A podcast about movie making and the scifi featurette, Daughter of God, with Director Shri Fugi Spilt, (Dan Kelly). Circles.
Hello again, hi! I am Shri Fugi Spilt aka Dan Kelly, the fleshy aspect of Hello World, that zany self aware catamaran built in Oceanside, California by Hobie Alter and company in 1979, when I was just 16 years old. I also wrote and directed the sleekest little post-apocalyptic romantic cult featurette ever to come off the west coast of Michigan's northern lower peninsula, Daughter of God. And that's saying something, what with the Latino celebrated Dogman franchise and the upcoming Thaw of the Dead.
I am still here after 25 weeks taking about how movies almost get made, scrying futures we may or may not crave with the help of yet another magic crystal sphere, this one's obsidian. Playing the glorious game of being the most me ever, which includes expanding the wilds of Earth, falling in love with everything, eating really well and embarking on hilarious art adventures.
You're here for reasons known only to you. Together we form an invincible power of podcasting, of global awakening!
Come onboard Episode 025 of the Daughter of Godcast and see how far we've traveled from post apocalyptic featurettes, more than 100 miles.
I keep reading that the post apocalyptic genre is supposedly big in YA (young adult) fiction, and for millenials too. Are they fascinated with doom and collapse because the apparent global conditions do not inspire optimism? Or are they visiting potential futures to get clear about which aspects of apocalypse might be worth encouraging and which brinks we should pull back from? Or has the rise of Trumpy amped up the chances of apocalypse in our lifetime?
As for me, I can imagine some benevolent apocalypse. Here's an excerpt from my LinkedIn profile.
"Having said this, it's critical that the objective du jour is something worthy, hence my company's agenda about "whoopin' ass for global consciousness". For example, peddling consumerism is right out! In fact I'm all about bringing the consumer culture to a screeching, crashing halt ASAP. I don't work on projects that produce schlock and toxicity, that trash the earth or close perceptual doors."
So there's my high road. Americans got trained to pig out, to get really great at converting natural resources into landfill, which is very different from turning food into shit, at least if you compost your shit. Like I do daily and did while sailing on Hello World.
Oops, hang on. Recent stats show a boost in our audience. Yay! If this is your first episode of the Daughter of Godcast, WELCOME. You might be feeling a little lost. Hang in there, exposition is inevitable.
When you sail on a 16 foot catamaran for 300 miles, where to poop is not a trivial consideration. Where would YOU poop? Wild waters and poop don't mix well. Since sailboats don't need gasoline, we never pull over at the service plaza. The Barnes Park campground from episode 024 with it's shiny white porcelain was an aberration.
I've mentioned the poopinator, the dung-0-matic. Are you curious about that? Sad to say, most people are pretty squeamish about their poop. Some things are just not discussed in polite company.
In episode 023, I rambled about the start of the trip while spitting out the pits from the wild cherries I had added to my breakfast. When I screened Around Lake Michigan to a test audience in the fall of 2009, I got lots of written feedback about how rude I was for eating and talking at the same time, spitting out those pits. If folks are going to get so riled for THAT violation of Emily Post, how am I going to talk about the pragmatics of pooping on a catamaran? Fugheddaboudit.
I know some of you are game. For the rest of you just hum really loud until you hear me say "ok, done!"
I brought a water tight army surplus ammo box and a stash of peat moss. The ammo box is low and easy to sit or squat over. When I'm done I add some peat moss which soaks up any moisture. There is little or no smell. I don't use toilet paper, preferring to clean myself with water. The glorious mixture of poop, water and peat moss deposited in the ammo box begins to break down pretty quickly, accruing interest in banking parlance.
Q- What happened when the ammo box got full?
When I landed in a wildernessy location with loamy soil back from the beach, I'd bury the partially composted contents, which is called cat holing in camping parlance. I never dumped in or near the water.
Q- How did you do your thing on the boat?
If the wind was mild, I'd stop sailing use the dung-o-matic on the trampoline. If I anchored in a public area, I'd set my tent up on the trampoline and bring the poopinator in there for a privacy.
