Archipelago

The Voyage of Rongo

Archipelago

Preambulate:

I’ve no idea if you might be interested in any of this. I don’t want to write a travel journal. I don’t think I could even begin to describe the larger significance of mere personal experiences, but since I don’t know if there is anything more significant than these trivial experiences, I’m ready to compromise: let this writing be a kind of recollection or reminder, something bound up with the pain and pleasure of reminiscence, something one is supposed to write in old age, a fore taste of what I may feel fifty years from now, if I live to be seventy eight and can still reminisce. Tragedy in the proper Greek sense is impossible to compose in our day. Contemporary tragedies are not tragic in the absence of figures endowed with classic nobility of character. So this is a Comedy.

I don’t often claim to have designed this pocket ship because it seems disingenuous to say. She had predecessors that worked as rescue boats, Prams and Dinghy’s centuries before she was conceived. Joshua Slocum had a centerfold of similar design on board his Sloop “The Spray,” in 1864. I may have calculated the length, beam and draft, but I copied the overall concept from other boats I saw and the mathematics behind those date back to the Phoenicians, I’m merely the beneficiary of their Vision. Besides this Dinghy of mine is not merely a feat of engineering, she is an amalgam of music and sculpture passed down from antiquity. Artists and scientists have always played off of each others dreams. I can hardly understand why Art & Science are considered separate subjects. What if the evolution of knowledge occurs over millennia and every kind of intellectual property exists on a continuous spectrum? The Wright brothers are credited with inventing the airplane, but Leonardo Da Vinci had sketches of machines with flapping wings in his sketchbooks. It is a plausible assumption that his inspiration for such a device came from the Myth of Icarus, son of Deadalus. Leonardo Da- Vinci was commissioned by the Royal families to invent weapons and siege machinery and the science he wrought created the first repeat firing crossbow. I am certain that he was aware that the propaganda machines of imperialist governments are never very far from the Military Headquarters.

The Savannah River is Lazy, with strange tides. I Put in at Houlihan’s marina, Port Wentworth Georgia. As I rowed away I faced a parking lot and a single story structure, white with Haint blue shutters. The water was Eighty Eight degrees, Chromium Oxide green and very muddy. Less than 200 yards from the ramp my port side oarlock ripped out of the Teak it was screwed into. I dropped Anchor and rebuilt it across from an overgrown rice patty that was once known as Mulberry Plantation.

I sat there working with a power drill. Encased in my vessel up to my waist, you could say-and it seemed I could hear her thinking.

Do you really think you’re going anywhere in me? You remember what they said, about how you were using the wrong kind of, wood, the wrong screws, the wrong way don’t you? You’re no fooling anyone. We haven’t been anywhere but Rye Harbor and we never will. Tell me you clown, do you really think you’re a sailor?

There were boats engaged in a study under the guidance of Georgia State University nearby. They were throwing nets in an effort to catch Sturgeon. Large catfish and Spotted tail Bass jumped over the nets. They hovered around me while I re-designed my oarlock.

South Westerly winds hissed through the blades of Spartina and rice. I finished with the oar lock and rounded Hog Marsh Island. The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge could be seen in the distance, guarded by Cypress trees.

Soon, I was rowing past the International Paper factory, where bundles of Trees were being dropped down a chute by a giant robot hand. I was trying to stay in the middle of the river, but there was an unexpected current drawing me toward two silos labeled “Dixie Crystals, since 1917.” I rowed toward South Carolina. As I rowed away I noticed two water cooled furnaces, where they refine Guatemalan and Philippine Cane Sugar. Monolithic smoke stacks exhaled white smoke into the air and blew it towards Garden City.

Savannah shares the 32nd parallel with San Diego, Jerusalem and Nanking. It was over 90 degrees out and my water supply was dangerously low already. I decided to test out my “Life straw,” water filtration unit. I saw a beach occupied only by a murder of Turkey Vultures and parked my vessel. Unbeknownst to me a sewage treatment plant was on the other side of the tree line. Two Turkey Vultures left their perch and flew upstream as I landed. The beach was rich with Quartzite. Through its patina of algae it appeared to be Jade. As I crouched in the muddy water with my blue plastic straw, drinking from the Savannah River, I saw a stick with eyes floating down stream towards me. She was in league with the Vultures most likely. I grabbed a handful of quarts and jumped into the boat as the Alligator stealthily swam toward me. I picked up my dagger board and showed it to her. Her reptile mind saw only a giant tooth. She turned around and disappeared. I rowed back towards Georgia, just in case, operating the tiller with my foot.

Five miles North West of Savannah, as far back as 1,100 C.E. there was a complex of several mounds on the river, between two creeks. The ceremonies that were practiced there were the same ceremonies that were practiced throughout the Native American Mississippian culture. They grew Maize, Squash and Corn. They Made Pottery and traded with towns from a great distance. These Mounds, commonly called the “Irene Mounds” were for the Chief and his immediate family, so approximately 40 people resided there. The settlement was a gathering place for all of the neighboring Indians, including those just passing through. In 1937, the Irene Mounds were excavated by archaeologists and forty seven African American Women. The project was part of F.D.R’s “New Deal” program. The fact that educated black women were hired broke several taboos. Black women were excluded from the majority of the New Deal’s programs in the south. One of the discoveries was that the Irene Inhabitants were creating a form of Pottery in the Swift Creek tradition. This style of pottery is made with engraved paddles that are pressed into the work before firing. The designs were often complex curvilinear patterns. Some of them contained the architectural designs of the pyramids in Guatemala.

As I came around the bight, I could see the exact spot where this ceremonial center had been. It was now a massive dock with a dozen cranes loading seven enormous cargo ships. The cranes stacked shipping crates like they were Lego blocks. Two Thousand Cargo ships a year come and go from this busy port. Underneath these docks, owned by the Georgia Port Authority are the remains of the Irene Mounds. Underneath the parking lot is the sacred burial grounds of the easternmost town of the Mississippian culture.

Each crane had its own series of squeaks and beeps. When all seven of them were working in concert techno music was produced. The tide had been going out for a couple of hours by this time, but if I stopped rowing for five minutes I ceased to make progress. As I sat in this Doldrums listening to Techno, two tugboats began pulling one of the fully loaded cargo ships away from the dock with Amsteel ropes. I could feel their powerful engines drawing me towards them and I rowed towards the little Back River as hard as I could. The Rongo is shaped very much like a musical instrument. As I was drawn into the propeller of the David Cooper a terrifying sound came from my hull. At first it sounded like the carbonization of a freshly poured beer. As I drew closer to the tug the sound grew more akin to hail hitting Plexiglas. These deck hands obviously have little regard for life. Luckily they finished their task before the Rongo was chopped to driftwood.

