time for ink!

finally after nearly 3 years i'm getting tattooed again! and i picked a lovely tattoo artist to boot ;-) err, or did she pick me?
it's thanksgiving weekend and after a full day of eating and then another day of sleeping and errants it is the weekend. a good time to add some ink to the inka.
it is also the day that princess taiping is leaving san diego, i miss those guys, and it looks like i won't be able to sail with them to china because of my obligations to the harbor here, it seems not right to leave while my "probation time" is not over yet. i feel a bit sad about it. choosing freedom and finally owning my home and then be locked down... but it's the rules i agreed upon. i hope i'll find the money to at least be able to visit them in honolulu in january..
i got a pair of twinkely dreamy stars now, and i got to do my first tattoo on someone else, only we forgot to take a picture...

Fri - Sun, nov 14-16, 2008

After arriving, experiencing a fabulous welcome home, unpacking, etc i already went on to my next adventure: a reflexology class.
i didn't realize that i'd be the only person in the class who is not studying to be a massage therapist, so it was a bit hard at first to keep up with the vocabulary... the class consisted of five 3 hr segments over the weekend and taught all the basics of reflexology, leaving me with the knowledge and abilty to actually conduct a 50 minute session, touching all the mayor points. it is an amazing art and i am so happy i have taken the time to learn this skill. i am sure my friends are equally thrilled because i'm going to need to practice!
the course was a good mixture of clinical and energy work and apart from the anatomical and physiological stuff i think i managed to do some energy work.
i managed to put ALL my "victims" to sleep. :-) it was amazing how sometimes my hands knew what to do before the instructor said what to do.
but now i'm back to moving.... i have hopefully not overextended my storage stay at 207 too much, i need to get the rest of my stuff onto my boat, do the finishing touches on the outside, now that's not raining and do logistical things, like balancing my checkbook, finding work for the winter, changing my address etc.
i am sooooo excited about my life!

fri nov. 14, 2008

somehow ACai and Lao Tang both got some english lessons when i wasn't listening, so they hug me and say a very staccato " i will miss you!" soooooo cute! then ACai added "i love you" and ran off... i still have a smile on my face.
my gunkholing buddy Jeff Sarr gave me a ride to the airport and Nelson and Angela both came all the way outside of the museum to his pick-up and stood on the curb waiving good bye... one week at sea and we are family forever! i love sailing!

thurs nov. 13, 2008

we transferred the boat to the maritime museum, got cannon salutes and a beautiful escort from Lynx and were met by press and tv... from then on Nelson and Angela were basically gone, back in promo land and i got to hang out a last night with the boys and some crew from the Lynx, drinking anf talking into the late night. i'm flying home the next morning.

wed nov. 12, 2008

we spent giving tours, resting and had dinner at patty's house. she was at the yachtclub when we arrived and just sensed that most of the crew hadn't been in a house since departure. we had a fabulous potluck at her very tasteful house and ate, drank and danced together. enjoyed the luxory of lounging on a couch and exchanging different cultural experiences. it was wonderful.

tues nov. 11 2008

i woke up to Lao Tung's voice yelling "Ai Tun!!!" there were lots of dolphins surrounding us. they didn't linger though. our speed wasn't high enough to play. actually we didn't make any way at all. once it was our watch the engine got started and we motored on a glassy golf of catalina towards point loma. we had a pilot whale visit us and shortly after two grey whales and then a submarine. what a bizarre fascinations sailors have with any dark body emerging from the depths...
i had a great time steering the boat into the entrance around the point, dodging kelp beds and sailboat traffic. more and more i realize how to use my photographic memory for navigation.i can memorize the chart and translate it to real life without having to look all the time. whereas anything i can't can't see gets forgotten quickly. i found a good perch on the port caprail, standing high and using the ropes to steer. once Lao Tang releived me, i noticed how pooped i was. we had yummy peppered pork with noodles and cabbage and continued motoring against the current.

the we heard the engine hick-up. she lost speed, going any direction but forward. there was a moment of panic (all in chinese with nelson translating the basics), then we realized that the prop had gotten fouled with kelp.
so the engine got turned off and we were at a good spot to drift for awhile while ACai used the boathook to free the prop. then we could go again at 2.9 kts instead of the 0.3kts with the kelp.

