Saturday, June 29, 2019

San Diego: bike rack; even better; unexpected

        This marina now has a regulation prohibiting bicycles being kept on the dock and have eliminated the bike rack that used to be near the entrance ramp.  I don’t know why, but I am very glad to be here and am willing to live with the rules.
        I Ubered to a bike shop in nearby Pacific Beach today and bought my transportation, a used bike in seemingly excellent condition.  I rode it back along what is called the Board Walk along Mission Beach, but is concrete.  It was very crowded with the addition of electric scooters to the older mix of skate boarders, bicycles and walkers.
        Along the way I passed the site of my grandparents’ home, filled with memories of a teenaged Webb Chiles who no longer exists.
        On my return I locked the bike to a light pole in the parking lot because I wanted to scrub GANNET’s deck, which I did.  This was her first wash in 5,000 miles and she looks better for it.  
        I later moved the bike to GANNET, who has in addition to being the only Moore 24 to circumnavigate become the only Moore 24 to be a bike rack.  Obviously I will have to leave the bike locked in the parking lot when I go sailing.  If I am gone overnight, it might not be there on my return.  I have suffered greater losses.

        You may have noticed that GANNET in the above photos is not where she was yesterday.
        This morning I went up to the marina office and asked Lindsey what type and size of boat was in the space in front of me, which was vacant when I walked down to check it out on Wednesday and when I docked yesterday.  She told me the space is empty and I could move forward if I wanted to.  Indeed I did.  This is even better.  It is the best possible place for me in the marina.  A view that can not be obstructed.  More exposure to the prevailing wind.  I could easily sail out, though less easily sail in.  Excellent.

        Although I am not aware she has any damage, the little boat needs a lot of cosmetic repair.  I am quite happy to do that, but unexpectedly I have found a sense of peace and ease.  I don’t actually have to do anything.  I have done enough.  If I time and chance do not end me, I expect I will do more.  More words.  More voyages.  But that does not matter.  I have proven Webb Chiles to Webb Chiles.  I am at peace as I never have been before.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

San Diego: voyage’s true end

         Ah, the mellifluous sound of sea lions ‘arkking’, the sweet smell of fish breath.  Several sea lions are arkking out on the bait barge.  One is sleeping on the swimming platform of a power boat at the end of the next dock.
        Above you see GANNET in her new home at Driscoll’s Mission Bay Marina.  The boat in the foreground in the top photo is in GANNET’s old slip from which she sailed on May 20, 2014.  While she had been in San Diego Bay before and it seemed just to call her entering the bay the completion of her circumnavigation, she is now almost exactly where she began and the flat earth fools have another problem to explain away.
        I left Driscoll’s Boat Works on Shelter Island at 8 a.m.  I know that the wind in San Diego usually doesn’t come up until 11, but GANNET was in a corner from which she had to ease stern first through a space not much wider than her modest 7’2” beam between two power boats, one of them 80’ long, and I wanted to get out in flat calm.  Two boatyard men took GANNET’s bow and stern lines and walked us through the bottleneck.  I was on board and fended us off the bigger power boat.  We had only inches of clearance on either side.
        Once free, I put the faithful Torqeedo in reverse and backed into open water.
        After taking in the dock lines and fenders, I raised the mainsail and we powered at 2.4 knots down busy and noisy San Diego Bay.  Quivira Basin’s sea lions are nothing compared to military helicopters, power boats, a huge car carrier, tugs towing a submarine, and Navy hovercraft, which challenge the helicopters as being noisiest of all.
        Keeping an eye on the rate the Torqeedo battery was discharging, I powered until 9:30 when with the battery at 80% there was slight wind for a half hour off Point Loma. Clear of the shipping channel and a mile off land, I let us drift when we were becalmed for an hour.  That seemed familiar.  At 11 punctual light wind came from the west and we had a pleasant sail the six miles north to the Mission Bay entrance channel.  The sun burned off low coastal overcast around noon.  The temperature was 68ºF/20ºC.  The little boat skirted kept beds mostly at 4 knots with an occasional 5 in about that much wind.
        I made a U turn to tie up facing out.  Even for GANNET, there is not a lot of room to do that.  Now that I know the cleat spacing, I’ll prepare lines with loops in the end that can just be dropped over them when docking.
        I like it here.  I always have.  I am glad to be back.
        Tonight drinks on deck will be accompanied by Bach and sea lions.
        Tomorrow I buy a bicycle.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

