Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Evanston: 2015



        Carol and I are sipping morning coffee in front of the fireplace.  Outside is sunny and 6°F/-14.4°C.  I won’t be going there except to empty the trash this afternoon.
        Champagne is in the refrigerator.  The Christmas turkey has been reduced to turkey soup, which Carol made yesterday and on which we will feast this evening while watching a football game.
        There is zero possibility that either of us will be awake at midnight.
        I look into the flames and wonder where GANNET will be a year from now.  I had thought South Africa, but it would not be a tragedy if she has to remain in the Bay of Islands for another year.  Assuming I have a year to spare.
        2015.  To some of us an astonishing number.  Something from science fiction.  Yet tomorrow it will be.
        I wish you a year of fulfillment and joy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Evanston: honor; advice; how long?



        In April of last year I wrote:

San Diego:  honorable or why I don’t follow the Vendee Globe

        From ANTIFRAGILE:  Things that gain from disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb:           
        ‘A man is honorable in proportion to the personal risks he takes for his opinion--in other words, the amount of downside he is exposed to.’

        I was reminded of this by the recent grounding of VESTAS during the Volvo Race, which I also don’t follow for the same reason; nor the America’s Cup; nor any of the other big money, big sponsored boat races; and even more by the remarkable salvaging of VESTAS.  I was wrong when I called the hope of one of the crew that the boat could be saved delusional.  With enough money and time most problems can be solved and I failed to imagine the amount of sponsor money available in this instance, even though I know the boat is said to be worth six million dollars.  
        I’ve seen videos of interviews with the navigator and the captain of VESTAS.  Both back in their homes, the navigator in the Netherlands, the captain in Australia, a few days after the wreck. 
        If you or I put our boat on that isolated reef, it would still be there, and so probably would we.  That is the point:  there is a huge difference, a quantum leap, between sailing a sponsored boat when you know that if you get in trouble monumental assistance is a sat phone call away and if you break it someone else is going to pay the bills; than sailing your own boat completely at risk and which if you lose will take you years to replace.
        The people who sail in these races are mostly good sailors and the multi-million dollar boats capable of amazing speeds; but the sailors are only hired guns and the races mere spectacles that, despite the hype, don’t say anything interesting about the human spirit.

———

        I had lunch recently with Mark who has started four companies, two successful, two not.
        I later read his analysis of one that was not as a view into a world alien to me.  It caused me to consider my dictum that debts are chains.  I still believe they are, but accept that at times in controlled amounts debt can be liberating.  
        For myself, I intend to continue to pay cash for everything.
        I don’t often offer people advice and even less often unsolicited advice, but I did suggest that Mark not enter harbors at night.
        I can only recall breaking that rule three times.
        I went into the Bay of Islands at night at the end of my fifth circumnavigation, but those are my home waters and the way in is wide and free of obstructions.  I had good visibility and a GPS chartplotter.
        Carol and I entered Rio de Janeiro after dark.  Again a wide mouth to Guanabara Bay, a GPS chartplotter, and a clear course to where we anchored in a cove just inside.
        The third occasion was entering Walvis Bay, Namibia
        Sunset found us ten miles outside the harbor.  
        This was in 1988 before GPS, but a full moon rose and I could see that we could follow a curve on the ocean floor of equal depth—I don’t remember the exact number—on the depthfinder around Pelican Point to the harbor docks.  Stay in 30’ of water, or whatever it was, and we would be safe.  We did and anchored two hundred yards off town lights at midnight.
        When I woke at 6:00 the next morning I called the Port Captain on my handheld VHF.
        He answered promptly.  Walvis Bay was then a part of South Africa for reasons that went back before the First World War, so the accent was South African.  South Africa had troops in neighboring Angola and all lighthouses were manned by the military.
        He said, “What time did you arrive?”
        “We anchored at midnight.”
        “When I came on duty an hour ago,” he replied, “I called Pelican Point and asked, ‘What time did the yacht go by?’.  And they replied, ‘What yacht?’.  And I thought to myself:  so much for our defense forces.’ “
        While I’m offering unsolicited advice, to:
            Get out of debt.
            Don’t enter harbors after dark.
        I would add:
            Don’t let other people define you.
        Which implies that you had better define yourself and stick to it or they surely will.