we got met by friends in a powerboat who helped us into a slip at the southwestern yachtclub where we had drinks and showers. i booked my flight home, talked to john M, john B. Frank and Kim.
then we just sat on deck into the late night and drank wine and talked.
these are very cool and special people and i am glad to have met them and spent time living and working together.
i definitely will keep in contact and i am hoping to be able to join the boat for another leg of this and any other voyage in the future.

mon, nov. 10 2008, noon

it was blowing well into the night and every now and then we had sets of 2 or 3 breaking right behind our stern. Just as ACai sat down to put away the ramen makings from our night snack, one broke on our stern and water came in by the rudder and through the yulo hole in the head and dowsed him. he squieled like a little boy.
i got a little banged up by the rudder klonking the tiller and can feel my pecs and shoulder muscles from steering.
as we got into the range of catalina island lighthouse the winds started subsiding though the swell remained. that made it more difficult to steer with the tiller tied off, using the weather helm. we shook the reef but then the wind turned to W just toward the end of our watch at 0500 and we had to wake Lao Tang to help wear the boat about. For that we had to hoist the mizzen and jibe the jib which was on the wondward side. what we call sailing wing on wing, the chinese call butterfly. though for most of the gale with the reefed tan bark sails we looked probably more like a tattered moth.

heading the boat up needs a lot of crew. the main sheet is devided in upper and lower sheetlets which lead to port and starboard respectively. so two people have to haul in on that. with the person manning the mizzen helping at the main block where twist and frictionprevent a smooth running of the lines. the jib gets tied off to weather to help push the bow around. once the boat has tacked we need one person to release the preventer while another one swings the sheetles around so they don't get caught on the battens and change the shape of the sail. all this with a tired crew it happened with a lot of yelling. i learned "hau" means "good", "shi" means "sure, o.k." and "ban" means help. It is interesting that because i understand the issue at hand , i can understand what people are talking about. the moment i try to talk about anything else unrelated, in my smile, pantimime, simple english, it's a 50/50 cahance that they have no idea what i am talking about.

this morning we got awoken with the engine starting. i could see the sunlight come through the diamond shaped holes in the crew hatch. no need for foulies or even shoes.
once on deck i realized that we had probably moved about 5 miles during the last watch. catalina is still there. there is no wind to speak of and the roling sea has only ripples and the remainders of the gale swell. we tied the tiller off and life on board is leisurely. clothes are being washed and hung to dry. guys are shaving. nelson is getting a haircut. we putt-putt into a navy exercise and they take pictures of us and wish us good luck. ACai put a handline out with a big red squid lure on it, but i think we are too slow to catch any of the yummy predetor fish.

i can't stop smiling. there was a pair of pelicans soaring around us earlier, the offshore shearwaters and storm petrels have already disappeared.
I had a good chat with Angela yesterday, her family lives in South africa and she's a painter. she showed me some photos of cool paintings of hers, oil, and we discussed scoping out art supply stores in san diego to get a small watercolor set for her so she can work in color during the trip. she is amazing supporting her boyfreind on this endeavor and coming along to cross the pacific twice in this tiny ancient craft. we were scheeming what to do next. once you are an adventurer it would be foolish (or death) to stop. So, either more voyages on princess taiping: south east asia, india, africa... or a quest for a new adventure. mua-haha!
well, for now we are inching our way towards san diego. after a fabulous lunch we all just hung out, exchanged addresses and sat in the sun.
i keep thinking time doesn't exist.
i got to dry out my sleeping bag and fleece jacket. actually it is weather for shorts and no shoes. the crew is sitting around doing expense accounting, they feel there won't be time for it on land when the cultural exchange and PR machine gets rolling again.
Finally, after it took us 10 hours to pass the length of catalina island, there was a strong enough breeze to be sailing again. what releif for the ears, no engine and instead the splashing of the 1ft sea, the creaking of mast and rigging and the voices of Angela, ACai, Lao Tang and Nelson counting.