Over the next two hours there were north easterly winds of ten miles per hour. My boat gravitated in the troughs of the 4 foot waves, beam to the weather, because my dagger board is too far aft and its nose is too small to give yaw control. So I dropped a drogue overboard (a bucket with holes drilled in its sides tied to a short rope connected to the stern. This slowed me down a bit but it simplified steering.

A couple hours later a Large Grey Motor Boat approached me from the South East and pulled up alongside my vessel. The words “Marine Patrol,” were stenciled on it in white. A serious looking Police officer stepped onto the deck and said. “Young man, we need to talk.” It was my first time being pulled over. I bit into the bitter end of some mountaineering rope on a kite spool and threw the spool onto his deck. He caught the spool and drew a figure eight on a cleat with the yellow rope, while I pushed off his side with a spare oar. He asked me for my I.D and my social in a professional way. I responded to all of his questions with, “Yes Officer.” “You’re from New Hampshire?” “How long have you been here?” “How Long you been in the water for today?” “You rowed here from Houlihan?” “You came too close to the cargo ships.” “So what, did they think I am a terrorist?” “I don’t know what they think, but theres some big money at play here so for the sake of your own safety; you need to stay out of the shipping lanes.” See End Note £

I asked The Police officer where I could travel that was not in a shipping lane and his response was. “This whole river is a shipping lane!” I could feel myself becoming very sad and angry. The federal government stole this land from my ancestors long ago. They forced my great grandmother’s great grandmother, to walk from here to the deserts of Oklahoma and now the entire river was deemed the personal property of the state and a few multinational corporations. The cop disappeared into the cockpit to run my numbers. He conferred with someone on his VHF radio for ten minutes then he re-emerged and said, “All-right captain, when you see a cargo ship coming, you need to pull over onto the South Carolina side, drop anchor and wait for them to pass, O.K?” “Yes Officer.” He handed back my I.D. and my rope. “Do you feel safe in this thing?” “I’m Cherokee Indian.” With that he started up both of his four stroke engines and continued up river.

A few Hours later I was rowing east past downtown Savannah as the sun set over the Tallmadge bridge. Like most people, my first introduction to Savannah was by Robert Louis Stevenson in his book treasure island, which I read a decade ago. In Treasure Island, Savannah is the place where Captain John Flint, has died of sclerosis of the liver before the story begins. It is on his death bed in Savannah that he gives his last command, “Fetch aft the Rum, Darby!” Then he hands Billy Bones a map of Treasure Island. The book had a drawing of Flint’s map on the cover with an X marking the location of his buried treasure. What I saw before me was a row of old brick buildings fronted by a narrow boulevard. Behind the buildings a bunch of trees extended into the distance, punctuated by steeples, cornices, and cupolas. Most visitors can report that Savannah is a beautiful city. It was spared the destruction visited on Atlanta, by a hair. General William Tecumesh Sherman intended for Savannah to be the end of his triumphant march to the sea, bringing 70,000 troops with him to burn it to the ground at the end of the civil war. Like any practical capitalist, Savannah’s Mayor sent a delegation out to meet Sherman as his troops approached the city. The Delegation offered to surrender the city without a shot if Sherman didn’t burn it down. Sherman accepted and stayed a month. Then He marched his troops to Columbia South Carolina and raised it to the ground. The first African church also sent out a delegation to meet with Sherman before he left town. Sherman offered much seized coastal lands to freedmen as a result. See End Note ¢

A faux, old fashioned riverboat full of tourists drifted by. Some smiled and waved, while listening to the “Narrated Harbor Sightseeing cruise.”

The Susie Taylor King passed by on its way from the Weston Hotel with an on board Trumpeter playing the Gilligan’s Island theme song. I could see tourists on the old Yamacraw Bluff of Bay st. under the gold dome of City hall. As I drifted by the Army core of Engineers Depot I noticed that they had a steep bay for putting in boats. A family of Raccoons foraged under roots on the perimeter. I was turning into the Fig Island turning Basin of Hutchinson Island. In the far distance I could just glimpse the blue tops of the Natural gas silos on Elba One.

This is 2020 and chances are theres no other sailing vessel on the Savannah River. Cargo ship captains know this, so they don’t even bother to look out for small boats. If a Cargo ship bursts out of the darkness and it doesn’t see me, then the best thing to do is take the Flare gun and put a flare right in front of the wheelhouse window. I didn’t have a flare gun, at the time because I balked at the price. It could be said that I was a bad combination of Naïve and Stingy. To be Authentic, a life or a voyage, must grow from a firm foundation of abject poverty. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine tour. The sort known to members of the Yachtclub, who play with their boats in Regatta’s. “Cruising,” they call it.

I pulled a mag light from my book bag and placed it in a cardboard box of rope beside the Dagger board trunk. A Red speed boat came whipping down the shipping lane. I flashed my light at them and they continued around the tip of the island, reversed course and headed back to investigate. The boat pulled up beside me and a man in uniform asked if I was all-right. I told him I was, but he didn’t believe me. There were six men on board and the words, “U.S. Coast Guard” were emblazoned across the boats hull in white.

“Where you headed?” the soldier yelled. “Thunderbolt ramp.” ” He smiled and looked at his companions, who were also amused. “You’re never going to make it, to Elba One! The tide is coming in and it’s going to push you back up river at six knots.” I continued to row, just to keep a true course. “I’ll be all right guys; I’ll just sleep here and take the morning tide out. Who owns this property here?” I received no answer so I just rowed away. I grabbed my spare oar and jumped off the bow before my pocket ship touched the sand. A second later the boat pulled up alongside me on the beach. I picked up my Heaviest anchor and threw it onto the sand ten feet in. As I walked towards the dense canopy of the Maritime forest, an army of Fiddler crabs retreated into their caverns. Epiphytes such as Resurrection Fern, Bartram’s Air Plant and Spanish moss convened in the branches of the stout live oak. Slash Pine, Red cedar and Red Bay competed for sunlight. This spot on Hutchinson Island was the location of an ancient fishing village of the Guale Creek and Yemassee Indians. They inhabited this Island as far back as 1150 C.E. The Guale descended from the Mississippian culture of Illinois. They numbered 4,000 at the height of their civilization in the coastal areas of Georgia. By 1684 the Guale nation had been removed. Aggressive attacks by the British backed Westo and diseases from the Spanish Missions diminished the population to 1,215 by 1715. The Majority of Hutchinson Island is a Shell Midden composed of the Guale’s compost piles. The Calcium loving species of plants that call this Island Home, are fortunate to be on this end of the island, because it is inaccessible, and therefore resistant to development.

