Monday, August 09, 2010

Wrapped around your finger

Karl watching for coral
That day--sailing

“Cutter-rigged ketch bruising along at six knots under power, no sail out—beam wind of 5-10 kts.” --Melissa Jenks

A note I wrote in my little notebook as I was sailing through the Bahamas, from Paradise Island to the Exumas… My point, perhaps obscure to non-sailors, was very much the same as the point that Edifice Rex makes here, in an excellent post that I can’t recommend highly enough. It blew my mind that these people could have a boat, so beautiful—my dream boat, a cutter-rigged ketch, with boatloads (ha!) of sail—and be using it like a motorboat. Not even a sail out, with a beam wind, the best kind of wind God breathes.

Admittedly, we were sailing that day at around three knots. Not fast. (Actually, I can check my logbook! Our average that day, 6 May 2007, was 3.5 knots, and we achieved a maximum speed under sail of 4.1 knots. So not that slow after all!) A five-knot beam wind has a harder time moving a heavy boat. But still.

That boat was heading the opposite direction. The other way. Bruising back to the States, over the banks, probably trying to make it to Nassau in time for dinner. They were forcing their way forward, on the backs of the dinosaurs and the whales, burning up that diesel as fast as they could, instead of being willing to take the slow way, the difficult way, the harder and truer path.

I understand Edifice Rex’s reluctance to toot her own horn in her subsequent post. It’s difficult to say: I’m doing it right, and you all are doing it wrong. On the other hand: if we didn’t believe we were doing it right, we wouldn't be doing it this way.

When something breaks, the fast solution that most of us turn to is to go to Walmart and buy something new. The easy way is to buy something made of petroleum in China. The slow solution is learning to fix it. The slow way is learning to build something new that won’t break, that’ll be worth fixing. Americans take the easy way a lot. Because it’s easier. It’s more comfortable.

I haven’t used air-conditioning all summer. Here’s the forecast for Chattanooga:

Chattanooga, TN (37421) Weather Forecast

And I’m so comfortable. I spend most of the time in my basement, where it’s ten degrees colder anyway, but I wear almost no clothing all the time. I drape a sarong around myself first thing in the morning, and I live in it as much as possible. I have a fan that I cart around from room to room. Really, that’s all one needs to deal with hot weather: minimal clothing, and air flow. Something I learned, very well, from the Thais.

The point is that taking the difficult way generally isn’t all that hard. It requires swimming upstream, yes, or sailing in a beam wind—but it’s generally cheaper, better for the earth, better for my body, and better for my mind.


edifice rex said...

Well, thank you so kindly for the links and praise.
I think what most people don't realize,through taking the easy way so much, is that they are actually making their lives much more complicated and for no reason. More possessions means more trouble and headache for the most part.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the comment, Edifice Rex. Your post definitely deserved the links and the praise. I also sent an email about the land possibilities...

Peter/Cephas said...

frequent cold showers followed by powder also help...