Saturday, August 29, 2015

Evanston: pelican dreams and nine years; the lake; a good idea; amazing; Jean du Sud; Mad Hatter


        Pelican walks into a bar.  Bartender looks up and says, “Why the long face?”
        These are the last words in Judy Irving’s entertaining documentary, PELICAN DREAMS.
        Judy Irving is a clever filmmaker.  We watched and enjoyed her previous film, THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL, which I wrote about somewhere back in this journal whose first entry is dated nine years ago tomorrow.  Forgive me for pausing a moment to consider if I will still be writing nine years from today.  And if I am, if anyone will still be reading.
        There is a fair, if slightly tepid review of PELICAN DREAMS in the NY TIMES.  
        I like birds, perhaps because they are more a part of my ocean life than any other creatures.  When I  think about what I would like to be if not homo sapiens, I consider dolphins, but they are social animals.  There is no such thing as a lone dolphin.  So probably an albatross.  A wandering albatross gliding endlessly around the world above the Southern Ocean.
        I lived in California in the early 70s when pelicans almost became extinct because of DDT.  I’m very glad that we wised up in time, for once, and that they didn’t.
        I look forward to whatever film Judy Irving makes next.


        Except for a single sentence, I think Rich Cohen has it all right.  The sentence:  No one has ever swum across its broadest portion, though now and then a nut canoes it.  A clear example of someone turning personal limitation into universal truth. 
        Other than that, the article is excellent.


        My comment in the last entry about concern that TSA inspectors may leave stuff in my duffle bag vulnerable,  caused Steve, who is in the US Army and therefore travels often, to write that he leaves a note for the inspectors, along with repacking supplies such as tape, twine and zip ties.  He has found that they usually make an effort.  Once they even replied to his note.
        This is so obvious, and so obviously good an idea that I am embarrassed I did not think of it.  Thanks, Steve.

        Sailing Anarchy carries a link to one of the most dramatic sailing videos I have seen.  You can do remarkable things with millions of dollars.  The power of this Mono 60 is amazing, even though GANNET is far more cost efficient per knot.


        I must admit that I skipped parts of it, which you will probably understand.  I am not a typical audience.  But I did find interesting the part after Yves was rolled and dismasted east of New Zealand.  He sailed back under an admirable jury rig.  Made an excellent repair to his mast.  And impressively restepped the mast by himself.
        At times while watching I found myself thinking that all this seemed familiar.  Only afterwards did I recall that I met Yves Gelinas fifteen or twenty years ago while I was living in Boston and he gave me a copy of the movie then.
        I must comment on the part of the film when Yves describes the difficulties of cooking underway, particularly in heavy weather.  I come across this often.  The solution is simple:  don’t.  Not only is the preparation hard, so is the clean up.  I don’t often say that my way is the right way, but I’ve sailed about as much as anybody and I’ve found the simplest solutions to most problems.  I don’t do more than boil water.  A cup or two for instant coffee in the morning.  Two cups for a freeze dry meal at night.  I can and have done that in Force Twelve.  No preparation beyond pouring the contents of a freeze dry meal into a big plastic measuring cup. Trying to pour boiling water into the narrow opening in the foil pouch freeze dry meals come in is an invitation to a scalding.  No clean up beyond on GANNET leaning from the companionway and dipping measuring cup and spoon in the ocean streaming by.  
        I note on the YouTube page that the film is described as “A Dutch sailor sails around the world in the 70s.”  Yves is Canadian and he completed the voyage in the early 80s.
        And the only comment is:  “Those were the times…when you could afford it on a minimum budget and had absolute freedom.” 
        Imprecise minds.  Romantic fool.
        GANNET cost $9,000.  Dan’s Medalist 32, COYOTE, which has crossed from San Diego to Tonga this year, $6,000, if I remember correctly.
        And freedom in mid ocean is still absolute.
        Most limitations are self-imposed.