“Wait!” one of the sailors yelled. “Can you bring your boat up alongside ours?” At that moment 1/4 of a nautical mile away a cargo ship was headed upstream. It was passing between Fort Jackson and Barnwell Island, turning the placid river into level four rapids in its wake. I complied with their wishes and maneuvered alongside their boat. As I pulled up one of them asked, “Do you have any rope?” another answered for me, “He has a shit ton of rope.” Another asked, “Do you have any hooks that you can be towed from?” I showed them the bull hook through my bow. They asked me to remove the Rudder and Tiller Mechanism from the stern, so I did. I boarded their vessel and had a seat as directed. They gave the Rongo 20 yards of slack and she trailed behind. As they accelerated the Rongo fishtailed back and forth violently. She was front heavy without my weight in the back and she pushed water because of it. The Coast Guard slowed down and moved all five of my anchors to the middle and back of the boat. Then we were off again. One of the Sailors sat down on the trunk across from me and leaned against the railing Rongo was tied to. He was holding a flashlight, a pen and a yellow paper on a clip board. “What were you up to out here tonight?” I told him, before I fully waterproof my interior or attach my mast and sails; I need to see how my boat handles in all conditions. The four sailors around him seemed to silently nod their heads in consent. The sailor across from me asked for my I.D. then he asked me the size of my vessel and its name. He made marks on paper, while another sailor worked the C.B. radio. The Savannah Fire Department was giving me permission to moor at their private docks, beside the Marriott for the night. In less than three minutes we were there at the site of the 1996 Olympic Yachting competition.

One of the sailors asked me how heavy my boat was. I told him each half was close to 300 pounds, so it could be a thousand pounds fully loaded. “Each half?” he asked. “Yes, it splits in half.” “Did you weigh it, or are you just guessing?” “I’m just guessing.” “Well it looks light to me.” He reached down and grabbed onto the bull hook through Rongo’s nose, and he lifted her out of the water and half onto the dock. Another sailor ran to his aid and together they were able to lift her onto the cement dock. “Wow, you guys are strong.” I said. The Sailor with the yellow paper asked me if I had a whistle or noisemaking device on board. Considering, whose dock we were on, I didn’t want to mention my bottle rockets. A cloud of mosquito’s hovered around us. I smacked at my sun-burnt arms. He checked a couple more boxes and handed me the paper. I folded it up and put it in my pocket without looking at it. Another sailor said, “You can keep that as a souvenir. Elba One is nine miles away. You never would have made it tonight.” “So I only rowed 3 miles in 10 hours?” You only rowed 3 miles in ten hours.” (In reality I had rowed eight miles.) “Is this your first boat or your second,” the sailor asked. “Why did you build it?” I told him, “It is my first boat. I was working as a set designer for a couple of theatre companies back in New Hampshire, afterwards there was all this wood left over. I decided to use my feeble carpentry skills to build this. I guess I’m not much of a sailor.” He walked over to the boat, pointed at some of the hardware and said, “I’m really impressed by all this, you came all this way and there isn’t any water inside.” He reached inside the Rongo and touched the epoxied Birch interior. “Why is this still sticky? When did you finish this?” “I finished today, it’s still sticky because I fiber glassed it back in N.H. 3 months ago and it wasn’t 70 degrees, more like 50.” “Oh so it never cured right.” “Did you weld this anchor?” “No, a friend of mine made it for me.” “Why did you move here from N.H?” “I came here to play in your awesome waterways, and for the art scene here.” As we spoke an officer was holding a mag light over the Rongo so that three of the Sailors could take better pictures with their cell phones. “Can you have this boat out of here by Seven O’clock tomorrow morning?” “Yes Sir!” “If your cell phone got wet and your friend had called 911, hundreds of us would have been mobilized to search for you tonight, so we are giving you a warning. You are forbidden from operating this vehicle any more…..tonight.” “Yes Sir!” “Don’t ever take this boat into the ocean!”

The six sailors loaded back into the speed boat. “Remove all of your valuables from the boat tonight before you leave this dock.” “Yes Sir!” They started up their engines and I said. “Thank you so much for your help. I’m sorry for wasting your time tonight.” “It was no problem,” the captain said, as the boat sped away upstream.

I Slept in the Rongo on the docks that night, beside the Mariott Hotel. In a construction zone next to the docks a new luxury hotel was taking form. At 3:00 the next morning I woke up with a better understanding for why the homeless sometimes favor hard liquor over food. I slid the Rongo off the dock and continued on my way. Within Minutes I was floating over the remains of the C.S.S. Georgia. It was so dark that I could barely make out the Craters in the walls of Fort Jackson. I was still trying to get back into the zone and get a feel for rowing, but I couldn’t because my oarlocks were squeaking. A river at night is magic. The feeling of weightlessness, of floating not just horizontally but also vertically. With only a thin membrane of American Birch between me and a dark world. I passed the bight known as Runaway point and maneuvered into the Wilmington River, using the radio towers as navigational markers. At unlighted day beacon #18 Elba Island Cut leads cruisers into the upper Wilmington River. St. Augustine Creek cuts to the South East abeam of #18.

I passed Elba one, and the Oatland Island wildlife center in the dark. Feral Pigs and Donkeys could be heard in the distance. The sun Rose out of the Savannah River as I passed the bay known as “Frank Spencer Boat ramp.”

At low tide the Wilmington River is narrow and made of molasses. It carries it’s riches to the coastal crab nurseries in Wassaw Sound. Spartina reeds crowd both sides, and micro ecosystems of papyrus float by with crabs and snails on top.

Thousands of gallons per second rush endlessly from the Appalachian foothills through the piedmont and coastal plains to the Savannah River and the sea. The world is full of such rivers. There are over 250,000 in the U.S.A. If the shape of Georgia were a torso, the river would start in the area of the heart and lungs, then become the alimentary system, flushing out through the left kidney into the Atlantic.

This river is a library of biota. In these stacks everything is written in a different language. There is a dialect for motions on the surface of water. Ripples and waves and shimmering wind. Each dialect has its own vernacular, rasps and howls, bellows and flute songs. There is a language beyond sound. I would write this rivers text to put it into the language of people.

Fishing boats with oversized motors began to pass me shortly after. I approached the “Sam Varendoe” bridge (N32*03.759/ W 081* 01.687), an East West, drawbridge that spans the Wilmington river. I could see men moving towards a small boat moored on the east side of Caustons Bluff. I dug out my binoculars for a closer look. Turned out to be a Tugboat and a man was moving inside the wheel house. Knowing that I was now moving towards danger I rowed towards it as fast as my tired shoulders could, in an effort to make it past the boat and under the bridge before it turned on its powerful engines. They started up just as I passed them. The bridge was being replaced with a taller arched fixed span bridge, because the drawbridge halts traffic too often. A pontoon full of engineers motored towards me. Its Captain looked like Genghis Khan does on T.V. I was under the Island Express way in a moment, drifting on the Intracoastal Waterway (mile 579.9) towards mile marker 29. I removed my oars and spit down the holes of the oarlocks to silence the squeaking. Then I rowed silently through the archipelago. A dozen fishing boats of various sizes shot around the bend in the river. One after another, they came directly towards me ad waked the shit out of my little row boat, but it is a big river so in between boats I had peace. The tide had been going out for a while now, so I hardly had to row. I dropped a six foot long Lee board off the Starboard side. To hold my course, and I dropped my drogue off the port side, to balance the lateral resistance. I found that I didn’t have to steer or row again until the tide changed. So I sat there and ate a bag of trail mix, holding the tiller rope between my toes.

