If I am sure of anything, it’s that I am not sure

Yesterday, unaware of just how large a can of worms I was opening, I shared a graphic similar to the one above on Facebook, both on my personal profile and on the Zero To Cruising page. I then spent a considerable chunk of my day reading through the hundreds of comments, and trying to respond to many of them. As of this moment, people are still responding. What I found most amusing from this exercise is just how many people seem to be 100% sure of their answers, and yet are 100% wrong! Not only that, some people got very frustrated, and in a couple of cases, even seemed to get angry that someone was disagreeing with their beliefs. I noted that it was an interesting, if not unsettling, example of life in general. 

bertrandrussell

I don’t know the answer, so does that make me wise?

For the record, when I posted the puzzle, I did so noting that I didn’t believe there was enough information in the graphic to answer it definitively. And to tell the truth, I did so completely missing the fact that the passage from chamber 2 to 3 is blocked off. That shows just how observant I am!

Note: I don’t know if that passage was supposed to be blocked off or not, but it was on the image that I shared, so I’ll stick with that.

As far as the puzzle goes, my thinking is as follows:

  • Flow rate matters. If the flow rate into chamber 1 is greater than what can move through the passage into chamber 2, chamber 1 will fill first. Just yesterday I experienced this exact phenomena when I overfilled a funnel while topping up our outboard engine gas tank. Oops!

Many people argued that the diagram was supposed to be an accurate representation, and that the fluid was shown to be dripping, indicating a low rate of flow. OK, if that’s the case, I would counter by pointing out that we’re looking at a 2D drawing, and trying to guess volume. Which begs the questions:

  • Are the chambers cylindrical? If not, what is their depth? Are they all the same size (in the image I shared, we only care about chamber 1 and 2). If chamber 2 was significantly deeper than chamber 1, even at a very low rate of flow, chamber 1 would fill first. Or would it?
  • Are the passages between the chambers round? If so, what is their diameter? If to scale, and they are not round, what is their depth? Again, they could be microscopically thin, in which case, chamber 1 would fill first, even at a low flow rate.
  • Lastly, perhaps the fluid isn’t even water? Maybe it’s something much more viscous, which wouldn’t flow easily through the passages?

I have been told that there are countless places on the internet where people are arguing about this, and I’d rather this not become another one. It’s just a puzzle, and maybe I am overthinking it as I have been accused. I don’t really care. I’m sharing all this here for one reason only. That being, perhaps we shouldn’t be quite so sure of everything that we’re supposedly sure about. Keep an open mind, and don’t get upset if someone holds an opposing view point to you, especially to something that you see posted on the internet! 🙂

question

Question even this!

Lastly, if you do find yourself getting angry, about this puzzle, what I’ve written, or anything else for that matter, check out the great Spotify playlist shared by Rob Greenfield. We’ve been listening to it since yesterday and it’s excellent! Note that if you’re in some out of the way place like we are, you may need to use a VPN to access Spotify.

We’re having a baby…

A Baby Guinness, that is. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I invested too much mental energy in writing yesterday’s post, so I thought I’d just share something fun and simple today, a tasty shot that we enjoy.

It goes like this:

  • Pour some Patrón XO into a shaker with a few cubes of ice.
  • Shake to chill, and then strain into a shot glass, filling it approximately 2/3 of the way to the top.
  • Using a spoon, carefully float some Baileys Irish Cream onto the top so that it resembles a tiny Guinness beer.

There you go. You now have a Baby Guinness! Enjoy!

baby

How to layer a shot. Bonus points if you can do it on a boat that’s rocking and rolling!

patron

Why I don’t want to sail around the world

It seems strange that we’ve never had a real desire to sail around the world. Strange because we are, in every other aspect of our lives, very goal oriented, and a circumnavigation of the globe seems to be the pinnacle of many sailors’ dreams. Perhaps it was fear initially, a lack of confidence in our ability, that kept us from adding that goal to our newbie-sailor bucket list. As time went on though, and our confidence increased hand-in-hand with our experience, circumnavigating by sail still never became something we considered a must-do. Maybe it was our growing awareness of the shortcomings of that method of travel that kept our sailing interests focused elsewhere.

