Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Evanston: a plan; seven storms; foremost expert; tourist

        Although it is not 100%, my cracked rib continues to improve and I am making plans to return to GANNET, probably on October 9, and staying on her for six or seven weeks, during which I hope actually to sail.  Knowing that I am unlikely to go daysailing, the plan is to put GANNET’s interior into passage mode and go out and sail around some of the Channel Islands for several days and maybe even stop at some.  That depends on my mood and the weather.  
        During those long ago years when I had what is erroneously called ‘a real job’, which was in no way as real as sailing an ocean, I generally took what is called my ‘vacation’ to go sailing in October.  Southern California’s weather is good year round, but most people there stop using their boats after Labor Day just as they do in other parts of the country.  I suppose it has something to do with children in school or wanting to watch football on television.  For whatever reason, such harbors and anchorages as exist are less crowded in October, and there are sometimes Santa Ana winds blowing hard from the land that provide fine sailing in smooth water near the coast.
        At the moment my rib would not be happy being jolted around by GANNET underway, much less being knocked against one of the little boat’s numerous sharp edges.  I still can’t sleep on my left side.  Time is a healer.  Or so the song says.

        Of time, it is that time of year in the Northern Hemisphere.  My Living Earth app shows seven active storms.  Humberto, Ten, Mario, Jerry, Kiki, Lorena, Imelda.
        Steve Earley is preparing for his annual fall cruise which is always subject to the chance of hurricanes.  By the time the season is over, conditions are too cold.  He tells me that his fall cruise has been interrupted by storms only twice over the years.  That gave me pause.  I don’t know why it should have.  Thirty spring and fall cruises certainly make Steve one of the most experienced small boat cruisers on waters from the Chesapeake to the Carolinas.  But I already knew that.  
        Steve was on the Outer Banks covering Dorian as a news photographer and for the first time experienced the eye of a hurricane.
        He recently posted a short video taken during the storm.

        I hope the storms stay away from him and SPARTINA for another year and they have a fine sail.

        My friend, Michael, flew up from the Florida Keys for the weekend, and Carol and I enjoyed doing some of the Chicago tourist things with him.
        Michael has written about the weekend and posted photos.  He is a talented writer and street photographer.  I am impressed by his eye for people and moments.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Evanston: reading, writing, watching, and folly

        On December 31, 1958 the headlines in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared ‘Cuban Rebellion Crushed.  Army and Batista In Full Control.”  The next day Batista fled the country.  It was a salutary lesson that one then seventeen year old never forgot.
        I would not have remembered the date if I were not currently watching a good Netflix series, The Cuba Libra Story, from which I have learned many things, including the audacious manner in which Batista came to power and that Fidel and Raul Castro were illegitimate and forced to live the early years of their lives with the poor cane workers who served his prosperous self-made father rather than in the main family house.
        There are bad guys in the Cuba Libra Story.  Unfortunately most of them are us.

        Two days ago I finished re-reading for the third time one of my favorite novels, BALTASAR AND BLIMUNDA, by the Portuguese Jose Saramago.  I knew of him long before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which has always been political and has recently degenerated to the point that it was given to Bob Dylan in what I assume was a pathetic attempt by elderly Swedish so-called intellectuals to seem relevant.
        The novel is set in the 18th Century at the time of the construction of the convent at Mafra and is one of the great strange love stories in literature.   If you can get past Saramago’s tendency to write paragraphs that run on for pages, it is a treasure.

        After finishing BALTASAR AND BLIMUNDA I started rereading Barbara Tuchman’s THE MARCH OF FOLLY, which begins:  ‘A phenomenon noticeable through history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies  contrary to their own interests.  Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity...Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?  Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?”
        She examines in detail and clarity four examples:  The Trojans taking the wooden horse inside their city walls.  The Renaissance Popes provoking the Protestant secession.  The British losing North America.  The United States in Vietnam.
        The book was first published in 1984.  You may have noticed that folly continues to march on.

        While not reading and watching—sadly the Cubs are imploding—I have been writing.   Last week I finished a piece for Latitude 38.  This week I modified slightly the story of the gale as I reached New Zealand five years ago for YACHTING WORLD in the UK.  And I have largely completed ‘Lessons of the Sixth’, probably for CRUISING WORLD.