       When we went for a walk yesterday down to the lake, where visibility was about 100 yards/meters in fog, Carol could not decide what hat to wear and became the Mad Hatter.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Evanston: packed; two movies about K2; SOUTHERN MAIL

        Everything that I am taking with me back to GANNET has arrived except for a small through deck block, so I packed my duffle bag on Tuesday.  There is always a question about how to fit the various odd shapes together.  Everything fits, including the carbon fiber pod.
        I am taking some expensive and some delicate equipment this time.  Another tiller pilot.  A Raymarine Tacktick wind instrument system.  A replacement Solar Boost 2000e charge controller.  The carbon fiber pod.  The contents of the bag are worth about $3000.
        Everything is packed very well right now.  Bubble wrapped.  Taped.  All inside a summer weight sleeping bag lining the duffle bag.  But I expect, and fear, that TSA will see those odd shapes on x-ray, open, inspect and not leave things nearly as secure as they found them.  It has happened before.  Sigh.


        I expect that all musicians think their own instrument is the most difficult to play.  Empathy is the rarest of human qualities and few possess the ability to see the world through any eyes but their own.
        I thought this while watching two documentaries on Netflix about climbing K2, K2: Siren of the Himalayas and The Summit.  
        K2 is the second highest mountain on the planet, but climbers consider it far more challenging than Everest.  More than 4,000 people have climbed Everest.  Only a few more than 300 K2 and about 10% of them died on the way down.
        Two quotes from Siren:

        “Eliminate the danger (from climbing) and it is just like any other sport.”

        “No where else are you more alone.”

          I don’t know that I consider my sailing a sport.  It is much more than that.  A way of life.  Perhaps life itself.  The dangers are as real as those in climbing, and the possible consequences of failure the same.  With GANNET I am making a first ascent.
         I am quite certain that I am more alone at sea than climbers who in fact are not alone at all, but surrounded by team members and support crew and in almost constant communication, even at the summit where some make satellite phone calls home.
        That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the films.  I did.  There is beauty, a few impressive men and women, and something to be learned about human nature.
        K2:  Siren of the Himalayas follows a 2009 expedition, which was on the 100th anniversary of the first attempt to climb the mountain.  Interesting footage of the 1909 effort is woven into the film.  It is impressive that with the equipment available at the time the early Italians got as far as they did.
        Of the climbers on this team, to me the most admirable is the Austrian woman, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who climbs without supplemental oxygen.  In the film she says to one of the other climbers, “I’d rather go back down than put on a mask.”
        Two of the other climbers are journeymen.  Another is from Great Britain who was the youngest ever to do something, I think climb Everest.  I am not often impressed by “youngest”, and I wasn’t by this one, who found it all too much and gave up.
        In THE SUMMIT use of oxygen is taken for granted by most and perhaps all the climbers.  Most of the advance work is fixing ropes and having Sherpas tote oxygen tanks to points along the route.
        THE SUMMIT chronicles the deaths of eleven climbers in a few days during the 2008 season.
        Because the climbing season is short in the Himalayas, teams from more than a half dozen different countries comprising more than seventy climbers were all trying to go up at the same time.  Late July was considered optimum, but the weather was too severe, so they were delayed into August.  A break in the weather comes and they all head up together, or rather in single file, with long periods for some waiting in line at a place accurately named The Bottleneck.  People slip, ice falls, most who make it the summit do so too late in the day.  There is some beautiful footage of the triangular shadow of K2 stretching into China.  That they were seeing that sunset shadow was a fatal mistake.
        One man who did not see it was a solo Basque climber who left the plodding herd behind and was the first on top and passed the others on his way back down.  I don’t know if he used oxygen or not.  I expect not.  But in any case, an impressive man.
        Another impressive man was a Sherpa climber extensively interviewed in the film.  Intelligent and experienced, he spent more than sixty hours in what is known as “the death zone” trying to rescue others.
        Most do not come out so well in the film.
        When the tent of a Serbian climber disintegrated one night in strong winds at a high camp, another climber said he would not have given him shelter in his tent.  “I would have told him to start back down immediately.  To take him in would have ruined my chance to summit.”  To start down at night in that storm would have been fatal.
        I like to think that we are in this together.  But obviously only some of us are.  I don’t possess whatever qualities are required to let someone else die for my ambition.  Obviously I was never meant to be a general.

