But back to this particular song.
Pilot's soaring and incessant declaration ("Oh! Ho! Ho! It's magic!") played in counterpoint to the couple of weeks of prep and racing of the 2019 Transpacific ocean Race –– the Transpac. Because of course, my favorite skipper sailed this 2250-mile-long offshore race aboard the famous Bill-Lee-designed Merlin*.
The boat could hardly have been better prepared for the trip from Long Beach, California to Honolulu, Hawaii: the crew included two fire-fighters among her experienced and talented team; new sails; higher degrees in engineering, MacGyvering, and meterology; a redesigned physical plant and dozens of Pacific passages under her keel; extra duct tape and A & D ointment; and the latest in safety gear and information technology
It's not a safe world and we all need some good luck to get us along. Sailors especially.
So while playing brave little toaster on shore, I wasn't about to ignore the encouraging messages of a magical world.
Just because it's magical thinking doesn't mean it's not true, right? Like the song says. Oh! Ho! Ho!
In a mere 8 days, Merlin's race was run.
Several Transpac boats retired because of technical difficulties. One of the catamarans ran into a mysterious nighttime something and tore a hole in her bow. Another boat actually sank (the sailors were rescued by their competitors, naturally, because, well –– sailors). Nobody, thank goodness, was lost at sea.
Merlin finished a quite respectable third; their stories range from the sublime (rainbows around the moon) to the ridiculous (anything to do with using the head, also, two people beaned by flying fish). They shredded some sail and lost their electronics for a bit, but it worked out safely in the end.
Here's the link to the Transpac YC's amazing images of Merlin.
And a brace of BCR for your listening enjoyment:
Interested parties need to pace themselves. Seven days, ten days? Jeesh. That's a lot of click-click-clicking. That's potentially a lot of sleep-deprived calendar days –– even days set near Hollywood or Waikiki.
But I am happy to say there's a super-cool tracking site that shows all the boats in the several fleets.
Okay, super-cool –– but with a 4-hour delay, and the updates seem to come only every hour or so. So perhaps medium-cool.
Anyway. It allows those of us watching the race to follow the track and to guess at the weather. Plus, the class leaders get a little crown over their name. Which is nice.
Here's the link.
For 100 years, sailors have been racing to Hawaii from Southern California. Okay, probably ages longer, competitive spirit being what it is, but the 2019 Transpac marks the 50th anniversary of the 2250-mile sailboat race.
Little did I know, this big race is one of Jeff's lifetime sailing ambitions.
Enter the wizard: Merlin is a 68-foot-long sled designed by Bill Lee. The boat was built in 1977, and promptly set a record** in that year's Transpac that stood for 20 years. Tampa-based attorney Chip Merlin*** purchased the sweet sloop a year and a half ago and set about updating her and now, just like that! It's showtime.
There's been more than a year's worth of preparation, rebuilding, outfitting, refitting, and organizing logistics. I haven't documented it because –– in a parallel to nie moje malpy, nie moj cyrk –– the fiberglass dust, punch lists, invoices, and files of safety documentation have been a few states away from me.
The intrepid crew includes Chip Merlin, Brian Malone, Kat Malone, Mackenzie Cook, Keahi Ho, Mike Pentecost, James Clappier, Chris Watts, Adrienne Cahalan, variously from Florida, California, Hawaii, and Sydney, Australia.
The Transpac website will be tracking the fleet –– keep in mind, instant-gratification junkies, that the updates appear with a 4-hour lead-time. That is, the updates are NOT in real-time.
Boats are expected to finish in a week or two, depending on weather and what-not. Here's the link to the Transpac race site.
Here's the link to Merlin Racing (find a treasure-trove of videos on YouTube too!). And here's the Merlin Facebook page.
Crossing fingers and knocking wood, next stop Honolulu. Laki maika'i, all y'all.
*Identify the literary reference, win a prize.
**8 days, 11 hours.
***If your family name is Merlin, I think you are more or less obliged live up to it.
So when planning a big capital improvement –– like a cabin! Squee! –– to your Would Be Farm, let me suggest scheduling it around a year without record-breaking floods.
Of course, given the state of the world, that might be too much to ask.
Not that we know any different: we arrived at the Would-Be Farm in April hoping that the contractor was going to surprise us with a big serving of progress at the build.
He's been a little stingy with photos, and while neither my favorite skipper nor I actually speculated aloud, we'd cherished hopes.
Instead, the spring was wet. Like twice the amount of rain as usual. Crazy high water on the mighty St. Lawrence River. All doubling down on mud season.
The mud situation was kind of dramatic. Deeper than the hubs on the contractor's big work-truck. Deep enough to engulf muck boots. Deep.
I grant you, the contractor had kind of spaced the part where we said, Hey, you might want to have the gravel guy put the driveway in first thing.
So that was –– what's the word? –– frustrating.
But the remedy was easy enough: apply cash and earth-moving equipment to the problem. Only, well, we'd have to wait for the mud to dry up a little. And it kept raining. Lefty-loosey righty-tighty, Mother Nature.
Meanwhile, the build was stalled. Subfloor in place. A few walls tacked into place. But no roof because no trusses. No trusses of course because, you know, mud. And no workers because no trusses.
As anyone might guess, a Wizard-of-Oz style windstorm came next.
At one point in the middle of the night, a mighty whomping noise –– like an enormous, damp pterodactyl shaking off sleep –– arose. Snugged under covers in our bunk at Base Camp, we speculated that the blue tarp was taking the whole build off to see the wizard.
But come sun rise, the build was still there, flapping but solid.
By the end of the month at the Farm, we learned to keep our eyes averted from that end of the field. "It'll be great when it's done," we reminded each other, "They will get to it when they get to it."
We had plenty of springtime chores –– clearing trail, working on the gazebo, making cool chairs –– to keep us occupied. But still.
My favorite line from the Declaration of Independence?
It's not how "we hold these truths to be self-evident" –– even though that is one of the neatest summaries of all time (all are created equal, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
Nor is it how governments "derive their power from the will of the governed," which is likewise very elegant.
That initial section endures and continues to inspire.
No, the part I enjoy most is where the reasons for the rebellion from Britain and its king are set out in full and querulous detail. It's a laundry list of offenses, including my personal favorite:
"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."*
This is just one of a couple of dozen of reasons that the 13 states agreed to start the Revolution. You can feel the outrage and exhaustion –– though it was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, the whole document was agreed to by committee.
Sadly, other complaints against the King (like this one: "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or incur miserable death in transportation thither.") didn't make the cut. How different a Republic it would have been had that one made it.
*Don't recognize these lines? That's okay. National Public Radio broadcasts the Declaration in full every year and you can read the whole thing in a careful ten minutes or so.. Here's a link to our fantastic National Archives transcription.
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