Friday, November 28, 2014
Evanston: why I won't be riding in the Tour de France next year; a favorable slant; another chartplotter
Lance lied to you. I won’t. I’m taking steroids. And what’s worse, I really like them.
More than two months after I fell when I stepped on the end of a dock line while boarding GANNET when she was tied to the marina breakwater in Opua—another reason to prefer being on a mooring: no dock lines to slip on—my left shoulder remained painful, so I finally went to a doctor who x-rayed and found nothing broken, tentatively diagnosed a rotator cuff problem, referred me up the chain to an orthopedist, and prescribed steroids which have provided almost immediate relief.
But, alas, my professional cycling career is over. And they said I was showing such promise.
Each morning I check the Earth Wind Map for a favorable wind for rounding Cape Horn from the east. There hasn’t been one for a couple of weeks, but this morning I found the image above: north wind 25 to 30 knots. It won’t last long. Perhaps only twelve hours. But that could be seventy or eighty miles of westing.
You knew I wouldn’t be able to resist seeing how iNavX works on my iPhone 6.
I downloaded the app and then a free NOAA chart of the Great Lakes; but that wasn’t enough, so I checked and discovered that Navionics has combined New Zealand, Australia and South Pacific Islands and Hawaii into one package that only costs $29.99 for the iPhone. Some of you will recall that one of the negatives of iNavX is that the charts I have already bought for my iPads can only be installed on two devices. Ever. And not transferred to any others. However this didn’t matter because the charts for iPad don’t work on iPhone and vice versa.
I checked prices, and the New Zealand, Australia and South Pacific Islands and Hawaii for iPad costs $79.99, which is still less than I paid for them more than a year ago when Australia and New Zealand and the South Pacific islands were all separate downloads.
There is less detail in the iPhone version than in the iPad, but there is enough to navigate safely into any of the harbors I visited this year.
Here are screen shots of Opua on both. The iPhone first.
Tiny GANNET now has four chartplotters.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Here a mix of rain and snow. Temperature 32°/0° and falling.
There 70°/21° and sunny.
Here for breakfast I have uncooked oatmeal, trail mix, fresh blueberries, powdered milk and water, and good coffee.
There for breakfast I have uncooked oatmeal, trail mix, powdered milk, and instant coffee.
Here, on weekends, the food is better. Even during the winter, Carol usually grills something on the small gas grill on our balcony.
During the week the food is about equal.
Here microwaved Lean Cuisines.
There freeze dry.
Here there are ice cubes and the drinks that should be cold are. Martinis are sipped. Wine comes from bottles and is better. I drink Laphroaig from a crystal glass.
There gin and tonics are air temperature. Martinis are unknown. Wine comes from boxes and is lessor. I drink Laphroaig from a crystal glass.
There Laphroaig costs at least $85 U.S. a bottle and replenishment is four miles distant.
Here Laphroaig costs $45 a bottle and replenishment is a ten minute walk away.
Here I watch sports and movies on television and stream music to five superior speakers.
There I listen to New Zealand Concert, the national classical music radio station, and stream music to quite acceptable bluetooth speakers.
Here I sit facing a fireplace.
There I sit facing a companionway.
Here I live indoors.
There I live outdoors.
Here I vacuum rugs.
There I scrub decks
Here I vacuum rugs.
There I scrub decks
Here I am mostly alone and silent.
There I am mostly alone and silent.
Here I walk down the hall to shower.
There I row a couple of hundred yards and walk a hundred more to shower.
Here hot water in the shower is free and untimed.
There I have to insert a $2 coin in a box to obtain five minutes of hot water.
Here the room does not move.
There The Great Cabin constantly moves.
Here there is constant background noise.
There is often complete silence.
Here I am surrounded by land and ten million people.
There I am surrounded by water near a few hundred people.
Here is flat.
There is all hills.
Here I walk down and look at empty Lake Michigan.
There I climb the Opua hill and look down on boats moving about the bay.
Here are Canadian geese.
There once were gannets and now are terns, gulls, cormorants/shags and a few ducks.
Here the Internet is fast.
There the Internet is not fast and more expensive.
Here I can buy things with a click and have them delivered promptly.
There I can’t.
Here I look out windows at bare tree limbs, undistinguished buildings, and a cemetery.
There I stand in the companionway and am surrounded by beauty.
There I sleep in a sleeping bag beside waterproof duffle bags and a sail bag.
Here I sleep between sheets beside Carol.
(Thanks to Grant for the ‘there’ photo.)
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I was searching for the three hypotheses post when I came across one in January this year about my non-existing. I apologize for being old and forgetting that I had already written that. I also had forgotten that I had written the part of that entry about dying, which is worth rereading.
I was seeking the three hypotheses because of a couple of things I have read recently that reinforce them.
In THE NORMAN CONQUEST Marc Morris states that the nobility in 1066 numbered about 5,000 or 0.25% of the total population and owned essentially everything. The King and one hundred nobles owned more than 90% of the land.
We have made huge progress in a thousand years. Now the wealthiest 1% in the world only possess 50% of the world’s wealth.
The other is a report which I’ve seen in multiple places about social misconceptions. Here is a link to THE GUARDIAN. I note that the headline is deliberately provocative and misleading.
Generally it is thought that high voter turn out is good. The percentage of the profoundly ignorant is more than enough to decide elections. Perhaps high voter turn out is not good.
I might be repeating myself again here. I recall writing before about collective nouns, such as a parliament of owls, a shrewdness of apes, a pandemonium of parrots.
To which I would add: a code of geeks; a confusion of lawyers; and, perhaps because I arrived back in the U.S. on election day, an obscenity of politicians.
From Chance—an excellent first name—comes: ‘The meek shall inherit the Earth, the brave will get the oceans.’
Thursday, November 20, 2014
From Jay came a story of a man he knew thirty years ago who amassed considerable property paying cash and was told when he applied for a home equity loan that “for credit purposes you and your property don’t exist.”
Not existing is a minor accomplishment in which I, and I expect Jay’s friend, take secret—no longer—pride.
From Zane in New Zealand came a link to a study that correlates poor credit ratings with poor health. A causal relationship is not claimed. But poor credit is statistically related particularly to heart problems. Good credit, good heart. Poor credit, bad heart. No credit, no heart? I know the logic is specious, but I’m sure you can find some who think me heartless.
I found one sentence in the report particularly interesting. A Duke University professor is quoted: “What it comes down to is that people who don’t take care of their money don’t take care of their health.”
It never occurs to her that you can take perfect care of your money and have no credit or that many of those with poor health may have no money to take care of.
‘Debts are chains’ has been a prime tenet of my life; and recent history seems to prove that what is true for individuals is true for big corporations and governments as well.
Lynn sent me a link to a video of “Haul Away”.
He asked if the images are of New Zealand.
While every picture could have been taken in New Zealand, I sense the photos are of Scotland, though I can’t say why.
His find caused me to seek videos for “Dream of the Drowned Submariner”. I found several, among them some live performances. I prefer the track from the album which can be heard here, but I find these images distractingly inappropriate. Whoever put them there just doesn’t get it. Look away from the screen and listen to the music and lyrics.
Lyrics from two of the other tracks on the album are apposite to me.
“Radio City Serenade” begins:
You’ve got to have no credit cards
to know how good it feels.
And from “Go Love”:
Maybe I’m just returning
so I can leave again.
The photo was taken out the window of my dermatologist’s 23rd Floor office.
Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Opua anymore.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
You have many things I do not, including a credit rating and until a few days ago a smartphone.
Not borrowing money for forty years is not good for your credit.
I know that I don’t have a credit rating because United Airlines deluges me with invitations to obtain one of their credit cards. I finally succumbed and returned the application, not because I suddenly wanted to buy things on credit, but for the priority boarding that comes with the card. They turned me down because the credit agencies say I don’t exist. I can live with that.