        Yesterday I watched SIEGFRIED, the third opera in Wagner’s RING, did all my exercises, and read Saint-Exupéry’s first novel, SOUTHERN MAIL, published in 1929.  I have read it before, but long ago, and it is even better than I remembered.
        SOUTHERN MAIL is similar in some ways to NIGHT FLIGHT, but starting from the other end of the route, south from France, rather than north from Argentina.
        This is a very short book.  120 pages in the edition I have.  It is not available in Kindle, so I bought a used hard cover via Amazon for $0.01.
        Sandwiched between flying at the beginning and the end of the novel is an off duty love affair in Paris.  Saint-Exupéry writes beautifully of the pilot being alone, plying his trade, using his strength and skill to transit a world unknown to most; and of the initial sense of not belonging when he returns to what is thought of as normal life.
        I remember going into a drugstore in San Diego after I completed the EGREGIOUS voyage and seeing the same woman behind the cash register I had seen there a year before, and I thought:  all the time I was out there, struggling for my life in distant oceans, morning after morning you were here.
       One scene that I thought was in SOUTHERN MAIL 

wasn’t.  It must be in Saint-Exupéry’s WIND, SAND AND STARS, which I’ll reread soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Evanston: black and white; resolution; two good movies

        “Pounded”, an article of mine about the passage last year from Apia, Samoa to Neiafu, Tonga is in the current issue of CRUISING WORLD.  They ran the above photo, which was in fact not taken during that passage, in black and white.  Although I expect their purpose was cost reduction rather than aesthetics, I rather like the mood in black and white.
        Here is the color original.

        In both you can clearly see the soon to be extinct mainsheet traveler bridge and perhaps understand why it is a nuisance and sometimes a hazard to step over at sea.
        The backstay control comes up through the tube below the center of the bridge.  In the future it will come up through the carbon fiber pod.


        I came across an interesting NASA article about how weather models have improved in the ten years since Hurricane Katrina, with graphics showing the dramatic almost ten times difference from then 60 kilometer/32.4 mile resolution of computer models to the present 6.25 kilometer/3.37 mile resolution.


        We have rewatched two good movies in the past few days, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and FRIDA.  Both are original with excellent direction.  I don’t recall where I first saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, but I do remember that Carol and I first saw FRIDA in Fremantle, Australia during my fourth circumnavigation.
        Of the two, I prefer FRIDA, about the Mexican artist and wife of Diego Rivera. The subject matter is to me more interesting and the acting superior. 
        Frida was a fine painter, an original, which as some you know is my highest praise.  But there is a scene in the movie that gives me pause.  When she was twenty she sought out Rivera, who was already famous, and showed him four of her paintings, asking if she should continue.  He replied, “If you are a painter, you will paint until you die.”  I understand his response.  I wonder that she had to ask.  Perhaps she just wanted to meet him.
        Much of the film is about their often volatile marriage.
        Following severe injuries when a bus in which she was a passenger crashed into a streetcar, she was often in poor health and severe pain for the rest of her life.  
        Many of her paintings are self-portraits.  She said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and I am the subject I know best.”
        The last words that appear on the screen in the film were written in her diary a few days before her death, possibly from a pulmonary embolism, just after her forty-seventh birthday:  I hope the end is joyful—and I hope never to return.
        I doubt her end was joyful.  Although we don’t consciously remember, it must have hurt getting in here and it is likely going to hurt getting out.  But Frida’s words are perfect.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Evanston: pilgrimage

        Some day I hope to visit Islay, the island off the west coast of Scotland which is the source of Laphroaig and The Botanist.  Laphroaig isn’t really my religion, just my favorite liquid.  Shane is there now on CLOUDBREAK, his Drascombe Longboat Cruiser, which he sailed the thirty-five miles from the Northern Ireland port of Portrush.  A Drascombe Longboat is a three foot longer CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.  The Cruiser adds a cuddy cabin.  
        That is CLOUDBREAK above in good company at the dock in Port Ellen, Islay.
        I’ve never sailed those waters and did not realize that some Scottish islands are closer to Ireland than mainland Scotland.

        Portrush looks to be a charming place.  Most of the time.

        This was taken during a winter storm.

        Shane gave me permission to share his words and photos. 

Set out walking the road east from Port Ellen to Ardbeg.
After about a mile or so you reach Laphroaig. Called in about 1100 to see about a tour etc but nothing on til 2pm. Staff are very nice folk and nothing would do them but we had a few complimentary drams before we set out walking again. All the expressions on offer. I sampled the 18, the quarter cask and the select and resolved to return for the 2pm tour. 

All good. Fueled by the glow, the 1k walk in the rain to Lagavulin was grand. They aren't set up so well there and no free samples on offer, so on we went towards Ardbeg. Kind local stopped a gave us a lift the final mile. (It was later revealed that the ‘kind local’ was Lord Roberton, former NATO General Secretary).  Ardbeg is a nice looking distillery, good little restaurant. Ordered some chowder and the the guy kindly brought four different drams, a very good lunch was had. 