Q- Is there any general observations you'd like to offer?
Most American's have an unsustainable relationship to the their basic bodily functions. No matter how much college you've had, whether or not your rich or beautiful, there's one thing you're really good at, and that's making brown gold. We are shit machines! There's so many of us and we are designed to produce kick ass fertilizer in quantity. Poop is not toxic waste or garbage, poop is meant to go back into the soil and utilized by plants, part of a lovely and amazing cycle. Circles.
What do most Americans do? Flush, elsewhere. To an expensive sewage treatment plant or into the groundwater, exactly the wrong place for poop. Wanna reimagine poop? I recommend the Humanure Handbook, available at Powells books OR go to the page for this episode there's a link to the PDF version!
In conclusion, if western civilization is that messed up about basic human functions, one might well imagine how out of whack we are with most everything else. Maybe a little apocalypse wouldn't be so bad? Maybe we haven't abandoned Daughter of God after all?
Episode 025, Circles
In Episode 024, Dan and Hello World had landed on Beaver Island and found favorable conditions and friendly natives. Gretchen was helping out as producer and she knew lots of people on Beaver. My most excellent connection there turned out to be with mason Dick Burris.
Snorkling with Dick
Monday morning, while waiting to interview Dick Burris the stonemason, I chatted with Doug Tilley, manager at the CMU research station over breakfast at the Dalwhinnie Bakery. Dick and I connected later, two interviews in one day! We ended up riding out to the Award winning Transfer Station for yet another interview and then taking a mask and snorkle excursion to the sunken car graveyard in Beaver Bay. “They just dragged them out on the ice and waited for them to fall through”, says Dick.
Dick decided to stay in the Rubber Duck while I dove. At 10-12 feet of depth, there were about 20 ancient-ish autos in various states of decay – even one with wooden spokes on the wheels! I spotted what appeared to be a lead acid battery at 10 feet of depth. I suggested to Dick that it shouldn’t be down there and he said let’s get it. After struggling to secure a rope to it, Dick tied me a decent slip knot and I got it around the bulky zebra muscle encrusted monster, slashing myself in three places. We hauled it up and brought it back – environmental remediation Kelly and Burris style. Circles.
I made the mistake of taking my new iPhone down in it’s little waterproof bag, supposedly rated for 10 feet underwater. I shot pictures and movies, but a few tiny drops of water inside the bag afterwards boded poorly – the iPhone died about 20 minutes after returning to the dock. Fortunately I had kept my older model and was able to activate it that evening. Pictures and local blog postings – gone. Reliable GPS – gone.
It’s all good. the next day Dick and I went back out with his underwater ready Sony camera and dove an honest to goodness shipwreck from the 1800s and returned to the car graveyard.
Dick and I talked a lot about his work as a stone mason. We took a tour of the grotto he built that incorporates diverse stone from all over the island. This led to his fascination with the ancient stonework of Peru, and his travels there to see first hand. Was this the super technology of a sustainable civilization? I read from the 1589 will of one of the last conquistadors, Don Mancio Serra de Leguisamo.
Bye bye Beaver
Seemed like I’d stayed for days and days, but it was only four days. Easy to get in the groove on Beaver with so many friendly folks around. I’m off to pack the boat and launch. With luck, Naubenway today.
I bought gear and parts at Power Hardware – washers to make a new pulley to replace the one I lost on the main sheet traveler, a new compass, anchor bag… so many things vanish on the water, securing gear is an important discipline that comes from hard experience. The list of things lost is long. Not to mention things ruined – iPhone from trusting untested equipment. I mostly mourn the lost things because now they are in the lake where they just don’t belong, it’s a double badness, I loose useful stuff and the lake accumulates more crap.
I also sent rent for my Brooklyn crib to my easy going lanlord Phil Charles. The post office lady gave me a free postage paid envelope ’cause I only had my ATM card and there was a minimum $10 charge. Is this a groovy place or what?
