Sunday, 10 April 2011

Letter to a Mexican Lady

Hi Maria,

I was going to e-mail the letter that I wrote earlier in the week but I decided to rewrite it and bring it up to date. I was thinking of your last letter and your love for seagulls. I certainly saw "muchas gaviotas" on the islands which I passed during my trip. Have you ever read the poem, "Ode to the seagull", by Pablo Neruda?  I took a book of his poems called “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” with me to fit into the quite times.  I was sailing on a brand new 40 foot sailboat which is in the first picture that I'm attaching to this e-mail. It has two "heads" or washrooms, two sleeping cabins, a dining area and a galley plus ample storage space.  The boat can bunk 11 people at a stretch and is easy to steer.  There is a digital display screen incorporating GPS in front of the wheel which you can see in one of the pictures and shows you your location on a map with all of the surrounding area including other vessels which are digitally integrated into the display along with your direction and speed as well as the wind speed and wind direction.  You can program it via auto-pilot to go where you want even if you are not at the helm and warn you when another vessel is on a course to intercept the boat since the ship’s radar is also integrated into the computer system. Things have changed since the old days! There were a fair number of other sailboats on the water and it looked like some of them were in a regatta. Some of the islands that I passed had their trees killed by vast flocks of cormorants which were using the trees as landing pads for their fishing. On another island I saw thousands of seagulls nesting or flying. They would follow the boats hoping for leftovers from the onboard meals and would make quite a lot of noise if they had some success. I passed lake freighters, a paddle wheel boat named "River Gambler" which looked like in belonged on the Mississippi river just after the American Civil War and a very large black three-mast sailing ship that wouldn't be out of place in the eighteen century although it didn't have a pirate flag on the top of the mast. I did take some pictures of these ships but I'll have to attach them to another e-mail because the server gets upset if the attached files are too big.

 The weather was fine on Sunday and Monday with the boat cruising about 3 to 4 knots under sail on Sunday but the wind picked up during Monday and the boat really started to move. Around 10 pm on Monday, it started to rain and eventually got stormy with lighting over night. It’s a good thing to be in a safe port at night when the weather is getting bad. It cleared up Tuesday morning and docking back at the Harbour front in Toronto was not difficult. I have done three cruises on the Holland America line - twice around the Mediterranean Sea and one up the inner passage to Alaska. I feel closer to the true sailing experience on a smaller boat although I do miss the personal service and the excellent food of a cruise liner. What cruises did you sail?

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