A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about sky

A Sailor Hits Seattle

Sailing into Seattle, Spending Spree, Enjoying City Life after a 4 Month Abscense, Welcome to British Columbia

semi-overcast 45 °F

seattle.jpg

We docked the boat at about seven in the evening on a huge pier just north of downtown Seattle. Our entrance to Seattle was a pleasant one. I was sipping tea, chatting with my friend Bill-who is from Seattle, and he was proudly telling me about his town. We leaned on the rail of the ship, sipping and watching the anchored cargo ships, and the downtown area come closer into view. I believe the rails of most ships are designed for deckhands to lean on. It’s a good, comfortable leaning spot, and no matter where you are in the world, you can see deckhands leaning on rails, watching the world go by.
DSCN1561.jpg

Almost the entire crew came out for the event, excited to be able to walk on solid ground again, after six days at sea. The captain did his thing, and we linesmen did ours. It was a smooth landing.

When the gangway was set in place, the crew eagerly bounded down it to walk on the cold concrete of the pier, some disappearing into the depths of the city some three miles distant. I was expecting to go to work, but the chief mate asked me if I had plans, and that I could begin my shift two hours later than I had figured.

With unexpected time on my hands, I found a couple of my friends who were going for a jog, and told them to wait for me. I threw on what I guessed were suitable jogging clothes, put on my dilapidated, unsupportive footwear I call sneakers and joined them. We happily and energetically ran around, hopping over concrete barriers and chatting amiably. It felt damn good to be free of the confines of our 152-foot world.

I watched this huge factory ship dock in the night. It's bow is taller than the top of our bridge deck.
4DSCN1573.jpg
We ran downtown along a shoreline asphalt trail. The darkness of early night was closing in, but we didn’t care. When we reached the city, we walked up on of the seven hills on which Seattle was built. We continued downtown to Pikes Place Market for a cup of coffee before returning to the shift. It was a good run, and in good company. I’m not a runner, and I knew my feet were going to feel sore the next day after the pounding I gave them. I didn’t care. It was worth it.
DSCN1576.jpg
The next day, I awoke, threw on some clothes and walked back into downtown for a little adventure of my own. The day was full of signs of spring. There were large areas of fresh green grass with dandelions and daisies bobbing around in the breeze. The trees were budding, and little songbirds were perched high in them attempting to seduce one another with song. The skies were blue with occasional cloudy patches bringing in drizzle. It was warm enough for a tee shirt, then cold enough for a jacket, all in five minutes. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it was to see a colorful landscape after five months in a desert.
DSCN1582.jpg
I love walking in cities, exploring through the hustle and bustle that residents take for granted.

I like looking at the little vignettes of city life: A woman cuddles into her man as he kisses her on the cheek. A pigeon lands briefly on a baby carriage (is this the right term anymore?) the bird and baby eye each other peacefully before the bird flew off. A man walks by me eating a cinnamon roll, and refusing to make eye contact with me. That’s the way of the city, nobody will look at you. I looked at everybody. I saw two elderly sisters standing the same way, walking the same, looking at their goal across the street; that being Macy’s. A young man looking street smart and hip waits for a bus while listening to his Ipod.

I was enthralled with the simple joys of a city after six months at sea.

I went on a sailor’s spree. I’ve a bit of money saved up for my toil and labor this winter. I didn’t spend much money down in Mexico. My nest egg is now full enough to spend at will (I realize that I probably gave the financially wise populace a heart attack). I’m boat rich; Easy come, easy go.

With nobody to keep me in check, I purchased a cinnamon roll, and a good cup of coffee ($3), some toiletries I needed ($30), an Ipod (my first, and I STILL can’t download itunes which makes it basically worthless)($160), I went into the map store on 1st Avenue and immediately bought two books I’ve been wanting to read. “The Natural Navigator” by Tristan Gooley and “As Told At The Explorers Club”($30). This particular store is very charming and very dangerous. I didn’t stay long, as I knew my weakness for maps. I finished off my day by going down to Pike Place Chowder for a bowl of chowder ($7) and getting one for the road ($7). Pikes Place Chowder is a very good bowl of chowder. In my opinion, there’s only one place on the west coast that makes a better bowl. I was satisfied with my efforts for the day, and walked back to the ship in good spirits.

The next day we sailed north into Canada and British Columbia. The first sunset of Canada was a memorable one. It was one that a picture can’t really do justice to, though I tried. To be in that moment, in that scene, was to be immersed in grandeur. I love being surrounded by glowing clouds and seascapes. There were only four of us who witnessed it, even after we told everyone to come and take it in. The fools, their noses were glued like mine is right now to their computers.
DSCN1611.jpg
For those of us who watched the evening unfold, it was a symphony in the sky, and a well composed one at that. The clouds were its greatest feature, lit up in colors I hadn’t known existed by the setting sun. It was one to remember, and I’ll do my best to do so.
DSCN1615.jpg
I’m now in Alaska…
sailor.jpg

Posted by Rhombus 15:37 Archived in USA Tagged sky boats parks cities seascapes clouds sunsets oceans seattle Comments (3)