Not having a credit rating was also one of the reasons I didn’t have a smartphone. Another is that I don’t use phones much. And a third that, being out of the country about half the time, I didn’t want a contract.
In the past year these reasons have disappeared, so I bought a 128 GB unlocked iPhone 6 from Apple and obtained prepaid service through T-Mobile that I can suspend whenever I leave the U.S.
The iPhone holds all my music, which a 64 GB device cannot; is the camera that is always with me; has a screen big enough to be my e-reader; serves as a clock I can easily see when I wake up at night; and in replacing both the iTouch and Kindle, has reduced the number of screens I have to take back and forth from GANNET by one.
I sometimes even use it to make a phone call.
On Windfinder Pro, my wind app of choice, I keep track of the wind and weather here in Evanston; Mission Beach, California; Opua; Cape Brett—the headland at the south entrance to the Bay of Islands; Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea to which I might sail next year; Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu to which i did sail this year and haven’t deleted from the ‘favorites’ list; Mt. Pleasant Airport/Falklands to which I might sail one of these years; Cape Town to which I expect to sail one of these years; Tarifa, Spain, the southernmost point of Europe, which happened to be on the list when the app was downloaded and which I’ve kept for sentimental reasons, having almost crashed CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE there when a fifty knot wind known as a Levanter caught us in the Straits of Gibraltar; and Cape Horn toward which I am always sailing.
Cape Horn is full on this week.
The highest winds were over 50 knots two days ago with 20’ to 25’/6 to 7.5 meter waves. Presently the wind is 31 knots and the air temperature 40°F/4.4°C with wind chill obviously below freezing. For about six hours tomorrow morning the wind should drop slightly below 20 knots for the only time in the coming week. Mostly it will be above 30 knots and blowing from the west.
This is not a week to be trying to round Cape Horn from the east.
Somehow I missed Mark Knopfler’s most recent album, PRIVATEERING, when it was released in 2012, but upon my return to a fast Internet connection iTunes suggested the album to me, for which I thank it.
The version I bought contains 25 tracks, about half of which are too rock and roll for me, and the other half are wonderful, chief among these are three songs of the sea: ‘Haul Away’, ‘Privateering’, and ‘Dream of the Drowned Submariner.’ All three have already made it onto my favorites playlist that numbers only 188 songs out of over 4,000.
‘Haul Away’ and ‘Dream of the Drowned Submariner’ are evocative and moving and should resonate with every sailor, perhaps with everyone, and are among the best things Mark Knopfler, who is one of my favorite singers, has ever recorded.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
After sailing my first boat, an Excalibur 26, south from San Francisco in 1967 and living aboard in San Diego for more than a year with the woman who was then a part of my life, I was ready to buy a larger boat. On what I still recall was a rare day of drenching rain we drove to a boat show in Los Angeles to look at the newly introduced Ericson 32. I planned to buy one until a salesman at the Ericson stand showed me pre-production drawings of the Ericson 35. With a base price of $19,500—$25,000 equipped and delivered—the 35 was a financial stretch for me at a time when I was making $10,000 a year; but the San Diego Ericson dealer gave me a generous deal on the Excalibur as trade-in and I placed an order.
This was the second 35’ model Ericson made, so they started hull numbers at 101. Mine was 104, but the second in the water. I took delivery in December 1969, named her EGREGIOUS, lived aboard at then newly opened Harbor Island Marina, and initiated a five year plan to sail away.
Four years into that plan in mid-1973 Ericson came out with a 37’ model which I thought I could have built and outfitted exactly as my evolving opinions considered desirable: no engine; no though-hull fittings below the waterline; no lifelines or stanchions. Again the Ericson dealer obliged by taking the 35 as trade-in. I think the base price on the 37’ was $27,500. I do recall that I had to finance only $5,000 which I paid off in a few months. That was the last loan of my life.
I named the 37’ simply EGREGIOUS without adding ‘2’, and left on schedule for Cape Horn.
A week or so ago I received an email from Jeff in San Diego who recently bought Ericson 35 hull #104 and had been told that she once belonged to me. He wanted to know if that is true. I replied that it is and asked a few questions about how he came to own the boat.
Jeff bought her for $2500 from the widow of the last owner whose long illness caused him to neglect the boat cosmetically, though she remains structurally sound. Jeff plans to restore and sell her. He also plans to rename her EGREGIOUS and sent some photos.
In the lead photo the cove and waterline stripes have faded from what was a dark blue. I wouldn’t have remembered it, but the registration number resonates.
Here is the dramatic result of labor.
I wish Jeff success in his restoration, and EGREGIOUS’s new owner as much joy as the boat once brought young Webb Chiles.
Opening both pages in separate tabs and toggling between the two, the constants are the red Levenger Circa notebook, a Uniball Vision Elite pen that does not leak after airplane flights, iPad mini, weather station, Dartington Exmoor crystal double old fashioned glass with inevitable and inimitable Laphroaig. And the arrangement of objets. Enough of my life is uncertain so I am a creature of habit about that which isn’t. A universal remote visible in the later photo was just outside the earlier. Eyedrops and eyeglasses visible in the earlier are inside a drawer in the end table in the later.
What has changed is that the end table is against the window in the earlier photo and toward the center of the wall in the later.
While I was sailing GANNET Carol bought a new L shaped sofa and preempted the most comfortable position at the angle of the L, so the end table and I have been moved to the right.
I carry the Levenger notebook with me back and forth between GANNET and condo, but it is not the one in which I hand write the passage log when GANNET’s Great Cabin is too wet to use the laptop. That one is from Rite in Rain brought to my attention by Steve Earley.
Snow is falling.
The media are making much of our weather and those of you sensible enough to live in places with decent climates where it never freezes would find it abominable. For Chicago it is not extreme, and with proper clothing not even uncomfortable, only early.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
I am back from a routine visit to the dermatologist looking as though I am back from the wars. She froze several suspect spots and took cells to biopsy from three others. This is merely precautionary. Skin indeed is the organ to suffer most sailing across oceans.
This was the second successive morning I rode the train into downtown Chicago for this appointment. I made it via a Skype call from GANNET in New Zealand and entered the correct time and date in the calendar on my MacBook Air. When I flew to Evanston, crossing the International Dateline, the computer recognized my new location and helpfully changed the time. I did not realize that it also unhelpfully changed the appointments in my calendar. In this instance by nineteen hours. A woman in the office said I am not the first to whom this has happened. Beware.
I received an email from Raleigh Love whose great-grandparents were featured in Ken Burns’s THE WEST and about whom I wrote last year. He corrected me in that it was his grandfather, John-David, not John-David’s older brother, Allen, who had influenza at the same time as their father. I also mistakenly referred to Allen as Adam. Sigh.
The Love family is exceptional through the generations. Coming from no family, I wonder what being part of that must be like.
The great-grandparent’s love story is well worth reading or rereading, and remembering.
After viewing the photo of GANNET a few days ago, Larry on the West Coast wrote about her face on the transom. Others noted that face when I ran a photo a couple of years ago of her on the trailer as she was leaving the Illinois boat yard on her way west. Some think she is winking. Some that in sympathy with her crew she has a blind eye. If so together we have a complete set. Her good one is right. Mine left.
That open eye is I conclude where a man overboard pole was stowed. Never having figured out how to throw myself such a pole after I fall overboard, I don’t carry one. There is nothing behind the round plate on the left and I don’t know why it is there.
I just read on the Internet of a study that concludes that men who have had sex with more than twenty women are less likely to get prostate cancer than those who have not.
That’s a relief.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I’m not sure how long I can keep this up, but I added one of each today and am good for 73, followed by the usual 40 and 40, despite lingering pain in my left wrist and shoulder from a fall seven weeks ago when I stepped onto GANNET while she was tied to the marina breakwater and the end of a dock line rolled beneath my foot. I heal more slowly than I used to.
A quiet day. Complete overcast ahead of Arctic air due to drop temperatures below freezing and keep them there indefinitely.
