Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harmonic Motion to the John

Yesterday I got back to my boat and my back hatch was gone.  The hatch had been tied on though not closed, and now it was gone.
I guess it was the wind.
I untied the other hatch and found that it floated.  So I walked all around the harbor looking for a swimming hatch.  A hatch that had escaped the life that was planned for it in order to pursue its own destiny at sea.  I looked until it was dark, and asked people in the harbor if they had seen it.
My hatch is gone.  This upset me.
I had been sleeping the last couple of nights on a yacht that I had to use my kayak to get to.  It was tied onto the pier but too far to jump safely.  I decided that I would not paddle without a hatch, so I found a dockworker who had stayed late and got a lift to the yacht that had my stuff in it.  He would come back to pick me up at 9:00 or 9:30 the next morning.
I made dinner, read for a bit, and went to sleep.
I had all my stuff together the next morning and ready to go by 9:00.  I had to go to the bathroom.  I stood there and looked at the distance between the boat and the pier it was tied to.  At the other end the boat was anchored.
The weather was nice though windy.
I don't know how far I can jump, but I did know that the water was chilly and I was wearing my land clothes which where not meant to get wet.
Connecting the boat rope to the dock was a spring.  I tried to pull the boat closer to the dock, and while at first it was easy, the closer I got the stronger the force pulling me away, as though I was pulling against a spring, or an elastic rope.  As soon as I let go of the rope, after pulling on it with all my strength, the boat would quickly move back to its original position. There were springs on both ends of the boat, with the anchor, and against the dock holding it in place.
Brute force was not going to get me close enough to jump safely.
As I waited, I needed to get my mind off of my morning needs.  The chords holding the boat away from the dock got me thinking about springs.  That got me thinking about sine waves.  And that got me thinking about harmonic motion.  Harmonic motion, an extremely powerful force.
I stepped on one of the ropes connecting the boat to the pier and as my weight pulled it down the boat moved in.  And then, as expected, the boat began moving away, back to its original position.  As soon as this happened I took my weight off of the rope to let the boat move back as quickly as possible.  The boat overshot it's starting place, just by a little,  and then as it began to correct its location I put all my weight on the rope again.  Already moving towards the pier the boat now picked up speed and got a little bit closer then the time before.  I then hopped off the rope to feel the large vessel beneath me be lurch back away from the pier.

Back and forth, back and forth a few more times.  On the rope, timing, off the rope.  Each time faster motion and closer to the pier.  These were the best waves I had worked with yet.  When I judged the boat was close enough I leaped, grabbed onto the pier with my hands as my legs dangled close to the chilly watter, and pulled myself up.
I may have lost my hatch, and I may have a lot of stuff going wrong with my expedition, but most people go through there entire lives without needing harmonic motion to go to the bathroom.  And when I needed it, my year and a half of physics courses were there for me.
That's gratification.

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