Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Hilton Head Island: provisioned; an octopus in the living room

I biked passage clothes to GANNET this morning, then biked from GANNET to Publix where I bought the last of the passage provisions, biked them back to the little boat, unloaded, and returned to the condo to watch the Champions League match between two of the best sides in the world, Bayern Munich and Paris St. Germain.  

Today was another lovely, perfect day.  73ºF/23ºC—and I am possibly the only old American who wishes we would just give it up and go metric and centigrade—sunny, breezy.  This has been our weather for weeks.  The two rainy days Steve Earley waited here the exception.  Unfortunately it comes to an end tomorrow.  From Thursday on there is likely rain at least part of every day and Saturday there is no wind.  While forecasts change, at the moment Sunday is the earliest I expect to get away, though I might leave the dock Saturday and anchor in Port Royal Sound and sail off the anchor Sunday.  This has the advantage of not having to stow the Torqeedo underway and of breaking the link to the land.

I will go down to GANNET tomorrow and fill the water jerry cans and configure the interior into passage mode.  I may sleep on board on one of the pipe berths.

All this assumes that when I go to the clinic Thursday they remove the I think 28 stitches in my leg.  I am not going to consider what happens if they don’t; but if I am much delayed the sail around Bermuda will have to be postponed.  We have sold the Evanston condo and I want to return to Illinois to help Carol relocate.  I really would like to go to sea, but all the provisions will last.

I thank Ron for informing me of a PBS Nature episode:  Octopus:  Making Contact about an Alaskan scientist who brought an octopus into his living room.


This predates MY TEACHER OCTOPUS by release date and what some might find surprising when viewing this first is not after seeing MY TEACHER.  I prefer MY TEACHER OCTOPUS, both in admiration for Craig Foster and in wanting creatures, including me, to be free rather than confined.  I mostly succeeded.  The octopus in the living room is given a name.  Craig Foster never named the octopus with whom he had a relationship.  I like that too.  But Octopus: Making Contact is entertaining and instructive and very worthwhile.

If you belong to PBS you may be able to view it for free.  I bought the episode for $2.99 from iTunes.


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Hilton Head Island: provisioned; octopus teacher; a good mob

I again biked to a supermarket and a liquor store yesterday and GANNET is now all but fully provisioned.  I would like to buy a few more snacks, two six-packs of beer, and a box of red wine, but If I don’t it will not matter.

Since having GANNET trucked back last September I have deliberately moved as much off her as possible.  When I slept on board last week I found that there was no spoon on board.  I had taken it to the condo.  I knew there were no clothes on the little boat and no alcohol.  I brought a bottle of wine down with me that day.  There are still no clothes on GANNET.  The other discrepancies have been rectified.

I still need to carry passage clothes and paper towels down, both of which are in abundance at the condo, and I need to fill the jerry cans with water.  One of the 5 gallon cans is full.  I will fill at least two of the remaining three cans.  

Although I expect the sail to take less than three weeks, GANNET is provisioned for well over a month.  She has enough on board for me to cross the Atlantic.  That’s all right.  If the sail turns into an undesired adventure I prefer not to starve immediately.

The twenty-eight stitches in my leg are due to be removed Thursday.  While the leg has not yet completely healed, I think I could go sailing the way it is now so long as I keep a bandage over the incision to prevent infection.  Hopefully by Thursday it will be even better.

The latest GRIB shows light wind here on Friday and almost none on Saturday.  Sunday looks promising, and these things change day to day.

With boxed wine in mind, Mark sent me a link to what claims to be superior boxed wine.  Unfortunately it is not available in the U.S.


Their red wines cost about $30 U.S. for the equivalent of a bottle.  That is twice as expensive as the wine I usually buy, but if it really is that good, I would try it if I could.

Mark also sent a link to a new brand of freeze dry food, again not available in the U.S.  Some of you will remember that my favorite freeze dry meals come from New Zealand’s Backcountry Cuisine.  This also looks promising.


I thank him for the links.

MY OCTOPUS TEACHER is a documentary nominated for an Academy Award available on Netflix.  It is the fascinating and compelling story of the restorative almost year long relationship between a burnt out cinematographer, Craig Foster, and a common octopus in the cold waters beneath his home south of Cape Town, South Africa.  This is not sentimental.  Some of it is harsh reality, as when the octopus loses an arm to a shark and her death.  I did not know that female octopus only live one year.  Shortly after mating, they die.  The oft-demonstrated intelligence of the octopus is remarkable, as is that Craig Foster did not use Scuba.  He free dove.  One of the most unusual and best films I have seen in a long while.

I am against mobs, but there are exceptions to most rules and I thank Andy for a link to this one. What a fine thing for the young to have done.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Hilton Head Island: on deck

Bach and the soundtrack of the movie GLADIATOR, less two tracks, ‘battle’ and ‘barbarians’, that are probably essential to the film but which I find discordant, and cabernet sauvignon were enjoyed last evening on GANNET’s deck, followed by a feast of Mountain House rice and chicken in the Great Cabin and a night sleeping on the new cushions in the v-berth.  It was very satisfying to be in that small, again organized space.

The evening after posting the previous entry, I realized that GANNET was not then seaworthy.  I had still to tie the new lee cloths in place.  So I walked to the little boat yesterday at noon and did.  This involved again moving everything stowed between the berths and under the cockpit and then slithering back there.  This is not even a crawl space.  I was successful without drawing blood.

I then applied sealant around the four lifeline stanchions, touched up the paint on the rub rails, repaired the screen for the forward hatch, moved the carbon fiber bow sprit from the cabin to the foredeck, and inventoried what food is on board.

I slept with the hatches open, screens in place.  A slight pleasant breeze blew through.  Less pleasant was looking up through the forward hatch and seeing the upper deck of the ferry boat looming.

I woke about six and walked back to the condo at first light.

I have written that you don’t really know a boat until you live on board.  It was good to be on GANNET again, get some work done and have time to sit and look about and be certain everything is in place and functional.  

I think GANNET now is ready to go to sea.  All she needs is more provisioning and for her crew to heal.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Hilton Head Island: berthed

 My leg sufficiently healed, though still stitched, I biked down to GANNET this morning and installed the new pipe berths.  This requires considerable contortions in awkward positions in cramped spaces.  I know that.  GANNET is worth it, and after almost four hours, one burned finger, blood drawn twice after bumping my head on the underside of the cockpit and once by scraping my arm, for the first time in months the Great Cabin has berths. That is very satisfying.  I will go down tomorrow morning, carrying some of the provisions I have bought and inventory what is already on board and enjoy the restored order.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hilton Head Island: an old post; a surprise; two Chinese poems

I don’t often get comments about year old journal entries.  The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on.  I remembered that but not its source.  Omar Khayyam.   But a few days ago I received a comment from Byron about an entry from May of last year.  I thank him for causing me to go back and reread it. 


Google Alerts emails me when my name appears online.  It is not perfect, but it is free, and yesterday it provided me with a surprise:  I’m Costa Rican.  I never knew.  I thought I was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, but I am shown on Page 1 of a site listing ‘Famous People Born in Costa Rica’.  In fact if you scroll down I appear there three times.  I may be the most famous person born in Costa Rica.  Now this appears on the Internet and we know that everything on the Internet is true, so it must be true.  I wonder what this does to my being the first American to sail alone around Cape Horn.  Well, Costa Rica is in the Americas.  I think I’m still good.


I continue to read Chinese poetry.  At present in CROSSING THE YELLOW RIVER, translations of 300 poems from the Chinese by Sam Hamill.

Two short ones I’ve recently enjoyed.

Watching a Lonely Wild Goose at Nightfall

There are few stars north of the Milky Way.

One wild goose calls, “Where am I going?”

If he’d known he lose his flock.

he would have begun his journey alone.

—-Hsiao Kang (503-551)


When the rich pass proudly by

on big, smooth horses

I feel foolish

riding my scrawny donkey.

I feel much better

when we overtake

a bundle of sticks

riding a bony man.

—Wang Fan-chih (590-660)

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Hilton Head Island: shot again; COVID deaths; freeze dry food; shadows

I received my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday.  I have had no reaction other than a slightly sore arm.  I know several people who had no reaction to the first shot, but felt quite ill the second day after receiving the second shot.  I googled and learned that the second shot of both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are identical to the first.  For me the worst part was having to stand in a long line that shuffled forward slowly for an hour.  I don’t recall the last time I stood in such a line.

You may have seen that the CDC has reported provisional death statistics for 2020 and COVID was the third leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease and cancer.

About 3.3 million people died in the U.S. last year, or 1% of the total population.  The number of deaths from COVID were about 378,000, or 0.1% of the total population.  Please correct me if I have my numbers wrong, as I have had before.


Some have asked what freeze dry meals I recently bought.

Below is a copy of the invoice.  

Almost half of these meals are new to me so I can’t vouch for them.  Alpineaire in particular has come up with several new offerings.

In the stock item column, AA is Alpineaire; BP is Backpacker’s Pantry:  MH is Mountain House.

Being able to buy all three brands from LDP Camping was convenient.  The food arrived via UPS four working days after I placed the order.

Shadows in addition to being the title of an excellent novel are what I saw on our bedroom wall the other afternoon.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Hilton Head Island: cushioned; an impressive voyage; two books; one poem; Rustoleum warning

 My leg is sufficiently healed so that I biked down to GANNET today, although I did ride the condo elevator instead of taking the stairs as I usually do.

Once carefully on board GANNET I found the v-berth cushions to be exactly as desired.  These are 5” thick, two inches thicker than the old ones, and fit much more snugly.

I restowed the stuff that belongs in the forepeak, but did not try to fit the pipe berths which requires contortions I did not want to risk.  Maybe tomorrow.  They, too, look to be perfect.

I am tired of being sedentary and will do some weight exercises this afternoon that only involve the upper body and try some crunches.

I thank Tim for a link to a piece about Alberto Torroba who crossed the Pacific Ocean in a 15’ dugout canoe that makes CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE seem luxurious.  As you know I don’t read much about sailing, and the highly publicized big money events and races don’t interest me, but I am impressed by Alberto Torroba’s voyage, though it is not one I would have chosen to make.  I don’t think his dugout sailed well enough to meet my standards.


If you read the piece you will find that this happened more than twenty years ago, back in the 1990s.  Alberto obviously possesses rare qualities, but then he met a woman, had a child, and seemingly gave up the sea.  I wonder how that is possible.  How the sea can be so much a part of your life, and then it isn’t?  I met women, and lost some because of my voyages.  I always knew that I could not have children and live as I wanted to live and so I didn’t.  I lost a woman or two about that as well.  But give up the sea?  Not unless I am physically or mentally incapacitated.  I am 79 and in the dying part of a life which has gone on far longer than I ever imagined and I sit looking out at Skull Creek and consider what I ought to do next.  I hope Alberto Torroba has found contentment as in a way I have.

A few days ago I finished an exceptionally  good novel, WOLVES OF EDEN, by Kevin McCarthy, which came to me via BookBud.  I suppose WOLVES OF EDEN is a western in that it is set in 1866 mostly in what is present day Wyoming and was then part of the Dakota Territory during what is known as the Red Cloud War after the Sioux Chief of that name.  But this is no mere western.  It is a fine novel.

As you would expect from his name, Kevin McCarthy is Irish, and three of the main characters in the novel are Irish immigrants who joined the Union Army during the Civil War because that was the only work open to them.

I am not going to say more, but if you are seeking something good to read, I recommend WOLVES OF EDEN.

After I finished WOLVES OF EDEN I started reading DRACULA, which I never have before.  It is much different and much better than I expected.  Even knowing what Count Dracula is, as almost everyone now does, the story is told with fascinating skill.  An enjoyable and deserved classic.

FACING THE MOON:  THE POEMS OF LI BAI AND DU FU has caused me to buy three more books of classical Chinese poetry.  In them I often find significantly different translations of the same poem. 

‘The River-Merchant’s Wife:  A Letter’ which I posted here early this month


is in another anthology titled ‘Song of Changgang’ in a translation that is not I think equal to Ezra Pound’s.

I read that another poem of Li Bai’s, ‘Quiet Night Thoughts’ is the most famous Chinese poem, still memorized by Chinese school children today thirteen hundred years after it was written.  Here are two translations.  

A pool of moonlight on my bed this late hour

like a blanket of frost on the world.

I lift my eyes to a bright mountain moon.

Resigned, remembering my home, I bow.


Rustoleum makes a line of marine paint.  I did not know that when I painted GANNET’s interior with Rustoleum and so used the widely available standard paint.  I need to report that it has not held up and is flaking off.  I will probably touch it up for a while, but will have to repaint the interior years sooner than expected.  So, if you use Rustoleum on your boat, I strongly advise you find their marine paint.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Hilton Head Island: chopped 3.0; cushioned; provisioned; returnees; remembered

I am presently sitting on our bed with my left leg elevated and iced.  It was operated on yesterday for the third time to remove a tenacious squamous cell cancer.  I hope this will be the last.

Also yesterday I received an email that GANNET’s new v-berth cushions and pipe berth covers have been completed and are inside the boat.  However it will be a few days before I can get down there, and installing the pipe berth covers requires contortions I may not be able to perform for a while longer.  Nevertheless I am pleased they have been made.  I trust I will continue to be pleased when I see them.

Two days ago I placed an order for thirty-eight freeze dry meals in anticipation of sailing around Bermuda.  I have about twenty meals on GANNET as well as four or five Omeals which are self-heating.  I have tested one of the Omeals, a pasta dinner which does have a different texture and taste than freeze dried food.  I liked it and may buy more.

As mentioned here before my former source of freeze dry meals, Campmor, no longer has the selection it once had.  I have ordered from Amazon, but searching there is time consuming.  Googling I found LDP Camping Foods which carries the three major US brands, Mountain House, Backpacker’s Pantry and AlpineAire, so I ordered from them.  AlpineAire has several new to me dinners which I will test.  The food should be here next week.  Whether I make the sail this spring will depend on how quickly my leg heals.


In the past few weeks rowers and birds have returned to Skull Creek.