I didn’t make it off Beaver until 5:00 pm, so I popped over to Garden Island and camped, ready for an early morning departure between Whisky and Squaw Islands.
Marion and Jung Woong's son Ari was born a few days earlier. Marion had sent squares of cloth to her friends to make a collaborative art quilt for the newest member of our tribe. That morning I pulled out and clamped Ari's orange square to the mast wire, with the idea of charging it up with wind and beauty. By the time I passed Whiskey and Squaw, it was gone. My contribution to Ari's quilt was to make it as big as all of Lake Michigan.
The Upper Peninsula
I saw the Upper Penninsula of Michigan pretty quick but my vector brought the coast up gradually. As the shore came into view, I could not see the rosy beige colors of friendly quartz sand beaches, but rather blue water breaking on gray shelves of stone. Not ideal for landing, but the wind was moderate. Simultaneously drawing closer and moving up the coast, the gray broke suddenly and familiar dunes and blowouts appeared. I swooped in for a landing, avoiding a cabin further north. Just as I landed I saw a flash of blue through the trees to the south – another cottage? I’d have to check this out before making camp.
Hello World was awash in thick algae as I tugged her up. It was a sort of organic sludge that I’d never seen before. I quickly bopped down the beach to check out that blue flash and found tire tracks in the sand heading that way. Turned out to be a chemical toilet at a turnaround with fire pits. I’d stumbled upon a public access – and not a soul in sight. Workable.
I trudged back to the boat and warily observed the muck, it was mostly green so how bad could that be? I dropped sail and made camp, deciding to sleep on the boat in case there was any sudden activity or vehicles from the public access. I would use the tarp rather than the tent to expedite my morning departure. I pumped the muck water and made stew which turned out to be pretty yummy.
Back in the woods behind the dunes there were signs that the property was being carved up for sale. Why does everything have to be for sale?
I jettisoned the sludge around 9:00 am and headed southwest, with the intention of hyper jumping 40 miles across the UP and camping just past the Garden Peninsula on summer island. It was to be a short and very intense day.
The wind was blowing from the NE at a solid 15 – 20 mph and the swells were 10+ feet from trough to crest. The first 2 hours were some of the most exhilarating and awe inspiring I’ve ever lived.
For those of you who ski or snowboard, think about moguls. Approaching a field of moguls at speed, the mind slips into a space where evaluation and reaction blend together, we observe our decisions rather than make them. Now imagine the moguls moving, rising up and collapsing all around, rushing at you, pulling away.
A Hobie 16 has two basic controls, the tiller by which the rudders turn the boat and the sheet lines that control the tension on the main sail and the jib, which determines how fast the boat moves. When running with the wind, the jib may not be so important as it is often blocked by the main sail. On this day only the tiller (direction) and main sheet line (speed) are relevant.
Technical explanation starts…
Airplanes are sucked up into the air, not thrust up into it. Airfoils (wings) are so shaped that air traveling over the wing is moving faster than air traveling under the wing, lowering the air pressure at the top because the fast moving air thins out. Lower pressure (vacuum) at the top sucks the wing up.
A fabric sail can take a wing shaped profile too and that’s the most efficient kind of sailing, enabling boats to go faster than the wind. Instead of going up, the sailing ‘wing’ is pulled forward. When the wind is coming from directly behind the sailboat and the sheet is at right angles to the hull, the wing shape isn’t possible because the wind only has access to one side of the sail. In this situation the sail is pushed by the wind so the speed of the boat is about the same as the speed of the wind.
Loosening the sheet lines allows the sail to swing towards 90 degrees, decreasing speed. Tightening the sheet with a corresponding change of direction enables the wind to travel past both sides of the sail, increasing speed. Keep in mind that going slower doesn’t mean stopping. Running with a 15 mph wind, the boat will be traveling about 15 mph. The only way to apply brakes is to get out of the wind. Imagine a car that could only slow down only if it turned 180 degrees. Might be tough to u-turn if you are going 50 mph.
