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Gaff rig

Sailing out of Salinas with the new rig.

We have inherited, for better or worse, our ancient tribalisms and continue codifying them into sometimes baroque systems of absurd paperwork, bureaucracy and “borders” that to someone like me who has lived a bit of everywhere on this planet, just seems like unnecessary impediments to free living.

And so it is that sometimes one has to be tactical in one’s life strategy in order to achieve the desired translations.

Christina and i have a son, but she wanted a daughter, and two children seems fair enough so we were shooting for that.

While at it, might as well have him be born in Brasil as that would certainly help us establish ourselves there.

Tactics.

About half way through the boat work, she discovers she is pregnant. We had actually been trying to delay a conception still, but Nature is pretty effective.

At any rate this put an absolute time frame on everything. There was still plenty of work to do on the boat, plus the actual sailing there, so it certainly put the pressure on.

Did you know about the mayan calendar system to predict the day of the birth?

This was our experience with the birth of our son.

The modern medicine man counts forty weeks, 280 days from the last period to birth. The Mayan counted one tzolk’in, which is 13 x 20 = 260 days from the last missed period (ie when the woman realized she was pregnant). But a woman’s period should synchronyze with Luna’s  synodic period, which is 29 days 12 h 44 m 3 s, or ~29.5 days. So this means the Mayans would calculate for about nine extra days of gestation. Are the Mayans who had thousands of years of a culture which venerated keen observational skills, or the modern establishment which has only a couple centuries of experience and many instances of insisting they are right about things, which later turn out to be dangerously false,… right?

As the days passed from the officially approved ‘due date’ of our first son, the hysteria, hand waving, and theatrics increased daily to brain bursting levels. You’ve got to see the matasano! You’ve got to go to the sick house! You’re going to have to get induced! You’re going to DIE!! All these and more, were verbatim (apart from the use of the word ‘matasano’ or ‘sick house’) pronunciations of concern .

Nine days after the modern due date, or exactly on the mayan due date, our son was born, after a completely normal and natural labour. Christina pushed him out like a champion. In fact he was born under a palm tree in our garden, as Christina felt better outside. I’m sure the primal instincts developed over millions of years of evolution work better than any theories made up by academics, which incidentally, are almost all male.

Will the mayans also be right with our second child?

–*–

I made a dinghy to replace the one that i had made in Vieques that got stolen. I had designed it so it would fit across the deck just behind the cabin. That way it creates almost no windage and is at a convenient place for launching. Also its weight is well centered and as low down as possible, without actually being inside the boat. Dinghies on top of the coach roof is a clumsy design setup that should be avoided if at all possible because it adds weight high up, a lot of extra windage, forces the boom or sail up** and blocks off your view.

The scow shape is the logical design for maximizing stability and weight carrying capacity for a given maximum beam. It also maximizes the amount of boat that can be made out of the given material as well as being the easiest shape possible to build without being literally a box. The only curve is the rocker, but that is enough to make it go through the water tolerably well. Being just 6 mM plywood it is very light and easy to launch over the side. Each end has a watertight flotation box so it does not flood when launched bow or stern first.

Micro barge

Scow-barge type of dinghy.

I’m no stranger to dinghy theft, and so despite this being a scow barge design, that is, not exactly an attractive shape, and its mode of propulsion is sculling, which in Puerto Rico exactly two people know how to do (Ignacio on “Éspiritu Libre”, and myself) I was not going to be so naive as to think i could leave it unsecured.

Therefore, while we were still back in Vieques, i had chained the boat tightly to a stout tree, with a chain and padlock going through a hole in the keel (the painter hole). The keel is bonded on with epoxy and numerous screws. Therefore, only 3 options for the thief; cut down the tree, cut through the chain, or break off the keel.

Never underestimate the low, low levels to which some people can go. One day i go down to the boat and the dinghy is not there. Just the chain and padlock around the tree and some broken pieces of dinghy. They broke the keel in order to steal a boat they are incapable of using and which was very specifically made so as to not accept an outboard motor. I later got a tip (there are only 8000 people on the island of Vieques) that it was actually a cop that did it because “unauthorized boat storage” or some such pettiness. I was never able to confirm that, but having spent enough time in PR it seems a plausibility. Who knows. In hindsight, i guess it was probably just as well I hadn’t put that “Saw” ‘esque booby trap i had been fantasizing about in the dinghy …

–*–

So back to the story in Guayama; rushed trough the rest of the work, made another dinghy, sails re-made and plenty enough other details.

Then we sailed down to Salinas just west of the main entrance to the bay of Guayama. This is an excellent hurricane hole and the tranquil anchorage is full of cruising sailboats. As expected, i was able to put my new ‘floating workshop’ to use and did a few jobs on some of the other boats, which replenished the wallet somewhat.

Oasis Salinas

Rafted to a boat i remade a rudder for in Salinas.

Steve, a friendly neighbour on a pretty and immaculately kept 40 foot ketch, gave me a beautiful big two speed winch which i eventually bolted on the foredeck close to the mast, to pull the reef outhauls tight. It doubles as a capstan. A much appreciated gift!

But time was rushing by, Christina was already three months pregnant. I had not yet built the reef points, but if we didn’t start moving we would never make it in time, so we left Salinas and started sailing upwind.

–*–

** if a dinghy must be put on the cabin top, a loose footed sail (sans boom) that can just pass over the dinghy is a big advantage as not only it permits the foot of the sail back down, possibly even closing off the gap between sail and boat entirely (very efficient) , but it actually helps reduce the windage of the dinghy too, because the wind on the windward side of the sail is already slowed down. (circulation, remember?)

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