Saturday, July 22, 2017

_______________________ ONE STEP CLOSER ________________________

It has been a bit of a slow train coming, but a week or so ago after I had reinstalled the fuel tank the engine was finally hauled aboard with a chain block and placed on its brand new rubber mounts. Since then it has sat on its engine beds as I have waited for a very busy diesel mechanic to make some decisions regarding propeller shaft couplings etc. Long story short - new billets of steel have had to be ordered and milled into shape on Terry's lathe and then fitted and checked. Everything is taking a lot longer than I had planned; but Shipmates all aspects of sailing tend to be slower journeys.

On Monday the new propeller shaft with its new couplings will be aligned and connected to the gear box before everything is bolted in place. I have installed a new water lock exhaust box in the port cockpit locker and purchased most of the peripheral items that are required to allow the motor to work. These include, exhaust, fuel filter, drip tray, remote stern gland greaser, new temperature, oil pressure and engine hour gauges, engine controls, various fuel lines, engine cooling lines and electrical wiring. The alignment of the engine and the wiring will be completed by my diesel mechanic Geoff and his son Ben. I will complete the rest of the work.

Yesterday I had a tidy up of the cabin and, usual story, found tools I have been hunting for all week and a few others I forgot I actually had.

When the installation of the motor is finished I will complete the fairing and fiber glassing of the keel. Despite having erected my protective transparent plastic tent around the hull I have been waiting for a break in the cold, wet and very windy weather to do this. It is Winter here in New Zealand and both Islands have been hammered pretty hard by stormy weather.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

_________________ A TRANSPARENT PLASTIC TENT ____________________

Yesterday was a great day out on the water. There was nothing quite like sailing down the coast with David and Alice on 'Chez Nous' to remind me why I am doing all this work on 'Mariner' and to reinforce my resolve to bring this work to a satisfactory conclusion.

Now that it is the middle of winter in New Zealand and I have a some fiberglassing to do on the keel I have taped a clear plastic tent around the boat to keep the cold, wet weather out and enable me to work on 'Mariner' without weather interruptions. A good working temperature above 10 degrees is required for a successful fiberglassing outcome and the plastic tent does raise the temperature in a similar manner to a small tunnel house that a tomato grower might use.

The somewhat jigsaw like aspect of the work on 'Mariner's diesel is also piecing itself together in a slow but worthwhile manner. Hopefully the many simple changes that I am incorporating on the advice of my diesel mechanic Geoff will ensure trouble free motoring for many years to come.

Now that we are on the downward face of this large wave of work I am really, really looking forward to a nice winter sail - a windy, boisterous trip somewhere ending in a cozy, snug anchorage and the sound of the kettle boiling on 'Mariner's little stove - bliss.

Monday, July 17, 2017

_______________________ A WELCOME BREAK ________________________

Christine waved us off today when I helped my good friends David and Alice sail their 'Whiting 29' sloop from its mooring at Tutukaka to Whangarei. Their yacht 'Chez Nous' will be hauled out, scrubbed, antifouled and a few issues regarding electronics dealt to. I was very happy to have a break from my work on 'Mariner' and to help a mate who will be working on his yacht in the same boat yard as my yacht 'Mariner' for a week or so. David has offered to help me with the big fiberglassing job I have ahead of me and I will help David with the antifouling etc on this first haul out of his new boat.

Heading down the coast in a Northerly breeze. We left at 8.30am knowing we had to get under the Hatea rivers lifting bridge before 4pm, which is the winter lifting cut off time.

I was quite impressed by 'Chez Nous' auto pilot. It steered the boat well as we ran downwind. Although I love to steer my own boat ( I never get bored helming my boat even if I am at the helm all day) I can see the advantage if I was single handing and wanted to put the kettle on for a cuppa or put up the spinnaker.

David and Alice use their new boat extensively which is easy to do in Northland NZ if you are careful to dodge the winter storms with their Antarctica feed temperatures and the ferocious summer tropical cyclones - dodge these bullets (easy to do) and you have a great all year round cruising ground.

The only other sail we saw on the way down from Tutukaka was the 'R. Tucker Thompson' heading back up north to her mooring at Opua in the Bay of Islands. The 'R Tucker Thompson' does day trips and charters in the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Here I am showing off my new head gear - a beanie I purchased from Wooden Boat Magazine, complete with its distinctive logo. It has been a good buy, as it keeps my head and ears toasty warm. Also, way, way, way back in my ancestry I am directly related to the Scottish Gunn clan among whose antecedents is one 'Olaf the Black' a marauding Viking - so a black Beanie with a Viking ship logo is kind of apt LOL!

Heading up Whangarei harbour we motor sailed most of the way so we could keep our date with the lifting bridge.

 Through the bridge with an hour to spare.

To greet us as we arrived at Ray Roberts Marine was the trav - lift that will lift 'Chez - Nous' later this week and my yacht 'Mariner' (boat on the left in the photo above) awaiting the rest of the motor restoration work and the fiberglassing I have to complete on the hull.