Shortcomings you say? Isn’t travel by sailboat the best way to see the world? Well, it’s one way, that is true, and it does offer the benefit of shelter while on your journey, and the ability to bring a fairly large collection of your belongings with you as you move about. As a method of travel though, it is not without its limitations. As I see it, if your goal is to simply see the world, the following things might just make you consider whether or not an alternative method of travel would be a better choice for you.

windward

1. The weather is everything!

More than perhaps any other method of travel, sailors are at the complete mercy of Mother Nature. Look to any harbor in the world and you’ll find sailors who are either waiting for a weather window, or who have just arrived after being presented with one. Without a doubt, a stout boat can remain afloat in most any conditions, but the crew will often have something to say about setting out when the wind is blowing too hard, or from the wrong direction, or if the waves are not favorable. And this is simply on a micro scale, day to day and week to week.

In the larger picture, circumnavigators are almost always working to time their travels to avoid the annual storm seasons. Whether you refer to them as hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones, the threat of these destructive tropical storms is most often what dictates where boats should travel, and when they should arrive or depart. Of course, a Captain could choose to ignore all this, if you’ll excuse the pun, throwing caution to the wind, but that is not the norm. Most sailors take the weather very seriously.

2. The ocean:land ratio is out of whack!

For some people, the act of sailing is what brings them joy. Out on the water, with no land in sight, they are at peace. Perhaps that is you, but it is not an apt description of us. While, in fair conditions, we enjoy a nice day on the water as much as anybody, spending a week or more cooped up on a boat is not our idea of fun. We have often referred to ourselves as travelers instead of sailors, but in reflecting upon it, even that isn’t really true. We don’t really like to travel, whether it be by boat, car, or plane… what we like is to be places, to explore and enjoy them!

With that in mind, it seems to me that the amount of time circumnavigators spend passage making is out of sync with the time that they are able to enjoy the destinations that they visit. Why, after a one, or two, or three week passage would a sailor not spend a bunch of time enjoying the place that they just worked so hard to travel to? That’s where the weather thing comes in; sailors are unfortunately often on a weather-dictated schedule.

equator

Crossing the equator on route to the Galapagos.

3. Who’s going to look after the boat?

So, you’ve been graced with a good weather window, you’ve completed your passage, and have now arrived to a glorious spot that you’d like to explore. Now what? Can you simply stuff some things in a backpack and go adventuring for a week? Well, you could, but not many do. I wrote a post before entitled Do you own the boat or does the boat own you, describing how, after cruising for 2.5 years, we had never left our boat unattended for more than 24 hours. If you think that is uncommon, you’d be mistaken. I had one circumnavigator tell me that he had never left his boat unattended at anchor for more than 24 hours!

Unlike houses, which people would give very little thought to leaving unattended for a week at a time, many cruisers feel that their boat requires near-constant babysitting. And they feel that way for good reason, because they often do! Boats that are secured by even the best anchors have been known to drag at Mother Nature’s whim, occasionally with catastrophic results. Vessels secured to a dock may be somewhat more secure, but even then, their lines may need adjusting to account for changes in the tide and/or weather, and their complex systems may require monitoring. There are even certain places in the world where the port captain requires that a crew member be left on board to mind the vessel, not ideal for a cruising couple looking to explore together.

4. Money, money, money…

Surely traveling by boat must be cost effective, at least when compared to alternative methods of travel? There’s no plane tickets to purchase, or hotel rooms to pay for. Well, that depends. Sailors have been known to cross oceans in all manner of vessels, so of course, a large expensive yacht isn’t a requirement. My informal survey of the boats in the World ARC at the beginning of 2015 doesn’t seem to support that statement though*.

Circumnavigators are often looking to be as self-sufficient as possible, and that’s prudent. Away from developing countries, green energy sources like solar panels, and wind and hydro generators, make boats less reliant on expensive, or hard-to-acquire diesel. Watermakers keep the tanks topped up, and autopilots keep the passage making less tiring. In many cases, these systems are considered to be so important that circumnavigators have backups for each of them. Communication is another area that those traveling the world by sailboat often spend a lot of time and money on. Having an accurate source of weather info, or several, and a way to keep in contact with family, or several, becomes a priority. As you might guess, none of this is inexpensive.

