Wednesday, August 12, 2020

San Diego: winded


Kasey telephoned yesterday afternoon and asked if they could start work on GANNET today rather than tomorrow.  

Simon, who works for Kasey, appeared at 9:30 this morning.  After making certain that it was connecting with my phone via Bluetooth, he installed the OpenWind transducer at the masthead.

The black object is it with its supplied base.  The photo is looking aft from the bow.

The other images are screen shots of two pages from the OpenWind iPhone app.  As you can see the app can show pitch and roll as well as wind speed and direction and by using the iPhone’s GPS, SOG and COG.  

With everything moved from the starboard side of the interior so I could slither aft to retrieve part of the running back stay adjuster GANNET is heeled to port.  About pitch I am not certain why she is down by the stern.  Perhaps she isn’t.  There is a way to calibrate that.  I’ll see when her interior is again stowed normally.

He then removed the masthead tricolor/anchor light.  The anchor light has not been working.  In tests back at the shop they determined that both anchor light and tricolor come on no matter how wired.  As many of you know, GANNET’s masthead has been in the water three or four times.  Masthead lights are not meant to have that experience.  It will be replaced.

About half of the standing rigging has been removed and taken to the shop where replacements will be swaged.  The mast is held in place by the running backstays, the forestay, opposite lower shrouds, and a halyard as an upper shroud.  

Simon looked at GANNET’s hinged mast step and realized how easily her mast can be lowered and asked why the rigging wasn’t replaced with the mast down.  I told him to ask Kasey.

All this took only three or four hours.  I am told the new furling gear will not arrive until Monday, but progress has been made. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

San Diego: quiet


A quiet day reading a good book, THE BYZANTINE WORLD WAR by Nick Holmes, about the end of the Byzantine Empire and the First Crusade.  I only went ashore in late afternoon to shower.

Dinner of freeze dry Chicken Fried Rice which does not at all taste like fried rice, but is good enough, accompanied by Plymouth gin and Pablo Casals playing Bach Cello Suites.  Also arkking sea lions which I doubt Bach wrote into the score.

I listen to other music, but I do follow my own advice and listen to some Bach and read some poetry every day.

The iPhone panorama above was taken a few minutes ago.  The basin doesn’t really bulge like that, but you understand.

I am nearing the end of some provisions.

A few days ago I inventoried my freeze dry meals and found 34, two of which date from New Zealand more than four years ago.  I ate and enjoyed the fish pie, which does not taste like fish pie, but discarded the tandoori chicken, which does not taste like tandoori chicken. Although the packet seemed intact the contents were an unsightly grey.  Nothing, including freeze dry food is forever. 


I will have been back on GANNET two weeks tomorrow.  It does not seem that long.  I have not settled into a routine.  I have not done my workout once since my return, although I can on the foredeck.  I don’t have an explaination.

My life here is constrained by the pandemic.  I am careful when I leave GANNET.  I wear a face mask and have contempt for those in this marina and elsewhere who don’t when in public.  I consider them stupid or selfish or both.  I would like to walk over to Mission Beach but I expect it would be intolerable.  Presciently, though I can’t really claim I saw this coming, I made a video saying good-bye to the location of my grandparent’s home and Mission Beach earlier this year.  I doubt I will ever go back.

 I do things sequentially.  I am waiting for Kasey, the rigger, to come and do his work on GANNET, which he tells me he will start on Thursday.  Then I will decide what to do next.  I would like to go sailing.

Google Alerts has sent me several notices lately about people on forums trying to find a link to download my books for free.  One of them is odd in that it seems that somewhere in the world STORM PASSAGE is assigned reading to students who are required to answer questions about it.  Oh, my.  If I understand correctly what is happening this is in a country where English is a second language, in which case it is understandable that a good teacher would want to expose his or her students to a master of the language.  Or it might be because the download is free.

They did have the grace and good sense to refer to me as ‘legendary’.  I want you to know that when we meet in person you do not have to call me ‘Your Legendaryness’, except of course on formal occasions.

Of free, I rewatched the film THERE WILL BE BLOOD last evening.  I had downloaded it from Netflix to my iPad before I left Evanston.  It is a very good film about a very dislikable man.  After watching I googled and learned that Daniel Day Lewis has won the Best Actor Oscar three times, once for BLOOD.  

I did know that the film is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s novel, OIL, and thought I might read it.  I expected that a novel published before I was born would be in the Public Domain.  Somehow it is not, and before the film came out Penguin Books bought the rights and I paid $9.99 for the Kindle Edition.  Some are too greedy.  Write what you are going to write.  Do what you are going to do.  Get enough to live a decent life if you can.  And then give it away.

I find myself considering again words from Jim that I have published here before:

Another way to view this is, at our age, the addition of Covid may not change the overall calculation very much.  Other things may be creeping up on us.  As someone said, “Something is going to kill you.”  Just not today…

I walked three miles yesterday to BevMor to obtain Laphroaig and Plymouth Gin and a bottle of Coppola Claret.  I also went to a near by supermarket and obtained berries, juice, and trail mix.  All the necessities of life.  Well, perhaps not quite all.

Bill, a racer of dinghies and a cruiser with his father, Roger, in their Westerly, CALSTAR, keeps that boat in Plymouth, England, near the Black Friar’s Distillery, the source of Plymouth gin since1763.

I happened to look at the bottle carefully today.  

On the front label is a drawing of the MAYFLOWER and the words, In 1620 the MAYFLOWER set sail from Plymouth on a journey of hope and discovery.  And:  Batch distilled in the original Victorian copper still.



Sunday, August 9, 2020

San Diego: furious; noisy; oblivious; clean


I finished A FURIOUS SKY.  Above is one of the illustrations in the book, THE GREAT GALE OF 1815 by John Russell Bartlett.  That storm hit New England,  I believe the scene is Providence, Rhode Island.

A FURIOUS SKY is a mostly interesting book.  As the NY TIMES said, the author, Eric Jay Dolan, is best when he is describing the storms themselves.  There are many almost incredible stories of survival and many of tragic death.  Of the illustrations, the most dramatic are before and after shots of various locations after storm surges obliterated everything as effectively as an atomic bomb.

An inescapable conclusion is that hurricanes are becoming more frequent and more severe with global warming.

Only five hurricanes have made landfall in the United States as Category 5 storms.

1928  San Filipe II Hurricane  Puerto Rico

1935  Labor Day Hurricane  Florida Keys

1969  Camille  Louisiana and Mississippi

1992  Andrew  South Florida

2018  Michael  Florida Panhandle

Others, such as Katrina, were Category 5 storms briefly but not at landfall.

As a property owner in hurricane country, this gives me pause.  We are on the inland side of Hilton Head Island five miles from the ocean, but only two miles from Port Royal Sound where a storm surge could be driven.  At least we are on the third floor.

Also to give pause is a recent forecast that a period of unusual storm activity is expected to began in a couple of weeks.  I thank Steve Earley for the link.

The past few days have been noisy.  Sea lions who were quiet when I first returned to GANNET are now in full voice.  Day and night.  I don’t know what is going on out there.

I do know what is going on here at the dock where GANNET was run into five times yesterday.  I didn’t even go on deck, though I did shout at the last woman, “Try not to run into my boat.”  She said, “Sorry.”

Today GANNET has only been run into three times, but kayakers and stand up boarders will be returning for another hour or two so they may be able to improve their score.  

A few minutes ago a blow against the hull beside me was hard enough for me to stand up.  I found myself looking down on a middle aged man in a kayak staring at his phone.  I could have reached out and rapped  him on the head and probably should have.  I stood for several seconds.  He had no idea I was there.  Finally, in disgust, I said, “Man, you are oblivious.”  And sat down.

I am considering buying a water cannon.

Yesterday a pleasant young man, Javier, came and cleaned GANNET’s bottom.  Now if I can only get Kasey, the rigger, to do his work, I might go for a sail.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

San Diego: two good books; a row; a diver; a lightning strike

I am currently reading two excellent books, alternating chapters.

One is A FURIOUS SKY brought to my attention by Steve Earley for which I thank him.  Steve saw a review in the NY TIMES.

I read the review and having a personal interest in hurricanes immediately bought the Kindle edition of the book, although I know the sky cannot be furious.  I suppose the title will sell copies  to those who do not understand the pathetic fallacy.

So far I have learned that South Carolina is the fifth most hurricane hit state, after Florida, a clear number one with landfall made there by 40% of all hurricanes that strike the US, Texas, North Carolina, and Louisiana.

I have also learned that a very rare hurricane hit San Diego back in 1858.  California is protected by prevailing northwest winds and cool ocean temperatures.

From the book the above image shows the tracks of all Atlantic hurricanes from 1851 to 2012.  Our condo is under there somewhere.  Maybe we should have bought in Portugal.

The other is a novel, GRENDEL, by John Gardner, a variation on the Beowulf epic.  The writing and imagination are extraordinary.

The wood prototype Moore 24 is named Grendel.  An interesting choice and a beautifully restored boat.

I considered yesterday deflating the Avon and restowing it on the starboard berth, but I didn’t and had a lovely row around the bait barge this morning.  Sleeping sea lions, pelicans, cormorants and sea gull.  No egrets.  I do enjoy rowing.  I may go again later this afternoon.

Also yesterday on my way up to shower I passed Javier, a diver just coming from the water after cleaning a boat bottom.  He is coming on Saturday to clean that of GANNET’s bottom I could not reach.  

Kasey, the rigger, said that the new furling gear would take five days to arrive.  Five working days have passed.  I hope to hear from him soon.  With a clean bottom and new rigging and wind instrument, I might even take GANNET sailing.

Roger, who lives in Bluffton, not far from Hilton Head is one of several of you who have great building skills.  He built his 40’ catamaran, TRAVELER, including the carbon fiber mast.  He and his wife, Laurie, were cruising in the Bahamas when the pandemic began.  They have since sailed home, where TRAVELER is kept on a private dock.

A few days ago Roger wrote me:

A big violent lightning strike hit us at our dock on the May River a few weeks ago. It hit the mast and blew wounds in the head and the foot. Fried our electronics, pumps, lights and both engines. It blew a hole the size of a tennis ball, one in each hull, just above the waterline. I patched them with plywood screws and silicone so we could be towed to Savannah and hauled out at Thunderbolt Marine. 

Here are some photos.

Roger and Laurie were in their home ashore at the time.  I have known of other boats to be hit by lightning, but none that sustained so much damage.  

Lightning at sea frightens me because I know there is nothing I can do about it and that my mast, even one as short as GANNET’s, is the highest thing for miles.

When I bought the Ericson 37, EGREGIOUS, one of the options was for lightning protection.  It cost only $100 so I ordered it.  I drove up to the Ericson plant in Orange Country to see the boat under construction and asked about the lightning protection.  A thick copper wire connected at one end to the port upper shroud chain plate and at the other to a 1” diameter copper bolt through the hull was pointed out to me.  I asked, “Will that work?”   “We won’t know until a boat is hit by lightning.”  Fortunately EGREGIOUS wasn’t.

I wish Roger and Laurie a swift and complete repair of TRAVELER and thank them for permission to share the photos.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

San Diego: lovely photo; lovely story; standed; watchless; a dubious walk; fortunately closed

Kent and Audrey of Small Boat Restoration and Armada fame posted a lovely photo recently.

Here is the link. 

The photo is best enlarged.  Probably all photos are.  And includes my favorite attack canoe.

Steve Earley recently posted a lovely story proving that boats bring joy even to those who do not sail them.  We all probably already knew that, but it is good to be reminded.

From Dieter comes an article about cruising boats stranded in the South Pacific hoping New Zealand will let them in before the cyclone season.  I thank him.  While I take exception to one statement in the article, I hope New Zealand does.  It would be humane and it would be easy to isolate the crews at anchor or on moorings off Opua for testing and whatever remained of a quarantine period.  All crews would have been at sea for at least a week before reaching New Zealand.

The sentence to which I take exception:

He says their members don't own rich superyachts - the vessels range from 7 to 20 metres long, and aren't capable of riding out a cyclone at sea.

If their boats aren’t capable of riding out a cyclone, they have the wrong boats.  Or the wrong sailors.  Mine could and did eight times, and even 18’ open CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and 24’ ultralight GANNET survived 55 knot storms.  Not quite hurricane strength, but close.

Some will say, “Well we can’t all be Webb Chiles.”  True and a pity.

From Ron comes an article about the future of shipping which gives me pause.  I thank him.  Autonomous ships will not have humans standing watch, which means that once again the future is catching up with me who as a single handler never has kept constant watch.  I wonder if the artificial intelligence controlling the ships will be able to detect GANNET or any moderate size sailboat under sail,  No engine sound.  No heat signature.  

I walked to the Ralph’s supermarket across from the Sports Arena today and Ubered back.  I was out of juice and berries and ended up spending $200, which did include a bottle of gin and another of an unknown to me single malt scotch named Glenbar.  Ralph’s does not stock the nectar of the gods, so this will have to do.

I enjoyed the walk except when I had to pass at the greatest distance possible several unmasked homeless people.  They have my distant sympathy, but I may Uber both ways next time.

I have been sleeping in the heaviest of my sleeping bags and with the hatches closed which reduces the noise of the occasional power boat and sea lion.  Last night I decided to switch to a lighter bag and almost decided to leave the forward hatch open.  Sometime in the middle of the night I was cooler than I wanted to be and switched back to the heavier bag.  This morning when I woke I looked up and found the hatch directly above me sprayed with a massive hit from a passing sea gull.  Had the hatch been open I would have had a very rude awakening.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

San Diego: the great and the big

Just after noon.  I had a productive morning, completing three boat tasks and a row around the bait barge.  More sea lions than yesterday, mostly sleeping.

Of the boat tasks, I replaced the stern deck running light, cut off a couple of feet of the main halyard where the cover had started to fray and rewhipped the end, and maybe fixed a leak around the compass.  Maybe because I have been trying ever since I installed the new compass, which is the same model Plastimo as the old compass but had been redesigned so that it did not fit the old cutout.  Replacing the stern light was more complicated than it needed to be because Perko too had made slight changes.

Exhausted by my efforts I am taking the rest of the day off, though I may go for a walk on this another perfect San Diego day.

I almost forgot.  GANNET and I have also twice been run into by kayakers.

Friday, July 31, 2020

San Diego: better

A lovely day in San Diego as is to be expected, though yesterday a fog bank lingered just offshore and the wind blowing through it was cool.  Today sunny and warm.

I pumped up the Avon this morning and spent a couple of hours leaning out of the dinghy scraping tons of growth off GANNET’s very dirty bottom with a putty knife and a brush.  Perhaps I exaggerate, but only slightly.  Hard growth and soft.  Some of it probably was eatable, but its appearance was not sufficiently appetizing for me to experiment.  No doubt there is more that I could not reach, but the worst growth is near the waterline which as you can see in the above photo is again white.  It wasn’t when I arrived.

As you can also see the little boat is in serious need of a topside paint job.  I don’t yet know when or where that will happen.

I took a break for lunch before moving from the port side to starboard and when I finished rowed around the bait barge.  There were only three sea lions, two on the barge, one sleeping on the ball float off the end.  They have been mostly quiet, but one is arkking as I write.

With the dinghy not presently on the starboard pipe berth, tomorrow I will slither aft and replace the stern deck running light, and then go for another row.

I naturally socially distanced today.  I didn’t go ashore and only left GANNET’s immediate vicinity to walk up to the trash bin, and I haven’t spoken to anyone except Carol on the telephone.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

San Diego: from the Great Cabin

Above is my current view.  It is lovely to be back on GANNET and the water.  After posting this I will go on deck, listen to some music, sip some Plymouth gin, and watch kayakers and pelicans.

My flight yesterday was as pleasant as possible.  Carol had upgraded me to Economy Plus at a normal cost of I think $59 and I had the section almost to myself.  There were three seats on each side of the center aisle.  I was the only passenger in row 10.  There was no one in the three seats ahead of me.  Two women were in that row on the other side and one woman was behind me.  I read for a while, then watched FORD VERSUS FERRARI which passed the time even though I have never been a car fanatic and now don’t even drive.

An old friend, Susan, kindly offered to pick me up at the airport and drive me to GANNET.  We stopped at a supermarket along the way where, not remembering exactly what I had left on the little boat I fortunately bought oatmeal.  GANNET usually has a several months supply of oatmeal on board, but when I got to her I found none.  

GANNET was in good condition for having been left for almost five months.  No interior mold:  a benefit of leaving her in a desert and not excessive bird droppings on deck.  I believe these were from flyovers.  It would have been much worse if they perched, but birds usually want a higher vantage point than a Moore 24.

I scrubbed the deck and mainsail cover clean.

I sat on deck in the late afternoon and retired to my sleeping bag on the v-berth around 9 local time.  I slept well but woke at 4 AM—my normal 6 AM in Chicago.

This morning I lowered and unbent the jib in preparation for the rigger.  I even got it folded and into its sail bag which I have accomplished only once before and that was in the boat yard in Panama where I was able to spread the jib out on the ground.  This was the first time I’ve been able to fold the sail on the foredeck.  After 8,000 miles it is becoming slightly more flexible.