San Diego: from Central

June 26, Wednesday
San Diego:  At Central

        After an uneventful flight—the best kind—I arrived in San Diego yesterday afternoon, taxied to Shelter Island and after a brief search found GANNET not where I left her, which I knew could happen, and somewhat dirty and musty, but with no water in the bilge and the batteries fully charged.
        I plugged in the two new tiller pilots and found them to work.
        Steve Earley, who grew up in San Diego, happened to be visiting and I had a pleasant dinner last evening at a Mexican restaurant with him and Grace, one of his two daughters, who lives up to her name.
        Returning to GANNET I was disappointed to discover the inside of my sleeping bag damp.  Not severely, but definitely not dry.   After my arrival on April 29 I did laundry, or rather my friend Howard did my laundry, but not the sleeping bag, which obviously has enough residual salt to attract moisture.  The heat of my body was sufficient to dry the bag during the night.  Mostly.  It is out in the sun in the cockpit now.
        This morning, after fitting the Torqeedo, which started as it should, I Ubered over to Driscoll’s Mission Bay Marina where Lindsey did the paperwork and gave me the choice of a couple of locations.  I picked a side tie adjacent to the slip I had before the circumnavigation.  I have always liked side ties which provide more open space around them than slips.
        I’m going to do a few errands this afternoon within walking distance, including visiting a West Marine, and will take GANNET around to Mission Bay tomorrow.
        The transition between Evanston and GANNET, and vice versa, takes a little while.   I seem to remember how to live on board and am very glad to feel the little boat move.  Land is so stationary and dull.  Except when it isn’t.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Evanston: the sinking of the IDLER, twice?; leave of absence

        I thank Ernest and Mike as well as Chris for sending links that provide more information about Charles Holmes and the sinking of the IDLER.  I was wrong when I said that the owners of the yacht were among those drowned.  All the drowned were female, five tragically in the family of one of the two millionaire brothers who owned the yacht.
        Having been second guessed too often over the decades by those sitting comfortably ashore and who  were not there, I resist second guessing others, but I have formed a tentative opinion about the sinking of the IDLER which I am going to keep to myself, but which I expect you know.
        I will say that I believe the ‘mystery of the Bermuda Triangle’ is superstitious nonsense.
        Here are the links:

        For the Amazon one, click on the cover of the book to look inside and then Chapter 3.
        Mike, who lives in Oriental, North Carolina, adds:  I was interested in the boat because I sailed a Lawley yawl from that period when I was a teenager.  Did you read where they got “Idler” to the yard and she was in great shape except for a broken bowsprit that happened during the tow to port.  Apparently she punched her bow through some other boat and sunk the other boat.  Then I read where a schooner “Idler” sunk killing 15 people in 1915.  Where??  Diamond Shoal!  Right off my coast near Cape Lookout.  They mentioned her having a history on the Great Lakes.  Can one boat sink twice, sink another boat and drown 21 people total?  


          The live-in housemaid is about to take a leave of absence.  The next post will come from San Diego.  I fly to GANNET tomorrow.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Evanston: more on Capt. Holmes

        I thank Chris for finding a snippet in the NEW YORK TRIBUNE on October 14, 1900, that a Captain Charles Holmes had been charged in Cleveland with manslaughter when the yacht IDLER, of which he was captain, foundered in a squall off that city on July 7.  The two owners and five other members of their family drowned.  Assuming it was the same Charles Holmes, as seems likely, he was still on the Great Lakes..  Many voyages talked about are never sailed.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Evanston: my new laptop? Charles Holmes?

