Friday, June 14, 2019

Evanston: Grace

        I happened upon a wonderful song, ‘Grace’, sung by Jim McMann, of whom I am embarrassed I did not know.  The background is the what is usually known as the Easter Uprising of 1916.
        A few of you might know that I quoted in the front of STORM PASSAGE a poem by William Butler Yeats, “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”, of the same period.
        Sinead O'Conner and The Chieftans also sing of the Uprising.
         I found that Jim McMann was born three years after I and died four years ago.
        He also sings one of the best versions of “Carrickfergus”.
        You may notice on the YouTube page of the video, that 2.4 K give ‘Grace’ a thumbs down.  

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Evanston: The Polar Sea; The City of God; the best climate; 'Piper to the End'

        This week I have been working on a magazine article about the end of GANNET’s voyage, when not watching the Cubs, the Men’s Under 20 World Cup and the Women’s World Cup.  I stopped watching the women’s US/Thailand match when the score was 2-0.  The outcome was obvious and I do not find massacres enjoyable.
        Carol and I also found time to watch a ten part Netflix series, The Polar Sea, which is about the Northwest Passage.  It mostly follows two boats, a 31’ monohull sloop crewed by three older middle-aged Swedish men and a lavishly equipped about 50’ catamaran with a Swiss financier, his French wife and their three children on board.
        The first episode is somewhat jumbled, but the second is better and has a good sequence contrasting the lives of those on the two very different boats and passengers on a ‘adventure’ cruise ship that is also making the passage.
        Subsequently there is coverage of the lives of Inuit who live along the shores, particularly with reference to how they are being affected by climate change, and of scientists who are studying that change.  To no one’s surprise those who make their living in the Alaskan oil fields deny climate change.
        A startling fact, if true, is that young men at Gjoa Harbor, where Amundsen wintered during the first transit of the Northwest Passage, have the highest suicide rate in the world.
        Much of the scenery is beautiful.  The sailing less so.  There is in fact very little sailing seen.  Almost always the boats are under power.
        I am not sure which year is depicted in the series.  It was first shown in 2014 and I assume made a year or two earlier.  Whatever year, it is stated that thirty boats attempted the NW Passage that summer and only five succeeded.  Shown briefly in one episode are two men rowing the passage and a team striving to be the first to do the passage on jet skies, which I consider to be, with the exception of being used in surf rescue, among the most abominable objects ever made by man.
        Imagine being old and asked, “What did you do with your life?”  And having to answer, “Well, I jet skied the Northwest Passage.”  No.  That won’t do.
        We were entertained by The Polar Sea and recommend it.


        I also rewatched THE CITY OF GOD, a fine and perhaps even great 2002 Brazilian film, and THE CITY OF GOD TEN YEARS LATER.
        The title comes from a Rio de Janeiro slum controlled by youth drug gangs.  Sounds like South Chicago today.  One boy, Rocket, stays on the fringes of the gangs and wants to become a photographer.
        The film is dramatic and graphic.  I watched it when it was first released and some scenes have remained with me ever since.  
        Ten years after its release a fascinating documentary was made about how the film changed, or did not change, the lives of those involved.  For several it was the opportunity to create successful careers.  For others it was a blip.  Ten years later one was selling peanuts on streetcars.


        This confirms what many of us have long known:  San Diego has the best weather of any major city in the world.  Tijuana and San Diego are contiguous, separated only by an arbitrary political border that weather does not recognize.  
        It does not surprise me that five of the top ten are on the California coast or that three of the top eleven and five of the twenty-five are in South Africa.
        I am surprised that Sydney, Australia is not on the list and that Cairo, Egypt is.


        Long time readers know that Mark Knopfler is probably my favorite male singer/song writer.
        When I first heard his “Piper to the End” I assumed it to be a traditional Celtic folk song.  It is not.  He wrote the song about his uncle, Freddie, who was killed in France in 1940 at age 20.  Haunting indeed.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Evanston: canoagator

June 9, Sunday
Evanston:  canoagater

        The photo of a Seminole canoe with sail on Biscayne Bay of to me unknown age comes from Kent and Audrey who have an armada of restored small boats at their home near Pensacola, Florida, one of which is similar to the Seminole boat. Photos of the craft always make me smile.  I am not sure if she is a canoagater or a sharkanoe.


