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18 June 2017


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as the cadet who sunk COL Lang's sail boat at west point and who had admired your posts on here

great post and love it all

I have multiple tours in Hawaii and knowledge of the trip you post

great for you and yours

thanks for what your bring to this discussion - on this topic and especially all others


Tidewater comments to Jack and to V.S. Makkinejad,

Jack, I think this is not just about some sort of choleric Iranian bias. Babak, aren't you referring to the Kala pani taboo in Hinduism? This prohibition against an ocean voyage across "the black water" is found in the Baudhayana Sutra, one of the Hindu Dharma Shastras, which lawfully ordains that 'making voyages by sea " is an offense which will cause pataniya or loss of caste and social exclusion. It prescribes a complicated and difficult penance, which lasts three years. Apparently, going to sea messes up the reincarnation cycle, since you are too far from the sacred Ganges. Also, I think the priestly suspicion that one might be having reefer maddened fun and drunken sex with wanton young foreigners over on the other side in some roaring Barrio Chino bar might be factored in as another cause of this outrageous 'samudrayana' sanction.

Wiki is good on 'Kala pani (taboo.)'

I didn't realize that the 1857 Indian Mutiny was caused in part by this taboo.



Interesting, a topic that I actually know something about.
First, the accepted view today is that Polynesians came from ("evolved" from) SE Asia, and that view is no longer seriously disputed.
But Finney's view of Heyerdahl is seriously wrong.
Heyerdahl did NOT say Polynesian settlers came from South America (as Finney claims). Please read "American Indians in the Pacific", Heyerdahl's extensive scientific book, which evidently Prof Finney never read. Heyerdahl's theory is that Polynesians were the same people as Haida and Kwakiutl. Heyerdahl compares the big canoes of PacNW with those of Maori, he even compares their footwear. Too much to detail here, must read for yourself to form an opinion.
As for South America, and rafts, Heyerdahl contended that natives of west coast of South American were intrepid sailors and fishermen and traveled far at sea, even to the Marquesas Islands.
These "rafts" had centerboards, a unique invention. Heyerdahl mentions that Mendana was given sailing directions to the Marquesas by natives on west coast of So America who had traveled there in their rafts. Heyerdahl did NOT claim that Polynesians of Marquesas were the same people as South Americans.
Heyerdahl was not a sailor, he was an adventurer. He did not know how to sail the raft he helped to build, that is why he ended up shipwrecked in the Tuamotus ("L'Archipel Dangereuse").
Long after Heyerdahl's adventure, someone found a manuscript written by a 16th Century Spanish sea captain which described and diagrammed the seagoing rafts in question. He promoted them as a seaworthy craft for emergency construction in case of shipwrecks.
Enuf for now.


Seems like an opportune place to drop this link of a 1939 article, "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge"


Peter Reichard

TTG, my only boat building project was a 14 foot proa of my own design that I paddled around San Francisco Bay in the early seventies. I have long shared your awe and respect for the seamanship and skills of naval architecture and navigation possessed by the peoples of Oceania. We vastly underestimate these ancient mariners whose boats of high stability, seaworthiness and upwind capability might well have reached the Americas in pre-Colombian times.

Babak Makkinejad

Very impressive, especially considering that it is not driven by necessity rather than sheer joy of working with one's hands.

Dave Speck

Ah yes. I recall watching your submersible activity on COL Lang's sailboat from the shore. I was impressed that the last thing I saw go under was your hand holding a beer.


Dave Speck

Are you sure you were not also on the boat? I seem to recall three of us on that Cape Dory ten foot cat boat. Yes, John was steering and pointed it up too high in a stiff, gusty breeze. At one point the wind died suddenly and the bow went straight under. pl

Bill H

Off topic but related to sailing, the coverage by NBC of the America's Cup is outstanding. Camera work and commentary is excellent. They resume 6/24 on NBC for two days and finish on NBCSN.

The Twisted Genius

Bill H,

I happened upon this coverage yesterday as soon as the first race of the day started. I also found it fascinating. I stayed on channel through both races. Even though the technology is out of this world and half the crew is used to keep up hydraulic pressure by pedaling, it's still sailing. You are right, the commentary was excellent. And I thought the 7.2 meter sail on my windsurfer was sophisticated. It's a nylon and mylar rigid wing on a carbon fiber mast. The cams allow me to pop it into shape when I change tacks. Now I see windsurfers and kite surfers on hydrofoils.

Babak Makkinejad



Thanks. The point I keep raising is not that "useless knowledge" is useless, but increasingly larger proportion of people nowadays seem to be denigrating them as "useless," which, in my opinion, is a sad and unfortunate proposition. I will go so far as to claim that the energies diverted to pursuits of "useless knowledge" that has propelled the West, while the insistence on "provably useful" knowledge has kept the East stagnant. "Wasting" more effort on "useless knowledge" is what we need, not less.

Mark Logan

TTG, I have a bit of experience in foiling. I owned one of the early Moths,


Even world class sailors like Buchan and McKee couldn't keep the things upright on the first few tries. Eventually we sort of hashed it out...but the intense trimming needed was gassing us...even Olympics-fit guys like them. It's an inherently unstable platform when foiling..even the advent of rudder foils only help just so much. The amount of lift provided by a foil in water is staggering but so is the need for precise control of the angle of attack of the foil. The difference between foiling and either leaping out of the water or pitch-poling catastrophically (net end result from either...really) is a couple degrees. It's of course easy to make it much more stable by overloading the ass end and using small foils but that is slower.

They have hashed it out pretty well for the AC boats but the foils are adjusting themselves constantly and automatically by means of computers. The grinders have to keep hydraulic pressure up or it's curtains.



I don't believe there is any choleric Iranian bias. I've known many Iranians who arrived here in the US after the fall of the Shah. They didn't exhibit any prejudice towards the Hindu. I think it something personal with Babak. Maybe a smart Hindu beat him to a position or award.

Dave Speck

COL Lang
Hard to remember. I seem to recall that Chris was on the boat with you and John while I helped your wife prepare the food on shore. But the sight of John holding his beer aloft as the boat went under is imprinted on my memory with great clarity. Times have changed. My wife and I spent a few years helping race 35 foot sailboats on Lake Erie. I've come to love sailing.


Dave Speck

Yes. it was Chris. The little sailing dinghy was a fine boat. The fiberglass hull had sailing ship lines, but the single red and white sail way up in the bow was very large and drove her hard when close hauled. We were going very hard on the starboard tack when the wind suddenly died dead. The boat had been planing a bit and the bow dropped. The speed drove the bow under and we went down like a submarine submerging. the boat turned over but it had a lot of flotation built in and did not sink. We righted the boat, bailed it out and sailed it to the shore of Stilwell Lake. pl

Dave Speck

I remember being impressed at how quickly the three of you righted the boat and got her back to shore. If I recall, we even took it out later after eating. Fun times.


The Water Tribe is in many ways following the ancient mariners, albeit with better tools and materials. The latter had to have a different psychological make up, but anyone who has spent some time in the middle of a large body of water has always wondered what is beyond the horizon.

I appreciate TTG's passion and even share some of them. I remain in constant trouble with my wife over the years of Wooden Boat magazines that I have kept (for some unknown reason) for many years.

I am glad to see that so many are still pushing this old envelope and gaining new insights. As a very young boy, I got to watch Bengt Danielsson build a small camper, after he had been a crewman on the Kon-Tiki, which he used to travel around Australia. At the time, he seemed larger than life.

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