Sunday, December 30, 2018

Evanston: 102; 12,636; 2; a correction

        Light snow fell each of the past two nights, leaving the upper flatlands frosted and pristine in bright sunshine this morning.
        Yesterday I placed my order for 102 freeze dry meals with Amazon—17 different meals x 6—which with the 50 to 60 meals already on GANNET will take me through June.  If I am not in some port by then, I’m in trouble.
        I also ordered a back-up Jetboil stove, having used my backup on the sail to the Chesapeake, a replacement ratchet screwdriver, a backup rechargeable battery charger, and packs of 48 AA and AAA non-rechargeable batteries.  As I have noted, I have become ambivalent about rechargeable batteries, some of which rust on GANNET and all of which take an entire night to recharge.  And a pack of Tanka buffalo meat and cranberry bars, which I think I learned of from Steve Earley.  I have not tasted these, but they seem promising.
        Along with the replacement halyard shackle, needed because the headboard on GANNET’s new mainsail is thicker than that on the old sail, and replacement cockpit sheet bags, everything is marked off my list, except possibly another Raymarine tiller pilot.
        The commonality is replacement.  GANNET has long been set up properly.  I am not adding anything new. 
        There are of course breakfast and lunch provisions still to buy, which will come from local supermarkets in Hilton Head.
        We fly tomorrow.  GANNET is scheduled to be hauled on Wednesday, but the forecast is for considerable rain in Hilton Head this coming week, so even if she comes out, her anti-fouling will probably be delayed.


        I am surprised to find that I worked out 81 times this year.  Less than the 100 I aim for, but relatively high since I began GANNET’s voyage.  That makes at least 12,636 push-ups and crunches.  The true number is higher because for several months I have done 80 push-ups in the first set rather than my age of 76 and 77 during the year.


        In the past week I have received links to three articles about China.  One about China possibly taking over the port of Mombasa, Kenya.  Another about Ecuador owing China billions for a dam built near a volcano.  A third about China building a space base in Argentina, ostensibly as part of a Chinese program to send a rocket to the far side of the moon, but with other information gathering potential.
        There is no reason to be alarmed.
         Imagine two countries.  One has a calculating, disciplined leadership with a long range plan for world domination.  The other has Donald Trump.  Which would you bet on?


        I was mistaken in the last post when I wrote that the Scandinavian has finally sailed for New Zealand.  He hasn’t.  He is still talking and building, as he has been now for more than six years. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Evanston: peers and peerless

        A rare second post on the same day.
        9:30 PM.  Carol has gone to bed.
        I am sitting before the fireplace.  The small Christmas tree is alight.  An angled glass of Calvados is at hand, my left where I can see it.  I like glasses and have more than I need.  At my request Carol even gave me two more, heavy crystal, for Christmas.
        I reference a foolish article from five years ago, ‘Membership is Booming in the Old Men’s Circumnavigator Society.’
        One of the problems facing our species is that there are too few with intelligence to perform work that requires it, including journalism.
        The article writes about three men.  One rich, one Scandinavian, and me.
        Let us consider what has happened since.
        The rich man started a couple of times and quit.
        The Scandinavian, who first claimed he was going to circumnavigate in the Southern Ocean on what would be a 30,000 mile delusory voyage that was then reported in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, among others, proving again how unintelligent journalists are, has only now set sail from Europe perhaps for New Zealand.  How long does it take to build a 9' boat?  As I noted in the past, a circumnavigation of Antartica from an Australian port could not be longer than 15,000 miles.  Most journalist and people are fools.
        And I have sailed 25,000 miles.
        I will next year complete this voyage, unless time and chance destroy me, or humans present obstacles that prevent me crossing Panama.
        To compare me to the other two is a failure of intelligence and an insult.
        I expect that some of you are aware that through the Internet you are having an experience previously unknown in history:  You are seeing in almost real time an original  working his way into the unknown.
        ‘An Old Men’s Circumnavigator Society’?  Nonsense. The 'society' actually has a membership of one. The other two are posers playing to the mob.  I do not respect or care for the opinion of the mob.
         I have thought about people’s response to the wolves of Yellowstone.
         I am as real as the wolves.  You sense that.  That is why you are here.
         I have peers.  Not many.  Particularly among sailors.  The voyages.  The words.  The women.  And to use a word with which I am not entirely comfortable and will write more in the future, the soul.  
        I  don't know who the last Webb Chiles was.  Certainly the two mentioned in the article are not.
        I finish my Calvados.  I turn off the fireplace.  I go to bed.
        And in a few weeks I sail.

