hải âu phi xứ

text=海鸥飞处&font=1&size=18&color=0000FF

Vô tình nước chảy về đông,
Nghìn năm cánh mộng tang bồng còn bay…

uộc đời tôi cho đến lúc này, chỉ có một ước mơ nhỏ nhoi, đó là được đi về nơi… 海鸥飞处 – hải âu phi xứ (tên một tiểu thuyết của Quỳnh Dao – chỉ mượn cái tên chứ chưa đọc truyện nào của Quỳnh Dao bao giờ 😀). Nơi ấy, chốn hải âu ngày đêm bay lượn trên sóng nước, cuộc sống quy về trong những cặp khái niệm “tối giản” mà bạn có thể nghĩ đến, ví dụ như: wood and water, hoặc là: boat and rice, hay trong một cách diễn đạt Việt Nam dân dã hơn: gạo trắng trăng thanh.

Các nhà văn, nhà thơ, nhạc sĩ… họ đã làm được một việc là phịa ra những điều đẹp đẽ (rất có thể là không thật) và thuyết phục được người khác (trong đó có cả tôi) về những điều đó. Nhưng thực tế thì, rất ít trong số họ thật sự sống được (hay thực sự muốn sống) trong những điều họ đã vẽ nên ấy. Tôi không tài năng và cũng chẳng suy nghĩ được nhiều như họ, nhưng điều tôi nghĩ và làm sẽ luôn luôn song hành làm một. Đến một ngày, một ngày nào đó… tôi sẽ đi, đi về nơi… hải âu phi xứ 😀.

⓵⏎ Câu thơ khắc trên bia đá bên cầu qua sông đào Bạch Yến, phía Tây kinh thành Huế.

giang hồ

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hiều đêm đi chơi xuồng kayak, 4, 5 tiếng đồng hồ một mình chèo trong bóng tối mênh mông, không một ánh điện, không biết đâu là bến bờ, tuyệt nhiên yên tịnh. Hoàn toàn phó theo cảm giác vì không thể nhìn thấy gì, toàn những bóng đen mờ ảo, cũng đã quá thuộc sông nước quanh đây. Quả nhiên không sai đây chính là khung cảnh lửa chài, cây bến còn vương giấc hồ từng chứng kiến bao nhiêu tiền kiếp về trước.

Rồi những đêm rằm trăng sáng rạng ngời, cảnh quang thuyền một lá đông tây lặng ngắt, một vầng trăng trong vắt lòng sông thật hứng thú vô cùng. Chốn này dường tách biệt hẳn với hồng trần thị phi, an nhiên tự tại không còn biết hôm nay là của ngày tháng năm nào nữa. Nhìn lên nghĩ bụng chị Hằng chắc là lạnh lắm, rồi tự hỏi phải chăng đây là cõi trời nguyệt minh tinh hy, ô thước nam phi thủa nào!?

Lại đôi khi gặp phải luồng cá lớn, dài trên hàng cây số, cá rượt đuổi theo song song như muốn đùa vui cùng với chiếc thuyền, hàng ngàn hàng vạn con bé nhỏ vọt lên khỏi mặt nước, réo rắt như một trận mưa rào mùa hạ. Hàng trăm con như những mũi phi tiêu lao qua mui thuyền, nhiều con rớt cả vào trong khoang. Rồi bỗng dưng bắt gặp mình ngâm nga khúc huống ta vớt củi buông câu, lứa đôi tôm cá bạn bầu hươu nai…

Cái sự khoái hoạt, phóng dật trong chốn giang hồ thật không một từ ngữ, không một bút mực nào gột tả hết cho được! Ghi lại vài dòng để còn gợi nhớ đến cảm giác, không gian này! Mở ngoặc nói cho rõ ràng rằng, từ nguyên, giang hồ – 江湖, đơn giản tức là giang – 江 – sông và hồ – 湖 – hồ 😀, nghĩa gốc vốn như thế, chỉ nơi sông nước, nhàn cư, ẩn dật… không phải hiểu theo nghĩa phái sinh của nó.

