Friday, May 29, 2015

Evanston: lush; lush; equipment; the right week

        The flatlands are lush.
        During the two months I was gone, the trees went from bare to fully leafed.  Limbs from one side of many streets overlap limbs from the other turning roadways below into green tunnels.  Flowers are in prolific bloom.  Those in the photo above in one of Carol’s window boxes on our balconies.  The small front yard of our condo building is hedged with lilacs whose perfume wafts up through open doors and windows.


        While I was in New Zealand, 60 Minutes in the U.S. ran an episode ‘Whisky Island’ about Islay, the home of my two favorite spirits:  10 year Laphroaig and Botanist gin.  It can be viewed online, which I have done.  I thank Kevin for bringing it to my attention.
        I’d like to visit Islay, but some of these people make single malts a religion.  I do not.  I just drink it.
        The juxtaposition of this with the above entry caused me to consider the use of ‘lush’ to mean drunk, which I also like to think I am not.  A quick search online generally reveals ‘origin unknown’; but MODERN DRUNKARD MAGAZINE at (who knew?) suggests the Old French laschier, meaning ‘to loosen’, as the source.  Another suggests lush ken which once meant ‘ale house.’


        I believe in having good equipment on my boats, if not much of it.  
        However, “Across American On A $100 Bike”, a link from Zane in New Zealand for which I thank him, gives one pause.
        Praise for Brendan Leonard.


        From now until June 7 the wind will be weak from the west for a few hours on Sunday, May 31, and from the north, east and south the rest of the time.
       The trouble is had I arrived in the Falklands early in the year, I never would have waited this long.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Evanston: water sealed; flatlander; a ruined life

        I haven’t written recently because I haven’t done anything, or even thought anything, interesting.  I still haven’t; but if I don’t post soon people will start to wonder if I am ill.
        I finished rereading THE YEAR OF THE DEATH OF RICARDO REIS by Portugal’s Jose Saramago.  I knew of Saramago before he won the Nobel Prize and have read all of his works that have been translated into English.  RICARDO REIS is an excellent novel but requires some knowledge of Portuguese literature.  I don’t have much, but I do know enough of Luis Camoes, THE LUSIADS, and Fernando Pessoa, so that the book makes sense.
        I started rereading DAVID COPPERFIELD.
        For $2.99 I bought THE COLLECTED WORKS OF CHARLES DICKENS who wrote more than I ever knew.
        Some Kindle books show page numbers, but most just show what are known as locations.  The average book has about 6,000 locations.  Dickens Collected Works has 293,707.
        I’ve watched some soccer and baseball on television.
        The Cubs are entertaining to watch this year.  The original BACK TO THE FUTURE movie has them winning the World Series in 2015.  
        Today is a pleasant day.  Mostly sunny and in the 70sF/low 20sC. 
        I did the annual water sealing of our balcony deck.  That is what we suburbanites do.  Small deck.  It didn’t take long.  I wish it were as easy to water seal GANNET.

        I don’t think of myself as being a Midwesterner, but I am.
        Carol and I moved to Evanston nine years ago.  Although I’m not here all the time, add that to the first twenty-one years of my life in neighboring Missouri and I have lived thirty years in the Midwest, far longer than anywhere else.
        The sailor is undeniably a flatlander.
        ‘Ithaca, Illinois’ indeed.


        Books have power.
        Not long ago I met a fellow sailor and writer whose words and voyages have impressed me.  He is a generation younger than I and paid me a fine compliment by saying, with a smile, that he read STORM PASSAGE as a young man and it ruined his life.
        I’m proud to have contributed to his ruin.
        David McCullough’s THE WRIGHT BROTHERS is causing Carol and me to vacation on North Carolina’s Outer Banks late next month.  Neither of us has been there before and I’d like to see Kitty Hawk.  And the ocean.
        I should even be able to learn if my improved shoulder will permit me to swim again.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Evanston: 31; 10,228; 73

        I like to quantify things; and considering that creations as varied and subtle as Bach’s music and Turner’s paintings can be expressed in 0s and 1s, I suspect that everything can be quantified, we just haven’t had the time yet to understand how.  The age of science is only a few hundred years old.


