Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Iceland; an old friend; ‘The Seafarer’



In seeking information about sailing to Iceland I learned of the above guide from the RCC and ordered a copy from Landfall Navigation.  When several days passed without it shipping I called and found that it is not in stock and won’t arrive for three or four weeks.  That it is not in stock is hardly surprising.  I doubt there is a big demand.  However in three or four weeks I won’t be here.  So I cancelled the order and googled more and learned that a PDF version is available from Google Play, which I have never used.  After jumping through a few hoops, including downloading a Google Play app, I bought and through the wonder of the Internet instantly have the book.  I even saved $20 over the hardcover edition.

Only a small part of the book is concerned with Iceland and being caught up in a very good biography of the Roman Emperor Augustus, I have yet to read it.  But this may be taken as proof  that I am getting serious.  As I have noted Hilton Head Island is too hot in the summer.  I am reasonably certain Iceland won’t be.

I have been following the weather in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital for a while.  For the past few weeks it has been similar to that in Opua, New Zealand.




Of course it is winter in New Zealand and summer in Iceland, but I have spent winters on the unheated THE HAWKE OF TUONELA  on her mooring off Opua without discomfort.  

Note that sunset is at 11:08 PM.

If you are interested, and of course you are, the Sea Distance calculator shows the distance from Savannah, Georgia, the nearest major port about twenty miles from Hilton Head Island, to Reykjavik to be 3230 nautical miles.



From time to time I have the pleasure of coming across in an anthology a poem that I know and admire.  It is a chance meeting with an old friend.  This happened yesterday in the BEING ALIVE anthology.

Some of you may recall that I have run this poem here before.  Allegedly it’s subject is a Pope who abdicated a few months after his elevation, but surely it has wider meaning.







Yesterday I also came across ‘The Seafarer’ translated from Old English by Ezra Pound.  The original dates from about a thousand years ago and parts speak to me.  It is too long to publish here, but if you are interested below is a link.  I have read it now three times with interest and pleasure.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44917/the-seafarer


Monday, July 19, 2021

Hilton Head Island: The League of Village Idiots

I came across an article yesterday that pointed out that had the politicization of vaccines which currently plagues us—a deliberate choice of words—existed in the 1950s we would never have eradicated polio.  I had not thought of that, but it is so obviously true.

In the United States and the rest of the developed world you would have to be my age or older for polio to be more than a word from history.  I went to grade school with a boy who was crippled by polio.  He could barely walk with crutches and leg braces.  He died when we were in high school.  I do not know the numbers, but polio was a common disease then.  I expect most people knew someone who had it.

I remember when Dr. Salk’s vaccine became available.  The year was 1953.  I don’t know exactly when I received the vaccine, but it was administered at school via swallowing a sugar cube.  There was no controversy.  No resistance.  Only grateful acceptance and relief that this terrible disease would no longer cripple and kill.

Fast forward to 2001.  Carol and I sailed from Gibraltar to Dakar, Senegal, to obtain visas for Brazil.  We were there two weeks and were at first confused by the number of cripples we saw every day on the streets, pushing their maimed bodies, legs shriveled and twisted, on carts propelled by their arms, or just sprawling helplessly on the sidewalks.  We learned that they had polio.  This almost fifty years after the vaccine become available.  How could this be?  The answer is superstition, stupidity, and religious fanaticism.  Health workers administering the vaccine in many countries have been killed by religious fanatics.

I am pleased to read that now twenty years later polio is said to have been eradicated in most of the world, including Africa.

But now we have the madness of COVID vaccine resistance.  

The difference between now and the 1950s is the League of Village Idiots.

There have always been village idiots.  There always will be.  Until very recently, during our lifetimes, the village idiot wandered around, mumbling to him or herself, and unless he or she was violent, was tolerated and given some simple task and lived out his or her life in confused obscurity, never knowing there was one or more like him or her in the next village.  Now the village idiot can go online and find the idiot in the next village and in villages all over the world.  They are no longer alone.  They can chant and re-enforce their fears and frustration and rage—rage has become so popular a word that surely a movement will develop to amend the Bill of Rights:  Life, liberty and the pursuit of rage.  Screw happiness.  We want rage.

I am long on the record that to name our species homo sapiens, which means ‘wise or knowing man’, is a cosmic joke.  There is a constant, overwhelming flood of proof.  Among them that there is any controversy about COVID vaccines, beyond that many in the less developed world do not yet have access to them, and that we live in an age of the League of Village Idiots.





Friday, July 16, 2021

Hilton Head Island: sunny with waterspouts; inexperience

Another sunny day with a chance of waterspouts.  We live on the right side of the island.  There are none in sight on Skull Creek.  