Wait a minute, 15 mph isn’t very fast! Going 15-20 mph on a 16 ft Hobie cat on big water feels like going 50 mph on a motorcycle or 90 mph in a car. Screwing up in any case could be bad. There’s loose ropes to get tangled up in, big hunks of aluminum and fiberglass flying through the air if the hobie flips and of course plenty of water for drowning. Trust me, 15-20 mph on a Hobie cat is intense.
Technical explanation ends…
Esoteric explaination begins…
Sailing is a collaboration between the crew, the boat and the local manifestation of the universe. Think about this – the sailboat and sailor are a synergy, alone they can do nothing but together they form a unique entity, a sailing being. The sailor senses and acts with her entire body, the face and hands read the direction and speed of the invisible wind, the eyes take in sail telltales and shape, what the water is up to and where the hell she is going. The body feels the swell and drop of the boat on the water, the pitch and roll of the hulls. The ears hear how the boat frame is twisting, the song of the rudders, how the water is rushing past the hulls and the bluster of the air as it interacts with the boat. In intense wind complete body presence is required, an absolute activation of sense and ability. It’s an ecstatic state, an excellent terror.
Can a boat be conscious? I give my consciousness to the boat and integrate myself (submerge or release) into the aluminum, dacron and steel. I can think, but it’s SO not needed – and can even be a dangerous. I give my mentation to the synergy and it spreads out over the whole being, into every rope and wire. What I am has fuzzy edges, my edges don’t stop at my skin or even the hulls and sails. I am the surging water, the moving air, the warming sun or the ominous clouds – it’s all relevant. Effective action in the center of a synergy is thought free, I am not because I think, I am because I am. Once I let it out and open it up, consciousness is clearly everywhere. Getting in that space is to tap into true power.
Esoteric explaination ends…
Ok so, enough exposition, back to the story. I am on a 16 foot Hobie Cat with about 500 lbs of cargo. That’s the equivalent of 3 medium sized sailors, close to the maximum crew capacity for the Hobie 16. 330 lbs of that is dead weight, backpacks that need to be shifted and secured for proper balance. Live crew would supposedly go where they were told without pushing and prodding. I am wearing a harness hooked into a long wire attached to the mast, this let’s me shift my weight to where it’s needed to balance the boat. Left hand ready on the sheet line and right hand grabs the tiller. There’s a 15-20 mph wind behind the boat and 15 foot waves rising and collapsing all around, moving approximately in the same direction as the wind.
Here’s a taste of what inner dialog might sound like if there was time to have it. The following paragraph would take about 3 seconds in realtime and my reactions would be automatic, without deliberation.
We (me and Hello World) tighten the sheet (sheet in) and turn slightly to the left (port) to rush up the sloping back of a big wave, lining up with the wave with a slight starboard turn as we reach the tippy top. As the wave crest white caps and curls, we teeter over the brink and hurtle down the wave’s face, dropping 15 feet over 20 feet of forward travel, immediately loosening the sheet (sheet out) and sliding over to port to keep the forward tips of our hulls from digging into the bottom of the wave’s trough. As the hulls glide into the trough we sheet in to accelerate up the next wave… but wait, the next wave is already collapsing, we’re in a wind shadow from the wave we just rode. Hard to port, sheet in and accelerate! Racing parallel to the waves, we find another wave to climb – faster! Don’t let a big wave hit us broadside and roll us over, here it comes – too late! Hard turn to starboard, ass to the wave and surf it for all it’s worth, sheet out! Turn to port, sheet in and up out of the new trough, quick!
Sheet in, sheet out, weave back and forth, climb and surf – for two hours! I felt fluid, automatic, intuitive. All the endless hours as a kid on the Hobie 14 came back to me, the tai chi like slow motion sailing in hardly a puff of wind, the hold on for dear life crazy ass blowing shouting for survival. All that time I was just playing around, thrills and fun – of no consequence, no importance… or so I thought. That experience came bubbling up to serve me in the moment. I didn’t know I knew how to sail like that. It was sublime.
After two hours the wind let up a bit and I could come off of DEFCON 5 – high alert. Though it never felt like stress or unpleasant, just scary and wonderful.
