Friday, November 30, 2018

Evanston: honor and warriors; numbers

         I have been thinking about honor because of all things a television series.
        Who thinks about honor these days?  
        I do not know, but not having had what is called a ‘real job’ for almost half a century, I have time to think about many things that others do not.
        The television series is ‘The Last Kingdom’, based on the Bernard Cornwall ten novels set in the time of Alfred the Great with the central character being Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the greatest warrior of the age, and a man with torn loyalties between Saxons and Dane.
        I read all the novels, and Carol and I have watched all the released three seasons of the television series except the final episode of season three which we will get to this weekend.
        Honor and reputation are all to Uhtred, who also believes that “Destiny is all.”
        Some of you will recall my often quoting the similar, 'Time and chance happens to them all.'
        Uhtred believed that fate is decided by the Danish gods.  I have come increasingly to believe that fate is in our genes, that we are born with most of what will define our lives, though time and chance may intervene.
        What it is to be honorable now? I wonder.  What is it for me to be honorable?
        I am going to switch for a moment to Alex Honnold of FREE SOLO.  He is not unrelated.
        If you watched the movie you will have heard Alex call himself a warrior.  And if you have read my poems—and why would you have denied yourself this transcendent experience?—you would have read:  judge a man, then, by that against which he must strive.
        When I was young I looked around and found that the ocean is the greatest entity on the planet, and so I sought to measure myself against it.
        Alex Honnold against stone.  I against water.  Warriors?  I don’t know, but perhaps warrior spirits.  I know there have been times when I have said to my boat:  I have prepared you and not pushed you harder than necessary, but now you and I are just going to have to do this or be destroyed.  And while I once thought of my third attempt at Cape Horn as a voyage of life or death, in fact every one of my voyages has been.  
        So I think for Webb Chiles to be honorable he need only continue for at least a little while longer to do what he has been doing for far longer than anyone, including himself, thought possible:  go to the edge of human experience and send back true reports.
        Only a minuscule number read those reports.  I am grateful to those of you who do.  But I would write them if no one read them at all.
        There is a craftsman pleasure in putting words together and a sense that I am doing what I am meant to do.
        Would Alex Honnold make his climbs if no one knew?
        I like to believe he would.
        I test and judge myself.  While I would like to be admired, everyone else’s opinion is secondary.  Far secondary.
        I expect Alex Honnold is the same.


        In thinking about next year’s sailing, which will one way or another end the second and major part of my life, I have considered sailing from Panama—assuming I get GANNET across Panama—to Hawaii, then to Seattle and down the Pacific Coast.
        Assuming it is accurate,  Savannah to Cristobal, Panama is 1563 nautical miles.  I don’t know if that is measured going east or west of Cuba.
        Panama City, on the Pacific side of the canal to San Diego is 3368 nautical miles.  Because the last thousand or more miles is to windward, GANNET would have to sail close to 4,000 miles.
        Panama to Hilo, Hawaii is 4542 miles.
        Hilo to Seattle 2380.
        Seattle to San Diego 1209.
        The total Panama to San Diego via Hilo and Seattle:  8131.
        A high pressure area between Hawaii and California causes it to be easier to sail north to Washington and then down the Pacific coast than directly from Hawaii to California.
        A lot longer, but less sailing to windward, and I do like to sail.

        This is all speculation.  I don’t know what I am going to do.  
        I do know that I long to sail oceans again.  And I long for the epic.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Evanston: at Saint Michaels; more iPad; a good line

        I thank Tracey Johns and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for the above photos which were emailed to me this morning.  Previously I did not know they had been taken.
        I do not sail with fenders over the side.  They were out because I was approaching the dock.


       Several of you have wondered about my Byzantine procedure for posting journal entries.
        Well even it has failed and, while I am going to continue to type entries on my iPad, I am going to upload them to Blogger on my MacBook.  Today I ran into thus far unsolvable problems.

