Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Evanston: envy and malaria and an absurd holiday and more small boats and aided and gone


        The above photo was sent to me a day ago by GANNET’s former landlord, Grant.  He owns the mooring on which she swung off Opua and is presently enjoying a few weeks of winter sailing in the Bay of Islands on his own boat.  
        We both like winter in the Bay of Islands when land and water are less crowded.  Almost always you will have an anchorage and an island to yourself.  The temperatures usually range from 10ºC/50ºF at night to 15-16ºC/60ºF during the day.
        As you probably know the Bay of Islands are my version of paradise.  I know Grant is enjoying his time there.  I thank him for permission to share the photo.  
        I am filled with envy.

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        Malaria was mentioned in both FOUR WEEKS IN A SNEAK-BOX and the excellent DVD on Walter Anderson.  Malaria still kills a million people a year, mostly Africans under age five, but I had not thought of malaria in the United States.
        As I learned from googling that is because in 1947, when malaria was endemic throughout the South, the U.S. government began the National Malaria Eradication Program.  In 1951 the disease had been eradicated.  I hope, but am not confident, that with climate change it will remain so.

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        I neglected to wish you a happy World Emoji Day on Monday.  Yes, there is such a day.  Sigh.  

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        I am now hearing aided.  Carol is thrilled.  Seriously.  She even bought a small apple blueberry pie on her way home to celebrate and spent the evening grinning.
        They are small, essentially weightless and more comfortable than I expected.  Far more so than normal ear buds.  Mine can be adjusted by an app on my iPhone.  I can even stream music directly from the phone to the aids.
        I can hear sounds that I could not.  The creaking of hardwood floors as I walk on them.  Birds chirping.  And Carol’s voice.  Shaving this morning, my electric razor was like a jet engine.
        She tells me that I am myself now speaking at lower volume. 
        They are, however, one more thing to haul around.  Actually several more things.  The aids.  Lots of spare batteries—at least they are cheap and small.  And a drying and disinfecting box.
        The only warning the woman who fit them gave me was to keep them dry.  Right.  On GANNET.
        It really won't be a problem.  I don’t plan to wear them while sailing and they will be stowed in one of the waterproof Pelican camera cases.

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        Carol and I fly tomorrow to South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island where we will spend five days hopefully avoiding alligators, which are occasionally photographed strolling across the golf course.   Another reason not to play golf.
        Next Tuesday Carol flies home and I fly on to Florida and GANNET.
        Preparation this time has been odd.  I don’t need several items on my standard travel check list, such as my passport.  I have some new items, such as the hearing aid debris, I do need.  And in the end, I can buy anything I need in Marathon or have it sent to me there.
        I might post a journal entry from Hilton Head, but probably the next will be from The Great Cabin.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Evanston: "I liked it. I was good at it. And I felt alive."

        Breaking Bad fans will recognize the words spoken near the end of the final episode by Walter White, under-achieving high school chemistry teacher, family man and cancer victim, turned killer and genius meth cook.  He is speaking about his life of crime.  But the words could be true of running marathons, playing the viola, painting, sailing, singing in a band, writing a poem, playing baseball and many other endeavors.   
        I think that next time I am asked why I sail, I will say, “I like it.  I am good at it.  And I feel alive.”

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        Two sailing friends, neither of whom I have ever met in person, have boats named SAGA.  Doryman is in the Pacific Northwest.  Markus, a continent, an ocean and another continent away, in Estonia.
        Unfortunately the mast of Markus’s SAGA was broken a few months ago by a crane operator and, while awaiting the replacement, he has  stepped what is left of his old mast and still managed to go sailing.  Admirable. 
        Doryman has just sailed his SAGA, an open boat, to an annual small boat rendezvous at Sucia Island near the Canadian/U.S. border and has posted several photos of lovely small boats.  You can find some here and many more, including a Drascombe Longboat, at his Flickr site.

        Until the copper on the hull repairs turns green, she looks like a work of Cubist art.
        Dave looks good and the water even better.

        I do like small boats.

        Still speaking of which I finished FOUR MONTHS IN A SNEAK-BOX over the weekend and have a caveat.
        It is a short book, only 133 pages.  When Nathaniel Bishop writes about his time on the water, the book is good; but there are three or four digressions that are mere padding that I skipped. Included in these is a chapter on New Orleans and several pages about the life cycle of the mosquito.

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        I thank Larry for a link to a publicity piece about the ENERGY OBSERVER, a $5.25 million “self-fueling” ship that is setting off on a six year emission-free voyage around the world.
        Perhaps someone ought to tell them that it has already largely been done by a $9,000 emission free ship.

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        My stitches don’t come out for another week, so I  still can’t do my normal workout.  Because some are high on my left arm, I can’t even do my shoulder maintenance exercises.  But I am tired of being inactive.   My knee is now flexible enough so I can climb stairs and I’ve resumed my twenty+ floors a day.  This totals about eleven or twelve minutes.  I more than filled in the rest of the thirty minutes required to complete the circle on my watch with a two mile walk along the lake front.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Evanston: more Walter Anderson; shipping; a nice story


        Above is Walter Anderson’s ‘Self-portrait while rowing.’   All great artists create self-portraits.  I came across it in another interesting article about Walter Anderson in the oddly named GARDEN AND GUN.  I thank Bob for the link.
        Not perceiving a natural connection between gardens and guns—I own neither—I googled and learned that the magazine is named after a 70s disco in Charleston, SC.
        I really like Anderson’s watercolors and plan to buy some prints when I return after the upcoming stint on GANNET.  
        
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        Bob also asked how I am getting the updates to GANNET.
        Those items that are not likely to be damaged by airline baggage handlers are going with me in a duffle bag.
        They include foul weather gear, genoa track cars, new main and jib sheets, Dr. Sails epoxy, Torqeedo charging cord, stainless steel toggles for the spray hood, spare Jet Boil stove, electrical wire crimp tool, clamp for Icom handheld VHF, headlamps, rechargeable AAA batteries, and a wind scoop for the forward hatch.
        The Velocitek and GoPro Hero 5 Black will be in my carryon messenger bag.
        The three tiller pilots and masthead wind unit repaired—I hope.  I have no way of knowing until I am on GANNET—by Raymarine I will ship via UPS to myself at Marathon Marina in the same box in which Raymarine returned them to me.  Also included in that box will be a portable solar iPhone charger.
        The two new solar panels and the two new Sport-a-Seats will be shipped from Ocean Planet Energy and Sport-a-Seat directly to Marathon Marina.  I’ve already placed and paid for the orders.
        Hopefully we will all arrive in Marathon unbroken and at about the same time.

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        I know that many of you are at least as passionate about sailing as I am.  I admire that living more normal lives than I have, with jobs and families, you squeeze in sailing whenever you can, on weekends, an hour here and there.  Recently Steve Earley has left SPARTINA in the water at Norfolk, Virginia, and has sailed before work in the morning and again after work in the evening.  Yesterday he wrote me:

A very nice sail at dawn today.  Coming back to the dock three elderly women out for their morning walk stopped to thank me for my morning sails this week, telling me that watching Spartina riding the wind was the perfect way to start the day.  How nice.

      I assume that by ‘elderly’ he means the ladies are my age, and I agree that it is a charming story.  A small boat and a sailor bringing pleasure even to those who are not sailing.  
     I thank Steve for permitting me to share it with you.

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     Happy Bastille Day.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Evanston: Russian interference; RARE BIRD; two men; .333



        Not the Presidential election this time, but the GPS system.  You may want to buy a sextant after all. 

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  Moore 24 owners lavish time and money on their boats.  I am not the only one who recognizes them as masterpieces.  Above is RARE BIRD, hull #67.  GANNET is #40 of the 156 built.
Joe Dillard bought RARE BIRD, not then her name, a year or so ago and set Gilles Combrisson, who made GANNET’s cockpit pod and is a master of carbon fiber, to modify and restore her.  I think of GANNET as being a simple boat, but compared to RARE BIRD’s elegant minimalism, she is cluttered.
        Seeing photos of the immaculate GRENDEL and RARE BIRD is increasing my need to get back and sort out GANNET, though I acknowledge I will never bring her to the standards of those two boats.
  Here is a link to a gallery of photos of RARE BIRD.  The workmanship is exquisite.  Note the details such as the jib furling line leading below deck.
I thank Joe and Gilles for permission to use the photo.
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Recently readers have made me aware of two remarkable men.  I thank Steve for bringing Nathaniel H. Bishop to my attention; and Win for Walter Anderson.  Their lives did not quite overlap.  Bishop died in 1902; Anderson was born a year later.
I am presently reading Bishop’s FOUR MONTHS IN A SNEAK-BOX.  A Sneak-box is a small boat usually used by duck hunters.  Bishop’s was twelve feet long, that is six feet shorter than CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, and he speaks of it as being comfortable and spacious.  
During the winter of 1875-76 he rowed, drifted and sailed the tiny craft from Pittsburg down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, then along the Gulf Coast to Florida, where he joined the end of a previous voyage in a paper boat from Montreal.  There is a book about that, too, which I have yet to read and so cannot answer the obvious questions about a boat made of paper. 
Prior to both these cruises, at age seventeen he walked a thousand miles through South America.  There is a book on that, too.
FOUR MONTHS IN A SNEAK-BOX is very enjoyable reading both for the portrayal of a remarkable man and a portrait of life on the rivers and this country just before its Centennial.

This is an illustration taken from the book.
All three of Bishop’s books are available as free downloads and I will read them all.
Walter Anderson was a reclusive artist who lived on the Mississippi coast and regularly rowed several miles out to Horn Island where he drew and made water colors of everything he saw.  He dragged his rowboat ashore and slept under it in bad weather.  
He was married and had children, but kept his work in a locked studio and it was not until after his death that even his family knew what he had created.
Here is a link to a short video about Anderson.  After viewing it, I ordered the full DVD.
And here are links to a couple of articles about him.



        The NY TIMES reference is to Georgia O'Keeffe and I think wrong.  Walter Anderson was his own original self, not a Mississippi version of someone else however complimentary the comparison is meant to be.
If you google, you will find many images of his art, particularly at Realizations, The Walter Anderson Shop.


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  I am not wearing my Apple watch today.  There is no point.  Yesterday it showed that I did 0 minutes of exercise.
  .333 is a very good batting average in baseball. It is somewhat less desirable as the percentage of places biopsied that are cancer.  In my case two of six, one near my right knee, the other on my left upper arm.  So I had to go back to my skin cancer specialist on Monday.  After slicing and dicing she stitched me back up.  I not only can’t exercise, the stitches near my knee prevent it from bending fully and I can’t even climb stairs.  The ignominy of having to ride the elevator to take out the trash.
  The stitches are due to be removed shortly before I return to GANNET.    
        In the meantime I am an aging couch potato, watching Wimbledon, the last season of BREAKING BAD, and the Cubs lose. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Evanston: GRENDEL revisited; a bargain; a storm

        I’ve written of this beautiful boat, GRENDEL, the prototype Moore 24, before.  Glenn, who bought her last year, just sent me a photo of her after a fifteen month refit.  She looks good for another fifty years.  She also makes me eager to get back and spruce up GANNET, though my efforts will never equal those who worked on GRENDEL.  
        I notice that there is now a hatch on the foredeck.  I had not noticed before that GRENDEL has a port in the side of the hull.  
        Her deck extends further aft than on production Moores, with the main traveler on deck and a smaller cockpit.
        I wrote to Glenn asking about the tiller, which can’t be seen in the photo.  He replied that is out sight coming from the cockpit sole.  On GANNET the rudder and rudder post are higher and nearer the stern.
        I googled GRENDEL and found an interesting article about her and the origins of the Moore 24.  In it you will find, “Let’s build a Wednesday night racer…with complete disregard for offshore sailing.”  Don’t tell GANNET.
        I admire and congratulate Glenn for having lavished time and, I expect, a considerable amount of money on the iconic boat and trust she will bring him sailing joy.

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        This journal is one of the great Internet bargains.  I say without fear of contradiction that it is worth every penny you pay for it.  Not only do you get my sailing, but you get cutting edge wisdom.  More than fifty years ago I predicted that most of us would become evolutionarily unnecessary.   Long before last year’s election that all societies are plutocracies and democracy has never worked.  And now I have David to thank for this link showing that politicians in Wisconsin are considering legislation not far off my second modest proposal.  While their intent is gun safety and I was aiming (sic) at improving marksmanship, it is only a matter of time.
        I am not going on a crusade about this, but I did google gun deaths and found a table which I find interesting in a number of ways.  Scroll down the page to find it.  That the US is number one in gun deaths and overall homicide rates among wealthy countries is not surprising.  That the Czech Republic is a runaway number two, is.  And if you look carefully at the statistics you will find that in the UK and Japan not only do they not kill with guns, but they hardly kill one another at all.  What is wrong with these people?

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        I expect that history will recognize June 1, 2017, as a decisive date in the decline of United States world influence.  That was the date the President announced that the US is pulling out of the Paris Accord.
        We will be feared because we spend far more than any other country on the military, but the United Stares is no longer respected.  The other nineteen of the G20 will go forward without us and not just on climate control.  
        The American Century is over, and with Donald Trump as President it should be.
        What liberals don't understand is that Donald Trump is the ultimate American success story.  Most Americans seek wealth and power.  He is among the most wealthy and he has achieved the position of greatest power.  His life experience is that being a lying, self-aggrandizing bully leads to success.  He has no reason to change.
        Any economic system in which such a man is a success is flawed.
        Any political system in which he is a success is fatelly flawed. 

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        You may recall the storm that decimated a day racing fleet in Mobile Bay two years ago.  I thank Clark for a link to an intense article about that disaster.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Evanston: not quiet on the Western Front; some good news; cruiser

        102 shot; 15 killed.  It would have been a quiet day during a major war, but the numbers apply to the Fourth of July weekend in the city of Chicago.  Several, indeed perhaps many of those killed were not the intended targets. 
        Ten years ago I made a modest proposal to solve this.  
        You and I are ten years older.  The innocent victims never will be.

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        Less you despair, we have James to thank for a link to some good news and I do.

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        Two weeks from today Carol and I fly away for a five day vacation at the end of which she flies back to Chicago and I go on to GANNET.  
        I have work to do on the little boat, who has had little maintenance since we left Durban 8,000 miles ago.  Although I usually deny being a cruiser, after I get some or all of the work done, I will be one, ambling up the west coast of Florida to Pensacola with no fixed schedule.  
        I expect I’ll be on GANNET for about two months.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Evanston: heartwarming and charming; books read



        From the heading of this entry you probably think I am writing about myself, but I’m not.
        This is a long Fourth of July weekend in the United States.  Most of the readers of this journal are Americans.  This was a great country.  The tense of the verb is deliberate.  I am not by nature a member of any group.  Not a Democrat or a Republican.  I only believe in individuals.  But you might consider this quietly:  What do you think George Washington,  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodor Rosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, would have thought of Donald Trump?
        If you have four free minutes this weekend, you could probably not spend them better than watching this video sent to me by Chris, who accurately headed it, ‘Not gannets, but heartwarming.’  He wrote that after a Wednesday night race a boat he used to compete against “spotted what they thought was a turtle but turned out to be an osprey with its head in a polyethylene bag.  They rescued it and as you can see it lived to rob more fishermen of their sport.”  What a fine thing to have done.  Go osprey.
        If you have eleven more minutes, watch the charming short film shot on iPhone called Detour.  I see on YouTube that twenty-seven people give this a thumbs down.  They are demented.  Five hundred and eighty-nine, including me, give it a thumbs up.
        If you have a couple of hours, rent LION from iTunes.  It is presently the film of the week and costs only ninety-nine cents.  Most films these days are made for children, teen-agers and young adults.  After all, they are the ones who go to theaters.  I very seldom do.  LION is about a child in India who is accidentally separated from his family, survives life on the streets of Calcutta, is adopted by an Australian family, and eventually finds his birth mother.  I respect Nicolle Kidman for accepting a role in which she is far from glamorous.  
         LION is a movie about being kind to one another and a rare movie for adults. 

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       Books read January to June, 2017

  THE LAST KINGDOM   Bernard Cornwall
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT   Daniel James Brown
THE PALE HORSEMAN   Bernard Cornwall
ATLAS OBSCURA   Fder, Thuras, Morton
INTO THE SILENCE   Wade Evans
THE HORSEMEN   Gary McCarthy
THE PLAGUE   Albert Camus
THE BIRTH OF VENUS   Sarah Dunant
SUBMERGENCE   J. M. Ledgard
NIGHT SOLDIERS  Alan First
CAT’S CRADLE   Kurt Vonnegut
CONFEDERATES   Thomas Keneally
JUDE THE OBSCURE   Thomas Hardy
SHAMAN   Kim Stanley Robinson
A FINE IMITATION   Amber Brock
THE SISTERS BROTHERS   Patrick DeWitt
NOONDAY   Pat Barker
POEMS   Elizabeth Bishop
THE INDIFFERENT STARS ABOVE   Daniel James Brown
WAR   Sebastian Junger
THE POST OFFICE GIRL  Stefan Zweig
LORDS OF THE NORTH   Bernard Cornwall
THE ORCHARDIST   Amanda Coplin
SWORD SONG   Bernard Cornwall
H  IS FOR HAWK   Helen Macdonald
LIFE AND FATE   Vasily Grossman
THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE   Philip Kerr 
RAGTIME   E. L. Doctorow
SIN IN THE SECOND CITY   Karen Abbot
WORLD GONE BY   Dennis Lehane
WAR POEMS    Sigfried Sassoon
CITY OF WOMEN   David R. Gillham
THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE   Hammond Innes
WESSEX POEMS   Thomas Hardy
DEATH BY FIRE   Anderson Reynolds
A HISTORY OF ST. LUCIA   Harmsen. Ellis. DeVaux
THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL   Anderson Reynolds
OMEROS   Derek Walcott
SHORT STORIES   Irvin Shaw
THE BURNING LAND   Bernard Cornwall
FINN   Jon Clinch
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN   Mark Twain 

       All of these were read before I reached Marathon.  Atypically I have not finished a book since, though I am about to, QUEEN OF THE SOUTH by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, one of whose lines I used in the front of one of my books.  I have  been watching sports on television, The Last Kingdom and Breaking Bad.
        Many of these books I have read before.  Some several times.  I would particularly recommend THE BOYS ON THE BOAT, THE PLAGUE, JUDE THE OBSCURE—the ultimate anti-Disney novel, WAR, H IS FOR HAWK, LIFE AND FATE, and as a sea story though parts are not believable, THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE, and all the ‘Last Kingdom’ novels by Bernard Cornwall.
       FINN is a novel about Huckleberry’s father which was offered by BookBub.  It is a good book and caused me to reread Mark Twain’s original for the third time.  This is heresy, but I was disappointed in a novel I have long admired.  The first two-thirds about Huck and Jim on the river is wonderful, but the last third when Tom Sawyer dominates the action is childish and stupid.
       Good-bye, Huck.  I won’t read you again.

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       A beautiful summer’s day here.  Carol and I walked down to the lake where the above photo was taken.