        The number of hours from when I stepped from GANNET into the Avon Redstart to when I opened the door to our condo in Evanston.
        When I listed the elements of that journey I forgot to include the shuttle from downtown Auckland to the airport, a distance of 12 miles/20 kilometers for which the fare was $35, about the same as the normal fare for the bus ride for eighteen times that distance from Opua to Auckland.  I was glad to pay it.  A taxi would have cost at least twice as much.
        The shuttle, a small van, drove around picking up other passengers.  I had not been in the center of Auckland for many years and much of it was unfamiliar.  In addition to maple trees and fallen leaves there are many new buildings and a general air of prosperity based in part on a real estate bubble, though the Prime Minister denies one exists.  Auckland has become one of the most expensive cities in the world based on the difference between the average cost of a house and the average income. 
        But when we turned a corner and started up a hill I somehow instantly knew we were on Queen Street.  
        Restless, unable to sleep after months of never sleeping for more than an hour keeping the hull cracked EGREGIOUS afloat, I walked up Queen Street my first night in Auckland almost forty years ago.  I knew no one.  I had no New Zealand currency.  I stopped outside a German restaurant and looked at the menu.  From inside came sounds of music and laughter.  I walked on and continued past shops and banks and offices until my legs unaccustomed to walking gave out near a hot dog stand named “Uncle Sam’s”.
        I was more than just an American in a foreign country he had never before visited.  I was far more alien than that:  I had become a creature of the sea not yet adapted to being washed onto land.
        I stopped at a corner waiting for the light to change.  A woman came up beside me.  I smelled her perfume.  It had been a long time.


        Carol took a vacation day yesterday to turn this into a four day weekend.  For those of you in other countries, Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S.  We drove up to the Botanical Gardens for lunch, and walking around there and pacing the final steps back in our condo, I did 10,228 steps yesterday.  This is the first time I’ve exceeded 10,000 since I walked into Pahia three weeks ago.  That walk was harder, up and down hills.  Here in the flatlands steps are level.
        When I left in March, trees were bare.  Now they are lush with green leaves.
        Here life is more comfortable.  The coffee is better.  The drinks are cold.  Water hot and cold appears at the turn of a knob and is not ferried from shore in jerry cans.  The Internet connection is infinitely faster.  But I do not need more comfort than I have on GANNET.
        Evanston’s incomparable advantage is Carol.


        As some of you know, 73 is my age.  It is also the number of push-ups I did on Thursday.  In fact I did my entire work-out that day for the first time this year, including push-ups and crunches in sets of 73-40-40 without pain beyond that normally associated with working out.
       Only a few months ago I had accepted that this would never again be possible.  The shoulder isn’t quite normal.  There are certain movements that still cause pain.  I know that the tear in my rotator cuff will never heal; but it almost seems as though it has.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Evanston: Sheep World

        During my $1.00 NZ/75 cents US bus ride from Opua to Auckland we stopped at Sheep World to pick up two passengers. Pink sheep, 
 recently sheered, were in a field near the main highway, which is only a two lane country road, presumably as advertising.
        When I first sailed into New Zealand forty years ago next March there were three million people and seventy million sheep.  Now there are four and a half million people, but only thirty million sheep.  The decline is due to the collapse of the wool market.  Most New Zealand sheep are now raised to be eaten not fleeced.  
        Someone once commented, “What if the sheep could vote?”  To which I immediately replied, “They can.”  This is true not only of New Zealand, but every country that purports to be a democracy and holds elections.  
       Next year we American sheep may have a choice between another Clinton and another Bush.  Noble dynasties both.  The contemporary Adamses and Roosevelts.  Well, perhaps not, but possibly slight improvements over Sarah Palin.  Had she been elected Vice President I intended to apply for political refugee status in New Zealand.

        The Bay of Islands remains green year round.  
        But Auckland has maple trees and fall color and sidewalks dappled with fallen leaves.

