Monday, March 30, 2015

Opua: Torqeedoed; gennakered; words; gone

        That GANNET is almost an engineless boat is shown by my only this afternoon dragging the Torqeedo and the outboard bracket from beneath the cockpit and mounting them on the stern to see if the engine works.  It did.  Instantly.  Good Torqeedo.  
        The battery was at 46%.  I don’t recall if I charged it after last use last year.  I probably didn’t.  I brought the battery back inside and am doing so now.


        While ashore this morning I made the deposit on a 35 square meter/377 square feet North Sails G1 gennaker.  Although a G1 is a close and beam reaching sail and therefore cut flatter, this will be 5 square meters/54 square feet bigger than my present reaching/running gennaker, and might serve well enough broad reaching to enable GANNET to remain a three sail boat.
        I doubt the sail will be completed before I fly back to Evanston on May 19.  All the more to look forward to when I return later in the year.


        Some have observed that GANNET’s boom is tilted up while she is in port, rather than parallel to the deck as on most boats.  I agree that parallel looks better.  GANNET’s boom is tilted so I can duck under it.
        Last evening I noticed that moving from side to side was to move to two completely different skies.   
        The photo above and this one were taken seconds apart.

        And here is what was in the middle.

        This was taken earlier in The Great Cabin. 

        You can see the Yellowbrick’s new home.  The compass control box for the trial tiller pilot in the upper right.  The new orange JetBoil beside which dinner of Backpacker Pantry Santa Fe Chicken and Rice is steeping.

        Some words and phrases have always charmed me.  Among them is ‘gibbous moon’.  I looked up at one last night.
        Some words do not charm me.  As long time readers know, I find ‘blog’ ugly.  Also ‘selfie’.  The full name of this site is:  self-portrait in the present sea.  ‘Selfie in the present sea’ isn’t quite the same.
        In Lisbon, Portugal, Luis and friends worked hard on SCALLY, his new-to-him Morgan 31, removing wiring, unsticking a stuck jib furling gear, and preparing to unstep the mast.
        Work as joy.

        San Diego has come to Opua.  And I don’t just mean me.  Opua’s weather is San Diego-like.  Sunny.  Even slightly warmer than San Diego this week.  And light wind.
        I plan to sail somewhere tomorrow and anchor.  I doubt there will be enough wind to make it around to Whangamumu, so probably I’ll go to the Lagoon at Roberton Island or Paradise Bay at Urupukapuka.
       I’ll be away two or three days.

Opua: worked

        Not very hard, but some.
        I replaced three of the cockpit sheet bags, one was torn, the other two are now a size bigger.  
        I’ve moved the Yellowbrick mount from the stern pulpit to the partial companionway bulkhead inside The Great Cabin.  
        During the passage from Neiafu, when because of a battery charging problem I kept the unit in the cabin to send up manual positions, I found It convenient to be able to check battery status and tracking history.  It is also much easier to turn bluetooth on and off to email Carol.  Going back to the stern was sometimes an ordeal underway, and seeing the display in bright sunlight difficult.  Also the unit will stay drier in the cabin, though on GANNET of course not completely dry.
        I’ve placed it just to one side of the companionway so it doesn’t interfere with my standing there, yet still has a view of the sky.  I’ve had it operating since yesterday.  Here on an even keel at the mooring it has no problem sending positions.  I do not know if it will have difficulty when GANNET is heeled over and/or I am standing in the companionway when it is trying to transmit a position at sea.
        I have also almost completed the installation of the tiller pilot I am testing for Brian Boschma.  Two small boxes, one the motor control unit, the other the compass/control unit, are in place.  The compass/control on the port side of the companionway bulkhead, the motor control on the partial bulkhead below the cockpit.  And the deck plug into which the above deck drive arm connects is positioned.  All that is left is to connect the wires and properly seal the deck plug.  I may get to that tomorrow. 
        I also did a load of laundry today and managed somehow to lose a hat.  I have others.


