02 November 2012

The Groove

I have been putting a couple hours per day into my book (78,257 words and counting) and this morning I found myself writing about 'the groove' -- my word for the mindset you need to endure a long and sometimes difficult voyage:

"North Carolina!" I said to Cabin Boy as we crossed over the state line. "Hallelujah!" 
We were fifteen days out of Jacksonville, but it had seemed longer. Much longer.  
Three states down and five to go. How long would it take to reach New York? That depended on King Neptune. How many more of his tridents would we have to catch? But it felt like maybe we were over some sort of hump. I’d fixed or worked around most of the Blue Moon’s kinks. I’d learned many new tricks. And I was fit. The Blue Moon had worked it’s magic: the weight I’d mysteriously gained at home had melted away, and I was back in fighting trim. Our daily distance was still ragged — 50 miles one day, 20 the next — but on average we were doing better and better as time went on. 
Most importantly, I was back in ‘the groove’. This is what I called the mental state that my voyage required. At the beginning of each leg, I had to get into this groove and it was a painful process. It was a matter of letting go of shore-side comforts like hot water, dry clothes, comfy chairs, and the companionship of friends and family. Letting go, too, of the shore-side pace: the restless, action-oriented, technology-driven pace of the typical American. Go faster. Do more. More of whatever. The craziness of the typical New Yorker, in other words.
That kind of mindset just didn’t work on the water. I couldn’t go faster, and worrying about it didn’t help. It would have been a real problem if I hadn’t been able to let go, to adapt, but I found I could adapt. The go-go fever always abated over the course of 3 or 4 days and gradually I’d adapt to slower pace of the Blue Moon. I’d get into the groove. The groove that allowed me to think not of tomorrow, but of now. And that made all the difference: outside the groove, the voyage seemed impossible. Inside, I knew we could do it.  
"It's just a matter of time, now," I told Cabin Boy, confidently. He seemed to mutter grave warnings about Hubris, but I waved them away.  
"Superstitious nonsense!" I said.  
Then I knocked on wood. No sense taking chances, after all.
Inevitably, Hurricane Sandy survivors are getting restless. It's less than a weeks since the storm, but the busy folk of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are ready for it to be over. Ready for the lights to come back on, for gas lines to vanish, and for fresh food to appear in their grocery store. Surely in today's instant-on, high-speed, high-def world, a week is more than enough to fix all the problems, right?

Unfortunately, no. It's going to take some time for people to get into the Hurricane Sandy 'groove'. To realize that turning lights on in several million homes is going to take some time. Our expectations are out of whack. We need to adapt to the real pace of recovery. The real pace of cutting trees and fixing wires, one tree, one wire at a time.

Easy for me to say, since Helena and I have the electricity and heat that many, many other are doing without. Just around the corner (literally) our neighbors are doing without or running noisy generators. We can hear them buzzing in every direction. I took my camera on my daily walk and took some photos of the destruction. It's light, compared to the scenes in New Jersey and low-lying areas of New York, but it gives you a taste of what it's like, if you're lucky enough to be out of the hurricane area.

Lots of roads are still blocked, like this.

What 'not fun' looks like to a home owner

These wires are 6' off the ground

A pair of beautiful oaks that should have
lived for many more years... now crushing a rail fence
and lying half-across the road

The LIPA crews just triage the trees, cutting them into
pieces just small enough to shove off the road
with a tractor. 
On a very sad note, I heard today that one of my favorite boats, Sjogin, was sunk in the storm. Hopefully she'll be re-floated soon.

Sjogin, in better days.
Meanwhile, I've acquired a tool necessary for traditional boat building: a surface planer. People say it's the second-most-useful tool for a boat builder, after a bandsaw. I had been looking for a used portable, like a Delta, but my boat builder friend Roger made me an offer I couldn't refuse on a 'real' planer.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video should say everything that needs to be said:

Next Episode: Why Sailors Go Barefoot

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