       Here are some comparison photos of the iPad Pro and my 12” MacBook.
       As you can see the keyboards are essentially the same size.  I prefer the feel of typing on the iPad’s Smart Keyboard Folio, as Apple calls it, although not being backlit is sometimes a disadvantage.
        You can also see that the display on the iPad is decidedly bigger than on the MacBook and it is glorious.  Reading magazines in Texture or watching YouTubeTV or something from Netflix is an undiluted pleasure, and it is big enough so that split screen is useful.
        With the caveat that this is coming from a partially deaf old man who wears hearing aids--but I have read similar comments in reviews by those presumably much younger and with normal hearing--the speakers are unexpectedly good.  Because it is so easy, I now often listen to music on the iPad rather than connect to our living room system or the Boom 2s.
        So no buyer’s remorse.  
         I have sold an article written on the iPad, so it has already paid for itself.  Pure profit from here on.

       After reading my tribute to my grandmother, David sent me a fine line he wrote about his mother.  I thank him for permission to share it with you.
        A beautiful thing is to see a person embrace a life fully that they hadn’t planned on living.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Evanston: blizzard; do and buy; solved?

        While some of you are viewing erotic sand sculptures on sunny beaches and worrying about a cold wave’ that may drop temperatures to near 60ºF/15ºC, we have a blizzard.
The official weather service definition of a blizzard is large amounts of snow or blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph/30 knots, and visibility of less than ¼ mile/400 meters for at least three hours.
By that pleasingly precise standard Evanston has not actually had blizzard conditions and the storm is winding down.  To the west of us they have had more snow and wind and probably a blizzard.
Nevertheless it is not a beach day and my sympathy for those of you who may soon have to endure 60º is limited.


Now that Thanksgiving has passed and December is almost hereand the weather may have something to do with itI am going over my to do and buy list for GANNET.  
Assuming she has not been damaged while I have been away, the main to do is antifoul.  It is possible that I will go the way of least resistance and pay the tiny boat yard at the marina to do the job.  They wont let me do it myself.
There is a leak by a stanchion to be sealed.
I would like to paint the small areas on the deck between the Raptor nonskid pads.
The interior wood needs oiling.
The whole interior needs painting, but that is not going to happen.

The to buy list is not extensive either.
I am waiting to order items until just before I return to Hilton Head so they can be delivered there and I dont have to take them with me on the flight.
Freeze dry meals. 60 to 80.
Waterproof Pelican case for this iPad Pro.
Halyard shackle with opening ½”+.  The existing shackle barely fits over the new mainsail headboard, forcing me to spend too much vulnerable time standing at the mast when I remove or attach the halyard.
Tiller pilot.  Always and forever.  I have three working Raymarines.  Ill buy another.  The Pelagic went into standby mode spontaneously when I tried to use it sailing to the Chesapeake.  Mine is a prototype and production models may not have this problem.  I am not inclined to hassle with it further.
Clevis pin 1¼” ¼” for the boom gooseneck.
4 Blue Performance sheet bags.  Replacements for those in the cockpit that are showing their age and miles.
Jetboil stove.  The self-ignition on the Jetboil I was using failed on the way to Saint Michaels, so I began using the backup.  Ill buy another for backup.
Rechargable battery charger.  One of these failed, too.  I had a backup and now need another backup.
AAA and AA batteries.  Not rechargable.  I have become somewhat disenchanted with rechargable batteries which take a very long time to recharge, usually over night, and sometimes dont last as long as they should.  So I am going to take disposable batteries with me as well.  My main uses of batteries are the Velocitek, headlamps, flashlights, and the handheld Autohelm remote.
Velcro for lee cloth shackles.  When not in use, the pipe berth lee cloths fold under the berths, but routinely fall out, with the shackles on the lines at the corners going into the bilge.  After all these years and miles, I am finally going to try to secure them with Velcro when not in use.
I will do other provisioning by bicycle or possibly Uber in Hilton Head.