        In Sydney, Richard anti-fouled his DUYFKEN, which Google tells me means ‘little dove’ and was the name of a Dutch ship used on an early voyage of  Australian exploration.
        From the photo he sent, DUYFKEN’s topsides are as immaculate as her newly anti-fouled bottom.

        In England, Ian had his first sail of the year, helping deliver a friend’s boat from Brighton to Falmouth.  They found joy pushing hard through the night to get in to beat the weather.  And did.

        I haven’t checked our weather forecast, but hope to go sailing to a nearby anchorage or two later this week.
        I’ll have the Yellowbrick on sending up positions at one hour intervals while I’m underway. 
        The tracking page is:
        You can go there now and see GANNET dancing around her mooring. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Opua: walked

        I have a distraught app.  
        After awarding me the Suez Canal badge for walking 120 miles—I transited Suez in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE II but never expected to walk it—the app became despondent at the limited number of steps I have taken since returning to GANNET and started sending me frowning faces and encouragement to do better.  
        When I stayed aboard GANNET one day last week working on the boat and didn’t even put the phone in my pocket, thus registering 0 steps for the day, the app when into cyber-shock and deep despair.
        For lunch that day I grabbed a protein bar I later realized I bought last June in Honolulu.
        Needing supplies beyond the limits of the Opua General Store, I taxied to Pahia yesterday.  Next time I go I will either sail or walk, but didn’t want to take the time yesterday.  
        New Zealand’s Prime Minister was in town, trying to influence the outcome of an election that is not going his party’s way, accompanied by a lot of police.
        I did walk around Pahia enough to take more than 5,000 steps, partially appeasing the app, and took these photos with my iPhone.

        Last evening was perfect on GANNET’s deck.  Assisted by an air temperature gin and tonic and lime—all of which were among the previously lacking supplies.
        Today when I went ashore I walked up the Opua hill.  Unexpectedly flatland walking prepared me for the hill, which I chugged up at speed and with ease.  1100 steps from top to bottom, each at a steep incline.
        My app would worry less if it counted the strokes I row as steps.


        THE NEW YORK TIMES ran a piece this morning about the new Whitney Museum and included images of some of its collection, including this by Dan Schulz.

        I include it because of the title:  Building the Boat While Sailing.
        I have no other comment.


        Scott in San Francisco sailed his First 32 both days last weekend:  on Saturday with his wife and son; on Sunday solo.  
       Joy shared and doubled.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Opua: more joy; first passage; orange; name

        Reports keep coming in:

        Here in New Zealand, Zane’s joy-in was a ‘mast-in’:  final stepping of the unstayed carbon fiber mast on his junk-rigged OCEAN PARTIZAN.
        In England Chris, who recently sold his boat, did a hill climb in a 1930’s Model A Ford.
        Above California’s Morro Bay, Lynn, a delivery captain, looked out to sea.
        In eastern Canada where water is still solid not liquid, Matt, helped drive a freight train—not his usual job.
        In England Bill cooked and with Roger sailed and powered in the Bristol Channel.
        In Australia Pat, whose boat is on the hard preparatory for anti-fouling, and Randall made a wonderful bird feeder.  I hope the birds appreciate the design and craftsmanship.  And Pat still found time to drive 240 kilometers/150 miles to sail on the 30.5 meter/100’ SOUTH PASSAGE training ship.


        I have written here before about Dan who I met in San Diego’s Quivira Basin after he bought COYOTE, a Medalist 32.  Dan is an Australian former submariner.  He and Ashley sailed south to Mexico late last year and have just left on their first ocean passage, heading for the Marquesas Islands, a distance of about 3,000 nautical miles.
        I’ll be following their progress on their Yellowbrick tracking page.
        I wish them a fine and uneventful sail.
        Beautiful islands are ahead.