Kasey, the rigger, arrived as arranged at 10.  As I expected he looked over the work to be done and made some notes.  The new furling gear will take about five days to be delivered.  How soon after that the work will be done, I do not know.  He will be able to replace the standing rigging with the mast in place.

GANNET’s bottom is foul.  I knew it would be.  I telephoned the diver who has cleaned the bottom for me in the past, but he has not returned my call.  There are other divers, but tomorrow I may pump up the dinghy and see what I can remove myself.  GANNET will be pressure washed when taken from the water before being trucked east.  I will probably antifoul her here.

I am curious to see what GANNET’s port side looks like.  A kayaker slammed into GANNET yesterday afternoon and another this morning.  I expect this has been going on all summer.  Inexplicably and inexcusably.  

There is a regulation that face masks be worn in the marina.  Most people do, but not all.  Perhaps forgetful.  Perhaps selfish fools.

There are considerably more empty slips than ever before, particularly on the C Dock of 25’ slips.  Possibly a consequence of pandemic concerns about health or finances.

A cool breeze off the ocean is blowing through the companionway.  Tiny wavelets are splashing against the stern.  I glanced up as an egret glided by.  Time to go.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Evanston: Yankee stay home; hurricane tracking; deadly quotes; Storm Bay; a correction

I came across the very short list of countries that US citizens can currently visit.  It would appear that the world does not believe our handling of this pandemic has been exemplary.

I check the National Hurricane Center site each morning but I have found that a USA Today tracking page is visually clearer.

In one of the eulogies of John Lewis I came across a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr:  A man who does not have something for which he is willing to die is not fit to live.

This led me to three more quotes about death.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life.  A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.    —Mark Twain, perhaps surprisingly

The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no fear of accident for someone who’s dead.    —Albert Einstein, perhaps unexpectedly

I’m prepared to meet my Maker.  Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.   —Winston Churchill, perhaps accurately

In the Google Arts and Culture app I came across the painting heading this entry, ‘Sailing Storm Bay, Tasmania’ by Haughton Forrest.

I have sailed across Storm Bay.  On February 22, 1976 after more than four months aboard the ever sinking EGREGIOUS I wrote:  6:00 P.M.  A hot, sunshiny, glassy, becalmed day spent spinning uncontrollably in slow circles a mile or so south of an off lying rock called the Mewstone.  Tasmania is known for rough weather.  Even the names on the chart mocked me as we sat there futilely in sight of “Storm Bay.”

I have learned that I made a mistake in the journal entry of July 19 when I said I was going to fly to San Diego on July 27.  I am not.  I am flying this coming Wednesday, July 29.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Evanston: GANNET 2s; momentous

I know of other sailboats named GANNET and believe that there was once a Royal Navy ship GANNET, but GANNET 2s are rare.  Above you have Layne and Michael with their Golden Van parked just across the street from our Evanston condo yesterday afternoon and a power boat in Thailand sent to me by Nathan for which I thank him.  I note that both GANNET 2s are powered craft.

Michael and Layne are on their ‘shake-up’ cruise in their van, having taken possession a month ago.  When I pointed out that it is a shake down cruise, I was told that when they bought a 34’ catamaran a couple of decades ago, which they subsequently cruised from California to Key West, their first sail was on windy San Francisco Bay and it was definitely a shake up, so the expression has endured..

They are accompanied by their companion, Rusty.  

When I met Carol she had a cat, Shatters, who lived with us on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA in Boston Harbor until she died shortly before we sailed away in 2001.  Shatters was an elderly cabin cat.  She never ventured up to the cockpit and she did not like HAWKE to be away from the dock under either sail or power.  I called her Shatters, the reluctant ship’s cat.

Rusty does not like the van.  He prefers soft beds in land dwellings with no bumps, swaying or engine noise. He may be Rusty the reluctant van dog.

Michael and Layne’s GANNET 2 is very ship like.  She has full standing headroom, clever stowage space, solar panels on the roof, good insulation, and even a solar shower.  I was impressed by how Michael had parked her in a normal space on the street, but then in his varied past he once drove 18 wheelers, so to him this was easy.

Their shake up cruise was originally intended to go to Maine, but the pandemic changed that.  They drove north yesterday heading for the Wisconsin woods.

Voyage on.

Yesterday I removed two commas from the lists page of the main site and capitalized a letter.
I’m sure you noticed.