Friday, January 15, 2021

Hilton Head Island: on

 I appreciate the comments a few of you made and emails I received.

Yesterday was an aberration.  I have known despair, as have all who live, but always there was a reason:  loss of love; disappointment about writing; structural failure of boats.  Yesterday there was nothing to point to.

Today was misty and rainy.  I did not go down to GANNET.  I am only doing cosmetics.  All sailing systems have already been restored to pre-circumnavigation levels.  I would have liked to work, but that I couldn’t made little difference.

For whatever indescribable if not inexplicable reason, yesterday’s malaise is gone.

I am sipping post-pizza Chianti.  Hardly health food, but we usually eat well, and I am well.  Listening to a scrambled playlist of soundtrack music which reminded me of a friend I have not communicated with for a while, so I did.

I have correctly called this the dying part of my life.  I have not yet figured that out, but I am working on it.

Onward.  Upward.  Or at least sideways.

Go at life as hard as you can as long as you can.  I will if I can understand how.

L’Chaim (to life).  My favorite toast.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Hilton Head Island: off

 6 PM.  The sun has set.  The sky and Skull Creek have lingering shades of peach and gold.

I look out on beauty.  I hear beauty.  I am listening to Max Richter’s audacious and successful recomposition of Vivaldi’s FOUR SEASONS.  Yet I am having an off day.  For no reason, which is perhaps all the more troubling.  I have access to more money than I need.  I am with Carol.  I am in extraordinary good health for an old man.

Perhaps the FOUR SEASONS is the clue.  I wanted to create something that lasted as did Vivaldi.

I look up from my iPad on which I am typing.  The colors have deepened.  The contrast between dying light and silhouetted live oak trees greater and even more beautiful.

The body of an athlete, the soul of a poet, the mind of a scientist.  That might even be true.

Of the mind of a scientist I have always liked to quantify and as a teenager I quantified what I wanted from life.  I wanted the love of one woman and I wanted to write something that would last a thousand years, having concluded that if a work of art lasts a thousand years, it will last forever.  ‘Forever’ being defined in human terms.

So I have been loved by many women, or like to believe I have, but my words and voyages will not long outlive me.

Is this the cause of my malaise?  That I will not be immortal?  I do not know and I do not expect sympathy.  There are greater problems in the world.

Perhaps I am just having an off day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hilton Head Island: an analysis

 Some scientists and engineers read this journal.  One of them, John, sent the following after viewing the video about water circulation yesterday.  I am very grateful for his analysis and want to publish it quickly to correct misconceptions.

I enjoyed the video of the guy with the swirling funnels at the equator but my BS alarm went off.

Here's a back-of-the-envelope estimate of what's going on.  The circumference of the earth at the equator is about 25,000 miles so people at the equator are riding the planet at a speed of 25,000mi/day or 25,000 / 24 =1,040mi/hr, due east.

At a latitude of 45 deg the circumference of the earth is about 0.707 x 25,000 miles =17,675 miles.  People at this latitude are riding the planet at a speed of 17,675mi/day or 17,675 / 24 = 736 mi/hr, due east.

So if a person at the equator aimed a gun due north and shot a bullet, there are two velocities to consider: the muzzle velocity of say 100 mph due north and the easterly velocity of the shooter at 1,040 mph due east.  As the bullet heads toward 45 deg N the people there are only moving at 736mph due east so the bullet, with its 1,040 easterly velocity will veer to the right over land (to the east).  If you shoot from 45N to the equator, the low easterly starting velocity will make the bullet veer right over land again (more to the west).

Back to our guy with the funnels.  The diameter and circumference of the earth vary as the cosine of the latitude.  If he moved the funnels 30' north of the equator, the circumference of the earth changes immeasurably.

Oops, I just Googled a reference and came across the link below that says pretty much the same thing.  I like my version better though.

To which I replied:

Thanks for this.  I will post it.  I sensed entrepreneurship in the video but lack the math to refute it.  Also I wondered because my experience has been that the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which I still think of as the Doldrums, is not on the Equator.  In both the Pacific and the Atlantic I have found it several degrees of latitude north.  Your email caused me to google after all these years, though much of my sailing life took place before googling existed, as strange and distant as that may seem, and I found some answers.

Here is a screen shot from today’s Earth Wind Map clearly showing the Convergence Zone in the Pacific well north of the Equator.

And here is a link to an explanation why.  I really should have sought the answer to this years ago.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Hilton Head Island: circulation; tough shift change; Marvell; OUT OF AFRICA; big; wax

 First, gratuitous beauty, though perhaps beauty is never gratituitous.

From Larry came two short videos for which I thank him.

The first demonstrates the difference in water circulation north and south of the Equator.  I know this first hand, though even after all these years I sometimes have to consider for a moment.  In the northern hemisphere water circulates around a drain clockwise.  In the southern, counter clockwise.  So do the major oceanic winds.  Think northeast trades and southeast trades and it is easy to complete the circles.  Winds around lows circulate in the opposite direction.

However I have never seen this so clearly demonstrated and am startled by how definite the demarkation is and what happens exactly on the Equator.

The second video displays suburb boat handling and why lighthouses should be automated.  Most now are.  I am not sure why this one isn’t.  A serious commute.

A few days ago I came across Andrew Marvell’s poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’.  I read it in an English Literature class long ago.  Perhaps you did too. 

A different perspective from almost 80 than at 20?  No.  I still think it an excellent poem and advice.

Carol and I just rewatched one of my favorite films, OUT OF AFRICA.  I bought it for $5,00 from iTunes.  I’ve seen it several times since my first viewing in Sydney, Australia in early 1986 as I related in a video on the passage from Panama to San Diego two years ago.  We both enjoyed the film this time as well.

Google sent me a link to a site that offers free ebooks.  Several decades and circumnavigations ago the editor of an American magazine told me that if I were French, I would be a national hero.    This site uses some French, but ends in .it.  Regardless, If the number of reviews is to be believed—and I am skeptical—perhaps she was right.

I went down to GANNET yesterday and put the floorboards back in place.  While there I discovered that my hacksaw has corroded to destruction.  Obviously I seldom use it, but keep it accessible during passages to cut away rigging if the mast comes down.  I need one now to saw the replacement track for the pipe berths to length.

I also applied the heavy duty 3M restorer and wax to a small area of GANNET’s topsides.

3M has two different restorers.  One with a blue label for lightly oxidized hulls which I have not found effective and one with a green label for heavy oxidized hulls which I used in Opua four years ago and found very effective.  Because I have been considering repainting the topsides I have not waxed for the past year or so.  The results yesterday were so pleasing that I am going to touch up GANNET’s topsides and then use the restorer/wax.  With a bit of luck I can keep off repainting until it is no longer my problem.

While I strongly believe that aesthetics count, long time readers know that I consider my boats workboats not yachts and my standard is how they look from a boat length away.  My friends, Kent and Audrey, of Armada fame, whose workmanship far surpasses mine, call this how a boat looks from horse back galloping past.

But not today, which is overcast, misty and cool.  That is one of the great things about having the little boat so close.  If it is a good day, I am there in ten minutes.  If it isn’t, I find other things to do, such as writing to you.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Hilton Head Island: bilged; prices; two poems; the better side of the Equator

 I am just back from spraying a second coat of paint on GANNET’s bilge.  

I went down yesterday and removed the floorboards and cleared the considerable debris that had collected in areas under them I cannot reach when they are in place. I don’t think of myself as messy, but the evidence proves otherwise.  After cleaning I sprayed the first coat from an aerosol can of Rustoleum. 

I may be done painting for a while.

I have ordered a 3M restorer and wax that I have used before and will experiment to see if it mproves the topsides sufficiently so I don’t have paint them.

From Pat in Australia came a list of the thirteen boats he has owned and the prices he paid for them and for which he sold them.  Pat is among those of you with great woodworking and building skills and he usually made a substantial profit.

It happened that several days ago I found myself wondering what the boats I have owned would cost today.  I’ve owned only seven:  the unnamed Excalibur 26 bought in 1967; Ericson 35 EGREGIOUS bought in 1969; Ericson 37 also EGREGIOUS 1973; Drascombe Lugger CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE 1978; She 36 RESURGAM 1983; Heritage One Ton THE HAWKE OF TUONELA 1993; Moore 24 GANNET 2011.

I found an inflation calculator online.  Here are some results.

EGREGIOUS in which I made my first circumnavigation.  I don’t recall the exact amount I paid for her, but it was about $30,000.  I think the base price was $27,500.  I spent another $7,000 to $10,000 preparing her for the voyage.




I came across this poem in THE SEASHELL ANTHOLOGY OF GREAT POETRY.  I did not realize that the author also wrote,THE COLOR PURPLE, and I am not sure I understand it.

From Ken also in Australia came a recommendation for SHACKLETON’S FORGOTTEN MEN, the story of the other half of Shackleton’s expedition to try to cross Antarctica.  They landed on the opposite side of the continent and were to set out food depots to resupply Shackleton’s party on the last half of their planned journey after reaching the South Pole.  As is well known Shackleton’s ENDURANCE was destroyed in the ice and he never made the attempt.  The men on the other side did not know that and suffered terribly doing their futile duty.  Several died.  In the very readable book are quoted lines from St. John Lucas

                                We were the fools who could not rest

                                In the dull earth we left behind

                                And burned with passion for the South

                                And drank strange frenzy from its wind.

The deplorable events of yesterday speak all too clearly for themselves.  You may recall that I have long believed and have often said that the Southern Hemisphere is the better side of the Equator.  Some of you may remember that before the last Presidential election I wrote that if Trump were elected I would apply for political refugee status in New Zealand on the basis that I come from a failed state.  Four years later the case is much stronger.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hilton Head Island: looking out

7:15 PM here.  Long after sunset.  I am sitting near the bedroom window and by leaning forward  can see the green flashing light marking the Intracoastal channel.  That pleases me.  That is the way to ocean.

A fine winter’s day here.  At 8:30 this morning I got a phone call that the rigger would soon arrive to install the wind transducer.  I went down to GANNET.  He arrived at 1:15 in the afternoon.  In the meantime I moved the stuff temporally stowed on the v-berth while I painted back to its more or less usual positions.  Some normally rests on the pipe berths which don’t presently exist and so sit on the sides of the hull or the cabin floor.  Still GANNET’s interior is again reasonably organized.

When the rigger and his coworker arrived he went up the mast with the wind transducer and proceeded to drop it.  It fell into the water.  His coworker instantly leaned overboard to retrieve it, over balanced and went into the 50ºF water and came up with the unit.  He and it back on the dock, he was in good spirits and denied my offer of a towel.  The unit seemed to connect and transmit.  We sent it up to the masthead on a messenger line.  This time it was successfully screwed in place.  

The Windex was also re-secured.  It had been wobbling when last I sailed.  The rigger said he thought the threads in the plastic base may have been stripped and it may happen again.

Not long after the riggers left the wind unit stopped transmitting.  This is disappointing.  Maybe it will be working tomorrow.  Whether it is or not, I will spend no more thought or money on it.  If it does not work, I will write it off as an unsuccessful experiment.  I have had others.  I may be one myself.

From Dan comes a link to a piece from the NY TIMES about one of Katsushika Hodsuai’s ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”.  I hesitated before including the link because it has nothing to do with sailing and I don’t know that many of you will be interested, but I was and am. This is a remarkable and new way of offering art evaluation.  I knew of Hodsuai’s work though I would not have been able to recite his name.  An artist is his work, not his name.  I learned and am enriched by the piece.  I thank Dan.

Few have responded to my request that you define yourselves in six words or less.  There are times I think this is an uneven relationship.  Well, some of you do give back, as did Dan, and I am grateful to have anyone reading.

Only three responses:  a worrywart, a tyrant bunny, a moveable ballast.

You had your chance for immortality and missed it.

Yesterday Carol and I walked along a nearby street we had not walked before and came across  lush landscaping that seemed to come from Jurissac Park.  I don’t know what the plant  above is or that the photo accurately shows the voluptuous texture of the leaves.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Hilton Head Island: the other side; books read; 17,520; neighbors

 Thanks to Carol’s family we have the use of a car for a while.  A few days ago her parents, sister and brother-in-law, drove down from near Charlotte, NC, in two cars and left us one.  We are appreciative.  It has enabled Carol to venture to stores beyond the convenient five mile bicycle range and yesterday for us to go to the other side of the island where we had a picnic lunch and watched people and dogs and birds and a dolphin just off shore.

The ocean side of Hilton Head is a different world than where we live on Skull Creek.  A beautiful wide white sand beach stretches almost all of the island’s eleven mile length and is the primary reason almost three million tourists come here every year.  Or every normal year.  They even come in the winter when as you can see the sky is overcast and the ocean cold.  48º F/9C today.

The ocean side is a nice place to visit, but I’d rather live here with the live oaks and spartina and quiet.

Here is the list of books I read in the last six months.

I worked out more than 100 times last year for the first time in nine years.  If I do my primary workout three times a week that would be 156 times a year, but always there are interruptions.  Last year a sprained ankle and a skin cancer removed and while I can do the full workout on GANNET’s foredeck I can’t at sea and for whatever reasons I did not while GANNET was in San Diego. I think it is a matter of routine that I never got into in San Diego.

2008 and 2009 were my fifth circumnavigation.

2014-2019 were my sixth.

I don’t recall why I started keeping statistics in 2004.  I have done some version of this workout for more than 50 years.

Of the 101 workouts last year, and that does not include weights or resistance bands, 34 of them were what I call 100s.

In the standard workout, in the first set I do 80 push-ups and crunches, 60 knee bends; the second set 40 of each; the third set 40 push-ups and crunches; 100 side leg rises each leg; 150 knee bends.

On days when the spirit moves me I do the 100s.  In the first set 100 push-ups and crunches, 60 knee bends; the second set 50 push-ups and crunches, 40 knee bends; third set 50 push-ups and crunches, 110 side leg rises each leg, 200 knee bends.

Total for 2020:  17,520 push-ups.  

I started writing this entry, but before I posted it Carol and I biked to Dolphin Point.  Along the way we passed a pond around which were dozens of cormorants and egrets.  I commented that there must be a lot of fish there.

On the way back come further confirmation.

That is the bike path in the left foreground.

A closer view.  Enlarged, not by my getting closer.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hilton Head Island: cavernous; hobbyist; new career; 4 for 50; Shackleton: sailors rule

 The above vast space is GANNET’s freshly painted cabin floor looking aft from Central.  I got the first coat of paint on yesterday and hope to get a second on later today after light rain this morning ends. 

I am working inside, but I like to have the hatches open while painting to vent the fumes.  I cannot afford more brain damage.

I was able to move all the stuff normally stowed beneath and between the pipe berths to the forepeak.  I am a little surprised that it all fit.

You can also see the new thicker walled aluminum pipe berth tubes.

The flecks of paint on the wood are chips of old paint, not spills of new.

On my way back to the condo, I stopped by the marina office and asked Ben, the new dock master, if I can paint GANNET’s topsides in the slip, and was told I can.  I am not yet sure I will, but it is likely.  I painted THE HAWKE OF TUONELA while she was in her slip and we were living aboard in Boston.  GANNET will be easier both because I calculate her surface area is less than half that of HAWKE and because the water here is almost always flat.  In Boston I had to contend with wakes.

I thank Paul for a link to an interview I had completely forgotten.

Obviously it was done before I began the GANNET circumnavigation.  Although I don’t even recall how I did the interview, I am still satisfied with my answers.

I believe in less.  The best writing has the fewest words and I took some pride in defining myself in six.  Try it.  I will be interested in your efforts.  If  you send them to me, I’ll post them with your permission.

However, I have been exceeded.

A few days ago I mentioned that I had been working on GANNET and a person said, “That’s nice.  Everyone should have a hobby.”  This was said matter-of-factly, not in jest.  So there you have it.  One word.  Can’t improve on that.  Almost 80 years.  All the joy and all the despair.  All the beauty and all the suffering.  Webb Chiles:  Hobbyist.  Although my bruised ego does want to add:  Legendary Hobbyist.

I have a new career:  furniture assembler/ locksmith.

Probably most of you already knew this, but then I have not had many of the most common experiences.  Naively I thought that when you bought furniture it came complete.  Greater fool I. Everything comes broken down for the smallest packaging.  So far I have assembled chairs, tables, and most recently a bed frame.  As a sideline I have also installed a new smart lock and a door knob.  It will do you no good to call for an appointment.  I do not make service calls.

I realized a few weeks ago that I know only four people from the first fifty years of my life.  Three women and one man.  Three live in Southern California.  One in Australia.  I have communicated with them all recently and learned that my experience may not be all that uncommon.

Here is the partial text of one of those emails.  The reference to roses is that my friend says she talks to them as she prunes them.

I was initially surprised that your experience is the same as mine in not having many friends from the first 50 years roughly of life and it causes me to wonder if this is perhaps the norm, or closer than I expected.  I have observed that although we are a herd species we all know that we are alone, though most do their best to forget that.

As a fellow reader I just finished a remarkable retelling of Beowulf in a modern setting, THE MERE WIFE by Maria Dahvana Headley.  Quite original.  It is one of three contemporary novels retelling epics suggested by an article I saw in the NY TIMES.  The other two were GRENDEL by John Gardner, also Beowulf, and THE SILENCE OF THE WOMEN by Pat Barker, a retelling of the ILLIAD from the point of view of Brieses, the captive who Agamemnon took from Achilles.  All are very good.  As is some of the poetry of Louise Gluck, of whom I had not known until she got the Nobel Prize.  Her best I think also go back to Homer.

I do not talk to roses, but then I don’t have any.  I don’t even talk to GANNET, at least not much, though there have been times I have told a boat:  I’ve been careful with you, but now you just have to do it.  And they did as did I.  It is such a surprise to be this old.  Like being on the right side of a joke.  So let us grow older in quiet or loud pleasures and despite the fools.

I finished ENDURANCE.  Despite some hyperbole about the Southern Ocean what Shackleton and those with him endured one would think was beyond endurance, except they did.  He was a great leader, but perhaps not a great seaman.

Here are some quotes from the book:

Today, of course, such an ordeal could not take place.  A contemporary expedition would simply get on their sat phones and an ice breaker would be sent or they would be air lifted out.  There is an immeasurable difference in working without a net.  Of having no way to call for help.

Worsley’s thought that it was a pity no one would know how close they came resonated with me.  I had the same thought when EGREGIOUS was in the strongest wind I have ever known south of Australia after almost four months at sea.

I thank Michael for this, though I refuse to run the world.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Hilton Head Island: two small boats

 The above photo comes from NASA’s Earth Observatory site today.  It was taken April 24, 1916 and shows Ernest Shackleton and five men setting out from Elephant Island near Antarctica in an attempt to reach South Georgia Island and help after their ship, ENDURANCE, was crushed by ice.  Their boat was bigger than CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, but not much.  They were truly sailing into the unknown.  Shackleton thought, I believe rightly, that they had no choice.

The article caused me to buy the Kindle edition of ENDURANCE by Alfred Lansing, a very good book that I have not read for a long time.

On the Sailing Anarchy site is a brief piece about a sailor who makes voyages to no where in his Cal 20.  I highly approve and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago am contemplating doing so myself around Bermuda next year.

In studying the photo I am uncertain about his means of self-steering and I do wonder about his timing.  He will be in the South Pacific during the cyclone season. I conclude that I am going to have to grown a beard if I ever want to be taken seriously as a sailor.  I wish him a safe and fulfilling voyage.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Hilton Head Island: gale warning; disarray; more views from the bedroom window


White caps on Skull Creek.  A rarity though on only 3”-4” ripples. We have a gale warning caused by an approaching front.  The live oaks and Spanish Moss are in a frenzy.  The temperature here is still 66F/19C but is due to drop below freezing Saturday night.  About as cold as it gets here.  I hope.  And considerably better than Evanston which is currently 17F/ feels like 02F and due to get colder.

 GANNET, whose mast you can see in the top photo—it is the only black one—she is stern to in her slip—is in disarray.  Yesterday I removed the starboard pipe berth and replaced the tube with a new one with a thicker wall as I have already done to port.  I biked down to GANNET this morning but did not accomplish much.  I need to scrape old loose paint and sand before painting the areas under the pipe berths I have not been able to reach for years, but to do so I need to move everything there.  This wasn’t the day for it and neither will be any of the next several.  So I puttered around for an hour, checked dock lines and fenders and came back to the condo.

The photos were taken through the huge bedroom window.  We now usually have our sunset drinks sitting in front of it.  In the middle two if you look at the bump on the live oak that I think looks like a bird, you will see a real bird standing on its head.  A Great Blue Heron has landed there two afternoons recently about 4 PM and remained motionless for more than an hour.  I believe he is taking a nap before dinner.

Carol has also seen the raccoon again exploring the water’s edge at about the same time.  

We will spend a quiet Christmas at home, as is our custom.  However this year no Christmas tree.  We couldn’t figure out how to carry one on our bicycles.

We wish you a happy holiday—whichever one you celebrate—and a fine new year.