Monday, September 17, 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Skull Creek: evening before departure

       The second post of the day.
        I am writing this just after 8 p.m. at Central in the Great Cabin.
       A first quarter moon to the south.  Wind also from the south.  Right where I want it.  Before sunset a clearing sky.  A plastic tumbler with a little Plymouth gin in it to my right, where I can’t see it but can find it when I want it.  The score of the light weight film, WOMAN ON TOP, cheerful sensual Brazilian music, on the Boom 2s.
       There is a profound pleasure on the evening before a passage, knowing that you and your boat are ready.  Not having to rush.  Having time to look around, to enjoy the moment, to anticipate the coming return to the monastery of the sea.  And this time I even have a favorable wind forecast.   If you have been here a while, you know that I often do not.
        I know joy with Carol.  I am beyond fortunate to have both her and the sea.

Hilton Head Island: that's GANNET

        I am at the condo this afternoon, after biking to Walmart to buy a watertight container for the battery fan which makes a huge difference in keeping the Great Cabin somewhat livable in this climate.  
        I also bought a few more items.  Yoghurt for lunch today, a salad for dinner, some Laughing Cow cheese which is often found in refridgerated cases, but as I know from long experience does not to need to be, and a box of Cheese-Its.  I am quite fond of Cheese-its.
        I forgot to buy a bottle of tonic.  I have one on board, but if this is a slow passage I may end up drinking my gin straight.  Not a sacrifice.
        I have a new co-favorite gin.  Not always able to find Botanist here, I have developed an appreciation of Plymouth.
        Before biking I moved GANNET into full passage mode.  The Torqeedo, which started at it should, is on the transom and I moved the various bags on the v-berth into final position and tied those along the sides in place with lines that run from eye-bolts in the main bulkhead and the partial forward bulkhead so that everything does not shift when GANNET heels excessively or is knocked down.
        I expect to leave early tomorrow morning, but may wait a bit to avoid possible passing showers.
        The distance from GANNET’s slip to where Skull Creek mets Port Royal Sound is slightly less than two nautical miles.  It is another seven or eight nautical miles until we will be clear of the coastal shallows and really in the Atlantic Ocean.
        The distance from Hilton Head Island to Cape Henry at the southern entrance to the Chesapeake is 470 miles.  St. Michaels is another 110 miles north of that.
        If the wind forecasts are to be believed, we are going to have wonderful sailing Monday and Tuesday.  We might reach Cape Henry in four days, but with headwinds and light wind forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, that might not happen.
        I turned on the Yellowbrick last evening and when I went to the tracking page and zoomed in on the uploaded position, to my surprise and pleasure I found GANNET.  I first recognized the solar panels on the foredeck.  Then her size and finally the boats on either side  of her.  Yellowbrick uses Google maps who flew over sometime this year.
        I often wish you sailing joy and I do now.  If you are not sailors, I wish you whatever joy you seek.
        I’m off for sailing joy of my own.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hilton Head Island: Monday morning departure

        2 PM.  I am up at the condo more for the better Internet than the air conditioning today.  Also watching an English Premier League game between Manchester United and Watford on YouTubeTV and will soon share a FaceTime call with Carol.  
        As I have considered conditions and forecasts, I have decided that baring the unforeseeable I will sail on Monday morning.
        I will turn on the Yellowbrick this evening when I return to GANNET just so I don’t forget Monday.
        To whatever extent long range forecasts can be believed, I will have good wind behind me Monday and Tuesday, moderate to light headwinds Wednesday and Thursday, and favorable wind again Friday and Saturday, all below 20 knots.  
        Perhaps it will even happen that way.

        GANNET’s Yellowbrick tracking page is:

Skull Creek: 20 knots of wind and a madman

        We had 10 to 20 knots of wind last night and a madman.
        The wind was blowing us away from the side dock, which is good, and didn’t bounce GANNET around much.
        The madman, who may have been profoundly drunk or on drugs, ranted all night long.  He woke me at 2 a.m.  I couldn’t figure out exactly where he was, but fortunately it was not in GANNET’s immediate vicinity.  The rant was continuous and profane, as though he was arguing with someone who never interrupted.  Eventually I closed the hatches and turned on the battery fan near my head which drowned him out.
        This morning the rant continued and I located the source as a short, 50ish man with a wild beard and hair pushing a bicycle on the next finger to the north of GANNET.  I don’t know if he came off a boat or just wandered into the marina, though I expect the latter.  The marina ramp gate is never closed on the premise that this entire community has 24/7 security at the only two gates in.
        I found earplugs that I have occasionally used in other noisy marinas, so I’ll be ready for him tonight, in the I hope unlikely event he is still around.
        The marina office is closed and the windows covered in plywood.  I don’t think that is probably going to prove necessary, but it is best to prepare.
        There is a small craft advisory for these waters until noon Monday.
        I am day to day for departure.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Skull Creek: soon

        Above is the view of the mouth of Skull Creek taken from the pier leading out to the marina this morning.
        The sky has finally clouded over and this is the view from the companionway just before 6 PM.  We have ten knots of wind.