Evanston: incredibly good; incredibly expensive; incredibly pervasive

        As you would expect, I am not a Bruce Springsteen fan.  Or I wasn’t until viewing the Netflix film of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY with Carol a few evenings ago.  It and he are incredibly better than I expected, both as a performer and a writer.  I checked and he is credited with being the writer of the show.  The words are very, very good, and he delivers them, as well as sings them, extraordinarily well.
        If you google you will find all kinds of rave reviews.  They are deserved.
        Here are links to the Wikipedia entry about the show and the NY TIMES review.


        I thank Ron for a link to whisky costing $200,000 a bottle.
        Because the link is Australian, I wondered if that was $200,00 Australian or US.  In goggling I found it is US and that on other sites Tribute to Honor is said to cost even more:  $250,000 a bottle.  But if you have that kind of money, what is a mere $50,000?
        Assuming 16 drinks to the bottle, at the low price of $200,000, each drink will cost $12,500.
        I leave it to you to draw whatever conclusions you may.


       That Jeff Bezos has taken over the world is obvious.  Unnecessary further proof came as I refined my shopping for GANNET.
        In the past when in the US I have bought all my freeze dry food from CampMor, but as I have mentioned here before they no long stock Mountain House, so as I made my list, I thought at first that I was going to have to order some from CampMor, some from REI, and some from Mountain House.  Then I found I can buy everything from Amazon.
        I was going to order today, but in this instance Amazon is too efficient.  Delivery would be made on Sunday.  We don’t fly to Hilton Head until Monday, so I will wait until tomorrow.
        I did this morning order a new halyard shackle and replacement Blue Performance sheet bags from Defender.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Evanston: resemblance; wolves of Yellowstone; no more bread and water

        I am running the above photo again, not in ego, but for your convenience so you don't have to click back to the earlier entry.
        Upon seeing it David immediately saw a resemblance to one of the most famous men of the Twentieth Century.  I had never remotely thought of this, but when I looked at the photo again, I saw it, as did Carol when I told her what I have just told you.
        Pause for a moment and look.
        I’ll tell you the name at the end of this post.


        60 Minutes ran a piece about the wolves of Yellowstone, who were reintroduced into the park in the 1990s.  As top predators they have had a beneficial effect on the park.  I believe that Aldo Leopold was one of the first to argue for the importance of top predators.
        Unexpectedly the wolves have also become a winter tourist attraction.
        At the end of the segment, Doug Smith said, “You know, we live in an artificial world. It's stores, and cars, and roads, and buildings. Wolves are real. And people crave it. They love it. We almost have this thirst for something real now.”


        Starting January 1, US Navy captains will no longer be able to punish sailors by putting them in the brig on bread and water.  Not only was this relic still possible, it was still being practiced.


        Do you see the resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi?
        David went on to say that Mahatma means great soul and Gandhi, seller of perfume.
        I don’t qualify on either count.
        Perhaps all old, bald guys with glasses and mustaches look alike.
        However, Gandhi was only 5’5”.  I am therefore super-sized at 6’1”.
        There are a few other differences as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Evanston: sea beagle and season's greetings

        You may recognize Baby, Tom’s sea beagle, from her appearance in photos I have run earlier.  As always she is on watch, now in Tom’s kayak, in which he plans to paddle in next year’s Everglades Challenge, having completed the challenge this year in his beautifully built Welsford Pathfinder, FIRST LIGHT.  I forgot to ask if Tom built the kayak as well. Looking at the fine workmanship of the bow, I expect he did.
        Photos at Steve Earley’s site prove that Baby, who may have done more miles this year than I did, is permitted to sit and even lie down when off watch.  Scroll down to ‘FIRST LIGHT’.
        In doing so you will pass the cover of The Ash Breeze, which shows a story about Circumnavigating in a Small Traditional Craft.  How absurd.
        Tom writes that at the Everglades Challenge third checkpoint you make the decision whether to go outside into the Gulf or inside on the Wilderness Waterway.  If you go outside, you get a shark tooth.  Inside a gator tooth.  He plans to go inside next year.
        I wish Tom his gator tooth, Baby the continued joy of the wind in her ears, and all of you a happy holiday season and a splendid new year.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Evanston: grotesque

         I am grotesque.
        (I hear the murmurs.  ‘Ah. Insight at last.’)
        I went to see the beautiful sorceress.  She is still beautiful.  She sliced a couple of slivers off me to be biopsied and she sprayed me with liquid nitrogen, as sorceresses do.
        Most places don’t show when I am clothed, but the top of my bald pate has several brown patches that look like continents floating in a sea of white skin.  I wear hats when I go outside and so don’t frighten people more than usual, but we are having dinner with other couples Saturday and I don’t think I can wear a hat in the restaurant.  Maybe I’ll buy a wig.


        The response to the 2019 entry, both from those who read it here and at Sailing Anarchy, has been quite positive.
        My second thoughts were that part of it might be too egotistical.  Apparently others did not think so.
        Roger wrote:  Webb Chiles ‘watered down’ is not Webb Chiles.
        I thank him.