        I seldom worked out during my two months on GANNET, but that life aboard is healthy was verified when I stepped on the Withings scale this morning.  
       Before I flew to New Zealand my body fat was 16-17%.  Today it is 13%.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Opua: last day

        Sunny and windy this afternoon.
        I rowed in this morning to shower.  Before doing so I scrubbed the bottom of the dinghy and the painter in an effort, probably futile, the keep them from fouling my clothes when I carry the old Avon to the dinghy rack tomorrow morning.
        I have nothing else to do except enjoy my last sunset on GANNET for a while.

        The photos are a miscellaneous selection that caught my eye as I was reviewing those I’ve taken during the past two months and have not yet posted.  One is titled “tortoise”.
        The next entry should be a row, a hill climb, a bus ride, an airplane flight, a walk across LAX, another airplane flight, a taxi ride, and a stair climb later.
         Depending on which side of the Equator you are, have a fine winter or a fine summer. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Opua: unstormed; future pod

        As usual the storm was not as severe as forecast, at least here in Northland.  500 miles/850 kilometers to the south it caused havoc around Wellington, with land slides and floods blocking roads and stopping trains.
        Yesterday and today have been mostly sunny with only passing showers and gusty wind of not more than twenty knots.  I rowed ashore both days, partly just for the exercise and to move about, something I didn’t do much on Thursday with GANNET’s hatches closed.  The row was harder yesterday than usual.  A couple of gusts stopped our progress momentarily.  But my muscles needed the work.
        The past two evenings have seen me sipping a plastic of wine sitting on the starboard pipe berth, facing GANNET’s center line.  Thursday it was raining and last night at dusk the wind became blustery and too cold to stand for long in the companionway.
        Sitting on those pipe berths is a fine position at sea when GANNET is heeled and I am looking down at the ocean speeding past just a few feet away.  I do not regret my decision to remain in Opua this year.  But I miss not making an ocean passage.
        The nights have become two sleeping bag nights.
        I have three sleeping bags on board.  Two light weight summer bags.  Carol has sometimes slept on board.  And one heavier bag.  I’ve been sleeping  in the heavier bag.  But recently started using one of the lighter bags as a quilt over it.  A satisfactorily warm combination.  The cabin temperature when I got up this morning was 48°F/9°C.


        The photo above is not GANNET’s cockpit, but will be.
        I have been considering moving the mainsheet traveler from the cockpit bridge to the cockpit sole as many Moore owners have done.  Stepping over the bridge is always a hassle and sometimes at sea a hazard. 
        But as always there are complications.  In GANNET’s case the backstay control lines run beneath deck and come up a pipe to the cockpit bridge.  The solution is in the pod made by GC Rigging and Composites shown in the top photo.  
        Weighing only 4 pounds/2 kilos, the pod will fit inside a duffle bag and I’ll bring it back with me when I next return.  I’m really looking forward to getting rid of the bridge.
        I thank Joe, another Moore 24 owner, for bringing GC Rigging to my attention.  
        The ‘GC’ is Gilles Combrisson, who along with Karl Robrock, finished first in class in a Moore 24 in last year’s double-handed race to Hawaii.
        I know Karl and congratulated him then.  I do Gilles now.

        GANNET’s cockpit looks awfully clean in the photo taken a year and an ocean ago.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Opua: strike the set

        GANNET heels to a gust of wind, then comes up again.  A front is approaching from the Tasman and gale force wind is forecast for the next three days with periods of heavy rain.  So far at mid-afternoon the rain has stayed to the west of us, but it has caused road blocking mud slides near Wellington.  It is definitely coming.  I can see a long band online at the Met Service website.  And when you think of it, how amazing is that?
        I could have rowed ashore easily this morning, but had no need.  I bought salami and cheese yesterday at the General Store that will provide at least three lunches; I have two months of freeze dry dinners and several kilos of oatmeal; and while I hope GANNET remains dry in one sense, she is no longer in another with more than ample supplies of various liquids to see me through.  
        If you’ve been here a while, you know that I don’t do things at the last minute, so I took advantage of calm conditions yesterday to lower, bag and stow the furling jib; remove the bow sprit from the foredeck and stow it on the starboard quarter berth; remove the U.S. and New Zealand flags; tie down the tiller; check GANNET’s mooring lines; and do three loads of laundry.  
        This gale seems well timed.  Sunday should be fine.  Monday windy.  And on Tuesday I make a dry exit.  If the forecast holds.
        In the meantime I’m ready to sit out the storm, and ready to go.