⓵⏎ Phượng hữu cao ngô, hạc hữu tùng, Ngẫu lai giang ngoại ký hành tung…, trích bài Ngạc Châu ngụ quán Nghiêm Giản trạch – Nguyên Chẩn.

seaduction

hen you complete some deed with very good results, they would say: you’d done it with flying colors, an archaic term originated from the age – of – sail, the maritime tradition of a ship (returning to its home port) flying its colors (flags) to signal that a mission had been accomplished. In contrast, strike the colors is an act of surrender, of giving up. Another term: to nail the colors (to the mast) means: to fight to the bitter end and giving up is not an option, cause flags that have been nailed to the mast can not be stricken (lowered), intentionally or accidentally during a naval battle.

I hoist my coded colors below… 😀

Seaduction: /si’dʌkʃn/ (noun), the act of of being seduced by boats, sails, sea, ocean, air, waves or sand between your toes.

a watery saigon – 2

ack to the normal, procedural routines of: work, paddle, eat, sleep… then repeat those steps… the loop will be going on like that for a while. I’m gonna have some miscellaneous updates for my Hello World – 3, but for now, just more ‘harness’ physical exercising to regain and improve my endurance after a long Tết (new year) holiday. It’s so good to return from mountains to waters, as my lovely kayak is awaiting for more mileage to pass under her keel in the upcoming time.

This season of the year, there’s plenty of wind around, especially around Bình Khánh ferry area, a crossroad that has lots of turbulence. Sometimes it creates enough waves to feel like a surf, riding a long series of running waves is a very interesting experiences, and HW – 3 surfs really well, though it’s a bit harder to control compared to the shorter 14′ HW – 2. When I saw sailors on those big freighters who were all shooting videos of the kayak, I know that SHE IS beautiful and attractive! 😀

Since I haven’t equipped HW – 3 with a spray skirt and an electric water pump (that would be in the next months), I simply carry a small plastic bucket to drain the water out when it rains, it’s starting the rainy season. Continue more and more paddling with HW – 3, to get to really know her, to understand precisely how she would behave in various different conditions: sunny, rainy, windy, wavy, strong current… There’s a long way of practicing since I’m feeling I’m not ready still for longer voyages.

hello world – 3, part 24

Yên lung hàn thuỷ nguyệt lung sa…

ast batch of updates for my kayak before Tết (Lunar new year), a detachable and retractable light (and camera) pole. At a bicycle accessories shop, I found a small signal light which uses solar cell (about 3 square inches in area). Testing the LED torch showed that after being fully charged, it could continuously blink for two nights, more than enough to be used for the boat. It has 4 blinking modes, which could be changed by a switch located behind.

The light is small, lightweight and most importantly, doesn’t need a separated battery since it uses solar energy (that means: less thing to be cared for in a journey). The pole, in its retracted position, is high enough for the signal light to be visible from other vessels on water. When the GoPro is in used, the pole is extended about one foot higher so that the camera could get a better view ahead of the boat. And the whole thing could be used, as a… selfie stick when needed.

Screw off the pole from the connecting dock bolted down to the aft deck, attach my other Canon D30 camera to the end, then I have a selfie stick in hand. Well, I’ve been concentrating more on boats and paddling, not the photography things, but it’s better being able to capture the beautiful scenes along the paddling way anyhow. There’re still many things to be done for the kayak, but that would be until the next year. For now, just more and more paddling, 25 km every 2, 3 days or so.

May the new year comes for me with more will and determination to reach my dream target. The more I understand about the task, the more challenging I’ve realized how it would be, for now, I’m not sure still if I could make it: lots of practicing and preparing, a huge deed of efforts and endurance required to make that 300 km (6 ~ 7 days or more) journey. May the new year comes with more internal calm and balance, for me to live wholly in this simplicity and purposefulness.

hello world – 3, part 21, mise à l’eau

Khứ lai giang khẩu thủ không thuyền…

roudly present the new – kid – on – the – block, the flagship to join my armada 😬! The first image below: the boat and her quite – satisfied builder / owner! 😀 Today is launch day (the French phase mise à l’eau simply means: put to water), I tested the kayak for a short trip of about 15 km. The first thing to notice when sit in and start some paddling strokes is that the boat has extremely good primary and secondary stabilities, unlike my previous HW – 2.

All boating measures is relative, and you trial to find out what works for you. HW – 3 has very good stabilities, or at least I’ve get used to those not – as – good of HW – 2. The boat tracks very well, I could have the skeg completed retracted on somewhat calm water. The turning radius is still large, not something abnormal for kayak of this length, the boat behaves nicely and responses well to my edged turning actions. I have nothing to complain about its tracking and turning capabilities.

