Friday, June 30, 2017

Evanston: chop shop; raining gannets; the last kingdom

        I went to the chop shop yesterday, otherwise known as my skin cancer specialist’s office.  She indeed removed a half dozen bits of my flesh for biopsy and froze a few more.  None of this is painful and there is the compensation that the doctor is a beautiful woman; but, perhaps as can be expected considering my extreme age, the process of my skin deteriorating seems to be accelerating.
        Two days ago I ordered hearing aids and paid the deposit on the North Sails.  Both cost about the same.
        I certainly am looking forward to the sails more and hope to have them before I leave Marathon.  If not I may pick them up at the North loft at Tampa on my way to Pensacola.  But I am in fact also looking forward to getting the hearing aids in a couple of weeks.  My hearing loss is described as moderate to severe.  Moderate for low tones; severe for high.  I have difficulty with women’s voices, in restaurants and airports, and in foreign countries where English is spoken with accents that I do not usually hear.
        Being half blind and some significant percentage deaf means I am losing touch with reality, which, reality being what it is, has some virtues; but it will be nice not to have to ask Carol to repeat everything.


        I thank James for the links to several short videos about GANNET’s eponymous bird.  They are as remarkable as she is.


        The Last Kingdom is a series of presently ten novels by Bernard Cornwall and presently a two season television series. I have read other of Bernard Cornwall's books and think these are his best.
        I came across them when the publishers offered the first one for $1.99 through BookBub, hoping that after reading it, readers would want to buy the rest.  I did and I did.  Thus far I’ve read five of the novels and Carol and I will watch the last episode of the second season of the television series on Netflix tonight.
        Set toward the end of the ninth century when what is now England was divided into seven kingdoms, several of which were controlled by Vikings, and Alfred, now known as The Great, was King of Wessex, the hero is Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a great warrior, the son of a Saxon noble, but dispossessed of his property by his uncle and raised by Danes, who he considers to be his true family.
        Uhtred and Alfred are uncomfortably linked. 
        Alfred is a Christian in the southwest who wants to drive out the Danes and unite the kingdoms into an England that does not exist.  Uhtred believes in the Danish gods and fate and wants to recover his lands in Northumbria.  They need more than like one another.
        The novels are entertaining, well written with compelling characters and interesting history.  As I have said, I read one and bought them all, though online I found an interview in which Bernard Cornwall says he may write two more.  If he does, I’ll buy them too.
        The television series covers the first four novels quite well.  That the series comes from the same company that produced Downton Abbey assures its quality.  I read that there may be a third season.  I hope so.  If there is, I’ll watch it.

        The above photo is a frame lifted from one of the videos of GANNET in the Indian Ocean.  I’ve just come to realize the obvious:  there are advantages in being able to go through parts of a video frame by frame and pick the best shot.

        The one at the top is more dramatic.  But I like this one too.  The top number on the Velocitek is true heading; the lower number SOG.  Note how little of the jib was set and that the main was reefed.  You can see part of it hanging down on the far right.
        Hopefully she will sail even better with her new sails.
        Go GANNET.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Evanston: congratulations and condolences; smocked; Second Odyssey

        My congratulations to those New Zealanders who wanted their team to win the America’s Cup and to all New Zealanders for the All Black’s victory over the British Lions in the rugby test.  My condolences to those New Zealanders who didn’t want the Cup to come back and disrupt Auckland, to the Australians who sailed the ‘American’ boat, and to British rugby fans.
        Of the America’s Cup, New Zealand deserved the win, not just for having the faster boat and for their nearly perfect sailing, but also for going their own way in development and training.  
        Among the rumors of what New Zealand will do to change the next challenge are that they will tighten the laughable rule on national origin, which presently requires that one team member be from the country a boat is allegedly representing.  The ‘USA’ boat—and you may have noticed that in the name ‘USA’ came last.  ‘Oracle’ first—had the minimal one American in the crew.  Two others have dual passports, but are Australian.
        I hope that rule is changed.
        Another rumor is that they will abandon the foiling catamarans and revert to monohulls.  I think that would be a huge mistake.  These boats are incredible.  Almost literally.  
        This is the first America’s Cup I have consistently watched.  If they go back to monohulls, it will probably also be the last.
        Of rugby, New Zealand’s victory was expected, but impressive none the less because that small country has been on top of the rugby world seemingly forever and keeps on turning out young talented players.
        I checked to see if I could watch or record the match on American television.  I couldn’t.  The morning after the match, I found no mention of it in American media.  I had to go to the NZ HERALD to find the result, which was, of course, also in the OBSERVER.