Safe and secure at the lift out berth. It was a great sail and a blessed break from working on my boat and reminded me of why I am spending so much time and money getting 'Mariner' ready for next season.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

____________________ THOUGHTS ON SOLITUDE _______________________

I think many people will identify with what this article is saying about solitude - being alone, but not lonely. Those who from time to time sail alone (or participate in any other self chosen solitary activity) will identify with the sentiments and ideas expressed in this article:

"  ..................    echoing Plato, Arendt observed: ‘Thinking, existentially speaking, is a solitary but not a lonely business; solitude is that human situation in which I keep myself company. Loneliness comes about … when I am one and without company’ but desire it and cannot find it. In solitude, Arendt never longed for companionship or craved camaraderie because she was never truly alone. Her inner self was a friend with whom she could carry on a conversation, that silent voice who posed the vital Socratic question: ‘What do you mean when you say …?’ The self, Arendt declared, ‘is the only one from whom you can never get away – except by ceasing to think.’

.................  but, Arendt reminds us, if we lose our capacity for solitude, our ability to be alone with ourselves, then we lose our very ability to think. We risk getting caught up in the crowd. We risk being ‘swept away’, as she put it, ‘by what everybody else does and believes in’ – no longer able, in the cage of thoughtless conformity, to distinguish ‘right from wrong, beautiful from ugly’. Solitude is not only a state of mind essential to the development of an individual’s consciousness – and conscience – but also a practice that prepares one for participation in social and political life. Before we can keep company with others, we must learn to keep company with ourselves. "

The full text of this article ( Click the link below ) is a very, very worthwhile read. It explains much - as does many other thoughtful article on the 'Aeon' site on which this article is published ( You can subscribe for free ).


Monday, July 10, 2017

__________________ A CURE FOR TOADS ATTACHMENT _________________

Last month my daughter sent me a birthday card with this wonderful picture of a rampart Toad. She knows I love Kenneth Grahams book 'The Wind In The Willows'. The card reminded me that I had blogged about Toad and 'Attachment' in 2008. Below is the slightly edited text of the 2008 blog posting (Edited to accommodate the birthday cards image). I have added at the end in bold type what in spiritual terms I now consider a cure for attachment.

"I was thinking today about an event in Kenneth Graham’s book ‘The Wind In The Willows’ concerning Toad of Toad Hall which is a wonderful example of the human behaviour of desire and attachment. A Toad can teach us many things. Toad is everyman and everywoman.

In the story Toad persuades Ratty and Mole to take to the open road in his Canary Coloured gypsy caravan.

----- “There you are cried the Toad… there’s the real life for you, the dusty highways, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities, here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow Travel, change, interest, excitement ….. “

Toad is besotted by his new interest and to humour him and because they have a lot of affection for their old friend they agree to go along. All goes reasonably well until the gypsy caravan is run off the road and wrecked by a large (beeping, poop - pooping) motor car. As Toads friends Ratty and Mole scream “road hog” and “villains” in the direction of the car and then tend to all the carnage and the bird in the birdcage sobbing pitifully and calling to be let out, Toad is nowhere to be seen. The friends search and he is finally found. Toad has had a road to Damascus experience of the motor vehicle kind. He has done a complete flip flop, a complete turnaround, an incredible conversion. They find Toad sitting in the middle of the road staring into the middle distance.

------“Glorious, stirring sight! Murmured Toad, never offering to move. The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel! Here today – in next week, tomorrow! Villages skipped, towns and cities jumped – always somebody else’s horizon! O bliss! O poop – poop! O my! O my!.......”

Toads obsession with canary coloured caravans is now an obsession with motor cars of the big brash 'poop, poop' kind.
For those of you who don't know the story, the rest of the book deals with Toads escapades in motor cars, his imprisonment, the invading of Toad Hall by the Rats and Weasels, the escape of Toad from prison and the retaking of Toad Hall by Toad's long suffering friends. Toads behaviour is typical of Toad, it's vintage Toad. He is never satisfied for any length of time and if the book had been twice the length I am sure it would have involved more sudden conversions of Toad to all manner of interests and obsessions. Toads problem is the universal problem of desire and attachment and all the chaos that this delivers.

Attachment is one of the causes of life’s difficulties. Attachment causes suffering and it arises because of our never ending craving for the things of this world. Not only the material things of this world but cravings for people, thoughts, feeling, career, objectives etc, etc.
There are allusions to attachment in the New Testament when Jesus says not to store up treasure that will rust and decay, or that thieves will steal. Rather store up treasure in heaven i.e. spiritual treasure (love, forgiveness, reconciliation, sacrifice, faith, trust etc). Jesus is a wise man, he knows that only these spiritual things have ultimate value. There is a call in the New Testament to “be in the world, but not of it”, in other words, take part in the world but do not be driven by non spiritual values. I think there is also talk in the book of Acts of how the members of the early church eschewed materialistic values and held everything in common, focusing on the things of the spirit. The New Testament of the Bible is a good place to read about enduring spiritual values.

