Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Down and Out In Beverly Hills.


Dear reader,

I've been unable to get motivated today. I'm sill feeling like death warmed over, and can't seem to get caught up on sleep. This is a shot one of my crew mates thought best represented my natural state. To make matters worse, it has rained on and off all day and evening; the humidity weighs on you. It feels, at times, like you are breathing through wet blankets. I've managed to get my cabin mattress back together, put on sheets, find clean towels, clothes, arrange my laptop and paperwork enough to be able to do some basic record keeping and make sure the various computer programs and devices I'd brought down were working. This effort was exhausting. The boat still looks like an tornado hit it. There are things stacked in piles about the cabin, my prior attempts at putting the boat away for storage, but I haven't had enough good weather to start putting everything back in its proper place. It has rained on and off since I got here. Not enough to force you completely indoors, but enough to make working outside for any length of time damp and impractical, if not down right discouraging.

So, if you can't face your problems, back up to them. I spent most of the afternoon inside, trying to get the electronics working. There are several new geegaw's I've picked up this trip. My favorite has turned out to be a folding table for the laptop computer. I realize that this is just two pieces of hard plastic with a hinge, but it allows me to place the laptop on my lap while still providing airflow and eliminating the "hot spots" you get when the computer rests directly on your lap, raising your testicular temperature to the melting point of Molybdenum. I'm told that this may be the reason I've never had children. It also makes things more stable and secure, plus it fits nicely in the briefcase I use to hold the laptop. It is maybe five dollars worth of material, so I probably paid about fifteen dollars more than I should have, but it has worked out well and allows me to write comfortably while sitting in an airport, or on a plane, or even in bed. I only wish that laptop manufacturers would start making split key keyboards as part of the native laptop. My wrist ache after a few hours of typing in this position.

I've also managed to get the Garmin GPS chart plotter maps downloaded today. This turned out to be hours of fun. That is, if your idea of fun consists of following several web pages worth of instructions written originally in Japanese by someone who had never seen or used the product, and then translated into our native tongue by a Korean whose keyboard didn't include commas, semi-colons, or the letters T, H and E, and then edited by a Taiwanese tech writer who learned English through a correspondence course. Plus, I'm already annoyed with Garmin because I was unable to do any of this while at home. They've set up their system so that you can only use the "map" info with an unlock key, and they won't give you the key unless you know the serial number of the target GPS unit. That's fine unless you happen to be in the states, and the target unit is installed on your boat in Nicaragua, and you don't remember your serial number. The tech support staff were of absolutely no help what so ever, but ever so cheerful about being useless. I think they learned that "chipper, smiling, happy while I fuck you over" behavior from California highway patrol officers: "Here's your ticket for going three miles an hour over the speed limit, Ma'am, and you have yourself a real nice day."

What pisses me off is that I wasn't downloading the map into the GPS directly, I was burning it into a data card that would be installed into the GPS. I just wanted to make sure that all the new hardware I'd purchased would work. They could have just as easily set up the software so that the download didn't require the unlock code, or there was a one time use mechanism, or it was possible to download some demo map that didn't require an unlock code, or any of a thousand other approaches, but instead they've made it as difficult to use as possible. Their claim is that this prevents illegal reproductions, but the reality is that this doesn't actually stop the folks who want to abuse the system, it just makes it harder for the rest of us to use their products. If you applied their logic to the rest of the commercial world, you wouldn't be able to open a can of peaches without a working desktop computer, high speed internet access and half an afternoon of free time.

It also meant that I had to wait until I was back down here before I could try any of it out for the first time, which meant that if anything went wrong I'd be fucked unless I could get AnnMarie or someone else to bring me down the right parts. Internet communications are feeble at best here, and the power goes out every few hours, which kills the internet servers in the marina, so fixing a tricky electronics problem from here is, at best, great fun-- in that "you have yourself a real nice day" sense of the word fun. Since I began writing this email, the power has gone off, and come back on three times. Frustrating just doesn't adequately describe the emotion. We need a new word or phrase (something like "road rage" or bad drivers) to describe the desire to reach through the internet and strangle that useless little support script reading fuck wearing a headset; maybe "disk rage" or "web-roid".

As it turned out, it was many hours before I was able to get enough of a connection through to the Garmin website (after being repeatedly cut off when either the power failed or the signal grew too weak) before I had everything working. At one point the wireless signal here became so weak that the only way to continue meant having to sit outside-- naturally it started to rain just as I was about to complete the download transaction. I could have maps for my upcoming trip, but only if I was willing to saturate my laptop to do so. Good times, good times. To make matters worse, the 16Meg blank data card I bought was defective. I happened to find another card someone had given me, otherwise I would have been stuck until someone from the states arrived with additional hardware.

This evening I was invited over to "Batwing" for dinner with Ron & Diane. I had just started to begin organizing the boat, but a home cooked meal is never to be passed up when cruising. We were joined by Tom and Ann, a retired couple from Washington who've been out sailing the west coast for a while. It seems that you can quickly tell the folks who are coping well with the cruising lifestyle. I watched as the two of them paddled their sailing canoe up to the dock and gracefully got out without so much as a glance between them. Now, that doesn't sound like much, but getting two adults out of a untethered canoe isn't as easy as it looks, and they managed it quickly, effortlessly and with aplomb. This kind of unspoken, choreographed movement from an unstable platform takes practice and communication, and that only happens when both parties are in sync with each other. I've seen other couples have trouble just walking side by side while holding hands.

We all sat around chatting, eating and drinking, telling tales out of school and generally enjoying each others company. The evening sped past us. It was after 10pm before I made it back to the boat, and any energy I might have had towards organizing quickly vanished. Oh, well, another day in paradise; I just wish it didn't rain so much, or was so hot, or so difficult to get around, or...oh, wait, I'm hanging out on a comfortable catamaran, in a brand new marina located at the edge of a breath-takingly beautiful tropical jungle, with delightful friends, and no one is shooting at me. Life could be a lot worse.

I hope your day was as traumatic.




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