        The Gill smock arrived Friday and is even more impressive than the pants, with double seals at neck and waist.  I can hardly wait for foul weather.  
        Actually I can.
        I am back on GANNET four weeks tomorrow and hope the weather is fair forever.


        Perhaps the most famous of the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy’s poems is ‘Ithaca’.  I have read that it was first written in 1894, but not published until 1911.
        Also in 1894, Cavafy wrote ‘Second Odyssey’, which I just found in an Unpublished Poems section of a book of his poetry translated eloquently by Daniel Mendelsohn.  I found the poem online in translations I like less than Mendelsohn’s, so I copied his out below.
        Had he lived later, Cavafy could have added his countryman, Nikos Kazantzakis, to those poets who believed Ulysses would not settle into a tranquil old age.  Kazantzakis wrote an epic, THE ODYSSEY:  A Modern Sequel, three times longer than Homer’s Odyssey in which Ulysses sails from the island and walks the length of Africa.  I wrote my senior English paper on it.
        While I have the temerity to claim to be Ulysses--actually as a sailor, Ulysses would have to have temerity to claim to be me--I am not quite this one.  My heart is not empty of love. 

                Second Odyssey (1894)

                               Dante:  Inferno, Canto XXVI
                               Tennyson, “Ulysses”

A second Odyssey, and a great one, too,
greater than the first, perhaps,  But alas,
without a Homer, without hexameters.

Small was his ancestral house,
small was his ancestral town,
and all his Ithaca was small.

Telemachus’s affection, the faithfulness
of Penelope, the years of his father’s old age,
his old companions, the people’s unswerving love,
The blessed repose of the house
entered like rays of joy
into the heart of the seafarer.
And like rays they sank.
                             Inside of him
there awakened the thirst for the sea.
He hated the air of dry land.
Phantasms of the West
disturbed his sleep at night.
Nostalgia took hold of him:
for voyages, and early-morning 
arrivals in harbors which,
with what joy, you enter for the first time.

Telemachus’s affection, the faithfulness
of Penelope, the years of his father’s old age,
his old companions, the people’s unswerving love,
and the peace and repose
of the house—they all bored him.
                              And he left.
When Ithaca’s headlands
slipped away bit by bit before him
and he voyaged westward at full sail,
towards Iberia, toward the Heraclean pillars,—
far from every Achaen sea.—
he felt that he lived once again, that
he’d slipped the burdensome bonds
of things that were known and familiar.
And his heart, adventuress,
exulted coldly, empty of love.

                               C.P. Cavafy

Friday, June 23, 2017

Evanston: genius; a great kid; a likable GoPro

        The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, or NatGeo as it now calls itself in surrender to the apparently universal decline in attention span, ran an interesting article on genius in its May issue which supports many thoughts I have offered in this journal.  Among them that ‘genius’ like ‘superstar’ has no objective meaning and is societal judgement; there are only originals; if one is admired enough he or she becomes a genius.  That life is forty years long, roughly from twenty to sixty.  Charts in the article show productivity declines decade by decade and for most ‘geniuses’ ends by sixty.  Naturally Bach was an exception, and so was Giuseppe Verdi.  I try to be an exception to the forty year rule myself.  That luck plays a part.  Time and chance happens to us all.  And persistence and discipline even greater parts.  Few succeeded at their first attempts.  Simply, when you quit, you fail.  If you persist, you may succeed.


