Log of SV Free Spirit and ships company

The chronicles of the schooner Free Spirit and her crew, embarking on an open ended journey upon the great rolling heap. Free Spirit is currently pursuing humanitarian and commercial goals in the Dominican Republic, on the island of Hispaniola. Working under the Ocean Reach USA and Paradigm Research banners, she is serving as logistics headquarters, workshop, and development laboratory for many ongoing projects. This is the log of her journey.....

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Saturday, September 30, 2006


The Wagontire Buckaroo Cafe is an authentic wild west experience. With buckaroo coffee, belgian waffles, and real Cowboy Chile (made with real cowboy, or so they claim). They have about everything a man might need. Accomodations available include a full hookup RV park, Motel Rooms, and a Camping area. Hoss Strode and his wife will be your hosts, for true western (hoss)pitality. Hoss used to ride with Cactus Smyth, Dad's cousin, in Andrews, Oregon before he passed on, and is an old cowboy from the "good old days". Folks, for a taste of the old eastern oregon, this outfit is worth a drive from Portland. Tell old Hoss that Cactus sent you.

The Cafe, with Hoss's buckboard out front.

Parked in the RV park,which sports the biggest trees in the area! When we would arrive in the evening the lot was filled with black tailed jackrabbits and a few cotton tails. From this park we also saw (but did not get any pics), the most amazing "red moon". It is also quite amazing how clear the nights are, and how BIG the dipper is compared to Alaska.

Dad, passing on some desert know how to Blayde and Valin. Bapa spent some good time also teaching the boys how to make good duct tape rope. We did not spend too much time at the campsite, as our day was spent expoling the desert territory.

Later, we ventured out to Alkali Lake. There were ducks, geese, and seagulls galore. As we were stowing the binoculars, and heading out... Blayde was incenssed by the fact that he could not go over the fence, to get closer to the action. Of course we had to show him that we do still hold some freedoms, and we ventured out with canteens in tow. We traversed the rattlesnake area and approached the "beach area", which much to our disgust was just years and years of bird droppings (not mud or beach)!! During our adventure, we were told many tales from Dad's hunting days along this stretch of land, and given many tips for such things.

We ventured on around the backside of Juniper Mountain, and along the way collected Sunstones, which are found on the desert floor in plain view in that area.

Sunstone is a member of the feldspar group of minerals and is closely related to Moonstone. It is formed and crystalized in a lava flow. Sunstones range in color "from water clear through pale yellow, soft pink, and blood red to deep blue and green. Some of the deeper colored stones have bands of varying color; a few stones show two different colors when viewed from different directions." (quote, Oregon Geology) The color is caused by tiny crystals of copper within the stones which often results in "schiller" or shimmer that is usually a peach color. Sunstone is cut into cabochons or the deeper transparent colors may be faceted.

Sunstone is an ancient gem, in fact sunstones have been discovered in Viking Burial mounds. Sunstone also occurs in Tvedestrand, Norway; near Lake Baikal, Russia; Middletown, PA., and Statesville, NC. Only the Oregon Sunstone has the copper inclusions giving it the unique colors.

Among the Vikings sunstones were thought to be an aid to navagation, so having it on board should help keep us off the rocks.

At any rate, we all got "sunstone fever" and ended up scouring the desert for hours, yielding a sizeable haul. We look forewardto polishing them and drilling some of them for beads. A large one, like the biggest we found can fetch significant coin if nicely polished or cut, especially if it has nice color. The funny part of this adventure was listening to Tamer explaining to Dad how he will never be able to get me to leave, that I will have to come back, and other such talk. At the end of the mad rock picking, it was of course him that was the last to want to leave :-) Those Smyth's are certainly a treasure hunting lot, and I will use all the precious stones wisely in my jewelry making. I am hoping that after picking up a nice little rock tumbler, Tam can rig it up to run on 12 volt in the trailer while we are driving (To lessen the obnoxious noise). Of course because we were out in the middle of the desert, and wanting really badly to find our way out through the few gravel roads that were marked, before sunset, it was a little stressful getting "home" to Wagontire. Tamer was amazing, Dad navigated beautifully, and we saw sunset about the same time as the main highway.

We saw distinctive Fort Rock on the way over. We had planned to camp there but found no access, so we drove on to Wagontire.

Maybe it should be called Trailertire. We had a peculiar tire failure, spotted by Blayde before we departed. We mounted the spare and went on to Burns where we bought new, heavier tires.

Hole in the ground.

Desert Sunset, on the way to Wagontire.

Valin, Dad, Tamer, Drake & Blayde

Between Junction City and Wagontire, there is a place called "Hole in the ground", not to be confused with nearby "Big Hole", or with similarly named "Crack in the Ground".