Walked back to Laphroaig in the rain and took the tour. Really great. Got to taste the grain after it came out of the kiln...nice, and the wash before it gets distilled, not nice. Some pictures below. The spirit safe is interesting, where they measure the ABV to decide what is foreshot, what is spirit or feints.

Hard to decide on what bottle to buy but I settled on the cask strength  jan 2015 10yr old which they have made for the 200 year anniversary.  Packs a punch at 56% and tastes just like the standard. 

Still raining so walked back and then took a pint in each of the three  bars on Port Ellen. 

Sun came out about 7pm , so back to the boat for tuna pasta and Shiraz in the cockpit. 

        I had to look up foreshot and found this definition:  Also known as Heads.  The first spirit to come off the spirit still.  The foreshots are high in alcohol (75-80 percent abv(alcohol by volume), contain too many volatile compounds, and are redistilled.

        I emailed Shane that I was impressed he managed to steer the dinghy back to his boat, but that was before I learned he was tied to a dock.  Still, navigating home after such a fine day must have been an adventure.

        Thanks for sharing it with us, Shane.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Evanston: words; Antarctica; mob; reach

        I watched DIE WALKÜRE, the second opera in Wagner’s DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, yesterday and continue to be amazed and enthralled. I watch during the day when Carol is at work because this isn’t her kind of music,  and I’m sure I have the volume too high.
        I was pleased to hear the words of Wagner quoted in the previous entry sung by Siegmund in the first act.

        I am reading IMPERIUM, the first of a trilogy of novels by Robert Harris, based on the life of the Roman politician and orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C. 
        In it last evening I came across: “It is perseverance and not genius that takes a man to the top. Rome is full of unrecognized geniuses. Only perseverance enables you to move forward in the world.”
        I found myself wondering if the Chicago suburb, Cicero, notorious for Al Capone, is named after the illustrious Roman and learned that indirectly it is.  Cicero, Illinois, was named after Cicero, New York, which was named for Marcus Tullius.

        And somewhere yesterday I came across a quote from Ernest Hemingway, though I don’t recall where:  Retirement is the ugliest word in the language. 
        Although Ernest killed himself long before ‘blog’ was invented, I don’t disagree. I do not think one should lead a life from which one retires.



        A couple of nights ago we watched on Netflix, ANTARCTICA EDGE: 70º South, an interesting and often beautiful documentary about scientists studying change there. 
        This is not a film for climate change doubters. Causes can be disputed, but what can be quantified is not opinion, and rapid warming is taking place in Antarctica.
        There are also insights into the difficulties in handling a research vessel in those far southern waters. They are real, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a ship surrounded by ice in a poorly charted sea. However, I did smile at one crewman who declared that they were so isolated that if a medical emergency occurred they were three days from help.


        At times over the years, usually when lying alone in the v-berth of a sailboat, I have raised my hand and reached up. There have been times, though not for some decades, when I might have wished that someone would take that hand, but I did not expect it. On GANNET, of course, my arm is not fully extended.
        I am not sure what I’m reaching for. Or toward. It is a spontaneous gesture.
        I thought of this yesterday when in the second act of DIE WALKÜRE, Wotan, the king of the gods, sings:       
        My thoughts dwell on what has never been. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Evanston: Paradox; poded; duo camed; R2AK; quote; side effect

        The photo is my favorite so far of Dave Skafie’s 14’ Paradox.  I thank him for permission to use it.  The light is just right.  Dave and Paradox have made the turn and are heading down Florida’s west coast. 


     The pod arrived Friday.  Beautifully finished.  I thank Gilles and his workers.
        Three weeks tomorrow it and I will be on our way to GANNET.


      In response to a question I asked, Gilles brought the Harken DuoCam swivel base to my attention.  Some of you will know of this.  I didn’t.  The main sheet runs to the upper cam; the backstay control comes up through the base and runs to the lower cam.  Excellent.  GANNET’s backstay control line is going to remain below deck after all.


        Other than a minute of nonsense with a would-be shaman—you will not be surprised to learn that I don’t make daily sacrifices to the water—here is a good half hour video about the recent race to Alaska.  


