went with me to Dallas last month and will likely go along when I head to Orlando in a few days for another week of classroom work. In addition to plunking away at the strings, the urge to actually learn some music theory came over me…and I thought the theory of flight was confusing. But I think its good to keep learning new things.

Stumbling up to bare competence in Basic Ukulele with the goal of someday actually playing passible music keeps me on the student side of the student / guide equation, making a good balance to teaching in the jet. Though the people I work with are far from amateurs, their learning experience is a compressed, drinking-from-a-fire-hose marathon of classes, tests, Sim time and check rides. It is a high pressure learning environment.

Any learning curve is jagged, filled with slumps, valleys, and plateaus. Instructors need to remember that and, more importantly, remind students of this inescapable fact. Serious learning is never easy and never goes smoothly. Another fact is that mastering the rationale behind a physical skill is one thing, perfecting the skill quite another. Learning the physics behind and the complex relationships that form a musical scale helps in understanding just how the music should sound. But there is no escaping the fact that the fingers have to play that scale a thousand times before it sounds good enough to be included in a song. It was the same learning to sail. Classroom time spent learning the basics was time well spent. But no one becomes a sailor, or a pilot, in the classroom. No one becomes a good instructor sitting in a classroom either. Standing in front of one? Sure. Sitting in one? Not so much.

Which is the one tiny frustration I have right now, not doing a lot of teaching. Though I have worked with a couple of crews in the GFS, most of my time is still spent on internal training, with the class coming up being focused on meeting the requirements to teach European crews. I also get to spend some time as the right seat pilot for other FSI instructors doing their own internal training. It is all good stuff, adding to my own store of knowledge and offering up some good practice time. But I am really looking forward to more time spent working with those learning to fly a machine new to them.

And though it seems a little odd, being a student of the Uke helps make me a better instructor in the jet.

Ed Note: If you have always wanted to play the ukulele but feel like you're too old to start, read Tj's book, Learning From a Uke, available on Amazon.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Throwback Thursday - How to Cut a Pineapple the Easy Way

I did this video for YouTube and even on land I find it a very useful technique to utilize. I originally posted it on my companion site, Cruising Comforts, my companion cooking blog. The blog started out life as a collection of recipes that you could make in a boat galley, but after discovering that staying healthy is extremely difficult while cruising, I changed the focus. I started the Noom weight loss/lifestyle program after we settled in St. Louis, and the focus of the recipes became health related. I did leave all the comfort food recipes on the blog, though, because everybody needs a treat once in awhile...just not every day 😉

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sistership Magazine

For any of you that might not know, there is an amazing new publication constructed largely for sailing women called Sistership Magazine. I've been writing a couple things for them and I wanted to draw attention to the publication in case any of you weren't aware of it. Here is a link to a free issue of it from November so that you can try before you buy. It's well worth the money, though, for a subscription.

The article that I wrote for them most recently was called The Challenge of Healthy Cruising, published in the June 2019 issue. It's a topic that became near and dear to my heart after we returned to land temporarily to build up the cruising kitty. I'd gained a lot of weight because it turns out that you spend way more time sitting while cruising than you do moving around (who knew?) 

I also entered one of their writing contests on the topic of "Changing Places" and just recently was notified that I won second place in the contest for my entry "The Sojourn." It was a story about the difficulty of returning to land after cruising almost six years. They publish anthologies of all of the best entries in each of their contests, and mine will be published in that anthology soon.

So if you're looking for a really high quality publication that deals with serious issues for women sailors and champions some pretty impressive women, give the free issue a try and support Sistership with a subscription.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Never ignore the good

London City Airport, England, identified as EGLC in the aviation world, is an interesting place.The single runway is 4948 feet long with the ramp area on the south side being less than half that length paralleling the west end.  There is no parallel taxiway for the length to the east. Aircraft landing east pull into a loop at the end of the runway to turn around and back taxi to the ramp, nose to nose with the inbound traffic. Because it lies among the city’s buildings the approach is steep, 5.5 degrees as compared to the standard 3.0 degrees. Departure corridors are equally steep in order to accommodate both safety and noise concerns. They fly airliners into the place. It takes special training and authorization to operate there, specific to the type of equipment being used.

Photo credit: Ercan Karakaş

Innsbruck, Austria is another interesting place. The airport’s field elevation is 1907', nestled in a picturesque valley and noted for the world class skiing on the surrounding mountains; mountains that are just shy of 10,000 feet tall. Approaches into that airport start letting down into the valley as much as 27 miles away, then wind their way to the airport with mountains framing the inbound path. Landing to the east, the point of the final turn that lines one up with the landing runway (known on the chart as WI005) is just 2.6 miles from the approach end. The runway itself slips into view a few moments before reaching that point. It is also a place that requires specialized training in any airplane one wants to fly into the place while the weather is down on its face.

America has mountains, skiing, and its own interesting airports, with Aspen, CO being among the most notorious. The Aspen airport elevation is 7837 feet with the surrounding mountains touching 14,000 feet. The RNAV (GPS) - F approach boasts a descent angle of 6.49 degrees, which is easily topped by that of the VOR DME - C approach with its ear popping angle of 9.61. Being in the US of A, home of the rugged individualist and cowboy loner, there is no special training or authorization required to saddle up and head to Aspen. The prudent, however, heading that way in a $20 mil jet loaded with VIPs, like to take a peek before jumping into the deep end. (An attitude much approved by insurance companies.)

A flight instructor working in a full motion simulator bolted to the ground in St. Louis gets to fly into all three. (It is a bit of a jolt to climb out of the Sim after a few hours of "flying" around London, then climb into a car to take I70 east to St. Louis.) I’ve been to Aspen for real. The London “flight” happened a day or so ago and I’ll be “heading” to Innsbruck, again, in a week or so. This plane has a special system's mode for steep approaches, one that raises the approach speed while allowing full spoilers to be deployed along with full flaps; a configuration not available during more normal approaches and landings. The procedure isn’t overly complicated, but it's always more comfortable to not try something new while “on the fly” at 200 knots.

Seeing new places, even if through view-screen “windows” looking out at a synthetic world, helps with making the transition to living a land-bound life. Outside of the Sim life is traffic, bustle, the constant barrage of propaganda, advertisements, and the relentless noise of civilization. It is a frenzy now ramping up to insane levels with the incoming national political campaigns beginning to unfold. (Those living on the water and off these shores should rejoice at being well insulated from the madness.)

Photo Credit: Andrew Jacob Byrnes (@jakeofsaltlake)
We have found a nearby bar that has not a single TV anywhere to be seen, a rare find nowadays. (It would be no surprise if some future civilization categorizes our fascination with TV as an addiction; and a fatal one at that.) Walks in the nearby parks, having a bit more resilience to life-threatening weather, and the endless joy of having grand kids around are more than just balms for the stationary soul. They are treasures in their own right, things to be cherished and celebrated. I miss the open water life, but life is rarely all bad or all good. No matter where life leads, one should never ignore the good while emphasizing the bad. Something I am still learning to do.