Suprisingly enough, it is a gigantic hole in the ground. More precisely,
Hole-in-the-Ground is a volcanic explosion crater or maar located in Central Oregon on the edge of Fort Rock basin. At the time the crater was formed between 13,500 and 18,000 years ago a lake occupied most of the basin and the site of the eruption was close to the water level near the shore. The create is now 112 to 156 meters below the original ground level and is surrounded by a rim that rises another 35 to 65 meters higher. ...

The crater was formed in a few days or weeks by a series of explosions that were triggered when basaltic magma rose along a north-west-trending fissure and came into contact with abudnant ground water at a depth of 300 to 500 meters below the surface. After the initial explosion, repeated slumping and subsidence along a ring-fault let to intermittent closures of the vent, changes in the supply of ground water, and repeated accumulations of pressure in the pipe. - (Lorenz 1971)

Looking down, thinking about it...

Eventually (some would say inevitably), I succumbed to the temptation to ride down the rugged trail to the crater floor some 600 feet below - which turned out to be quite technical at times for a bycycle - motorized or not. Nonetheless, my trusty steed delivered me safely to the crater floor and whisked me back up to the trailer rim with only a modicum of exertion. Quite an impressive view, especially from the crater floor. Sadly, I did not find any artifacts or debris from alien spacecraft, though I must admit to expectations given the erie nature of the scene.

That tiny speck in the smooth area (3rd from right) is me. My bike is the other tiny speck well to the left. The pictures do not effecively convey the scale, but you can imagine it if you think for a while.

Junction City Cafe

In Junction City, there is a cafe, located around the corner but on the same block as the post office. Excellent Vanilla Breve and Iced Chai. They have atmosphere plus, used books for $1 (!!!) (good ones too!) and antiques etc. for sale upstairs. I wish I could have spent more time in Junction City, if only to spend more time here reading and thinking. Highly reccomended.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


We stopped at the Smyth Ranch Near Junction City, At the Ranch of Ernest (1918-2006) and Elemay Smyth. They have around 1300 Acres, With cattle, horses, and Buffalo grazing, as well as farmland leased out to farmers in the area.

Ernie's son Donald still works the land, and the boys went out on a "hay ride" and fed the cattle with Don and Dad.

Here is our new travelling rig, complete with dinghy on top.

We stayed the night here on the ranch, and got lots of visiting done with Elemay , her son Don and daughters Charlotte, Sharon, Marjorie, Sandra, and Lori. (exept one wasn't there, and now I can't remember which one.... I also can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, so there should be no surprise here)

Elemay and Dad With Valin, Drake, And Blayde.

Elemay was born in 1924, but still has the vim and vigor of youth in her eyes, as anyone who has survived a Smyth must have to make it through, I'm sure!

My lovely wife Laura, back behind the bar at the Smyth Ranch, salvaged from an Eastern Oregon ghost town. Ernie was quite a character, you can easily see by the things he had kept around his home!

Back on the road, headed towards the high country east. Beautiful country, but hard to imagine how the Smyths of old crossed this with a wagon. Must have been pretty tenacious folk - it still shows, to be sure.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Take The Plunge

Spectacular falls, somewhere in Northern Oregon.

The little blob of pixels (dark) about 2/5 of the way down, and to the right of, the falls is my friend Brian. Notice how "Brian" and "Brain" are similar, but a little scrambled. Hmmm.

Seriously though, Brian is a great guy - just has a hankering for old the adrenaline now and again. Fortunately for Brian, he seems to be the type that lands on his feet, circumstances notwithstanding, so no harm done.

I hope he doesn't mind if I leave the waterfall diving up to him.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nothing to do with sailing.

Sometimes I get the distinct impression that we are teetering on the brink of a new era, but there are many who would hold us back. One particular ball which started rolling about 100 years ago seems to be finally turning the corner, and the cats are gnawing at the drawstrings.

Gentlereader, I would reccomend paying -especially close- attention to the man behind the curtain over the coming decades.


Look this over carefully. I plan to pay them a visit.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Kites... DUUDE!!!! too cool!

Ive been out practicing with Brians 3Meter 'Slingshot' training kite. I never would have suspected the power that can be produced by a modern kite. This little training kite, if skillfully flown, will pull me off my feet (and I'm not light) in less than 20kts of wind. I can't wait to develop this technology for cruising! I'm convinced that if an emphasis is put on safe, reliable operation a kite could provide steady, powerful power for reaches and downwind work without the hazards and hassles normaly associated with carrying a spinnaker or even just a lot of sail.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Indigo skies

In Hood River the call of the sea echoes gently up the Columbia. Occasionally a glint of the Great Rolling Heap shows itself in the craft that pass by, a whispering reminder of the great Pacific ocean lying just beyond the treacherous Columbia Bar.

