Leaving Green Isles & Al Green’s Leaving

July 21, 2010

Thursday July 8th- Orcas Hotel, Orcas Island, WA- I’ve been working for over one month now on Orcas Island (and other nearby islands) preparing for my upcoming offshore passage south to California. The Bruja Dulce is not entirely prepared, nor am I, but things are finally coming together. The heavy weight of reality is lifting in the warm, north, offshore summer breeze and I think I’m going make it- just in time for a September departure.

Yesterday I felt free enough to sew a kite-aerial-photography rig (an unnecessary but long-wished-for part of my rigging) and test it from nearby Yellow Island, seen above, whose caretaker you can see in the photo telling me, “This is a nature preserve, not a recreation area”.

The south porch of the Orcas Hotel overlooking the ferry landing

Enough work has been done that I’ve decided it’s time for me to leave Orcas Island- to drive south to California. I’m going to visit and work with Karisa and the noble crew at Live Power Community Farm near Mendocino as well as my dear friends at Skyline Harvest in the Sierra Foothills. I’ll also be leaving my car in the Golden State, so it’ll be there when my Dad and I arrive by boat in two months.

Right now, sitting on the porch at the Orcas Hotel waiting for a ferry, I’m looking around and noting that I feel a little out of place, and scuzzy- like I’ve been in the wilderness for over a month. I’m wondering if anyone else sipping their coffee here on the porch can sense, or smell, the detachment I feel.

Just this morning I was woken at 5am- anchored fore and aft, alone, in a small and shallow bay off Jones Island- by the sound of an otter eating a crab in my dinghy. A little later, while having my own breakfast, I made the spontaneous decision to make a noon-ferry off Orcas island and begin my road trip south.

I nearly ran aground while weighing the anchors and sailing off of them- the experience and hot sun triggering ample sweat by 8am. Barely cooled down by the short sail back to Deer Harbor- having spent most of the time pulling seaweed off the anchors while Ray, the autopilot, steered through the warm, evergreen scented air flowing over Orcas Island- I broke a full sweat again while docking solo. Then, after packing for the trip and closing the boat up in less than 45 minutes, I hurriedly heaved the dinghy up on deck- realizing as I flipped the small craft upside-down onto my un-shirted back that I had never cleaned up the otter’s crab breakfast. With this coating of juices and too many bags, I flip-flopped as fast as I could, my hands going numb, another layer of sweat bubbling-up, to my die-hard, baking in the sun, no-AC-having Camry- which has been inhabited since early June by a Californian lizard I have named “Toyota” (a story for another time).

I missed the noon-ferry.

Such was the punctuation for this 5-week run-on sentence of offshore rigging work and low-budget self-sufficiency training. A period which was harried by fits of feverish and sometimes desperate internet research and which necessarily included parenthetical weekends of sailing to nearby islands, often alone.

Rebuilding winches

I worked at least five days per week on the boat. About 2/3 of the time I was physically working, and the other 1/3 of the time I spent with my head hung over my laptop figuring out what I needed to do and how to do it (and looking for jobs). I blame this anxious and excessive “screen time” with my not wanting to do much else with the laptop.

Trying to mend with my old Nelco machine

However, I am ever grateful to the emerging sphere of collective consciousness that exists within the cloud of the Internet. With it, I was able to tap into the experiences of not only other offshore sailors, but offshore sailors of Tayana 37 cutter-rigged sailboats like the Bruja. The Tayana Owner’s Group forums became daily reading for me.

Repairing the bowsprit

Off to the right, I have posted an “Offshore Listings” page which outlines this first list of important preparations. A number items have been checked off this list but there’s still some whoppers left to check (and pay for). I plan on writing more about maintenance techniques- to add conscientiously to the cloud- but for now, the new page, these few images, and the video I have posted below will give a glimpse into the nature of the work.

Mending the Bruja Dulce's mainsail on the nicely mowed lawn on Jones Island

My violin-maker-neighbor, Vince, the proud owner of my old Apple iMac, holding a gift for Karisa.

Friday July 9th, Seaside Hostel, Seaside, OR- During this time, my neighbors at Cayou Quay Marina in Deer Harbor have been a godsend. These blossoming friendships have brought me sound advice, valuable equipment, and have bore wholly unexpected treasures. I have learned that trading my own time and no-longer needed items with these kindred liveaboards yields returns many-fold beyond such marketplaces as eBay or Craigslist. My neighbor, Lee, especially, has transcended being merely neighborly, and has helped me immensely. I am grateful to him, Vince, Joseph, Kevin, and Eric. It will be tough to leave this neighborhood in August.

But despite this small marina community, and despite sailing with visiting friends the first weekend in June, it has been a somewhat lonely time. I sailed subsequent weekends alone, venturing 6-10 miles to other islands.