        The epigraph at the beginning of THE WRIGHT BROTHERS:
               No bird soars in a calm.
                      —Wilbur Wright

Monday, May 11, 2015

Opua: unexpected; big; brief abstinence; THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

        When I raise my head through the companionway in the morning, I expect to see beauty, but today’s foggy dawn was an unexpected variation.


        For several days a very large sailboat, and perhaps I use ‘sailboat’ loosely, has been anchored to the north.  She is 100’/30 meters—give or take a few million dollars—long.  I am not a good judge of boats that size.
When I went ashore yesterday after Skypeing with Carol, I noticed that the boat had moved to the jetty.  After showering I walked to the jetty and found that she was alongside to refuel, which required not one, but two tanker trucks.  I assume the mast is decorative.
        Before rowing back to GANNET, I went to the General Store and bought a sandwich for lunch and a couple of bottles of wine.  One day of abstinence is enough.
        Today I walked up and over the Opua hill to the Roadrunner and bought a bottle of Bombay gin and Glenfiddich.  They don’t stock Brokers or Botanist or Laphroaig.  Brokers gin carries a tag around the neck proclaiming it “The Best Gin In the World.”  Not so.  In my opinion, The Botanist is, but I’ve not seen it in New Zealand.
        I actually did the walk for the exercise and the beuaty as well as the spirits.  New Zealand is as good for walking as it is for sailing.

        Coming up what I call the Opua hill on the return is the longest and hardest of local hills.  I confess I had to pause part way.  I earned my spirits, one of which I sipped while serenading sea gulls and terns a while ago.


        David McCullough’s most recent book, THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, has caused me to reconsider my aversion to the word ‘genius’.  If anyone was, Wilbur Wright was.  He and Orville worked together, but I don’t think Orville would have done it on his own.  I think Wilbur would have.
        That they fulfilled man’s age old dream to fly had nothing to do with chance and everything to do with intelligence, skill, perseverance and character.  The Wright brothers by their own efforts in Dayton, Ohio, and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, made themselves the foremost aeronautical engineers of their time.  They even devised a wind tunnel in which they tested wing shapes made of pieces of hack saw blades.
        I am filled with admiration of what they did and how they did it:  on their own and with their own resources and on their own terms.
        I am also struck by how brief a time ago that was.  
        The first flight in 1903; the first public demonstration at Le Mans, France in 1908.  
        Only six years later what we now call WWI began and before it ended the airplane was a weapon of destruction.
        It is truly amazing how the automobile and the airplane changed the world and human life in one hundred years.
        When my grandmother was born late in the Nineteenth Century the fastest man could move was on a train pulled by a steam locomotive.  By the time she died in 1982 man had landed on the moon.  I don’t know that any other generation in history, including those now living, have seen such change.
        In one hundred years flying has gone from being miraculous to being an ordeal, thanks largely to the MBA’s who run airlines.  Yet the NY TIMES review of THE WRIGHT BROTHERS concludes by quoting a comedian who says, “Come on.  You are sitting in a chair.  In the SKY!”

Friday, May 8, 2015

Opua: pizzaed; clean and dry; Golant Gaffer; bird bath

        Two days of rain ended at 3:30 yesterday afternoon.  I was getting a bit restless.  Sitting in The Great Cabin during a passage is different from being stuck inside on the mooring.
        The sky was still threatening.  I checked rain radar online and it showed another band of rain to the west; but when it had not reached us at 4:10 I decided to take a chance.  I rowed in, ordered a small pizza—sausage, pepperoni, black olives, walked over to the marina building, showered, returned the General Store where the pizza was waiting, rowed back to GANNET and got pizza aboard dry and still warm.  It was good.  Three pieces for dinner last night with red wine; two pieces cold for lunch today; the last three for dinner tonight.  Only problem is I’m out of wine.  In fact at the moment GANNET is a dry boat.  Dry as in no alcohol of any kind aboard.  No wine.  No spirits.  No Laphroaig.  No nothing.  This may be a first in living memory.  Today is sunny and pleasant.  I could easily row in.  But I don’t think I will.  Abstinence for a day.