Here I walk the docks and long once again for the gentle lurch of an anchored deck underfoot. The comfort of terra firma gradually has given way to the desire to live within an intentions width of the infinite, To once again be tethered to the land with only a few lines, so than with only a thought the tiny cocoon of a ship that is my home can be eased towards the distant horizon, perhaps to make landfall on the far side of the earth.

Until then, some three thousand miles distant, our sturdy ship lies waiting. Surely by now she again suffers the indignity of wasp infestation, a few rust streaks, and yet another year upon her keel. Much work awaits, but like all insurmountable obstacles the bits will fall away, eroding until the last task has vanished in time. Once again she will taste the salt, feel the urging of the wind in her tanbark sails, the whistling in her shrouds. Again her decks will be alive with the patter of busy feet, the laughter of children under the cautious guidance of her master. This is the only life she has ever known, and it is this that she patiently awaits.


This morning I took my first formal kite(boarding) lesson. Like most machines of the air, control of the kite came quite naturally to me - and I trust that a few sessions, with sleep betwixt, will start me on the road to mastery. The power of even a small kite is quite impressive, and rigging schemes for automatic kite controls already invade my dreams.

I Talked to Raoul today, his thoughts also wandering towards his little ship and the upcoming voyage. Perhaps we will meet in December and accomplish some work towards his sea change. At least I'd like to pull Feng Shui's rudder and overhaul it while I'm there. I hope that his stint of work helps him to put aside a good cruising kitty, I'd really like to see him achieve his Eastern Seaboard cruising dreams next spring.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Da po-po is after my mo-go, watch dis wack mo-jo

To be legal, I had to get insurance (!) and a temporary permit to operate my moto-bicycle here in Oregon. I decided to preemptively get my ducks in a row, as there is a particular lady police officer that keeps showing an unholy interest in my transportation device. So far I have always managed to slip off the road into a side street and disappear before she could get turned around, so I -know- she's on the lookout now. Game on!

Now I'm parading around town just waiting to get pulled over so I can *shwing* whip out my "official documents", including proof of -and justification for- existence.... I can't wait. Ha!! In your face! I -have- my letters of marque! TAKE THAT! A total reverse psychology rebellion!

While she's bedazzled by my mastery of official documents, I'll see if I can talk her into Buying Me Lunch(c)*, just to top off my triumph over bureaucracy.

Go ahead, scoff, but I'll have the last laugh as I down the last bite of my club sandwich. ; )

* If you would like to participate in the great Buying Me Lunch(c) experience of 2006, please feel free to use the "Paypal Donation" button at the upper left of the blog page.


Yesterday Brian and I took out the 10' mirror class dinghy and sailed it in 'the hook' using a 3 meter traction kite. !!wow!! (again, backwards) !!wow!! The wind was 23-29 kt down the gorge, and I am certain that the little dinghy has never gone that fast. If kites could be made to be more self tending, they could easily become the power source of choice..... Hmmm. Pics hopefully soon!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Afternoons and coffeespoons

As I sip my breve here in the '10 Speed Coffee Shop ' up here in the Hood River Heights, I ponder the nature of life, the universe, and everything. I'm Reading "A Beginners Guide to Constructing the Universe" A reccomended read for anyone who cares (dares) to ponder such things.

Today, perhaps, I will get my introductory lesson on kiteboarding. Could this be the future of sailing? I have often thought that the use of a huge kitesail would be vastly superior to a spinnaker for downwind work, and modern kites are capable of pulling a kiteboarder to windward with relative ease. Hmmmmm.

See my commentary on the 9/11 anniversary here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hood River

There I go, a little free-style for the babes back home.

Hard at rest. Actually a rare pose, if the truth be known.

At the coal creek rest area.
We've been carefully feeding the kids disinformation occasionally in order to teach them to question authority.


Ahhh. peace at last. Well, we're in Hood River, OR for a couple of weeks, to visit, repair, and regroup. A great little town, awesome windsurfing and kiteboarding, and a laid back attitude I can relate to.

DHS / CBP Rant

Our trip has been fairly uneventful, with the exception of our reentry to the US from Canada.

We were detained and interrogated for about an hour and a half at the border by the DHS Border Protection people, AKA Jackbooted thugs. What really pisses me off is that for all their Interrogation, separating us, even attempting to interrogate our children, the bastards were too lazy to even search our utility trailer, which could have easily contained a 2000LB payload of god only knows what if we were truly a threat of any type. So, it was just harassment, no real reason, or they would have actually searched the trailer.