        The threads stripped on my JetBoil stove.  At first I thought it was the threads on the gas canister, but when I couldn’t connect a second canister, the source of the problem was certain.
        Even on GANNET I try to have back-ups and have a tiny burner by a company named MSR.  It screws directly onto the gas canister and heats water quickly.  In port when GANNET is steady, no problem.  However, it would require close attention at sea.
        I googled and found JetBoil stoves available here in NZ and placed an order on the Internet.  I received a response that black is not in stock, only red and camouflage.  I chose red.  It arrived today and is really tomato orange.  So garish I almost like it.


        I like the name GANNET.  But if I had not spent time in Opua in the past, the little Moore would have another name.  Lamentably there are no gannets here now.  I believe I have already paraphrased Villon, ‘Where are the gannets of yesteryear?’
        Based on today’s residents, I would be sailing TERN or SEA GULL or SHAG.  
        I miss gannets.

Opua: worked

        Intermittent misty rain the past two days kept me from working on deck, although I did get the deck scrubbed.  It was dirtier than I expected considering there is no industry within fifty miles and few roads near the marina.  Perhaps power boat exhausts.  Which reminds me:  when I returned to THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, one of the first things I did was check to see if the diesel would start.  I have yet to touch GANNET’s Torqeedo.  
        Today was sunny and fine.
        A rigger came as per appointment to replace the masthead Windex which has been sticking and lying to me for too long.  When it did on Sunday I had had enough and went to Northland Rigging Monday morning.
        After he left, I installed the new pedestal mount for the tiller pilot and then replaced two solar panels. Sounds simple, but it took most of the afternoon.
        The pedestal mount only required drilling three holes and tightening three bolts.  But first I had to remove two duffle bags of clothes, a plastic bag of food and a jerry can of water from the starboard pipe berth.
        Then I found that I couldn’t remove the old pedestal mount fitting which is held by a bolt through the deck.  Usually when faced with this kind of a problem I can attach a vise grip to the nut in a way that it comes against an obstruction and holds, then go on deck and unscrew the bolt.  In this case there was nothing to prevent the vise grip from turning; so I left the old fitting which was flush with the deck in place and bolted the new above deck base over it.
        One of the dead solar panels was located in the same area.  I removed it; but when I positioned the new panel, which has the same model number, I discovered that Aurinco has reduced its size by an inch/2.5 cm, so I had to drill new holes for the screws.
        I also replaced the long narrow panel on the port side of the deck forward of the mast.
        A third panel to starboard of the mast that I thought was failing tested at full voltage, so I didn’t replace it and have a spare which I stowed beneath the v-berth cushions.
        All this involved considerable twisting, bending, slithering, lifting, stretching.  My shoulder imposed some limitations and is presently complaining.  Slithering on the pipe berth is unexpectedly difficult with a torn rotator cuff.  
        However, I got everything done that needed to be done in time to watch the start of the Wednesday evening race with a plastic of fine New Zealand sauvignon blanc while standing in the companionway.
        8:26 and dark.  The photo was taken just before I started to write this, twenty minutes ago.


        Gerry, a Canadian sailor whose world is frozen, skied.
        Jim went racing on an Arizona lake on an Evelyn 26.
        Sam and his brother hiked in the Grand Canyon.
        Scott sailed his Sea Pearl 21 from Florida's Fort Desoto to Egmont Key and back.
        In England Martin found joy by solving a long overdue bow thruster problem and celebrated with a dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Opua: sailed