        From Peter comes a quote from Richard Wagner, for which I thank him.
        “Whatever I thought right, to others seemed wrong; what I held to be bad, others approved of.”


        Little kids like my eye patch.  
        I’m not a good judge of age, but I’d guess those about five years old.   My life’s symmetry:  I’ve found my level again.
        As we walked through a park one evening, Carol heard a boy shout with glee, “That man has an eye patch!”
        In a supermarket one little girl whispered in the ear of another and both turned and stared goggle-eyed.
        And a boy, holding onto his mother’s hand, said to me, “I’ve got one of those.”
        I replied, “You do?”
        “I do.”
        “Then that makes up pirates together.”
        He seemed pleased to have found a shipmate and grinned.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Evanston: in training; as intended; two quotes and a little wit; no idea

        I am in training. More even than usual, for I am always in training for sailing oceans. Some years ago I wrote an article, “The Forgotten Factor”, in which I observed that people planning to go offshore spend time and money preparing their boats, but often do not prepare themselves.  No matter how easy you make your boat to sail, if you sail enough it is going to get physical, and sailors fail boats more than boats fail people.
        But I’ve also gone into training for Richard Wagner’s THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG.
        I don’t recall what turned me toward Wagner at this late date in life. Until recently I had none of his music and knew only “The Ride of the Valkyries”. But now I have two full recordings of THE RING, one the Decca/Solti/Vienna Philharmonic which has been called the greatest recording ever made; one the famous/notorious Boulez/Chereau performance at Bayreuth.
        In preparation I’ve watched a DVD about the Boulez/Chereau production; downloaded all the librettos to my laptop; have two synopses of the operas;  researched German/Norse mythology; and read a very short book:  ASPECTS OF WAGNER by Bryan Magee. I seldom read criticism, but this one is as exceptional as the professional and reader views claim. I have the revised 1988 edition, to which a chapter had been added. Even so it only runs to 91 pages.
        Two days ago I decided I was finally ready and watched DAS RHEINGOLD. Although my opinion on opera has little value, the music was all new to me and I found it magnificent. I am enthralled and eagerly looking forward to DIE WALKURE, but won’t get to it until Monday.  Cubs games, English Premier League, and Carol take precedence this weekend.
        However, I wonder if Wagner is not doomed to extinction.  The entire RING takes about fifteen hours to perform spread over four nights. The final opera in the cycle, GOTTERDAMMERUNG, alone is five hours long.  The Solti rendition needs 14 CDs. The Boulez/Chereau 7 DVD’s.
        That’s a long, long time in an age when the Internet has reducied attention spans to nanoseconds. 


        I don’t like to think I misuse GANNET, but I certainly don’t use her as she was intended. It is a credit to Ron Moore and those who worked with him back in the late 70s and early 80s that a hull they built to day race can without much modification cross oceans.
        Here is a link to a fine article about how Moore’s are meant to be sailed with some dramatic photographs.
        GANNET once hung for a few seconds in the position of the boat in the third photo, but knocked down by two aberrant waves rather than a spinnaker.  Fortunately Moore 24s pop back up.


        I’ve never admired Sir Edmund Hillary’s two most famous quotes after coming down from Everest’s summit:  We knocked the bastard off.  And:  We climbed it because it’s there.  
        I don’t think we conquer mountains or oceans, we merely transit them.  And I don’t think we climb or sail because the mountains and oceans are there, but because we are.  Climbs and voyages are affirmations of self.
        However, the other evening Carol and I watched an entertaining documentary on Netflix, THE ALPS FROM ABOVE, which has great photography and possibly the most disjointed script ever written.  
        It begins with a quote from Sir Edmund I did not know and which I do admire:  It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.

        From my friend and fellow solo sailor Steve comes this from MOBY DICK which I also like:  

. . . and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces.  And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains, so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
        Added to wit:  philosophy:  good questions, bad answers.


        You will find spacing between sentences in this entry inconsistent. I had no idea I was sinning against typography until I chanced upon this article.
        I even agree with it and I’ve tried.   
        I don’t think I can change.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Evanston: full on; O'Brian maps; backstay

        Cape Horn is full on this week with almost continuous gale force and above winds.  Here is a screen shot from Windfinder Pro for this coming Sunday with maximum gusts of 73 knots. It is also cold  there with temperatures dropping to well below freezing that night.  With rain.  Almost enough to give the place a bad reputation.