———

        Some of you follow the weather off Cape Horn as I do.  Tom noticed that the wind is now east down there, today the second of three successive days—the image above is this morning’s world wind map—and asked how long the passage around Cape Horn from the east would take.
        Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands is 450 miles from Horn Island.  GANNET could easily do that in three or four days.  But rounding Cape Horn is traditionally going from 50°S in one ocean to 50°S in the other not entering the Tierra del Fuego channels.  Cape Horn is 56°S, and the course not due north, so it is more than another 360 miles to reach 50°S in the Pacific.
        Once in the Pacific the Chilean coast is a dangerous lee shore.  The first man to solo around Cape Horn, Al Hansen, did so east to west and was killed when his boat was driven onto that coast.  So it is prudent to try to stay at least a hundred miles offshore.
        And finally, my destination would be Puerto Montt, which at 41° 25’ S, is another five hundred miles north
        450 + 360 + 500 = 1310.  Round it up to 1500 miles.  
        GANNET has done that in ten days; often in twelve.  But gale force headwinds are all but inevitable in those fifteen hundred miles.  Perhaps repeatedly.
        Two weeks would be very fortunate.  But probably three.  Or even more.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Evanston: articles added


        I have been remiss in adding articles to their page after they have been published, particularly this year when I was sailing GANNET and didn’t see magazines until I returned to Evanston last month.
        These are with one exception as I wrote them, not necessarily as they appeared in print.  The exception is ‘Use Yourself Up’ which is the title CRUISING WORLD gave the piece and much better than the embarrassingly duller one I chose. 
        I don’t know how people will react to what I write and almost deleted the paragraph in which that phrase appeared.
        I haven’t reread the articles  word for word today, but did notice in glancing through them that some of the information is already dated.  How I sail and live aboard GANNET continues to evolve.  But I let the words stand as being accurate when I wrote them.
       In one piece I noticed I referred to someone as a friend who proved merely to be an acquaintance, a common experience I expect unfortunately too common to us all.  I let that stand, too.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Evanston: report to Moores


