Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hilton Head Island: here; a walk around Britain; revision

 The above does not do justice to my view sitting in our living area, but it is the best my iPhone 7 Plus can do on an overcast, but very pleasant day.

I arrived yesterday after an uneventful flight from Chicago to Savannah and an uneventful Uber ride from Savannah Airport to the condo.  Both cost about the same.  Upon arrival I found several packages which had been delivered early sitting outside our door.  One of the virtues of a gated community is the absence of porch pirates.  Inside I found some things done, some not done, including some that we had been told were.  All are only finishing details.  The last less than 1%.

I biked to GANNET this morning and found that she has done quite well in my absence, but then I’ve only been away a month.  I hosed down the deck, fetched my knapsack and biked four miles to a supermarket.  Though there is a local ordnance requiring face masks in public on Hilton Head Island, these people do not believe in them.  I passed more than a dozen, most walking, a few jogging, two others on bicycles, none wearing face masks.  I wore mine mostly below my chin, but raised it to cover my mouth and nose whenever I was near anyone else.  I may or may not be a good person, but I believe scientists, not  politicians, and I do not suffer from contemptible pandemic fatigue.

As I have written here before the bike ride to the supermarket I went to today is largely on bike paths through woods and serene and beautiful.

This condo is about being in the constant presence of water, being able to glance up and see Skull Creek and the marina beyond live oaks and Spanish moss at any instant, about GANNET being a few minutes walk away, and about the silence often broken only by bird calls or the wind in the trees,  There is always noise in cities.  Here the silence is almost preternatural.  I love it and am glad to be in our new home.  Finally.

From Sam, an American with the good sense to be completing his Ph.D. in Australia comes a link to an article by a young photographer who over a course of five years walked the coastal perimeter of Great Britain.  What an excellent thing to have done.  I thank Sam.


I screwed up.  There is no denying it.  I don’t even offer an excuse.  Even now you may be in your mind providing one for me:  he’s become a doddering old fool.  I totally forgot my intended theme of the first part of last Friday’s journal entry.  At least I remembered that I forgot and have made significant changes.

Rather than ask you go back to read them, I present them here.

The title is now:  the beginning of being; packed; voted

The text, other than that from STORM PASSAGE which is not changed, now reads:

An email last week partly about Cape Horn caused me to dig up the above photo of a curly haired young man which was taken on November 2, 1974 and later used on the dust jacket—you may remember those—of STORM PASSAGE, and the entry in that book for December 12, 1975.


I believe I have run  that here before, but long enough ago that you have probably forgotten.

Cape Horn is not always like that.  If I remember correctly from the old Pilot Charts, even in the stormiest of months there is gale strength wind only about a third of the time, which is a lot, but means that two out of every three days are not gales.

The second time I rounded the Horn, in late January or early February of 1992 on a passage with Jill in RESURGAM from Auckland, New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay, the wind died as we passed onto the continental shelf and the ocean was glassy, though not smooth.  RESURGAM was helplessly tossed around on left over waves and for one of the few times ever I turned on the diesel at sea and we slowly powered toward Horn Island visible twenty miles to the northeast.  As we neared, the wind came up again, now at twenty knots directly ahead of us.  I wrote:  'Sometimes Pavarotti has laryngitis; sometimes Cape Horn is just another place.'

I have recorded two videos titled ‘The end of being’ made on the last full day of GANNET’s circumnavigation.  I immodestly recommend them.



As you can see in the photo the mainsail is set.  In a few seconds when I release the line in my left hand, the being part of my life begins.

I will try to do better.  But doddering old fools can make no promises.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Evanston: an amazing passage; whiskey islands; afraid of the water

 I trust that if you can read the above you are as amazed as I.

There are usually one or two Great Blue Herons visible from our condo in Hilton Head hunting in Skull Creek.  I have no idea if they are permanent residents or a shifting population of transients.

I try to imagine what was going through the mind and instincts of this bird as she intrepidly took off straight out to sea, what caused her to make that gradual turn near Bermuda, what keep her flying continuously for almost three days.  I could not sail continuously without sleep for that long.  I never have for less than half that and then only two or three times in all my voyages.

I thank Bob and Bev for the link and I wish Harper well.

Pandemic in whisky paradise.


Michael has included a version of the above photo in a couple of recent emails which has prompted me to run it again.  Going back through the Photos app I find it dates from 2007.  That dinghy has now been twice around the world.  It is still in excellent condition which is good because it has to last my lifetime.  

If you want to row an inflatable—and I realize that almost no one but me does—by far the best are Avon RedStarts, which is what mine is, or the slightly larger Avon RedCrests.  Unfortunately neither is still in production.  Avon, an UK company, was bought by Zodiac, a French company, who killed off their superior competitor.  It is not news that the best do not always prevail.

The caption I used when I first posted that photo came from an earlier incident.

A few years before I met Carol, I was in Key West on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, where as usual I anchored across the harbor off Wisteria Island.  One day a young woman came out to the boat.  She was barefoot.  When we returned to shore the sun was up and the sidewalks hot, so we pulled the dinghy out of the water into a parking lot.  I sat there in the dinghy after giving the young woman my shoes to wear while she retrieved hers.  This caused comments to which I eventually formulated the reply:  “I love boats, but I’m afraid of the water.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

Evanston: the beginning of being; packed; voted

An email last week partly about Cape Horn caused me to dig up the above photo of a curly haired young man which was taken on November 2, 1974 and later used on the dust jacket—you may remember those—of STORM PASSAGE, and the entry in that book for December 12, 1975.

December 12, 1975   55 days out of San Diego 

AT 5:00 A.M., we were 70 miles due south of Cape Horn. Those are the finest words I have ever written. How many times my thoughts have sailed here while I stood on Point Loma or walked along Mission Beach and now I have, too.

To say we rounded the Horn would be presumptuous and inaccurate. We merely continued to be blown ahead of a gale, which came up suddenly after midnight.

Ashore, I had imagined I would have a glass of my best brandy and pour one for the sea; but I felt no desire to honor in victory the gods I steadfastly denied in defeat. Now as always, the sea is indifferent to me. And in the event, I did not even want a drink myself. It was a day not for contemplation, but survival.

There was one inescapable debt, though, and that was to Bach. The “Little Fugue in G Minor” was finally heard, a small but triumphant sound at 57° South.

The Horn has lived up to its reputation, making me glad I gave Horn Island a wide berth. It is an overwhelming storm. By dawn the wind was blowing above fifty knots and, of course, had ripped the mainsail, which I repaired but did not attempt the by-then-impossible task of resetting.

The waves were no higher than others I have known, averaging about 20 feet—which is quite high enough, thank you—but there were two sets of them: one coming from the southwest, driven before the wind; the other from the northwest, rebounding off the land. Both sets were breaking.

For the first time, I tied myself in the cockpit during daylight hours, leaving only sufficient slack in the lines so I could move to steer. Countless waves broke over the cockpit. Without being tied securely, I would have been washed away dozens of times.

Egregious was rolled onto her beam ends regularly, and in those cross seas sometimes she would go over to port, sometimes to starboard. Even though it was not in operation, the servo-rudder for the self-steering remained in the water and as we surfed down some of the larger waves, a rooster tail rose from it, as from a hydroplane. The strain on the tiller was immense, often forcing me to brace myself with my legs and use both hands to keep us on course. There was no time to look back and see on which quarter the next dangerous wave loomed, but after a while I could tell by feel and sound. And though I caught only momentary glimpses of them as they swooped across my field of vision, even in the very strongest wind albatrosses and petrels soared about as usual. At such moments you know that no matter how well you adapt, they belong here and you do not. Determination, skill, and luck give you nothing more than a temporary dispensation to trespass.

Throughout what became a very long, fatiguing day, I steered. To have left the tiller even momentarily would have been impossible. Finally, at 7:00 p.m., the wind decreased to 30 knots, and stiff and cold and tired and hungry, I stumbled into the cabin.

Since then I have cooked my victory banquet of stew, gone back on deck and set the storm jib, and written this. My hands and feet are frostbitten, and a glance in the mirror just revealed dead skin dangling from my ears in bloody strips.

The first man to sail around the world alone—an American, Joshua Slocum, before the turn of the century—went through the Straits of Magellan. As far as I know, I am the first of my countrymen to pass the Horn alone. But now that I have survived the day, I can believe that even if I were not the first, the struggle would be worthwhile and that the day should have been as it was. A smashed hand, frostbite, piercing cold, fatigue are all made endurable. The water I bailed from the bilge into the Atlantic this morning came from the Pacific last night. Cape Horn, which a year ago seemed so impossibly remote, is behind us. 

I believe I have run  that here before, but long enough ago that you have probably forgotten.

Cape Horn is not always like that.  If I remember correctly from the old Pilot Charts, even in the stormiest of months there is gale strength wind only about a third of the time, which is a lot, but means that two out of every three days are not gales.

The second time I rounded the Horn, in late January or early February of 1992 on a passage with Jill in RESURGAM from Auckland, New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay, the wind died as we passed onto the continental shelf and the ocean was glassy, though not smooth.  RESURGAM was helplessly tossed around on left over waves and for one of the few times ever I turned on the diesel at sea and we slowly powered toward Horn Island visible twenty miles to the northeast.  As we neared, the wind came up again, now at twenty knots directly ahead of us.  I wrote:  'Sometimes Pavarotti has laryngitis; sometimes Cape Horn is just another place.'

I have recorded two videos titled ‘The end of being’ made on the last full day of GANNET’s circumnavigation.  I immodestly recommend them.



As you can see in the photo the mainsail is set.  In a few seconds when I release the line in my left hand, the being part of my life begins.

I fly to Hilton Head on Monday.  Actually I fly to Savannah and Uber or taxi to Hilton Head.  My ticket non-stop to Savannah cost $80.  A ticket with one stop to Hilton Head is more than $400.  I am packed.  I am not taking much with me, only a few heavier clothes.  Two duffle bags of clothes that were on GANNET are already in the condo.  I will be staying indefinitely.  Certainly until after January 1.  

Here is Hilton Head's annual weather.

Let's see.  Would you rather spend the winter in Hilton Head or Chicago?  Take your time.

Carol and I have voted.  Even without the virus, I hate standing in lines.  We received confirmation emails that our mail in ballots have been received.  In Illinois they will not be counted until election day.  

I have been downloading a new GRIB each morning.  The track of the low that earlier was forecast to cross South Florida has moved farther east each day and is now shown crossing the east end of Cuba and then heading NNE well offshore.  I am curious to learn what it actually does and to what, if any degree, long range forecasts can be trusted.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Evanston: weather; failed; more Louise Gluck

I downloaded the free version of the Marine Weather app to get buoy reports, which it provides quite nicely.  However, I found that there is a Pro version that costs $4.99 a year.  I upgraded and find it a great bargain.  The various forecasts and models easily available are shown in the second screen shot above.  

The app is well designed and mostly intuitive.

I used a link to the developer to ask if there is a way to change reported wind speed from mph to knots and received a reply within a half hour.  At present there isn’t, but the developer says he will consider it in future updates.  I noticed in other app store reviews that his prompt response to queries seems standard.

I still also use Luckgrib to download GRIBs.  As I believe I have mentioned here before, the iPad version functions somewhat differently than the Mac version.  Both are easy to use.  I prefer the iPad version, but then I prefer the iPad to my MacBook for almost everything.  Luckgrib costs $20 one time purchase.

I have little confidence in long range forecasts, but soon returning to the hurricane zone I downloaded a 14 day GRIB this morning.  Here is a screen shot of what is projected for noon, Sunday, October 25. 


As is usual late in the season, that storm did not come off Africa but developed in the Caribbean.  The maximum winds are in the 70-80 knot range, a Category 1.  The wind information in the box at the right top is that under the small circle in the center of the screen.  The projected track takes it across South Florida and then offshore along the coast.  

October 25 is a long way away and lots will happen between now and then, but I will be in Hilton Head and I will be keeping track of developments.

I found myself curious about how the man and his 9’ boat were doing and went to his website.  I deliberatively do not use his name or that of the boat because I don’t wish to give him publicity.  With one exception I am not going to make any comments or observations, just provide facts.  Draw your own conclusions.

He drifted out for a week, ran into some difficulties, turned back and eventually called the Coast Guard to tow him for 30 hours into Monterey, about 120 miles south of where he began.  He kept in touch with the land throughout. First with a Garmin Sat Phone until it was broken, then though email via his Yellowbrick.  At one point he writes,  “Another limitation of such a little boat is that there is no space to spread out the bedding to dry.”   Really?  I had no idea.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Evanston: Louise Gluck

 You may have read this past week that once again I have not won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  I’m getting used to it.  My hopes are diminishing.  I’ve never liked committees and have been surprised on the rare occasions they have given me awards.  I’ve even considered refusing to accept them, but that seems churlish and it is interesting to get a rare glimpse into other worlds.

The Nobel Prize went to an American woman, Louise Gluck, of whom I did not know.  That’s fair because I am reasonably certain she does not know of me.

I googled and found some of her poems which I liked well enough to buy a collection of her poems from 1962-2012.

Below are five related to THE ODYSSEY.  If you haven’t read it recently, Circe is an enchantress, one of the daughters of Helios, the sun, whose island Ulysses and his crew visited on their slow voyage from Troy.  She turned most of his crew into swine.  Ulysses was able to pursuade her to return them to human shape and lived with her a year.  Penelope is Ulysses’s wife.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Evanston: gas tax; intensification; medical bulletin

 I return to these entries a few times after posting them, seeking typos and omissions and sometimes doing some rewriting.  I did on Monday and noticed that the heading was ‘paradise gas’.  Now I make typing mistakes, but it is not possible that I typed ‘gas’ instead of ‘tax’.  Auto fill/autocorrect may cause more grief than it is worth.  I made the change and also discovered that I had omitted to provide a link to a post by Kent and Audrey about their ongoing clean up after Sally.  I added it there and repeat it here.


You may have seen that now Hurricane Delta intensified from a 40 mph tropical storm to a 140 mph Category Four hurricane at an either record or near-record pace, increasing by 85 mph in one 24 hour period.  This is the same kind of intensification that the 1900 hurricane which destroyed Galveston underwent and it is becoming more frequent.  

The will be the last medical bulletin about my right ankle.  Unless it isn’t.

I can now walk normally.  Sometimes.  And my foot and ankle are normal sized.  Or almost.  The ‘sometimes‘ is because when I have been sitting and first stand up I have some pain, which usually soon disappears.  

I checked back and am surprised to see that I fell six weeks tomorrow.  It does not seem that long ago, but in the interval GANNET has come out of the water, been anti-fouled and trucked across the country, and I have flown from San Diego to Chicago to Hilton Head and back.  My next flight on October 19 to Hilton Head, actually Savannah, will be my last this year.  I am very much looking forward to being there with GANNET.

Of my health, I am back in shape.  I went to 100 push-ups and crunches in the first set of my workout twice last week, and 50 each in the next two sets on Monday, and yesterday I increased  most exercises in my weight workout from 3 sets of 10 to 3 sets of 15.  After a two month layoff, I did not expect my aged body to come back so quickly.  As a great writer once observed:  Until it is a reason, old age is not an excuse.

And lastly, also of health, we have bought a platform bed for Hilton Head.  It will probably not arrive until December.  It rises only 7” from the floor.  We are going to have to remain limber or rig a bosun’s chair through an eye bolt in the ceiling to get out of bed.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Evanston: paradise tax; dissent; dish water

‘Paradise Tax’ comes from Kent.  I like it.  This could also be titled:  The further adventures of Kent and Audrey.  Above you have before and after Sally photos of their pier.

I am told that the beautiful compass at pier’s end did not survive, but the hammock did.

Kent also writes:   when we built the Gun Deck in the Spring a few geckos took up residence right under where the pier crossed the shoreline. When pandemic hit we did our steps around the yard and out onto the pier, the geckos would pop their heads out and watch us walk by. They liked their shoreline fortress, safe from the ospreys. A week back I rebuilt the first 3 sections of pier and placed an orange safety cone, as a joke, out at the end of the 3rd section to alert our family that the pier ended at 30 feet vs 250. Screwed it down so the wind doesn't blow it away. My plan WAS to move the cone out further as each subsequent section got rebuilt, but a few days ago Audrey noticed that the gecko is now living in the cone.  So the new plan has us buying another cone to designate the pier end and leaving that cone there as a Con(e)do for the geckos. Not sure how I'll get the tool wagon past it but we'll figure it out.

PS Bird of Paradise didn't mind saltwater

As you may know Tropical Storm Delta has formed south of Jamaica and is expected to become a hurricane tomorrow and head toward the Gulf coast, perhaps near Kent and Audrey.  They start storm prep this afternoon.  Though I don’t wish the storm on anyone else, I hope they are spared.   Paradise tax is high in the Gulf this year.

For more about Kent and Audrey’s clean up.


I received some kind emails about the last entry.  Among them one from Lee, who is about to head for Hawaii single-handed, under the heading ‘dissent in the ranks’.  He said I could quote him, so I thank him and all of you who wrote and do.

I disagree with the description in today’s post of how you should die. That is how you could die, and any such scenario would be an honorable exit. But how you should die is peacefully in your sleep, aboard your boat, at an anchorage or mooring of your liking, in a comfortable refuge, after a glorious passage. The ocean has waited, it has tested you, it has not yet slain you. I hope it never does.

I do like his version better than mine, but don’t know that I will be so fortunate.

Waring Cuney, as I have learned, was part of the Harlem Renaissance.  A few evenings ago I came across this poem of his in THE SEASHELL ANTHOLOGY OF GREAT POETRY.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Evanston: Where I wish I were tonight


A few hours ago Steve Earley sent me the above photo of where he is anchoring tonight.  What purity.  Of light.  Of beauty.  Of SPARTINA.  Note the lack of clutter.  The organization of the lines.  As I have noted before, the man knows what he is doing.  He is a sailor.

I actually would not want to be right there compromising Steve’s solitude, but I would like the equivalent.  I need the equivalent and I expect to find it in a few weeks in the waters near Hilton Head.  I deeply miss the solace of water.

And I deeply miss being on the edge of life.

The last passage of GANNET’s circumnavigation was terribly slow and frustrating.  At the end all I wanted was for it to be over and never have to suffer such again. 

I am truly old.  I will be 79 next month.  Yet I long to do more, and if time and chance do not end me I will yet make voyages that stretch imaginations.  I am truly amazed that I have lasted this long.  It is beyond improbable.  I am designed to go out until I can’t.  It takes time to recover from hard voyages and no doubt longer as I become older, but I do.

I visited Google Arts and Culture today and found among other things “Check Out What Everyone’s Loving On Social’.  So the masses are the judges of art.  Or anything.  I think not.  This is a short lived historical aberration.

I will confess that I like praise.  I am pleased that ‘legendary’ is now routinely appended to my name. But I will not be defined by others.  Certainly not the masses.  And not even by you.

I want to be anchored as Steve is tonight with no one else and hopefully no sign of our species in sight.  

I would like to sail New Zealand’s Bay of Islands again.

I would like to round Cape Horn again.

This is the dying part of my life.  

We all know how I should die. 

Not ashore of cancer or a stroke or dementia or a virus, but at sea.  Perhaps in a force five hurricane or overwhelmed by a towering freak wave such as I have never seen or more likely simply by slipping and falling overboard.  Carol has said that is what will happen to me in mid-ocean in my 90s.  She is quite intelligent.  So, though old, I may have another decade and a little more to go.

To life and joy.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Evanston: anti-GANNETs; maritime life around the coast of Britan

 I happened across an article at CNN on ‘the most exciting superyacht concepts’ which I offer here as a public service to aid you in deciding how to spend your hundreds of millions.


From the BBC comes an excellent series of award winning photos of maritime life in Britan.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Evanston: drifting; quiet; muscle man

 Several of you have sent me links to a man trying to ‘sail’ from San Francisco to Hawaii in a, I think, 9’ boat.  Had you not I would not known of this because as noted before I don’t read much about sailing any more.  A lot of what appears about sailing is reinventing the wheel and solving problems that I solved decades ago and a lot is about eating and shopping ashore.

I do not know this man’s motivation.  What I do know is that he won’t sail to Hawaii; he will, as do all the extremely small boats that cross oceans, drift.  If you put something in the water off northwest Africa and it breaks free of the coastal weather and currents and stays afloat, it will end up in the Caribbean.  Last year a Frenchman crossed the Atlantic in a barrel.  If you put something in the water off California and it breaks free of the coastal weather and stays afloat it will end up somewhere near Hawaii.

The very small boats average a knot or maybe two.  GANNET under bare poles does more than that, and when I was adrift in an 8’ inflatable tied to the swamped CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE we made over 300 miles in two weeks.

I just checked and this man has covered 60 miles in his first 52 hours.  

I like small boats, but I have always had boats that sail well and GANNET is, of course, a joy. 

If this man makes it to Hawaii it will be a feat of endurance, but it won’t be sailing.  It will be at best a controlled drift.

After an early active hurricane season, for almost a week at what should be the height of the season, the National Hurricane Center’s map has looked like this.  This morning there is an area of low pressure south of Jamaica with a less than 40% likelihood of development.  Very odd and very welcomed.

Fall has come to the upper flatlands, with temperatures dropping into the 50sF.  I have been spending most of the time indoors and had not caught up with this reality until yesterday when I had to bike to drop off a package at a UPS store.  I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  As soon as I pushed my bike out the back entrance to our building, I knew this was a mistake, but continued on.  Upon my return and after my weight workout, I showered and changed into Levis and a long sleeved shirt.

Carol went to the office yesterday.  When she came home she saw me and exclaimed with what I consider unseemly surprise, “In that shirt you look like a muscle man.”  With a sigh of resignation I replied, “I am a muscle man.”

Prophets, as you may have heard, are without honor in their own country and in their own home.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Evanston: beauty and time; food; a new Moore; a troubling poem; virtuous

 Steve Earley took the above beautiful photo, which he has captioned ‘Before Sunrise’, a few mornings ago during his ongoing fall cruise.  Steve and I have mutual permission to repost anything from either of our sites.  I thank him for that.

Steve retired earlier this year from his long career as a newspaper photographer.  He enjoyed his work and and initially had what I observe is a common unease at the transition.  ‘Observe’ because either I retired the day I graduated from college as my grandmother liked to say or I will never retire at all.  I told Steve, “You are not retired.  You are free.”  And on this fall cruise with no date he has to be back at work he is sensing that.  The greatest wealth is time.  That we have so little is our dignity, if we make something of it.

You can follow Steve’s cruise here:



I just finished reading THE SECRET LIFE OF GROCERIES and I’m giving up food.

I learned of the book from a front page review in the NY TIMES.


The book is fascinating and I don’t even care much about food.  I like good food when I can get it, but obviously can live indefinitely on cans and freeze dried.

THE SECRET LIFE is not muckraking in the Upton Sinclair style, but reveals the details and hidden side of the food supply chain from fisherman and slaughter house, to truck driver, entrepreneur, worker at the fish counter at Whole Foods.  People and things that most of us, including me, take for granted and never consider.

I came away from the book impressed by the attention to detail, the complications, the competitiveness, and particularly to the squeeze of those on the lowest levels of the supply chain, some of whom are victims not just of wage slavery but real slavery.

A couple of statistics.  Once 90% of the US population was engaged in producing food.  Now only 3%.  And as you can read in the review, the average American spends 2% of their life in supermarkets.

Assuming you eat, you will find this book of interest.

This morning at Sailing Anarchy I learned that a new 33’ Moore is going into production.  


She will certainly be fast.  

I notice that there is no mention of price, but whatever it is, sorry, Ron, but I won’t be buying one.

I’m sticking with GANNET on whom during the past few weeks I have once again spent more than I originally paid for her.

I came across a troubling poem the other day.  I will let it speak for itself.  That is what poems do.

He Sits Down on the Floor of a School for the Retarded

I sit down on the floor of a school for the retarded,
a writer of magazine articles accompanying a band
that was met at the door by a child in a man’s body
who asked them, “Are you the surprise they promised us?”

It’s Ryan’s Fancy, Dermot on guitar,
Fergus on banjo, Denis on penny-whistle.
In the eyes of this audience, they’re everybody
who has ever appeared on TV. I’ve been telling lies
to a boy who cried because his favorite detective
hadn’t come with us; I said he had sent his love
and, no, I didn’t think he’d mind if I signed his name

to a scrap of paper: when the boy took it, he said,
“Nobody will ever get this away from me,”
in the voice, more hopeless than defiant,
of one accustomed to finding that his hiding places
have been discovered, used to having objects snatched
out of his hands. Weeks from now I’ll send him
another autograph, this one genuine
in the sense of having been signed by somebody
on the same payroll as the star.
Then I’ll feel less ashamed. Now everyone is singing,
“Old MacDonald had a farm,” and I don’t know what to do
about the young woman (I call her a woman
because she’s twenty-five at least, but think of her
as a little girl, she plays the part so well,
having known no other), about the young woman who
sits down beside me and, as if it were the most natural
thing in the world, rests her head on my shoulder.

It’s nine o’clock in the morning, not an hour for music.
And, at the best of times, I’m uncomfortable
in situations where I’m ignorant
of the accepted etiquette: it’s one thing
to jump a fence, quite another thing to blunder
into one in the dark. I look around me
for a teacher to whom to smile out my distress.
They’re all busy elsewhere, “Hold me,” she whispers. “Hold me.”

I put my arm around her. “Hold me tighter.”
I do, and she snuggles closer. I half-expect
someone in authority to grab her
of me: I can imagine this being remembered
for ever as the time the sex-crazed writer
publicly fondled the poor retarded girl.
“Hold me,” she says again. What does it matter
what anybody thinks? I put my arm around her,
rest my chin in her hair, thinking of children,
real children, and of how they say it, “Hold me,”
and of a patient in a geriatric ward
I once heard crying out to his mother, dead
for half a century, “I’m frightened! Hold me!”
and of a boy-soldier screaming it on the beach
at Dieppe, of Nelson in Hardy’s arms,
of Frieda gripping Lawrence’s ankle
until he sailed off in his Ship of Death.

It’s what we all want, in the end,
to be held, merely to be held,
to be kissed (not necessarily with the lips,
for every touching is a kind of kiss.)

Yet, it’s what we all want, in the end,
not to be worshiped, not to be admired,
not to be famous, not to be feared,
not even to be loved, but simply to be held.

She hugs me now, this retarded woman, and I hug her.
We are brother and sister, father and daughter,
mother and son, husband and wife.
We are lovers. We are two human beings
huddled together for a little while by the fire
in the Ice Age, two thousand years ago.

—Alden Nowlan

I am virtuous.  No one else will say so, so I must.

I did my full workout yesterday for the first time in eight weeks.  I can do the workout on GANNET’s foredeck, but for whatever reasons this time in San Diego I didn’t.

I managed to do one foot push-ups, keeping my weight on my left foot while my right barely touched the floor.  I only went to my age plus one, which I will have to do in a couple of months anyway.  I’ll do weights today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Evanston: cleaning up after Sally; the weaponization of Bach; short time


From indomitable Kent and Audrey:

Some things around here are getting back to their original habitat. I'm not sure how Sally did it but she put a lot of things in the front yard that were supposed to be in the back yard, and things in the back yard that were supposed to be in the front yard. One huge score a few days ago was we found ONKAHYE's (their Drascombe Lugger) previous floorboards, they were getting cracked so we replaced them and kept them to use to convert a boat trailer to a utility trailer from time to time. I went over to the neighbor's house to see if he had seen anything boat shaped and he said maybe, so we dug through a 6 foot pile of debris and found them. Audrey came walking up and started crying when she saw them. 

We have most everything in small piles, we are dragging our feet on making the big pile out by the curb hoping that a gent who might do ours and several neighbor's dock work can haul it off soon, but my guess is we will be doing the hauling. There is about a dump truck load, of other people's pier parts and vegetative debris. And some pier pilings, stand by to see how we move those.

Let's see, a few musings. 
1. We learned to not loan out our tools until we are done using them...maybe to not loan at all. Audrey has her Special Reserve that no one will ever get, her Grandma's ball peen hammer and regular claw hammer. 
2. We bought a trailer and lawn mower and fired the yard crew. They came by right after the storm and offered to do cleanup, took a deposit check for half and left. Cashed the check. 4 days later we have the work done so we called and told them to mail us a refund and they are no longer needed. Audrey got a John Deere with 22 hp motor and a cup holder for her grog. She also got a matching dump trailer. And another garden cart with big tires.
3. We went and rescued the flag off the end of the pier. Long story follows. Audrey tried to take it down while I was running other pre-storm errands but it wouldn't come down. It had a small rip and needed to be replaced, and we ran out of time to get it down. The flag was shredded and tangled during the storm, but both neighbors told us afterwards that they kept looking out to the end of our pier to see if the flag was still there, even taking photos and videos. I love the flag and hate that it got shredded, and hate those videos on Weather Channel of shredded flags. 

The flag flew until Sunday when I had enough and couldn't look at it any more. So I rounded up Audrey, a new flag, a folding ladder, a drill, a crowbar and the Sharknoe SCOUT and we headed out. Winds were blowing about 15, whitecaps, and surprisingly the bay water was cool, I was in the water and towed Audrey 250 feet out to the end of the pier so she could Skippervise and be an extra set of eyes while I worked on the halyard. tied SCOUT off to pier remnants I extended the 20 foot ladder and stuck it in the muck of the bay bottom, did I mention the jellyfish, both deal and live? Laid the top of the ladder against the piling that the flagpole (sunfish spar) was attached to. Went up the ladder, which was fun carrying flag, crowbar and drill, stowed that gear as best I could, undid the halyard and the flag only came down about halfway, as the shredded strips had snagged on piling hardware. I tugged enough so the stripe would finish shredding, and eventually got most of the bits of the old flag down. Part of it will be out there for a while. I hooked up the new flag, top snap shackle and raised the flag a bit to clip on the bottom shackle and found that the old flag had re-shackled itself by a few threads. Got that clear and raised the new flag, it snapped steadily the rest of the day. Gave Audrey the old flag which got tucked into her jacket, loaded the rescue equipment back onto SCOUT and mucked our way back to shore. 

We will keep that flag, maybe have it framed after we recover the other remnant.

4. When buying lumber and bags of paver stone, load lumber first.

We are doing great and enjoying the workout. Over 16,000 steps per day for the last few days. Today was some pressure washing, re-landscaping and changing out a few cabinets in the garage. 

Kent and Audrey

As I said:  indomitable.

After showing five storms recently, the National Hurricane Center chart of the Atlantic is surprisingly empty this morning.  Good.

From Tim comes a link to an article about the weaponization of Bach.  As you know Bach is the soundtrack of my life, but he frightens others away.  Rap ‘Music’ would do that to me.  I prefer my end of the spectrum.

Evanston is lovely today.  76 and sunny.  It is pleasant to be here for a while, a short while.  I’ve already made my reservation to fly back to the Low Country on October 19.  

I placed an order online at Binny’s, the local liquor chain store, and when I received notification that it was ready for pick-up I biked out, stopping first at a nearby Walgreens to get a flu shot, only to find that they are out of flu shots.  So I biked a mile farther to a CVS which had the vaccine.  I asked if there is a shortage and was told that there is not, but there are problems with distribution, which of course is true of most of the world’s resources.

I had noticed when I placed my order at Binny’s that my favorite liquid which recently has been $50 a bottle in Chicago and sometimes even $45 is now $65 a bottle.  I asked and was told as I expected:  Trump’s tariffs. 

I am out of shape.  You probably would not think so if you saw me, but I know.  I don’t know if I can do one-foot push-ups.  I know I should start resuming whatever of my workouts I can.  Tomorrow.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Hilton Head Island: A Night in the Cabana

 Jason, who wisely migrated from the US to New Zealand with his family six years ago, emailed me an article, A Night in the Cabana, that I wrote for SAIL magazine thirty years ago. I had completely forgotten it, though I did remember the place and the story once I started reading.  I thank him.  It may be that the best gifts cost nothing.  I am very appreciate of this one and that Jason remembered the article all these years even if I didn’t.  I suppose I have forgotten a lot of what I have written over the past half century.

I have photographed the pages and reproduce them below.  I hope you can enlarge and read them. 

If not, Douglas has provided me with the text which I have added beneath the images.  I thank him

In the 1980s when Vilamoura Marina was being developed there was a shanty town of mostly Angolan refugees along the beach to the east.  The Cabana was located there.  When Carol and I were in Vilamoura in 2001, all that had been replaced with high rises. 

A night in the Cabana

By Webb Chiles

The Cabana is a restaurant — well, perhaps an eating place is more accurate—in the old section of Quartiera, about a mile east of Marina Vilamoura in southern Portugal. It consists of one large room with a high, thatched roof, an open fireplace where the food is grilled, and four rows of rough tables. In the five years between 1983, when we first visited the place, and 1988, when we returned after a circumnavigation, the only changes were that the rows of tables had been moved to right angles from where they had been; some improvement had been made to the chimney, for the place was less full of smoke; and the thatched roof had been covered with tin. Not replaced, but covered. Also, some of the people who live permanently aboard boats at Marina Vilamoura seemed to have developed a snobbish attitude toward the Cabana, which, one British lady sniffed to me, is “rather basic.” These people do not sail; they just reside on a boat tied to the dock. Basic, such as on a boat during rough weather at sea, they do not know.

I assume they mean that if you go to the Cabana you will find yourself sitting with— perhaps, horrors, even next to—Portuguese fishermen, which is the essence of the place. Although the boys who wait on the tables speak some English, the Cabana isn’t for us; it is for the Portuguese fishermen and laborers. And that means the food is good and inexpensive. Our poverty far exceeded our snobbishness. When in Vilamoura, we ate there a lot.

One night we took a group of people with us. This is necessary. You will never find the place on your own. Five years ago someone else first took us. And while waiting for the food, we began, as sailors will, to tell sea stories. One man volunteered the following. Perhaps I should comment at this point that in matters other than this story, he is a seemingly reasonable man of mature years and good judgment.

“Three of us left English Harbour, Antigua, the same morning for Bermuda on the first leg of our Atlantic crossings. Our boat being a little bigger and quicker, we pulled away and didn’t see the others again until Bermuda. But the other boats were both about 35 feet long, heavy, with full keels, and moved at much the same speed. Both, as I recall, were British, and neither had a radio transmitter.

“For the first few days, they remained within sight of one another, but then it got squally and they were driven apart and didn’t see one another again until port. Even so, they arrived only a few hours apart.

“The first to come in were Bill and Linda on Plentiful. When they got settled, we went over to them. Both were subdued—more than just the usual fatigue at passage end. ‘We lost Clarence overboard during a squall,’ Linda finally said. ‘He was sleeping beside the cabin when the wind came up suddenly. Plentiful heeled in a gust, and then there was some heavy rain and he was gone.’

“ ‘How far out?’ asked stupidly, for it made little difference.

“ ‘In the middle. A long way from anywhere. We reduced sail, but the rain lasted until dark. There was simply no visibility. No way we could find him.’ Bill smiled sheepishly as he continued. ‘I even released the man-overboard pole and buoy. Just to mark the spot. I don’t think I’d ever realized how difficult it would be to recover anyone in those conditions.’

“We arranged to meet later for a drink and went back to our boat.

“A couple of hours later we heard some noise. Susie went on deck and called down, ‘Lola Too is coming in.’ This was the other boat that left Antigua with us. We didn’t ever know them very well. Frank and Joan, I think they are.

“Well. anyway, they powered slowly by Plentiful, and the woman called something, which we couldn't hear; apparently, neither could Bill and Linda. But instead of continuing on, Lola Too powered in circles until finally they used their fog horn, which got everyone’s attention, and Linda’s head appeared in the companionway.

“Joan pointed at something sitting contentedly at her feet. ‘Here’s your cat.’ she called.

“Clarence!” Linda cried and all but leapt across the water. But Clarence merely stared at her inscrutably. It was in fact a very long time before he forgave them.

“Just before dark the mid-passage squall had ended for Lola Too, and Joan caught sight of a man-overboard pole. The waves were not big, and they changed course, not expecting to find anything. They assumed the pole had fallen off some boat by accident and they might pick it up. As they approached they saw one wet, unhappy cat clinging grimly to the float. Naturally, they recognized Clarence and spent the rest of the passage contemplating how surprised Bill and Linda were going to be when they arrived in Bermuda.

“‘By the way, Joan called, as they powered off to tie up Lola Too, ‘we also have your cat-overboard pole.’ ”

Just then the boy brought our food. “It is a true story,” the man who told it declared. “I swear it.”

As I have said, he is otherwise a reasonable man. If you are ever in Vilamoura when we are, we will take you to the Cabana and show you where he sat.

Circumnavigator Webb Chiles is sailing along the U.S. East Coast.