        Sailing Anarchy runs a link to a one minute video of a young South African sailing an Optimist in 40 knots of wind.  The boy has the right stuff.


        As I have often mentioned I am a writer not a videographer—I checked to see if that is a word and it is.  However, I have found that I enjoy making short videos, sharing them, and viewing them myself after a passage.  In an effort to improve the videos in the future I just bought a GoPro Hero 5 Black.  
        I have owned GoPros in the past and disliked them because of complications in working through menus and various connection glitches.
        I recently used a borrowed Hero 5 Session which can be controlled by voice command and iPhone app.  I liked it well enough to decide to buy one, but just as I was about to GoPro temporarily dropped the price of the Hero 5 Black to $350, making it only $50 more expensive than the Session, so I ordered a Black instead.  Unfortunately the price of the Black is now back up to $399.   But having used one for a few days now, I think it is worth it.
        Technically the Black can do things the Session can’t, but the Session is more than capable of meeting my simple needs.  The biggest difference between the cameras is that the Black has a touch-screen.  You can control it with voice command and the iPhone app as well, but the touch-screen at last makes setting up and changing settings on a GoPro easy.  
        Thus far I have shot most of the videos with a Nikon AW1, which is the only waterproof camera with interchangeable lenses.  I’ve also shot some with my iPhone 7 Plus.  I will continue to use both.  But at last there may be a GoPro that I can actually like.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Evanston: biked; pantsed; the Internet of ships; 'The Sea'

        Yesterday was lovely.  Blue sky.  Light wind.  Temperature in the mid-70sF/24C.  So I pumped up the tires on my bicycle and took my first ride of the year along the lake to Northwestern’s campus and back.  
        Lake Michigan is often as turquoise as the Caribbean.  Deceptively because the water is still cool.  People were sunning themselves on the beaches.  Walking and cycling on the bike path.  Someone had strung a hammock between two trees at Northwestern and a girl’s soccer clinic was underway.
        The world seemed a peaceful place. Deceptively.


        My foul weather pants arrived.  The smock has not yet.  
        I’ve never before owned gear from Gill.
        The pants seem very well made and are cut like my old Henri Lloyd salopettes, which is what I want.  They are light and unlined, which is also what I want.  They are intended to keep me dry in warm temperatures.  I can always wear layers beneath them and also have a heavy set of foul weather gear for cold conditions.  The interior seams are taped, which they aren’t in the Henri Lloyd and that is where the Henri Lloyd leaks.
        I noticed on the label:  Do not stow wet.  Right.


        The Verge has an article about what they call ‘the Internet of ships’ and most sailors call AIS, providing more background about the USS FITZGERALD collision.   Interesting that the Navy often turns AIS off and that fools hastened to leap to wrong conclusions.


        I’ve been reading Pablo Neruda’s poetry and came across “The Sea”.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Evanston: I don't understand

        Two things happened on the water this past weekend I don’t understand.
        The first is how a US Navy destroyer with all of the people and systems it has on board, many of them probably unknown to those outside the military, could be involved in a collision with a container ship.  
        The NY TIMES ran an article with some useful contextual information, including the phrase, “the unique status of the captain of a Navy ship in American society — absolute authority, and absolute accountability.”  That is also true of some solo sailors.  Only some.  Not those engaged in the round the world races, who may be the only person on the boat but are tethered to a race committee, weather routers and their shore team.  They are no more alone nor have absolute authority or absolute accountability than a race car driver.
        I will be interested in the findings of the Navy’s investigation.
        The second is why Jimmy Spithill, the Australian helmsman of ORACLE who has a reputation for being aggressive in pre-start maneuvers, was not in the races against New Zealand on Saturday and Sunday. 
        I expect that when the series resumes, he will be.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Evanston: one month and finished