        While not reading, watching or writing, I have been healing.  Even old bodies do.  The doctor I saw said six weeks.  Others have said two months.  I am now three and a half weeks post-crack and am mostly pain free.  Yesterday I climbed the stairs two at a time, a stretch that previously hurt, and I can even sneeze without excessive suffering.  I am so improved that I am considering that I may return to GANNET in the second week of October.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Evanston: oldest

        Suddenly there is a plethora, indeed a plague of 77 year old circumnavigators.
        I thank David for a link to an article about Minoru Saito

        And I thank Stephen for an article about Jeanne Socrates.

        I know of both of them.  I do no know or care which of us is oldest by whatever number of days. This is nothing I ever even thought about; and I think I read some time ago of someone who completed a circumnavigation in his 80s, though I am not certain.
        In the body of the article about Jeanne Socrates, it does add to oldest ‘non-stop’ and as far as I know she is the oldest to make a non-stop circumnavigation.
        Both voyages are praiseworthy.
        I sent notification when I completed the GANNET circumnavigation only to CRUISING WORLD, LATITUDE 38, and Sailing Anarchy, all of which had shown interest in the voyage and asked me to.
        I do not seek or need validation from others.
        GANNET and I were meet by a crowd of three, which was three more than I expected.
        Long ago I was in the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS for my first circumnavigation.  I did not contact them.  They somehow heard of the voyage and contacted me.


        Not long after I posted this, John emailed that the story about Minoru Saito dates from 2011.  I had looked only at the date at the top of the link.  I thank him.  So Saito was 77 then, not now.  I am not going to check who was older at voyage’s end.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Evanston: a tour of the TERROR; a Cal 20 for Cape Horn; a classic case

        The NY TIMES ran a link to a Parks Canada tour of the sunk HMS TERROR, one of the two ships of the doomed Franklin Expedition.  The TERROR was located in 2016 and is in remarkably good condition.  HMS EREBUS had been found two years earlier.

        Sailing Anarchy carries an item of a man who intends to sail from Hawaii for Cape Horn in a modified Cal 20.  He has a beard and looks like the old man of the sea.  I do not have a beard and look like a retired academic.  I do not usually comment on voyages before they are made, but this might be interesting.  There is no reason why a well sailed modified Cal 20 cannot round the Horn. 
        Scroll down to ‘microdosing’.

        In our Evanston condo when not sleeping I am usually in one of two locations:  at the right hand end of the L shaped sofa in the living room or on the sofa in the second bedroom.
       I fell tripping over the power cord for my MacBook and iPad which ran out from under the sofa near my feet to either the MacBook or iPad on the coffee table in front of me.  I have tripped on it before, but not fallen.
        Two a days ago I finally gave this some thought and in two minutes rerouted the cord to the side of the sofa and between the arm rest and an end table where it can charge either device while I am using it or while it is sitting on the end table.
        A classic case of locking the barn after the horse has bolted.  Or in this case the rib has cracked.
        Of the rib, I am good during the day, but still have some trouble sleeping.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Evanston: the mob

        Perhaps the worst unintended consequence of the Internet is the deification of the mob.  One might say fake news or rigged elections, but they are only manipulation of the mob.
        I have never believed in the mob, which is no more than a madding herd ready blindly to stampede at the first bolt of lightning, real or imagined.  I have been reading history a long time and I see no evidence that ignorance multiplied infinitely results in wisdom.  
        This morning I chanced across a reference to Hurricane Dorian social media hysteria aided by sensationalist TV coverage.  I see some of the TV.  I could have imagined, but otherwise would not have known of the social media because I don’t view any. 
        In 1990 Jill and I were anchored off the Royal Suva Yacht Club in Suva, Fiji.  We routinely rowed ashore in late afternoon to shower and have a cold drink at the yacht club bar.  I was then between my third and fourth circumnavigations.
        I recall that one evening we were there when an early tropical storm was forecast to pass about a hundred miles to the south.  At another table ten or twelve cruisers—I hesitate to call them sailors—all of whom were making their first ocean crossing, were excitedly talking about what they should do about the storm, which in fact posed no threat to Suva.  Fear and ignorance reenforced one another, bringing some nearly to tears.
        I have at least twice before posted an excerpt from HUCKLEBERRY FINN about the mob.  Here is a link to the earliest post, dating back more than a decade.  It needs an addendum.  We now know that Buddhists kill, too, as they have Muslims in Myanmar.
       The girl stoned to death has long been forgotten, except probably by her self-righteous family and I hope by the man she loved.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Evanston: Baby pictures; another shelf cloud; hurricane days

        The repair kit from Duckworks arrived last week accompanied by a complimentary copy of SMALL CRAFT ADVISOR.  I glanced at the cover and smiled.  That is my friend, Tom Head, with his crew, Baby, and the photo was taken by another friend, Steve Earley.
        I emailed Tom who sent along another photo of my favorite sea dog.

