Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hilton Head Island: cavernous; hobbyist; new career; 4 for 50; Shackleton: sailors rule

 The above vast space is GANNET’s freshly painted cabin floor looking aft from Central.  I got the first coat of paint on yesterday and hope to get a second on later today after light rain this morning ends. 

I am working inside, but I like to have the hatches open while painting to vent the fumes.  I cannot afford more brain damage.

I was able to move all the stuff normally stowed beneath and between the pipe berths to the forepeak.  I am a little surprised that it all fit.

You can also see the new thicker walled aluminum pipe berth tubes.

The flecks of paint on the wood are chips of old paint, not spills of new.

On my way back to the condo, I stopped by the marina office and asked Ben, the new dock master, if I can paint GANNET’s topsides in the slip, and was told I can.  I am not yet sure I will, but it is likely.  I painted THE HAWKE OF TUONELA while she was in her slip and we were living aboard in Boston.  GANNET will be easier both because I calculate her surface area is less than half that of HAWKE and because the water here is almost always flat.  In Boston I had to contend with wakes.

I thank Paul for a link to an interview I had completely forgotten.

Obviously it was done before I began the GANNET circumnavigation.  Although I don’t even recall how I did the interview, I am still satisfied with my answers.

I believe in less.  The best writing has the fewest words and I took some pride in defining myself in six.  Try it.  I will be interested in your efforts.  If  you send them to me, I’ll post them with your permission.

However, I have been exceeded.

A few days ago I mentioned that I had been working on GANNET and a person said, “That’s nice.  Everyone should have a hobby.”  This was said matter-of-factly, not in jest.  So there you have it.  One word.  Can’t improve on that.  Almost 80 years.  All the joy and all the despair.  All the beauty and all the suffering.  Webb Chiles:  Hobbyist.  Although my bruised ego does want to add:  Legendary Hobbyist.

I have a new career:  furniture assembler/ locksmith.

Probably most of you already knew this, but then I have not had many of the most common experiences.  Naively I thought that when you bought furniture it came complete.  Greater fool I. Everything comes broken down for the smallest packaging.  So far I have assembled chairs, tables, and most recently a bed frame.  As a sideline I have also installed a new smart lock and a door knob.  It will do you no good to call for an appointment.  I do not make service calls.

I realized a few weeks ago that I know only four people from the first fifty years of my life.  Three women and one man.  Three live in Southern California.  One in Australia.  I have communicated with them all recently and learned that my experience may not be all that uncommon.

Here is the partial text of one of those emails.  The reference to roses is that my friend says she talks to them as she prunes them.

I was initially surprised that your experience is the same as mine in not having many friends from the first 50 years roughly of life and it causes me to wonder if this is perhaps the norm, or closer than I expected.  I have observed that although we are a herd species we all know that we are alone, though most do their best to forget that.

As a fellow reader I just finished a remarkable retelling of Beowulf in a modern setting, THE MERE WIFE by Maria Dahvana Headley.  Quite original.  It is one of three contemporary novels retelling epics suggested by an article I saw in the NY TIMES.  The other two were GRENDEL by John Gardner, also Beowulf, and THE SILENCE OF THE WOMEN by Pat Barker, a retelling of the ILLIAD from the point of view of Brieses, the captive who Agamemnon took from Achilles.  All are very good.  As is some of the poetry of Louise Gluck, of whom I had not known until she got the Nobel Prize.  Her best I think also go back to Homer.

I do not talk to roses, but then I don’t have any.  I don’t even talk to GANNET, at least not much, though there have been times I have told a boat:  I’ve been careful with you, but now you just have to do it.  And they did as did I.  It is such a surprise to be this old.  Like being on the right side of a joke.  So let us grow older in quiet or loud pleasures and despite the fools.

I finished ENDURANCE.  Despite some hyperbole about the Southern Ocean what Shackleton and those with him endured one would think was beyond endurance, except they did.  He was a great leader, but perhaps not a great seaman.

Here are some quotes from the book:

Today, of course, such an ordeal could not take place.  A contemporary expedition would simply get on their sat phones and an ice breaker would be sent or they would be air lifted out.  There is an immeasurable difference in working without a net.  Of having no way to call for help.

Worsley’s thought that it was a pity no one would know how close they came resonated with me.  I had the same thought when EGREGIOUS was in the strongest wind I have ever known south of Australia after almost four months at sea.

I thank Michael for this, though I refuse to run the world.

1 comment:

Flick said...

If one were to look at the running of my little boat, I think s/he'd find all order and (a certain) logic. I plausibly flatter myself claiming I'm close to mastery in the art of operating this particular sailing craft.
Down in the cabin, a different story. At 68, I've not yet mastered the art of simply living in a space -- whether on land or a boat.