        Some of you know that GANNET, hull number 40, crossed the Pacific Ocean this year from San Diego to Opua, New Zealand, 6,400 miles as measured by straight line noon to noon positions, in five passages and a day under four months.  I’ve written about this online and for CRUISING WORLD, but thought that my fellow Moore owners and sailors might have particular interest in my experience and conclusions about the boat.
        First, I sail GANNET differently than you do.  I expect that most of you most of the time are trying to go as fast as possible, while I am often deliberately slowing GANNET down:  to avoid entering a harbor at night; for damage control, as when she repeatedly goes airborne off waves and crash lands on the other side; and sometimes just to make conditions more bearable for me.  Life aboard becomes increasingly difficult at angles of heel greater than 20° and decidedly unpleasant at more than 30°. 
        I acknowledge that to some extent I am misusing hull number 40.  Moore 24s are sprinters, even those raced to Hawaii.  And I am pacing GANNET to sail a marathon.
        Living aboard GANNET in what I am pleased to call her Great Cabin has been an interesting and ultimately satisfying exercise in problem solving.  I am presently back in the midwestern flatlands spending time with Carol, my wife, but I lived aboard GANNET continuously for six months.  While I ate some meals ashore in port, GANNET was my home for all that time and I didn’t spend a single night ashore.  I can fit every important part of my life—except Carol—into GANNET, and she doesn’t want to fit there anyway:  sailing, reading, writing, taking photographs, listening to music.  I could live aboard her indefinitely, and, at least by my standards, live well.  This, to those of you who know Moore 24s, might seem a greater accomplishment than crossing an ocean.
        Four things have most impressed me about GANNET.  
        Acceleration.  She is sailing along at 6 or 7 knots, catches a wave, even a small wave, or a gust of wind, even a small gust, and instantly is doing 9 or 10 knots.  And she runs true, even steered by tiller pilot.
        The maximum speed I have observed has been 12.4 knots.  I expect that all of you have seen higher.  But while hand-steering down twelve to fifteen foot waves in a gale off New Zealand, often I couldn’t read the mast mounted Velocitek through rain, and even more often I was looking at the ocean not the Velocitek, so I don’t know how fast she might have gone. 
        Quickness of motion.  I don’t get sea sick, and I have never before on bigger boats or smaller, not even after a passage five months long, felt the ground move when I step ashore.  After sailing GANNET, the ground moves. 
        GANNET is wet.  I knew that she would be.  Going to windward in more than twenty knots, when she is not airborne, she is a submarine.  I sailed even a wetter boat without a deck most of the way around the world.  But GANNET is wet.  
        Everything that can be damaged by water is stored in waterproof containers, except me and I have good foul weather gear.
        I am filled with admiration and respect for Buzz Ballenger and Ron Moore and those who work and worked with them.
        Buzz Ballenger made a semi-custom mast and boom for GANNET, stiffer than standard.  GANNET also has one-size larger than standard rigging.  And at Buzz’s suggestion when I emailed him from Honolulu about sailing the boat under jib alone, she has running backstays.  Everything has held together despite prolonged stress, and I have never observed the mast pumping.
        When Ron Moore and his people were laying up hull number 40 in 1979, they could never have imagined that she would cross the Pacific Ocean.   Yet honor and justifiable pride in their craftsmanship caused them to build her well enough to do so.  
        I have not hauled GANNET since she arrived in New Zealand in September.  I plan to do so when I return next year, a return that may be delayed by shoulder surgery.  But I have seen no indication that she has sustained any structural damage.  Anti-foul.  Re-provision.  Carry on another armful of tiller pilots.  And she will be ready to go.
        I’m the one who has sustained structural damage.
        I use words carefully, which puts me at a disadvantage in our Age of Hype.  I particularly do not use ‘great’ loosely.   But sometimes designers and builders just get it right—and I note that George Olsen and Ron Moore are often listed as co-designers.  With the Moore 24 they did.  GANNET is a great boat.
       But you already knew that.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Evanston: first world to third; thinner water


        Our washing machine died and a new one won’t be delivered for a week.  
        Somewhere, probably in FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR, Mark Twain observed that the national pastime of India is breaking rocks with wet clothes.
        As recently as the 1980s I saw women on South Pacific Islands washing clothes in streams and whacking them against rocks.  I am not sure why.  Nature’s fabric softener?
        We considered going to a laundromat, but Carol remembered that we have jacuzzi jets in the bathtub.  So she placed essential clothes in the tub, filled with water, added soap, turned on jacuzzi, and had instant agitator action.
        I wandered by somewhat later and, glancing in the bathroom, saw her happily stirring the mass with a broom handle.  Having recently reread MacBeth, I paused to listen for incantations, and was pleased there were none.
        Fortunately the dryer still works.  Hanging clothes to dry outside on bare tree limbs in Evanston in December is not appealing.

———

        Tim brought Dylan Winter’s YouTube channel, keepturningleft to my attention, for which I thank him.  Dylan is sailing, slowly, around the British Isles and going up every river,  or almost, along the way in a boat about the size of GANNET.  This is very different sailing, but water is water, whether deep or thin, and the  joy of being on it is all that really matters.
        Tim suggested I start with the video of “Brothers in Arms” which is apposite and beautiful, and one of Ricardo Martin Day.  I also watched the much longer video of his trip up the River Ouse to York, a view of a watery world I do not know.
        Dylan Winter is a clever man and a fine video maker.  There is a lot of content here.  I’ll be viewing more.

      

Friday, December 19, 2014

Evanston: The Botanist; hyperbole




        One evening while we were in North Carolina, we arranged to meet friends at a restaurant in Charlotte for dinner.  Carol and I were early, so we waited at the bar where I ordered a martini.  They did not have the usual gins I drink, so I told the young bartender to make the drink with whatever he thought best.  He did with The Botanist, a gin of which I had never heard and now enjoy greatly, perhaps even on occasion excessively.  
        If you google ‘The Botanist gin reviews’ you will find a lot of love.  The spirit comes from of all places, Islay, the home of Laphroaig and many other fine single malt scotches, and is the creation of Bruichladdich Master Distiller, Jim McEwan, who must have gotten tired of smelling peat.  The name, Botanist, comes ‘from the 22 unique Islay botanicals which have been gathered by hand from the hills and valleys which surround the distillery’.  These are used in addition to those standard in gin.  I do not like floral or sweet drinks, and The Botanist is not one, though the native botanicals do give the spirit a unique flavor.  
        The Botanist is very smooth.  It can be sipped straight without ice.  I have done so.  But of course Englishmen in the Tropics and lone voyagers have long drunk gin without ice.  The Botanist, however, is truly enjoyable that way.  One reviewer said that it might be the best unaged spirit he has ever tasted.  I agree.
        I’ve never been to Islay (if interested, here is the proper pronunciation).  Carol and I came close while driving through Scotland twenty years ago, but the ferry connections didn’t work for us.   Given time I’ll make the pilgrimage to see the home of Laphroaig and all those other fine single malts.  And now The Botanist, too.

———

        John Gorka sings in ‘Ignorance and Privilege’, 
                “If the wind is at your back
                  and you never turn around 
                  You may never know the wind is there 
                  You may never hear the sound.”
        I thought of this because we, all of us in every country, live in a poisoned atmosphere, not just of chemicals but words, and most never get outside that atmosphere and so never know it has surrounded them all their lives.  I’ve never felt the difference more than returning to America this time from the monastery of the sea, though perhaps that was only because I flew in on election day when the Internet and television were infested even more than usual with politicians.
        Almost all advertising is deception and/or lies.  So are the self-serving pronouncements of politicians.  News readers speak rapidly to raise excitement and dramatically emphasize words intended to increase fear.  Sports are hyped.  And hyped.  And hyped.  Which is why I often watch sports with the sound turned off and music turned on.  The mere event is not enough.  Gross exaggeration has become the norm and is expected.  There is no room for simple truth.
        Hyperbole is the best known of the figures of rhetoric discussed by Mark Forsyth in ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE, which I just finished and enjoyed.  
        Not all hyperbole is evil.  Some is amusing.  If politically incorrect in an Age of Obesity. 
        On being told that a neighbor was going to marry a woman of size, Sydney Smith 1771-1845, replied:

Marry her!  Impossible!  You mean a part of her; he could not marry her all himself.  It would be a case not of bigamy, but trigamy; the neighborhood or the magistrates should interfere.  There is enough of her to furnish wives for a whole parish.  One man marry her!—it is monstrous.  You might people a colony with her; or give an assembly with her; or perhaps take your morning walk around her, always provided there were frequent resting places, and you were in good health.  I once was rash enough to try walking around her before breakfast, but only got half way, and gave it up exhausted.  Or you might read the Riot Act and disperse her.  In short, you might do anything with her but marry her.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Evanston: the best laid...