        A glorious day.  Sunny and warm.  In the 70sF/low 20sC.
        I dropped the mooring at 10:00 a.m. in calm conditions and rode the tide north at 1 knot for a half hour before any wind came up.  GANNET went from 1 to 5 faster than I can write the words.  We stayed mostly between 5 and 6 knots, but, still being helped by the tide, did see some 6s and 7s in not more than 5 knots of wind.  
        I let the replacement Raymarine tiller pilot steer some, but I mostly steered myself.  No problem steering with my left arm.  I even hand held the jib sheet with a single wrap around the winch for a while in my left hand.  
        I turned around near a cruise ship anchored north of Russell.  
        On the way back the wind dropped and it took me an hour to cover the last half mile.  I passed a moored sailboat three times both forward and reverse, forward with wind, back by tide.  I thought about digging out the Torqeedo, but didn’t, and finally a slight breeze carried us to the mooring which I picked up under mainsail alone.
        My shoulder aches, but not much more than usual.  
        Steve sailed SPARTINA on the Pasquotank River.
        Ken sailed on the Swan River in Perth, Australia.
        Tom sailed on Tokyo Bay.
        Shelton sailed on a lake in Georgia.
        Rik sailed off Aruba.
        I expect that Bill and Roger will sail in the Bristol Channel.
        A tennis player did play.
        A runner and music lover ran and listened to Bach whose 330rd birthday it was.
        And sailing friends near Chicago where marinas don’t open until May 1 enjoyed martinis.
        I trust more joy will be found before the weekend is over.
        After I post this, I’m moving on deck to listen to music and sip Laphroaig.
        Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ would seem appropriate, but is too boisterous.  I’ll find something more serene.

        Contrast the above with the last photo I took this month.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Opua: a joy-in

        On different sides of the world, Steve Earley, who had a hip replaced in January, hopes to go for his first sail of the year on SPARTINA this weekend at about the same time I will sail GANNET for the first time this year.  Saturday for him; Sunday for me.  Perhaps thousands of more miles distant Bill and Roger will sail CALSTAR on the Bristol Channel.
        I invite you wherever you are to join us doing whatever you love to do this weekend.
        If you have a boat on water which can be sailed,  sail.  Unfortunately that excludes my Chicago neighbors and Eric in Montreal and many others.
        If you are a runner, run.  A walker, walk.  A lover, love.  A musician, play.  A lover of music, listen.  A reader, read.  A tennis player, play.  A horseman or woman, ride.  A cook, cook.  A star gazer, gaze.  A gardener, garden.  A dreamer, dream.
        Whatever brings you joy enjoy it.
        And if you want email me about it, I’ll try to put it all together.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Opua: lost Eden

        The distance from the Kerikeri Airport to Opua is 15 miles/25 kilometers.  I know every bend in the road, and I’m filled with happiness as I near the Opua hill and see the harbor in front of me.
        Another sailor was about to leave the dinghy dock and kindly gave me a ride out to GANNET, so I didn’t have to row the marginal fiberglass dinghy I keep locked ashore.
        I found the little boat in excellent condition.  No water in the bilge, no mold, no spiders.  She smelled a bit musty and needs her deck scrubbed and hull polished.  Open hatches took care of the mustiness.  I’ll work on the deck and hull soon.
        One of the first things I do when I go aboard after being away is check the battery charge.  4.0 was not a number I expected.  Then I realized that the first and last numbers of the digital display on the SolarBoost 2000e solar regulator are no longer working.  4.0 is really showing charging at 14.0 something, which is normal.  
        It took me a couple of hours to stow the stuff I brought with me and get the cabin organized.  
        I got it all done in time to listen to music and have a glass—literally a glass because I brought two from Evanston—of duty free Laphroaig on deck accompanied by music in late afternoon.
        The music was Bach and Mark Knopfler.
        Mark Knopfler’s newest album, TRACKER, was released in the U.S. the day I flew.  I bought and downloaded it from iTunes while in the San Francisco Airport between flights.  I’ve listened to TRACKER a couple of times, like some of the songs, but none as much as several on PRIVATEERING.  Last evening ‘The Dream of the Drowned Submariner’, ‘Haul Away’, ‘Privateering’, ‘Redbud Tree’ and others drifted from GANNET.
        I got some sleep on the long flight across the Pacific and have had less jet lag than usual.  In fact I feel quite normal today.
        When I rowed ashore this morning, I went to the Customs Office to ask for an extension for GANNET to remain in New Zealand.  I did not know when I sailed in last year that New Zealand had changed regulations and now permits foreign yachts to remain two years instead of one and I only asked for one.  The pleasant woman in the Customs Office found that GANNET had been given two years anyway.  All problems should be so easily solved.
        Although there have been a few sprinkles of rain, the days have been mostly sunny and warm.  Shorts and t-shirt.  No socks.  Lovely.
        So far my shoulder is holding up, though sometimes painful.  Perhaps only other Moore 24 sailors can fully appreciate from what odd positions and angles you often have to lift and shove and brace yourself on the little boats.  Sometimes this hurts.  My shoulder presently aches, though not unendurably. 
        I’ve pulled and pushed various stowage bags around, hauled the Avon dinghy onto deck and inflated it, managed to get my heavy duffle bag on board, have filled and lifted a 5 gallon jerry can of water—lifted with my right arm, and rowed ashore several times.  I am pleased that I can row without even a twinge. 
        Just after lunch I bent on the furling jib.  GANNET might soon sail.
        Opua for me is a lost Eden, not one from which I’ve been banished, but one which I can only visit, not remain.
        It is wonderful to be back. 
        But you already knew that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Evanston: after the storm; from others; gone