All in all not much to do and buy.
I have yet to book my flight to Hilton Head because of possible developments with the evil condo.  It will be sometime after January 1.


I have made the transition from MacBook to iPad Pro almost completely and have not opened the MacBook for several days.
As I have mentioned before, the most intractable problem has been with Blogger, whose code seems to have serious conflicts with Pages in IOS.  It is possible that after trial and errorlots of errorI have solved it and that some uniformity to the formatting of this journal may resume.
I write an entry in Pages, export that into Word, copy that to Outlook, email from Outlook to Gmail, open the attached Word document in Gmail, copy and paste it into Blogger.
Nothing to it.
Dont ask me to explain.  I cant.  But it has to be done exactly that way.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Evanston: 47; view from a wheelchair; taxed

A study reported in the NY TIMES suggests that those who exercise regularly for decades may have bodies thirty  years younger than their ages.
I may be 47 instead of 77.
Draw your own conclusions about yourselves.


That my friend, Michael, is still using a wheelchair and a walker caused me to read another article in the TIMES, Revelations from a Wheelchair, which I otherwise might not have noticed.
Michaels accident is far too high a price to broaden my understanding, but it has.


South Carolina taxes boats that have been in the state for more than half a calendar year, regardless of where they are registered.
I got my tax bill a few days ago.  $79.52.  
Small is beautiful in many ways.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Evanston: in praise of Hazel Widen

        Carol and I had a quiet, pleasant Thanksgiving at home, where she prepared her usual suberb turkey dinner. We both like the original meal and the leftovers, ending next week with turkey soup.
        To the extant that one is not completely dead as long as someone still remembers them, Hazel Widen, my fathers mother, who died thirty-six years ago, lives on, though perhaps now only in my mind and that of my friend, Louise, who mentioned in an email recently a Thanksgiving we spent at my grandmothers Mission Beach cottage. My grandmother, too, prepared great turkey dinners. I think of her often. Not just at Thanksgiving.
Even as an old womanand as I have observed, that old’ was younger than I am nowyou could see the beauty she had been when young, in flesh and even more in character.
She experienced the death of all the men in her life except me, outliving three husbands, two of whom died almost literally in her arms, and the suicide of my father, her only child. Yet I never knew her to complain or bemoan her fate.
She was born a Missouri farm girl in 1896 when few had much education or opportunity, and girls generally less than boys. I dont know that she even completed high school.
She worked as a shoe sales clerk at a St. Louis department store until she and her last husband, Elmer Widen, whom she married when I was a year or two old and who I thought of as my grandfather, retired in 1953 and moved to San Diego where they bought for $6,000 that little house in Mission Beach. It is interesting to note that in 1953 two working class people could buy beach property in California.
She liked being within sound of the ocean, but I never knew her to go onto the beach itself, though only a few steps away. I dont know if she could swim. I do know she never learned to drive. I dont drive any more myself, so we now share that.
She had a rare talent with clothes.
She made all her own herself, using an old pedal Singer sewing machine, and those for several of the women in my life. She had a sense of style and fashion and knew what would look good on them better than the women themselves. There was nothing home- made’ about the clothes. Her craftsmanship was exquisite. Had she been born today, I expect she would have had a successful career in clothing and fashion.
While I like to believe that some of whatever good qualities I have came from her, we differed in many ways. She was not a reader, and she was a keeper of things. When she died, I found in her house decades old telephone books, a recommendation letter written in 1912 from an employer for my grandfather, a copy of my parents’ marriage license that showed they had been married for two years before my birthbecause they had separated before I was born, I had until then thought that they had gotten married only because my mother was pregnantand the contents the police found in my fathers pockets after his suicide, the subject of a poem.
She was proud of me without understanding what I do or why, which didnt matter, and kept a scrap book of newspaper clippings about me. I never did.
My grandmother was not quite a frontier woman, but she was close.
The summers I spent with her and my grandfather in Mission Beach kept me alive.
Now for a few moments, she lives on in your mind as well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Evanston: ‘yes’; younger; a good question

