Thursday, March 29, 2018
Three articles and the acceptance speech have been added to the articles page of my main site. Scroll down to the bottom. I also corrected formatting errors I found in some previous articles and took time to reread, ‘love of the thing itself’, which I immodestly recommend.
Opening day of the baseball season.
I’m watching the Cubs/Marlins. I wrote and posted this between innings
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Matt sent me a link to a thought provoking podcast about a woman being washed overboard from a yacht off Newfoundland. Although it is painful to listen to, I thank him. Scroll down to “Swept Away.” As I write it is eleventh from the top.
People worry about lots of unlikely, though possible, calamities, such as being hit by a whale, when simply falling overboard causes far more deaths, including those of some famous and experienced sailors, including Eric Taberly and Rob James. The point of safety harnesses needing leg straps is well taken as is the difficulty of pulling a wet semi-conscious person back on board.
However I do wonder about their preparation and planning. Were there no split pins to prevent the shroud from coming unscrewed? Also losing their jib overboard. Did they not have furling gear, which is a great safety feature as well as a convenience, enabling sailors to control sail area without having to go onto the foredeck.
I agree in part with the delivery captain that those who go offshore for the first time seldom understand what it is like to be in a storm at sea. This one at 45 knots was not especially severe. However you don't have to grow up on the coast to gain that understanding. Intelligence, study and imagination can provide it even to those of us who were unfortunately born near rivers instead of oceans.
I also do not agree with the equipment the delivery captain said is needed. I don't recall the entire list, but I don't think I have any of it.
Proper preparation of the boat and the crew are both important. Often sailors spend considerable, even excessive money, on equipment that some so-called ‘experts’ say is essential, but isn’t, and don’t prepare themselves. If you go out there long enough, it is going to get physical. I think sailors are often shocked by their first gale due to a failure to sail in bad weather when they can and due to a failure of imagination.
I don't have any specific rules I follow to be as safe as possible in an inherently unsafe environment. But I am always aware that life can change instantly, in the passing of a single wave. And as a solo sailor I always keep in mind that to slip and fall overboard is fatal. As I note in one of my sailing videos, eternity is only inches away.
I also disagree with the complaint that life is too short.
It is for some, students killed in school shootings, infants with cancer, and others struck down young by time and chance. But if you have lived sixty-five years, as this woman had, in relatively good health and with at least modest means, you have had a life, and if you die with regrets for what you did not do, you need only to look in the mirror to find the one responsible.
I thank Larry for bringing the following “Little Tidbit of Naval History” to my attention.
The U.S.S. CONSTITUTION (Old Ironsides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers).
However, let it be noted that according to her ship's log:
"On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men,
48,600 gallons of fresh water,
7,400 cannon shot,
11,600 pounds of black powder and
79,400 gallons of rum."
Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping.”
Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on
826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.
Then she headed for the Azores , arriving there 12 November..
She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.
On 18 November, she set sail for England .
In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war ships,
and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships,
salvaging only the rum aboard each.
By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted.
Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn.
Then she headed home.
The U. S. S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799,
with no cannon shot,
and 38,600 gallons of water.
GO NAVY !
I thank Tom for pointing out that the original cancer cell creed quote comes from Edward Abbey:
Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
Abbey also wrote:
Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution? I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed to quick extinction. Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless.
I don’t follow the logic of the last part of that, but as you know I am on the side of joy.
The beautiful photo comes from Eric in France. It is of the shadow of the island of Stomboli, an active volcano, off the north coast of Sicily.
A tiny sailboat near the lower lefthand corner indicates how high he climbed to get the shot.
I thank him.
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Whangaroa harbor is twenty miles northwest of New Zealand’s Bay of Islands and marks the limit in that direction of what I, even though American, was once pleased to consider my home waters. A narrow entrance between high hills opens into a several mile long inlet with many coves and few people.
I thank Zane for sending me the above photo he found viewing national archives online. It was taken at Whangaroa in 1930.
These two I took there in 2011.
Friday, March 23, 2018
One of the three hypotheses to which I referred on Tuesday is that capitalism is a Ponzi scheme based on the mathematical impossibility of permanent growth of profits whose con has thus far been hidden by abundant natural resources and a population explosion.
As noted, the population explosion continues and the resources continue to decline.
The problem is that there are already too damn many of us.
In the GUARDIAN, the biologist, Paul Ehrlich, suggests that the optimum human population on the planet is no more than 2 billion. We passed that number in 1927 and are now approaching 8.
Ehrlich notes that the solution I offered eleven years ago in ‘Last Born’ may be occurring by toxification lowering sperm counts.
I particularly admire his line: Perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell.
A related article in the NY TIMES reports findings that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch of plastic is four times larger than previously thought.
If you scroll down you will find images showing density of plastic in the ocean in 1962 and 2018.
I skirted the Pacific Ocean patch on the passage from San Diego to Hawaii in 2014 and sailed right through the one in the Indian Ocean in 2016. While I don’t dispute the findings, surprisingly I did not see much plastic in either ocean. I did see a sea of plastic off Costa Rica’s Cocos Island on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA in 2009.
Wikipedia says plastic was invented in 1907 and went into mass production in the 1940s and 50s.
We’ve come a long way.
I thank Michael for sending this.
In response to a comment I made about being alone on a small boat in mid-ocean, Andy wrote:
A small boat on an ocean isn't in it's own world, it is the world, and everybody else is on the edge of it.
That is so good I wanted to share it and thank Andy for permission to do so.
Snow due tomorrow.
I fly to Hilton Head a month from tomorrow.
These are not unrelated.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
I’m sitting before the lit fireplace.
Carol is in California for a couple of days on business.
I was listening to Leonard Cohen’s final album, YOU WANT IT DARKER, recorded during the last year of his life as he was dying. His voice is pretty much gone. He speaks the words. But I think it is one of his best.
I am feeling fragmented: Carol, GANNET, this condo, the one in Hilton Head. And then I realized that fragmented is my normal state. Perhaps the normal state of all of us almost always.
Fragmented is not necessarily bad, if you can keep the core together.
I have usually been fragmented by the love of solitude and the love of women without regret or by living where I did not want to be with regret. If given the choice, I would not have been born in Saint Louis or spent most of the first two decades of my life there. Or lived in Boston or Evanston.
When I think back there may have been only one period when I was not fragmented and that was from when I left San Diego on November 2, 1974, in EGREGIOUS on my first attempt at Cape Horn until whatever date in March, 1976, when I met Suzanne in Auckland, New Zealand.
A year and a half out of seventy-six.
A year and a half out of seventy-six.
On November 2, 1974, I left behind on the dock three women. All beautiful, intelligent, charming and sexy. They knew of one another. For the preceding year I spent two nights a week with each and had Sunday to myself. One was the woman I most regret not having married. She and I were together off and on for seven years, but the timing was wrong. Another was a Philippine/American of doe like grace. And the third was an ex-wife with whom I shared great sex and a liking for classical music. You would think that would be enough, but it wasn’t.
They were all woman any man would desire, but I left them. And I lost them.
As I wrote in STORM PASSAGE, that voyage was a matter of life and death--but then all of my voyages have been. More it was a proving of Webb Chiles to Webb Chiles that he was what he thought he was. And for that year and a half I was unfragmented. Made pure sprit oddly by putting my flesh on the line.
I am fragmented now more than I like to be.
If I live long enough to see Carol retire, life may become simpler again.
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
I received the renewal notice from BoatUS for GANNET’s insurance. Included with it was a statement that the company evaluates risk by, among other things, checking credit reports and because they could not find my credit history, I am not entitled to their lowest rates.
As regular readers know, I have no credit history because I have not owed any money since I paid off EGREGIOUS in 1973. You will find on the ‘wit and wisdom’ page of the main site: Debts are chains. Although I am aware that many very wealthy people disagree, I believe it to be undeniably true. Of governments as well as individuals. They are just comfortable living with big chains. I won’t live with even a little one.
So I pay BoatUS more than if I were in debt.
Perhaps a valid commentary on modern life.
We have been watching on Netflix the excellent and most expensive non-English language television series ever made, Babylon Berlin. A police drama set in 1929, this is not about Nazis, but clearly depicts the conditions that gave them the opportunity to come to power.
Netflix has the sixteen episodes of what were in Germany seasons one and two. A third season is being developed.
Google and you can find out more, including universal critical acclaim, but I wouldn’t bother because of the danger of spoilers. If you have access, just give Babylon Berlin a try.
I am not one of those who hate New York. In fact I lived there on the very outskirts at City Island for most of a year. But as we rode the taxi from LaGuardia through Queens on a dreary winter evening, I shuddered at the site of row after row of ten or twelve story tenements with grimy, blind windows facing their mirror images across ugly streets. Soul destroying, I thought, perhaps because the contrast was so great from where we had just come. People in those tenements probably couldn’t afford to live on Hilton Head Island, though property values there are modest compared with New York and California and Auckland and Sydney and London. But I could escape those mean streets, and would have, on a $9,000 boat. Or, if necessary, a $1,000 boat.
I noted in an entry last month that since 2008 more of our species live in cities than rural areas. Yesterday an article in the GUARDIAN states that by the end of this century, 80-90% of us will live in cities, and that one, Lagos, Nigeria, may be the biggest city in the world with a population approaching one hundred million, the vast majority of whom will I expect be living in slums compared to which the Queens tenements are mansions.
I do not long for ‘the good old days’, but we may be living in them.
I am on the record as not believing in democracy.
Democracy does not work and never has, except perhaps on a village scale.
The United States is a plutocracy and always has been in which the monied nobility maintain their control by political contributions and lobbyists, while giving the masses the illusion of the vote.
Thousands of years of history are ample proof, but if more were needed Cambridge Analytica provides it.
Nevertheless I donned my winter parka—right at freezing here today with a strong breeze off the lake (I could not resist peeking and find it 71º on Hilton Head)—and walked a few blocks to vote.
As a footnote I add a simple, self-scoring I.Q. test:
Do you get your news from social media?
Monday, March 19, 2018
There is a video of my CCA acceptance speech.
I thought I had already posted a link, but apparently I haven’t.
In the past few days two friends have gone sailing in their small boats in almost identical 51º temperatures on opposite coasts. Doryman took out his Stone Horse, BELLE STARR, in the Pacific Northwest, while in Norfolk, Virginia, Steve sailed his 17’ Pathfinder, SPARTINA, after a cold February kept him off the water.
I thank them for sailing for those of us who presently can’t.
Friday, March 16, 2018
Evanston: not long; complications; the greatest strength; the number of stars; Whangaroa to Whangamumu
Well, that didn’t take long. I lasted three nights. I was on my second when I wrote on Wednesday, but have gone to four glasses tonight: a Botanist; a martini; and two of Buffalo Trace. What can I say. I am weak.
Of Buffalo Trace, I am presently reading THE CONFESSION OF NAT TURNER which uses the word ‘trace’.
Drinking can expand your vocabulary.
Drinking can expand your vocabulary.
Some have expressed surprise after viewing the acceptance speech video that I, who have by choice spent so many years completely alone, am a good public speaker.
That is not by chance.
As in everything, I plan. I prepare. I have empathy, learned as a young animal in a hostile environment who knew instinctively that he had to understand the adults on whom he was dependent.
I can move crowds. A few of you have heard me speak and know that.
Generally I choose not to.
I will give you another seeming contradiction: a much married monk.
And another: a young man who left three beautiful women to listen to Bach in Force Twelve off Cape Horn.
This really deserves a heading to itself, but is given now.
I have written of the greatest truth I have found in a lifetime of reading: Ecclesiastes 9:11: I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
So I give you my belief of the greatest strength: to absorb the evil done to you and not pass it on.
A Christian virtue not often historically practiced by Christians.
It took me a half century to achieve it, if I ever have.
Even though the greatest truth I have found and the greatest strength I have learned have come from the BIBLE, I am not a Christian. I do not believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection, and I never understood the Holy Ghost,
I am not alone in the last.
In Russia under either Catherine or Peter, both called ‘Great’, millions were killed and persecuted because they made the sign of the cross with two fingers instead of three. Two because they denied the ‘Holy Ghost’.