        I had an email late yesterday from Mike that GANNET has survived Pam unscathed.   Mike runs Yachtcare and I have paid him a modest sum to look in on GANNET from time to time in my absence.  His email was considerate and appreciated.
        GANNET is so light that she is easy on moorings.  A greater concern was that other boats might break free and smash into her.  Experience of the sea often makes sailors fatalistic, and I do not worry much about what I can’t control.
        This morning I received the above photo taken by a man named Rob, an acquaintance of a friend, as he rowed by GANNET after the storm.  I thank him.
        The little boat looks to be much as I left her.  I’m eager to be back on board and curious to find how much water made it down below.
        The harbor does not look as muddy as I would have expected from runoff after a major storm.


        From Jim comes this link to an amusing video of a song, “Six Months In a Leaky Boat” by the 80s New Zealand group, Split Enz.  I thank him.
        I wonder what made him think of me?
        Here are the lyrics:

When I was a young boy, I wanted to sail around the world
That's the life for me, living on the sea
Spirit of a sailor, circumnavigates the globe
The lust of a pioneer, will acknowledge no frontier

I remember you by, thunderclap in the sky
Lightning flash, tempers flare, 'round the horn if you dare
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Lucky just to keep afloat

Aotearoa, rugged individual
Glisten like a pearl, at the bottom of the world
The tyranny of distance, didn't stop the cavalier
So why should it stop me? I'll conquer and stay free

Ah c'mon all you lads, let's forget and forgive
There's a world to explore, tales to tell back on shore
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Six months in a leaky boat

Ship-wrecked love can be cruel, don't be fooled by her kind
There's a wind in my sails will protect and prevail
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Nothing to it leaky boat

        Obviously I’m not a real sailor.  I don’t dance jigs, have a beard or wear a captain’s cap.  Or want to.


        From Eric in still frozen Montreal comes a poem for which I thank him.

Now you are alone and the ocean waits
When your eyes will study the sky far away
Alone with yourself and sinking into yourself
When the salty mist burns your skin and fills your lungs
And when you feel all your limbs numb
Time will stop and begin your destiny
You will leave like gannets plunge into the sea
You will see the pilot of the Pinta flying like an elf
And you’ll drink Laphroaig with Slocum on Spray
On the ocean veil sailing with your new mates


       I expect the next entry to be written on water.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Evanston: a near miss?

        Cyclone Pam has made the world’s news.
        I’ve been watching it for several days at the Earth Wind Map and Windyty.  
        Above is the current—Saturday 0800 Chicago time—Earth Wind Map.
        Here is the Windyty view.

        And this is Windyty’s projection for tomorrow morning.

        The Bay of islands forecast is for rain and gale force, but not hurricane force winds.  
        Cyclones, being heat machines, weaken as they move out of the tropics and over cooler water.   
        Pam did reach Category Five near Vanuatu and has been called the most powerful storm in the South Pacific for thirty years.  I do not know if that is accurate or hyperbole.
        She has done great damage, including to these boats in Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital.

