Monday, October 23, 2006


My present home is on a rather barren corner close to the broad Pacific Ocean, confronting a coastal beach unsheltered by trees or structures—only sand and sea all the way to the southernmost islands—and New Zealand and Japan beyond. Because of this location I live from day-to-day like a sailor of old, perhaps a galley master or a proa skipper, with wind, waves and stars as my compass. A certain amount of skill and alertness is required in order to deal with changing wind and sunlight; air-conditioning is only for landlubbers but here there are sails and rigging ready to hand...

When the weather is warm, at first bell all Easterly blinds must be drawn against the early sun’s heat and blinding light, and all southern windows brought wide open to admit any winds from the sea, (along with opening the northern door, my only door), or else the heat could become unbearable later in the day. In that case, of course, I could turn on overhead fans, but such artificial air would probably cast a blight on seafaring tradition. In the balmy afternoons some eastern blinds are opened and windows partially closed against the cooler off-shore winds from the south. As the sun sinks low they die down and windows are again opened; here on the shore nights can be colder after midnight, and my small bark is mostly all battened down. At first dawn the routine is repeated as before. In winter, conversely, eastern blinds are opened wide to catch stray heat and light, but hatches—er, windows, are tightly closed. In these climes there occurs a condition called Santa Ana Winds and for this mariner that constitutes the “doldrums” when no air current moves and the heavy, sultry atmosphere is stifling. Thus my little boat sails through each day making port only at night—I have not yet learned, like old Samoans, the secrets of sailing by starlight--stellar navigation.

Thus it can be seen that living here is a rough and manly job, but even through the more perilous seas the words of Paul in I Timothy’ 1:10 ring clear, “Timothy my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding onto faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” And Paul was no stranger to shipwreck, having survived perilous sea voyages himself; learn from the older experienced hands, I always say, and so far my small craft has never been wrecked in the waves.

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