        A raw, gray, windy, rainy day.  Here near the lake the temperature is 54º.  It does not feel like summer.  I will be glad to be in San Diego and back on GANNET next week.
        On the left above you see what may be my new laptop.  It is the 12.9” iPad Pro attached to a Brydge keyboard.  For comparison to the right is my 12” MacBook.
        The Brydge keyboard arrived last Friday.  Before that I was using an Apple Smart Keyboard Folio which has the virtue of being considerably lighter and connecting seamlessly with the iPad, but the Brydge is much superior as a keyboard.  It is in fact the best keyboard I can remember using.  Better than that on my MacBook or on Carol’s MacBook Air.  
        Here are the keyboard and iPad separated.

        The iPad is pushed into the two rubber surfaced hinges.  Once in the iPad is secure.  You can lift both holding onto the iPad alone and in fact Brydge advises you to do so as a test.  If the iPad comes out you are to bend the hinges slightly, which I have done.  Removing the iPad to use it alone is easy.
        As I have mentioned before I can do almost everything I need to do on the iPad and the iPad OS due to be released this fall will enable me to do even more.  I am not be able to  use iWeb to upload to my main site and I have had problems with Blogger uploading to this journal.  That may go away with the new OS, but I am writing this post in Blogger itself which may solve the conflicts between Pages and Blogger.
        On the negative side, the Brydge keyboard weighs 1.56 pounds, slightly more than the iPad itself.  Together they come to almost three pounds, about the same as a 13” MacBook Pro and a pound more than the 12” MacBook.  However with the Brydge keyboard attached, the 12.9” iPad still fits in the messenger bag I travel with.
        I will take both the iPad/Brydge and my MacBook with me to GANNET, but the iPad is definitely now my main computer.


        This morning my friend, Tim, who happens to be in Chicago on business and with whom Carol and I had a splendid dinner and a very pleasant evening Tuesday, sent me the following from the June 20, 1897 edition of the KANSAS CITY JOURNAL.

        I have never heard of Charles Holmes or this voyage and I think I would have if it had been successful.   
        If any of you know anything about Charles Holmes I am most interested and ask you to write me.  There is a contact address at the main site.
        It was a most audacious plan at that time and still would be now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Evanston: passage images

        Here are some of the images I have found to illustrate “The End of Being”, the article I wrote last week and which will eventually appear in CRUISING WORLD.  I wonder if they will keep the title. 
        I shot few still pictures during the passage from Balboa to San Diego.  All of these are single frames from videos.
        One shows me sailing while being harassed in Balboa.  One shows me entering San Diego Bay.  If you look closely at the mast mounted Velocitek in one you will see an SOG of 0.9 which was unfortunately all too typical during the first three weeks of the passage.  In the one of me eating breakfast, tilt your screen until I am perpendicular to see GANNET’s angle of heel.          

Friday, June 14, 2019

Evanston: Grace

        I happened upon a wonderful song, ‘Grace’, sung by Jim McMann, of whom I am embarrassed I did not know.  The background is the what is usually known as the Easter Uprising of 1916.
        A few of you might know that I quoted in the front of STORM PASSAGE a poem by William Butler Yeats, “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”, of the same period.
        Sinead O'Conner and The Chieftans also sing of the Uprising.
         I found that Jim McMann was born three years after I and died four years ago.
        He also sings one of the best versions of “Carrickfergus”.
        You may notice on the YouTube page of the video, that 2.4 K give ‘Grace’ a thumbs down.  

