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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Captain's Crunch: Seven Tensions of Leadership

Barbossa vs. Cap'n Jack Sparrow
Pirates of the Caribbean

Every virtue is a mean between two extremes,
Each of which is a vice.
-- Aristotle

Captain's Crunch: Seven Tensions of Leadership

In their recent article, Every Leader Needs to Navigate These 7 Tensions, Jennifer Jordan, Michael Wade and Elizabeth Teracino contrast old- versus new-school (business) leadership paradigms They propose that a superior balance may be achieved between the opposing tenets of their respective approaches, rather than adhering rigidly to either one.

In sailing terms, we might (very loosely, I admit) think in terms of Cap'n Barbossa vs. Cap'n Jack Sparrow.

Balancing opposing values is something I think a lot about in boat design and sailing, so I perked up when I came across the article.

Let's take a gander:

Tension 1: The Expert vs. the Learner

We who captain presumably have been gathering experience, skills and, hopefully, wisdom along the way. But no matter how much we know, our crew bring their own knowledge and perspective which can benefit the ship. The sea has its own lessons.

Zen calls this balance beginner's mind.

Tension 2: The Constant vs. the Adaptor

The value of a good plan is indisputable. They put us in sync with wind and tides, making the most of them in a traverse. But they can also lead to dangerous, wishful thinking and denial of warning signs.

Make the best plan possible, but stand by for evolving situations.

Tension 3: The Tactician vs. the Visionary

Sailing is tactics in service of vision. No tactics in the world will tell you where you want to sail. No wanting will get us there without tactics.

May our spirit be willing, and our flesh be strong!

Tension 4: The Teller vs. the Listener

The captain has the final word; s/he must tell the crew what to do. But listening is vital as well, from the call-out of the lookout to the wishes of the most junior aboard. At least if we want a happy ship.

Knowledge speaks; wisdom listens. -- Jimi Hendrix

Tension 5: The Power Holder vs. the Power Sharer

Captains must command; a ship cannot be safely run by committee. Yet crews may be empowered through training, consultation and even turns as captain (in which case we become hearty crew for the duration). Note that captains are often not the best sailor on board.

One at a time and a clear order of succession!

Tension 6: The Intuitionist vs. the Analyst

Intuition is a powerful force, honed by four billion years of evolution. But analysis is a powerful tool. Intuition guided by reason is what makes human beings so formidable.

All gut, no glory.

Tension 7: The Perfectionist vs. the Accelerator

Do we wait until everything is perfect? Or wing it? On the one hand, perfection will be attained never. On the other, look what happened to Icarus. We need a solid vessel under us; not the perfect one. We need to know enough; not everything.

Go small, go simple, go now!


They follow up with some how-to nuggets which pretty much speak for themselves:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Learn, Adapt, Practice
  • Contextual Awareness

Suffice it to say that, all of these represent a balancing act. It's hard work in a dynamic environment.

Don't beat yourself up over mistakes... they happen. Don't go it alone if you've got friends and crew to help. Do strike a balance between in-control Cap'n Barbossa and slippery Cap'n Jack Sparrow.

It'll be worth the effort!

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Subject of Love

Love is friendship afire.
-- Paraphrased from many Lovers

Give yourself to love if love is what you're after.
-- Kate Wolf

My love for you doesn't begin with me.

The Subject of Love

Growing up in the days of father knows best, one heard much of love's object. The object of desire. The objectification of women. The objectification of men. Of the world and all who dwell within it.

We were putting a man on the moon. Fusing hydrogen. Discovering the joy of plastic. A TV in every house and a car in every garage. Conquering nature.

Objectivity was a virtue; subjectivity an embarrassment.

She's a redhead or blonde. He drives a jag. She's svelte or sturdy. He's a hunk or reliable. She'll shine at parties. He'll go far. Good mother. Good father.

So many of those relationships based on objective virtues - whatever they may be - seem formal. Going shopping, dressed up in cinematic trappings of swelling music, clever banter and soft lighting... hiding what's missing. I think there was love there at its best, but only of a sorts. I believe we have a better chance today. At least we're talking.

But we're not so very far down the road from all that.

A more subtle form of object love: many come to believe that love originates in the lover. That love must be earned. That one must be worthy before one can be truly loved.

But love is a reaction, I believe, to whom we love. It is the loved one who ignites us. It's personal.

We can open ourselves to love. Work to remove obstacles to it. Cultivate the ground for it. Even pursue it when it finds us. It can only find us through some special one who ignites love within us.

Myself, I'm no great reservoir of love, waiting to spill upon the worthy. On the contrary, I'm just this guy, see? On my own it's just a plod along the slow passage from cradle to grave.

But when the living subject of love comes into our lives - a particular person - we are kindled in love despite all objection. My god, we are set afire! We awaken and feel it in every burning ember of our souls. It is who they are - not what they are - that enflames us.

Subjective as hell. Subjective as heaven.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Boat as Sculpture

Scuplture is the art of the hole and the lump.
-- August Rodin

Architecture is inhabited sculpture.
-- Constantin Branscusi

Boat as Sculpture

I prefer boat as sculpture, as opposed to an assemblage of parts and pieces.