With all this heavy manuevering, Zilliax’s bike began to eat through it’s ropes. One bungie stood between me and total disaster, I had to stop for an emergency fix. To have a frigging bicycle dragging under the boat in these conditions would be unthinkable and horrific. So it was that I crash landed on the next available spit of land. Coming in at a moderately high speed, we hit the shallow stony bottom and skidded over 50 feet with much crunching and grinding. I jumped off and secured the bike while Hello World was rocked back and forth on it’s hard perch. Getting her out of the shallows was an epic feat, but at last we were back in open water.
I knew that Summer Island was just beyond the last point on the Garden Peninsula, but point after point passed without any sign of an island. After another hour or so of hard sailing, I started thinking about taking a break. To the north, a tempting blowout beckoned. I decided to turn right and give it a rest…
1:00 pm when we landed, 4 hours total transit time, with an hour spent fixing bike ropes and sidetracking to a rest stop. 40 miles in an intense 3 hours. A personal, phew, record.
Summer Islands and beyond
I spent the night at Dune Buggy Blowouts, my name for the sandy beach I detoured to after yesterdays intense push to Summer Island. From a mile or two away, it looked very inviting. Upon landing, I found tire tracks everywhere. I thought I might just take a rest for an hour or so and continue sailing, but after taking inventory I decided to make camp and get a fresh start the next day. I was pretty sure Summer was just around the next point and could easily reach Stonington the next day if the steady south wind showed up as predicted.
The problem was finding a place to throw down a sleeping bag – there wasn’t 6 feet of flat sand that wasn’t covered with tracks. There were no motors whining at the moment so maybe they showed up at night. I found an little bowl overlooking the boat and the bay, windblown to be sure but free of tire sign. As I sat preparing dinner, the robot radio warned of rain, so I figured a tent would be in order. Yes the wind would kick it about a little, no big deal. Early evening found me well fed and inside the tent, practically paralyzed with fatigue. It was all I could do to take off my pants.
Around 11:30 pm I awoke to the stacatto slap of tent fabric, the wind had come up. I felt sand settling on my face as the tent was contorted and deformed in the blow. After lamely yearning for a lazy alternative, I resigned myself to retreat. Dressing and sorting out the explosion of gear around me, I moved everything about 50 feet away, behind a big dune. Just as I finished, zipped up the tent and lay down, it started to rain. Timing!
I was back up at 7:00 am and on the boat by 10:00 am. The wind was wrong for getting out of the bay, but I was able to pull in some cell reception and call Ritch Branstrom on the Stonington Penninsula, just around the corner and across the Big Bay Du Noc. Eventually I tacked out of the hole, turned the corner and glided over to Stonington on steady south winds. The sun even broke through as I rounded Stonington and spotted Escanaba.
An ominous sky as I approach the Summer Islands and the crossing of the BIg Bay du Noc
I called Ritch all giddy at arriving with the sun still up and asked him how to spot his brother’s house, just two miles from the mouth of the bay. Oops! Ritch explained that mouth meant where the bay starts, still 18 miles more to go. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind coming to pick me up, I just wasn’t prepared to sail another 18 miles in twilight. I beached her Hello World limestone cliffs on private property (after getting permission from the owners) and proceeded to unpack the boat and stow the sails. Ritch, Anna and Ellery arrived in time to help me roll the boat up to the cliffs and we set off for their house in the Astrovan.
Home for Hello World during our stay on the Stonington Peninsula
Still in the UP
It’s 9:00 am at Rapid River, Michigan on the Stonington Penninsula. There’s a big wind ready to blow me south to Green Bay and beyond. Robot weather reports are out of commission as my little radio got wet on the trip across the Big Bay Du Noc. I’m relying on windfinder.com which predicted windspeeds falling to 17 mph by 10:00am. That’s my tentative launch time. Theoretically running with the wind matches boat speed to wind speed, so if I can handle the boat in this blow then I’ll make Wisconsin in an hour or two.