Only a few weeks ago I realized something that I should have long ago.
There are five thousand stars visible with the normal naked eye from Earth. Only half of them from any one location.
All of our major religions were formed when that was the extent of our knowledge of the universe.
Now we know more. Far, far, far, far, far more.
I like our place on Hilton Head Island.
There is unexpected beauty and serenity there.
But I have not forgotten New Zealand.
Whangaroa to Whangamumu.
Here a thousand miles from any ocean and eight or nine thousand miles from there, I can see and hold every headland and island in my heart and always will.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Halftime of the Syracuse/Arizona State NCAA tournament play-in game.
I am attempting to impose upon myself a two glass libation limit per evening.
This evening I had a martini followed by a glass of Laphroaig which is now lamentably empty.
The obvious next step: buy bigger glasses.
Monday, March 12, 2018
I thank Ian for the above photo which caused him to think of me.
Contemplating, as I am sure you often do, the list of things I love, you know that the last item is that some of you understand.
Obviously, some of you understand too well.
The March issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC has an article about bird migrations. I am most impressed by that of godwits, moderate size birds that forage in tidal waters. In the northern fall they fatten up in their Alaskan breeding grounds and then fly non-stop to New Zealand in eight or nine days, with daily runs of about 700 nautical miles. Six months later in the southern fall, they return to Alaska with a stop-over on the shores of the Yellow Sea.
I am humbled.
Old white men are not Chris Rock’s target audience, but both Carol and I enjoyed his recent Netflix special, Tamborine, in which he is funny while making some insightful observations. I recommend it to those who are not offended by profanity.
The title is spelled correctly, having been taken from a song by Prince which I have never heard.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Tom has just successfully completed the Everglades Challenge, a three hundred mile expedition race from Tampa Bay to Key Largo, with check points along the way, in his beautifully home built Welsford Pathfinder, FIRST LIGHT. Here is a link to a short video he shot the last day.
FIRST LIGHT is moving well, has an uncluttered cockpit, and companions.
FIRST LIGHT is moving well, has an uncluttered cockpit, and companions.
If you click on ‘Leon Boy’ on that page, you will find more of his videos including one of his usual crew, but not on this race, enjoying a sunset.
Congratulations, Tom, and to all those who participated.
I’ve now seen references to this several places online, but I thank James for first bringing to my attention the oldest note in a bottle ever found. An interesting and pleasing story.
Today is a great day that should go down in the annals of time: Comcast Freedom Day. I just made the call and discontinued service. Those of you outside the U.S. will probably not understand, but my fellow Americans will.
Comcast is the biggest cable company in the U.S. with pricing and bills that are so deliberately opaque that even their own representatives don’t understand them. Their bills do have one certainty: they continually go up. Our final bill from them was $229.94. The replacement services will cost $100 per month and would be $15 less than that if we did not have to use an old cell phone to answer the front door intercom of our building. I make that as an annual savings of S1559.28 or 31.18 bottles of Laphroaig.
I will toast our delightful freedom this evening with contents from one of them.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The Evanston sky is gray and low. The temperature around freezing. An inch or so of snow fell overnight. With wind in my face, I was glad to have on my winter parka and gloves when I walked yesterday to the supermarket for yoghurt, berries, milk, bread and gin—all the necessities. When in mid-afternoon I checked the temperature at Hilton Head Island, I found it to be precisely double ours. I immediately booked my flight back, though it is not until seven weeks from today, after Carol’s birthday.
The photo above is of real cold. Markus, an Estonian commercial fisherman and sailor, sent it with this note: February 27th at 60º40'N, 20º05E. Wind 25 knots- gusting 30, air temperature -13ºC/08ºF water -0 something.
It makes me cold just looking at it.
I checked out the position.
That cold may be related to an ecological tragedy unfolding on English coasts.
These photos were sent by Martin, whose daughter is the maritime environmental officer for the east coast.
It is speculated that the drop in water temperature caused by two recent storms was so quick and severe that creatures were unable to adapt, particularly those who hold themselves in place on the seabed. They literally lost their grip and were washed ashore.