Jan 4th Waves

The day after the Nor'easter dubbed "Hercules" by the Weather Channel, the sun was out, the wind offshore and the waves were big. Eric Anderson was there along with some pros from points south. Video by Justin Lynch:

Sailing Around the World Alone - Slocum

While the first chapter of Moby Dick is required reading for anyone who loves the sea, the entire story of Joshua Slocum's 1895-98 circumnavigation should be read by anyone who thinks of venturing across oceans and around the globe. Slocum's book, Sailing Alone Around the World, is a non-fiction adventure tale of mountainous seas, shredded sails, blood thirsty pirates, murderous Indians, loneliness, joy and love for a boat.

Slocum was a veteran seaman who had captained sailing vessels such as the Northern Light 2 across oceans at a time when steamships were ascendant and the age of sail was coming to a close. In his 50's, widowed and not sure what to do, Slocum took the dare of a friend who said it would be impossible for a man to sail around the world by himself.

Coming this weekend MoreBeach will be serializing Slocum's story one chapter at a time. If you can't wait, there's always

The Northern Light-2:

New Year Blizzard

Normally a storm like this would have knocked out power around dinner time and we’d be waking up to a genuinely quiet house, thankful for the wood stove.  But the power never failed, never ebbed, it didn't even blink. Internet is still live. It’s nice, but dare I say I missed being temporarily forced off the grid. The kids missed it too. In an ideal storm (something different from “perfect”) we lose power just after dinner is cooked, light the candles, turn on the battery lamps, stoke up the wood stove and play Chinese checkers and other board games until bed time. Then we turn the space in front of the hearth into a large communal bedroom. The great room with the iron and glass enclosed fire stays toasty as the rest of the house begins to cool. The wind howls outside. Snow blows and drifts form. More than cozy, it’s gemütlich.

No complaints however. It’s much better to have power than to worry about frozen pipes. One of these days we’ll get a generator I suppose. But I really hate the noise and don’t want to give up the garage space. Anyway, we seem to have come through this storm without any hassle. This morning there are two and three foot drifts on the back deck on the southwest side of the house. The front deck, facing northeast, is totally clear. Birds are nibbling at the bird feeder. The driveway looks like it has a few spots with a foot or more. It’ll probably take me three hours to get it totally shoveled out. Yep, no snow blower either. It’s that noise and garage space thing again. Besides, I like the exercise and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from manually clearing paths to walk and drive on.

The wind shifts west tomorrow morning, but it’s going to be bitterly cold. As the day warms to reasonable the wind starts blowing a little harder than ideal from SSW, but waves should clean up pretty well.

-Mike Marks

New Year's Reading and Viewing

During the time between Christmas and New Year's it's hard to get any real work done, thus perfect to catch up on reading. My book of choice this season is Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness". While the desert environment Abbey writes about differs from Cape Cod, his observations will resonate with anyone who has enjoyed a quiet walk on a deserted beach. Abbey, writing in the 1960's, laments the National Park Sevice making wilderness access easier with roads. His lament can be just as easily applied to GPS and satellite imagery today. Beyond his crabbiness with "industrial tourism" he writes of simple things like making breakfast in a sandstorm:

“The sun is rising through a yellow, howling wind. Time for breakfast. Inside the trailer now, broiling bacon and frying eggs with good appetite, I hear the sand patter like rain against the metal walls and brush across the windowpanes. A fine silt accumulates beneath the door and on the window ledge. The trailer shakes in a sudden gust. All one to me -- sandstorm or sunshine I am content, so long as I have something to eat, good health, the earth to take my stand on, and light behind the eyes to see by.”

One of the larger points Abbey makes is that each living thing needs space. In the desert this comes naturally because water is limited. Elsewhere on our planet, advances in food and antibiotics have enabled mankind to push crowding ever further. This subject is regularly addressed by Andrew Revkin in his "Dot Earth" column in the NYTimes. Revkin recently posted "A Tutorial on Humanity’s Path to and Beyond 7 Billion". The post presents two videos on the subject. The first is of David Suzuki warming the hearts of modern Malthusians with a short discussion on the implications of geometric progression and population explosion. Following that is a longer and more nuanced video lecture by Joel Cohen: “Malthus Miffed: Are People the Problem, the Solution, or Both? An Introduction to Demography and Populations Study Through an Examination of the World’s Population”. Both are well worth watching if you're interested in the subject.

On simpler things closer to home, four of my New Year's resolutions for the coming year may be of interest to MoreBeach.commers:

1. Post something new to MB at least once a week.
2. Update the surf forecast at least 3X a week (and try to do a better job)
3. Sail overnight to Block Island with my daughter Jane.
4. Surf 100 days or more.

Longer term, when that deluge of dollars comes raining down from NESurf Beanies (available now) or Nor'Easter Jeans (available in March) or SUPs (available in spring) or a rich benefactor (welcome anytime), I'll fix the many, many tech problems with this site. Until then, thank you for your patience and...

Happy New Year!

-Mike Marks

Los Angeles Weather Forecast

I try describing New England weather to my family and friends in Los Angeles, what a nor'easter is like and they never really get it. Jimmy Kimmel shows why: