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.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/oct/19/i-walked-the-perimeter-coast-of-britain-photo-essay?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other



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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU-IbkwZFdY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9UILrfAk9s

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.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/scotland-whisky-islands-covid/index.html





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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU-IbkwZFdY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9UILrfAk9s

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.

http://smallboatrestoration.blogspot.com/2020/10/time-flies.html


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.


http://smallboatrestoration.blogspot.com/2020/10/time-flies.html


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.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/the-most-exciting-new-superyacht-concepts/index.html




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

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-54353767