Monday, July 22, 2013

Oh Sailing

OooooOOOOOOooOOoOOAAAaaaah!  NOW I get it. Sailing.

The first passage I made on the Adios was from South Beach Harbor just south of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco to the Berkeley Marina in, you guessed it, Berkeley.

I wasn't sure of my sailing chops so I figured I would just motor over and I left the sail under wraps. At first I tried to go around the west side of Treasure Island but as I got closer to what they call "The Slot" (the way between Angel Island and Treasure Island which faces the Golden Gate directly and catches all the wind and current) the waves became just high enough to give me pause and I went back around the east side of the island.

After that it was fairly smooth sailing (I should say motoring) until I got out towards the Berkeley Marina and was approaching the ruins of the old Municipal Pier, which stretch west through the water off of the marina for a surprisingly long way.  I came out from the lee of Treasure Island and the waves picked up again. They were not a danger to the boat but they kept raising the stern high enough to bring the prop out of the water and cause the engine to rev uncomfortably.

I got in to the protection of the breakwater and things calmed down, but it left me with the jarring feeling that I might also have gotten into more than I could handle.

It turns out I was doing it wrong.

In fact, the trick to travelling in a sail boat is to sail it. Who knew?

The next passage I made was from Berkeley to the Emeryville Marina, just next door and within sight of each other.  Kids go sailing there in tiny little sailboats for fun and practice, so I figured it would be safe enough to try to actually sail there myself.

I readied the mainsail but left it furled because the wind was astern (coming from behind) and making it difficult to raise it in the berth.  I left the headsail down. One thing at a time.  (You don't have to have the headsail up to sail, it just helps you go faster.)

I cast off and used the motor to get out into the main open part of the marina then hoisted the sail, letting the motor push us very slowly into the wind and towards the main opening from the harbor into the bay.  With the sail up and ready I motored out from behind the breakwater and into the bay.  I went south through the gap at the end of the still-accessible part of the Berkeley Municipal Marina, which process they call "threading the needle", and switched off the motor.

Now I was sailing, and it all made sense.

You pay attention, then you think, then you set the sail and the maybe the tiller, and then...  then the very forces of Nature herself carry you and your boat gently along.  It's quiet, it's peaceful, it's transcendent.

It's sailing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Everything's Okay: DON'T PANIC!

As if living(-ish) on a sailboat and getting paid to work on robotics isn't cool enough, I am now learning Blender (the cool open-sourced 3D system) as part of my job. (I'm going to do mock ups of the robots using it!)

Now there's an interesting thing that my screwed up nervous system will do. All afternoon I have been on the edge of panic.  Weird, right?  I should be stoked.  I'm getting paid to learn Blender which is awesome and will enable me to do more awesome stuff, and this is totally okay.

Except my nervous system keeps trying to freak out and tell me that there's something really important that I'm forgetting that I need to do and I can't just sit here lighting up metaballs and rendering them all day! Dude, you have to get a job!

Whoa there neurotransmitters! Steady on, little glands! I've checked and re-checked and we're all okay.  There is, in fact, nothing I can think of that I should do today (it's Sunday afternoon) that I've left undone. Maybe call my mom. But it really is the order of the day to sit here and mess with Blender, and that will pay my bills.

Wow.  Just breath deeply. Everything's okay.