Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winterization Blues - A Sailor's Depression

Solitary sailor upon the sea, as seen through
one of the lenses of my binoculars
This is my first winter as the owner of a sailboat. Warmer than average temperatures in mid-November and a mid-November sailing outing lulled me into postponing starting to winterize my 1983 C&C 24 until early December. Even though I will be keeping the boat in the water all winter, as the previous owner had done, there was still some work required before winter’s freezing temperatures set in.

My first winterization required two half-day workdays. On the first day, I cleaned the cabin, bilge, and storage compartments. I also added antifreeze to the fresh and salt water lines, spending most of my time winterizing the head. None of these tasks, however, made the boat un-sailable. Fortunately, I completed these tasks before the first hard freeze.

On my second day, I not only added a second bow line and spring line but also fogged the outboard, removed both sails, and removed most of the running rigging, rendering the boat un-sailable without an equal amount of pre-sail work.

I have never owned a vacation home in the mountains or at the beach, or anywhere else for that matter, but now I think I can empathize with how owners of vacation homes might feel after closing up their getaway for the season. Nearing the end of my second workday, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a good friend before leaving on a long trip, and we did not know when we would see each other again. No longer would I be able to drive the 20-30 minutes to the dock, and within another 15-20 minutes have the boat rigged and out on the water. Winter had not yet set in and I was already thinking about – dreaming about – sailing next spring, perhaps as soon as April, or even March.

My winterization blues intensified yesterday when, from the sixth floor window of a beachfront timeshare at Virginia Beach, I looked out over the ocean and saw a lone sailboat out on the water. I picked up my binoculars, lying nearby, and focused on this solitary sailor on the sea. As inches of snow and ice from a recent storm were still covering the beach and boardwalk, some sailor and crew were enjoying a post storm sail on a nearly glassy sea bathed in sunshine, and I wished I were out on the water with them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Return to Narnia: Review of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Marquis Poster
It has been over thirty years since I last read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  So when my wife and I went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3-D yesterday, we did not remember all the details of the story and in some ways, it was like returning Narnia after a long absence. Fortunately, time in Narnia is not the same as time in our world.

The casting of the character that played Eustace, and his performance, were superb. We hated the character from the first frame in which he appeared. By the end of the film, his transformation was complete, a transformation evidenced in both his face and his demeanor.

The same actors who played the characters of Edmund and Lucy in the first two films reprised their roles. With a few more years on them, they fit perfectly into the story, which is set after the first two films.

We had seen the previous two movies on the big screed but this was the first one we saw in 3-D. While the 3-D certainly added depth, it seemed not to be exploited for shock effect. I do not remember, for instance, any swords, arrows, dragons or sea monsters flying out toward the audience, which in my opinion, was just as well. While the world of Narnia is certainly a fantasy world and a world of magic where good and evil often battle, it is not a world where 3-D would be used for any other reason than to tell a good story. I am not a big 3-D fan and I wonder what our experience would have been different if the film had not been presented in 3-D.

By the end of the film, I was saddened to leave Narnia behind and to return to the shadow lands where the work of the White Witch was still covering roads and walkways.

I heard a few weeks ago that while The Voyage of the Dawn Treader opened at number one, it was a weaker opening compared to the first two films. I hope it is grossing enough to bring at least one more film, if not all four waiting for the big screen, into production. This classic tale deserves to have all seven installments available for viewing if the remaining four are produced with the same artistry as the first three.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review of First Aid Afloat . . . Mate

When I ordered First Aid Afloat, prepublication and sight unseen, I did not realize that the publisher, Wiley Nautical, was a British Publisher. I encountered the first giveaway on page 18, when I read, “Heart disease is the main cause of death in the United Kingdom.” While British-isms abound in this 127 page paperback, the only time the British bias is a detriment is on pages 108-109, where all the directions for obtaining radio medical advice refers to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and where all the references to the “coastguard” are to the British coastguard.

I am new to sailing, having bought my first sailboat only a few months ago. One of the first things I did after buying the 24 footer was to assemble a first aid kit.

While I might be new to sailing, I am not new to first aid or emergency medicine. In my younger years I was an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and held various ARC First Aid certifications as well as both ARC and American Heart Association CPR certifications. I was a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician and worked as a professional EMT for nine months. Therefore, I knew the importance of having a well-stocked first aid kit aboard my sail boat, and I know how to use everything in it.

I bought First Aid Afloat not so that I could read it and use it in an emergency, but so that I could put in my boat’s first aid kit for other people to use in case I was not on board or I was sick or injured and could not render first aid to myself. Not overly technical and written and illustrated clear enough for the layperson, First Aid Afloat could very save a life, includingmy own.

What I like most about this book is that it is small boat specific. Both a powerboat and a sailboat appear on the cover, but neither is large. The text assumes one is aboard a small yacht. This is most obvious on page 54, where the text reads, “Commercially available splints for the leg are available, but tend to be bulky, and would tie up too much space on board a small yacht to be carried as part of the emergency kit."

A couple other examples of the small boat specificity of the text are on page 106. “When moving a causality, particularly in the small confined spaces on a yacht, you must consider personal and causality safety, the condition of the causality, manpower and equipment on board, and basic principles of lifting and moving.” Also “Improvisation is useful. For example, a stretcher can be fashioned from jackets and dinghy oars. The oars can be placed through the jacket sleeves with jacket fronts closed around them to create the stretcher, but always test that it will take the casualty’s weight before using it.”

There are probably more books about emergency first aid than could fit on a small boat, including many about first aid in wilderness and backcountry settings as well as first aid manuals specifically aimed toward recreational boaters and professional mariners. I find this slim volume complete enough for the small sailboat I own, one that will probably be limited to day cruises, or no more than an overnight cruise, and probably never out of radio range or more than a few hours from shore. It might even be the only first aid manual I keep in my boats first aid kit.

The list price of First Aid Afloat, by Sandra Roberts, is $26.95, but I bought it from Amazon.Com for $17.95.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

About the December 2010 Header Photo

This month's header photo is a recent one, less than a week old. I shot this looking south from Bear Hill in the Bear Hill Nature Preserve, Ulster, Co., NY, the morning of Thanksgiving.
Hiking around the southern Shawangunks has become sort of a Thanksgiving tradition the past couple of years, and this year was no exception. Since I do not get to the mountains as much as I would like, these Thanksgiving hikes have provided me with several "summit" photos that I have used for headers.

1,950 feet above sea level is barely worth claiming as a summit, even by eastern standards, but when one lives near sea level, it sometimes has to do.