Is this level of complexity required for all sailors? No, certainly not, but it does seem to me that the further people venture from home, the more money is invested in these areas, both to get them up and running, and to keep them functioning properly. This significant investment begs the questions then: just how many plane tickets and hotel rooms (or hostel rooms, or campgrounds) could a traveller purchase before equalling this level of expense?

5. But I don’t want to follow the trade winds!

As I mentioned above, we love to visit new places. That was, in fact, our primary goal when we set sail from Canada. That, and getting away from the harsh winters. Now, after traveling by boat for over 6 years, our bucket list of places to visit is no shorter. If anything, it has grown even longer since we first started. So why not circumnavigate to tick places off that list? It goes without saying that if we want to travel to a non-coastal destination, like Mongolia for example, a boat isn’t going to get us there, at least not directly. But what about all of the places that we could sail to? We definitely do have some islands or coastal areas on our list, like Patagonia, and Japan, but very few of them lie on the coconut milk run, the well-sailed trade wind route that most circumnavigators follow.

map

Is circumnavigating the world by sailboat one of your dreams? If so, it’s a goal worth getting excited about. It’s a biggie, and will no-doubt net you a collection of memories and stories that will keep your friends and grandkids entertained for hours. In spite of all that I wrote above, it’s very doable, and hundreds of people add their names to the world-circumnavigator’s list each year.

But what about those who choose to remain closer to home, or to cruise to places that are off the well-traveled routes? Or for that matter, those who opt to see the world via an entirely different method of transport, whether that be by plane, RV, motorcycle or foot? Are those achievements any less notable? Certainly not, at least in my mind. While those travels will no doubt net a different set of experiences, they are equally valuable. You all have my respect simply for getting out there!

Of course, this is an opinion piece, just like everything else that I write, and it is no way intended to diminish the accomplishment of our friends who have circumnavigated the globe by sail, or those who are in the process of doing so right now. If anything, you’ve managed to overcome the challenges that I’ve listed above, or have decided that they don’t matter to you. In my mind, you all rock!

*The World ARC is not without cost, so it could be argued that those who are circumnavigating on a budget, in the smaller, less-complex boats, are absent for that reason.

Get rid of those filters

By now some of you have no doubt set yourselves some New Year’s resolutions. If so, good for you. Make 2017 a year that you grow. Hopefully your resolutions are things that inspire you, things beyond the typical lose 10 lbs., drink more water, tripe that adorns near everyone’s beginning-of-the-year goal list. Dream big dreams, and if you’ve yet to put pen to paper, I encourage you to take the filters off when creating your list. Filters? Yes, the societal filters that are either subtly, or overtly, imposed on you that say you’re too old, too poor, or too uneducated to accomplish the really exciting things on your list. Because really, that’s all just BS.

dreams

Let’s take the too old excuse for example. It’s one of my favorites, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve posted on the subject before. I actually chose the quote for yesterday’s blog entry knowing that I was going to write on this subject today.

Just the other day I posted on Facebook that I was in the process of rehabbing a knee injury that occurred during the 950th hash in Grenada. Several well-meaning friends made comments to the effect that I was not 18 any more, implying that I should perhaps set my sights a bit lower. Sure, some were joking, but I’m positive others were convinced that what they said was gospel. Should we settle for less as we age? Hell, no. I certainly don’t intend to.

I used to visit a chiropractor whenever I was faced with a minor injury inflicted from overly-aggressive jiu-jitsu training. Almost every time I saw him he would tell me that maybe I should slow down now that I was getting older. I appreciated that advice so much, I fired him!

It’s worth noting that several of the hashing FRBs in Grenada, that is the constantly-fastest front runners, have a decade or more on me. Every week they outrun athletic youngsters a third of their age. I can tell you, they aren’t making excuses, and neither should you or I.

climb

Yesterday morning. We never saw any of the sunshine that was forecasted several days ago. Instead, we had brutal weather for almost the entire climb. Many might not believe this but we even had sleet up on the mountain. I’m Canadian so you can trust me… it was wet snow! Crazy, right?

top

1:40 to the top. It was freezing up there, and we wanted nothing more than to get moving again. We had to record this New year’s greeting first though!

track

My knee must be getting better, we shaved over an hour off our last time! The cover picture at the top showing my stop watch was taken when we were back in the car.