        Vanuatu—then the New Hebrides—was where I reached land after being adrift when CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE was swamped.  I first went ashore at Emae Island, thirty or forty miles north of Port Vila, and was then flown in a small plane to the hospital there.
        I remember Port Vila as being a good harbor, well protected from all but the west.  Still it is not a place I would keep a boat during the cyclone season.
        I’m glad I’m not flying to New Zealand tomorrow.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Evanston: graduation day

        Yesterday was my last day of physical therapy.
        I was not awarded a diploma.  I was given a t-shirt.
        I consider the therapy a success, though the possibility of surgery remains.  The tear in my rotator cuff is still there.  Unlike a broken bone, it will never heal.  The purpose of physical therapy is to strengthen the adjacent muscles and tendons to relieve stress on the torn element.
        Apparently rotator cuff tears are common.  Most people with them are asymptomatic.  The indicators for surgery are pain and/or inability to function.
        My shoulder has been strengthened and I have full range of motion, if sometimes a bit tentatively.
        The torn shoulder is my left and I’m right handed.  If it were my right, surgery would probably be unavoidable.  I can do everything I need to.  At least I think I can.  Sailing GANNET will be the test.
        I do still have a constant dull ache that bothers me more at night when I wake than during the day, and occasional, unpredictable short, sharp pain when I make a wrong move.  I can live with these.  I’m old.  I’m supposed to have aches and pains.
        I have been given a series of maintenance exercises that I’ll try to do three times a week when not sailing.
        I’ll experiment a little, but push-ups continue to be prohibitively  painful.  I doubt I’ll ever do my age in them again.  I can still do my age in crunches.  In fact in the absence of push-ups, I’ve increased the sets of crunches to 100 and 73.  Different muscles; same body.
        My last graduation was fifty-two years ago.  I had to wear a cap and gown.  
        I like the t-shirt better.


        The photos have nothing to do with my shoulder.  I just like them.
        The one above is from Rik of his Pathfinder yawl, VANESSA,
sailing in the Caribbean.
       And this one was taken by Will Calver in the Bay of Islands where I will soon again be.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Evanston: 'dare greatly'; history lesson; spring; request

        Last Sunday near the beginning of CBS’s 60 Minutes an ad ran that proclaimed, “Dare greatly.”  It is aimed apparently at those who think daring greatly is to buy a luxury car.  My thought:  they have no idea—and I include whatever overly paid ad agency hack came up with the slogan and whoever at Cadillac thought it a good idea, as well as the intrepid car buyers.  
        I also think the ad agency and Cadillac should be fined for gross misuse of language and impertinence.  Though neither is a crime, perhaps they should be.
        Naturally there is even a
        I really need to get to GANNET.

        One hundred and fifty years ago the Civil War was coming to an end.  According to the Civil War Today iPad app, the casualties were nearly even:  North  374,444; South 357,883.  The difference was that the North could replace them; the South could not.  I have read that during the four years of the war, one in five white southern men of military age was killed.
        One hundred years ago what we now call World War I was barely half way through the first of its four even bloodier years.  Poison gas had been used on the Eastern front and was about to be used in the West.  The Second Battle of Ypres was about to be fought.  Australian and New Zealand troops were about to land at Gallipoli.  
        Fifty years ago the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam increased
from 23,000 to 183,000.

        After last Friday’s record low for the date in Chicago of 0°F/-18°C, spring arrived.  Saturday was more than 40°F warmer.  Yesterday reached 52°F/11°C and next Monday may be 60°F/15.5°C.  
        I opened the doors to the balcony yesterday afternoon to let fresh air into the condo for the first time for months.


        When I wrote the introduction to this site nine years, one circumnavigation and part of another, a blind eye and a torn shoulder ago, I said that the artist’s defining responsibility is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports.  The artist has no responsibility that anyone read or experience those reports, which might be words or a painting or a composition or a number of other things.  If enough people do it can change his or her life; but that is not the point.
        But, having said that, it is probably better to be read or heard or have your work viewed than not.  So I am going to ask you a favor, not for myself but another.  It will cost you nothing and take less than four minutes of your time.
        If you want, open another tab and go to the poetry page where “leaves of men of leaves” is the second poem and follow the words.
        Listen to Brian’s composition to the end.
        At the moment it shows only 62 plays.  
        I will be grateful if that number is soon considerably higher.
       Thank you.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Evanston: new boat; new sail

        Now that I’ve ripped up my shoulder, I’ve decided I want something a bit more comfortable than GANNET, so I’m buying a new boat.  Here’s the link.  Be sure to click through all the images.
        The designer has named the project SALT.  Obviously I am going to add ‘OLD’ before that.