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Evanston: The Polar Sea; The City of God; the best climate; 'Piper to the End'

        This week I have been working on a magazine article about the end of GANNET’s voyage, when not watching the Cubs, the Men’s Under 20 World Cup and the Women’s World Cup.  I stopped watching the women’s US/Thailand match when the score was 2-0.  The outcome was obvious and I do not find massacres enjoyable.
        Carol and I also found time to watch a ten part Netflix series, The Polar Sea, which is about the Northwest Passage.  It mostly follows two boats, a 31’ monohull sloop crewed by three older middle-aged Swedish men and a lavishly equipped about 50’ catamaran with a Swiss financier, his French wife and their three children on board.
        The first episode is somewhat jumbled, but the second is better and has a good sequence contrasting the lives of those on the two very different boats and passengers on a ‘adventure’ cruise ship that is also making the passage.
        Subsequently there is coverage of the lives of Inuit who live along the shores, particularly with reference to how they are being affected by climate change, and of scientists who are studying that change.  To no one’s surprise those who make their living in the Alaskan oil fields deny climate change.
        A startling fact, if true, is that young men at Gjoa Harbor, where Amundsen wintered during the first transit of the Northwest Passage, have the highest suicide rate in the world.
        Much of the scenery is beautiful.  The sailing less so.  There is in fact very little sailing seen.  Almost always the boats are under power.
        I am not sure which year is depicted in the series.  It was first shown in 2014 and I assume made a year or two earlier.  Whatever year, it is stated that thirty boats attempted the NW Passage that summer and only five succeeded.  Shown briefly in one episode are two men rowing the passage and a team striving to be the first to do the passage on jet skies, which I consider to be, with the exception of being used in surf rescue, among the most abominable objects ever made by man.
        Imagine being old and asked, “What did you do with your life?”  And having to answer, “Well, I jet skied the Northwest Passage.”  No.  That won’t do.
        We were entertained by The Polar Sea and recommend it.


        I also rewatched THE CITY OF GOD, a fine and perhaps even great 2002 Brazilian film, and THE CITY OF GOD TEN YEARS LATER.
        The title comes from a Rio de Janeiro slum controlled by youth drug gangs.  Sounds like South Chicago today.  One boy, Rocket, stays on the fringes of the gangs and wants to become a photographer.
        The film is dramatic and graphic.  I watched it when it was first released and some scenes have remained with me ever since.  
        Ten years after its release a fascinating documentary was made about how the film changed, or did not change, the lives of those involved.  For several it was the opportunity to create successful careers.  For others it was a blip.  Ten years later one was selling peanuts on streetcars.


        This confirms what many of us have long known:  San Diego has the best weather of any major city in the world.  Tijuana and San Diego are contiguous, separated only by an arbitrary political border that weather does not recognize.  
        It does not surprise me that five of the top ten are on the California coast or that three of the top eleven and five of the twenty-five are in South Africa.
        I am surprised that Sydney, Australia is not on the list and that Cairo, Egypt is.


        Long time readers know that Mark Knopfler is probably my favorite male singer/song writer.
        When I first heard his “Piper to the End” I assumed it to be a traditional Celtic folk song.  It is not.  He wrote the song about his uncle, Freddie, who was killed in France in 1940 at age 20.  Haunting indeed.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Evanston: canoagator

June 9, Sunday
Evanston:  canoagater

        The photo of a Seminole canoe with sail on Biscayne Bay of to me unknown age comes from Kent and Audrey who have an armada of restored small boats at their home near Pensacola, Florida, one of which is similar to the Seminole boat. Photos of the craft always make me smile.  I am not sure if she is a canoagater or a sharkanoe.


        PRACTICAL BOAT OWNER in England wants to reprint a piece I wrote for another British publication, YACHTING WORLD, about my three hundred mile drift in an inflatable after CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE pitchpoled in May 1980 between Fiji and what is now Vanuatu.  The magazine is paying me with the painting that will be used to illustrate the article.  The artist, Richard Everett, has chosen the moment I was rowing through breaking surf to reach Emae Island.  In responding to questions Richard asked, I came across this picture I took of myself a few minutes after I reached land. 
        A self-portait of a man who had been on the edge of survival for fourteen days, taken  long before the narcissistic and trivial ‘selfie‘ even existed.


