Sunday, October 20, 2019

San Diego: neighbor; photos; 70




The above was taken a few minutes ago.  I’ve had to chase him off the dock twice today.  He now goes without complaint whenever I step on deck.  If I remain standing in the companionway, he stays put



I walked to the entrance channel yesterday and through the boat yard.



The ocean is to the left.  Quivira Basin to the right.  Mission Bay ahead.



There are some expensive high tech boats in the yard.  This is looking up at the bow which overhangs the fence and juts above the sidewalk of the boat on the left.  I am not a good judge of the length of boats this big, but it is at least 80’.



This has been in the far corner of the yard for a long time.  I don’t know its story.




This passes for wit.




Yesterday I did 70 push-ups and 80 crunches.  7 more push-ups to go.

Friday, October 18, 2019

San Diego: twilight; another roadside attraction; 60

Dawn and twilight are my favorite times of day.  We are creatures of the light and at night during storms at sea I count the hours until dawn.  Twilight at sea or ashore almost always sees me sipping something and when on GANNET listening to music.

Twilight on GANNET’s ringside seat to Quivira Basin is lovely.  Birds making their last excursions.  Sea lions swimming.  Seaforth day trip fishing boats returning.  Other boats heading for their slips.  Usually a few kayakers waiting to view the sunset.

“And I can sit with silence on the gentle sloop.”  A line from a poem I wrote forty-seven years ago.  I still sit with silence, though now on a different sloop



Twice now in the past few twilights, the small sailboats with benches on the foredeck have on their wine tours around Quivira Basin which are quite popular with groups of young women paused a respectful distance from GANNET.  The first time I wondered about this.  Last night I saw the man operating the boat say something and then point our way, following which four young women all turned and stared at GANNET and me and I heard one of them say, “No!  Really?”  

I have passed on the dock the men who run those boats and said, “Hi” but have never had a conversation.  There are many in the marina who were here when GANNET and I began our voyage and presumably word gets around.

This had been a year of triumph.  I completed my sixth circumnavigation.  I have been quoted on tea bag labels.  And now in my old age I have become another roadside attraction.  What more can a man dream of?



Yesterday afternoon I did 60 push-ups and crunches on the foredeck.  I am not doing the full routine, just the first series.  I may do 60 once more before reaching for 70.  We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.  I have a little over three weeks before I need to get to 78.  I will make it

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

San Diego: pelagic not litteral



The sound of nearby snoring woke me just after midnight.  I had reconfigured the interior to harbor mode and was sleeping on the v-berth with the forward hatch open above me.  I smelled fish.  I did not need to look out to know what had happened.

I rolled into the Great Cabin and got dressed.  I had hoped to catch him unaware, but he must have been sleeping lightly for as my upper body emerged above deck, he reared up and snarled at me.  I have arranged to be able to reach and turn on the hose without leaving GANNET, but I did not need to.  As I climbed onto the deck, he gave one more irritated ‘arkk’ and rolled into the water.  He swam around a few yards off for a minute or two and then went elsewhere.

Being awakened by snores is one thing.  Having the beast on the dock when I come back in GANNET would be quite another. There is not a lot of room here and he is considerably bigger than I.  Maybe I need to buy a water pistol.


A few readers have emailed suggestions of places I might use as destinations in Southern California waters.  I have sailed to many of them, though not for fifty years.  I have sailed from San Francisco to San Diego and from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  This last was between my second and third attempts at Cape Horn and one of the few boat deliveries I have ever done. 

As I have noted before, California, like South Africa, has few natural harbors and anchorages.  It also has a lot of regulations.  Southern California does have many marinas, but I have no desire to marina hop.  And all this is beside the point.

Simply as we all know I am pelagic not littoral.  If I were any creature other than human, I would be a wandering albatross.  Not a sea gull.  I am designed to sail across oceans, not beside coasts.  I don’t want land to always be in sight or just over the horizon.  I don’t want always to see four or five boats and ships or at night their lights.  I want land to be a thousand miles away and not to have seen another boat for weeks.  What I am going to do about that I do not yet know.

I know Southern California weather.  I pretty much know the world’s wind patterns, storm seasons, and currents.  San Diego’s weather is among the most consistently good in the world.  The wind is very predominantly from the NW.  I had hoped to sail to windward far enough to set the G2 for a long run back.  It didn’t happen, but I did get a bit farther north than the Yellowbrick track shows.  I was off Camp Pendleton, the Marine base, when I tacked.  Ironically this is the only undeveloped coastal land left in more than two hundred miles from Tijuana, Mexico to the south to past Santa Barbara in the north.


