Thursday, May 26, 2022

Hilton Head Island: charged and a cartoon


 

Above you have the elusive ePropulsion Spirit Plus DC battery charger.  I am deeply indebted to my friend Eric who located a dealer who had not just one, but five of these chargers. Possibly the only ones in this country.  I thank him.

It arrived this afternoon and I biked down to GANNET with charger and battery, plugged it in and sat for a while to determine if it would soon shut down.  It didn’t.

After Carol flies back to Illinois next Wednesday I intend to sail offshore for a few days to see if the Evo will hydrocharge now that I know, or think I know, how the outboard should be set to hydrocharge, but with the DC charger GANNET is again self-sufficient.



From another friend, Larry, comes this.  I thank him for all of us.  I do see that it is copyrighted.  I am not making any money here, but will remove it if legally told to.




Monday, May 23, 2022

Hilton Head Island: two quotes and a few leaks, plus a medical bulletin

One who asks to remain nameless sent me the following quote from Alexis de Tocqueville which caused her to think of me:

Thus not only does democracy make every man forget his ancestors, but it hides his descendants and separates his contemporaries from him; it throws him back forever upon himself alone and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart.


And from the prologue to the excellent PACIFIC by Simon Winchester:





We had thunderstorms with torrential rain yesterday afternoon.

I biked down to GANNET his morning, taking a Torqeedo battery with me which I had charged at the condo.  Curious about its variously reported weight, I weighed myself on our bathroom scale and then again holding the battery.  The difference was 13.4 pounds.

At GANNET I found a little less than two cups of water in the bilge and small puddles on both pipe berths.  Rain came from many directions yesterday.  At times looking out our windows was like looking through a car windshield without wipers being sprayed by a fire hose.  So some of the water may have come in through the closed companionway.  The spray hood would not have helped when rain came from astern.  But there was definite trickle from around the bulkhead compass and the possibility that some had leaked from the new port halyard clutch.  Both of which I have repeatedly tried to seal.  

I tried again.  Sigh.



Those who have read the comments to the preceding post know that my dental pain began to decrease almost as soon as I began to take antibiotics.  There are other variables, so I cannot say with confidence what caused the improvement.  However I am again my normal self and good for at least a little while longer.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Why Ships Crash and a tooth

I have just watched a PBS documentary, Why Ships Crash, which I expect will be of interest to most of you.

https://www.pbs.org/video/why-ships-crash-su2sci/?utm_source=whattowatchnews&utm_medium=email&utm_term=mainpromo1&utm_content=20220520&utm_campaign=nova_2022

Mostly this is about the stoppage of the Suez Canal by the EVER GIVEN, but there is more and the observations by those interviewed are intelligent and measured.

During the documentary five world shipping bottle necks are mentioned:  the Panama Canal; the Suez Canal; the English Channel; the Straits of Gibraltar; the Malacca Straits.  I have sailed them all.



My life this week has been dominated by a tooth or perhaps my gums.

I could have designed us better.

Pain is a vague and disruptive warning system.

We should have evolved with a circuit board in our forearms.  Flashing lights.  A beeper.  And you see immediately what has gone wrong.  Try to reset the circuit breaker.  And if that fails investigate the problem.

Instead we have pain, sometimes severe pain, whose specific source cannot be established and which confuses our minds and takes control of our lives.

I had such pain.  I went to a dentist who took x-rays and could not determine the source of the problem.  He prescribed antibiotics in case there was an infection, and an opioid pain killer.  I took the antibiotics.  I filled the prescription for the opioid painkiller but was reluctant to take it.  Instead I continued with Tylenol and martinis.  Today I am much improved.  Pain is no longer dominating my life.  Whether that is through the antibiotics or just my body healing itself I do not know.

I sometimes suspect that this is not the best of all possible worlds.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Andes; Eichmann; eulogy

Mid-May and predictably the Low Country is getting hot.  I am just back from walking a sailbag of washed boat clothes down to GANNET and though I walked at a moderate pace I am sweating.  86ºF/30C at noon outside.  Inside the Great Cabin 93ºF/34C with the hatches open.  I did not stay in the Great Cabin long.

Carol flies here Saturday for ten days.  I have decided to delay my next testing of the Evo until after she returns to Illinois because I want to go out and not have a time I have to return.  I may head offshore for a day or two.


On Netflix recently I have watched an interesting series and a disturbing documentary.

The series, Magical Andes, is about those mountains.  There are two seasons.  The first starts in the north and goes south.  The second starts in the south and goes north.  The filming and the scenery are spectacular.  Despite some romantic nonsense, such as one poor deluded creature saying, “The mountains love me”.  And another, “The river loves me”.  Really?  I enjoyed it.


The documentary is the French made, The Trial of Adolf Eichmann.  I found an option for the narrative to be in English.

I know the history.  What is troubling about the film are the personal experiences.

The Israeli police found a manifest of all the Jews rounded up from one region and sent to extermination camps, complete with the numbers tattooed on each victims arm.  One of the police officers in the room as this was being discussed raised his arm and showed his tattoo.  He was on the list.

The Gestapo declared that they would destroy a certain village if the leader of the resistance did not give himself up.  The villagers attacked the resistance headquarters with whatever weapons they could demanding the leader do so.  He turned over leadership to his second in command and surrendered.  He was tortured and killed.  The story was related during testimony at Eichmann’s trail by the second in command.

Eichmann, who consistently claimed only to have been following orders like any good bureaucrat, was convicted, hanged, and cremated.  One of the officials who took Eichmann’s ashes on a boat to dispose of them in the Mediterranean was surprised by how little is left after cremation.  Those of you who watched the video of my spreading the ashes of my friend Louise off San Diego know that I was too.  What is left is mostly pulverized bone.  Louise’s remnants weighed eight pounds if I remember correctly.  The official with Eichmann’s ashes recalled how as a child he entered a concentration camp past a huge mound of ashes of the cremated.  Now he realized that the mound must have been made by tens of thousands of dead.

And all this and more happened during the lifetimes of some of us still living.



There have been mixed reactions to my last two posts.  Some liked them.  Some did not.  Among those who did not is Carol who has forbidden me from posting photos of her again.  She values her privacy which I respect, but it is difficult not to write about my life and not mention her.  However, I will try.  Assume unless you read otherwise that we are a mostly happy married couple, which in this imperfect world probably is as good as it gets.

Lee sent me a link to a song that the most recent post brought to his mind.

I did not know of Frank Turner or this song.  I like it and thank Lee.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs6Yw5mU0PY

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Hilton Head Island: still trying

Evening.  The sun has set.  Skull Creek is silver and pewter.  

I look out on beauty.  That is important to me.  Perhaps it is to us all.  Unfortunately to most it is beyond possibility.  

Our species, which evolved roaming over the African savannah, has chosen to live in cities.  Bad choice.

I am sitting in our living room where the Sonos speakers are best placed, sipping Plymouth gin and listening to Villa Lobos and trying to understand what I ought to do.  You may observe that few my age are troubled by that question.  

In the meantime I watch some videos of the young coming together.  They should.  I am pleased that the young find the joys of their flesh.  Here is a styilized link to a video I like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8t4W9-OvcM

I knew the joys of young flesh.

As Carol noted during our recent visit to the places of my youth, the acceptance of desirable women in my late teens and later was the first outside evidence that I might be I was what I thought I was. 

I would not be young again if given the opportunity.

Once was enough.  It was in my case almost more than enough

I do not know that I will ever again do or write anything of value.  

Carol has said that she is tired of people asking her what I will do next and so tells them I am retired.

Someone once said that my job is being Webb Chiles and so the only retirement for me is death or even worse being alive and helpless through mental or physical failure.  

So here it is.  For almost all of my life I had goals.  I knew what I needed to do, despite physical hardship, loss of love, and possible loss of life.  

Yet somehow I am still alive and I no longer do.

I am certain that I am an original experiment who was given great gifts in the genetic lottery that cares nothing for individuals and everything for the mass of flow.  I do not understand what is going on.  I do not know that I have repaid those gifts.  I have tried.  I do know that though I am among the oldest one percent on the planet I am still trying to understand what I ought to do.