It seemed as though I was approaching a deserted island Inhabited only by white Ibis, stalking small fish in the Reeds. The Scene invoked memories of Thor Heyerdahl’s Craft “RA,” and his experimental anthropological theories, that were before their time. I recall carrying around his book “Kon Tiki,” when I was just six years old. I could barely read, but the pictures spoke volumes. Even then I suspected that a boat could be key to understanding the world in a different way. As I drew nearer the deserted island, I could see gravestones. I was passing Bonaventure Cemetery. Originally the site of “Tattnall Plantation,” Bonaventure became a public grave site after the Plantation house burned down. In 1850 a young Scotsman named John Muir embarked on a “Thousand mile walk to the Gulf.” Originating in Louisville Kentucky and ending in Florida. Broke and Exhausted Muir spent five days camping in the cemetery. He described it as “The most impressive assemblage of animal and plant creatures I have ever met…Never since I was allowed to walk in the woods have I found so impressive a company of trees as the Tillandsia draped oaks of Bonaventure.” After completing his Journey, John Muir became the most prominent advocate of environmental protection in the United States and co- founded the Sierra club.

South of the cemetery boaters come upon a heavy concentration of pleasure craft related facilities grouped around a 65 ft fixed bridge. Taken together, the Thunderbolt Marinas amount to one of the most impressive collections of water craft facilities to be found anywhere in the world.

The outgoing tide only had an hour left. I needed somewhere to park to kill time. I was running low on provisions. So I pulled up and tied off at a floating fiberglass pier, dock “B” of Morningstar Marina in Thunderbolt, just as the tide turned I was parked between an 84 foot Hatteras and a Compaq 23. I took a quick shower in the facilities above the offices of the Freedom boat club and then walked down river dr. to Tubby’s Tank House. In front of the restaurant stood a 10 ft Iron cross, dedicated to “All who toil from the Sea.” It was planted in bricks graven with the names of Fishmongers. The sign at the entrance to Tubby’s said “Please wait to be seated,” but the wait staff were all too busy making small talk to seat me so I seated myself on the porch beside two Cedars that had grown together. The porch was built around the Cedars and they were girdled with ropes, electrical wiring and staples from event flyers. I could barely see the Wilmington River from my seat through a gap between luxury Condominiums. I could tell from their menu that their area of culinary expertise was limited to Deep fried previously frozen American food. So I got up and walked out. Down the street I picked up a flare gun and a Bandoleer of flares at River Supply A few blocks away at 3017 E Victory Dr. I found Chiriya’s Thai Cuisine. After receiving a menu I told the Waitress that I wanted to eat outside, because something horrible happened to my shirt. I ordered the Spring rolls the Red Curry with chicken and a bowl of Traditional Pho, and then went inside to wash up. Chiriya Moore the owner was there behind the counter. In a Thai accent she said, “You come inside and eat, we want to see your sexy body!” I smiled and continued to the bathroom without responding. I’ve had Thai food in 45 states and it is my opinion that the food was top notch, definitely worth the money. I tipped the staff a few soggy dollars and $10.00 in quarters, wrapped in a plastic bag. Now that I was full I decided I was tired, so I walked back to the Rongo and retrieved my Camping gear. 15 minutes later I was in Bonaventure cemetery looking for a good spot to camp. On the far end of an empty field I bush whacked into the Maritime forest and pitched my tent.

In the Morning I had a can of Sardines for breakfast and some canned coffee drink, which I used to wash down my vitamins and 750mg of Cordycepts Sinensis. Then I took 100mg of CBD tincture sublingually and packed my gear while it all kicked in. It was 85 degrees out and the wind was blowing South West. Black Cumulous clouds were approaching from the North East. As a green Sailor I saw this as an opportunity. I walked back to my little Dinghy and checked all the seams. Looked like she was starting to delaminate in a few places where the epoxy was chipped., but I had left a half inch of birch protruding on all sides, so I knew I could just plane it off and re-seal her later. I lowered the Halyard and hooked it up to the yard then attached the ear rings of my lateen sail to the yard. Then I rowed out to the Isle of Armstrong side of the river. I raised my sail for the first time there. It was a great feeling. For the first time I could feel the sea foam spray from the sides of my hull, and I made my own wake! However the wind was blowing me into the tall grass so I had to lower my sail. A Marine Patrol Boat approached from the south and then another. They were heading off two Dozen speed boats approaching the no wake zone in a rush to avoid the incoming storm. It began to occur to me that maybe all these seasoned boaters knew something I didn’t. However I rowed on in Blissful Ignorance, past the Herb River and the Savannah Yacht Club.

The Skidaway River portion of the ICW is south of flashing day beacon #40. It was there that I raised my sail again. It began to rain, but I paid it no mind. The canvas up all the way and the current was going out at full force. I’m pretty sure I was going four knots when the first thunder clap rolled in. five seconds behind the lightning. 15 minutes later I was in a downpour when lightning struck again 2 seconds ahead of the thunder. I was still going 3 knots when my hair stood on end. I wasn’t sure if it was from exhilaration or because I was about to be electrocuted so I headed for the private Pier of some Billionaire for shelter. I tied on to the cleat threw my bags onto the dock and got out. Lightning struck the Yacht club one second ahead of the Thunder. I ran up the Gang plank and pushed aside an Iron gate that looked like it was a puppy cage in a former life. There was a gazebo on the dock and enough furniture for a dozen people to sit down, but it didn’t look like anyone had been here in a long time. I sat down on the couch and opened a jar of Applesauce. Then I had some pumpkin seeds and some water. I was on Modena drive, next to the oceanic institute, according to my phone. I only had a couple hours of agreeable tide left so; I had to make a quick decision, whether to go on or not. My mind was racing through different scenarios and the likelihood of my survival when I heard a voice behind me saying, “What are you doing?” It was a man in a suit, advanced in years. When I am very tired my body tends to shut down all un-necessary functions. Often my ability to speak is the first to go. Had I been more articulate, I probably could have salvaged the situation. In this case all I said was, “Lightning!” He only replied, “WHAT?” I figured he was hard of hearing as well as blind to the weather conditions I was experiencing so, I repeated my assertion, but this time I made hand signals like a mime playing air keyboard. “LIGHTNING!” I said. “My guard dog is going to chew you up now,” he said as he removed a gate from his end of the pier. A large Bull Terrier appeared by his side I threw my stuff back into my bags and ran for the Rongo, with the terrier on my heels. I turned to face him with a bag in each arm and he paused. The puppy cage gate made sense to me now as I closed it two feet away from his maw.

