Monday, January 14, 2013

Summit to Shore Meets The Log of Spartina

One blog I regularly follow is The Log of Spartina. While I do not read every word its author, Steve, posts, I do look at every photograph he posts because Steve is a professional Photographer, and it shows on his blog.

I do not remember how I learned about Steve’s Blog, but we share enough in common that I sometimes enjoy reading it.  In addition to both of us being sailors (obvious) and loving seafood, Steve has sailed in some of the same areas my wife and I have kayaked, including  Baltimore’s developed Inner Harbor, Maryland’s wild Assateague Island National Seashore, the little picturesque harbor of  Onancock, VA,  Virginia’s Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and  the waters around Ocracoke, NC.   Steve’s shallow draft boat has taken him places I would never be able to sail Mischief, my four foot draft C&C 24 Mischief.  Nevertheless, I dream of sailing many of the places he has already sailed. 

I knew that Steve lived somewhere near Virginia Beach, so I contacted him a month before my wife and I were to vacation in Virginia Beach to see if he might be willing to meet us for lunch or dinner and if he might shows us his hand made sailboat Spartina.  In spite of the fact that we had never met, and perhaps against the best intentioned advice of his wife and a few of his own reservations, he accepted my invitation.
At Steve’s suggestion, and to fit his work schedule, we recently met for lunch at Chick’s Oyster Bar  overlooking the waters of Lynnhaven Bay in Virginia Beach.  I could not think of many other better places for three sailors who love seafood to meet for lunch.  Chick’s is one of the few restaurants I know where I can get a hamburger topped with lump crab meat while dining out on a plastic sheet protected deck overlooking and set right up against a bay.
Over lunch, we talked about sailing, photography, how Steve came to make and sail Spartina, how I came by Mischief, and many other common interests and experiences, as well as blogging on the blogspot platform.  We discovered that the three of us were all three years within the same age and shared some of the same philosophies about sailing.  Unfortunately, we were not able to see Spartina, but Steve issued us an open invitation to sail on her when the weather and our calendars permit.

After lunch, as we were preparing to leave, I asked my wife to take a photo of Steve and me.  A framed nautical Chart of Chesapeake Bay hanging on the wall above a picnic table out on the deck seemed to offer the perfect backdrop.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail

Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail
Edited by Patrick Goold; Forward by John Rousmaniere ISBN 978-0-470-67185-6
A Review by John Edward Harris

One of the many titles available in the Wiley-Blackwell Philosophy for Everyone series, Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail offers philosophers real world application of philosophical principles and invites sailors to critically reflect on their sailing experience.  If you are a philosopher and want to learn about sailing, you could do better by taking a sailing class or reading an instructional book. If you sail and either have a philosophical bent or want a little help reflecting on your sailing experiences, this is the best book I know of.

I am both an amateur philosopher, having taught Introduction to Philosophy as Adjunct Faculty based on my M.Div., and an amateur cruiser, having completed ASA 101, 103 and owning and sailing a C&C 24 on New York’s Jamaica Bay.  As a sailor and a philosopher, I loved most of this book.

The fifteen chapters, divided into four parts, are written by either philosophers who sail or sailors who have critically reflected on sailing. In Part 1, PASSING THROUGH PAIN AND FEAR IN THE PLACE OF PERPETUAL UNDULATION, Jack Stillwaggon considers the Certo ergo sum dimension of sailing.  Gary Jobson provides a racer’s point of view. Crista Lebens draws primarily on Aristotle’s “eudaimonia” and phronesis to reflect on a typical day sailing.  In my favorite chapter, Richard Hutch applies Rudolf Otto’s idea of mysterium tremendum to ponder the spiritual dimension of sailing.

In Part 2, THE MEANING OF THE BOAT - THREE SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT, James Whitehill offers a reflection from a Zen point of view.  Gregory and Tod Basham’s chapter on The Stoic Sailor was my fourth favorite chapter.  I highlighted more text in it than any other chapter except one.   Steve Horrobin’s “Sailors of the Third Kind” was my third favorite chapter and the one in which I highlighted the most text.  In case there was any doubt, Horrobin convinced me that of the three types of sailors, I am the third kind.

In Part 3, BEAUTY AND OTHER AESTHETIC ASPECTS OF THE BEAUTY OF THE SAILING EXPERIENCE, Nicholas Hayes’ reflection on the Race to Mackinac left me a little cold because I am not a racer.  Steve Matthew’s chapter on Sailing, Flow, and Fulfillment, however, invited me to reflect on the “flow” I sometimes experience sailing as well as sea kayaking, even though he writes from the perspective of a sail boarder. My second favorite was Chapter 10, “On the Crest of the Wave: The Sublime, Tempestuous, Graceful, and Existential Facets of Sailing.”  In it, Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza, Luisa Gagliardini Graca, and Jode Angel Jauregui-Olaiz helped me understand why, for me, navigare necesse est.  Their chapter 10, along with Hutch’s Chapter 4, would have justified my purchasing this collection of essays.  In Chapter 11, Jesse Steinberg and Michael Stuckart consider what is “instrumentally valuable” and “intrinsically valuable” about sailing.

In Part 4, PHYSICS AND METAPHYSICS FOR THE PHILOSOPHICAL SAILOR, Sebastian Kuhn’s chapter 12 considers the relativity of sailing. John D. Norton considers wind, apparent wind, and created wind in Chapter 13, a chapter that forced me to remember what I learned in high school about vectors, and in the Appendix contained more math than most would be comfortable with.  In Chapter 14, Tamar M. Rudavsky and Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody consider the gods, fate and the sea.  Hilaire Belloc’s Chapter 15 transforms a crossing of the English Channel into an archetype sail.