Speed sees a good improve, I can easily average out at 7.5 kmph (flat water, measured in 2 hours), about 1/4 better compared to that of HW – 2, well for sure HW – 2 is only a 14 footer. Actually, I was expecting a greater improve in speed (about 1/3, not 1/4). Anyhow, I need to get familiarized with the new boat, and to figure out the exact measuring numbers. Also I noticed that the boat is a bit heavier at stern, the lowest point of the bow sometimes pops out above the waterline.

That suggests me to shift the weight balance toward the bow a bit (e.g: arranging the carrying load), to gain the waterline length a little longer, to improve speed further. Well, the next couples of weeks is just paddling and paddling, to improve my endurance (I’ve been having little practices for the last two months). I would need to make some longer trips (about 20 ~ 25 km each) to get known to her, the new boat, and to see how she would behave in rougher water and weather conditions.

a watery saigon – 3

Móc ngang sông phau phau làn trắng,
Nước in trời loang loáng vẻ xanh.
Buông theo chiếc lá lênh đênh,
Đè muôn đợt sóng mông mênh cõi ngoài.

ome more updates for the A – Watery – Saigon photo album, some miscellaneous thoughts. I’m no real photographer to say anything insight about photography, most of the time, I have the camera in automatic mode and make quite random shots just to show I’ve been there, done that… For the last few years, I’ve been watching many young Vietnamese ‘professional photographers’ who made great efforts in capturing landscape pictures, e.g: waiting for multiple days on a mountain top to catch the right moment, etc…

And they showed me their photos, ‘really beautiful’ I must say (compared to my well – under – average images, and I do wish my pictures could be like that, technically): perfect color and arrangement, unique point of view, etc… But let me get this straight, and don’t get me wrong on the topic: they lack a spirit, a sense of movement, a sense of selfness, they are just plain boring! In order to become great photographer, you should stop taking photos and do something else, see the world through your eyes first, before seeing it through those expensively distortional lenses!

fortitudine vincimus

etting a bit more serious in paddle exercising day after day. I start to carry a 15kg (of brick and stone) load onto my kayak, and would gradually increase the load. Also, resting time between each paddling legs is reduced to the minimum possible. Sunny or rainy, until today, a 20 km paddling path is just like a gentle promenade to me, I should be more aggressing and demanding on myself.

But practicing hard won’t stop me to relax and have some nice picture shot occasionally along the way. Whenever I’m tired or feeling down, there’re always the nice sceneries, and the motto (on this post title) to put my mood into order again! For more on the Latin motto, read about Ernest Shackleton, his polar explorations, and his incredible voyage on the 21 foot open boat James Caird!

boating books

ome very worth reading books on boating. Some are very well – known novels that I’ve read already (a few of them in multiple times), some are new documents that I’m reading or plan to. According to my categorization, they fall into the following 3 groups: Fiction, purely imaginary, although not real, they’re highly inspirational, Non – fiction, real accounts of real peoples and their adventures, Technical, the fundamental details that help building those archivements. My 3 simplified, consecutive steps of a self – actualization process… All these books are available in public domain, I collected and compiled into PDF format, click on each titles to download.

FICTION





Twenty thousand leagues under the sea – Jules Verne

Sea wolf – Jack London

Treasure island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Moby dick – Herman Melville, my all – time favorite, a piece of hard to read, highly metaphoric literature

NON – FICTION


A thousand miles in a Rob Roy canoe – J. Macgregor


Voyage of the paper canoe – Nathaniel Bishop


Alone in the Caribbean – Frederic Fenger


Sailing alone around the world – Joshua Slocum, my favorite, another neo – classical Ahap captain!

TECHNICAL


The dory book – John Gardner


Small boat building – H.W. Patterson


Canoe and boat building for amateurs – W.P. Stephens


The Gougeon brothers on boat construction, a very helpful, thorough book on wood working and epoxy.

the call

We’re all following a strange melody.
We’re all summoned by a tune…
And we dance beneath the moon!

The piper remixed - ABBA 

eally busy lately, can’t even find some little time slots for going paddling! For many time I’ve been hearing it, the tune sounds like Enya’s Orinoco Flow (a.k.a: Sail away), and I know, it’s calling, it’s calling me. I just have to “Slide to answer”, but pressing “Remind me” is my only option right now! 😢 Surely won’t miss your next call again!