Launch canceled. Ritch and I drove up to the boat and it’s blowing 20 mph steady with gusts to 25-30. Chilly too. I’ll be here another day looks like. Good for a blog update!
Ritch and I discovered several additional artifacts of sustainable civilizations in our interviews.
Adhoc Workshop Poem
Trash, Throw away, toss
Until the whole world is lost
But wait! There’s no such thing as junk
Only magical sustainable funk
There’s an anonymous invisible army
Finding rubber, glass and metal
For creating amazing creatures
That bark, buzz and pedal
Ritch, Ellery, Anna and Goober
Do the making schtick
In a well worn fixit station
Not far from Schaawe crick
Just as the leaves grow go and grow again
And water falls, flys and falls
Adhoc animals come to life
And sound their secret calls
They speak to us of future
They remind us of the past
They help us pay attention
And of course, they makes us laugh
The Wind Blew Me Home – Chapter 1
So Long Stonington Peninsula - Photo by Ritch Branstrom
There I was in Wisconsin waters, having just passed between Washington Island and the Door Peninsula. Twenty eight miles in 3 hours, a decent trek for one day. I’d left Ritch and Hello World’s caretakers, Bunny and Ed at noon near the limestone cliffs of the Stonington Peninsula and caught a brisk wind south. A delightful ride, save for my nearly frozen feet. Too much strolling around in the Little Bay Du Noc preparing to launch. Also, a bit of confusion along the way about which shimmering mirage was actually Washington Island. Too much western slide and I could sucked into the funnel of Green Bay.
I’d just tip toed over the shoal between Plum Island and a tiny mainland town not shown on my charts, when it happened. The wind kicked in with a magical tingle, the tiller gave a little jump and Hello World swept away from Wisconsin, back out into the open waters of Lake Michigan!
Not finding any stuck linkages in the rudders or snagged sail lines, I concluded that mystic powers were at work. Based on the SE course, the next landfall would be Point Betsie, 44 miles away! 3:00 pm was a little late to start Big Lake crossing, but the wind was a friendly NW ish at 8 knots (7 mph), the sun was shining, there was plenty of food and what the fuck.
It was a steady ride. An hour or two later I could discern a shimmering shadow on the horizon, a very prominent point or an island. Point Betsie could not be sticking out that much! Perhaps this was an enchanted island, impossible to chart and reachable only by a special boat such as the very one I was not quite sailing.
The shadow to the SE grew and darkened to a silhouette, while the sun sank towards the horizon. Time slowed and all events extended into infinity, the island (for certainly it was an island) forever getting closer, the sun ever dropping towards the waters edge… but neither did the island arrive nor the sun set. I successfully took pictures of this state of events, establishing hard evidence that reality is variable. Sailboats sailing themselves is one thing, but a deactivation of the spacetime continuum? C’mon!
Eventually the island got close enough to be identified – North Manitou! There were the great sandy bluffs north of Crescent City. Still the sun sank ever closer to the horizon without touching it, let alone pass behind it. I could see the potholes and blowouts to the north of the island. I wondered how I could safely land without lights to guide me in, for North Manitou is maintained in a state of wilderness, no houses and no fires. That’s when the full miracle manifested. I noticed a nearly full moon hanging over the island. When the sun passed, the moon would guide me in.
I gobbled some vegetarian heat fuel in preparation for the final approach – raisins, sesame butter and mild cheddar, all mixed up. Now that our destination was obvious, I was back in control. The wind was getting more intense now and I was on the wire, that is to say I was harnessed up and attached to the trapeze, counterbalancing the push of the wind by standing out away from the boat. A grand sight for any late season campers equipped with magnification – Hello World dashing toward them through the swells, sails ablaze with orange sunset sailed by a mad shaman, standing back and flipping perpetually overboard, sheet in one hand and tiller in the other. A grand site from my angle, no doubt!