Because Sailing: Philosophy for Everyone: Catching the Drift of Why We Sail is a collection of essays rather than the work of one author, it can seem uneven.  While for some, its choppiness can be a challenge, it can also provide some excitement.  Sailors, from racers to cruisers, and sailboarders to blue water circumnavigators, will most likely find some wind for their sails in these pages and lead them to wonder if indeed the unexamined sail is not worth sailing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Summit to Shore Turns Four

There seems to be some debate about the average lifespan of a blog.  I have seen numbers as low as a few weeks and as high as two to three years.  Summit to Shore has apparently beaten the odds.  It turns four years old today! I started Summit to Shore, and blogging, on January 5, 2009. With a post entitled Ex-Nihlio, I entered the blogosphere.
Looking back  over the past four years, I think I started blogging for several reasons.  First and foremost, I wanted to learn about blogs and how to blog, as well as to learn more about social media.  In other words, I wanted to keep up with the times and I believe that the best way to learn is to do. 
Yes, I read a couple of books and on line articles about blogging but I more or less just jumped into the blogosphere without much preparation. I have learned a lot along the way.  In good Socratic fashion, however, I have also learned that when it comes to blogging and social media there is a lot I do not know.  It sometimes seems that social media is changing so fast one must be working in it full time to keep up with it. I use social media in my profession, but social media is not my profession, just part of it, one tool in my professional toolbox.  I therefore sometimes find it difficult to keep up with all the trends and changes.  Nevertheless, I try.
I also entered the blogosphere because I felt like I had something to say – not that anyone would want read what I wrote.  I may not be the world’s best writer, but I like to write.  I sometimes feel like there are words and ideas within me that I have to write down, or else I will burst.  Blogging offers me an outlet for some of my creative energies.  It also provides me a forum for some of my ideas and opinions.
I have sailed against the wind by not blogging about one particular topic.  Summit to Shore is certainly an eclectic blog, covering everything between, well, summit to shore.  In the beginning I had intended to be eclectic, but to write more about mountains and summits than I have.
When I lived in West Virginia, I spent a lot of my free time hiking and backpacking.  I often hiked two to four days a month, covering 8-16 miles a day hiking in some rough mountainous terrain at high altitude, at least by eastern standards.  After moving to New York City five and a half years ago, I thought I would spentd a lot more time climbing and hiking in the Gunks, Catskill’s and Adirondacks, but the reality of traffic and tolls soon altered my ideas.  It takes me at least an hour and a half and over $10 in tolls just to drive up to the Gunks for a day of hiking or climbing, and finding climbing partners whose skills and experience were compatible with mine was not always easy.
I can drive from my home to Jamaica Bay in half an hour and pay no tolls.  With a sit-on-top kayak kept on Jamaica Bay at the Sebago Canoe Club, where I can almost always find someone to paddle with,  I quickly found myself drawn more to the shore than the summit.  Two and a half years ago my wife and I took sailing lessons and  I bought a used C&C 24 sailboat, which I also keep on Jamaica Bay. This past summer we sailed on average probably one day a week.  A year ago I acquired a Necky Chatham 17 traditional kayak which I also keep on Jamaica Bay at the Sebago Canoe Club.  Is there any wonder, then, why I have ended up posting more about sailing and kayaking than hiking and climbing?  I also often cross post many of my kayaking related posts to the Sebago Canoe Club Blog,
Almost three years ago I took on the “Lectionary Ruminations” Column on Presbyterian Bloggers and soon started cross posting “Lectionary Ruminations” to my blog as well.  While between 25-45 people read my “Lectionary Ruminations” post every weak on Presbyterian Bloggers,  I will soon complete the three year lectionary cycle and will no longer post on Presbyterian Bloggers, which seems to have outlived its lifespan.  It has been six months since anyone else has posted to Presbyterian Bloggers, so I plan to update, expand, and edit my previous “Lectionary Ruminations” postings and continue posting them exclusively on Summit to Shore.
For the first two and three quarter years of Summit to Shore, I was working less than full time and had free time to write.  For the past sixteen months I have been working two half-time jobs, or the equivalent of a full time job, and have not had as much free time.  Therefore I post less than I used to, devoting most of my creative energies to “Lectionary Ruminations” with an occasional post about sailing, kayaking, politics, culture, or anything else between summit to shore..
Glancing at my BLOG ARCHIVE suggests that I started blogging like a sprinter and over the past four years have slowed down to a reduced but more manageable pace.  Here are the numbers.
2009    213 posts
2010    161 posts
2011    90 posts
2012    70 posts
According to All Time Stats, as of 10:40 AM this morning, there have been 53,598 pageviews and I have made 535 posts, with eighteen followers (THANKS ONE AND ALL). These have been the most popular posts.
We Sailed, posted August 27, 2012, has received 659 pageviews, nearly twice as many as the next most viewed post.

PC(USA) GA Vice Mod Visits NYC Presbytery at the God Box, posted October 8, 2009 , has received 346 pageviews.

A Prayer for Newtown, posted December 17, 2012, has received 339 pageviews.

Stuck, posted June 15, 2010, has received 317 pageviews.

At least one post from each year made it into the top six.  Three of the top six posts, however, are from the most recent year.  I suspect "We Sailed," "A Prayer for Newtown," and "Stuck" will continue receiving additional pageviews and that "A Prayer for Newtown" will eventually rise to second place while "Stuck" will eventually rise to third.
Happy Birthday, Summit to Shore, and may your best years be ahead of you.