Sailing to Stuart Island, alone, Ray at the helm- captured during a time-lapse sequence

Learning to single-hand the Bruja Dulce in the San Juan Islands has been incredible. On my first single-handed Saturday, three weeks ago, I sailed for five hours in the sun letting a CD Karisa made for me cycle over and over. That afternoon was a peak experience which I’m only just beginning to understand, and which I plan on sharing in full as my time allows. The result of this experience was positive, I became determined and confident. However, there was a strange and torturous side effect: the Al Green song “Tired of Being Alone”, third track on the CD, spilled like milk into my brain- seeping into every last cranny of my consciousness, and sticking like honey.

When I say “song”, I mean three or four measures of the song. It wasn’t the song at all, in fact. It was just Al, and his refrain, “I’m so tired of being alone, I’m so tired of on-my-own, wont you help me girl, just as soon as you can…”

I ate with Al, I worked with Al, and yes, I went to sleep with Al. The first thing my consciousness encountered in the morning was Al- crying to me while I lay in the forecastle.

After 10 days or so, when he seemed to be getting comfortable in the salon of my internal dialogue, I began asking him to leave, “That’s enough, Al.” “Please stop, Al.” After 20 days, “Stop!” “Shush!”. When he wouldn’t let up, these requests sometimes escaped the gravitational field of my sanity and manifest as odd mutterings.

Beginning my homepathic treatment: animating time-lapse and editing while camping on the Oregon coast the night before arriving at Live Power Farm

Thursday June 15th, Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, CA – Even as I left left the San Juan Islands, and drove down the coast, Al was with me. On the drive, I concocted a homeopathic treatment. I decided to make a short film, set to Al’s song, so I would be forced to listen to it over and over while planning and editing. Maybe this is more shock-therapy than homeopathy, I don’t know. The treatment helped in my recovery, but there was an obvious cure.

Harvesting is well underway by sunrise

While visiting Karisa during her internship at Live Power Farm, I am asked to help out on the farm- to join the crew in exchange for room and board during my stay. This is my third time staying with Karisa and working, eating, and playing alongside these wonderful people. It is my pleasure. Incredible things are happening here. The work being done, the thoughts being shared (so often the most poignant and cheerful while hoeing or weeding in +100º), the food being grown and prepared, their wild and diverse stories being inked in the fabric of human consciousness, all of it, so wonderful to be a part of- a crew, so……not alone.

I am dedicating, for whatever it’s worth, all the hours I put into this video to the Live Power Crew and the Decaturs. Because, while I happen to have the time to share all of this, they are working 60 hours or more per week, lovingly, achingly, and sometimes sleepily, growing lively food for themselves and 125+ families in the Bay Area- their other passions and interests mostly at bay while they learn and teach the practices which will help the full diversity of life grow more sustainably through people. Their sacrifice will come back many-fold, I’m sure. All the best, and see you in the Bay Area soon- when you can join my crew for a while!

Photos for Karisa and Elijah (because they asked), and all those wanting to see more of what it’s like up in the SJ’s:

Speiden and Jones Island from Yellow Island

Sunset over Waldron Is.- Canadian Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island beyond

Deer Harbor from the top of the Bruja

The Bruja, anchored off of Jones Island- Yellow Island beyond

Speiden, Vancouver, and Gulf Islands

I love this boat! It was anchored next to me at Jones Island. The crew appeared to be Grandfather and Grandkids. Cute!

David of Waldron- I plan on finding him and having another chat, seems like an interesting guy



  1. Great video! What program did you use? I’m just getting my feet wet with video making ….
    Looks like you are, as always, well on your way on a grand adventure! I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds!

    Calm seas and happy winds to you, yours, and those you meet along the way!

    • Eh. At the risk of being unfair or negative, one could say I am using at least one lemon in my software lemonade recipe. Nevertheless, it is a key ingredient.
      iMovie ’08 is the editing program I have been using. If the program had a tachometer, it would be redlining throughout my use of it. It crashes literally dozens of time throughout the editing of one video. And, it is merely the program I use to put everything together.
      I use Quicktime pro to animate the time-lapse and occasionally use Garage Band to play with sound.
      Apple…oh, Apple. I am a manic- happy and raging- customer… but I will omit my full opinion here.
      I have been tinkering with time-lapse for years and have a few ghetto-funky tricks which are getting me by…
      Let me know if you want some detail. Maybe I’ll do a post on it someday…
      A great camera for time-lapse is available for $100 at Amazon… Pentax WS80. I highly reccomended it! Cheap, waterproof, excellent features and decent images…. I’d buy ten if I could afford it…
      Thanks for the comment, kid!

  2. Well, here you go!!!!! Off and running!!!! Please, please, please be careful. I am going to be following you all the way so keep the posts coming. Love all your pictures. Must admit I’m a little frightened by this trip. I know Larry is going to be with you, and I’m thankful for that, but I’m still nervous. Take care and know that I love you.

  3. TIM!!! what an AMAZING post and a lovely blog! i had such an incredible time watching your time lapse video – i sat in awe and with adoration while watching what you do day to day. you put love and hard work into your baby and it loves you back. hope you’re doing well in the seattle area — we miss you and THANK you for the video!! so beautiful!! xo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: