Thursday, November 16, 2017

Evanston: old revisited; TREKKA; the decisive moment

        Mats in Sweden recently mentioned in an email ‘On  Becoming an Old Sailor’, an article I wrote a little  more than ten years ago.  Out of curiosity I reread  it myself.   One of the benefits of making a  career of narcissistically writing about yourself  is that you can follow the evolution of your thoughts, such as they are.
        I was sixty-five when  I  wrote the article.  I still owned THE HAWKE OF TUONELA  and her mooring in  New Zealand.   
        I  have now been seventy-six for  a few days.  HAWKE and her mooring are long gone.  I’ve almost completed two more circumnavigations since then.  And for the record, I can still do my  age  in push-ups.   In fact  this week  I have  done 80 in the first set instead of the  requisite 76.  That was  still followed by 40 each in the second and third sets.  
        I  have gone blind in my right eye, almost completely severed the supraspinatus  in my left  shoulder, wear hearing aids, and have had several skin cancers whittled away.  
        The fact is that none of this matters very much.  They are mere  nuisances.  I  may  be deluding myself,  but I think I am still good.
        As I noted in an addendum to the original piece, I  did  buy Facnor gennaker furling gear, which revolutionized  how I  sail.   On GANNET I replaced it with a ProFurl Spinex top down furler, which is even better.   I set asymmetricals  much more often than I used to rather than less.  GANNET is very much  a three sail boat.
        I never did  buy a power windlass for THE HAWKE OF TUONELA  and certainly don’t need  one on GANNET.
        My  back seldom bothers me  and my memory is still reasonably good, though I am aware that if I don’t  use  new information I tend to lose it.
        The  last  sentence  of  the  article is:  So far turning a middle-aged fool into an old one hasn’t made much difference.
        Turning  an old fool into a much older one hasn’t either.


        Chris in South Africa and Graham in Australia independently wrote to  me about John Guzzwell’s TREKKA ROUND THE WORLD.  I very seldom read sailing books any more.  I read this one decades ago.  After their  emails, I  found  and downloaded a Kindle edition and just  finished and  enjoyed  it, in part because I have since sailed  many  times to the  places and along the  routes he followed and was interested to learn how  they were when he was sailing TREKKA in the  late 1950s, and  in part because John Guzzwell’s thoughts and  opinions about boats and seamanship are much the same as mine.  
        We do vary in significant ways.  He is a trained  carpenter and built his own boats which  I cannot do.   On the other hand, I don’t get seasick or sail in  company with others.  Some single-handers are more solitary than others.
        If  you  do not know of TREKKA, she was 20’ long,  built of wood, and at the  time the smallest  boat to circumnavigate.  Guzzwell built her in nine months near  Victoria, British Columbia and then made a four year circumnavigation when he was in his mid-twenties.
        TREKKA was a fine boat and ahead of her time.  Guzzwell went with light displacement when most sailors wanted heavy boats.  Oddly, some still do.  TREKKA, a few feet smaller than GANNET, displaced only six hundred pounds more.  As a percentage that is  almost 30%, but remarkably light for TREKKA’s time.
        The sailing world was very different in the 1950s.   Few boats.  Few facilities.   And far fewer regulations.
        I second Chris’s and Graham’s recommendation of TREKKA ROUND THE WORLD.


        The famous French photographer,  Henri Cartier-Bresson was  known for trying to capture the decisive moment.  My friend Steve Earley just took a photograph worthy of Cartier-Bresson when he heard a bicycle rider approaching as he was preparing to shoot a docked hundred year old sailing ship.  That perfect image appears on his site separately under the heading ‘On the waterfront’ and in ‘A walk in the park', a collection of excellent images taken at various times near the same location.