A Winter in Baja Begins

First Takes on Baja, Some Expectations, My First Swim In The Ocean

sunny 78 °F

DSCN7926.jpg
My first views of the Baja California peninsula was from about 14 miles out at sea. From there, it looked like a jagged, desert like environment, full of smallish coastal mountains leading down to the water. Along the shoreline, I could see occasional bands of sand with pale mounds piling into dunes. What dominated most of my views, was the extremely bright shimmer of the glaring sun. It was constant, overpowering golden-white, and impossible to ignore. I’m going to have to get used to being in the sun.
DSCN7886.jpgDSCN7879.jpg
I’m from the north, from a place where the sun rarely shines in the winter. A place where on the sunniest days in the winter, if you ran around outside naked all day, you still wouldn’t get your necessary dose of Vitamin D. In contrast, I think I’ll be getting all the Vitamin D I need, and way more, in a single morning here in Baja. I proved that today. I woke up at 7 am, and got dressed, opting for shorts and a tee shirt. By 4 pm, I was tan on all exposed flesh. I was a little bit sunburned on the back of my neck, where I didn’t apply sun block in time, but over all tanned. It was a record for me, a one-day suntan.

We are positioning from San Francisco, California to La Paz, Baja California in Mexico. It’s our fifth day of travel, and we expect to land in La Paz, sometime tomorrow evening. I’m very excited to get back to land again. Mostly, because it will be in a brand new environment, I’ve never seen before. Baja is where the desert meets the ocean, and several people have described it to me as “the most beautiful place, they’ve ever seen.” Time will tell, and I’ll make my own judgment on the matter.
DSCN7883.jpg
The trip so far has been very good; we were blessed with good weather, and calm seas. It’s been sunny every day, and quite balmy. High temperatures are in the upper seventies, and quite comfortable to work in shorts and sandals all day. We’ve been busy getting the final projects completed after the hectic shipyard session we recently completed in Alameda, Ca. It’s been a lot of hard work, and ten-hour days, but it’s enjoyable to work along side of like-minded people. On this boat, we are all travellers, and we enjoy comparing stories, and destinations. Most of us don’t have homes. Instead, we talk of where we store our stuff.
DSCN7920.jpg
One of the great benefits of this job is being able to drop whatever it is you are doing at any time and head out to the deck to watch wildlife as we pass it by. Every couple of hours, the call will come over the radio that dolphins, whales, or sunsets have been spotted. Everyone filters out to the decks to watch the beautiful sea creatures play around in the water. Today, about 12 of us, sat up in the sunshine watching dolphins jump through the deep blue water, while the majestic Frigate birds soared just overhead. Life is pretty damn good at times.

I’m excited about this journey for many reasons, but I’ll try to highlight a few:

The wildlife. I’m going to see a diverse amount of wildlife I’ve never seen before. Several different types of whales, some of which I might be fortunate enough to touch.I’m also looking forward to learning more about the varieties of birds, fish, and sea life that call this peninsula home.

I can’t wait to start exploring the cities and villages we’ll be stopping at. My Spanish is terrible. I plan to communicate by exaggerated animated gestures, and what little Spanish I know. What fun! Completely out of my element, and dropped into foreign territory. This is what I live for.

I’m from the Midwest. My superiors have told me that I will be expected to swim a lot. “If I have to…” This is cool by me, as I want to become a better swimmer, and I want to go snorkeling. Where I’m from, the lake is only warm enough to swim 2 months of the year, so I haven’t spent much time snorkeling.

I let out the big anchor for the first time tonight. We arrived at Bonanza Beach just after sunset, and a peanut gallery of crew showed up to document, and tease me while I went about learning the process of setting the hook. I did all right for the first time, and all went smoothly. The captain let us go swimming until dark, to let us blow off some steam, and relax and have fun after our long voyage from San Francisco.

We were like kids in school on the last day of class before Christmas break, buzzing and hyper waiting impatiently while the Bo’ sun and other deckhand got the swim ladder into position. Then we got the go ahead to jump in.

Picture the following scene: The sky is the dark indigo of early night. To the west, a first quarter waxing crescent moon is rising slowly above the distant black hills still visible behind the last glow of the sunset. Stars are starting to twinkle far above us. The wind is warm and blowing steadily across the upper deck of our ship. Our floodlights light up the aqua blue-green water, and 15 of us are ready to jump. We all go off in a line, like the penguins of Antarctica, jumping one after another of our “iceberg.” The difference is, everyone chooses his or her favorite thing to yell out, and launch style. Some choose a shriek, and a dive. Others do flips, and straight jumps. I do what I do best. I bellow out, “Viva Baja Mexico!“ and cannon ball from 15 feet off of the water. “KER-SPLASH” and I’m in the dark water of an ocean for the first time.

My first reaction is being aware of the dull underwater sounds of rushing bubbles. I taste the salt on my lips, and in my nasal cavity, and it’s not altogether pleasant, but I don’t care. These moments are what I live for. I surface, and make four more trips up the swim ladder to the upper deck, bantering away with my friends and fellow crewmembers. A strong ocean current rips by, and though I try to swim, it’s hard to make any headway. As I tire, we hang onto the ladder and enjoy the water. It’s not cold, not at all, at least by my standards. It was the equivalent of swimming in Lake Superior in July, and it was beautiful.

This was the first time I’ve ever swam in the ocean. For a first experience, I don’t think you can do much better than that.
DSCN7913.jpg
So begins my latest journey. I’ll be spending five more months in a warm desert marine environment working, playing, and living to the best of my ability. I can only take things one day at a time, and try to make the best of them. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m betting my odds are good for an enjoyable winter.

Posted by Rhombus 08:52 Archived in Mexico Tagged sky boats desert sunrise sunsets oceans life baja photography Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]