i observed that ACai can read but not really write. he had to ask several times for the strokes of certain characters.
Once we were sailing again i retrieved my sleeping bag which was drying on the the forward gallows. unfortunately the jib decided to jibe at this very moment and the block knocked my glasses off and hit me in the cheek, another bruise to take home. it took me a second to realize, as the pain was subsiding that the world around me was blurry, and another minute to find my bent out of shape frames. luckily the pliers on my leatherman were able to fix the bend without breaking the frames of my only set of auxillary eyes in went aft to join the conversation again.
i love the fact that apart from catalina still being in sight, we could be anywhere, at anytime.
i'm thinking of the slow boat to china song.
i feel this is a very good crew. AUe is a little too eager, too polite and apparently doesn't have his sea legs yet. but he's adorable and reads peoples mind for their comfort needs. Hugh is a young man, so no surprises in behaviour, but he did impress me with his stained glass artwork he was working on in china before embarking on this expedition. Lao Tang has three kids and and a 2 yr old granddaughter. "Lao" means "old" as a prefix to express respect, he seems so young and cheerful, well, and small. but i can see the sparkle in his eyes, i think in his culture he is quiet the ladies man... ACai i already described, plus i'm bias because i have a crush on him. the relationship of Nelson and Angela is very impressive, they are a great team, i saw them working with the public and press on land, and also on the boat they have each other's back, i wonder how progressive their relationship is in their country.
the way angela pronounces "nelson" sounds to my ears more like "nielson" so that makes me smile because of pip longstocking's monkey Mr. Nielson.
in short, everybody is great and found a spot in my heart in this short time together. Life is good aboard the princess taiping.

nov. 9th noon

we got into a gale last night and had to reduce sail some more. we could see the lights at pt. arguello. it was blowing up to 35kts when my watch went to bed. this morning at 0900 is was 40plus and the waves were pretty high. 15ft but every now and then the consecutive 2 or 3 that were higher. luckily not very close together. the sun is out most of the day so far and last night we had stars. but i see weather coming, so i'll better put this away.
- by the time i had the book wrapped up and put away, it had stopped raining. ha!

i got dowsed by one wave that snug aboard but not very much. i was at the helm in just canvas pants and fleece sweater and saw the cloud coming. Nelson was about to take over the helm and i gave him some time to put his raingear on - wham - it got me! the sun is drying everything fast, over 40kts of wind help too.
ACai amazes me, he is so diligent, not only steering the boat through a gale with one foot, but also singing beautifully and whipping up the most delicious chinese food in these seas in that little galley cupboard, he is very good crew, we talk him in chinese and me in english, lots of smiles and pantomime. i am learning a little chinese, but it's a bit "in one ear and out the other". i retain even single words for only 20min max. when i hear them talk i sometimes crack up because whatever they say sounds like something else. yesterday i heard them say "hei-di-ho" a lot but even through asking couldn't figure out what it was supposed to mean. they had no idea what i said when i repeated it to them.
the boat is surprisingly dry. we only had two times water coming into the cockpit in 24hrs, and every now and then at the slats at the beam. the higher poop deck is my favorite spot, the "top-of-the-world" spot just before we start going down a wave and the white caps are breaking behind me.

i've eaten more fortune cookies in one night than in the past five years together. for once the sugary taste is welcome in a long wet night.
we are racing toward san diego with this gale pushing us. at 1300 we nearly passed san miguel. we carry a reefed jib (maybe equivalent to 1st reef) and a very tattered and small looking main, reduced to maybe the equivalent of a 4th reef.
in one near mishap the jib accidently jibed and got its sheet caught on the bamboo that is lashed to the gallows. the force lifted the whole gallow beam out of its socket. if it wasn't for the thwartships lashed bamboo we could have lost it. it made us thing about the main gallows too which would take the roof with it.
i sleep very soundly between watches, sometimes my knees feel cold, i wrap a fleece sweater around them and feel pretty cozy. the foot end of my sleeping bag is stuck into my big dry bag because there is water running down the sides and occasionally the bilge water wallows up as we are rolling. i could hear it sloshing around between the ballast rocks last night. My hands are a bit raw from correcting the course with the block and tackle rope, i can't do it with my foot in these seas, i need both feet planted on the floor to keep my balance.
these capped and streaked waves are so forceful and pretty at the same time, the wind howls in the bamboo. some sound like whistles, some like a far away horn.
the princess is stout and behaves very well, i totally enjoyed steering her this last watch.
now, so close to the channel islands we had a harbor seal come up and check us out. it was twisting its neck as we swooshed by oogeling with its big round brown eyes.
i'm learning to drink a glass of warm water in the morning and not go to sleep until at least 40 minutes after a meal. that's my chance to write, i'm pretty pooped from wresteling that klunky tiller, and elated to be in my element. time already doesn't exist.

nov. 8th 0900

i finally figured out their head system which isn't really rocket science but i have to admid it took me awhile. yesterday i just peed in a bucket but there is an actual head with a door that closes and a seat over a hole in the deck. who would have thunk....
the early morning watch wore the boat about and reduced sail a bit, we are moving a bit more inland trying 165true. we're past pt. sur, over 120miles in 24hrs.
this morning is overcast and grey. i think i seelight rain on the horizon, but not directly behind us. had some good sailing chats with nelson about the project and its difficulties and his circumnavigation.


the rudder is klunky but i started to get a hang of it. i was oversteering at first and since they stressed not to jibe didn't really dare to go dead downwind at first. we have a block and tackle and with the boat having weather helm even downwind one can tie it off to one side and needs to only correct a bit in general and only a lot when she's trying to round up or broach coming down a bigger wave.
we've had two fabulous chinese meals so far, chow mein and cabbage and bacon with rice, both delicious. the galley is a two burner cupboard in the cockpit with a big highwalled wok and high fencing so the pots can't move around.

once again i realize how much i like waking up to a new dat at sea, when everything is the same but entirely different.

nov. 7, 2008

departure on time at 0800 with the starting ebb
lots of photos and Angela is still on the phone
on board are Skipper Nelson, his girlfriend and project PR person Angela, both from Taiwan, sailing master Lao Tang, his cousin ACai, both fishermen from china with sailing junk experience, AUe a retired engineer from Taiwan, Hugh a young man from Iowa who lives as a businessman in China, and me.

leaving SF

through the gate accompanied by porpoises. John Bielinski is seeing us out the gate with his boat Annabelle, he's got Frank on board, a chinese camera man and another friend from the dolphin club.
First there was a bit confusion about the route, with the shipping channel and the lee shore, Nelson was still on the phone and Lao Tang and i couldn't really communicate, but all is good now, we're in 6ft swells way past point bonita. it is gorgeous weather, little not enough wind to sail. i don't have a feel for the boat yet so it's hard to make recommendations.

out the gate

Yesterday when i went to the lunch it turned out that i'll be the only US crew, well, besides hugh who speaks chinese and lives in china.
So they made me the navigator and i spent all afternoon getting proper charts together and advise, John Bielinski help a lot, so did Nelson's friend Bob. then i found myself getting photographed and giving interviews. it felt a little overwhelming and stressy, but also exciting and an honor. We decided on the major waypoints and the watches. I went and had a beer with ACai who wanted to go to hooters, but instead of the girls he kept watching the cooks preparing the food behind the counter. then i crawled into my bunk, a little coffin made for short chinese people. about 22" wide, 30" high and 5.5ft long. the crew quarters are about in the middle of the boat and 4 bunks on each side thwartships. so the head is near the keel in the middle of the boat where there is the least movement - in theory... it was o.k. at the dock, we'll see how it will be at sea.

my bunk

Getting into the watch system was easy
A: Lao Tang, AUe and Hugh
B: Nelson, ACai, Angela and i, with angela not really on duty so she gets to rest from the one month long PR circus in SF
4hrs on 4hrs off, each person steering for 1hr20min


it was easy to fall asleep when it was time and wake up.
We are running before the wind trying to nail 180true, but it seems more like magnetic. in the afternoon off Pt. Montara it got really foggy but we slowly sailed out of it further away from the coast, leaving it between us and land.

the galley

At night the moon set and we had tons of stars, lots of shooting stars as well. ACai was singing beautifully all night, respectfully humming when it wasn't his trick at the tiller, but singing loudly when it was. I found myself humming along.
Too bad we can't really talk because he seems so nice and funny, like a cute, cuddely panda bear.

from Lotus to Princess Taiping

I guess i have a thing for chinese boats.
i just got invited to go sailing with the princess taiping from san francisco to san diego, maybe stop in LA. we'll be leaving thursday or friday. no i dea when i'll be back, they are trying to shanghai me (no pun intended) to come to china with them. that's not possible, i need to make my home here, but i think i could miss this here for two weeks or so...
i feel totally honored to have been invited by Angela and Nelson, please google the boat and her voyage, they sailed here all the way from china. she is a 15th century full original replica. adventure!!!!