I woke early yesterday morning and biked down to GANNET before 7 am intending to do some work before it got too hot, but I was already too late.

I installed the mounts for the Raymarine wind display.  One in the cabin; one in the cockpit.  This required nothing more strenuous than screwing in three small screws for each.  I didn’t even need to drill holes because I could see where I had filled the screw holes from the previous mounts.  Nevertheless by the time I had taken the few minutes needed to do this, sweat was blinding me.

I sponged a little water out of the bilge.

I went up on deck and tried to remove the torn non-stick pads and learned that Raptor uses strong adhesives and this is not going to be easy.

And I got on my bike and rode back to air conditioning.

My GANNET to do list:

New wind instruments (obtained but not yet installed)

New Windex  (obtained but not yet installed)

Two new snatch blocks  (ordered)

Sand and oil or paint interior wood  (battery sander and sand paper discs obtained)

Replace non-skid torn by Panama rigger  (sheet of Raptor non-skid obtained)

Solve slipping main halyard

Re-bed forward hatch  (Butyl tape obtained)


All work to be deferred until at least mid-September.



As noted here before each issue of the BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE costs me money.  This month it caused me to buy an excellent recording of Bartok’s First and Second Violin Concertos performed by Christian Tetzlaff and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Also in that issue an article about Camille Saint-Saens quotes Hector Berlioz, who was serving on the jury for the Prix de Rome, which Saint-Saenz did not win reportedly because he was already too famous, as saying of Saint-Saens, “He already knows everything, but he lacks inexperience.”



Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Channel Fever; a hint


I am sitting in my favorite chair near the bedroom window, sipping chardonnay and listening to Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” on new Sonos One SL speakers.  I bought a pair for the living room and like them so much I bought two more for the bedroom.   These are the least expensive Sonos speakers and differ from the Ones by having no voice control.  I have no desire to talk to speakers.  They are small, unobtrusive, and sound good to my old defective ears. Perhaps the very best thing about them is that the setup is easy and flawless.  Sonos has got this.  I thank them.



Yesterday I received an email from Roger, an experienced cyclist, who puts Lachlan Morton’s achievement in clearer perspective.  Here it is and my reply.


Webb,

I'm an old cyclist, and am somewhat familiar with endurance, long distance cycling. I have never, and will never even dream of doing what this guy has done, with 360 miles in 18 hours, but I will say that in 24 hour contests to see how far a rider can go, I have never seen anyone even come close to this mileage. 

You have congratulated him, and I do also, but this accomplisment may never be bettered.

Roger


Hello, Roger,

I of course have no personal experience on which to judge his ride, but am in awe of the numbers and appreciate your comments based on what you know better than I.   I will pass them on in the journal.

I have a sense that he was as a cyclist feeling what sailors in the past called Channel Fever.  At the end of a long voyage as they entered the English Channel they wanted it to be over and pressed hard.  I have done that myself on passages, being content in the middle, but pushing for it to be over at the end.  

I believe Lachlan has achieved a greater accomplishment than winning the Tour, but then I am perhaps biased toward the individual rather than the team.

Webb 



I sometimes talk to myself in this journal, putting tentative thoughts into words in an attempt to clarify them.  Doing so publicly may or may not be wise, but I am a writer.

I did not mean to tease about the passage I might make next summer, but I also do not like people who talk about what they might do.  I prefer those who report after they have done.  Nevertheless having mentioned a possibility, I want to clarity.  


It is too hot on Hilton Head Island in July and August.  It is not too hot in Iceland.  I have sailed in those temperatures.  Perhaps I still can.  I am not totally committed.  I was totally committed to all my previous voyages and I am not certain one can make a difficult passage without such commitment.  But that is what I am considering.

We will see what does or does not happen.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hilton Head Island: books read Jan-June 2021; price drop; in Paris

January—June  2021


SWORD OF KINGS   Bernard Cornwall

SATCHEL   Larry Tye

SHACKLETON’S FORGOTTEN MEN   Lennard Bickel

THE HORSE’S MOUTH   Joyce Cary

BAD LAND   Jonathan Raban

EMBERS   Sandor Marai

EXTRAORDINARY LIVES   various

IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE   Sinclair Lewis

VEXATIONS   Caitlin Horrocks

NEVER LET ME GO   Kazuo Ishiguro

WOLVES OF EDEN   Kevin McCarthy

DRACULA   Bram Stoker

HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS

Neil MacGregor/British Museum

PEELER   Kevin McCarthy

GULLAH DAYS   Barnwell/Grant/Campbell

ARCH OF TRIUMPH   Erich Maria Remarque

CAPTAIN WILLIAM HILTON AND THE FOUNDING OF

HILTON HEAD ISLAND   Dwayne Pickett

THE PERFECT MILE   Neil Bascomb

DEAD SOULS   Nikolai Gogol

MACHINES LIKE ME   Ian McEwan

CONVERSATIONS WITH BEETHOVEN   Sanford Friedman

ALONE   Michael Korda

1984   George Orwell

RETURN TO THE SEA   Webb Chiles


There are many very good books in that list.  I saved the best for last.