Both ways have advantages. An assemblage can be fully or partially disassembled for repair or extension. Each piece is a small bite, easily chewed. Maybe rebedding is all that's called for. Then again, maybe you're removing it because the bedding has worked and failed?

A sculpture, on the other hand, is all of a piece, bonded together as one.

Should some area go amiss - rot set in, say, or blunt trauma damage - the affected region is destructively excised. Maybe cut, chiseled or planed away. Then a repair is fit and bonded in, resculpting the boat.

A big advantage is that water intrusion behind mounted pieces (as opposed to bonded pieces) is much reduced. 

Another is that boat bonded as sculpture is essentially monocoque, like the shell of an egg. Forces are distributed far and wide, and the whole structure works together to provide strength.

In contrast, boat as assemblage is multicoque, like a picket fence. In a carvel hull (plank on frame construction), relatively heavy, criss-crossed grids are fastened at their intersections (relatively fragile) and corked (relatively fragile) along their edges. The nearest weak point is only half a plank away.

Modern resins, glues and sheet materials make the sculptural approach more attractive.

A sheet of plywood is so large, there's little advantage in treating it like a traditional plank. Fillets and tape 'n' glue joins are not easily to take apart. Removal destroys piece or damages it to the point that repair is more work than replacement.

So... once started, why stop?

Corner posts, rub rails, tabernacles and the like take a few minutes to cut away if, when and where necessary, with that certain schadenfreude of demolition. We get a little taste of the ecstasy of Kali, Hindu goddess of destruction/transformation/creation.

Most times a partial repair (graving or patch) is all that's necessary, and even full replacement of a bonded component is usually a minor project, limited in scope. We're aided by not having to dismount much before beginning a repair... just whack on and replace what you carved away.

To be sure, we still mount plenty of pieces onto our sculpture. Handrails, hatch coamings, cleats, pad eyes, mounts, deck flanges and a slew of other items get bedded down and fastened to our boat. These can be removed and moved without destruction.

Hmm... boat as Mr. Potato Head?

Doesn't ring the same, somehow.

Stanley FUBAR
My favorite sculpting tool...
Not bad for zombies, either.


Tips and Tricks for Removal / Resculpting
  • When cutting away, it often helps to carefully delimit the perimeter of the affected area with full depth cuts. Then go hog wild with the rest, splitting away in long strokes. Longitudinally splitting material stops at your cuts.
  • Be aware of grain run-out which can dive deeper than you intend. Remove material working from the deep end of the grain (splits don't dive below control depth).
  • Full strength, glued scarf joints should taper at about 12:1. Consider that full strength is only necessary here and there... check the context. Much easier alternatives include butt plates, straps and variations on Payson Butt Joints.
  • Consider sealing the components of the sculpture before bonding together, and then again as a whole, both initially and in repair.
  • A arrival on the scene is the oscillating multi-tool. This is most useful as a plunge cutter in limited space (for example, the back cut of a notch). Also tight radius curve cutting. It's very useful for surgery in repair.
You can just SEE the possibilities!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Frontier and Ingenuity

No. 5 Gravity Well
by Larry Marley

TAZ springs from the historical development I call “the closure of the map.” The last bit of Earth unclaimed by any nation-state was eaten up in 1899. Ours is the first century without terra incognita, without a frontier. Nationality is the highest principle of world governance–not one speck of rock in the South Seas can be left open, not one remote valley, not even the Moon and planets. This is the apotheosis of “territorial gangsterism.” Not one square inch of Earth goes unpoliced or untaxed…in theory.
-- From The Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey

Frontier ingenuity characterizes an attitude of make-do with materials on hand.
It entails inventive improvisation, adaptation and overcoming of shortages of materials. 
 -- Adapted from Wikipedia entry on "Yankee" Ingenuity

Frontier and Ingenuity

Inventive improvisation, adaptation and overcoming of shortages of materials.

For anyone living along a frontier, necessity is certainly the mother of invention. Improvisation is a daily exercise. Adaptation is sink or swim. Shortage of materials is chronic. DIY (Do It Yourself) is a way of life.

While the frontiers - and the maps - have been closed throughout all of our lifetimes, there are cracks.

Hakim Bey called them Temporary Autonomous Zones. Brand Stewart called it Briarpatch Society. The wrong side of levees. Hardscrabble land. Industrial deserts. Economic sacrifice zones. Ghost towns. Places which are underserved, far from the beaten path, difficult for any reason.

Each of these cracks is a sinuous frontier between the purchased ease of civilization and freedom from all that.

If you are the type who longs for that kind of freedom, you must give a tinker's damn. We pack up our kit as best we may and head out, knowing that if something is wanting, we make it. If something breaks, we fix it. If a wheel is called for, we re-invent it. If a rotary girder is called for, we invent it.

It's heady stuff!

Mind, body and soul meet in an act of ingenuity. Sure, it can happen anywhere. But how often do we 'throw money' at a problem? Buy food rather than grow or collect it? Purchase goods rather than create them. Contract services rather than DIY?

To be sure, I'm in line at the store with all the rest. Please don't hear that I look down on bartering hours of my life for money and money for all the rest. I'm employed as I write, earning filthy lucre for more of that.

But when we turn our hands to an essential improvisation - as we must sailing a frontier...

What a rush!