        You may have read that Apple wants to turn the iPad into a laptop replacement and to that end is coming out this fall with a new iPad OS that will make that significantly easier.
        My iPad Pro is perhaps the most appealing device I have ever owned.  I want to use it and do for all that I can.
        In anticipation of the coming OS I am writing more on the iPad including this entry and an article I just started, and have ordered a second and possibly better keyboard.
        I am not sure why Apple would like us to buy iPads instead of MacBooks, but I am willing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Evanston: slipped and packed

        Yesterday I telephoned Driscoll’s Mission Bay Marina, where I kept GANNET before her circumnavigation.   I telephoned them from Panama and reached a woman whom I believe no longer works there.  She was not helpful.   Yesterday the phone was answered by Max,  the dockmaster, who was most helpful and promised to find room for the little boat when I return to San Diego.
        While Shelter Island is more convenient with shops, a supermarket and chandleries all in easy walking distance, I prefer Mission Bay to San Diego Bay.  Quivira Basin is quieter, prettier, and has much quicker access to the ocean.  I am looking forward to  being back there.
        Carol laughs that I am usually sitting on my duffle bag days before I am due to make a trip.  There is some truth to that.  I fly to San Diego three weeks from yesterday and tested to see if the boat stuff I am taking back will fit inside my backpack.  It will.  I didn’t leave the equipment in the backpack, but I’m ready.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Evanston: the teabags of success

        I claim to be an original, but have expressed doubt as to whether I am a successful experiment.  No more. 
        Google alerts me when I am mentioned on the Internet.  As an aside, it is both interesting and disturbing that they have so much capacity that they offer this as a free service.
        On Saturday I received two alerts.  One led to an article about me that I knew was coming in LATITUDE 38, but the other to the personal website of one EmJae Lightningbug—I did not make that up, but perhaps she did—where she writes:  “Live passionately even if it kills because something is going to kill you anyway.”  Webb Chiles.  I found this quote on the back of a tea packet.”
        Note that they dropped one ‘you’.  Perhaps there wasn’t room.  
        I do not believe in letting others define me, but this is more than a tipping point. 
        What other solo sailor is stolen from and quoted on tee-shirts, greeting cards, coffee cups, paintings, photographs, countless websites that collect sayings of sailing and the sea, ads for women’s shoes, and now tea bags?  What other writer is quoted on all those?
        Obviously I could have made a fortune starting an ad agency, but I had better things to do.
        The tea bags are decisive.
        I am now officially a successful experiment.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Evanston: flying fools; US rugby world champions

        Carol and I have become flying fools.  Today is the fourth morning in a row that one or the other of us has gone early to an airport.  She flying to Hilton Head Wednesday and back that same day.  I flying to Oakland, California Thursday and back to Chicago on Friday.  She to Hilton Head again today.  To the question:  do these trips to Hilton Head mean that something is happening with the evil condo?  The answer is a definite ‘maybe’.
        My travel was a business trip and you didn’t even know I have a business.  I was invited to speak to Moore sailors and others at the Richmond Yacht Club and with my self-described job being to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports, this was a report.
        I enjoyed my time in Richmond, which is on the east side of San Francisco Bay just north of Berkeley where I kept my first boat for several months in 1967 before I sailed her to San Diego.  
        I got to see other Moore 24s,, of which there are many at the yacht club.  I was particularly impressed by the attention to detail and passionate reduction of weight in Mark English’s deck layout.
        I also got to meet several people whom I had known through email, including Ron Moore and his wife, Martha Lewis, who drove up from Santa Cruz.
        The natives were friendly and the audience for my presentation enthusiastic and responsive.
        I thank the club and particularly Susan Hubbard and Simon Winer who drove me around and attended to my I trust not excessive needs.


        While traveling recently in New Zealand Jim, who knows my love for the Bay of Islands, took the above photograph which I am slightly suspicious has been Photoshopped.  I thank him for the photograph and the thought.  



        The sun is shining now, but earlier this morning we had heavy rain and hail.  Who would live in the Midwest?