        The copy of SMALL CRAFT ADVISOR was full of pretty and interesting small boats.

        I thank Larry for sending a photo taken this summer by Brittany Johnson of a shelf cloud that wiped out seven docks at the Racine, Wisconsin marina.
        The people on the power boat in the left foreground do not seem concerned, but then they are power boaters.

        Steve Earley’s career as a newspaper photographer for a Norfolk, Virginia, newspaper is drawing toward a close, but when I saw that the updated track of Dorian shows it near Cape Hatteras on Friday, I expected he will again be heading into the Outer Banks as others are heading out.
        He confirmed this in an email and on his Log of SPARTINA which has a link to an entry from a year and a half ago in which he thought his hurricane days are over.

        If you go to that earlier entry you will find reference to my own hurricane plans for Hilton Head.  Steve’s hurricane days aren’t over.  
        There is a mandatory evacuation for Hilton Head.  I am glad that GANNET and I are not there.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Evanston: a fortunate and unfortunate anniversary; redundant proof; despicable me

        A year ago yesterday my friend, Michael, lay dying on Highway One in the Florida Keys after a car suddenly pulled out in front of the motor scooter he was riding to work.  The above is a selfie taken moments later.  Not all selfies are frivolous.  I believe that Michael expected then that it would be the last photo ever taken of him.  
        That Michael did not die is due to a quick helicopter evacuation to a Miami hospital, the skill of the doctors who reassembled his shattered body, and his own will.  
        I am pleased to report that a year later Michael is alive and well and his normal self, working as a 911 responder in Key West, walking his inestimable dog, Rusty, and recently celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, Layne.  All subsequent photos of him, even while still in Intensive Care, show him smiling.  I do not know that I could have done it.  I do know that no one could have don’t it better.
        A triumph, my friend, that I wish you had never had.
        Michael posted a piece yesterday on his site.  Scroll down to ‘Motorcycle Obsession.’
        Long time readers are aware that I do not consider us an intelligent species.  The evidence is overwhelming, from the first half of the Twentieth Century to practically everything every night on what poses as the evening news on television.
        If you live in the U.S. you have seen further redundant proof in the images of long lines at grocery and other stores as Hurricane Dorian approaches.  You know what I think about doing things at the last minute.  How can anyone with intelligence living in the coastal South from North Carolina or perhaps Virginia to Texas not have completed their preparations by June at the latest?

        Yesterday, except for going grocery shopping in the morning with Carol, I was a couch potato, watching sports from morning to night.  English Premier League soccer was followed by US Open tennis, the Cubs game, Stanford/Northwestern college football, more tennis, and Oregon/Auburn football.  We cut the cord more than a year ago and stream TV via YouTubeTV.  While tennis was usually on our wall TV, I had a different event on my iPad on my lap, and at one point, added a third on my iPhone.  Despicable.
        In partial mitigation, I really want to workout but that is out of the question for weeks to come, and I did at intervals mute everything and reread and make minor changes to an article for Latitude 38 about why I sail.
        Nevertheless I am deeply ashamed.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Evanston: laudable efficiency; Camoes

        In the past two days I have encountered three examples of rare efficiency.

        Some of you will recall that I erroneously bought the wi-fi version of my iPad Pro only to discover at sea to my dismay that it does not include GPS.  I have since bought a Bad Elf Bluetooth GPS which makes my iPad a useful chart plotter, but I have not been satisfied and now spending weeks at a time on GANNET in San Diego would like to have an iPad cellular plan, so when Amazon recently lowered the price of my model of iPad to an all time low I bought one intending to sell the old one.
        I first checked to see what Apple would offer.  The amount was $350.  I then googled and found Klyman, who after a few clicks establishing what I wanted to sell and its condition, offered me $730.  This was all so easy I was skeptical.  I gave them my address.  They sent me a mailing box and a pre-paid one day delivery label.  Carol mailed the iPad for me Saturday.  I got a confirmation email Monday that it was received.  Wednesday the $730 was in my PayPal account.  Totally painless.