        In an hour it will have been exactly one month since GANNET’s anchor went down off Marathon.  I have often observed that time is an uneven medium, and our reaching Marathon seems to have happened much longer than just a month ago.  In another month and ten days I’ll be back on board.
        I’ve done a lot in that month, including ordering all the stuff on the GANNET buy list.  The last two items were crossed off today, although I do not have them yet.  
        GANNET will have a new jib and main from North Sails.  I’m told they will be ready in a few weeks.  I am excited.  Very excited.  The old sails have been seriously weakened by UV and 23,000 miles.  I had to glue several patches on the main at sea this year and I am concerned that it might rip apart in the next strong wind.  On top of that, the North G2 is so superior to the old asymmetrical that I have wondered if a main and jib from them will also be as great an improvement.
        And I will have new Gill foul weather gear.
        I have two sets of foul weather gear on GANNET, both Henri Lloyd. 
        One is a top of the line Ocean set, dating from THE HAWKE OF TUONELA days.  I only recall wearing it on GANNET during the gale when we were approaching New Zealand.  It is too heavy for the Tropics.
        The other is a lighter smock and salapotte that I have worn extensively and now leak.  They haven’t been worn for the full 23,000 miles, but often enough that I have gotten my money’s worth out of them.
        I don’t have a preferred brand.  I’ve also owned Musto, Helly Hansen and some brands that no longer exist.  I sailed EGREGIOUS around Cape Horn in Helly Hansen’s ‘Coastal’ gear because I couldn’t afford anything better.  This will be my first from Gill.
        The Gill gear will be a racer smock and high pants which are salapotte-like.  I am not racing, but GANNET is surely as wet as any boat that is.
        I like smocks, which have fewer points of entry for water and are less bulky than jackets, although they are a bit more difficult to get on and off and a nuisance when you need to get to the zipper on your pants.
        I like salapottes because they provide higher protection and fit better than traditional foul weather pants whose suspenders always stretch out on me and cause them to sag.
        Gill only offers these in graphite.  Fortunately that goes well with GANNET’s platinum hull.  Have to be color coordinated.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Evanston: tea bagged; do not disturb; the Aussie/Kiwi Cup; on his madness

        I thank Eleanor for sending me the above photo which she headed, “You’re on my tea bag!”  You may have to zoom in to understand.
        When I first saw it I expected that they had used my more famous line.  This is number two and they left out a word.  
        Shoes.  Greeting cards.  Paintings.  T-shirts. And probably some others I don’t know of or have forgotten.  And now tea bags.  My immortality is assured.


        Among the sites I check each afternoon is Steve Early’s The Log of SPARTINA.  On Monday he uploaded a wonderfully conceived and written post, ‘Do Not Disturb’.  At present it is at the top.  If you go there—and you should—and it isn’t top, scroll down until you find it.  It will be the best thing you will read today.


        I read less online than I used to, particularly newspapers.  Having declared myself a Trump-free Zone speeds up the process.  Mostly I read headings and move on.
        I completely stopped reading the NEW ZEALAND HERALD several months ago because it was filled with silly pap.  However, interested in New Zealand’s perspective on the America’s Cup, I went there a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised to find the site completely and attractively redesigned and with content actually of interest, including this article explaining that the AC Final will not be between NZ and the USA, but between Kiwis and Aussies.
        It is amazing how two nations with a combined population of around 25 million—there are only 4.5 million New Zealanders—can so dominate the highest levels of this kind of sailing, though not surprising because that has been the case for many years.


        Those of you who paid attention in English class will recognize my paraphrase of one of John Milton’s most famous poems.  For those of you who didn't, click here.  If you do, Steve Early's post will be the second best thing you read today.
        Many of you wrote affirming my sanity after the last entry.  I appreciate the vote of confidence.  Sometimes I do wonder myself.
        I posted that entry one evening, changed my mind the next morning and deleted the ‘wasting your time’ part, changed my mind again, as nut cases do, and, after eliminating one sentence, uploaded it again the following evening.
        I have been called mad so often that if I weren’t from time to time I would begin to wonder if I were doing my job right.  For those of you who haven’t read the introduction to the main site, my job is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports.  Despite the long hours, poor pay and lack of retirement plan, I’ve been at it for decades.  Which of course is strong evidence that I am a nut case.
        Those of you who have read the lists page on the main site—immodestly, there is some good stuff there—will know that I have addressed these assertions in two of the quotes I have used in front of my books.