        Florence is going to be a non-event here and isn’t the predicted apocalypse anywhere.  We may get an inch or two of rain but are labelled ‘Not Likely’ for tropical force winds.
        I biked to a supermarket this morning for the exercise and to restock a few items I’ve ingested this week.
        If the wind forecasts are to be believed, the wind is going to be mostly good next week and I will sail Monday or perhaps even Sunday.
        About time.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Skull Creek: preparations

        A pleasant day with some clouds that might be fringes of the Florence system.
        I stood in the companionway last evening studying the sky trying to determine if I were at sea if it would have given me any inkling that a major hurricane was a few hundred miles away, and the answer is that it would not.  Neither would the barometer which remained moderately high and steady for the past two days.  Even now with Florence about one hundred miles off Wilmington, North Carolina, less than three hundred miles north of Hilton Head, the clouds are not threatening and the barometer has only dropped two millebars.
        Although Hilton Head Island is not expected to have more than two or three inches of rain or wind more than tropical force, some preparations have been made.  
        Yesterday afternoon when I went to have a swim, I found all of the pool deck furniture sunk in the shallow end.  I moved our patio furniture in from the screened porch this morning.
        The dozen small boats that were docked to the north of the marina pier have been moved into slips south of the pier or taken from the water and the floating docks north of the pier moved to the south as well.
        A few boats have left the marina, including a large power boat.  If you can make twenty knots you can choose your weather. 
        I have noticed a few owners checking out their boats, moving objects that might blow away to below deck, and adding dock lines, but most of the boats in the marina do not appear to have received any special attention. 
        GANNET is again the smallest sailboat at Skull Creek Marina.  I noticed the Cape Dory Typhoon’s absence two days ago.  She could easily have been taken from the water.
        I have tied the tiller down.  I have moved the spare jib halyard, the spinnaker halyard, and the vestigial spinnaker pole topping lift from where they were tied at the base of the mast and would slap noisily against it in wind to the bow pulpit.  I may double some dock lines.  I will put out two more fenders and tie a line around the jib to make certain it can’t unfurl. 
        I think that’s about it.
        I will ride out whatever Florence brings us on GANNET.  If conditions permit I may go up to the condo during the day for a few hours.  I possibly could be more comfortable and safer in the condo, but a sailor surely prefers being on his boat.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Skull Creek: business as usual

        Being out of blueberries and tonic, I biked to a supermarket and liquor store this morning and found both to be open and expecting to remain so.  At the liquor store I bought a spare bottle of Laphroaig, not knowing when or where I might be able to buy another.  
        The liquor store was busier than usual for 10 a.m. with others stocking up on essential supplies.  The supermarket was about normal.  There was no unusual traffic on the parkway leading to the only bridge off the island.  
        Just before the evacuation order was to go into effect at noon, South Carolina’s governor, whose name I obviously don’t know, rescinded the order for the three southern most coastal counties, including Beaufort, which includes Hilton Head Island.  The was unusually reasonable for a politician.  All of the sources I have been viewing, including this morning’s GRIB, showed that Florence will be someone else’s storm and have little or no affect on Hilton Head Island.  I know some sailors in North Carolina whom unfortunately the storm will affect.  From the forecast having your own boat may be useful.  I wish them a safe storm passage.
        Among those who will experience Florence at near landfall is Steve Earley.  As others were going out of the Outer Banks, he was going in.  As you may remember Steve is a photographer with a Norfolk, Virginia newspaper and is frequently sent to photograph hurricanes first hand.  I have no idea how many he has gone through.  He is on Hatteras Island for Florence.  I hope and trust that he will maintain his winning streak.
        This morning I talked to Fred, the Skull Creek Marina dock master who lives on board his sailboat in the next finger from GANNET.  He has been in this area for a long time and has survived five hurricanes, two at this marina, one of which had 95 knot winds, all remaining tied to the dock rather than anchoring out.  The issue is now hypothetical, but his experience is worth considering.
        I am now looking at the forecast winds after Florence seeking a way north.  There may be three days of favorable south wind early next week that would enable me to get at least as far as Beaufort, North Carolina before a northerly change.  Assuming Beaufort, North Carolina is still there.
        I don’t see myself leaving before Monday at the earliest, if then.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Skull Creek: mandatory evacuation