When Carol comes home from the office, we’ll have dinner and perhaps watch a movie on television.
You know the day will end with a glass, or two, of Laphroaig.
Odd with all the movement in my life that I find myself seventy-three years later only three hundred miles from where I started.
As an original writer more than once observed: Life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
I travelled from GANNET carrying my purse, a.k,a. messenger bag—and if anyone had made a snide remark I would, of course, have hit them with my purse—and wearing my Scottevest. Essentially I was carrying screens: MacBook Air, iPod mini, iTouch, Kindle Paperwhite. Three of them I wore in the infinite pockets of the Scottevest. This seems like too many screens, but all serve different purposes.
With no checked bags and Global Entry, I was through Immigration and Customs at LAX about as quickly as I could walk across the room. The Global Entry process of inserting my passport into the kiosk, placing my fingers on the reader, answering a few questions on the touch screen, two of which related to Ebola, and taking a printed receipt to hand to the agent at the far door, took a minute. Even if I never used it again, avoiding those long snaking lines was worth $100.
A few days before I left GANNET I met my landlord, Grant, a Kiwi who lives in Melbourne, Australia, but keeps his boat in a slip in the Opua Marina and had an unoccupied mooring. He and his friend Brian came up from Auckland to take a mini-cruise around local waters, and we got together for drinks and dinner at the Opua Cruising Club. I enjoyed their company and the then novelty of ice in my drink. I am now blasé about ice, which is just as well because the temperature in Evanston is due to fall to 23°F/-5°C Tuesday night.
Grant took the lovely photo at the top at one of my favorite anchorages, Whangamumu. I hope to have that view from GANNET next April.
I thank Grant for permission to share the photos with you, even though they make me miss my second home.
Except when I am at sea, the world’s roads are unsafe for another four years.My driver’s license was due to expire next week, so on Friday I rode the train into Chicago to apply for a renewal knowing that I would have to pass a vision test. Rather to my surprise I did and am now legal until 2018. Referring to the Yellowbrick tracking map will enable you to know when it is safe to venture out.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Bare tree limbs against dead gray sky.
This is my second full day surrounded by land not water. I am adapting, but never have I felt that the two parts of my life are so completely separate and distant as they are now. Almost nothing is the same. The single common element is me.
I lucked out on my flights. For the first time in several years none of them were full, and from Auckland to Los Angeles I had a three seat row to myself and was able to lie down and sleep, legs bent.
Air New Zealand now styles itself “The Airline of Middle Earth” and has done the nearly impossible and made an entertaining safety video.
Steve of ROVER OF TACOMA sent me an email from Russell, four miles north of Opua, advising that he had found gannets there. Perhaps they will return to Opua in time. Had my experience on my mooring in the past been as it was this year, Moore 24 hull #40 would have a different name.
From Douglas in Scotland comes this link to more gannets than I want flying above me.
From Shelton comes a link to another of my known interests, a Halloween Laphroaig ad.
I must correct myself: there are two common elements in the disparate parts of my life.
The image above is a screen shot taken a few minutes ago of part of the Earth Wind Map, showing favorable conditions for rounding Cape Horn east to west, although you’d run into strong westerlies not far beyond.
Adrian Flanagan believes that about 160 sailors have rounded Cape Horn alone, including races, 28 east to west, 142 west to east.
Only three or possibly four have done so in both directions.
Ronnie Simpson has been sailing a Cal 2-27 across the Pacific. He is presently about half way between Fiji and New Zealand. A couple of days ago he sent this message via his tracking device: Raymarine ST2000 tiller pilots biggest pieces of shit on the planet. 3 dead on the voyage from CA now, completely unsuited marine env.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
The above photo was taken forty years ago this date. I state it that way because as I write it is still November 1 in San Diego for a few more hours. I am about to sail on what will become my first attempt at Cape Horn. I am thirty-two years old. At sea in nine days I will turn thirty-three. EGREGIOUS had no engine. The mainsail is already set. When I drop that line in my left hand, my life will change from longing to being, a stage which has now lasted improbable decades. I have been fortunate in my health. I have been fortunate in my passions. Sailing GANNET is the mountain climbing equivalent of making a first ascent of a new route, and I doubt that many seventy-two year old mountain climbers are making first ascents.