        No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.

        You are mad,” shouted Angus, who had learned to cherish his own limitations as a sure proof of sanity.
                                    —from VOSS by Patrick White


Monday, June 12, 2017

Evanston: maintenance; repaired; difficult to imagine; wasting your time

        This entry is delayed by a lack of wind in Bermuda.  This afternoon’s first race in the America’s Cup Challenger Final was abandoned because light wind caused time to run out and it was a while before there was sufficient wind for a restart. 
        As you may know, the race and series was won by New Zealand, who now face Oracle in the final.  I refuse to call a team steered by an Australian and run by a New Zealander ‘American’.  
        This continues to be by far the most interesting America’s Cup since Fremantle.  
        I have New Zealand friends who desperately want them to win the Cup.  I have other New Zealand friends who almost as fervently don’t want them to win and bring the circus back to disrupt the town.
        I am looking forward to the final.


        I don’t often visit the main site, but I have added this year’s passage logs from Durban to Marathon to the logs page, and a joyful photo of me to the photos page.  As I have noted, not all sailing is good, but I’d rather be remembered for joy than despair.


        Fed Ex delivered a big box today containing three tiller pilots and a masthead wind unit presumably repaired by Raymarine.  I have no way of knowing until I get back to GANNET six weeks tomorrow.
        To their credit I did not get an email or phone call from Raymarine asking, “How in hell did you kill all these things?”  I do have a ready answer:  “I actually sail.”   But it wasn’t necessary.
        I expect that I’ll be sending the tiller pilots back for repair next year from San Diego.


        Google Alerts emailed me about a site that offers A SINGLE WAVE as a free download.  I clicked on the link and found a review that said, “It is difficult to imagine how he is still alive.”
        I have the same problem.  
        To relate to the previous post, perhaps in my life success can be defined merely by surviving for three-quarters of a century.


  A reader did me the questionable courtesy of sending a link to a comment in Sailing Anarchy forums.  I view Sailing Anarchy each morning when I have an Internet connection, but I don’t participate in the forums.  This one was about the size of boat to sail around Cape Horn.

And Webb Chiles is an awesome person and a good friend, who I both admire and like, but also a total nut job. 😀 taking what he does as any sort of sane recommendation is hmmm nuts. He is one of the guys I was referencing in 'that other thread' who actually does extremely adventurous in pretty simple vessels - actually walking some of the BS simplicity/resourcefulness talk.

  I recognize the man who wrote this.  
  A good deal younger than I, he and his wife have made two circumnavigations and given up the sea.  
        On the basis of those two voyages, they set themselves up as experts.  I respect what they have done and believe their advice more useful than that of another better known cruising couple.  But as far as I recall we met only once and I would not consider him a ‘good friend.’ 
        For the record, some of you whom I have never met, I do consider good friends.
        I provide all this as a public service.  You are obviously wasting your time reading the words of a total nut job or paying attention to any attempt I  make to share the benefit of my experience on land or sea.  
        Fortunately you can go to Facebook or Twitter where you will not find me.