I bought a speedometer/odometer for my bicycle.  It actually is a mini computer with a display the size of my Apple watch that attaches to the handle bar and records many things besides distance and speed.  It functions via GPS.  It cost $36.


Some of you may remember that I bought my first GPS, a handheld unit made by Sony, thirty years ago this fall in New Zealand.  The GPS system was not officially in operation, but the satellites were up there and it worked.  The Sony handheld was one of the least expensive available at the time.  It cost $2000.





Lachlan Morton is in Paris.  He made it faster than I expected, riding through the night and covering the last 579 kilometers/360 miles in nineteen hours.  Impressive, indeed.


I have not been in Paris for many years, but I remember the traffic and thought the most dangerous part of Lachlan’s ride might be those last few miles.  From the photos it seems he wisely arrived after dark.


https://www.rapha.cc/us/en_US/stories/the-alt-tour





Monday, July 12, 2021

Hilton Head Island: winded; suited again; Lachlan Morton

 My hope springs eternal Raymarine wind instruments have arrived and been duly registered to extend the warranty from two years to three.  I wonder why I think I need that.

Raymarine has changed the color of the case for the display unit from cream to charcoal.  I like the new color.  And they have paired the display with the masthead unit at the factory.  This is most welcomed.  In the past the user had to pair the units which I found to be a cumbersome and often frustrating procedure.  

I still do not know how and when the masthead unit will get attached to the masthe



Steve Earley who has the same brand of dry suit I do, Stohlquist, but a different model wrote that his has a zipper from one shoulder to mid-chest which makes it easier to get on and off than mine.

When I successfully put mine on the other day, I did so partially while standing and I have realized that on GANNET I am going to have to get into it while sitting or sprawling, so this morning I sat on the living room carpet and managed to get in and zipped.  I am now confident I can do this.  After removing it, I spayed all the zippers again with teflon.  



I have been watching and enjoying the Tour de France.  Today is a rest day for the racers, but not for Lachlan Morton, the Australian who is racing the peloton on his own.  On Friday’s broadcast of the Tour he was interviewed live.  Here is his tracking page then:




He started behind the racers, but passed them on the second day and as you can see was then far ahead.  He cycles about twelve hours a day, then finds a place to camp, puts up a small tent and cooks his dinner, presumably on something like my JetBoil.  He estimates that his bike and gear weight about 50 pounds.  The bikes ridden in the race weigh about 15 pounds.

Lachlan needed to be far ahead of the peloton because in a few days all the racers will fly 400 miles from Bordeaux to near Paris.  Lachlan will bike the distance.

I just checked his tracking page again.



He’s going to do it.  He’s almost there.  I am smiling.  What a great challenge.  What a great thing to have done.  Good on you, Lachlan.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Hilton Head Island: prevailed

 


Above is a somewhat distorted version of my present view.  It is 7:12 PM and I am sitting on the deck, sipping cabernet sauvignon and listening to the soundtrack of MASTER AND COMMANDER on headphones.  The temperature is 81ºF and there is a slight breeze fluttering the Spanish moss.  I am quite comfortable, but I also was last night when I sat out here from 8 to 9 PM listening to music and sipping Laphroaig when the temperature was 91ºF, but  there was also then a cooling breeze.  

This condo is a legitimate version of paradise.  I say that not boasting, but in continual surprise that although it took almost eighty years I am happier here than any other place I have ever lived ashore.

I am filling time before the Copa America final between Brazil and Argentina which begins in forty minutes.

Permit me to copy one of the quotes on the lists page of the main site that I have used in the front of my books.

                        (I) am, I believe, following the clear path of my fate.  Always

                        to be pushing out like this, beyond what I know cannot be the

                        limits--what else should a man’s life be?  Especially an old man 

                        who has, by a clear stroke of fortune, been violently freed of             

                        the comfortable securities that make old men happy to sink into

                        blindness, deafness, the paralysis of all desire, feeling, will.

                        What else should our lives be but a continual series of beginnings, 

                        of painful settings out into the unknown, pushing off from the 

                        edges of consciousness into the mystery of what we have not

                        yet become, except in dreams that blow in from out there

                        bearing the fragrance of islands we have not sighted.

