La Paz BCS
A new guitar must be tamed, tuned and re-tuned, once is never enough. It is important to invest time and dedication in a process which can take weeks or even months, until finally the instrument submits and gains the sound and consistency it will carry with it for the rest of it’s life. It needs to be constantly tuned, its parts yield continuously under the strain of being new to the world of tension, compression and harmonic reverberations never before felt or experienced. The body of the guitar subtly changes its form with each reverberation, its first confrontation with vibration. The pegs and tuners twist, the head bends and all this is reflected in the sound. Stretching and loosening, a negotiation in temperaments. The damage can be irreparable if one tries to go to far, one must be gentile at first but firm in his conviction at the first opportunity.
A sailboat is much like a guitar, is melodies arise from the same passions.
The mast and the bridge. Two tools which struggle against similar forces but for the guitar, the musician is the wind.
The music that arises from a boat is extremely abstract and depends on the listener. When the two synchronize the result is a symphony, a meaningful concert. The wind has the leading role, its effect against the genoa indicates the optimal route and the spreader responds to the encouragement with a chorus of melodies. Sailing with the wind, the waves crash against the bottom of the boat converting the hull into a percussion instrument where each beat is interpreted as a diagnosis of the navigation and the state of the boat. The keel and the mast vibrate in a harmony when the boat reaches its maximum efficiency. The shifting and movement is melodic and the flapping of my small mexican flag in the wind companions me.
In a sailboat there occurs a type of precise fusion between the instruments, the listener and the score.
Sometimes I consider the similarities between a sailboat and other objects fabricated with the use of carpentry and engineering, like furniture or certain types of architecture. One can also make analogies to the piano, the acoustics of a sailboat is no doubt exclusive. Stienbeck recognized these attributes in ‘The Log’:
“Once, passing the boat department of Macy’s in New York, where there are duck-boats and skiffs and little cruisers, one of the authors discovered that as he passed each hull he knocked on it sharply with his knuckles. He wondered why he did it, and as he wondered, he heard a knocking behind him, and another man was rapping the hulls with his knuckles, the same tempo- three sharp knocks on each hull. During an hour’s observation there no man or boy and few women passed who did not do the same thing. Can this have been an unconscious testing of the hulls? Many who passed could not have been in a boat, and yet everyone tested the hulls, knocked to see if they were sound, and did not even know he was doing it. The observer thought perhaps they and he would knock on any large wooden object that might give forth a resonant sound. He went to the piano department, icebox floor, beds, cedar-chests, and no one knocked on them – only on boats.”
John Steinbeck “The Log from the Sea of Cortez”
The ‘Anabaena’ has had many upgrades, it has been refurbished and improved. When I first bought the boat it was not ready or prepared to navigate on the open sea but little by little it has acquired its marine character. It was built up in San Francisco in the 90’s by Tom Schock. The design of the ‘Santana 2023’ is based on the hull of a racing boat. It was designed to be towable therefor many concessions were made adhering to the priority of keeping it light and movable. When navigating in strong winds a heavy boat is advisable but Schock resolved the necessity of stability in the ‘Santana’ with a ballast chamber. Many high performance boats use this same system. Basically it is a large tank of water under the floor of the boat which acts as counterweight to stop the boat from tipping over.
I have met many sailors from the old school who don’t seem convinced with the idea of filling 600 liters of water in what is traditionally the cabin space. For me this has caused a few minor problems and leaks but the ‘Santana’ has behaved itself nicely and has the perfect characteristics for this expedition.
Some sailors are extremely superstitious. I sometimes get the impression that many don’t like to get wet and some do not even know how to swim. Even though there are many different types of seamen, two kinds clearly stand out.
There are those who use motor boats, worried about arriving quickly to their destination and those who like sailboats whose real interest and love lies in the route and not the arrival.
It is the latter who forge an intimate relationship with their vessel and surrender to their hunger for wind and the sea. For these dedicated sailors the ocean is not an ornament and to sail not a hobby. This occurs out of necessity for the ocean should not be treated without respect. While the tourists enjoy the comfort and space of a motorized yacht with HD television, in a sailboat the journey begins and ends with work.
A symbiotic relationship is forged between the sailor and his vessel, a cooperation for survival until the two become one and the same, a single organism.
“Some have said they have felt a boat shudder before she struck a rock, or cry when she beached and the surf poured into her. This is not mysticism, but identification; man, building this greatest and most personal of all tools, has in turn received a boat-shaped mind, and the boat, a man shaped soul”
John Steinbeck “The Log from the sea of Cortez“