        The photo is of Evanston's South Beach to which Carol and I walked yesterday.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Evanston: you give up your dreams

        I went Wednesday for a hearing exam that established what Carol and I have known for a year or two:  I have an aging hearing loss and need a hearing aid.
        I happen to be listening to Dave Albin singing, “Everett Ruess” which includes the line, “You give up your dreams as you get older, but I never gave up mine.” 
        ‘Dreams’ seems too vague and romantic.
        I never had ‘’dreams’.  I had purpose and plans.  
        If those dreams are of the sea, waves will rise and smack you cold in the face, as they have me a thousand times.
        Picture a solitary child, sitting in his bedroom, looking out over an overgrown field in the middle of a continent, longing for the thousand mile distant ocean.
        He reached that ocean, of which there is but one as the ancients knew, and he sailed and knew it as few others ever have.
        He grew older than he ever imaged he would.      
        “Almost dying is a hard way to make a living,” he wrote after almost dying every year for two decades; but even at a deafening and half blind seventy-five years he never gave up not his dreams, which he was too hard minded ever to have had, but his certainty that he was an original, fully aware that almost all original experiments are failures.
        He continued to live his life in uncertainly and risk, as all of us do,  not knowing if his life was a success or a failure, or even how to define those terms.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Evanston: unrealistic; still more videos; Homo imbibens

        While I continue to prefer to understate wind speed and wave height rather than exaggerate, I am coming to accept that I err too much on the low side.  In the 55 knot gale last year off Durban, the met service declared the waves to be 6 meters/20’.  I thought they were 10’-12’.
        The most recent evidence of my under reporting can be found in the image above where GANNET was in the green patch off South Africa and Namibia.  The color indicates waves of 5 and 6 meters/16’ to 20’.  As you can see from the following excerpt from the passage log, I estimated them at 8’-9’.  

        I am not quite sure what to do about this, but I am going to try to be more accurate.
        Thanks to the Raymarine masthead unit, which was still working then, I had the wind speed right.

        I thank Jim who did the research and provided me with the images.

February 19, Sunday
South Atlantic Ocean

0800  I woke at 0200 feeling that we were sailing too fast.  I reached up and turned on the wind display.  30 knots apparent, which coming from near the stern meant low gale force true.  When I turned on my iPhone I was startled to see SOG 14.1 knots.  Only momentarily.  But that is the highest speed I have seen on GANNET and the jib was furled to 40%.  SOG dropped back to 9, then up to 13.  And I was up, lowering the hood and furling the jib down to t-shirt size.  

The wind continues at around 30 knots and we continue to show some double digit SOG even with that small amount of sail set.  But for the tiller pilot steering we would probably be lying ahull. Unfortunately it is a Raymarine out there.  This is Pelagic weather.  But it would be dangerous to try to make the switch now.  The Raymarine has the cover on it, and we haven’t been taking a lot of water over the deck.  The spray hood has definitely helped reduce the amount getting below.  One of the toggles has broken.  I have spares, but don’t want to try to replace the broken one now.  The lines clipping the flaps down are holding the hood in place.

Sky hazy blue.  Barometer high.  Waves not big at 5’, but some of them are throwing us around.

Everything is difficult to do in the Great Cabin.

32º03’S     15º54’E
day’s run 158 miles    COG   313º    SOG   6.6
St. Helena   1516 miles    304º

Two waves knocked us down in opposite directions within a minute an hour ago.  I had the lee cloth up on one side.  Now on both.  I am wearing my foul weather gear which I put on intending to go on deck and have us lie ahull.  The apparent wind decreased to 20 knots, so I didn’t, but it is back to 27 and I may.  Unless there is a decrease I will definitely lie ahull tonight.

The spray hood has definitely reduced the water coming below, but at one point a flood come from beside me to port and soaked me sitting at Central.  Perhaps from around the port chain plate.  I’ve not had a problem there before and will investigate when I can.

Still sunny.  Barometer high and steady. 

1500  Lying ahull.  We were being beat up.  I went out a half an hour ago, furled the scrap of jib, tied the tiller amidships and brought the tiller pilot below.  The wind is howling and the waves are 8’-9’/3 meters, close together, and some with breaking crests.  Wind readings now 30 to 37 knots.

I removed the tiller pilot from its cover.  It was essentially dry.

We are being pushed at 3 to 5 knots offshore on a course somewhere between 280 º and 300º.