                                        --from AN IMAGINARY LIFE by David Malouf



I am an old man, partially deaf and I estimate between 60% and 75% blind.  I have enviable comfort, but my desire, feeling, will are not paralyzed.  


I paused for a moment because I sometimes wish they were.  A line from a poem I long ago discarded:  ‘intensity not duration’.  Yet I lived both intensity and duration and am stuck with both, which have had their rewards, but also their trials.  It is possible to live too long.


Only a half an hour before the match begins so I need to hurry.


The relevance of this, if any, is to my dry suit.


With application of teflon spray to the zippers and the addition of loops of Dyneema to the zipper tabs which gives me better grip, I donned my dry suit yesterday and got all the zippers closed, including the one around the back of my neck.


One most definitely does not need a dry suit in Hilton Head in July, but I am planning a voyage next summer to waters that are cold.  I am not going to say where.  I may not even say in advance before I set out.  I will say it is not Cape Horn.


This will be decisive.  I wrote on the first passage of GANNET’s circumnavigation “Use yourself up, old man.  Use yourself up.”


On the two sails I have made since then I have not reached my destination.  If I don’t  next summer, unless it is due to breakage or chance beyond my control, if it is due to failure of will and determination, I will accept that I have used myself up.  


I don’t suppose many almost eighty year olds wonder what they ought to do next, but I do.  2022 will be an important year in my life, assuming I live that long.  And if I am used up, I am, and I take solace and satisfaction that I have lasted decades longer than I or anyone else thought I would.


My other prevailing today was over wasps.


I walked down to GANNET this morning, carrying a roll of Raptor non-skid and wasp spray.  Upon arrival I cautiously opened the dock box wasp spray in hand.  The wasps have good scouts and were gone.


The music has ended.  A hawk glides by overhead without moving a feather.  The sun is about to set.  Skull Creek is golden.  The soccer match is due to start in twelve minutes.  There are a couple of sips of wine still in the glass.


L’Chaim.




Friday, July 9, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Elsa; relieved; THE ASSASSIN‘S CLOAK; finals: two Chinese poems

 Elsa passed as expected with moderate wind, distant lightning, and some rain.  It was all over in a few hours.  Really a non-event.  At most a blip.  Leaves, Spanish moss and twigs were blown onto our deck and have been swept overboard.  During the five years we lived on board THE HAWKE OF TUONELA in Boston Harbor I had to do that to snow.  A definite improvement.

NOAA recently released a report that La Niña is developing in the Pacific Ocean.  One consequence of this is drier than usual weather in western states, which they do not need, and a more active hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, which we do not need.



On his recent cruise Steve Earley had a love affair with his dry suit.  Some might think this odd, but I found it intriguing.  He seemed to slip in and out of his dry suit with ease.  The only time I tried on my dry suit, it was like battling an octopus, and I was in our Evanston condo.  I think I won, but I’m not sure.  It might have been a draw.  I have never tried to put on the dry suit at sea.  However, with Steve’s sterling example I decided to dig out my dry suit and study the situation more closely.  

First I had to find the thing.  Eventually I did in a waterproof bag with my set of heavy foul weather gear far in GANNET’s stern behind where I stow the Torqeedo.

I brought it up to the condo, spread it out, tried all the zippers, some of which are difficult to zip, particularly one that goes around the back, and gave it a go.  It went better than I remembered except for that zipper around the back of the piece through which you put your head.  A tube of lubricant was provided with the suit, but has not made an appreciable difference.  We will see what teflon spray can do.  Even without that zipper closed, I think the suit would keep me dry, although I might have to wear a foul weather parka over it.

I an relieved to discover that there is a fly zipper so that I will not have to lower the suit to my waist when I need to be relieved.






At the top of the journal page on the main site is a reference to THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK, an excellent anthology of diary entries though the centuries. 

https://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/journal/journal.html

In the Evanston condo we had two seven foot high book shelves.  When we put the condo on the market I went through the books and selected ten to move to Hilton Head, five of which I had written myself.  Ten or twelve years ago those bookshelves were becoming full and I told Carol we were going to have to buy more, but then I started to prefer reading Kindle editions of books.  I even bought Kindle editions of many of those on the shelves.  

In looking over the shelves a few months ago I noticed THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK and rather than move it here, bought the Kindle edition.  On July 1 I started rereading it.  Reading each day the diary excerpts of that date.  Usually there are three or four each day.  On July 7 there were entries by H.D. Thoreau; Leo Tolstoy; Sofia Tolstoy; and Denton Welch.  Yesterday William Soutar; Cesare Pavese; and Joseph Goebbels.  A most interesting and entertaining book.  Highly recommended.