        I took advantage of flat calm this morning to get in the dinghy and scrub the waterline.  Usually I use a brush, but in going through the boat I found a plastic scouring pad.  It works much better, removing mold that was growing near the transom and water stains above the waterline as well as slime below.  GANNET now looks better than at any time since I arrived.  She needs to be anti-fouled, but that will wait until next time.
        I went around the boat twice, hanging on with my left arm for most of an hour.  A little stiff, but fine.


        Of the small boat I was watching earlier this week, Murray wrote:  “I believe you were looking at a Golant Gaffer designed by the Englishman Roger Dongray.  It differs from our (NZ) mullet boats in that she is a full keel yacht and they are shallow bodied centre boarders.”
        I did not recognize Roger Dongray’s name, but on goggling, I discovered that I do know some of his designs, including the Cornish Crabber and Shrimper.
        The Golant Gaffer is smaller than GANNET, only 18’9”/5.7 meters on deck.  She has less draft, about the same beam.  The Gaffer has slightly more sail area:  265 sq. feet/ 24.6 sq. meters versus 247 sq. feet/23 sq. meters; and, of course, displaces a lot more:  3300 pounds/1497 kg. versus 2050 pounds/930 kg.  Most Golant Gaffers are designed to have a small Yanmar diesel inboard.
        They are, indeed, very pretty boats.
        Thank you, Murray, for the information.


        My nearest neighbors are a couple of hundred small sea gulls and terns that live about twenty or thirty yards away on the Customs end of the marina breakwater dock.
        The dock is almost deserted during the day when the birds are out making a living, mostly I think up the inlet to the east which is shallow and the site of several fish farms.
        I’m usually on deck or standing in the companionway when their work day ends at dusk and see them return.  Almost all do not fly directly to the dock, but land hard on the water, deliberately splashing themselves and others nearby and then repeatedly ducking their heads and bodies,  turning the waters around GANNET into a giant bird bath.
       Once satisfactorily clean, they fly to the dock, turn around and face me, a long line of small birds listening to music.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Opua: 4; 50

        The above two photographs were taken 7,101 nautical miles; 8,172 miles; 13,151 kilometers; apart.
        Four years ago today I became the owner of Moore 24, hull #40, then GROWLER, now GANNET.
        Since then she has crossed two-thirds of a continent and the Pacific Ocean.
        I have lived aboard her for a little more than one of those years, fourteen months total, mostly in six to eight week segments, but continuously for six months last year from early May to early November.
        I am fortunate.  GANNET is the right boat for me.  She suits me perfectly.
        Happy birthday, GANNET.


        Yesterday afternoon I worked out on the foredeck, finishing with fifty pain free push-ups.   A few months ago I couldn’t do five.  The “nearly complete” tear in the supraspinatus will never heal; but the shoulder itself is amazingly better.


        I am unpizzaed.
        I rowed ashore Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.
        The sign at the General Store says “Pizza daily from 4:00 p.m.”  Apparently Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday aren’t days.  I was told that pizza is only available Thursday through Sunday.
        I walked to the marina building and showered, then decided to stop at the Opua Cruising Club for a drink.  The sign there says:  Bar and Bistro open Tuesday through Sunday from 4:00 p.m.  It was now 4:30.  I went in.  No one at the bar.  No one in the club house.  
        I said to myself:  Webb, go back to GANNET where you belong.  
        And did.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Opua: grace; passage log (not mine): two weeks

        Last evening while I was sitting on deck sipping red wine and listening to Eva Cassidy’s album, SONGBIRD, a small gaff rigged cutter came out from beyond the jetty to the north and sailed gracefully across the harbor.  
        On deck she is smaller than GANNET, but has a long bow sprit.  I think she may be what is known as a mullet boat; but I am not certain.
       She passed well ahead of us, tacking a few times in light north wind.  
I lost track of her for a while, and when I saw her next she was reaching downwind near Pine Tree Island.  Once past the island she hardened up and headed in our direction, tacking to the south of us  just off the marina breakwater.  With encroaching twilight her solo sailor furled headsails and to my surprise turned on an inboard.  Surprise because so small a vessel seldom has an inboard.  It was a quiet motor.
        Leaving his mainsail up he powered close to GANNET.
        I called, “I’ve been watching you.  You’re beautiful.”
        A dark haired man, in his thirties or early forties, gave a big smile.  “My hat’s off to you, Mr. Chiles.”  We had never met; and I must confess to being pleased he knew of my voyage.
        I replied, “Ahh.  To small boats.”