I had switched on my little nav light for some pretense at legality, but it’s light blinded me and I missed Crescent City by 100 yards. We crashed up on wide sandy beach, clunking a few rocks at the very end. I jumped off, waded to the bow and immediately fell into the surf, the sheet line wrapped around my legs. It was now about 9 pm and I was chilled and shaky. Hello World was banging up and down in the surf, I had to get her unloaded and properly beached. I dragged packs off her in the moonlight, dropped sails and after an hour or so, had her safely up. I struggled into the camping pack and followed what I thought was a wash up the bluff, but turned out to be a trail to a idyllic campsite. Popped the tent, climbed in and fell into a coma.
09-10-02 North Manitou last day variable / full screen
The Wind Blew Me Home – Chapter 2
It’s best to start the morning slowly after a 9 hour enchanted sail, to take a languid inventory of all of your parts, cozy warm in the sleeping bag. A trip down to the boat for toothbrush and iPhone charging gear, a sauntering walk in an open sunny field to brush up the teeth and make a nitrogen rich deposit, lazing in the tent with a light breakfast of cheese, raisins and sesame butter.
Atop the bluff, the wind felt stiff and westerly. I was packed and launched by 1:00 pm.
Looking back at North Manitou Island, north is to the left and south to the right. The bluff campsite above the landing is the green swath just left of south edge of the photo. Crescent City is the low lying area to the north.
After much tacking and fitful wind, I finally approached and cleared South Manitou at 5:00 pm. The wreck of the Francisco Morazan standing out in the sun was a temptation, I’d never been able to approach from the water, much less board her. That expedition would have meant another night camped and now that I was only 19 miles from my home turf I felt ready to finish, even if it meant sailing into the night again. Also, who could say what the wind and the weather would be tomorrow or the next day? Sans robot radio and cell phone connection, not me.
An ore boat on the horizon
My charts gave me a heading of 193 degrees, and a half an hour later I could see some smudges on the far southern horizon, my destination. The wind was blowing me home now to the south and then eventually providing real power from the east. As Point Betsie grew, I kept looking back at South Manitou to gauge how much I had traveled. The big bluffs were still towering over the water 10 miles away. I had never realized how easily one could spot the Manitou Islands from Point Betsie. No wonder John Barnes had lusted after them. He and Joe Sturges had done the trip on their 16 foot Hobie Cat almost 20 years ago, and everyone thought them crazy kids.
I decided to head to the western most edge of the point rather than follow the bearing offered by my chart. I hadn’t been adjusting for declination on the trip and I suspected that was why the chart offered the odd bearing off to the east. There’s a reason it’s called Point Betsie – the lighthouse is at the end of the point.
There was some question whether the light in the lighthouse was actually operational. It had been years since I’d been there at night and the complex had been mostly decommissioned and sold to private parties many years ago. I spotted the Frankfort Airport light, past the bluff and behind Crystal Lake about 10 miles. Crystal Lake! The Artist house and my Benzie rook was about as close as Point Betsie now, if Hello World could go airborne.
The west was gray and overcast so the last hour of the sun’s progress was hidden. There would likely be no sunset watchers at Point Betsie to greet me. I was judging how much light I had left by the official sunset time from windfinder.com – 7:44 pm. It was just about that time when the lighthouse began flashing at me! Yee hoo!
I really felt a homecoming now, like a mariner of old returning to home port. The wind was stronger and I even got a little song out of the rudders as I flashed past the lighthouse. The moon was like a streetlight, bright and white on the beach. As I turned into the beach, the wind just shut off. I made a couple of feeble passes back and forth before finally landing with a crunch. Made it!
I threw all the bags off and dragged up Hello World, using the baolong fenders under the hulls as usual. It was a good hour before she was 6 feet from the surf, sitting prettily on her baolongs. I repacked her for the night removing only the bike, the prepared food bag and the drybag containing the precious cargo of project hard drive and computer. I hit the road and biked the 6 or so miles back to the house. I was in the tub soaking and sipping stew by 11:00.
The next morning I started catching up on the blog. My plan was to call Patrick as if from the boat and ask him to go to my house to “look for something”. Then I’d surprise him by being there. My brother Steve called to ask where I was, I made some misleading references to Wisconsin and so forth, telling him that my actual location was secret. Patrick called me back later and told me he’d drive to my house in 45 minutes and would call me from there.