        What I find particularly interesting is the wave heights.  They are difficult to read, but are no more than 10’/3 meters.  In those conditions I would have expected them to be higher.  On my first rounding of the Horn in solid Force 12, 64+ knots, the waves were twenty to thirty feet for a dozen hours.  In any event the waves are not predicted to be the monsters of hyperbole.  On Sunday Cape Horn will be terrible without exaggeration.

        Capt. Bligh initially tried to reach Tahiti rounding Cape Horn from the east.  The lead image is a painting by Keith Alastair Griffin, H.M.S. BOUNTY REDUCING SAIL OFF CAPE HORN, which sold recently for $1400.
        In the movie THE BOUNTY Captain Bligh is asked at the inquiry into his loss of the ship to mutineers how long he tried to beat around the cape before accepting that it was hopeless. 
        “Thirty days.”
        “And how much westing did you make in those thirty days?”
        “Eighty-nine miles.”
        I’m not sure I have remembered the numbers precisely, but I’m close.
        In researching THE BOUNTY online, I came across this:

        A typo or someone geographically challenged.


        A friend in England has just begun reading BLUE AT THE MIZZEN, the twentieth Aubrey/Maturin novel, and the last to be published before Patrick O’Brian died in 2000.  A twenty-first unfinished novel was published in 2004.  Bill is already feeling the loss and wondering what he will read next.
        I am presently about a third of the way through TREASON’S HARBOUR, the ninth in the series.  Rationing myself to one Aubrey/Maturin a month, I’m good for another year.
        Other fans of the series have told me of companion volumes, HARBOURS AND HIGH SEAS and A SEA OF WORDS, which I have mentioned here before.  I thank Jeff for sending me a link to a useful site that maps the voyages online.  


        Gilles Combrisson has shipped the carbon fiber pod, Harken traveler track and some other pieces I need to move GANNET’s mainsheet traveler to the cockpit sole.  The tracking number shows expected delivery Friday.  I’ll be glad to get them, both to see the pod and to try to figure out how to fit it and the pile of oddly shaped stuff now residing on the floor of a closet into a duffle bag.
        A complication of moving the traveler is that GANNET’s backstay control lines run beneath deck to the traveler bridge.  I had been planning to run them up through the pod; but the other evening when I wasn’t thinking about it, the thought came that moving the backstay control back above deck will be simpler and eliminate clutter below deck as well as the hole in the deck through which the current backstay control runs and water inevitably leaks.
        I need to be back aboard to be sure, but I’ve looked at photos of GANNET’s cockpit and see no reason why this won’t work.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Evanston: vigilantes; persevere

        I am against Internet vigilantes even when I agree with them as I do about trophy hunting animals.  
        The above obscene photograph is from an article about taxidermy in the current NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.  Probably it is unnecessary to state that the man is a Dallas oilman.  The trophy sitting next to him is his wife.  But for messy legal complications, in time her head, too, might be mounted on the wall.
        Internet vigilantes are self-righteous, self-appointed prosecutors, judges and juries, who in other times and places would be lynching blacks, gassing Jews, burning heretics, or otherwise persecuting those who did not share their beliefs.  They reach instant judgement and attempt to apply instant retribution based on inadequate and unverified information processed by deficient brains.    
        You may recall that after the Boston Marathon bombing an Internet mob tried to determine the identity of the bombers based on vague online images.  They mistakenly hounded a young man to suicide.
        Not an isolated incident, but a continuing common one.
        Last week a posse of eleven bounty hunters seeking a fugitive surrounded a house in Phoenix, Arizona, at 10:00 p.m. on the basis of an unconfirmed tip in social media.  The house belonged to the Phoenix chief of police.  Had the occupant been an ordinary citizen, who in this country probably owns multiple firearms, a shoot-out might well have ensued in which innocent people, among whom I do not include the bounty hunters, might have been injured.
        What masquerades as responsible media empowers and validates the Internet mob.  When your success is measured by the biggest audience you must cater to fools.
        Following the killing of the lion some of our species called Cecil, I have read that 800 lion heads, which is 2% of the total lion population, are brought back to the United States each year.  If true, this is outrageous.  And if it is also true that the dentist who killed Cecil paid $50,000 to do so, it represents a $40,000,000 a year business.
        If the social media mob want to vent their anger productively they should petition Congress to pass legislation making the import of trophy animal parts illegal.
        This would of course put some Africans and others out of work.  Don’t worry.  The NRA will never let it happen.