There is a rowing club a mile or so down the creek from us and recently I have seen two singles, the four person crew in the photo above, and an eight.

Of birds, there are considerably more around than during the winter.  More pelicans, egrets, great blue herons, and a beautiful bright red male Summer Tanager who sometimes frequents the live oak just off our deck.  A line of more than fifty cormorants flew up Skull Creek single file one morning.

I am not the only one who has noticed the increasing number of birds.  A hawk glided silently past at tree top level.

I am pleased to report that for the past two afternoons I have managed to return the jug of iced tea to the refrigerator, proving perhaps that I am still capable of learning and correcting my mistakes.  At least sometimes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hilton Head Island: two bad signs


At the Earth wind map this morning I found the above.  This is far too early.  The water is still too cold to sustain a hurricane.  Two or three months from now it won’t be.


Looks innocent enough.  A bottle of ice tea on a shelf.  Except it shouldn’t be there.

Early yesterday afternoon I poured myself some tea, took it to my chair in the bedroom where I was watching Oregon blow away Iowa in the basketball tournament.  A while later Carol, who was working from home in another part of the condo, went to get herself some tea.  She couldn’t find it and asked if I knew where it was.  I replied, “In the refrigerator.”  But it wasn’t.  Eventually she found it on the shelf where the cup I had poured it into normally resides.  Obviously I took the tea from the refrigerator, the cup from the shelf, poured tea into cup, and put the tea on the shelf instead of back in the refrigerator where it belongs.  I have no memory of this.

Now it might be that I was merely preoccupied with profound thoughts.  I often have profound thoughts.  It is a curse, but usually I can still perform normal functions while I am having them.  Or, like the image of the tightly wound low just off our coast, it might be a sign of something more serious.

Upon finding the tea, Carol said, pleasantly enough, “You are losing your mind.”  I replied, “You may be right.”  Stay tuned for further developments, if any.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Hilton Head Island: a new threat; cushions; music reviews; cross training; anniversary year

Nothing special about the above.  You’ve seen it before.  It is just what at present I see when I glance up from where I am sitting.  I never tire of the view.  The change of light in the sky and on the water.  The tide approaching and retreating, covering and uncovering spartina.  The wind ruffling Skull Creek and the live oaks and palms and Spanish moss.  The birds and squirrels and occasional raccoon.

Thursday afternoon we had a tornado watch.  Today we are under a three day gale watch.  What kind of a tourist mecca is this?  Hurricanes and alligators are known risks on Hilton Head Island, but I had not considered tornados.  None appeared.  The front itself passed quickly with nothing more than an hour of moderate wind and rain, and on this, the landward side of the island, there is no gale.  Wind less than ten knots and sunny.

Thursday morning Kevin, the canvas man, arrived at GANNET to take away the pipe berth covers and v-berth cushions to use as templates for the new ones which will be ready early next week.  Good.  You may recall that I put in the order last October.  While he was on the boat I mentioned that I was eventually going to need a new spray hood for the companionway.  GANNET’s was made in Durban, South Africa four years and 15,000 miles ago and is deteriorating.  Kevin took some measurements and that afternoon emailed me a quote which was less than I expected.  I emailed back to put me on the schedule.  He has.  The spray hood will be made in August.  Kevin has a pretty good business.

I have now listened twice to the three albums I bought a few days ago, partly yesterday while watching March Madness basketball with the sound off.  I have greatly enjoyed all three.  The Mozart string quartets are new to me.  Most of the other music I already knew.  I am pleased that the Minnesota Symphony performances of the Sibelius symphonies brought them again to my attention.  I had not listened to them for too long.

RAPA NUI ODYSSEY is a double album.  Again I was familiar with most of the music, but there is a lovely ‘Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand’ by Alexander Scriabin which I had not heard before.  I am not qualified to judge the quality of Marina Teave’s playing other than I find it beautiful.  That she, herself, is beautiful, I am qualified to judge.

If you have been here a while you know that I no longer read much about sailing.  I do read about many other things, which I consider cross training.

From an article in the BBC Music Magazine about Mozart:  For centuries composers (including Mozart) wrote only for their time, and it was assumed that they would be forgotten after their deaths. 

Beethoven changed that, setting himself as the model of tortured demi-god who wrote for the future.  In this Beethoven may not have done us a service.  And as you know, I prefer Bach.

And from a poem by Du Fu, ‘Dreaming of Li Bai’:

                    Immortal fame, hard to enjoy in the tomb,

                    Will not replace joys that were never lived!

I recently realized that this is an anniversary year for me.

In May I will have owned GANNET for ten years.

In June it will have been twenty years since Carol and I sailed from Boston in a continuation of my extremely slow fourth circumnavigation.

And if I make it to November, I will be eighty years old.

My word!