After about an hour of waiting for Patrick I got a call from Justin at the Coast Guard. Did I have a boat called Hello Kitty at Point Betsie? There was a report it was half in the surf and he wanted to know if there were people that needed searching for. I assured him that no search was needed and that I’d be picking up the boat later that day. Half in the water? I checked windfinder and sure enough, the easterly wind had picked up over 30 mph overnight, possibly blowing Hello World off the beach. Shit, where was Patrick? Icalled his cell without getting through. I then started to worry that maybe something happened to him, he was running pretty late now.
I forgot about all my clever surprise tactics and just waited for him to drive up. When he did I jumped in and said “Let’s go to Point Betsie.” Off we went.
Sure enough Hello World was being sucked into the surf, her gear hanging off precariously. The baolongs were long gone, but amazingly, everything else was there. We threw off our shoes and socks and waded into the frigid surging waves to do battle. Struggling against the sucking surf, we tossed off all her baggage and began wrestling her up. I had left one of the hull drain cocks open and water and sand had packed itself into the hull, increasing her weight. Not good.
With a few clueless tourists looking on, we eventually muscled her up high and dry. All the baggage and sails went into Patrick’s Subaru. We dropped the mast and lashed it to the roof rack. Much lightened, we were able to drag her all the way to the dune grass. While we were there John Anderson from Detroit showed up. He had phoned his brother with the project URL and they had checked out ondesire.com, got my information and phoned the Coast Guard. He had even tried to pull her up with help from some bystanders. So not all tourists are clueless, my apologies!
Post Point Betsie recovery - Photo by Patrick Kelly
I put a request into Jim Barnes to borrow his van. He had a catering job the next day but said he was pretty much ready and would be happy to give us a hand. We drove to his house and the three of us jumped into Jim’s van (after unhooking the catering trailer) and sped out to the property where he keeps his Hobie 16 and trailer, with only an hour until dusk. We off-loaded his Hobie and dragged the trailer over to Point Betsie where I waylaid a sunset watcher from Springfield, Illinois to help drag Hello World to the road. The four of us together huffed and puffed her up to the trailer suffering no serious injuries in the process. I thanked our friend and sent him back to the water with plenty of time to see the sun sink. Getting her up on the trailer and strapped down in a jiffy, we were off again to my place to dump Hello World gently in the driveway. Another trip back to Jim’s property where we put his Hobie back on his trailer (it was dark now) and finally returning to his house for a beer and sandwiches. Phew! Patrick and I eventually returned to the house where I taught him to smoke sage out of the old flintlock pistol.
In mid October I returned to Brooklyn and cut the movies I've been playing during the recent episodes. I scheduled November 28 for a test screening of Around Lake Michigan at the Mills Community House in Benzonia. Gretchen had been getting into dance and wanted to debut her first performance at the screening. Melonie and her squeeze Shaun jumped in debut their new music collaboration, Saldaje. Suz Mclaughin came on as caterer. After an intensive month of promotion, we packed the Mills to capacity with 150 artists from all over Northern Michigan.
On December 15, I drove back to Prospect Heights in a rental car. The 2009 expedition had been a successful proof of concept. There were artifacts of future sustainable civilizations to be found. A 16 foot Hobie cat was a viable production platform. I could thrive in the making.
I was now in full pre-production for the second expedition of Around Lake Michigan, a circumnavigation of Lake Michigan starting in the spring of 2010. My days in Brooklyn were coming to an end, I would give up my apartment and return to Beulah. Circles.
You've been listening ot the Daughter of Godcast, episode 025, Circles. I sailed 300 miles solo and didn't die and together we've completed 5 years of ancient history. That's an average of 5 episodes per year. With 7 more years ahead we might have 35 more episodes before we catch up to the present day. These were years dense with adventure, and I'm raring to share. By Summer or maybe Fall we'll be together in the now and what then? Just another beginning.