Buddhism perhaps details how to walk a spiritual path in a specific way. One aspect of the spiritual path it talks about is attachment when it defines the Second Noble Truth i.e. Life is difficult because of attachment, because we crave satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying. It is not the objects or people that we crave that are the problem, it is our attachment to and our identification with the objects that causes an inner clinging that entangles us.

Most of us know both intellectually and experientially that the shiny baubles don’t cut the mustard in terms of finding satisfaction, rest or peace. On a higher level are relationships of love, friendship and involvement with community. But ultimately these do not satisfy either because they are tied up with problems of craving and the problems of continuing change and flux. Nothing ever stays the same. A good introductory book that talks about these ideas is “Awakening The Buddha Within” by Lama Surya Das. Not forgetting the unforgettable read which is Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows"

We find satisfaction, rest, peace and freedom from attachment by committing oneself to a Spiritual path..... and a Spiritual path implies Spiritual Practise... and Spiritual Practise implies Transformation leading to Wisdom. This is the great insight of all the great religions. The Spiritual path transforms us ..... it leads to wisdom and to heaven (Christianity) and Nirvana (Buddhism). 
I suspect that 'Heaven' and 'Nirvana' is simply seeing reality as it truly is - that is, seeing human relationships and the physical world without the imposition of our clinging and, or cloying attachments and rapacious egos. This is why both Traditions are always referring to the fact that 'Enlightenment' / 'Heaven' is here already, right in front of our eyes - but seen from this ego / attachment free, point of view. The fruits of transformation are  freedom from attachment and the demands of our rapacious egos. This is the true peace.

Various forms of: prayer, ritual, icons, contemplation, meditation, pilgrimage are all useful transformative tools...... but it is helpful to remember that these tools are only useful if they are worked out in a context of community and combined with other acts of free will. This is because the deliberate acts of free will that facilitate transformation: love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, insight and wisdom require people ........ and Morality.

Morality is an interesting word. Much is made with great intensity by westerners regarding meditation and contemplative prayer, often forgetting that only two of the eight fold paths of Buddhism talk about meditation. The other six talk about basic morality. Contemplative prayer and meditation in the Christian tradition is weighted in a similar manner. The path is essentially one where morality and spiritual practise are inextricably interwoven. Morality is the grist to the mill of meditation. Contemporary sentiments may see 'Morality' as being rigid and rather pejoratively 'Old Testament' ....... but the fact is that just as Spiritual Practise requires discipline so does its context......  which is leading a moral life of goodness and love..... and this Shipmates is something this old Toad of a Blogger regularly needs to practise.

Monday, July 3, 2017

_______________________ DIESEL ENGINE BLUES ______________________

I once heard a mechanical (as in engines) tale, or is that a myth (of course in the sense that myths do not contain a lie rather they contain a fundamental truth(s) - [But the fundamental truth(s) contained in myths, is Shipmates another story indeed.]

Where was I - ah yes. I once heard a tale that mechanical things cooperate together in a rather supportive way that enables the whole mechanical outfit to continue running. The truth is: mess, change, alter, bugger up one component and you precipitate a domino effect.

I have precipitated a domino effect. The long story, short, is that the effect of removing the engine and dealing to its fundamental problems has had 'down stream' implications. Apart from the work that has been done on the corpus of the engine I am now installing new: engine rubber mounts, engine bearers, propeller shaft, fuel tank connections, exhaust water lock box, exhaust piping, exhaust sea cock and exhaust manifold. I have also had to remove and realign the propeller strut and deal to a range of other small items and adjustments.

My feelings about this situation are a bit paradoxical. I am happy that the whole carboodle is being dealt to in a way that should give me at least another 10 years good service but alarmed that among other retail outrages new flexible 50mm ID Lloyds rated exhaust hose costs $100 per metre - yikes! (and a bucket load of other expletive deleteds).

One difficult job is going to be removing the somewhat 'stuffed' bronze exhaust sea cock at the stern of Mariner. I will have to cut a large hole in the stern sheets of the cockpit and install a largish hatch to facilitate its removal (swinging room for pipe wrenches). How the hell I ever got the bloody thing installed 40 years ago has disappeared from my long term memory.

One little ray of sunshine has been my ability to get right inside the port cockpit locker when dismantling the exhaust system. It's only because I have lost a bit of weight that I was able to clamber inside and deal to all of that.

The piece de resistance to this little tableau shipmates has been the weather. Basically it's been simply pissing with rain, which despite my efforts with a makeshift cover has found its watery way into the bilge. Bugger.

But. No matter shipmates. I have been here before and risen again like the mythical phoenix - and remember, despite contemporary definitions -  myths contain truth(s).