        All my boats since EGREGIOUS have been three sail boats.  On CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE they were jib, main and mizzen.  On all the others:  furling jib, fully battened mainsail, and asymmetrical.      
GANNET is about to become a four sail exception.  
        Her current asymmetrical is cut too full to use with the wind on or before the beam, similar to that of the G2 in this graphic. So I am ordering a G1 from North Sails in New Zealand.  

        I had hoped to be able to use the new sail during my upcoming visit to GANNET, but some measurements need to be taken on the boat before the sail can be made.
        It is possible that I will end up using the G1 as the only asymmetrical and GANNET will resume being a three sail boat.  But I confess to a vision of setting both asymmetricals wing and wing downwind in light air.  Imagine GANNET under that cloud of sail.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Evanston: Capt. Brown; BIRDMAN; the East India Company

        I had not  known of Capt. Eric Melrose Brown, nicknamed ‘Winkle’, until I happened upon a documentary about him on Netflix, MEMORIES OF A WWII HERO:  Captain Brown’s Story. 
        Born in 1919, Capt. Brown is still alive at age 96.  
        During WWII he was the Royal Navy’s chief test pilot.  He has flown more different types of aircraft than anyone and made more carrier landings. 
        Interviewed for the film two years ago, he was lucid, wry and charming at 93.
        The viewer realizes as various near fatal incidents are related, that Capt. Brown survived because he was a great natural pilot and because he possessed the judgement and ability to take instantly the only actions that could save him.
        More modestly, he attributes his survival to preparation—and where have you heard that before?—and his short height.  In one of his crashes, had he been taller, he says, he would have lost his legs.
        A very worthwhile hour film.


        We watched BIRDMAN two evenings ago.
        If this is the best movie of the year, then one must conclude that there were no good movies made last year.
        BIRDMAN is a Hollywood movie about Hollywood actors acting and thus appeals to Hollywood.  To name it as the best picture of the year is an act of monumental self-indulgence.
        Personally I find little sympathy for a movie star trying to make his life have meaning who considers ‘selling the Malibu house’ a great sacrifice for his ‘art.’
        There is more to the movie than that, but not much.
        It was two hours long.  
        It seemed much longer.

        A giant corporation with interests spanning the world.   Wealthier and more powerful than most governments.  A law unto itself.  Functioning beyond government control.  Using its wealth to influence government, buying elections and politicians.  Too big to fail.  But fail it does.  And is saved by a government bail-out.
        I could be describing current affairs, but I’m not.  I’m summarizing an informative long article in THE GUARDIAN by William Dalrymple, titled, “The East India Company:  The Original Corporate Raiders.”
        I have read several of William Dalrymple’s books, starting with his first, IN XANADU, written at age twenty-two when he crossed Asia seeking the ruins of Kubla Khan’s palace.  He is a fine writer.
        The East India Company was not a fine company, unless you care only about the bottom line, and of course no one is that shallow.
        The Company conquered and controlled and looted—as Dalrymple points out the word itself comes from India—what is modern day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  
        Five hundred years ago Vasco de Gama and Columbus initiated a seismic and cataclysmic shift in power, five hundred years of Western dominance that have run their course.
        William Dalrymple’s article provides insights into that dominance and asks some very pertinent as yet unanswered questions about “corporate influence, with its fatal mix of power, money and unaccountability.”
        This is a very long article, but worth the time.
        Don’t waste two hours on BIRDMAN.  Watch MEMORIES OF A WWII HERO and read this instead.