GANNET needs some work.  The pipe berth covers need replacement or repair.  The standing rigging replaced after a circumnavigation, though I see nothing wrong with it.  The jib furling gear inspected.  The masthead anchor light is not working.  The topsides haven’t been painted in six or seven years.  But essentially the little boat is better than ever since I repainted the interior and reorganized stowage.  It was significantly easier to change from harbor mode to passage mode and back this time and I like that the interior is less cluttered and I can with ease find whatever I want.  During our twenty-five hour sail, everything functioned as it should.  Life on GANNET has never been more of a pleasure.

Now if I can just figure out this sailing thing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

San Diego: no where in particular

October 14, Monday

0930  Although I had planned to wait for the wind, I wanted to get going so I fit the Torqeedo and powered from the dock at 0930.  Blue sky.  No wind.

As we entered the Mission Bay entrance channel the surface was lightly ruffled and I raised the mainsail.  While doing so one of the reef lines caught under the tiller, lifting it and somehow breaking off the plastic tip that goes over the tiller pin.  It may have hit the boom.  I hand steered for a few minutes, then ducked below to get another tiller pilot.

We entered the ocean at 1000.  Beside us was one of the trawlers that feed the bait barge and a big sport fishing boat.  When the turbulence from their wakes quieted, I removed the Torqeedo and raised the jib.  The wind is still a bit south of west and no more than 4 or 5 knots.  We are sailing at 4 to 5 on a port tack in the general direction of Catalina 60 miles ahead.  I don’t plan to stop there, but may sail around the island.  Sky blue with only a few wisps of cloud on the western horizon.  The sea gently undulating and almost flat.


1300 The wind has veered and increased a knot or two and we are now sailing 330º at 4.8 knots in 5 or 6 knits of wind.  The sea is blue and glistening and GANNET is moving smoothly, heeled 5º-10º.

While none are close, there are always three our four other boats or ships visible. 

The tip of the tiller arm screws into place.  The one that broke was on a tiller pilot I bought this year, so I transferred the tip from my oldest pilot, dating from 2015, that I suspect is about to fail to the newer one.  


1430 We are ten miles offshore and at last have open ocean free of boats and ships ahead of us.

An hour ago a Navy ship was dead in the water directly in our path.  I wanted to give her a wide berth, so fell off 20º, but as we neared she steamed slowly ahead, so I came up again and passed her astern.  She is still visible inshore.

A clear day.  I can see probably fifty or more miles of coast, from Point Loma to the south to Dana Point to the north.

I topped up the Torqeedo battery. It was at 85% when I turned it off.  I had powered a little more than a mile, so this is consistent with a range of about 7 miles.

I also changed the Yellowbrick to transmit updates every four hours rather than six.

We continue making 5 knots on 330-335º and will converge with the land between Newport Beach and Long Beach.  I will tack offshore before sunset.


1700  As sunset nears we are making 5 knots around 345-350º 8.5 miles off Oceanside.  We’ve sailed 28 miles since leaving the Mission Bay entrance channel.  Heading us, as expected, the wind now has GANNET converging with the shore somewhere between San Clemente and Laguna Beach, 12-15 miles ahead.  I put a couple of rolls in the jib because we were heeled more than 20º.

I have been listening to music and sipping Plymouth gin and will again after writing this, but I don’t know about sailing no where in particular.  I like seeing the water flow by.  I like the little boat motion underway.  But...  I am not sure what the ‘but’ is.  I’ll give it more time.` 

1820. Tacked and now sailing in dying wind 225º.  I don’t know that anyone else will understand, but this is not me.  I have furled the jib. The wind is dying as expected with the setting sun.  I will head back in tomorrow.  



October 15, Tuesday

0700  I furled the jib and let us sail south under main alone until 0400.  There were always lights of boats or ships visible.  One with bright yellow lights was west of us most of the night.  At 0400 we were 20 miles due west of the Mission Bay channel.  I turned east.  The wind went very light and the main began to fill and collapse on inch high wavelets.  I tied a preventer to the boom.  When I woke a few minutes ago I set the jib.  We’re making 3 knots on a close reach beneath coastal cloud 13 miles off the channel entrance.  A boat is visible to the south.

1200 I docked a half hour ago to find a huge sea lion dropping on the end of the dock.  Obviously someone was pleased with our absence.  The hose is now reachable from the deck.   I am prepared to defend my turf.

The wind rose to 8 knots this morning and we had the best sailing of our brief jaunt, making 5 and 6 knots on a beam reach under jib and main.

I lowered the main a half mile off the channel entrance and deeply furled the jib once we were in the channel while I fit the Torqeedo to power into Quivira Basin.

I found myself first thinking that this was a failed experiment, but on further reflection it was not.  It successfully reaffirmed something I already knew:  sailing no where in particular is not for me.

One failure was that I shot a video with a new camera only to discover that its default format is not recognized by my iPad.  I believe I have changed that to a format that is.


I am still trying to figure out this third part of my life.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

San Diego: passage mode



GANNET is in passage mode, though I am not going on a passage.  Quite probably I am going to go out and drift around under a full moon.  The above photo was taken from the companionway last evening.  San Diego has many fine qualities, but it lacks wind.

The transformation took less time than usual, in part because I filled only two jerry cans with water, in part because I removed a lot of stuff from the boat when I was last here.

I seldom check the weather in San Diego, but did download a GRIB with the LuckGrib app, which as I think I have said before is even better on the iPad than my MacBook.  I am glad I did because just outside the Channel Islands later in the week atypical wind of 30+ knots is forecast.  I don’t want 30 knots.  I don’t want an ordeal.  I don’t even want to get wet.  Inside the Channel Islands the wind will be light and fluky as usual.  I may get bored quickly.

I will turn the Yellowbrick on tomorrow morning, but I plan to sail from the dock and so won’t leave until the wind comes up which may be noon or later or never.  It is likely that with no destination that I will heave to at night to sleep, so if you find us more or less stationary remain calm.

I did dig out the Torqeedo to determine if it would start.  It did.  In fact the new Torqeedo has always started as it should, with the single exception of when I inadvertently fit the old tiller arm to it.

Yesterday I walked to the Ralph’s supermarket in Pacific Beach,  It is 3.5 miles, a mile farther than the one near the Sports Arena I usually go to, but a nicer walk, much of it on the Mission Beach boardwalk.  




Although it is mid-October and the ocean is cool, a lot of people were on the beach.
The ones in the foreground are taking surfing lessons.




Marina Village which occupies the east half of Quivira Basin is also a conference center and site of outdoor weddings almost every Saturday.


A nice place to be married.  But I’ve done that.

Friday, October 11, 2019

San Diego: neighbors




Daily temperatures here remain in the low 70sF/23C, but sea lions are often sleeping in the water with flippers extended perhaps to cool off.  For myself, I was slightly too cool last night and will change to the heavier sleeping bag.

When I stood in the companionway yesterday afternoon I discovered a large sea lion sunning himself on the dock beside GANNET.  He had arrived quietly and I had not known he was there.  When he saw me he reared up and arrked with loud irritation.

Before GANNET’s circumnavigation I learned from a dock yard worker that sea lions can surprisingly be driven off by water.  They don’t like to be sprayed with a hose.  Mine was on the dock a little too close to the beast, so I got the plastic bowl I use as the kitchen sink and reached over the side to fill it.  The instant I threw the contents at him, he dove from the dock.

He circled around, but when each time he approached the dock he saw me now armed with the hose, he finally gave up and went elsewhere.


There are four fenders tied to GANNET’s port side.  I tried to keep them high enough so that the bottoms did not touch the water, but one of them did.  The amount and variety of growth in two months was remarkable and several inches deep.  It all came off easily with a putty knife and scrub brush, following which I tied the fender higher.

The diver is due to come at 1 PM.  I may walk to a supermarket afterwards or, more likely, I will wait until tomorrow.  While GANNET already has enough lunches and dinners on board for several weeks, I need more oatmeal and powered milk and trail mix, etc.

I have not checked the weather, after all this is Southern California, but will.  Unless I find the unexpected, I will go sailing next week.  I will try to remember to turn on the Yellowbrick.  Do not be alarmed if you see us sailing straight out away from land for two or three days.  I am not running away from home, but I don’t have any destination and may just pick a comfortable point of sail and follow it for two or three days and then turn around and sail back.  Or I may stop at one of the islands.  Or not.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

San Diego: a silver evening.

I tried to upload photos that show the silver or perhaps pewter, but the system does not seem to be working.  We are better, at least some of us, than the platforms.

So take my word for it—and as I recently wrote to a magazine editor I care more for my words than for my voyages—it is a gray evening.  That is good.  

As I have noted here the ‘boating’ season ends in San Diego as in places in this nation with less temperate climates, in early September on Labor Day.   

Few people are around now, both on the docks, and on the water.  The kayak rental business is dead.  In the little more than twenty-four hours I have been back, only a handful of kayakers and stand up boarders have passed.  Yet this is perhaps the best part of the year.  

I arrived yesterday around noon.  Kevin, my marina neighbor and friend, had offered to pick me up at the airport, which is only three or four miles from the marina, and we then went and had lunch at the Royal Rooster on the other side of Quivira Basin which may have the best tacos in the world.  Certainly their carne asada taco is the best I have ever had.

After lunch I found GANNET in good condition.  Kevin had hosed some bird droppings off that morning.  The interior was understandably musty, but Southern California being a desert dry and mold free.

I slept well after listening to Bach accompanied by sea lions on deck in the evening.  During the night sea lions woke me from time to time.  One must have been swimming close to GANNET.  He was very loud.

This morning I scrubbed the deck and then walked to the supermarket to get essential supplies.  Although I Ubered back, my watch tells me I walked four miles today.

