Friday, December 15, 2017

Evanston: good news

        I just received the above photos from the boat yard.  The repair is almost complete.  Definitely a cause for celebration and I’m out of Laphroaig.  A bottle of red wine will have to do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Evanston: shallow

        Curiously in the past few days two of you—Michael in Florida and Patrick in Australia—have brought to my attention a quote from Anais Nin, “I must be a mermaid.  I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”


        I am currently reading David McCullough’s collection of brief biographies, BRAVE COMPANIONS.  
        From the chapter on Theodore Roosevelt, who was given to depression, “Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.”
        And from the chapter about the artist of the West, Frederic Remington, who wrote after a perilous canoe trip, “The zest of the whole thing lies in not knowing the difficulties before hand.”


        As you may have noted, I do not engage in social media.  I prefer to communicate in more measured ways and believe that the “wisdom of the crowd” is one of the greatest of oxymorons. 
        Despite its great virtues, the Internet has deified the mob and legitimized begging.


        The world is too much with me.
        In addition to the boat yard, there is now the Hilton Head condo and the hoard who have a hand or at least a finger in real estate transactions.
        On Sunday morning an unexpected thought occurred to me which may change my plans for 2018.  I’ll let you know if it does.


        Sunny and icy in the flatlands,  20°/-6.6°C, with wind chill I am told of 0°F /-18°.  I have to be told because I have no intention of going outside except to empty the trash this afternoon, which takes about a minute.


        The photo was taken leaving Rio de Janeiro at dawn fifteen years ago.  A sobering thought.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Evanston: one

       That GANNET’s transom is a face was first observed from a photo taken as she was towed several years ago from  North Point Harbor on her way to San Diego and the open ocean.
       After viewing the photo above posted yesterday, Larry observed that just as I have one good eye, so does GANNET.  The little boat and I are truly one.  
       If her face is facing aft, her bad eye is her left.  Mine is my right.  Together we have normal vision.
       GANNET’s mouth is the exit from the cockpit drains.
        The square above her mouth is for the Moore 24 outboard bracket.
        I assume her port eye was for a man overboard pole required by racing rules.  
        I have no idea of the purpose of her blind starboard eye.  There is nothing inside the hull from that circular vent.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Evanston: hope (maybe)

        I was finally able to get through to Sherry, co-owner and service manager of the boat yard, who affirms that they still intend to get the repair completed before the end of this month, hopefully devoting full attention to it next week.  I would like to make my flight reservation, but will hold off a little longer.
        The photos of GANNET were taken this morning by Bob, whose own small boat is on a Boot Key Harbor mooring.  It appears that they have ground the old anti-fouling paint off the port side of the keel.  A start?  
        I thank him and I miss her.  It has been far too long.


  I thank Hugh for links to three short all but incredible videos of world record kite sailing.


Matt suggested I list my ten or fifty favorite books of all time.  An interesting idea.  I’ve started.  You might be surprised at the the first book that leapt to mind:  THE HORSE’S MOUTH by Joyce Cary, the best novel ever about an artist, also made into a pretty good movie starring Alex Guinness.  I once considered naming a boat after the main character, Gulley Jimson.


A clarification.
I received an email questioning the sentence in the last entry:  I receive Social Security, one of the worst deals the government ever made.
I did not mean that Social Security itself is a bad deal, only that Social Security made a bad deal with me specifically who would when young have foolishly opted out if I could have and have now received far, far more than I paid in, though the math is complicated by time and inflation.
I apologize for not writing more clearly.


        I thank Kent and Audrey and extend the sentiment to all of you.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Evanston: old folks home--maybe; a three bottle raise; my proper place

        Carol and I are back from a quick trip to South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, where we may, or may not, have bought a waterfront condo.  Our offer has been accepted, contracts signed.  The uncertainty comes from several serious issues that were revealed during Monday’s official inspection.  Proceeding with the purchase will depend on how, or  not, they are resolved.
        As has been pointed out, ‘old folks home' should be singular.  Carol is not old and will not retire for several more years.  I am old and either will never retire or, as my late grandmother wryly observed, have been retired since the day I graduated from college.
        Hilton Head is a very nice place, but not my first choice for what will probably be my last shore home.  As those of you who have loyally endured here for a while know, New Zealand’s Bay of Islands would be my first choice if immigration rules made that possible and San Diego’s Mission Beach my second if property values had not become astronomical.  A THE HAWKE OF TUONELA size boat would be third, actually first,  but Carol has served her live aboard sentence.  
        Hilton Head Island is shoe-shaped, about eleven miles long and six miles wide at its widest, slanting northeast to southwest.  The southwest end is the toe.
        The island runs on tourists, retirees and those who service them.  
        In 1970 the population was around 3,000.  Now it is 40,000, but the development has been done intelligently and tastefully.  2.5 million visitors come each year, but large parts of the island, including where we may live, are gated communities inaccessible to any but those who reside there and their guests.
        The island is too hot in the summer, subject to hurricanes and the occasional alligator strolling across a golf course, but it has mild winters, miles of beaches on which you can walk and ride bicycles, in addition of course sunbathe—something I do not do—swim and surf.
        Our potential home is on the landward side, facing a part of the Intracoastal Waterway known as Skull Creek.  The Skull Creek Marina where I could keep GANNET with easy access to the open ocean is on our doorstep as can be seen from the photo above taken from the balcony of our possible unit.
        On the other side of Skull Creek is the Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  We would look out on beauty: trees, the marina, water, wilderness.  The community is very, very quiet.  And the sunsets are famous.
        Whether this becomes the place from which I eventually totter off into one of those sunsets will be determined relatively soon.


        The top windows and balcony would be ours.

        We flew from Chicago to Charlotte, North Carolina, and then from Charlotte to Savannah, Georgia, driving the last 50 miles to Hilton Head in a rented car.  According to my Apple watch, we walked 4.9 miles that day, almost all inside airports.

        In case you are wondering, I will, time and chance permitting, sail GANNET—assuming she is ever repaired—to San Diego via Panama to complete the circumnavigation.   It makes no financial sense to do so, sailing 5,000 miles and then spending thousands of dollars to have the little boat trucked back across the country, rather than sail her 550 miles north from the Florida Keys to Hilton Head.   
        Despite the majority who think so, money is not the measure of all things.


        Upon our return I found in the mail a notice that the government is giving me a three bottle raise next year.  I receive Social Security, one of the worst deals the government ever made.  All those of us who do are getting a 2% cost of living raise next year.  Mine equals three extra bottles of Laphroaig.  I suspect that the government’s hope is that I will drink myself to death and thus save them some money.


        While waiting for our return flight to Chicago at the Charlotte airport all the seats were occupied except for one beside an empty four marked ‘Handicapped.”
        Carol took the one and I took a ‘Handicapped.’
        If confronted I was prepared to justify myself by pointing out my half blindness, partial deafness, almost severed supraspinatis, and that I am 76 years old.  To my slight disappointment no one had the least doubt that I belonged there.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Evanston: one versus many; hurricane animation

        I seldom buy ‘real’ books any more.  Only when there is not an e-edition of something I really want to read.  The photo above shows the reason.
        Mats in Sweden recommended THE FRINGES OF POWER, the diaries of John Colville, personal secretary to three British Prime Ministers, including Winston Churchill.  I thank him.  I bought a used copy via Amazon.  It is a very interesting book, showing the inner bred social relationships of England’s governing class and how even those at the center of power often, perhaps usually, function blindly in the fog of war.  However it is a big, heavy, awkward to hold book.
        To the left:  one book.  To the right 400+ books, not to mention 700 albums of music and electronic charts sufficient for GANNET to sail around the world.

        The Astronomy Picture of the Day recently ran an interesting short animation of this year’s extreme hurricane season.

        Tomorrow being the first day of December, I would normally be making my reservation to fly back to GANNET in early January, but as far as I know the boat yard has done nothing except quickly charge my credit card for the 50% deposit on the repair.  I’ll wait another week and, if I have not heard anything, call them.  Sigh.


        In the past I have paid scant attention to the America’s Cup which is about too much money and too big egos, but I found this last one interesting because of the foiling catamarans sailing in ways and speeds beyond my experience.  Thus I was disappointed at the rumors that NZ was going to revert to monohulls for the next Cup to be held in Auckland in 2021.  I shouldn’t have been.  The Kiwis have come up with a design at least as radical as the foiling cats and perhaps even more bizarre and potentially exciting.


        I doubt I will post again until next Tuesday or Wednesday.  When I do, I expect it will be about an Old Folks Home.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Evanston: sex doesn't matter

        I don’t believe it does.  I asked Carol and she doesn’t either.
        Now that I have your attention, to universal disappointment I am not talking about the act, but the gender of a translator.  
        I have just finished reading a new translation of THE ODYSSEY, the first by a woman, Emily Wilson.  I find that surprising.  THE ODYSSEY has been translated dozens, perhaps hundreds of times into English over hundreds of years, but apparently not until now by a woman. 
        Being Ulysses I like to read about my past from time to time and have read several translations of THE ODYSSEY.  Lattimore.  Fitzgerald.  Fagles.  Emily Wilson’s is a pleasure.  Not the greatest poetically, but clear, contemporary and very readable.   I don’t recall ever enjoying reading the epic more.
        I did notice that several times in her translation Emily Wilson uses the objective case rather than the nominative after the verb ‘to be’.  As I’m sure she knows, “It is he.”  was proper usage in the past.  In her translation, “It is him.” is routinely used.  Language is always changing and perhaps I am behind the times.  If so, I will continue to be.
        I had not remembered that almost half the Odyssey takes place after Ulysses returns to Ithaca, which he does in Book 13 of 24.
        I also had forgotten that as related in Book 19 he was given his name by his grandfather, Autolycus.  In her notes Wilson says the verb odussomai can mean to hate or to be angry at.  Others translate it as giver or receiver of pain.  Ulysses was both.
        While I enjoy THE ODYSSEY, I prefer THE ILIAD.  I hope Emily Wilson translates it soon.

        Carol and I had a quietly pleasant long Thanksgiving weekend.  We watched a few movies and episodes of season three of the Netflix series, Narcos.  
        I also watched some basketball and football and was struck by lunkhead plays.  Turnover ratio in football.  Walking the leadoff batter in baseball.  Unforced errors in tennis.  Across all sports, the most critical statistics and the most profound lesson is:  Don’t beat yourself.


        I thank Zane for a link to an article about Albert Einstein as sailor.  I read a biography of Einstein a few years ago and knew of his love for being on the water and his lack of concentration, or even awareness sometimes, of the matter at hand.
        I thank Jay for a link to an article about a small boat voyage made by Francis Brenton of which I was completely unaware for reasons the article explains toward the end.  If you google his name, you can find photos of his boat.  
        As an ordeal his voyage is impressive.
        But Francis Brenton was an adventurer, not a sailor.
        Although I have been called one, I am not an adventurer.  I am a sailor.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Evanston: Theater of War; in the moment

        I believe that the writings of classical Greece are relevant to modern life.  So does Bryan Doerries who co-founded The Theater of War which performs his translations of plays of Sophocles and Aeschylus before military families, health care givers, conflicted communities, prison guards, followed by free and hopefully cathartic discussion by the audiences.
        I learned of the Theater of War from an article in Smithsonian Magazine.  It is a long article, but if you can find time worthwhile.  Here is a link to a shorter NY TIMES  piece.
        Four of Bryan Doerries translations have  been published in ALL YOU SEE HERE IS GOD.   Sophocles’ WOMEN OF TRACHIS  ends with the chorus declaiming: 

                My friends,
                you have seen
                many strange things:
                countless deaths,
                new kinds of torture,
                immeasurable pain,
                and all that you’ve 
                seen here is  god.

        The main characters in the four plays are a warrior who believes his honor has been compromised and commits suicide; another warrior who is abandoned by his comrades and lives alone for ten years on an island, suffering from an unhealable snake bite; Prometheus, eternally tortured for aiding mankind; and Heracles who suffers an excruciating death from a poisoned robe given to him by his wife who was unaware of its fatal qualities.
        I am not qualified to judge the accuracy of Bryan Doerries’ translations, but they are in contemporary English, very readable, and very powerful.


        I am intentionally not being specific because I  don’t wish to disparage any one individual, but a couple of readers  have sent me links to an audacious voyage currently underway.   What strikes me  is that the solo sailor is blogging almost everyday.   I don’t understand how you can be truly in the moment and be constantly playing to an audience.  You haven’t truly cut ties with the shore, which is one of the great pleasures of an ocean passage.   You are never truly alone, and you certainly have not entered into the monastery of the sea.
        I have been writing for more than half a century.  I am pleased to have an audience, but only when I reach land.  I believe a valid standard by which to judge a voyage is whether the sailor would have made it if no one else ever knew.  
        I do not claim that my way is the right way.  Obviously it is not the only way.  But when I go to sea, I go to sea.
        I pause and then I smile, for I realize that it has been too long since I have been.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Evanston: waves; fault; taste

        Sailing Anarchy ran a link to a video of shockingly big wave surfing off Portugal.  A British surfer recently had his back broken in a wipe-out there.


        Non Sequitur has an excellent cartoon about ocean rescues.  You know I agree about  it being you own fault.


        I concluded my tasting of the eight Good To-Go  entrees last week.
        Unless I missed something, all are vegetarian.  All take about one cup of water and require steeping for fifteen to twenty minutes.  All have 10 to 20 grams of protein and, except for the Pad Thai, between 300 and 400 calories.  The Pad Thai had more than 400 calories.  I don’t recall the exact number.
        At Campmor they cost $6.75 single serving and $12.50 to $12.95 double serving.  Carol not sharing my interest in freeze dry meals, I bought singles and ate them on evenings when she had tennis or work appointments.
        Taste is a matter of taste and yours probably differs from mine.
        Overall I rate the brand highly.  
        Of the eight entrees, I found four to be excellent and will be buying several of each to take to GANNET.
        They are:  Thai curry; herbed mushroom risotto; smoked three been chili; classic marinara with penne.
        The Mexican quinoa bowl has a mole seasoning and I don’t like mole sauce.
        I found the bibimbap, which the package says is a Korean dish, and the Indian vegetable korma too spicy.
        I didn’t like the Pad Thai at all.  It was bland and tasteless.

        I thank Larry for this quote, which is usually attributed to Mark Twain:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
        I thank Zane for pointing out that Mark  Twain apparently did not write it.
        And I thank David for a link to a video of Leonard Cohen  talking about and singing his song, “Suzanne”.  It has nothing to do with sailing or my twice ex-wife.  I just like the song.


        The photo is an old one taken on my mooring in Opua.  I’ve run it before.  I think of it as ‘moon feather’.  The feather is a cloud.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Evanston: old revisited; TREKKA; the decisive moment

        Mats in Sweden recently mentioned in an email ‘On  Becoming an Old Sailor’, an article I wrote a little  more than ten years ago.  Out of curiosity I reread  it myself.   One of the benefits of making a  career of narcissistically writing about yourself  is that you can follow the evolution of your thoughts, such as they are.
        I was sixty-five when  I  wrote the article.  I still owned THE HAWKE OF TUONELA  and her mooring in  New Zealand.   
        I  have now been seventy-six for  a few days.  HAWKE and her mooring are long gone.  I’ve almost completed two more circumnavigations since then.  And for the record, I can still do my  age  in push-ups.   In fact  this week  I have  done 80 in the first set instead of the  requisite 76.  That was  still followed by 40 each in the second and third sets.  
        I  have gone blind in my right eye, almost completely severed the supraspinatus  in my left  shoulder, wear hearing aids, and have had several skin cancers whittled away.  
        The fact is that none of this matters very much.  They are mere  nuisances.  I  may  be deluding myself,  but I think I am still good.
        As I noted in an addendum to the original piece, I  did  buy Facnor gennaker furling gear, which revolutionized  how I  sail.   On GANNET I replaced it with a ProFurl Spinex top down furler, which is even better.   I set asymmetricals  much more often than I used to rather than less.  GANNET is very much  a three sail boat.
        I never did  buy a power windlass for THE HAWKE OF TUONELA  and certainly don’t need  one on GANNET.
        My  back seldom bothers me  and my memory is still reasonably good, though I am aware that if I don’t  use  new information I tend to lose it.
        The  last  sentence  of  the  article is:  So far turning a middle-aged fool into an old one hasn’t made much difference.
        Turning  an old fool into a much older one hasn’t either.


        Chris in South Africa and Graham in Australia independently wrote to  me about John Guzzwell’s TREKKA ROUND THE WORLD.  I very seldom read sailing books any more.  I read this one decades ago.  After their  emails, I  found  and downloaded a Kindle edition and just  finished and  enjoyed  it, in part because I have since sailed  many  times to the  places and along the  routes he followed and was interested to learn how  they were when he was sailing TREKKA in the  late 1950s, and  in part because John Guzzwell’s thoughts and  opinions about boats and seamanship are much the same as mine.  
        We do vary in significant ways.  He is a trained  carpenter and built his own boats which  I cannot do.   On the other hand, I don’t get seasick or sail in  company with others.  Some single-handers are more solitary than others.
        If  you  do not know of TREKKA, she was 20’ long,  built of wood, and at the  time the smallest  boat to circumnavigate.  Guzzwell built her in nine months near  Victoria, British Columbia and then made a four year circumnavigation when he was in his mid-twenties.
        TREKKA was a fine boat and ahead of her time.  Guzzwell went with light displacement when most sailors wanted heavy boats.  Oddly, some still do.  TREKKA, a few feet smaller than GANNET, displaced only six hundred pounds more.  As a percentage that is  almost 30%, but remarkably light for TREKKA’s time.
        The sailing world was very different in the 1950s.   Few boats.  Few facilities.   And far fewer regulations.
        I second Chris’s and Graham’s recommendation of TREKKA ROUND THE WORLD.


        The famous French photographer,  Henri Cartier-Bresson was  known for trying to capture the decisive moment.  My friend Steve Earley just took a photograph worthy of Cartier-Bresson when he heard a bicycle rider approaching as he was preparing to shoot a docked hundred year old sailing ship.  That perfect image appears on his site separately under the heading ‘On the waterfront’ and in ‘A walk in the park', a collection of excellent images taken at various times near the same location.