The question:  Can this iPad Pro replace my laptop?  Apple is strongly promoting the affirmative, and after a week and a half of learning, much of it by trial and error because those who develop apps and operating systems prefer making users go on treasure hunts and solve puzzles rather than provide clear instructions, I agree.  With the single exception of maintaining, which I do with iWeb long abandoned by Apple, I can do everything I need or want to on this iPad Pro, and most of it better and more enjoyably than on my MacBook.
Many of the solutions I have discovered have been random.  My faulty depth perception often causes me to tap a touch screen at a spot other than that for which I was aiming and often the miss hit has been instructive and useful.
The final problem to be resolved was how to upload entries to the journal.  By chance I found that an app I no longer use, Swifkey, was commandeering the Apple Smart Folio keyboard and rendering it useless.  Deleting Swifkey and all is now well.  I think.

(I was wrong about Swifkey being the cause of the problem.  It still exists when editing a post in Blogger.  Perhaps some conflict with Pages, Safari and Blogger.  Thus I am trying a new format, not indenting paragraphs.)

Along the way I found much useless and outdated information, an example being the keyboard short-cuts in Apple’s own Pages that include using the function key.  The Smart Folio keyboard does not have a function key.
Even though I often mis-touch, I really like the touch screen and increasingly find myself futilely touching the screen when I go back to my MacBook.
Face ID is a welcome advance.
The display is a joy and big enough so that split screen is useful.
Many of the sites I routinely visit, including the NY TIMES and THE GUARDIAN, are far better on the iPad Pro than on iPhone or even the MacBook.  As are, of course, the chartplotting apps.
Of chartplotting apps, I did not have detailed charts of Panama in iSailor and bought that region from iSailor yesterday.  After downloading it to this iPad, I picked up my iPhone and went through the purchase procedure again until I got a window that said, “You have already purchased this.  Would you like to download it again for free?”  Obviously.  Then to my iPad mini.  With iNavX I would have had to pay multiple times and again whenever I replace a device in the future.
I also downloaded the IOS version of LuckGrib, which when first opened has a clever and useful series of tutorials.
So, except for maintaining the main site—and I just added to the Wit page:  I face oblivion with equanimity, although I am apprehensive about the probable pain in the process—and accessing the C-Map charts and chartplotting app, my MacBook is history and this iPad Pro is the future.


Louise, my oldest friend in terms of how long we have known one another, recently mentioned a Thanksgiving she and her then male companion had at my Grandmother’s house in Mission Beach.  I recalled the occasion.  Neither Louise or I can recall if I was then ‘with wife.’
Louise commented on how well my then aged Grandmother cooked and prepared the dinner.
I am not sure of the exact year, but I smiled to myself as I realized that however old my Grandmother was then, she was younger than I am now.


From Guy in England comes a quote from Samuel Beckett, “If there is one question I dread, to which I have never been able to invent a satisfactory Reply, it is the question of what am I doing.”

Monday, November 19, 2018

Evanston: UNDER FIRE; BASEBALL; exception

        Yesterday I finished reading an excellent book and watching an excellent television series.
        The book was UNDER FIRE by Henri Barbusse, justly acclaimed as one of the finest memoirs by a WWI soldier.  
        Barbusse was a published writer before war broke out and in 1914 at age 41 enlisted as a private in the French Army.  He served for 17 months, mostly in the trenches, until broken health caused him to be assigned to a desk job.
        The French title of the novel translates literally as FIRE:  The Story of a Squad and Barbusse writes superbly about the lives of common French soldiers in and out of the trenches, lives in which the almost unimaginable and unthinkable become soul destroyingly commonplace.  His images are vivid:  a screaming tree, the hand of a corpse that the men stepped on as they moved along a trench “fleshless and worn, a sort of withered fin.”  And a description of men unable to extricate themselves from mud drowning as trench walls collapsed in a deluge.
        UNDER FIRE may be the best written WWI memoir I have read.
        I have started rereading STORM OF STEEL by the Ernst Junger, the best known German WWI memoir, to remind myself of what life was like on the other side of no man’s land.
        There are many differences, among them that Junger was a junior officer, not an enlisted man, and believed in the military and the German cause.  Barbusse was for the common soldier, but against the military, generals, war profiteers and politicians. 
        Surprisingly Barbusse’s book was published in 1916, during the war, in stark contrast with official war propaganda, and was an immediate success.
        Junger’s book wasn’t published until 1920 and Erich Maria Remarque's novel, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, not until 1929.