Soccer fans are rejoicing.  Tomorrow sees the final of Copa America between Brazil and Argentina and Sunday the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy.  Quite surprising to me at least is that England has not been in the final of a major international tournament since 1966.



I continue each afternoon to read a few poems, some ancient Chinese; some more modern Western.  I much prefer the Chinese.  Perhaps because they have endured for centuries, whereas many of the more modern are concerned with trivialities, but also because none of the Chinese poems are set in cities, and there were cities then.  They are poems often of wanderers or exiles living alone or at most in villages.  As a species we are now urban, but we did not evolve to be, and I most definitely am not.

Here are two chosen almost at random.  There are many others.

The first is by Li Bai, one of whose poems I included here earlier.  He lived 701-762.


 This by his contemporary, Du Fu, 712-770.



 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Elsa; persistence


While the details continue to change, the 2 AM Thursday position of Tropical Storm Elsa in the above is directly over me.  I do not expect much other than some rain.

Here is a projection from the Windy app which shows clearly the difference in this hemisphere in being on the west and east sides of the center.  The most recent forecast for Hilton Head is for no more than 20 knots of wind.  Offshore to the east there might be 40-50 knots.




I’ve biked down to GANNET each of the past two mornings to do some minor work.  Yesterday I opened the dock box cautiously.  A single irritated wasp flew out and away.  Today again a single wasp flew out and away.  I do not know if it was the same wasp or if the swarm assigns different ones to guard duty.  I admire their persistence, but it may be unwise.  Wasp spray has been ordered.


Other persistence, my own, may also be unwise, but I have ordered new wind instruments.  Again.  And again.  And again.  

After considering all the possibilities I ordered the same Raymarine system I had before.  I decided against OpenWind because they have no service facilities in the US and because checking wind direction and speed on an iPhone while underway is less convenient than looking at a fixed display.  I also ordered a new Windex to replace the one presently at the masthead whose base is broken.  I have no idea how many Windexs and electronic mast head transducers I have gone through.

The new equipment will be delivered this week.  When I will be able to get it installed I do not know.  If you are wondering, my vision is simply not good enough or I would go up and do it myself. 


Saturday, July 3, 2021

Hilton Head Island: hung; wasp nest; bull’s-eye


Hanging Day at Skull Creek went well.  A fifty-five pound mirror with a wide wood frame was the most difficult.  Carol and I had mounted it in Evanston and knew what to expect.

There is a lot of New Zealand on our walls.  You may recognize the view from the lookout on Roberton Island above taken by my friend, Rob.  There is also a landscape watercolor that I bought at a gallery in Opua and a chart of the country.  Enough to cause one to think that I like the place.

The two kerosene lamps are the last vestiges of THE HAWKE OF TUONELA.



THE WASPS is a play by Aristophanes which I read a very long time ago and what I found when I opened GANNET’s dock box yesterday.   I biked down to the little boat to stow the Torqeedo properly.  It was so hot inside the cabin when we returned from our morning sail the day before that I left it on the cabin sole.  After moving the outboard to its normal stowage position at the foot of the port pipe berth, I went to look for gear stored in the dock box.  When I opened the lid I was greeted by a couple of dozen wasps who were not happy to see me.  They had built a nest on the underside of the lid.  I retreated for the boat hook and dislodged the white honeycombed nest about the size of my fist.  This did not improve their mood, which became even worse when I turned the hose on them until finally they buzzed away.  I hope this does not become an ongoing battle.




Tropical storm Danny made landfall several days ago five miles northeast of where I am sitting.  In this hemisphere, the east side of a storm is the more dangerous, but Danny didn’t do any damage anywhere.  Storms are named when they reach Force 8, gale force, starting at 34 knots.  As I have said before I consider this a mistake.  Such a storm is nothing more than a bit of unpleasant weather.

So still early in the season and another storm, Elsa, is headed our way.  If you connect the dots between 2 AM Wednesday and 2 AM Thursday, her center will pass directly over me.  Carol flies back to Chicago on Monday.  You will also note that while Elsa is now a Category 1 hurricane, she is expected to weaken over Cuba and be only a tropical storm when she reaches my friends in Florida.  A GRIB I just downloaded indicates that she will not be significant, but there is always the uncertainty of rapid intensification, a phenomenon seen increasingly in recent years.  

I am not quite ready for a severe hurricane, but I can be in a few hours of hauling supplies up from GANNET.  I expect that Elsa will not even require me to to bring in the deck furniture, but sadly the world does not always live up to my expectations.