Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Evanston: the best laid...

        Were I not reading ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE I would not know that the title of this entry is an example of aposiopesis.  I don’t believe it is necessary for any of us to know that word, which is Greek for becoming silent; but the book is enjoyable due to the quotes used as examples and Mark Forsyth’s own wit and charm.  Writing a charming book on rhetoric is a tour de force. 
        In the title I was aiming at ambiguity. Unfortunately the dots stand not for Dorothy Parker’s friends, but for Robert Burns’ observation that the plans of mice and men gang aft agley, though the poem actually says ‘schemes’ not ‘plans.’
        Whatever, agley mine have gone.
        I learned the results of the MRI yesterday.  Something unpronounceable in my shoulder is torn far worse than the orthopedist had thought and is almost certainly going to require surgery.  With the holidays the earliest I can be seen by the surgeon is three weeks from today.  My return flight to New Zealand is three months tomorrow.  I don’t expect to be on it, though it is possible that I might still be able to sail from New Zealand by June.
        If I do sail from New Zealand in May or June, 2015, it will be to the west.  Some of you will already have concluded that from my study of the winds off Cape Horn.  Today is the beginning of the best week of weather for rounding the Horn from the east in more than a month with winds sometimes deviating from due west and falling from 20 to 25 knots to the teens and even single digits a week from today.  After that a fifty knot storm is due.  But that is what Jordan Drogues are for.
        The reasons for wanting to continue west are both post positive and negative.
        The negative is that while I would like to round Cape Horn again, and that is easier to do west to east, I can muster no enthusiasm for continuing on around the world in the Southern Ocean.
        The positives are that there are many places I’d like to see again if I sail west:  perhaps Lord Howe Island in the Tasman; my favorite coastal sail in the world from Cairns, Australia, to Cape York; an isolated reef west of Darwin, which I have not visited before; Cocos; perhaps Mauritius; South Africa; Namibia; and St. Helena.
        Beyond St. Helena there are four ways around or through the Americas:  the Northwest Passage; Panama; the Straits of Magellan; and around Cape Horn.
        Ultra-light GANNET would not make a very good ice breaker, and I live in Chicago where I’m cold enough, so the Northwest Passage is out.
        Panama is easiest, and that’s the way I may end up going.
        The Magellan Straits have gusty, shifting winds; strong currents; painfully deep anchorages; and constant lee shores; and I like sea room.
        So I’d sail down to the Falklands and wait for an auspicious time to try Cape Horn from the east.
        Only three or four men have rounded the Horn solo from both directions, and none in a boat as small as GANNET.  That is, of course, part of its appeal to me now that it seems obvious that GANNET can, baring human error and the vicissitudes of time and chance, circumnavigate.
        The problem is that it may not be possible in GANNET.  That, too, has its appeal.  Not that it may be impossible, but that I don’t know.  I didn’t know when I set out in EGREGIOUS or CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE if those voyages were possible.
        I am aware that, despite my experience, I may be guilty of a failure of imagination and memory and simply not recall how severe conditions are below 50°South. 
        If it is impossible that could be due to two reasons:  the boat is not up to it or I at my age am not up to it.  
       Considering that at the moment I can’t sail at all, we’ll leave that for another day.  Even another year.