I rowed Rongo towards the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography There was a big blue boat at the end of their dock that I considered parking next to. The tide was changing, but the wind still had my back so I hoisted my soggy canvas sail again. Within ten minutes I was going 3 knots, and a pod of Juvenile Atlantic spotted Dolphins were playing with me. We were heading strait for an island named “Burnpot.” As we Approached the Isle of hope, we crossed a green “No Wake,” sign to starboard. A female Osprey was there feeding her newborn chicks. A Rainbow framed the Isle of Hope. I passed the Isle of hope Marina and headed for a Blue Ketch with a “FOR SALE,” sign on it, across from day beacon #48, in which there was another Osprey nest. It was a 30 footer made of wood sometime in the 70’s. It looked like it was freshly painted, by a two year old with Behr paint and a bottle brush. Even the Instrument panel was painted over. Burnpot Island was off to port. I plowed into a wall of spartina and tied on to a tree stump. Then I got out my camping gear and headed ashore. I set up camp beside a stagnant lake that night.

I awoke at sunrise, to a cacophony of egrets, oblivious to the time or the tides. I packed up my belongings and had breakfast. Then slowly rowed against the brackish current towards, “The Diamond Causeway,”a big (100 ft clearance) bridge in the distance. As I passed the third Burnpot Island in the trilogy a small camouflage speed boat headed towards me at high speed. On the Bow sat a shirtless young man with a cell phone. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket. The boat came close enough to me that I could see he had a few tats, and that there was no fishing gear in the boat. The boat veered to its starboard side suddenly and headed up the southern end of “Freedom Creek,” hunting for salvage most likely. I rowed through their wake, the twelve mile, Pleistocene island known as Skidaway Island state park to port, “Wormsloe Plantation” to starboard.

After passing Skiddaway Narrows, I encountered a vast swath of stately mansions off to port They are within the premises of a gated community known as, The Landings.” On the Starboard side I began to pass a series of untouched islands with pristine maritime forests growing on them. First of which was Pigeon Island whose west side composes the entire length of the moon river. At Mile marker “73,” The Skiddaway and Moon Rivers converge, before joining the Vernon River, at Possum Point. For the next few miles I floated past the driftwood littered beaches of Green Island. On a promontory the remains of a fort sat in ruins while feral pigs foraged around it for grubs. As the outgoing tide exposed more craggy rocks Oystercatchers descended to insert their blade like bills into bivalves severing the adductor muscle before eating them. Briddled Tern and Wilsons Plover skipped across the sandy beach, between fallen tree limbs. Sea turtles floated in the shallow water nearby hunting fiddler crabs. At mile marker, “83,” of the Intracoastal waterway the Vernon River Joins the Little Ogeechee River. Off to starboard about a mile away I could see Harvey Island, and Racoon Key. The path to Ossabaw Island Lay between these two Islands and the infamous route is known as, “Hells Gate.” As I sailed across the river three dozen Brown Pelicans flew over me in formation going west. And Monarch Butterflies crossed by in two’s. Behind me a few fishing boats from the Landings private Marina on Delegal Creek, were fishing in Steamboat cut. I was heading strait for Hells Gate. Sitting like Cerebrus in the gates maw was a massive Barge. Large pipes attached to some apparatus on the barge’s stern descended into the water and black smoke billowed from its smokestacks. Off of its bow there was a sort of drilling apparatus spitting water in every direction. I could see a man holding a lever on the Texas deck. Despite all the Harrowing tales I’ve heard of this intersection my passage was smooth and uneventful. Once through the gate I could finally see Ossabaw Island for the first time. The Ogeechee River was pushing me towards the Atlantic ocean at about 10 miles an hour now. The Southern shores of Racoon Key passed by portside in about 20 minutes, while I ate lunch. There is one park ranger to patrol the 9,000 acres of wooded uplands and 16,000 acres of marsh that are Ossabaw Island. The Eastern shores of Ossabaw Island are open to the public, but if one crosses the dunes the penalty is a parking ticket. I ran aground on the peninsula known as Bradley point and disembarked with my camera and straw hat. I had miles of beaches all to myself. I combed the beach for sea shells that my pet hermit crabs might like to wear for 3 hours and came up with a hat full. It was low tide by then and I could see that the beach was protected by a moat of warm water and a small sandbar, making it unapproachable by boat. I am a wanderer and to me, there is nothing so wonderful as wandering itself. My joy is in the seeking, but not the apprehension of new places, so a casual stroll down the edge of an exotic island satisfies my craving. Of course I couldn’t simply return to Savannah by the same route that I had left it. So I decided that if I could escape the moat around Bradley point before the tide had fully changed I would circumnavigate Racoon Key. With my boatload of shells I walked the Rongo out of the moat and headed north across the sound. I didn’t raise my sail because the wind was blowing south at about 5 miles per hour. As the tide started to come in I could see I was headed strait for some unusually large waves rolling in from the ocean. I rode in the trough of the first couple before turning towards raccoon key, with a quick swing of the tiller. They lifted me five feet up and tossed me along like a surfer. For the first time I could see sea foam spraying out from my hull and leaving a wake. It was then I realized the superiority of more aerodynamic V shaped hulls to mine. I was having such a good time on those waves that for a moment I thought, “Why return to land? Why not find a way to remain at sea indefinitely?” I’m certain it was a similar sentiment that drove the first mammals to become whales millennia ago. It was right about then that I became sea sick and I felt like I was going to hurl. What was worse it looked like the Ocean was going to throw me onto the shores of Racoon Key unless I did something about it. So I turned the tiller and started to row north in the troughs of the waves. That was when the rollers picked the Rongo up and tossed her over onto me. I went completely under and bobbed back up, and so did the Rongo, because she was made entirely of wood. However my anchors had fallen out, holding the Rongo in place 20 yards away. First I grabbed my straw hat out of the water and put it back on. Then I snagged a half drunken bottle by its neck as it bobbed in the waves. The water was clear now because the tide was coming in, so I could see that I was surrounded by a school of sting rays. The Capsized Rongo’s daggerboard was held in position by a bungee cord strapped to the garboards. It protruded from her hull like the dorsal fin of a whale, While her rudder resembled a tail fin. I tipped her towards me a bit and hung my weight off the daggerboard like a ball keel, and she spun around right away. My wet sea bags dangled from her port side still tied in to the gunwhales, and my oars were still in their oarlocks thankfully. My spare oar was floating 50 yards away, I let it go rather than attempt to swim against the tide with it. I climbed aboard and took a quick mental inventory. My pocket knife was missing. My booty of seashells had returned to the ocean and my binoculars were in Davey Jones locker. I reeled in my 3 cement anchors first, then my aluminum Danforth. Last I hoisted the fifty pound Tungsten Plow back on deck and stowed them all toward the stern. None of them had caught, but together they had made a makeshift mooring good for a moment.

Vigilance is key, in this sort of operation. Sailing is a sport you play against nature, and nature always wins. One must be prepared for this eventuality. The elements make for a cunning adversary, who will capsize and drown you before you even know what hit you.