In Evanston we have a very nice condo.  The interior space is light, comfortable and convenient.  I appreciate that.  Life on GANNET is inconvenient.  I love being with Carol.  I love being on GANNET.  Convenience is not the highest value.

I am settled in.

I have arranged for a diver to scrub GANNET’s bottom on Friday.  I have inventoried provisions and find that with only a few additions I have enough on board, once I fill jerry cans with water, to sail to Hawaii.  I don’t intend to sail to Hawaii, but I expect to sail some next week.  I will turn the Yellowbrick on if any want to follow.

There are more big birds here than two months ago.  Cranes or egrets, perhaps both.  I am not sure.

Sitting on deck an hour ago, sipping tequila, watching birds and a few kayakers, listening to Vangelis’s OPERA SAUVAGE, I felt peace and serenity.  You know that if I could live wherever I want, I would be in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, but I can’t, and, although I have lived almost half my life in the Midwest, San Diego’s Mission Bay and Mission Beach are more truly my land home than anywhere else.  Careful readers may recall that I quoted the Greek poet Kazantzakis Ulysses, ‘my voyages have been my native home.’  My voyages have been my home, but so is Carol.

I love being with her.  I love being here.  I love being a thousand miles from land.  And I have had all.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Evanston: ready


I’ve dusted, vacuumed, made the bed, cleaned the bathrooms, emptied the dishwasher, did 35 push-ups and crunches, and as you can see am packed and ready to go.

My life in Evanston is quite comfortable.

Tomorrow no headroom, no hot and cold water, no refrigeration, limited Internet and television, a long walk to the shower, a much longer walk to a supermarket, and my evening drink on deck.  It will be wonderful.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Evanston: wrist navigation; triumph; bad idea; the meaning of Ithacas




I have replaced my Series 3 Apple Watch with a just released Series 5.  I sold the old one to Klyman who paid me $100.  Apple had offered $70.

The Series 5 has several features the Series 3 did not, of which the most significant is an always on display.  The 5 can also take ECG’s, which I have found don’t work at a pulse rate of less than 50 as mine usually is at rest, and has a compass, which you can see above.  Ever since the Series 3 Apple Watches have had built in GPS chips.  Now, I who navigated my first two circumnavigations using a sextant, can read out far more precisely my position simply by glancing at my wrist.  I suppose the young take this for granted.  To me it is amazing.


I have just come back from the living room where I went to stand and make ‘victory’ signs with both hands in front of Carol.  A few moments earlier I did ten push-ups and ten crunches.  It will take a while to build back up to doing my age.  I am going to go gradually.  But my rib is healed.


Along with jet skis, this is certainly among the worst ideas our strange species has ever had.


No sipping.  No enjoying the aroma.  No pleasure of feeling a smooth crystal glass in hand.  No holding it up to the light and viewing the amber liquid.  Just an explosion.  

Which may be appropriate for our times.


My friend Michael has written about his intended retirement home and the open ended land voyage he and Layne, his wife, are planning.  


He quotes ‘The Golden Road to Samarkand’ which caused me to remember the excellent advice for all those who make long journeys on land or sea given by the modern Greek poet, C.P. Cavafy in his ‘Ithaca’.





Friday, October 4, 2019

Evanston: too much; save birds

Having bad parents has benefits.  One learns to be self-reliant and to distrust authority figures, which as history too amply demonstrates is appropriate.  That I am not fond of or impressed by politicians in general and less fond of many in particular has probably been deduced by regular readers.  Usually I try to ignore their folly, to use Barbara Tuchman’s word, which she also calls wooden headedness, and live my life, but now they have gone too far.  This has become personal.

You may have seen that in retaliation for an EU ruling in favor of Airbus the US government in its wisdom is imposing 25% tariffs on various EU goods including coffee, some cheeses, certain tools and aircraft, pork products, butter and yogurt, and single-malt Irish and Scotch whiskies.

That Scotland is part of the UK and due to exit the EU, however reluctantly, at the end of this month does not seem to have occurred to the best and brightest who run what could charitably be called the government.



You may also have read recently that in the last fifty years, the bird population of Canada and the United States has decreased by three billion birds or 29%.  The two primary reasons are loss of habitat and use of pesticides.  In other words, us.

I have two bird identification apps.  One from the Audubon Society; the other from Cornell University.  Cornell sends me a newsletter once a month and the most recent gave several ways in which we can help birds.  One way I had not thought of is to buy shade grown coffee.  Birds live in the trees and bushes that shade such coffee and more than earn their residence by eating insects that harm coffee plants.  

I had not known of shade versus sun grown coffee.  Cornell provides a link to a Smithsonian site that lists brands of shade grown coffee.  In the US, the only national one I recognize is Peet’s.  We often buy Peet’s and will endeavor to do so regularly in the future.

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/where-buy-bird-friendly-coffee