I have paused the music while I write.  I am about to resume it and pour myself a little more gin.

As a great writer observed our lives are as brief as a butterfly’s cough.  That we have so little time is our dignity.

I have realty tried.  I am trying still.

L’Chaim.  To life.

    





Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Hilton Head Island: the reasons for marriage


I came across the above photo a few days ago.  

For many years I carried a cropped version focused on Carol in my wallet.  Somehow it was lost along the way.  The photo was taken at Notre-Dame de Paris a few months after we were married in Key West in August of 1994.  Carol is the one on the left.  

I present the photo as irrefutable proof that I did not marry Carol for her money.  In fact when we married I had more than she.  However she soon caught up and then went far ahead.   Carol is one of you.  A most successful one of you.  I am something else. Who knows what?  She now makes more in a year than I have in a lifetime.  So I am among the affluent by proximity.  But I am among the very wealthiest on the planet because I have had control for fifty years of that most finite of resources:  my own time.  And because while I enjoy that which Carol’s success brings, including sitting at this moment on this screened porch overlooking Skull Creek,  I need so little.  One of the few who have known me since the 70s, another intelligent and successful woman, observed a year or so ago that if I had not met Carol I probably would not be alive today.  I expect that is true.  But if I were still alive and had to live on my own resources, I would now be on GANNET at sea or some distant anchorage living as well as I do here on Hilton Head Island.  I still receive royalties from Amazon each month.  Usually from several different Amazon countries.  Last month I got $0.09 from Amazon Australia.  How I earned 9 cents I do not know.

All my relationships with women began with lust.  Some turned into more.  I wonder how the lives of those desirable and intelligent women have evolved.  I hope well.

With Carol lust became love, however difficult to define.

It is likely that we passed on the streets around Harvard Square a few years earlier without noticing one another.

I know that meeting her in 1994 was the great grace of my life.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hilton Head Island: charging station

 


The 300 watt inverter arrived Thursday afternoon.  Friday morning I biked to GANNET, hooked it up and attached the Evo charger.  It lasted less than a minute before shutting down.  I tried again.  Same result.  I biked back to the condo and telephoned the dealer in Miami from whom I ordered the Evo.  I had called him before I sailed to St. Marys asking about the direct DC charger shown on ePropulsion’s site, but he never called me back.  The situation was now more critical.  If I am unable to charge the Evo battery while underway the outboard is useless to me.

According to the man I spoke with there are no DC chargers presently available in this country.  A shipment is on the way, due later this month.  I placed an order.  I understand there are supply line problems.  I am skeptical about when I might get the DC charger.

I have a DC charger for the Torqeedo as well as the standard AC charger which you can see in the photo above.  On a boat a DC charger makes sense.  Using an AC charger with an inverter you are turning DC into AC and then back to DC.

However in talking with the salesman I learned something possibly encouraging.

I told him my unit had failed to hydrocharge on the way down to St. Marys and asked if possibly that was because the unit was too close to the 90% discharge level below which hydrocharging is supposed to began when sailing at four knots.  He said possibily and then related the necessary conditions for hydrocharging:  battery at less than 90%; sailing at four knots +. magnetic kill switch in place, unit turned on.  A light flashed in my mind.  I don’t believe he mentioned another condition that is stated in the owner’s manual:  that the unit be in neutral.

After hanging up I reread the section on hydrocharging.  It does not state the the unit must be turned on.  Perhaps this is assumed to be obvious.  It is not to me.  When I started sailing GANNET I turned the unit off.  From time to time while sailing to St. Marys I turned it on to check the charging.  When I did the charging icon flashed on and off as it should to indicate charging though I never saw an increase in the charged level beyond the 86-87% it had when I stopped powering, but then I turned the unit off again.  Possibly this was the problem and there is hope.

Above you see the Evo battery on the left and the spare Torqeedo battery on the right, both being charged.

The Evo battery is decidedly bigger in size and capacity.  It weighs 19.2 pounds compared to the Torqeedo’s about 14 pounds.  I thought the Torqeedo battery weighs only 10 pounds, but checking online I see various numbers in the 13-14 pound range.

The Evo battery capacity is stated as 1276 watts.  The Torqeedo as 915 watts.  If my math is correct the Evo capacity is 39% greater.

When I can I will go sailing and test the Evo hydrocharging again.  I have hope.



While sailing to St. Marys and back I thought that if I dropped my iPhone, my only remaining charts would be on my iPad Pro and decided to add another backup device.  On Friday I ordered an iPad mini.  It arrived yesterday and was easily and quickly set up exchanging data with my phone and an iCloud backup, except for iNavX.  

With iSailor all I had to do was click ‘restore purchases’ and all my charts were soon on the mini.   iNavX only permits downloads to two devices and  iPad charts are not compatible with iPhones.  I still have the world wide Navionics charts I bought for iNavX on my iPad Pro.  These are no longer even available through iNavX.  I cannot get them onto my mini.  I deleted the iNavX app on the mini.





Thursday, May 5, 2022

Hilton Head Island: new videos and a worthy destination


There are four short new videos, St. Marys and Back, on my YouTube channel. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdl7dZLxNI4VIB_eOiaNgiQ/videos



Here is something I wrote to my friend, David, last evening in a response to an email he sent about my decision not to sail to Iceland.  If you have wondered, I have not wavered in that decision for a moment.

Your email caused me to think, which is not an all bad thing.

I don’t believe I am seeking problem free sailing or an absence of discomfort.  Suffering may be too strong a word.  The problem has been that since the end of my sixth circumnavigation none of my destinations has had any real meaning for me.  They were artificial and not worth the discomfort and sometimes frustration which arose.  I turned back from sailing around Bermuda because of lack of wind.  That had a lot to do with the final passage from Panama to San Diego which I look back upon as one of the worst I’ve ever made.  Not because of bad weather, but because of lack of wind.  Even though that was now three years ago, I can still feel the all but unendurable frustration.  Until Monday I have not had any enjoyable sailing for more than an hour here and there for a long time.

Going off in GANNET and following good wind angles for maybe a week or two would provide good sailing for that length of time.  Coming back would almost certainly provide problems and perhaps discomfort.  But the destination—home—would have real meaning and be worth the effort.  I have not seen all the world, but I have seen enough, and there really isn’t anywhere I want to go except to sea.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Hilton Head Island: sailing home



Rocky put GANNET in the travel lift early Sunday afternoon just as he had said he would and I painted the areas previously covered by the cradle and pretty much put an entire third coat of antifouling on the bottom.  At almost $300 a gallon I did not want to leave any in the can.

At 5 p.m. I went on deck for a drink and to listen to music on the Boom 2 speakers.  It was low tide.  I was amazed and shocked by the lack of water.  Two boats on the inside of the dock beside the haul out point were solidly in mud and there was only a narrow strip of water between that dock and an island of mud opposite.  This is the strangest place I have ever seen a boat yard located.  Land must have been cheap.

I was awake at 6 Monday morning.  Being in the travel lift was assurance that we would be handled first.  At 9 I heard voices outside GANNET’s hull and poked my head on deck.  It was Rocky and his crew.  He asked if I was ready.  I said I was any time he thought there was enough water.  High tide was not for another hour or so.  He said there was enough now.  So we did it.  They directed me to go out in a different direction than I had approached, keeping close to the private docks along the shore to the east until we reached deeper water.  I did and was glad when the depthfinder displayed 10’ and I could move to the middle of the channel.

I powered at two knots.  With electric outboards there is an inverse ratio between speed and range.  I had left the anchor on deck in case I needed to change batteries.  In the event it wasn’t even close.  In an hour and a half we emerged into the St. Marys River with the Torqeedo’s  battery at 61%.  This was a totally different experience than the way in using the Evo.  Going out there was only light wind and little current against us at the beginning and some with us by the end.

Once in the river, I raised sails and turned the Torqeedo off and tilted it out of the water, and the wind died.  The outgoing tide drifted us slowly toward the ocean five miles away.  The sunny morning soon became broiling hot. The Levis and a long sleeved shirt I was wearing to protect my skin became intolerable.  I changed them for shorts and t-shirt and lots of sun screen.

