Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Hilton Head Island: from the porch: dust; 51 years to catch up; horde

On an intermittently rainy day that has thus far remained comfortable, we are confined to the screened in porch.  The screens are floor to ceiling and some rain has blown in.  Radar shows a band of heavy showers due in an hour which may drive us inside.  The forecast also mentions possible waterspouts.  Not, I think, on Skull Creek.  Work inside seems confined to the laundry room, so we should be able to find refuge somewhere out of the way if we must.  Until this place is finished, assuming it ever is, I will be glad to be in control of my own space elsewhere.  We fly back to Chicago tomorrow morning.

Sahara dust has reached as far as Chicago.  I thank Jimmy and Jay for the above photo of a dust enhanced sunset.  Considerably more boats in the water than in the last photo from Jay and Jimmy of Monroe Harbor for what will be a very short sailing season.  

Sunrises, sunsets, and the moon are often beautiful over Lake Michigan.

As some of you will know, Scot, the owner and editor of the Sailing Anarchy website, has just bought an Ericson 35 Mk 2.  I know Scot.  He even once bought me a fine lunch at the San Diego Yacht Club.  I wrote to him under the subject:  congratulations on catching up.

I knew you talked about buying an Ericson 35-2 and see that you finally did.  It has taken you 51 years to catch up with me, who bought off the plans and had the second one in the water in 1969.  Well, most never catch up with me at all, so you have done well.  

And in reply to a question on how I liked the boat:

I lived on board with a beautiful woman at Harbor Island Marina in the early 70s, sailed as much as one can in Southern California, which has the best climate in the world, but as you know usually not much wind and few, almost no anchorages, and prepared for breaking away forever.  When Ericson came out with the 37 in I think 1973 I traded up and had a 37 built without lifelines or engine or through hull fittings below the waterline.  The 37 had engineering problems with the rig, particularly the bolts through the mast below deck level in lieu of tie rods, and on the passage in which I became the first American to round Cape Horn alone the hull cracked and in five months at sea I ended up bailing seven tons of water out with a bucket every 24 hours.  I have occasionally wondered if I might have done better to have stuck with the 35 for my first circumnavigation.  She was a fine boat and a pretty one, which boats should be, though I was not sailing her as you will.

All the best from the other coast.

The cover story of the July issue of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is about an expedition to try to recover a camera carried by Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine, who disappeared near the summit of Mt. Everest with George Mallory in 1924.  Since then there has been a question of whether they died on the way up or down, and if down, whether they were the first men to reach the top.

I was struck by several aspects of this expensive presumably for TV endeavor, among them how unlikely it ever was to succeed and how disproportionate the effort and cost even if it were successful, but most by the statement that as the team was waiting to summit, 450 others were also waiting on the Nepal side of the mountain and 200 more on the Chinese.  Almost all of whom had paid according to Google $45,000 and up.  In some photos illustrating the article Levittowns of tents despoil the mountain.  Not quite an edge of human experience.  

Spoiler:  the camera was not found.  The ‘crevice’ seen in an aerial photograph in which Irvine’s body was ‘certain to be’ proved to be a dark rock that only looked like a crevice.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Hilton Head Island: but not for long

I am sitting in the green chair in the above photograph.  Glenn Gould’s 1955 performance of the Bach Goldberg’s Variations which made him famous is playing on my AirPod Pros.  Gould preferred his 1981 performance.  I do not.  About music I am to Glenn Gould as he is to me as a sailor and a writer.

Yesterday I set up the Internet with Spectrum’s self-install kit.  The installation was easy.  Connecting to the Internet was not because the network printed on the bottom of the router was wrong as was the password.  A long phone call finally sorted that out.  

I also scrubbed a year and a half of dirt off our bicycles.

But today we have accepted that too much is not functional here and that we can do nothing more except get in the way of workers, so we are flying back to Evanston on Wednesday.  

We did have an enjoyable ride on the clean bicycles early this afternoon.

All of Carol’s decisions and choices about the renovation are proving to be impeccable as is to be expected.  I can see what this place hopefully soon will be.

I have two goals for the remainder of this year.  That after almost three years and an almost inconceivable amount of money this condo will be habitable.  That GANNET be moved from San Diego and be visible beyond our deck.  

There is maybe a third, of less importance.  I would like to go to Saint Louis and view for the last time the house in which I grew up, the Mark Twain Hotel from which my father leapt to his death, the Kirkwood Public Library into which I escaped and found a wider world, and maybe a bridge over the Missouri River where when I could drive I went, parked, and climbed down to find solace beside running, muddy water that I knew led to the sea.  The sea. The glorious sea.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hilton Head Island: return

We are camping out in a work site so appropriately we sat on folding camp chairs last evening, sipping martinis and watching the tide creep toward us through the spartina and the sun lowering beyond live oaks and Spanish moss.  It was lovely.  Carol estimates that the work is 85-90% complete.  

I found it odd to look out at the marina where I kept GANNET for a year and from which I sailed for Panama a year and a half ago.  As the tide neared I wanted to feel that it was welcoming me back, but of course water does not know or care.  But I do.  And I am very glad to be so near water again and to see it every time I look up.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Savannah: GANNET 2; Slocum; hitchhiker; mattressed; the importance of fans; easy

Michael, who answers 911 in Key West, walks his noble Carolina Dog, Rusty, and is married to the long suffering Layne, has with her bought a van in which they plan to live and travel when they retire in a few years.  It has just been christened GANNET 2.  Michael and Layne have lived on sailboats.  Living in a van is similar, although the van points higher and goes to windward faster.  GANNET and I are sincerely honored and wish Michael, Layne and Rusty, the joy of vanning.

Here is a link if you would like to see more.

I thank Tim for a copy of a news item from the June 28, 1898  issue of the KANSAS CITY JOURNALl upon the completion of Joshua Slocum’s circumnavigation.  It incorrectly says that THE SPRAY was 33’ long.  She was 37’.  

Yesterday while waiting for our mattress to be delivered, this tried to hitch a ride.  It remained sitting on the car for quite a while, but when I finally got out, it flew away.  We never did understand what it was trying to tell us.

While the mattress was delivered as scheduled painters were working, so we had it left on the floor of the dining area and will not try to sleep in the condo until tomorrow night when workers should be gone for the weekend.  It will very much be camping out.  The main bathroom and shower are functional as are most of the kitchen appliances.  Work which was initially supposed to be completed by mid-May, then mid-June, is now said will be completed by the end of July.  During the day we will be largely confined to the screened in porch, which is not air conditioned but does have a ceiling fan, or have to find other ways and places to occupy ourselves.

We moved from the Marriott on Hilton Head’s beach to a Marriott on Savannah’s riverfront about twenty-five miles to the southwest for these two nights.  Savannah is the oldest city in the state of Georgia and a major port due to planning to handle the bigger ships passing through the new Panama locks.  We haven’t seen much of the town and won’t this time because of the pandemic.  We were able this morning to take our coffee and muffins down and breakfast quite pleasantly beside the river.

After a home victory athletes often give credit to their fans.  An interesting article in this morning’s NY TIMES shows that based on data from the reopened German Bundesliga where matches are played in empty stadiums indicates that they are right.  Home field advantage is the fans.

Another article in the TIMES says that the boat business is booming.  Whoever wrote it seems to think that all boats are power boats.

I quote:  In comparison to other big-ticket items like planes or even cars, there is surprisingly little to learn when driving a boat; MarineMax sends a captain out with clients for a single four-hour tutorial.

I thought you would want to know that.  It explains a lot.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Hilton Head Island: exposed and eluded

From mid-March until yesterday Carol and I had been within six feet of other human beings only a handful of times and never for more than a few seconds.  Yesterday that changed.  Big time.  We have now been around hundreds, some of whom wore masks, some of whom did not, and we continue to be around many more each day.

O’Hare’s Terminal 3 seemed slightly less busy than before the pandemic, but only slightly.  Social distancing was difficult, sometimes impossible.  We flew on American Eagle on an aircraft that was almost full.  American requires passengers to wear face masks and all did, but one young man in the row in front of us and on the other side of the aisle kept lowering his to turn around and talk to his friend behind him, until another passenger asked him to stop.  He apologized and did.

At Savannah Airport where we landed, most passengers wore masks, but few of the employees in the various airport businesses, including the car rental agency, did.

The Marriott Hotel where we are staying for a couple of nights is ten stories high, by far the tallest building on the island which has been intelligently developed and does not want to become another Miami Beach.  I don’t believe any other building on Hilton Head is more than four stories high.  The behind the scenes story of how the Marriott got permissions might be interesting.

All the staff of the hotel wear face masks, almost none of the guests other than us do.  We have seen a few more masked today.  Only one other yesterday.

In response to the pandemic the hotel does not provide room service and rooms are only made up every three days or, of course, earlier at the end of your stay.

We had an appointment with the contractor at the condo this morning.  He failed to appear for reasons yet unknown, but a plumber and two painters were there, along with a foreman, all unmasked.

We’ve gone into a Whole Foods and a Fresh Market, in both of which all employees and customers were masked, as were all in a Spectrum store where we picked up a self-install Internet kit.

The numbers of cases and deaths per 100,000 in South Carolina are not yet high, but they are in steep ascent.

Of the condo itself.  Much work has been done and is outstanding.  Unfortunately more needs to be done than we expected.  The place is still a construction site.  A mattress is scheduled to be delivered Wednesday.  We had planned on sleeping there that night.  Whether we will remains to be seen.

Hilton Head Island is beautiful and continues to elude us.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Evanston: We the Sheeple

This is a rare second post in a single day.

While as usual in early evening, sipping a martini and listening to Bach—Sonata No, 3 in D Minor—I happened across the above while scrolling through Apple News.  

Just before that I read that South Carolina, among several other states, set a new daily record high of reported coronavirus cases, and that local leaders are ‘considering’ a mandatory face mask requirement for some businesses, while the Governor of South Carolina declares that a mandatory face mask requirement is unenforceable.

Proofs that we are not an intelligent species just keep on coming.  As is to be expected because we aren’t.

Evanston: some numbers; congratulations; into the maelstrom

The United States has 4% of the world population.

The United States has about 25% of the known coronavirus cases and about 25% of the known coronavirus deaths.

The United States spends far more on health care that any other nation.

If you are a soccer fan you already know that two days ago Liverpool clinched their first English Premier League title in thirty years with I think seven matches to go.  They are on a multi-record breaking pace and are now champions of Europe, champions of the world, as well as champions of England, which probably means the most to their players and fans.  They are also a joy to watch.

From our third floor condo in Evanston we have clear views of the sky to the south where before the pandemic there were almost always several planes in landing or takeoff patterns for O’Hare thirteen miles away.  Now planes are noticeable by their absence to the extent that when either of us sees one, we comment.  Tomorrow we will be on one of those seemingly few aircraft.  I am curious what is normally one of the busiest airports in the world will be like.

In checking the weather for Hilton Head, which unsurprisingly will be hot, I found a ‘Special Weather Statement’.  Air quality will be low because of the combination of heat and Saharan dust that has blown across the Atlantic.  Hurricanes are expected risks in Hilton Head.  But sand storms?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Evanston: first sail; open; wronged by algorithm; risk; a great hope

Several readers were taken by ZIP, the square rigger masquerading as a wooden Sunfish.  I thank Larry for permission to share his sail on Sunfish, a plastic one.

The first boat I ever sailed was a Sunfish on Traverse Bay, Michigan.
It was during the summer of 1970. I was 30.

A beautiful young woman impressed by my confidence, as well as my assurance that we would not drown, agreed to join me for her first sailing experience as well.
We easily sailed offshore for two hours without incident - then we had to get back to the dock. That proved to be a lot harder than we expected!
A zillion tacks later we made it.
Lesson learned: It’s a lot tougher sailing against the wind.
But we were both hooked on sailing during that beautiful day 49 years ago.

It is indeed tougher to sail against the wind.  I try to avoid it.  Not always with success.  I recall a biography of Robert Lewis Stevenson, who suffered from poor health all his too brief life, aptly titled VOYAGE TO WINDWARD.

From Jimmy and Jay comes the above recent photograph of Monroe Harbor in downtown Chicago.  The harbors have finally opened, but obviously many owners have decided not to launch this year.

I received a comment about one of my YouTube videos so I watched it.  When it ended YouTube’s algorithm tried to run next something titled, “Seasick Leaving Gibraltar”, by a middle aged couple of I know not what nationality or boat.  I did not watch.  Obviously I am beyond the algorithm’s understanding.  Or perhaps it has me confused with someone else.

Yesterday I learned of the first person I personally know to have died from COVID 19.

Carol and I have been well isolated since March.  That is changing.   Her office is reopening next month and, more immediately, we are flying to Savannah, where we will rent a car for the thirty mile drive to Hilton Head, on Sunday.  American Airlines emailed that our flight is nearly full and that we can change to another without charge.  The plane is smaller than a 737 with only two seats on each side of the aisle.  I do not like face masks, which cause me some difficulty breathing and fog up my eyeglasses, but I wear one when around others.  People in Illinois do. The virus numbers are decreasing here.  It will be interesting to see what people are doing in South Carolina, where the numbers, while still relatively low, are sharply increasing.

Last evening in THE SEASHELL ANTHOLOGY OF GREAT POETRY I came across ‘The New Colossus’, the source of the words on the Statue of Liberty.  I did not know the whole poem.  This country once was one of the great ideas and great hopes in the history of our species.

The opening lines refer to the ancient Colossus of Rhodes.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Evanston: sighting; Square Rigger; magnetic

We walked through the cemetery to the lake this morning and saw a coyote for the first time in several weeks.  This one was at some distance from the den we located earlier.  We read that coyotes often change dens.  Whether the one above is the growing pup or one of the parents we do not know.  He was breakfasting on a squirrel or a rat.  He did not want to share and keep his eye on us.

Above you have Audrey, Admiral of the Small Boat Armada maintained by Kent, who is also Fleet Photographer.  She is sailing ZIP, a wooden Sunfish.  Both Kent and Audrey like the wooden Sunfish because it creaks and sounds like a square rigger. 

Here is a link to a short video of ZIP underway.

Some people have all the fun.

Speaking of which I am suffering from an increasingly severe case of captiterraphobia, which as some of you may remember is my self-named disease of fear of being trapped by land.  I have now been in the upper flatlands for more than three months.  Too long.  Fortunately a cure is at hand.  We fly to Hilton Head on Sunday.

We watched a film, MAGNETIC, last evening on Netflix.  This is a 2018 documentary about “men and women attracted by the magnetic force of unleashed elements.”  Hmm.  Despite this —and I remember only one token woman—there is footage of young people performing astonishing feats:  riding huge waves, skiing down perpendicular mountains,  mountain biking, kiting, parasailing.  The movie is entertaining.  One aspect that perhaps I am one of the few to have noticed is that all the endeavors were team efforts.   I found myself wondering what the lives of these athletes will be like, and if they survive to 78, if they will still be trying to figure out what they ought to do next.