Today is Sunday and I don’t fly until Tuesday, but, as usual, GANNET is prepared for my departure well in advance. The jib has been lowered and stowed below. Flags are down. Halyards secured. The little sloop tied to the mooring three ways. This is all just as well because rain is due tomorrow.
A young man who runs a yacht care business will board and inspect GANNET once a month in my absence.
Chicago’s weather yesterday made news over much of the world. Never a good sign. High winds and snow. Waves breaking across Lake Shore Drive. I trade summer in a place where I love to be for a Chicago winter without regret. The hardest part of this voyage is not sailing; it is being away from Carol for too long.
Adrian Flanagan, a British sailor who made a ‘vertical circumnavigation’, via Cape Horn and then west north of Russia, although he writes that he ‘cargoed’ his boat part of the way, is writing a book about Cape Horn and Cape Horners. A week or so ago he emailed me asking some questions.
A Background to the voyage
Why did you want to make the voyage which took you round Cape Horn?
I have learned that ‘why?’ is not a good question. People either understand instinctively or they don’t understand at all. Our species has evolved to figure out ‘how’ rather than answer ‘why?’
I believe that societies need most people to maintain stability, and a few to explore physically and mentally.
I consider myself an artist—probably my best known line is: A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind—and have said that the essential function of the artist is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports.
The first words of STORM PASSAGE are: I was born for this.
I believe I was; so that’s why.
How did you feel once you had committed to make the voyage?
I committed to the voyage when I was in my teens. I don’t remember any particular feeling other than determination.
Briefly describe your boat
- Technical specs (name of boat, weight, keel arrangement, rig type, LOA, maker, hull material)
The boat which I named EGREGIOUS, using the Latin root of the word meaning ‘out of the herd’, was an Ericson 37, IOR one-tonner, with a fin keel and spade rudder. She may have been the first such boat sailed solo around the Horn. I do not know that as a fact. Perhaps your research will tell.
By design she displaced 16,000 pounds. Mine probably less because I had her built without an engine. She was cutter rigged. 37’ long on deck. Fiberglass. Built by Ericson yachts in California.
- Design attributes/shortcomings for the intended voyage.
Her greatest attribute was that she sailed well. Her greatest shortcoming was a design flaw that ran two bolts through the mast just below the overhead in lieu of tie rods. These sheered off twice.
Also the quality of construction was not of the highest. She was just the best boat I could afford at the time. And despite her flaws did complete a two stop circumnavigation in what was then world record time for a monohull, breaking Chichester’s record by more than three weeks.
At the outset, how confident were you in your boat’s abilities to handle really big weather?
I was the first American to round Cape Horn alone. When I sailed no one in America, including me, knew what it would really be like in the Southern Ocean. I prepared as well as I could and then had the nerve to sail into the unknown.
What was the moment of greatest danger on your voyage?
At sea for almost five months on the passage from San Diego around Cape Horn before finally putting in to Auckland, NZ, EGREGIOUS and I were in Force 12 several times; she was rolled mast into the water three times; caught by Cyclone Colin in the Tasman; had a crack in the hull which required me to bail seven tons of water every twenty-four hours with a bucket; and was in at least 100 knot winds south of Australia.
There was no one moment of greatest danger. There were months of greatest danger.
What was the moment of greatest joy on your voyage?
There were two: rounding the Horn itself and reaching Auckland alive.
B Cape Horn itself
What were your feelings at the prospect of sailing around Cape Horn?
I was eager.
Describe your rounding of Cape Horn – the highs, lows, disasters, fears, joys.
All this can be found in STORM PASSAGE.
In more specific detail, what was the weather like during your rounding of Cape Horn?