        The Governor of South Carolina ordered a ‘mandatory’ evacuation of all coastal counties.  ‘Mandatory’ isn’t really mandatory.  I suppose there is a legal technically that if such an order is given and you don’t leave the authorities are off the hook.  That is fair.  If I were he I probably would have done the same.  In the north part of the state an evacuation is appropriate.  Here in the south it is not and it would be difficult to decide on a dividing line.
        In any case I am not evacuating.  
        All the information I have seen today shows Hilton Head will not be affected by Florence.  That could change, but as the time to landfall decreases the accuracy of projections increases.  
        For me it has been interesting and educational to observe the computer analyses of the storm for the past week.  Nothing I have seen has changed my belief that no forecasts more than 48 to 72 hours can be trusted.
        Were Florence headed directly for Hilton Head I still would not evacuate, though I would move GANNET from the marina.   Storm surge from Florence may be 20’/6 meters which could lift these docks from the pilings and sent them who knows where.
        My friend, Roger, who lives in nearby Bluffton and has his about 40’ catamaran, TRAVELLER, on a private dock on the May River said if the storm nears he would move her to anchor on the river and that I could anchor GANNET there and wait out the storm with him in his home ashore.  A generous offer I probably would have refused.
        As an aside, Roger built TRAVELLER himself splendidly; he also made her carbon fiber mast.  Roger causes me to consider the false distinction between artist and artisan, as do many of you.   I hesitate for fear I will leave someone out, but I think of three who have built Pathfinders:  Steve and Tom and Rik, and Patrick in Australia, and Doryman in the Pacific Northwest.  All of you have skills that I do not have.  
        The Mississippi artist Walter Anderson said that there is no difference between artist and artisan.  I agree entirely.  I use words.  Some of you use wood.  We both create something from nothing.  To build a boat is to create a poem.
        The aside aside, if Florence were headed directly here I would move GANNET to the west side of Pickney Island and anchor her.   I would expect to be alone there behind a second island to absorb the storm surge.
        On most of my boats I have carried three anchors.  Being weight sensitive, GANNET has only two.  I would set the 10 pound Spade in the direction I expected the strongest wind with all her rode of 20’ of chain and 200’ of ” nylon out and her second anchor, a 15’ Delta, in whatever other direction seemed best, and in the evening pour a crystal glass of Laphroaig and wait.
        I have been in hurricane force winds at least eight times at sea.  I have never been in hurricane force winds in port, much less those of a category four storm.  I hope I never am.  But I must confess to being curious.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Hilton Head Island: a pleasant evening, except; a beautiful woman making music; a good quote

        I am up at the stalled condo, sitting on a $10 camp chair, for the air conditioning and a swim later.  Evenings and early mornings are pleasant on GANNET, but mid-days a bit warm.
        The photo was taken as I sipped my drink last evening and listened to music.  Actually I sipped two drinks, one for my friend, Michael, who after riding his Burgman 200 motor scooter 3400 miles from the Florida Keys to Niagara Falls and back was involved in a serious accident while routinely riding to his job as a 911 dispatcher in Key West when a car suddenly and inexplicably pulled out in front of him.  Michael has been in intensive care and for a while couldn’t have even a drink of water, so I generously drank his tequila and tonic for him.  
        I am thought inaccurately by some to be brave because I sail small boats alone across oceans.  But there are no stupid, foolish, distracted, and/or incompetent drivers out there.  Or if there are, there is a lot of space in which to avoid them.  By far the most dangerous thing any of us do is drive or ride in motorized vehicles.  Plus gas and oil are, along with coal, destroying the planet.
        I know that life can change dramatically in the passing of a single wave.  Life can also change in many other instants.
        Along with Michael’s numerous other friends, I wish him a full recovery.


        I thank Markus, an Estonian commercial fisherman and sailor, for my music on deck the past two evenings.  He sent me a link to a YouTube video of Sona Jobarteh, an African singer I had not heard.  I watched part of the video and then bought her two albums, FASIYA and MOTHERLAND, from the iTunes store.  They are quite different.  FASIYA is similar to the music on the video.  MOTHERLAND is the score of a film.  I like them both very much and will listen to them again in a few hours when I am drinking my and Michael’s drinks on deck.
        Markus wrote:  Time and again I find myself feeling that beautiful women who are musically talented can create irresistible energy
        Sona Jobarteh is and does.


        From Jay comes a quote from the late Hunter S. Thompson, for which I thank him.
        Life should not be a journey to the grave with the 
intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'"