        I thank Gary for a quote from Joseph Conrad’s THE MIRROR OF THE SEA.
        The sea—this truth must be confessed—has no generosity.  No display of manly qualities—courage, hardihood, endurance, faithfulness—has ever been known to touch its irresponsible consciousness of power.
        More than thirty years ago while sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, I wrote:
        The terrible thing about the sea is that it is not alive.  All our pathetic adjectives are false.  The sea is not cruel or angry or kind.  The sea is insensate, a blind fragment of the universe, and kills us not in rage, but with indifference, as casual byproducts of its own unknowable harmony.  Rage would be easier to understand and to accept.


        John saw the following on a Sailing Anarchy Forum, posted by someone who was in the audience when I spoke at the Small Boat Festival.   I thank him.
        The weekend was more or less wrapped up with Webb Chiles' presentation.  He was not at all what I expected. I thought he would be a bit crazy, long haired and somewhat feral. Instead, he was cool, articulate and well kept...and a bit mad.  


        Under ‘the world taking a decade to catch up’, among this morning’s BookBub offerings is a novel by Amy Tan, SAVING FISH FROM DROWNING,which was published in 2005.
        Those of you who have read SHADOWS—and if you haven’t, why not?—know that I used those words and idea.  I don’t recall when I wrote SHADOWS, but it was at least a decade before 2005.

        Shaun Steingold, the General Manager of iNavX, learned of my recent comments about chartplotting apps from a sailing friend of his who reads this journal and sent me an email introducing himself and welcoming any comments, suggestions or recommendations I might make.
        I wrote back at some length and he responded reasonably and positively.
        I appreciate this outreach which is hardly typical of most companies.  Shaun has certainly made be believe that iNavX seeks to produce a good product and do their best by their customers.


        I just placed my first order to be delivered to Hilton Head.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Evanston: 500 opossums for Christmas

        Some of you will have seen that most of my last journal entry has appeared at Sailing Anarchy along with the above photograph.
        I had second thoughts about that entry and considered deleting it.  Perhaps Webb Chiles like cask strength Laphroaig needs to be watered down. 

        The photographs appear with an article I wrote in the current issue of CRUISING WORLD.  They were taken by Ross and Topher at Hilton Head earlier this year.  It is instructive to see myself as others must see me.  In the one where I am staring down at the phone—I’m looking at iNavX, not checking my email—I think I look almost frail.  I don’t feel frail.  I feel strong.  If I hadn’t done my full workout yesterday, I might fear I am deluding myself.


        I finished EUROPE CENTRAL this morning, a monumental, fascinating, thought providing novel that I became caught up in and finished much more quickly than I expected.
        Here are links to the Wikipedia article on the book and the NY TIMES review, with which I agree.


        THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS is a good movie.
        Directed by the Coen brothers, the film consists of six short stories set in the post Civil War American West.  I think the first five are good.  The sixth a dud.
        Some parody.  Some tragedy.
        Be prepared for surprise hard-headed and hard-hearted endings.
        BUSTER SCRUGGS is made by Netflix.  As I have recently read, Hollywood should be trembling, and doubtlessly is.  Netflix plans to release more than twice as many films next year as the largest Hollywood studio.  And then there is Amazon.  And Apple.  And.  And.


        I thank Lee for bringing to my attention a NY TIMES article that caused him to recall ‘Last Born.’
        I checked to see when I wrote the story.  It is dated 2007.  A decade for the world to catch up sounds about right.


        I’m not promoting anything, but I know how to stretch a teaser and last you get the opossums.
        Tim likes to peruse old newspapers.  He does some of this online and some in person and sends me oddities from time to time.
        Here is a wanted ad from the Butler, Missouri, WEEKLY TIMES, dated December 14, 1881, from someone I don’t think I would want as a neighbor. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Evanston: 2019

        Two weeks from tomorrow Carol and I fly to Savannah from where she will drive us in a rental car the thirty or forty miles to Hilton Head Island.  For five nights we will stay in a hotel until she flies back to the Midwest, but our arrival will be the demarcation between my land life and my sea life.
        I expect that 2019 will be one of the more significant years in my life.
       GANNET will be forty years old in 2019, and hopefully I will complete my sixth and probably my last circumnavigation, and perhaps the second phase of my life, which began on November 2, 1974, when I pushed EGREGIOUS away from her slip at Harbor Island Marina in San Diego for my first attempt at Cape Horn, a phase I have called ‘being’.  No one at that marina now would recall that distant event, although perhaps a few there would know my name.
        I am at this moment feeling the distance between my life and yours.  I have not lived as you and even Carol have.  Many of you have talents I do not have and which I admire, but we have not lived in the same dimension.  For whatever reason I have usually tried to reduce that distance.   I don’t believe that since I became an adult I have cared about fitting in—as a child I did, but then I was a child—but I have expended a lot of energy reducing friction.  That is one of the things I most love about being at sea:  there I don’t have to compromise; I don’t have to adapt;  I don’t have to get along:  I can just be me.  Flat out, unadulterated, uncompromised me.
        I have tried to convey that experience to you in words and some photographs.  I have had wonderful experiences on land with women.  I value my interactions with many of you, some of whom I consider friends, whether we have met in person or not.  I am pleased to have been able when speaking to bring audiences to their feet.  I am pleased with some of the words I have strung together and will leave behind.  But the very best of Webb Chiles has only been experienced by Webb Chiles alone at sea.
        I hope it will be again next year.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Evanston: something odd and two quotes