        I have written about Dan and Audrey on COYOTE, a LeComte Medalist 33, before.
        They have just completed their first offshore passage from Mexico to the Marquesas Islands; and Dan has just uploaded his passage log which I find interesting and think some of you might, too.
        My congratulations to them both on their successfully taking  the leap into their unknown.


        Not quite 2:00 p.m. here.  
        The General Store starts making pizza at 4:00 p.m. and I’m hoping to row in then and get one.  Not the greatest pizza, but a change; and even for me without refrigeration, dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.  However, the sky is a bit unsettled and the wind increasing, so it may not happen.
        Two weeks from now I’m on a bus to Auckland.  
        And at dusk two weeks from tomorrow, I’m standing looking down from the third floor at people walking dogs, instead of out at a small cutter gliding across a harbor.  
        But I will be with Carol. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Opua: walked; finished; sin; what God could have done

        I walked into Pahia on Friday.  Four miles; 6.5 kilometers; 12,663 steps.  Some of those steps were before and after the walk.  My app was thrilled and awarded me the Great Day badge.  
        I don’t have my iPhone on me when I’m on GANNET and I often don’t take it ashore.  It would be interesting to stick it in my pocket and see how many steps it thinks I take on a day when I stay aboard.  
        The photos are in sequence.
        As you can see the tide was out so I was able to go around rather than over the last hill as I prefer.  Quieter and prettier on the tidal flats.
        There is a trail along the bay’s edge most of the way between Opua and Pahia, but it is often a narrow path with a steep drop off, and with my compromised depth perception I am no longer comfortable taking it.

        Yesterday I painted the bins on either side of me at Central, touched up paint elsewhere, applied more oil to the cabin sole and tiller, and scrubbed mold on the port side of the stern.
        Today I removed the two clothes bags, slithered aft, sprayed and scrubbed mold in the starboard side of the stern.  This is a space without ventilation and there was some question as to whether Exit Mold would kill mold or me.  Or both.
        I unpacked the harbor and passage clothes bags and found that I had far too many passage shorts and t-shirts.  I threw out several.  Two t-shirts became designated rags.
        I have almost no remaining long sleeved passage shirts or passage Levis.  I didn’t need them much sailing from San Diego to here and won’t next year either; but I will bring some old clothes with me when I next return from Evanston.
        GANNET’s interior is again a joy to behold.


        The rally didn’t really register with me until it left.  But when it did I realized that it was the cause of the miserable overcrowding at the dinghy dock last week.  Boats were two and three deep.  A situation made decidedly worse by those who tied up short.  Two big inflatables, 12’ or 14’ long, were chained up short every day I rowed in, blocking access to a significant portion of the dock.
        Tying up short to a dinghy dock is rude.  Chaining up short is a sin that ought to be punished by eternal torment in one of the lower circles of Hell.
        It won’t be.
        Unfortunately life rewards aggression and selfishness.  Push and bully your way to more food from your parents than your siblings, be you eagle or lion or human, and you grow bigger and have a better chance of surviving and reproducing.  I wish it weren’t so.
        To no surprise the two big inflatables have not been at the dinghy dock since the herd left.


        While sitting at the Marina Cafe yesterday waiting for my food to be served, I idly thumbed through a magazine left on the table and came across:
        “Just think what God could have done if he had the money.” —Groucho Marx

Opua: looking west; looking east

        I love a cool breeze against my face at sunset.  Watching the sky blaze, then fade to darkness.  Seeing reflections dance across water.  Feel GANNET move.  Music:  tonight Portuguese Christina Branco.   A sip:  tonight the last of a bottle of Broker’s Gin.
        The photos taken a few minutes ago are too easy.  I know I’ve done this before.  Indulge or forgive me.  
        I simply love it.