I first rounded Cape Horn in December 1975 navigating with a sextant. There was some sleet and snow for the days as I neared the Horn so I kept sailing south until one day I got a single sun sight through clouds that caused me to believe I could turn east. I did and sighted the Diego Ramirez Islands before nightfall. During the night the wind increased to Force 12. The day I passed south of Horn Island without seeing it there were twenty foot breaking waves on each quarter. I tied myself in the cockpit and hand steered at hull speed of eight knots and more under bare poles all day. The servo-rudder from the Aries was in the water and a rooster tail rose from it as from a hydroplane. Around sunset the wind dropped to perhaps fifty knots and I thought the Aries could steer. I went below pleased that the water I was bailing from the bilge into the Atlantic that night had come that morning from the Pacific.
It is a myth that it is always that way.
I sailed around Cape Horn again in 1992 with the woman who was then my wife from New Zealand to Uruguay in RESURGAM, a She 36. The day of the Horn was flat calm in the morning and twenty knots from the northeast in the afternoon. I wrote then, “Some nights Pavarotti has laryngitis. Some days Cape Horn is just another place.”
What kind of shore-side support did you receive during your rounding of Cape Horn – specifically weather advice?
None. No sponsors. No shore team. No PR agent. No way to call for help.
The way I’ve always sailed, though I do have a Yellowbrick on GANNET, the ultralight Moore 24 I am presently sailing, to enable my wife and others to track me.
How did you feel once you were safely past Cape Horn?
I was glad to be passed Cape Horn, but by no means safe. I would still be at sea in the Southern Ocean for three more months and more than 10,000 miles.
What is your perspective today of the voyage you made and specifically your passage round Cape Horn?
I am seventy-two years old—seventy-three next month—and on my sixth circumnavigation, several of which have been pushing the edge of human experience, including my present one. After that first circumnavigation, I set out in an open boat, a stock Drascombe Lugger, which was at least as difficult and as dangerous as my first circumnavigation. I’m proud that I persisted on that first voyage through two earlier failed attempts and through hull and sail damage, that I made a total commitment. At the start of my third, and successful attempt, at Cape Horn, I wrote, “Victory or death.” Now, I’d probably write, “Completion or death,” for I don’t believe we conquer capes or oceans or mountains, we only transit them. But I was going to succeed that third time or die trying; and that is good to have proven about yourself.
C About you
What briefly is your background? (Were you bought up near the sea? Did you learn to sail early? Did your parents sail? etc)
In a jest of the non-existent gods, I was born about as far from the ocean as possible, in Saint Louis, Missouri. No one in my family sailed. I learned from books and taught myself when I bought my first boat at age twenty-five in California.
How do you manage stress?
I have led a very stressful life, both at sea and on land. (See the next answer.) I am used to stress. Occasionally I scream at the sky. But mostly I carry on.
What was the best moment in your life?
I have circumnavigated five times and am now attempting a sixth. I have been married six times to five women, and many other women of great charm, intelligence, beauty, and sensuality of two generations have shared some of their lives with me. I’ve written a good many books, seven of which have been published, and a few poems that I think deserve to be remembered.
There has been too much joy to choose one.
What was the worst moment in your life?
The worst part of my life was my childhood. I don’t dwell on it.
If you are not a professional sailor, what do you do now?
I don’t get paid for sailing, but for writing. I stopped working for other people the day before I left San Diego, California, on my first attempt at Cape Horn in 1974.
Did your experience of Cape Horn affect your attitudes to life in general?
I don’t think so. I think my attitude toward life preceded that first voyage and affected it, rather than the other way around. The only difference was that before the voyage I thought I could do it. Afterwards I knew I could.
(The following refers to a comment in Adrian’s cover letter, probably book publisher hype.)
I would like to comment on your statement that Cape Horn is the most feared of the Great Capes. I don’t fear Cape Horn. I rather doubt that you do either, but that is just a guess. I respect the honorable difficulty of sailing around it. But fear? No.
And I am not claiming to have courage. I never have. I do have nerve, which is the willingness after having prepared as well as possible and reduced risk as much as possible, still to attempt to do something where the result is uncertain and may be fatal.