        Some of you may have seen 'Age of Sail' at Sailing Anarchy.
        It is beautifully drawn, but I find it odd.
        I also note that to meet the stereotype of an old sailor, I am going to have to buy a Greek fisherman’s cap and grow a beard.  On the other hand I have known for a long time that whatever I look like is what a sailor looks like.


        Yo-You Ma is performing the six Bach solo cello suites thirty-six times on six continents.  
        While on this tour he is also speaking at schools and meeting with local artists, community leaders and activists.
        At one such meeting, he asked, “What is this music for?”  and answered himself, “It is to help me through life.”
        Me too.


        From Jay comes another quote from Hunter S. Thompson.  I thank him.
        “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Evanston: fallow; Shostakovich

        A friend wrote that I must be impatient to get back to GANNET and the ocean.  While I am eager, I am not impatient.  I don’t like to rush and I have time until I don’t have time.  That my time has been my own for more than forty years did not happen by chance and is my greatest wealth.
        Lying fallow is necessary for fields and people.  A season of ease and replenishment.  I haven’t done that much this year.  GANNET and I only sailed 1700 miles as shown by our 2018 Yellowbrick track above.   I have been fallow more than long enough.  I am not impatient.  I am ready.

        How does one prepare to sail oceans alone in a small boat?
        Currently I am preparing by reading an unusual novel, EUROPE CENTRAL, by William T. Vollmann and listening to the music of Dimitri Shostakovich.  The two are related.
        EUROPE CENTRAL, loosely about the insanity and inhumanity of the Europe of Hitler and Stalin, is deeply interesting, very well written, and long.  I am reading the Kindle edition, but the hard cover version runs to more than 800 pages.  I am only a quarter the way into the book.  Unexpectedly a long section of what I have read is about Shostakovich who for many years went to sleep each night, if he could get to sleep at all, fearing that there would be a knock on the door and he would be taken away and shot.
        He was in Leningrad at the start of the 900 day siege and saw the bombing and starvation.
        I have enjoyed some of Shostakovich’s music for many years, particularly his Preludes and String Quartets.
        Vollmann particularly mentions three of his compositions.  
        Opus 40, Sonata for Piano and Cello, which Vollmann says was written during an affair Shostakovich was having with Elena, the woman he perhaps most loved and certainly most lusted after in his life.  Vollmann says the first movement “composed of firelight and kisses, remains the most romantic thing that Shostakovich ever wrote.”
        Opus 65, Symphony No. 8, was written during the war and first performed in 1941.  It, in Vollmann’s words, “half-illuminates sorrow’s carpet:  burnt earth which will soon drink in blood and groaning.”
        Opus 110, String Quartet No. 8, is Shostakovich’s most performed string quartet.  Vollmann describes it as “terrifying”.  Officially Shostakovich dedicated it “to the victims of war and fascism,” but remarked to a friend, “I reflected that if I die someday, it’s hardly likely anyone will compose a work dedicated to my memory.  So I decided to write one myself.  You could even write on the cover:  Dedicated to the composer of this quartet.”
        I note that Shostakovich writes:  “if I die someday” not “when”.  As I have observed, none of us really believes in our own death.
        Of these, I only had Opus 110.  So I bought the other two from iTunes and have been listening to all three, curious to discover if I hear what Vollmann does.  Thus far I don’t, but I am enjoying them anyway.
        I wrote about this to my friend, Tim, the marathon running violinist, who sent me a link to a moving short video from the film, SMOKE, with background music by Shostakovich.  
        I thank him.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Evanston: the ten day winter; fantastic; aground

        Winter officially begins on December 21.  It will end for me ten days later when I fly to Savannah as Carol and I decided over the weekend.  Ten days is winter enough.


        I have often been in the Bay of Islands when that race ends.  The video makes me homesick for a place that unfortunately is not my home.


        The above photo came from Steve Earley, but because he and Tom Head and the standing dog—do they never let the poor beast sit down?—are in it I don’t know who took it.
        They look quite happy considering they have run aground.
        It was probably the dog’s fault.