aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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a sailor's life for me
Posted by dav at 2005 June 15 08:12 PM
File under: News

There are a handful of songs that I'll bellow (you can't call it singing) when I'm driving alone on the higway and they're playing on the stereo. "Story of My Life" by Social Distortion, "Web in Front" by Archers of Loaf, "Super Sex" by Morphine, "Brandy" by Looking Glass....

The last song has been running through my head a lot lately. The lyrics start off

There's a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

and end with a sailor's departing lament that as wonderful as his harbor town girlfriend is, his life, lover and lady is the sea.

I'm not quite that smitten with the sea (Mie is my life, lover and lady) but I have always wanted to be a sailor, especially since arriving at this western bay and watching the ships crisscross the waters every windy weekend. Fantasy became reality this week when I completed Basic Keelboat Sailing I at Spinnaker Sailing.

I now know the basics on how to rig and sail a 22' Santana sloop (the model pictured at the left) including tacking, gybing and a slew of other weird salty nouns and verbs (and knots). The two day course was even blessed with about as mildly perfect conditions for learning as you can find in the San Francisco Bay; 15 knot winds, calm waters, shorts & t-shirt air temperatures. This was especially fortunate as SF Bay is known as the most challenging sailing waters in the continental USA with normally much tougher conditions.

I just need to schedule two more days of classes and take an ASA test and then I am certified at the Basic Keelboat level which means I can charter boats up to 24' in length.

It's been fun listening to sea stories from experienced sailors. I always appreciate exploring a subculture that is somehow closely tied to the natural environment and man's interaction with it. I've learned how to read tide/current charts and spot the effects of Sacramento River drainage by floodlines in the middle of the bay.

Of course, the stories of near-death are compelling too. One man related a tale of trying to make his way blindly through dense fog from north of Angel Island to San Francisco one night and ending up in the path of a tanker without much steerage, water crashing over the bow, an air horn that disintegrated when he tried to use it and an outboard engine that wouldn't stay running. Things were looking quite bad but in the end he made it out luckily.

Today he sent me this story of an over-capacity sailboat that flipped over last night in front of a tanker in the North Bay, they were rescued by the quick actions of a tugboat crew that happened to be nearby:

CARQUINEZ STRAIT / Tanker veers in nick of time after 8 boaters tossed into its path

Minutes later, engineer Jennings spotted a light waving in the dark about 400 feet away, and through binoculars he saw arms flailing in the water. Jennings yelled to his captain, Mark Farran, who turned on the tugboat's spotlight, and it instantly became clear the sailboat party was in the tanker's way.

Farran radioed to the Prima Bow captain, urgently asking him if he saw the hapless sailboaters.

"I heard him (the tanker captain) screaming, 'I see 'em now!' " said Farran, 48, and the tanker veered hard to port. "He was getting ready to take 'em out."

I don't think I'll be night sailing anytime soon, by the way.


I'll gladly hop on your boat, cap'n. Can't promise I won't get sea sick, but I'll go wherever you go.


Posted by: Mie on June 16, 2005 11:10 AM

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