        More than a week ago Brian sent me this:

    A question please.  Apologies for being personal.  What has kept you     
    going when you were at the brink of failure or defeat?  You seem to 
    have persevered when many others backed away or threw in the 
    towel. How?  Pride, courageous heart, stubborn personality?  Have     
    your thoughts on the matter changed with years and experience?  

        I find it an interesting question.  Not why do I sail, but why do I persevere.  
        I’ve been thinking about it intermittently ever since and regret that I haven’t come up with a good answer, so I’m just going to write and let my thoughts flow.
        One reason I perserved is because I could.  
        I believe it is quantifiable that I have an exceptional body.  It bailed seven tons of water from EGREGIOUS for months; lived on six sips of water and half a can of tuna fish a day for two weeks after CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE pitch-poled and, despite losing more than 20% of its weight, still rowed the last several miles and through breaking surf to reach land; swam for twenty-six hours after I sank RESURGAM. 
        And not exceptional just when young.
        Those ordeals occurred in my thirties, forties and fifties.
        In my sixties it sailed around the world a couple of times and survived three or four more Force 12 storms. 
        In my seventies it sailed GANNET across the Pacific, physically demanding because of exposure and quick motion.  And, time and chance permitting, it will sail GANNET even farther next year.
        I take no credit for that body, other than that I have taken pretty good care of it.
        Not only can it go the distance, it recovers relatively quickly.
        So I persevered because I could when perhaps others couldn’t.
        I also persevered because I put myself in situations where I had no choice but to persist or die.
        That I carried no means to call for help was a deliberate decision.  That I am alive today is due to something else beyond my control.  We all have an animal inside us who does not want to die.  My animal is strong and has kept me going, particularly during the long swim, far beyond what even I would have believed were my limits.
        I have persevered partially because of ego.
        We all like to believe we are special.  As I have written elsewhere, I like to quantify things.  I come from nothing and no where.  I had no encouraging parents.  No mentor.  I was a solitary child who created himself.  No one believed in me but me.  And that was not enough.  
        I read biographies of great men as how-to manuals.  (Today you could probably write a best seller, GREATNESS FOR DUMMIES.)  I thought I was capable of living as they had lived.  And so I set out to write and sail and love.  Not to have persisted would have been to fail to live up to my image of myself, to have been ordinary, and that was unthinkable.
        If I persevered in part due to gifts and instincts beyond my control, I also did so in part because I understand that persevering can shift the odds, however slightly, in your favor, while quitting results in immediate and permanent failure.
        I set off for Cape Horn forty-one years ago, had rigging damage near the Equator, turned down wind for Tahiti, made repairs there, set off for Cape Horn, got down to the Southern Ocean, had rigging damage again, sailed all the way back to San Diego.  I didn’t have much money left.  If I had quit then, that would have been that.  But as I expect you know, I didn’t quit.
        A common thread in the lives of men and women who are considered great is that they attribute their success not to brilliance, but to hard work and persistence.   This is not false modesty.  I’m sure they were aware of their talents; but they also knew that had they not persisted through failure and hardship, those talents would not have reached fruition.
        One could as easily ask not why I have persevered, but why others who did not, gave up?
        When I proofread the scans of some of my early books for the Kindle edItions, STORM PASSAGE was the one I was most tempted to rewrite.
        Back then I was like my contemporary, Muhammad Ali, saying “I am the greatest”, and I expect for the same reason:  we created images of ourselves that we had to live up to.  Or try.  And I also expect that we both believe that you are not what you say you can do, but what you actually do.  And if you do it, you are it.  
        Muhammad Ali took brutal punishment to become Muhammad Ali. 
        I would have died trying to complete my voyages.  I wrote at the start of that third attempt at Cape Horn that it was victory or death.  Over the top?  Perhaps for our less than epic age.  But then I did live it.
        For a long time now I have not claimed to be great, only an original, and I have only competed with myself.  That is easy:  I always win.  And of course lose.  But I forget that side of it.
        I still persevere because my body is still (mostly) strong and likes to be used; because persevering becomes a habit:  it is what I do; because I still enjoy solving problems, overcoming obstacles; and I still want to live up to the image I formed of myself long go.  
       I don’t know that I’ve answered your question, Brian, but I have considered it, and thank you for causing me to do so.