        Were I not reading ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE I would not know that the title of this entry is an example of aposiopesis.  I don’t believe it is necessary for any of us to know that word, which is Greek for becoming silent; but the book is enjoyable due to the quotes used as examples and Mark Forsyth’s own wit and charm.  Writing a charming book on rhetoric is a tour de force. 
        In the title I was aiming at ambiguity. Unfortunately the dots stand not for Dorothy Parker’s friends, but for Robert Burns’ observation that the plans of mice and men gang aft agley, though the poem actually says ‘schemes’ not ‘plans.’
        Whatever, agley mine have gone.
        I learned the results of the MRI yesterday.  Something unpronounceable in my shoulder is torn far worse than the orthopedist had thought and is almost certainly going to require surgery.  With the holidays the earliest I can be seen by the surgeon is three weeks from today.  My return flight to New Zealand is three months tomorrow.  I don’t expect to be on it, though it is possible that I might still be able to sail from New Zealand by June.
        If I do sail from New Zealand in May or June, 2015, it will be to the west.  Some of you will already have concluded that from my study of the winds off Cape Horn.  Today is the beginning of the best week of weather for rounding the Horn from the east in more than a month with winds sometimes deviating from due west and falling from 20 to 25 knots to the teens and even single digits a week from today.  After that a fifty knot storm is due.  But that is what Jordan Drogues are for.
        The reasons for wanting to continue west are both post positive and negative.
        The negative is that while I would like to round Cape Horn again, and that is easier to do west to east, I can muster no enthusiasm for continuing on around the world in the Southern Ocean.
        The positives are that there are many places I’d like to see again if I sail west:  perhaps Lord Howe Island in the Tasman; my favorite coastal sail in the world from Cairns, Australia, to Cape York; an isolated reef west of Darwin, which I have not visited before; Cocos; perhaps Mauritius; South Africa; Namibia; and St. Helena.
        Beyond St. Helena there are four ways around or through the Americas:  the Northwest Passage; Panama; the Straits of Magellan; and around Cape Horn.
        Ultra-light GANNET would not make a very good ice breaker, and I live in Chicago where I’m cold enough, so the Northwest Passage is out.
        Panama is easiest, and that’s the way I may end up going.
        The Magellan Straits have gusty, shifting winds; strong currents; painfully deep anchorages; and constant lee shores; and I like sea room.
        So I’d sail down to the Falklands and wait for an auspicious time to try Cape Horn from the east.
        Only three or four men have rounded the Horn solo from both directions, and none in a boat as small as GANNET.  That is, of course, part of its appeal to me now that it seems obvious that GANNET can, baring human error and the vicissitudes of time and chance, circumnavigate.
        The problem is that it may not be possible in GANNET.  That, too, has its appeal.  Not that it may be impossible, but that I don’t know.  I didn’t know when I set out in EGREGIOUS or CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE if those voyages were possible.
        I am aware that, despite my experience, I may be guilty of a failure of imagination and memory and simply not recall how severe conditions are below 50°South. 
        If it is impossible that could be due to two reasons:  the boat is not up to it or I at my age am not up to it.  
       Considering that at the moment I can’t sail at all, we’ll leave that for another day.  Even another year. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Evanston: disarmed

        Sailing GANNET has unexpected side benefits.
        Yesterday I went for an MRI on my shoulder.  The young woman who was operating the machine asked if I am claustrophobic because many people have problems with MRIs.  I do not.  To the contrary.  When she slid me inside the tube, I peered around and thought:  This is bigger than GANNET’s pipe berths.  And more comfortable.  And drier.
        I do not yet know the results of the MRI.
        The orthopedist is reasonably confident that I have tears in two of the muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff.  The MRI is to determine if I need surgery of if physical therapy will be sufficient.  In either event, recovery will be slow.
        At present I have discomfort rather than pain, except on certain movements, but I am not capable of sailing GANNET on an ocean passage.  I could not steer with my left hand except briefly, certainly not for the nine hours I did in the gale the last day into Opua.  And I cannot sleep on my left side, which is necessary at times, or take pressure on that side, which is inevitable when I am sitting at Central and GANNET is heeled to port.
        When we arrived in Opua GANNET was frayed.  Now I am.
        Hopefully I will be repaired sufficiently to return to New Zealand in March and sail by May.
        In the meantime I am in danger of becoming lopsided.
        Although I did my full workout, including my age in push-ups and crunches, on my birthday as a point of honor, I have been told not to do push-ups.  The orthopedist, who is in his thirties, looked surprised when I asked about push-ups.  I don’t suppose that many septuagenarians do.  So I’ve modified my workout and now do 100 crunches, followed by 250 knee bends, followed by 73 crunches, and 100 side leg raises each leg, and then various right arm only exercises with the Bull Worker.
        I am uncertain whether this will result in a list to port or to starboard. 

———

        We are in one of those increasingly frequent periods when I find what passes as the news on television to be intolerable, so last evening I turned it off and watched the 17 best drone videos of 2014.  
        I have no idea if these are the best, but all except the one about the Apple campus, which should be one minute long instead of eight, are interesting, and several are outstanding.  The one by the rock band OK Go is most original and should not be missed.
        Drones are changing the way we see the world, as well as the way we kill enemies.
        Mark, who sent me the link to the 17, for which I thank him, suggested that I could use a drone to photograph GANNET, an idea that I may implement one day.

———

        From Dave came reference to ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE, for which I thank him—I bought the Kindle edition but haven’t read it yet—and from a review of the book came an irresistible quote from Dorothy Parker:  It’s a small apartment.  I’ve barely room to lay my hat and a few friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Evanston: a better view





        We are back from a long weekend visiting Carol’s family in North Carolina.  Her sister lives on a lovely property complete with dock and boat house on a lake near Charlotte and her parents nearby.  
        Above was our view when we woke Sunday morning.  That is only a cove.  The entire lake stretches for miles and is big enough for GANNET, if the little sloop did not have oceanic ambition.

———

        GANNET apparently became bored hanging out on her mooring waiting for me to return and went to England.  I only found out when Martin checked the tracking page recently and emailed me.
       
         I have the Yellowbrick back.  Water had gotten into the USB charging port on the bottom, added proof were any needed that the little sloop is among the wettest of boats.  After the repair, the Yellowbrick people obviously sent a position.

———

        From James in the snowy Adirondacks comes a link to a live webcam in Opua.  The view is north.  GANNET is out of sight to the right.  If it's dark, it is night time in New Zealand.
        This photo was taken by Jason.  I thank him for letting me use it.
     


        I received an email from Mike, the young man who is checking GANNET once a month while I’m gone, who states that she is fine.

———

        In making my daily check of wind off Cape Horn I turned the world too far and chanced upon this image of the winds in the Southern Ocean all the way around the world.

———

        Being away part of December, Carol decided to have a GANNET size Christmas tree this year.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Evanston: four men and two extremes




        A review in the NY TIMES of a current production of Christopher Marlowe’s TAMBURLAINE, PART I AND II, caused me to fulfill a too long deferred intention to read the plays, which I had never done although I admire Marlowe’s DR. FAUSTUS much more than I do Goethe’s FAUST.   That may be due to never having found a good translation of Goethe.  I’ve just bought a translation by David Luke which may remedy that.
        Marlowe’s plays are a pleasure to read for the drama, really over the top melodrama, and the language.  They can be downloaded free from Project Gutenberg, though I read them in a Kindle “Collected Works” that I bought from Amazon for $2.95.
        I’d like to see the New York performance, but not enough to fly there.

        TAMBURLAINE and a reference in THE NORMAN CONQUEST—the real MacBeth died in 1057, nine years before the Battle of Hastings—caused me to reread Shakespeare’s MACBETH and then seek out a movie version.
        Yesterday I watched on Amazon Instant Streaming an amazing production starring Patrick Stewart, a Shakespearean actor of great reputation, though best known to many for his role in television’s STAR TREK:  The Next Generation.
        Moved to modern times, perhaps the 1930s, using a seemingly abandoned building for much of the action, at times look-away-from-the-screen bloody, with superb acting, this a a truly memorable MACBETH.  I recommend it highly.

        From Bill in the UK came a link this morning to a piece in THE GUARDIAN about Chidiock Tichborne and his “Elegy.”
        Even if you know the source of the name of my Drascombe Lugger, his poem is worth (re)reading.

        A couple of evenings ago Carol and I re-watched A BEAUTIFUL MIND.  We saw it when it first came out, but I don’t think we have viewed it since.
        Russell Crowe won his Best Actor Academy Award for GLADIATOR, but his portrayal of John Nash, the schizophrenic who won the Noble Prize for Economics, is far more nuanced, subtle and superior.
        There really aren’t many movies for adults.  This is one; and most of the credit must go to Ron Howard’s direction in making the delusions of schizophrenia vividly real.
        At one point in the movie, I said, “It must be difficult living with someone crazy.”  To which Carol immediately replied, as we both knew she would, “It is.”

———

        From an article in the November issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC about the avalanche that killed sixteen Sherpas:

        On what would become the darkest day in the history of the world’s highest mountain, Nima Chiring, a 29-year-old Sherpa…marched to work at 3 a.m.  He had a 65-pound canister of cooking gas on his back.  Behind him was the temporary village of Everest Base Camp, where the members of some 40 international expeditions were asleep in their tents or tossing restlessly in the thin air at 17,290 feet.  Above him a string of headlamps flickering in the darkness, as more than 200 Sherpas…filed through the Khumbu Icefall….
        Some were hauling ropes, snow shovels, ice anchors, and other gear they would use to set a handrail of fixed lines all the way to Everest’s summit at 29,035 feet.  Others were lugging the equipment with which they would establish four intermediate camps higher on the mountain—sleeping bags, dining tents, tables, chairs, cooking pots, and even heaters, rugs, and plastic flowers to pretty up mealtime for their clients.

———

The above image is today’s Windfinder Pro forecast for Cape Horn.  A good day.  But gale force winds are due again twice in the coming week.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Evanston: zoom?; a mythical sail; photos not mine




        Many of you will know of the grounding on a reef in the Indian Ocean by the Volvo Race boat, TEAM VESTAS WIND.  So far I have not seen any explanation.  
        Chris in South Africa sent me a report with the coordinates of the grounding:  16°48.3’S   59°34.5’E.  
        As I have noted here in the past, often details do not appear on electronic charts until you zoom well in.  I wondered if that could be the case here; but when I opened the C-Map 93 charts on my laptop, the reefs are shown even on a small scale view covering a large area.  On the Navionics charts in my iPad, the area of shallow water is even more obvious.
        I will be interested to learn what the crew says happened and why.
        While my electronic charts were open, I checked to see if the Kermadec Islands appear on the same screen as Minerva Reefs in the new version of Navionics charts on my iPhone which combines Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Islands.  They do.  Some of you will recall that this is not the case on the older version in my iPad where the Kermadec Islands can be seen only by switching to the New Zealand chart package even though they are to the east of Minerva Reefs.  
        A definite improvement.

------

        While I am sitting in front of a fireplace with air temperature on our balcony of 23°F/-5°C, Steve Earley, who has the good sense to live somewhere warmer, is enjoying the for him no longer mythical December sail in Norfolk, Virginia waters aboard his Pathfinder yawl, SPARTINA.
        That is he in the above photo sent this morning.  Another can be found on his site and I expect in time more detail of the sail.
        I’m pleased for him.  And envious.

———

        I have written here before about Bill in southwest England who sails, cares for foster dogs, plays in a band, and even holds down a job.  He also takes imaginative photos, mostly with his smartphone.  
        There were even by his high standards some exceptional ones on his site recently.  Scroll down to “A single-handed drift”, most of which were taken by his son, Sam; then on to “Indelible”, a lovely photo of ONDINE, his father’s Drascombe Lugger anchored in Cornwall.   And then on to “Wednesday Evening” whose photos are captioned, “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?”
        All these are best seen at a larger size by clicking on them.  And I, for one, needed to do so to understand the wolf.
        Very, very well done.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Evanston: why I won't be riding in the Tour de France next year; a favorable slant; another chartplotter


        Lance lied to you.  I won’t.  I’m taking steroids.  And what’s worse, I really like them. 
        More than two months after I fell when I stepped on the end of a dock line while boarding GANNET when she was tied to the marina breakwater in Opua—another reason to prefer being on a mooring:  no dock lines to slip on—my left shoulder remained painful, so I finally went to a doctor who x-rayed and found nothing broken, tentatively diagnosed a rotator cuff problem, referred me up the chain to an orthopedist, and prescribed steroids which have provided almost immediate relief.  
        But, alas, my professional cycling career is over.  And they said I was showing such promise.

———

        Each morning I check the Earth Wind Map for a favorable wind for rounding Cape Horn from the east.  There hasn’t been one for a couple of weeks, but this morning I found the image above:  north wind 25 to 30 knots.  It won’t last long.  Perhaps only twelve hours.  But that could be seventy or eighty miles of westing.

———

        You knew I wouldn’t be able to resist seeing how iNavX works on my iPhone 6.  
        I downloaded the app and then a free NOAA chart of the Great Lakes; but that wasn’t enough, so I checked and discovered that Navionics has combined New Zealand, Australia and South Pacific Islands and Hawaii into one package that only costs $29.99 for the iPhone.  Some of you will recall that one of the negatives of iNavX is that the charts I have already bought for my iPads can only be installed on two devices.  Ever.  And not transferred to any others.  However this didn’t matter because the charts for iPad don’t work on iPhone and vice versa.  
        I checked prices, and the New Zealand, Australia and South Pacific Islands and Hawaii for iPad costs $79.99, which is still less than I paid for them more than a year ago when Australia and New Zealand and the South Pacific islands were all separate downloads.
        There is less detail in the iPhone version than in the iPad, but there is enough to navigate safely into any of the harbors I visited this year.
        Here are screen shots of Opua on both.  The iPhone first.
        Tiny GANNET now has four chartplotters.

 
   
















        

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Evanston: here and there










        Here a mix of rain and snow.  Temperature 32°/0°  and falling.
        There 70°/21° and sunny.

        Here for breakfast I have uncooked oatmeal, trail mix, fresh blueberries, powdered milk and water, and good coffee.
        There for breakfast I have uncooked oatmeal, trail mix, powdered milk, and instant coffee.

        Here, on weekends, the food is better.  Even during the winter, Carol usually grills something on the small gas grill on our balcony.
        During the week the food is about equal.
        Here microwaved Lean Cuisines.
        There freeze dry.

        Here there are ice cubes and the drinks that should be cold are.  Martinis are sipped.  Wine comes from bottles and is better.  I drink Laphroaig from a crystal glass.
        There gin and tonics are air temperature.  Martinis are unknown.  Wine comes from boxes and is lessor.  I drink Laphroaig from a crystal glass.

        There Laphroaig costs at least $85 U.S. a bottle and replenishment is four miles distant.
        Here Laphroaig costs $45 a bottle and replenishment is a ten minute walk away.

        Here I watch sports and movies on television and stream music to five superior speakers.
        There I listen to New Zealand Concert, the national classical music radio station, and stream music to quite acceptable bluetooth speakers.

        Here I sit facing a fireplace.
        There I sit facing a companionway.

        Here I live indoors.
        There I live outdoors.

        Here I vacuum rugs.
        There I scrub decks

        Here I am mostly alone and silent.
        There I am mostly alone and silent.

        Here I walk down the hall to shower.
        There I row a couple of hundred yards and walk a hundred more to shower.

        Here hot water in the shower is free and untimed.
        There I have to insert a $2 coin in a box to obtain five minutes of hot water.

        Here the room does not move.
        There The Great Cabin constantly moves.

        Here there is constant background noise.
        There is often complete silence.

        Here I am surrounded by land and ten million people.
        There I am surrounded by water near a few hundred people.

        Here is flat.
        There is all hills.

        Here I walk down and look at empty Lake Michigan.
        There I climb the Opua hill and look down on boats moving about the bay.

        Here are Canadian geese.
        There once were gannets and now are terns, gulls, cormorants/shags and a few ducks.

        Here the Internet is fast.
        There the Internet is not fast and more expensive.

        Here I can buy things with a click and have them delivered promptly.
        There I can’t.

        Here I look out windows at bare tree limbs, undistinguished buildings, and a cemetery.
        There I stand in the companionway and am surrounded by beauty.

        There I sleep in a sleeping bag beside waterproof duffle bags and a sail bag.
        Here I sleep between sheets beside Carol.

       (Thanks to Grant for the ‘there’ photo.)