        The series was Ken Burns’ eleven part BASEBALL.  Originally airing in 1994 in nine parts, episodes ten and and eleven were added in 2010 to cover the intervening years
        I don’t know how I missed the series until now.
        One of the changes I have observed in myself is that over the past decade or so, I have come to like baseball more and American football less.
        Like all Burns’ series that I have seen, BASEBALL is an informative and entertaining masterpiece worth viewing even by those who have little interest in the game.
        I watched on Amazon Prime Video


        Under the ‘exceptions to every rule’ Ken writes from Perth, Australia, that there are penguins there and even a Penguin Island.  I have sailed to Fremantle, Perth’s harbor, and I did not remember that.  I goggled and found that the current water temperature in Perth is a comfortable  22.8ºC/73ºF.  Ken says that like the Bay of Islands, Perth’s penguins are small and suggests my principle be modified by adding ‘big’ before ‘penquins’.  While that would be more accurate, I am going to stick to my principle and not swim with penguins of any size.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Evanston: snow; three principles to live by

        I provide this photo taken from our condo this morning as a pubic service to enrich the lives of those of you unfortunate, or perhaps intelligent enough to live in places with good climates.  A blizzard it wasn’t, lasting less than an hour and even with temperature only slightly above freezing the snow is already gone.


        In an exchange of emails with a friend, I wrote:
        There are small penguins, not much bigger than a football, in NZ waters.  I have few principles, but one of them is not to swim in water cold enough for penguins.
        John wrote back:

        I like the penguin principle, that's a good way to live, with a few solid principles.  When my son sailed from California to Australia with little offshore experience I tried to imbue him with two principles : 1) stay on the boat,  2) keep the water out of the boat.  It gets confusing if you have too many.

        I agree.  Those three are enough.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Evanston: too easy; heat wave

        Three readers sent me links to an article in OUTSIDE made reference to at Sailing Anarchy about a 71 year old retired psychiatrist who went missing while trying to sail alone across the Pacific Ocean after sending several bizarre messages.  I strongly disagree with Sailing Anarchy’s assertion that it is a great article. 
        I only skimmed the piece.  My reaction:  Maybe I am making this look too easy.  
        Not everyone should go to sea alone.  This man obviously should not have.  His death is not a tragedy.  I don’t even think it is of interest except to his family.
        From what I read I do wonder why he ever thought he wanted to sail an ocean alone.  Like many others, his mind never really left the land.

        Yesterday morning when I woke up at 6:30 the temperature was 20ºF/-6.6C with a ‘feels like’ of 8º/-13.3C.  Today when I woke up at the same time, the temperature was again 20ºF, but the ‘feels like’ was 13ºF/-10.5C.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Evanston: FREE SOLO

        Mark recommended the documentary film, FREE SOLO, about Alex Honnold’s climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.  I thank him.  Carol and I saw it yesterday and both of us are still thinking and talking about it today.  I would not have thought what Alex Honnold did is humanly possible.  Four hours requiring incredible strength and balance with zero margin for error.  The film shows cameramen turning away from their cameras, unable to endure the tension, knowing that at any instant they might be filming a man falling to his death.
        Mark advised that the film is best seen on a big screen.  I agree, but if that is not possible, I expect that in time FREE SOLO will appear on the National Geographic TV channel.

        Here is a link to the trailer: