A Great Circle

We sailed a great circle over the last week. Not in the traditional sense of navigating along the shortest path, but in the equinoctial Chesapeake sailor’s way. And we looked good doing it. The wind direction and intensity, the direction and speed of the tidal currents, and the long list of neat places to visit combined to allow us a circular path around the upper Chesapeake. In winter, the winds come largely from the north and, in summer, from the south. In the shoulder seasons, though, the wind cycles through the compass as weather patterns form and pass over. This gorgeous anchorage (unofficial, like most of the places we drop the hook) rewarded us well for an unexpectedly hard day. The whole point of the spring circle is to have easy weather for the whole trip, wind on or abaft the beam, and helpful currents that don’t turn choppy running against the wind. On this occasion, we jumped the gun by leaving Annapolis before the tide had well turned. We slogged a little – like walking through a few inches of water, though, nothing drastic – and motorsailed in the morning’s light wind. As we came up next to the Magothy River, a loud clunk preceded the onset of a heavy vibration. A rattling, beating vibration that got everything on the boat moving, even at the top of the mast, where the 3′ VHF whip antenna taught an impromptu lesson on sine waves. We figured out pretty quickly that it was drive-train, not engine, and sailed up the Magothy to a spot I (Dena) decided would be safe and convenient for both anchoring and receiving help. We’re getting pretty good at receiving help, something that surprises and pleases me. We’ve been so independent for so long and it’s nice to[…]

Read more

The After Surgery Special

I (James) knew after I sold the Bullet in 2009 that I was never going to buy another vehicle to drive in Indian traffic ever again… …but that didn’t mean we were sentanced to being chauffeured around South India in cars and auto-rickshaws. It just meant we were going to have to go back to our comfort zone is all. Between my rather intense surgeries we did some searches and found a couple of bike shops online, epic-walked our little asses off, and ultimately found a cool bike shop that had exactly what we needed. Well…kind of. Our new bikes are both upright (Wedge-style) mountain bikes which are hard on our (not so young anymore) backs and necks and unlike pretty much everything else here in Hindustan, they were fucking expensive! Of course, we had to go see the new Star Wars movie because it’s the one English-language film playing right now and…well, it’s Star Wars! With the new bikes, downtown Trivandrum (nee Thiruvananthapuram) isn’t so far away. Only about 10km. Gulp. Let’s do it! And of course, we couldn’t stick to the main roads. They’re busy and freaky, so we were all about getting clever and using neighborhood roads. What we didn’t figure on was that the neighborhood roads are very much “back road” quality, where they’re not “country lane” or “field path” quality. In other words, rough, rutted dirt showing the stony bones of this granite and marble part of the continent. Also, it hadn’t been clear how much the main roads followed (or had created) gentle grades. The back roads were steep, both up and down like a yoyo belonging to a kid with ADHD. The ruts and watersheds made the downhills torturous to navigate, so you could go up a bad-ass hill and get no real[…]

Read more