        After posting Monday afternoon about the repair kit from Duckworks, I placed an order.  An hour later I got an email it had shipped.  You can’t get much more efficient than that.

        The last comes from of all places a government agency.
        I need to renew my passport, so I go to the Travel. State. Gov. site where I find all the information I need, including a form filler that determines what form you need and fills it out as you respond to questions.  When finished, download, date and sign.  Mail it in with the old passport, a new photo, and a fee which is now $110, and that is it.
        I do not know if I am the only old person who thinks this way, but passports are good for ten years.  I may not need another.

        I am rereading for at least the third time Luis Camoes THE LUSIADS, his epic poem about the voyage of Vasco de Gama.
        I am only a third of the way through, but have already come across words worth sharing.

        “The price of heroic deeds
          Is great effort and endurance;
          To risk life to the point of losing it
          Is the guarantee of glory.
          The man who is not cowed by abject fears,
          Though life be short, his fame survives the years.”

           Rightly acquitted is Fernando
           By those experienced in love;
           While those who are the most disposed to blame
           Were never touched by fantasy or flame.

        At the end of Canto Four there is a remarkable diatribe by an old man on the banks of the Tagus just as De Gama’s ships are due to sail from Lisbon who tells the sailors that they are foolish to seek glory and should stay home.  My favorite line is:

          The devil take the man who first put
          Dry wood on the waves with a sail!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Evanston: shelf clouds; a repair kit

        This dramatic photo of a shelf cloud was taken by Don Burdick and illustrates an interesting article about them that I came across on Steve Earley’s site.  Go there for a link to the article and some photos Steve has taken of similar clouds.  

        I have seen something like them several times at sea.  They move one to immediate action.

        Steve also wrote me about an useful repair kit which can be found at:
        I have ordered one.

        Obviously I am doing nothing interesting myself.  Really I am doing nothing at all except climbing stairs and taking walks.  However I am much improved over how I was a few days ago.  I no longer hesitate before every change of position, knowing a flash of pain will come, and I stopped taking medications Sunday night.  I don’t like to take medication and prefer to let my aging body heal itself.  I really miss not being able to workout, and the rib may affect when I return to GANNET.
        At least a half a dozen of you have written of your own cracked ribs.  My favorite story involves a spider in a shower but I am not going to pass it on.
        A clarification:  I do not believe that all who fall and fracture a rib should be immediately dispatched, only the old like me.  That does not yet seem to be government policy, so I will stumble and sail on.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Evanston: in praise of sea gulls

        I like birds.  If I were not a homo sapiens, I would surely be a wandering albatross endlessly circling above the Southern Ocean.  But I do not like all birds, and I do hope that all will in my absence not roost on GANNET.  Birds are notoriously not boat broken.  Their droppings have created wealth and were, I believe, the cargo on the last commercial sailing ships to round Cape Horn.  GANNET has to her advantage that she is small and low.  Birds usually prefer high perches.
        Among the birds I have not admired are sea gulls.  They are too much like us:  aggressive, loud, bickering, thieving, and will eat anything.
        An article in today’s NY TIMES has caused me to reconsider gulls.     

        Reportedly they are intelligent, adaptable, good parents, and a climate change success story.
        I will try to look upon them differently when I return to Mission Bay; but I would rather be an albatross.

        John and Chris sent me links to a video of a tour of the Laphroaig distillery.

  The process of producing my favorite liquid is more complex than I knew.  Even the water is peaty.  Given time I will make the pilgrimage to Islay. 

        As I have learned several of you have also fractured ribs.  One also landed on the edge of a coffee table.  Who knew that coffee tables are so dangerous?  The consensus is that recovery is slow and painful.
        Mine goes by time of day.  
        I am almost pain free in the afternoons, but the nights are difficult.
        I deeply regret that the fractured rib will prevent my resuming my workouts for at least a month.  I don’t enjoy working out.  I do like what working out does for my aging body.  
        I won’t be able to do push-ups for a month or more.  I might be able to do crunches.  At present I can climb stairs and walk.  I did thirty floors of stairs today.  Maybe I am going to have to do more and walk more and maybe bike ride.
        I have writing to do.  Three articles for magazines in the US and the UK. But I am going to have to find ways to use my body within the limitations of my fractured rib.   At any age a flabby Webb Chiles is an impossible contradiction in terms.