The incoming tide pushed me inland at a few knots. In an hours time Rongo was beached on Green Island between two stumps of driftwood. I wrapped a small anchor around one and dug the tips of the flukes into the sand. Then I grabbed my wet sea bags and climbed the banks. I just happened to be parked beneath the ramparts of a Civil War era fort, that never saw any action. I hid my valuables inside the ruined walls of Fort Stephens. The ground here was unnaturally flat, especially for a defunct military base from the 1800’s. What was more worrisome was that it was also devoid of vegetation in swaths, as if it had been trampled repeatedly, by a very large beast in the recent past. So it seemed perfectly reasonable to me to Secure the perimeter of the island before setting up camp. It did appear as if I were not alone. I took a damp book bag and put a couple Lara bars in it with a canteen, as well as a flare gun, a bandoleer of flares a cell phone and a head lamp. Then I headed west down the path that followed the southern perimeter of the island. After about 20 minutes I saw a flash of red up ahead. It turned out to be a couple of rebel flags on a line of flags strung between two cabbage palms. There was a yellow one that said, “Don’t tread on me,” with a snake in the middle. A blue one that had, “III %” emblazoned on it, and a number of undistinguishable flags.

I prowled around the encampment counter clockwise taking pictures the whole time. There wasn’t any sound coming from the two tents, but the fire pit in the center of the camp was still warm, so I knew my new neighbors were nearby. There were stands in the tree’s but no snipers in them. I slowly tip toed towards the makeshift gazebo near the water. On the table inside all manner of rifle and ammo were strewn about like discarded toys. I pulled out my flare gun and loaded it. The magnesium in a flare will penetrate Kevlar and detonate any ammunition it touches. That’s when I heard a small engine approaching from about 300 yards away to the east. It didn’t sound like a boat engine, and the road suddenly made sense. I ran towards the beach and jumped down the bank, taking cover behind some driftwood. Sun bleached feral pig skulls were there looking up at me from the beach. Death is such a kidder. Less than Ten feet away from me their Quad drove by noisily. I ran down the beach towards the Rongo as soon as it had passed. A part of me wanted to row out of there as quickly as possible. I though of various escape scenarios. Across from me was Harvey Island. A vast Mink breeding ground on mud and Oysters. How dangerous could these guys really be if they needed a quad to get across an island that wasn’t a mile long? If they thought hunting feral pigs was any kind of sport, when I can sneak up on a Feral Pig and shoot it point blank with my camera?

Just north of the of the ruins I discovered the intact remains of the confederate magazine. It was a large mound of earth with a square door, for storing gunpowder in. I unrolled my sleeping bag inside and read a few chapters of Mark Twains, “Adventures of Huckleberry Fin,” to relax.

I’ve read a couple of books by Mark Twain “A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court,” and the Joan of Arc biography. I thought they were brilliant, for what they were. Incredibly sly and artful social satire. However, Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” has no place in the public school system, and I firmly believe it shouldn’t be compulsory reading in the south, under any circumstances, because of it’s slyness. It misses the mark every time it uses the “N” word and that’s over 250 times. I’ve never advocated for the censorship of literature, but language is a living thing and so it changes. I Know no one will be reading this in on hundred years, because hardly anyone is reading it now.

I woke up at 5:36 A.M. and Percolated coffee on a portable butane stove inside the former powder magazine. Then I heated up a can of Amy’s Minestrone in a mountaineering saucepan. I drank my vitamins down with the coffee and rolled up my sleeping bag. According to N.O.A.A. the tide would begin to ebb out at seven. Those jokers at the other end of the island would probably still be sleeping off their hangovers by then. So I dragged Rongo halfway into the water and loaded her up with my gear again. Then I pushed off , into another beautiful summer day. In a few minutes I was rowing past the mouth of Delegal Creek port side, Hells Gate to starboard.

The wind was blowing North West at about 5 knots, so I raised my sail on a beam reach and headed strait for Gibraltar. With no keel the water pressure on the daggerboard was all that was keeping me from capsizing again at the exact same longitude. I let some air spill out of the sails because I was tiped at a thirty degree angle already. The damp tell tales I had installed were useless, when they were dry, but I was too ignorant to even notice. All I cared about was that I was going 3 knots without rowing, and that felt awesome. Pretty soon, I had rounded the edge of, “Wassaw Island Wildlife Preserve, and sailed 300 yards out into the ocean before turning north at an obtuse angle. I wanted to land on the pristine beaches of Wassaw Island. It’s immaculate driftwood beach made Jekyll Islands look like a private, gravel pit, full of tourists. Five hours later I had passed by the Island and I was headed for Little Tybee. The tide had changed again, so I was headed into the Wassaw sound, back up the Wilmington River. The numbers on the markers getting bigger as I headed inland, starting at “Orange 16.” With her daggerboard down Rongo has a draft of over 3 ft, which is similar to most yachts, so I stayed between the markers, even though I wanted to land. Due to the Lateen, sail design, every time I wanted to tack or jibe, I had to lower the yard and reposition it, in relation to the mast. Besides that maneuver, the boat was doing most of the work for me. Three White pelicans landed in my wake. A large family of Dolphins was following me inland. I could smell their fishy insides as they signaled to me through their blowholes. In the distance I could see the Terra Cotta roof of a nine story hotel.

As I sailed past the Hotel I nudged the tiller to port side with my toe and tacked into turner creek, staying close to the private docks. Off to starboard there was, “Sail Harbor Marina,” where a dozen boats were were up on blocks getting scraped, glassed and repainted. I was going about 2 knots as I passed “Youngs Marina.” A few Derelict Zombies floated there, and even the nicest boats had a foot of seaweed growing off their hull. Some of the docks were even partially submerged, rotting away. So it looked like my kind of place.

In the Marshland across from this establishment I salvaged a dock float from the reeds and tied it to my Gunwhales to be trailed behind.

The flood tide continued to push me upstream past Miss Judy Charters and Hogans Marina. A Catalina 25 and a Gulfstream 50 were on Permanent Moorings in the creek across from a decaying wharf. Pelicans and Gulls watched from on top the posts. The Tide went slack as I crossed under the bridge, so I floated in that spot a while. Johnny Mercer Boulevard roared by 34 ft above. Turner creek ramp was just 40 yards away, inviting me, to end my voyage. I looked to the north and smiled, thinking of all those who said this couldn’t or shouldn’t be attempted. All snug now in their king sized beds, their thoughts at work, balancing profit and loss, laboring in the sea of commercial endeavor. I’m free of the petty life of landlubbers now. I decide to stay that way, whatever the cost. On the Wilmington Island end of the bridge there’s a forlorn swath of land on either side. The southern lane runs parallel to the vestigial remains of a long forgotten swing bridge. I did a 360 and rowed for the spot at full speed, plowing a path through the Spartina. I dropped my plow off the bow with a twenty feet of slack. Then I put my rubber water-shoes on and packed my bag for another landing on a strange and hostile shore.

A variety of factors made this unused stretch of Highway 80 an Ideal camping spot. That it was an elevated Cement platform was foremost. Despite all of its modern amenities Savannah was still a swamp and condensation can turn your sleeping quarters into a damp sock in one night. As I climbed the bank of the peninsula it became obvious that a couple dozen aquatic cavemen had discovered this spot before me. From the looks of it either they were still here or they had left in a hurry.

All my life I have been surrounded by naysayers who would attempt to discourage my grandiose ambitions at every turn. So when a few seasoned sailors advised against taking the Rongo any further than a freezing placid lake in New Hampshire I not only disregarded their advice, I decided I would prove them wrong. Life is the best teacher of all and it is far more interesting than the sterile lectures of old professors. It is the role of science to grapple with chaos. It is dirty and dangerous work, but this is the only way real progress is made.

Epilogue:

In January 2019, the Rongo was featured in a Nautical themed art exhibit titled, “Archipelago,” at The Cedar House Gallery. Rongo has been in my carport ever since, Because I bought a boat twice its size in December. That same month I bought a small House on a quarter acre of land. I rent out 75% of the house to old waiters to offset my Dock fees. The boat is a Cape Dory 25. I’ve been sailing her once a week since December of 2019. Next year I hope to sail to the Bahamas.

End notes

¢

In 1848 William Thackeray visited Savannah and described it as, “A tranquil old city with wide, tree planted streets and a few happy Negroes sauntering here and there.” In 1863 W.H. Pierson wrote in “The Water Witch,” “The slaves are, by all odds, the happiest-looking folks in the confederacy. They sing, while the whites curse and pray.”

Today there is starting to be some black activism in Savannah, but it is evident that underneath the apparent complacency of the masses, Savannah’s African Americans are beset by a sorrow that runs awful deep. What is the reason for this sorrow?

By 1979 Savannah had grown so accustomed to compliments for its good looks that it was shocked by a statement issued by the F.B.I that described it as the murder capitol of the united states. By way of clarification, the city manager, countered this accusation, by saying that it was just, “a black problem.” Nearly half of the population of Savannah was black, he said, but 91 percent of the murderers were black, and 85 percent of the victims were also black. The same ratio was true for rape, assault and robbery.

Despite the existence of over a dozen local tour companies, few people have the curiosity to ask why these statistics were ever accurate.

An intriguing aspect of southern history in the post civil war period is the role played by the antebellum planters whose unsuccessful effort to create a separate nation was financially devastating. Emancipation struck at the foundations of their power, but for many planters it was simply another challenge to be mastered. To a large extent the planters and their descendants, managed to retain their power and influence in the postbellum period. They adapted to the new conditions of the post war period and emerged as a major force in southern society.

In October of 1865, Georgians went to the polls to elect delegates to a constitutional convention. The men who were chosen as delegates had the task of writing a constitution that would acknowledge the outcome of the civil war. Former confederate Senator and slaveholder, Herschel V. Johnson was elected president of the convention. Governor Charles J. Jenkins also had a leadership role. No one knew what the outcome of the union victory would be, but the delegates wanted to leave the future to men who were accustomed to ruling. The conservative republic of slave owners, constructed in 1861, remained intact.

The quest for a replacement for slavery absorbed much of the energy of the southern planters in the immediate postbellum years. Unlike other forms of agriculture in the U.S., cotton cultivation experienced no significant technological advances since the invention of the gin in 1793.

“I see a but a loophole of escape for the south from the sea of troubles roaring around her so fearfully.” Wrote a correspondent to the Mobile register, “and were I a southerner, my cry in season and out, should be to attract European immigration.”-Mobile Register, 21 Feb 1873.

These sentiments were repeated time after time in rural newspapers. However even at the peak of the immigration movement, not all planters agreed with the sentiment. “The Oglethorpe Echo,” warned planters against hiring Europeans.

“They are not the class of labor the south needs,” stated the paper’s editor, T. Larry Gantt. “And as citizens, they are neither in sympathy with our laws, our religion nor our traditions. They will organize the Negroes to rebellion and strife, inculcate Communism, Nihilism and other dangerous doctrines, and rend our now peaceful land with dissention and strife.”-Lexington Oglethorpe Echo, 3 June 1881.

The actual number of immigrants who came south did not justify the enormous publicity the scheme received. Planters, strapped for cash, could not finance large scale immigration operations.

After the initial upheaval following the confederate surrender, the realization eventually set in among blacks and whites that, despite their temporary setbacks, whites still controlled the land and therefore the wealth and power in the south. Although freedmen hoped for a massive redistribution of planters lands similar to what had taken place on the Sea Islands and South Carolina, few such grants were ever made. The creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau in March 1865 and the persistence of rumors about “forty acres and a mule,” being awarded to each former slave led to a widespread belief that their hopes might eventually be realized.

October 3rd 1865 Brigadier General Davis Tillson, Superintendant of the Georgia Bureau of Freedmen, issued a circular that ordered all agents to use their influence to “convince the freedmen that they are utterly mistaken, and that no such distribution of land will take place at Christmas, or at any time.” The circular also defined the role of the bureau in providing aid to the freedmen. Under the Tillson plan, those who were offered jobs and who were physically able to work, must take the jobs or lose their eligibility for subsistence rations doled out by the agency. In order to ensure that freedmen went back to the fields, Tillson included a prohibition against their congregation in towns or cities. Freedmen who violated this order would be, “compelled, if necessary, to go to the country and accept places of labor found by themselves, or for them, by officers or agents of the bureau. - Brigadier General Davis Tillson, Circular, 3 October 1865, Reel 34, Records of the assistant Commissioner for the state of G.A. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and abandoned lands, 1865-1869 Reel Group 105, M-798. National Archives. This program of forced employment hastened the restoration of planter control over African Americans in the state, while banishing them to the countryside.

A primary reason for the failure of the Bureau was that its 250 agents were recruited from the population of native whites, many of whom were former slave owners. It is not surprising that the agency accomplished very little, nor is it surprising that complaints by freedmen against agents began to mount by 1866. General Tillson, in dismissing agent James H.Fryer from the bureau noted, “Of more than two hundred citizen agents of this bureau, this is the first instance where any of them has taken advantage of his position to abuse, torture, and maltreat freed people in his jurisdiction.”-14 march 1866, reel 34 BRFAL The abuses that prompted Tillsons comment, made in March of 1866 were to become the rule rather than the exception by the end of the year.

Under strict instructions to not interfere with the actions of local civil authorities, bureau agents who were so inclined found their ability to protect freedmen limited. Concerned agents were often frustrated by local authorities who sided with planters in virtually all disputes. In March 1868 additional restrictions were placed on agents when they received orders to surrender all judicial functions to state county courts, at the very time the Ku Klux Klan terrorists began to function in the state.-Confidential circular, 5 March 1868; Circular letter 4,3 August 1868, Reel 34 BRFAL.

By 1870 the agency ceased to exist altogether. During the last two years of its operation, the bureau was reduced collecting data on the kinds of outrages committed against freedmen. In its final months the bureau used its influence to persuade African Americans to abandon politics and submit to the authority of the economic domination of the planters.

Outrages against freedmen 1868

Cause Killed Injured Arrests Convictions

Unknown 23 76 15 1

Labor 5 20 7

Politics 29 51

Ku Klux Klan 7 31 3

Other 11 25 10 1

Totals 75 203 35 2

--Compilation of field reports, Reel 32, BRFAL 1868

There were various legal systems of social and economic control of sharecroppers and tenants to ensure that the planters would emerge from the chaos of emancipation in as strong a position as they were in prior to the war. The key to the planters continued dominance was their ownership of the lands best suited for cotton cultivation and their control over the political machinery of the state. Georgia planters quickly established themselves as masters of the state’s economy and just as quickly converted their economic control into political hegemony over blacks. For the freedmen, emancipation meant “freedom,” and little else. Quickly abandoned by erstwhile allies in the north and denied a share of the economic resources of the south, freedmen were forced reach an accommodation with their former masters. Living in a hostile environment, they were compelled to rely on the traditional patterns of exploitation and paternalism that had marked their relationship with planters before the war.

On December 9th 1867, the constitutional convention met in Atlanta, after military authorities rejected the State capitol of Milledgeville because Hotel and boarding house owners refused to rent to African American delegates. The membership of the 1867 convention included 35 African Americans. On December 18th 1867, Aaron Aleporia Bradley, a black man from Savannah, introduced a resolution calling for the removal of Governor Charles J. Jenkins as provisional governor of G.A. The resolution passed by a 95-59 majority-Journal of 1867-1868, 262-64. Joseph P.Reidy, “Aaron A. Bradley: Voice of Black Labor in the Georgia Lowcountry.”

Jenkins was removed by the military authorities on January 13 1868 and General George Meade appointed a military officer in his place. The state treasurer was simultaneously removed and replaced by an officer from Meade’s staff. The reaction of white Georgians to Jenkins removal was one of complete shock and outrage.

£

Unbeknownst to me at that moment the United States was sabotaging a dozen Iranian ships just like the ones I had been too near to. In the following weeks the Iranian Revolutionary Guard retaliated with limpet Mines, bombing a Japanese ship in the Strait of Hormuz 25 miles from Iran. Then they high jacked two English cargo ships. All of this tit for tat, was because the Landmark 2015 accord was now defunct due to the incredible incompetence of the American Government. In the unlikely case that you are unfamiliar with the type of weapon that this treaty endeavored to curb the proliferation of, I have included a brief description of the device, in the simplest terms possible. It is possibly illegal to leave the country with the information below.

Natural Raw Uranium from the ground is called U-238; the 238 is its atomic weight, which is the sum of the number of protons and electrons that make up its nucleus. When you bombard U-238 with fast neutrons it loses one of its particles. The resulting U-237 is now, an unstable isotope ready to fission. Isotope U-235, usually present in natural uranium in concentrations of 0.7%, fissions even better. Distilling the isotope, is not unlike turning milk into cheese, or fruit into wine. First you need make Uranium Hexafluoride by putting the raw ore in a quartz vessel with solid fluorine. The vessel must have a tubular head leading to another vessel in which it will be deposited. When heat is applied the fluoride releases fluorine. Fluorine has no isotopes so it will not interfere with the separation process. However it is the most corrosive gas in existence, and more than a gas mask and gloves are needed to work with it. It will eat into the Uranium oxide, reacting with it. The resulting green gas will travel up through the tube and become a solid again once it cools in the second vessel. When the second vessel is opened there is a tiny crystal of uranium hexafluoride. This is then placed in another device that we will call, “The Hot Water Heater of Doom.”The Easiest way to complete the next step is with a cyclotron converted into a mass spectrograph, or electro centrifuge, and that is why the Iranians use this Japanese method. Americans developed the thermal diffusion method. Thermal diffusion relies on the fact that gas moves toward heat. Your thermal diffusion chamber will resemble a 16 foot tall water heater, which is cemented to the floor of your Laboratory, with a gum and asbestos mix. In the center is a heating coil with a platinum pipe covering it. The outside pipe is sheathed in cold water circulated by a motorized pump. In between these 2 pipes is a 2 millimeter space where the gas flows. Convex currents move the U-235 upward along the hot platinum pipe, to be collected in a receptacle at the top. When you place your uranium Hexafluoride inside this chamber, you are on your way to enrichment and world peace. It is the easiest way to obtain large amounts of pure U-235, 2.2 pounds of which equals 1,800 tons of gunpowder when exploded. Natural Uranium needs only be enriched 10-20% to reach a critical mass in which a chain reaction is ready to ensue. There is no danger of accidentally destroying your town in a huge explosion because the mass has to be formed on the order of millionths of a second. 2.5 neutrons come out of each U-235 fission. A violent explosion involves trillions of fissions. To get a chain reaction started two sub critical masses of U-235 must be suddenly forced together to form a critical mass. The best way to do this is to fashion the U-235 crystal into male and female shapes and place them on opposite ends of a pipe. Surround both ends of the pipe with ordinary C-4 explosives and set off both ends simultaneously, imploding the crystals into each other, creating a supercritical mass. A much more effective release is attained if both the interior of the pipe (the blast chamber) as well as the crystals are painted with Deuterium, or heavy water. That is because Deuterium reflects escaping neutrons. Its Nuclei are so small that it won’t split or absorb neutrons either; instead it bounces them back where they came from. The equation E=Mc ² has made it into the minds of the general populace. What it says is that energy equals mass times the square speed of light. The speed of light is 186,282.4 miles per second, in a vacuum or through a wire. Squared it is much bigger. That is why a tiny amount of matter, if converted into energy, has an enormous punch. A single kilogram of mass will convert into approximately 25 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. So the mass of one Almond can supply most of New York City’s energy needs for one day. Applied relativity has other messages as well. If taken in reverse it proves that all matter is only energy that has been slowed down. Thought is energy, therefore thought can create matter. The equation also states that space-time is malleable enough for matter to bend it, therefore thought can bend space-time. Central to the idea of applied relativity is the concept that gravity arises from the curvature of space-time. Using the condensed notations of tensors, in which the sprawling complexities can be compressed into small scripts, the crux of the final field equations are compact enough to be understood by the layman. In one of its many elegant variations, it can be written as:

R µv-½ g µv R=8 π T µv

The interplay between the two side’s shows how objects curve space-time and how, in turn, this curvature affects the motion of objects. The equation provides the choreography for a cosmic dance of space-time energy and matter.

solo travel
Andre Bertolino
Andre Bertolino
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