Even though much less water has come below than in the past, most things in the cabin are damp.

While on deck I glanced at the port chain plate.  There is a deck plate around it that I will have to remove to see if that is the source of the flood.  This wasn’t just a leak, but an inpouring of water.

1715  I am sitting on the port pipe berth, facing the centerline, my feet braced on the starboard pipe berth, listening to music—just now the Portuguese, Dulce Pontes—a gin and tonic on the floorboards.  I can see through the closed companionway a lot of breaking white on the blue ocean.  The wind reading is 33.  I saw 39 a few minutes ago.  There is a huge difference in lying ahull as opposed to trying to sail.  GANNET really does become a cork without the resistance of even a small amount of set sail.  A few waves slam into us, but most pass harmlessly.

Having said that, I hope this blows itself out tonight and we can be a sailboat instead of a cork tomorrow.  Sailboats are more interesting than corks.

1815  I was about to pour water into the JetBoil when a wave hit, rolling us far over.  Both hands occupied I could not protect myself and my head hit the main bulkhead hard left ear first.  When we rolled back I reached up and felt my ear.  No blood on my hand,  continued to pour the water for tonight’s freeze dry beef stew.  

A voyage is real as much of modern life is not.  A voyage is a problem to be solved with your mind and body.  I left Durban for St. Helena.  I either get there or I don’t.  Along the way I, and my ear, adapt.

1900  Order is lost on GANNET in a gale.  Gravity is inexorable.  Packets  are overturned.  Glasses spilled.  

In the roll when I was about to pour water into the JetBoil, some of the freeze dry food flew about the cabin.  When after eating it, I went to rinse the measuring cup in the ocean, another wave hit, slamming my head and left ear into this time the side of the companionway,

I refilled the spilled plastic tumbler with boxed red wine.  

I’ll restore order when I can.

February 20, Monday

31º12’S     14º53’E
day’s run  73 miles    COG   320º    SOG  3.5
St. Helena    1445 miles   305º

First time today I’ve dared to take the laptop from its waterproof case.

Two severe knockdowns, one at around 0400, the other two hours later, at least one of which put the masthead in the water.  The new Windex installed in Durban after last year’s knockdown in the Indian Ocean is broken.  That didn’t last long.  The masthead tricolor and Raymarine wind unit are still in place and working, although the Raymarine continued to function for a while after the previous knockdown.  I hope it does work.  That information is useful.

I was on the starboard pipe berth for the first knockdown.  The lee cloth kept me in place, but instantly awake I also reached out and braced myself with my arm as things dropped through space. Imagine waking up as your  bedroom suddenly turns 90º and what was the floor is now the wall.

The companionway slat fell out and washed overboard.  I have the one I use in port in place.  It is lashed on.  I don’t have another replacement.

Lot’s of water down below.  Lot’s of things shifted.

I have the Pelagic steering us under bare poles.  Several waves have broken across the deck.  It is getting a severe test.  So far it is doing well.

I keep thinking we ought to be able to sail and then another wave washes over us.  I haven’t seen 30 knot apparent wind for a while.  I hope this ends soon.


I have just uploaded eight short videos of the passage from St. Lucia to Marathon, mostly showing beautiful sailing.
You may be relieved to know that that’s it.  There are no more, at least not until I return to GANNET late next month, so you have time to catch up.


I am catching up with the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC to which I have a digital subscription on my iPad mini.  
Last February’s issue carries an article about our at least 9,000 year history of drinking alcohol. 
When as a child I wondered about the meaning of homo sapiens and found it means ‘wise or knowing man’, I knew that to be a cosmic joke and have ever since called us Homo insipiens, foolish man, but the NG articles suggests an alternative.

“There’s good evidence from all over the world that alcoholic beverages are important to human culture,” McGovern says.  “Thirty years ago that fact wasn’t as recognized as it is now.”  Drinking is such an integral part of our humanity, according to McGovern, that he only half jokingly suggests our species be called Homo imbibens.