Interrogation subjects focused mostly on what my plans were , what I do for a living, how much money I have (not just with me, but in entirety), what my children (!!!) do on a daily basis, and other similar information that they have really no business asking. The process was standard interrogation 101, divide and conquer, try to get them to contradict themselves or incriminate themselves, veiled threats "have you ever been arrested BEFORE" stuff. (not at all like on TV, google and read up on it if you want to know more about interrogation techniques)

As it was, they tore apart the van and found nothing because we are law abiding citizens, not terrorists, arms smugglers, or drug traffickers. But I suspect that they knew that from the start. I have already undergone an extensive federal background check for other reasons, and I am sure that they had access to that information.

I think it was Ben Franklin who said :

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Would he be billed as a left field whiner or a patriot in the current political clime? (and by who) A thought worth pondering, to be sure.

Friends, despite the best of intentions to secure our nation from the menaces of the modern world, we are treading on very, very, very thin ice here. It is but a very short distance between here and the "papers, please" of Nazi germany. Yes, we must end the scourge of terrorism and the ideologies that support it, but we must not become a police state in the process, or it is all for naught - the terrorists will have won by destroying the greatness of our nation.

There is risk in all worthwhile endeavors. The only risk free environment is a padded cell. We must keep this frmly in mind as we forge ahead to rid the world of the ideologies of extortion, lest we become enemies of liberty ourselves.

Fair winds and vote wisely, gentlereader.

Friday, September 01, 2006


A picturesque town of 11,000, Quesnel (pronounced kwen el) is an ideal place for a pit stop on our journey. Gone are the twighlight zone dispositions and rediculously astronomical price/value ratios of the northern part of our trip. (must not be the socialism after all, maybe its in the water?) You could be in any north american small town, except here some of the signs make more sense, and there is a palpable sense of comunity. Thanks for the good nights sleep, Quesnel!

Introducing Propcalc 4.0

Use Propcalc to easily match your hull with your engine, transmission, and propeller
Put the known data in the top fields, then hit the Update button to get the answers.
Results, of course, should be verified by a Naval Architect or qualified surveyor.
Data is provided for three bladed propellers of average type
For two or four bladed props, use the modifiers shown below.

Fill out the fields as follows:

Vessel LWL (ft) = Waterline length
Vessel Disp (lbs) = Vessel displacement
(max) HP = Rated Engine Max HP
Engine RPM max = Engine RPM at Max HP
Engine RPM cruise = Desired or estimated cruise rpm
(Cruise or Max) Kts = Speed to work the calculations for
Slip = Propeller efficience. 45% is average for a displacement cruiser.
Gear ratio = 1: Gear ratio of transmission
SL Ratio Adj. = This value will be added (or subtracted, if a negative value) to the calculated S/L ratio.

Key information:

If the "hp required" is greater than the "cruse HP", you have your cruise RPM set too low for your engine parameters.
If the "hp required" is significantly less than the "cruse HP", you have your cruise RPM set too high for your engine parameters.
If the "hp required" is greater than the "Max HP", then your target speed is too high for your engine/hull parameters.
The S/L ratio is calculated automaticaly based on your input. It can be adjusted if necessary, but normally it should be left alone.
If the calculated S/L ratio exceeds S/L MAX, then the results are likely to be non-predictive. Try a lower speed requirement.
SL Ratios of 1.1 - 1.4 are typical of displacement hulls. Semiplaning or planing hulls can go higher.

Typical propeller slip values:

Sailing auxiliary, barges, etc less than 9 Kts............45%
Heavy powerboats, workboats 9 - 15 Kts....................26%
Powerboats, Lightweight Cruisers 15 - 30 Kts..............24%
High speed planing boats 30 - 45 Kts......................20%
V bottom race boats 45 - 90 Kts...........................10%


it is possible to get irrational answers by irrational input , I.E specifying excessive speed for hull type and length
Any attempt to exceed hull speed (1.34 times the square root of the waterline length in feet) with a displacement hull are likely
to fail unless the hull is extremely fine (multihull) or otherwise exceptional. In such cases, an S/L adjustment would be in order.

2 and 4 bladed props:

For two bladed propellers, multiply the diameter by 1.05, and the pitch by 1.01
For four bladed propellers, multiply the diameter by .94, and the pitch by .98

Vessel LWL (ft) =
Vessel Disp (lbs) =
  (max) HP =
  Engine RPM max =
  Engine RPM cruise =
  (Cruise or Max) Kts =
  Slip =
  Gear ratio = 1:
  SL Ratio Adj. =
  Prop rpm max =
  Prop rpm cruise =
  Pitch =
  Diameter =
  Static Thrust =
  Cruise HP =
  Cruise HP% =
  SL Ratio =
  DL Ratio =
  SL Max =
  HP Required =