        PRACTICAL BOAT OWNER in England wants to reprint a piece I wrote for another British publication, YACHTING WORLD, about my three hundred mile drift in an inflatable after CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE pitchpoled in May 1980 between Fiji and what is now Vanuatu.  The magazine is paying me with the painting that will be used to illustrate the article.  The artist, Richard Everett, has chosen the moment I was rowing through breaking surf to reach Emae Island.  In responding to questions Richard asked, I came across this picture I took of myself a few minutes after I reached land. 
        A self-portait of a man who had been on the edge of survival for fourteen days, taken  long before the narcissistic and trivial ‘selfie‘ even existed.


        You may have read that Apple wants to turn the iPad into a laptop replacement and to that end is coming out this fall with a new iPad OS that will make that significantly easier.
        My iPad Pro is perhaps the most appealing device I have ever owned.  I want to use it and do for all that I can.
        In anticipation of the coming OS I am writing more on the iPad including this entry and an article I just started, and have ordered a second and possibly better keyboard.
        I am not sure why Apple would like us to buy iPads instead of MacBooks, but I am willing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Evanston: slipped and packed

        Yesterday I telephoned Driscoll’s Mission Bay Marina, where I kept GANNET before her circumnavigation.   I telephoned them from Panama and reached a woman whom I believe no longer works there.  She was not helpful.   Yesterday the phone was answered by Max,  the dockmaster, who was most helpful and promised to find room for the little boat when I return to San Diego.
        While Shelter Island is more convenient with shops, a supermarket and chandleries all in easy walking distance, I prefer Mission Bay to San Diego Bay.  Quivira Basin is quieter, prettier, and has much quicker access to the ocean.  I am looking forward to  being back there.
        Carol laughs that I am usually sitting on my duffle bag days before I am due to make a trip.  There is some truth to that.  I fly to San Diego three weeks from yesterday and tested to see if the boat stuff I am taking back will fit inside my backpack.  It will.  I didn’t leave the equipment in the backpack, but I’m ready.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Evanston: the teabags of success

        I claim to be an original, but have expressed doubt as to whether I am a successful experiment.  No more. 
        Google alerts me when I am mentioned on the Internet.  As an aside, it is both interesting and disturbing that they have so much capacity that they offer this as a free service.
        On Saturday I received two alerts.  One led to an article about me that I knew was coming in LATITUDE 38, but the other to the personal website of one EmJae Lightningbug—I did not make that up, but perhaps she did—where she writes:  “Live passionately even if it kills because something is going to kill you anyway.”  Webb Chiles.  I found this quote on the back of a tea packet.”
        Note that they dropped one ‘you’.  Perhaps there wasn’t room.  
        I do not believe in letting others define me, but this is more than a tipping point. 
        What other solo sailor is stolen from and quoted on tee-shirts, greeting cards, coffee cups, paintings, photographs, countless websites that collect sayings of sailing and the sea, ads for women’s shoes, and now tea bags?  What other writer is quoted on all those?
        Obviously I could have made a fortune starting an ad agency, but I had better things to do.
        The tea bags are decisive.
        I am now officially a successful experiment.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Evanston: flying fools; US rugby world champions

        Carol and I have become flying fools.  Today is the fourth morning in a row that one or the other of us has gone early to an airport.  She flying to Hilton Head Wednesday and back that same day.  I flying to Oakland, California Thursday and back to Chicago on Friday.  She to Hilton Head again today.  To the question:  do these trips to Hilton Head mean that something is happening with the evil condo?  The answer is a definite ‘maybe’.
        My travel was a business trip and you didn’t even know I have a business.  I was invited to speak to Moore sailors and others at the Richmond Yacht Club and with my self-described job being to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports, this was a report.
        I enjoyed my time in Richmond, which is on the east side of San Francisco Bay just north of Berkeley where I kept my first boat for several months in 1967 before I sailed her to San Diego.  
        I got to see other Moore 24s,, of which there are many at the yacht club.  I was particularly impressed by the attention to detail and passionate reduction of weight in Mark English’s deck layout.
        I also got to meet several people whom I had known through email, including Ron Moore and his wife, Martha Lewis, who drove up from Santa Cruz.
        The natives were friendly and the audience for my presentation enthusiastic and responsive.
        I thank the club and particularly Susan Hubbard and Simon Winer who drove me around and attended to my I trust not excessive needs.


        While traveling recently in New Zealand Jim, who knows my love for the Bay of Islands, took the above photograph which I am slightly suspicious has been Photoshopped.  I thank him for the photograph and the thought.  



        The sun is shining now, but earlier this morning we had heavy rain and hail.  Who would live in the Midwest?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Evanston: I'm not buying this boat

        Added on to the heading above should be ‘but I’m tempted.’
        A link to more information is here.
        A month ago about now I was tying up to the CBP dock in San Diego.
        There appears to be some confusion about my future, which is reasonable because it is uncertain, but I may be partially to blame.
        First, there is no reason whatsoever that, having just completed a difficult and unparalleled circumnavigation I should know what comes next.  In fact to believe I should or would is quite unreasonable.
        I have written that April 29, 2019, ended the ‘being’ part of my life.  Whatever value and meaning my life has is already established by what I have done and written in the past forty-four years.  I expect that I will do more, but it will be incremental, not determining.
        I have never said, written, or even thought of giving up sailing.
        Which brings us to the above boat, a Gary Mull designed Chico 30 that I found in online boats ads.  That I was perusing them gives an indication of my thinking.
        I could sail GANNET across the Pacific to Opua and I’d rather like to, but I don’t even know what coast GANNET is going to be on at the end of this year and she is too small for both Carol and me.  I could buy a boat on the West Coast and sail it to New Zealand, which isn’t a bad idea now that New Zealand permits foreign vessels to remain in the country for two years rather than one.  Or I could buy a boat in New Zealand.  Or I could never return to New Zealand at all, which is a definite possibility despite my desire to.
        I have seen Chico 30s in the Bay of Islands.  I like them, the way they look and the way I expect they sail.  Gary Mull was a fine designer.  Big enough for two people and the asking price is about $20,000 US.
        Owning two boats did not work out for me before and my life is too unsettled to buy a second boat now.  But the idea of having GANNET in Hilton Head and a boat like the Chico in the Bay of Islands to spend the too hot South Carolina summers on is appealing.  Winter in the Bay of Islands is moderate and uncrowded.
        When I consider it, the thing I like least is the long transoceanic flights.

  For now I’m stopping looking at boats for sale and in an hour going to my ophthalmologist for a routine examination.  Having to check only one eye, he should charge half, but it doesn’t work that way.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Evanston: 26 days

        During the passage from Balboa, Panama, to San Diego I repeatedly told myself that this is the last hard thing I will ever have to do.  I have been doing hard things for a very long time.  Perhaps as long as anyone ever.  Far longer than the four poets who envisioned Ulysses not remaining in Ithaca after his twenty year absence:  Dante; Tennyson; Cavafy; Kazantzakis.  They surely did not imagine a 77 year old Ulysses.  Nor did I.  But he has happened.
        When I was off Point Loma in the pre-dawn light on Monday, April 29, 2019, I was tired, perhaps more mentally than physically, though physically I had lost more than ten pounds from my normal 154 pounds on a 6’1” frame.  I profoundly wanted the ordeal to be over. 
        Now, twenty-six days later, I am envisioning other voyages.  It is too soon to know when they will begin.
        Where would I most like to be in the world?  If you have been here any length of time you know:  New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.
        I am seventy-seven years old.  I don’t have many years left.  Why should I not spend some of them where I most want to be even if I can’t stay there permanently?
         I believe I am an original experiment. I acknowledged more than forty years ago that most original experiments are failures.  I expect I am a failure.  But as I enter the dying part of my life I am still becoming and I am still trying to understand.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Evanston: appalled and two quotes

      The above image of 300 climbers waiting in line to summit Mount Everest appeared on what poses as the ABC evening news.  I am appalled.  As far as I am aware there are no lines to sail alone around Cape Horn.  

        Even though I don’t agree with it completely, I thank Chris for:  The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human. —Victor Hugo

        And today at the bottom of an email from a magazine editor:  In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure and the police take the place of pirates.—Michel Foucault

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Evanston: keeping on keeping on; the end of iWeb

        Even though this is a new part of my life I’m still doing what I did in the last part and buying stuff for my boat as though I’m planning to do some serious sailing.  I promise you I have no such intention, though I will confess that New Zealand does cross my mind from time to time.  Perhaps it is just that fifty year old habits die hard.  The items in the above photo are what I am taking back to GANNET.  Most are replacements for things that have worn out or died.
        Two Raymarine ST2000+ tiller pilots.  Naturally.
        The cylinder at the top center is a Boom 2 bluetooth speaker.  One of the ones on GANNET stopped working in Panama.
        Beside it to the left is a CamelBak day water bottle.  The sipping nozzle on the one I have been using has developed intractable mold.
        In between them is an Icom M73 Plus VHF radio.  Waterproof of course.
        To the right of the radio are two Cablz eyeglass holders.  I first came across these in Darwin, Australia, and find them more durable than Croakies.  Their only drawback is that once they are on a pair of glasses they are almost impossible to remove.  So I don’t.
        To the right of the Cablz is a Bad Elf Bluetooth GPS.  I now can use my iPad Pro as a chartplotter, despite having bought the wrong model iPad Pro.
        To the left of the radio is a GoPro mount Velcro strap long enough to go around the mast.
        Below the radio are three Apple lightning cables.  The ends of lightning cables corrode on GANNET.  USB-C charging is superior.
        The two yellow discs are MPOWERD solar lights.
        Carol gave me one for Christmas and I find them superior to the LuminAids I had been using.  They are made better, last longer when charged, and have a USB outlet that can be used to charge phones and other devices.
        The rope and blocks are a Garhauer boom vang which I will use as a preventer.
        That leaves the boat shoes.  Those I wore on the passage got wet and stayed wet.  I suppose they may have dried out by now, but will probably be as flexible as a piece of steel.
        I bought everything except for the Garhauer vang from Amazon.
        In San Diego I will paint and refurbish the interior.  I am considering painting the wood white, but have not definitely made up my mind.
        The pipe berths need to be replaced, but removing them is an ordeal, so I may just glue another layer of vinyl over the top third.
        The spray hood needs replacing.
        And I will have the standing rigging replaced, although it is not damaged.  One circumnavigation is enough for standing rigging.
        I will try to fix the forward hatch leak(s), though I have already rebedded  it twice.
        Wind instruments are on my list, but followed by a question mark.  I am tired of replacing them, have made most of GANNET’s circumnavigation without them functioning, and don’t know if I want to bother.
        If I get my work done I may do something daring, like sail to Catalina.


        My main site is created using iWeb which Apple has not supported for years and which I have learned will no longer work  with the next Apple OS coming out this fall.
        I am due for a new laptop, so it is my plan not to install the next OS on my current 12” MacBook and use it to update the main site, but be advised that the main site may become frozen in time without warning.
        There is something to be said for publishing on paper.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Evanston: November 2, 1974--April 28, 2019

        Perhaps unbelievably these photos are of the same man, forty-four years apart.   Time and chance happens to us all.
        In preparing for my appearance at the Richmond Yacht Club next week I came across the top photo which was taken moments before I released the line in my left hand and sailed from Harbor Island Marina in San Diego for my first attempt at Cape Horn and began the being part of my life.  I was nine days short of my thirty-third birthday.
        The second is a capture from a video made on April 28, 2019, about fifty miles south of where the first photo was taken, just short of six circumnavigations later, and the last full day of the being part of my life at age seventy-seven.
        I am going to tell you something odd:  I like the way I look now more than I do how I looked then.
        I fly back to San Diego and GANNET five weeks from today.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Evanston: two questions and the man without fingerprints

        Two of the most frequently asked questions are:  Why did I not use a self-steering vane on GANNET?  and, Why did I truck GANNET across Panama?
        I have answered them frequently, most recently in reply to comments to YouTube videos, so I am going to make it easy on myself and answer them here one last time and just refer any future questioners to this post.

        When I began to plan GANNET’s circumnavigation I intended to install a self-steering vane.  I have used them with success on three other boats.  Aries on EGREGIOUS and RESURGAM.  A Monitor on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA.  
        However being an ultra-light GANNET’s transom is thin and needed to be re-enforced to support the considerable strain a vane will create.  Inside GANNET’s stern is an awkward dead space.  I painted back there with considerable discomfort and had no desire to fiberglass there.  One of the advantages of being an old man is that you can pay young ones to do what you don’t want to do.   A boat yard gave me an estimate of $5,000.  Add to that several thousand dollars more for the vane and I thought:  I can buy a lot of tiller pilots for that.  And I have.
        Subsequently I have seen a video of a self-steering vane mounted on a Moore 24 with the support tubes attached to the deck not the transom.
        Almost everything on a  boat is a compromise.  A vane mounted this way blocks the normal outboard bracket.  Fitting an outboard while underway, even one as light as a Torqeedo, to one side would be considerably more difficult than to the centered bracket, and on GANNET the deck mounted tubes would require moving two solar panels which are essential and I don't know where else I could put them.
        I have used sheet to tiller self-steering, which works from a close reach to a broad reach, for a total of more than 50,000 miles on three different boats:  EGREGIOUS, a 37’ cutter; CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, an 18’ undecked yawl; and now GANNET, a 24’ ultralight sloop.
        Every boat I have owed could be sailed to windward by tying down the tiller.
        Sheet to tiller.  Tying down the tiller.  Tiller pilots.  Heaving to.  Lying ahull.  That is all that is necessary for me to sail anywhere.
        Were I planning GANNET’s voyage again, knowing what I know now, I would still not have a self-steering vane.

        Of the Panama Canal, GANNET presented multiple problems.  Powering fast and far enough was the easiest to solve simply by borrowing or renting a bigger outboard than the Torqeedo.  But GANNET also has no enclosed head, no way to feed and sleep four line handlers, cleats too small for the hawsers used in the locks, no sun protection for the mandatory advisor.  And I did not want to have five other people on the boat with me for parts of two days and one night.
        I do not know if the canal authorities would have permitted another yacht to tow GANNET through the canal.  No offer of a tow was forthcoming.  I did not want to wait and I don’t like to seek favors, so I decided to have the little boat trucked across.  
Even though the cost escalated obscenely beyond my expectation I do not regret that decision.


        Though I have gained back only half of the ten pounds I lost on the passage, I am fully recovered and have been for more than a week.  I am working out regularly, closing the activity circles on my Apple watch daily, and climbing at least twenty floors of stairs daily, again taking them two at a time.
        However I am still a man without fingerprints.  
        The skin has now sloughed off all fingertips and both thumbs and what is left below is not sufficient to be recognized by the sensor on my phone.  Possibly a perfect opportunity to commit a crime, but I have nothing in mind.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Evanston: completed

        I have uploaded fourteen more videos which complete the Balboa to San Diego passage and the circumnavigation.

        I have gained back four of the ten pounds I lost during the passage, no doubt due to my renewed consumption of health foods, such as Cheese-Its and martinis.

        Now I have to do my workout.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Evanston: videography; price hike

        I have posted the first ten videos of the passage from Balboa, Panama, to San Diego, California.  

        It was a long passage and there will probably be more than thirty videos in all.  They are not mandatory and there will not be a snap quiz.
        As I have written here before, one of the unanticipated consequences of my becoming a Cyclops has been that I need all my remaining vision just to function and don’t have the excess capacity to look around and see what might be interesting still photographs.  That, combined with GANNET being small and that I have already photographed her extensively, has resulted in my seldom taking still photograph any longer during a passage.  
        Taking videos has the advantage of being able to capture a single frame such as the image above.
        I did not realize that the lens on the stern pulpit mounted GoPro was wet and serendipitously got some atmospheric footage that I like.  While blurry I think it expresses something of the essence of the experience.
        I shot the videos on four different cameras, naturally all waterproof, a Nikon AW1 and three GoPros.  My favorite of the GoPros is a Hero 5 Black, which has a touch screen that makes moving through the menus and settings easy and a linear mode that removes the curves endemic to wide GoPro views.
        I have learned that on GANNET the cameras need to be in place before the action and set to start filming with the touch of one button or a voice command.  If you have ever tried to fit a GoPro into a mount, you know it is a tight fit.  It can’t be done when GANNET is bouncing around.
        I had one GoPro mounted on the stern pulpit facing forward.  For a short while I had one mounted on the mast facing aft.  That mount did not stay stuck to the mast, which was unfortunate because that is a good view.
        I have a mount inside the Great Cabin near the companionway facing forward, and I sometimes used a head band mount.
        I just ordered a strap that is long enough to go around the mast to secure the mount there, though I don’t know how much more video I will ever take.  Perhaps just habit of always being ready.
        I shot the first of the ‘end of being’ videos with the Nikon AW1.  When its battery died, I shot the second with the GoPro Hero 5 Black.  In viewing them I am impressed by how superior the GoPro footage is.
        If I do shoot more video, which presumes I will sometime go sailing again, the GoPro Hero 5 Black, or a more recent model, will be my camera of choice.


        I recently learned that Drascombe Luggers are currently in production in the UK.  They are being built a company with a different name than Honnor Marine, the original builder.  The base price of a Lugger is £20,000 which at current exchange rates is $26,000.
        I paid about $5,000 for CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE in 1978.  An online calculator shows that $5,000 in 1978 is the equivalent of a little over $19,000 now.  So beyond inflation, the British builder has jacked up the price of a Lugger by a third.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Evanston: only children; videos

        I was an only child and it took.  Being an only child is good preparation for solo sailing.
        Perhaps curiously I have never had a significant relationship with a woman who was an only child.
        Something a friend wrote recently about feeling isolated after sustaining life threatening injuries has caused me to consider if we are all essentially only children, even if we have brothers, sisters, parents and children of our own.

  This morning I uploaded seven more short videos, completing the uploads of the passage from Hilton Head Island to Colon, Panama.

        I’ll get to those of the passage from Balboa, Panama, to San Diego next week.
        Now I have to get my housework done before the Cubs game comes on television at 1 PM.