Nothing like a bit of weather to get your attention. And to shove aside, for a while at least, our modest human ambitions to sail from Hawaii to Vancouver
And nothing like a bit of weather to cast me into the abyss of too much information, and not enough experience.
Tropical storm Kilo, says the weathermen, is whirling around the neighborhood making threats of coming ashore in Hawaii and messing the place up with wind, rain and shore battering waves. “Do we make a break for it or do we wait for a more favorable forecast?” , that was the question.
Now we might well enough have been gone ahead of the storm a few days ago – the storm was and is south of us, and we had almost a week to sail due north out of Hawaii, but we were not ready.
And tomorrow, when we will be ready it is just a bit too tight to make a certain getaway. And hurricane paths around the Hawaiian Islands have a history of abruptly making a hard right from their WNW trajectory and heading north. Who wants a 3000 mile passage to begin with a tropical cyclone in hot, wet and windy pursuit. Not me! Furthermore, far away to the west, super typhoon activity is pretty heavy – it is after all the peak of the typhoon hurricane season in the northern Pacific Ocean. The possibility of one theses monsters striding across the North Pacific is remote, but not impossible. Lastly, tropical cyclones change daily and unpredictably. Yesterday the prognosis was worse than today. But it might suddenly rebuild tomorrow. And by next week it might be a killer, or it might simply go Phissssst! And be gone like a cold beer on a hot day.
So down into the information abyss I swim. Fascinating stuff, really
The history of tropical storms in this part of the Pacific Ocean goes back to at least 1940:
If you look closely, you will see the Hawaiian Islands in the lower middle above. You will see this is in a corner of historical tropical storm activity. Not much cyclonic storm activity north and North East especially. From this I conclude, if we can get even a 1000 miles north of Hawaii we are pretty much home free. We need a week of sailing to get well clear.
And so we will likely spend a wet, windy and rolly week this week safe in harbour in Kewalo Marina while Tropical Storm, maybe hurricane, Kilo has its way with Hawaii. Then next week, hopefully with a clear forecast, we will set sail. Waiting in Hawaii? It certainly could be worse, but I will bedeviled by the question, “Was I excessively cautious?”
What am I thinking when I say “The abyss of too much information”? I believe too much information is the curse of our times, but not because there is too much information. It is because increasingly, we have too little first hand experience in the world to make sense of wonderful depth of information we do have. This week in Hawaii is a good example. For all my sailing the last 10 years, I have thoroughly avoided tropical storm seasons, I have no experience making decisions when tropical cyclone storms are a possibility. And now this week I have all this data, but no experience to make a judgement – go or no go. And nobody in the weather office will tell me go or no go. They will talk about probabilities, storm tracks possibilities, percentage chance of winds of every velocity in every sector, but none of them will be willing to make the choice to go or not go for me. After this experience, I will have something to work with in the future, but no very much.
And so it is with the rest of life. If we spend our lives with our faces glued to the one screen or another, we will see heaps of data, but not get much experience to make the data of practical use. It interests me that psychological studies are finding, feelings are essential to making choices. Feelings in use don’t arise from data, they come from experiences. Studies of brain damaged subjects, unfortunate souls who by accident have lost access to their feelings, were found unable to make choices. Instead, they would prevaricate endlessly between rational alternatives. We use our feelings to make choices – without them we cannot chose.
For me this underscores again the value of accumulating life experiences as an effective strategy to live richly and grow further. I suppose it is no surprise to learn this is so, but interesting to see it demonstrated to me so viscerally by tropical storm Kilo.