After a half hour of drifting wind returned from the south and in smooth water and with a clean bottom, GANNET began speeding along.  She is a joy to sail.  With almost any wind she becomes as alive as any object built by man.  After three long tacks we passed the ends of the channel breakwaters and entered the ocean at noon where after staying on deck until we were beyond three commercial trawlers, I put GANNET on a glorious reach with 12 knot wind just aft of the beam.  She romped north at 6.5 to 8 knots all afternoon across a sparkling blue sea.  This is of course what all sailing is like.  Or so the salesmen tell you.

The wind increased a few knots and GANNET began to yaw faster than the tiller pilot could keep up, so I furled the jib to half size, and as I have often found we continued to sail as fast at a reduced angle of heel. 

I spent most of the afternoon out of the sun, reading in the cabin subversively a novel by Jeff Sharra, THE FATEFUL LIGHTNING, about Sherman’s march to the sea and into the Carolinas at the end of the Civil War; but of course came out for two air temperature gin and tonics and Bach at 5 p.m.  I drank the first sitting in the Sportaseat and the second standing in the companionway.  I prefer standing in the companionway.  For a few moments it was as though I were on an ocean passage.

With the continued south wind I started to consider going in to the south end of Hilton Head island where I would have the wind behind me all the way to the marina.

At sunset the wind veered until it was coming over the stern and the main was blanketing the jib.  I needed to slow down anyway to delay our arrival until Tuesday dawn, so I lowered the main and unfurled the jib.  On a passage this wind would have resulted in at least a 150 mile day.  Probably 160.  GANNET continued to sail at 6.5 knots.

We sped past eight ships anchored off Savannah and past the south end of Hilton Head Island.  I would enter Port Royal Sound after dark.  Its mouth is two miles wide. The south end of Hilton Head most definitely I would not.  The channel there is narrow and twisting and surrounded by shoals.

I got only a few hours of broken sleep, being so close in that I had to be on lookout for ships, other boats, and various buoys.  Though most think of the land as safety, it really is easier to be a hundred miles offshore than ten.

I set an alarm for 0515 Tuesday morning, but as usual woke before it went off.  First light would not be for more than an hour, but I had calculated that we would be nearing the outer buoy marking the channel into Port Royal Sound about then.  I stuck my head on deck and there it was a half mile away.

GANNET does not need to stay in the channel so I lined her up just to the south of the buoys as we headed in.  We still had nine miles before we would reach the sound,  Then five more to the entrance to Skull Creek and almost two from there to the marina.

I checked Aye Tides and found that we had lucked out and the tide was with us and would be until about 1000.  

I had a cup of coffee and an RX bar on deck at sunrise.  

Once the water flattened inside Port Royal Sound, I furled the jib and let us drift while I exchanged the Torqeedo battery for the fully charged spare.  The wind was due south and would be on the nose in Skull Creek and was now gusting at 15 to 18 knots.

After the battery change, I partially unfurled the jib and we sailed up the sound at 6 and 7 tide assisted knots.

Just off the green marker at the entrance to Skull Creek, I furled the jib and started the Torqeedo and GANNET turned from a soaring bird into a snail.  Again to conserve battery I powered at two knots, but these two knots against wind occasionally gusting to 20 knots required considerably more RPMs than had those going out the Sweetwater Branch Monday morning.  Even with her small freeboard the wind pressed hard against GANNET and the tiller pilot could not hold course, so I hand steered, anxiously glancing down frequently at the remote throttle display to check the battery level.  The anchor was on the v-berth where I could quickly reach it if necessary.

The morning was overcast  and cool.  I was still wearing only a t-shirt and shorts and was cold, but didn’t want to duck below even briefly.

Slowly, ever so slowly, GANNET inched her way along along Skull Creek toward the marina.  I was pleased to observe that battery level went down equally slowly.  As we came around the final bend and the marina was only a half mile directly ahead, I knew we were going to make it.

As we approached the dock I could feel that the tide had already turned and was against us.  I like to dock at slow speed, but against strong wind and current, I had to go in faster than I wanted to in order to maintain control.  I turned into the slip at two knots when usually I would be making 0.5. When the bow was half way in the slip I cut the Torqeedo and stepped onto the dock with the bow line.  As I expected ultra-light GANNET was stopped instantly by the wind and current.  As I did not expect that wind and current also instantly started to push her back.  I quickly cleated the bow line.  My legendary reputation would not be enhanced by being dragged into the water.

It was 11 a.m.  Twenty-six hours from boat yard to slip.

Living on GANNET for a week was good, enjoyable, and important. I made a significant decision and I found that she is well provisioned and that all equipment and systems work.  Were I so inclined I could set off around the world tomorrow.  I am not so inclined.

Back in the condo I placed an order with Amazon for a 300 watt inverter, a pair of boat shoes, several Lightning cables, a very sexist USB male to USB C female adaptor, a Treva fan, and a two tubes of Lifeseal.

ePropulsion has listed on their site a direct 12 volt charger.  My impression of ePropulsion is that they like making products, but they don’t like dealing with customers.  They refuse to ship the charger directly and require it be ordered through a dealer.  I telephoned the dealer from whom I bought the Evo.  He said he had never had anyone ask for this charger but would check.  He has never gotten back to me.  I hope the 300 watt inverter will charge the Evo battery on board.

I took an old pair of boat shoes along to wear while painting.  When It came time to paint I could not remember where I stowed them, so I painted with the shoes I was wearing and inevitably got paint on them. I came across the old shoes before the second coat.  I buy a new pair of boat shoes every year,.  Just a few months earlier this year.

I wish Apple would make a phone that charges via USB C.  Lightning cables do not last on a boat.  The connecting end corrodes.  I found that the two I had been using would not charge my phone, which as you may know is my primary chartplotter, though I can also use my iPad Pro.  Fortunately the third cable on board still worked.  The adaptor is to use a MagSafe charger for the phone.

One of the two Treva fans which run both off USB and batteries had died.  The other worked and made life in the boat yard more pleasant.  They are cheap, so I disposed of the failed one and ordered another.

The Lifeseal is also spares.

I shot a few videos on the way down, while there, and on the way back.  They have defects, including my thumb covering part of the screen in some, but I will probably post them in a day or two.

8:24 pm.  The sun has set.  Above is what I am seeing when I look up.




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Hilton Head Island: no destination

 Tuesday evening.

I am sitting in the living room, listening to music, at the moment Mark Knopfler’s ‘Prairie Wedding’, sipping Laphroaig, looking out at live oaks, Spanish moss, palmetto palms, Skull Creek and the marina.  From this angle I cannot see GANNET’s mast.  I enjoyed my grandparent’s house in San Diego’s Mission Beach, but this is my first real home and I owe it to Carol.

I had a great sail back yesterday which I will write about soon, but I want to quote an email I had from Larry, a long time reader whom I consider a friend though we have never met.  He said it better than I, and I am supposed to be the writer.

Hi Webb,

I thought, after the hassle of the sail change, that you wrote took so much more time to do than mention, you thought, “Why subject myself to the continual hassle of the many such required sail changes getting to a “ destination”, i.e, Bermuda and Iceland, when I can just go to sea, “seek good wind angles…and enjoy the “experience of being in the monastery of the sea”. 

And that’s why you decided not to sail to Iceland.

So to some extent some of us are in this together.  

And I subsequently wrote to Larry:

Hi, Larry,

As I expect you will read I just posted your email in the journal.  I thought it might be lost as a comment to a past entry.

As I noted in that post I am still sipping Laphroaig, and about to add a bit more to my glass—not too much I have to bike to a supermarket tomorrow for fresh berries and other essentials.

The situation on the Bermuda sail was similar, but not an epiphany.  It has taken me a while to understand that I have suffered enough to achieve goals that have meaning to few but me.  I don’t mean to be egotistical, but I have understood the importance to the species of spinning off original experiments, and the species invested a genetic lot in me.  I believe I have lived up to that.  Though from the beginning—and I think this might be in STORM PASSAGE—I knew that most original experiments are failures.  I do not know whether the experiment that I am is a success or a failure.

I am really old as you are.  Only about 1% of the world’s population is 80.  I am still trying to figure out what I ought to do.

Be well.  Be strong.  Be my friend.

Webb