Friday, November 29, 2019

Evanston: Chernobyl; paperless; rain

I first learned of Chernobyl when I saw the name in the headlines of a newspaper as I was walking through a subway station in Sydney, Australia.  Like almost everyone else at the time I had no understanding of the magnitude of the disaster.

For the past several days I have been immersed in Chernobyl.  

Carol watched the HBO series on business flights to San Francisco and back, and among the NY TIMES ten best books of the year is MIDNIGHT AT CHERNOBYL by Adam Higginbotham.  I bought the HBO series from iTunes and a Kindle edition of the book from Amazon and have watched and read, completing both yesterday.

Both series and book are excellent and compliment one another.  Both re-enforce my long held distrust of authority figures.  Both reveal the heroic—and I use the word sparingly—self-sacrifices of some and the deceitful self-serving egos of others.  Both reveal that the disaster could have been much, much worse and almost was.

Most television is like most political leaders beneath contempt.  If you live or die by appealing to the greatest possible audience your content must be stupid.  Rarely television achieves greatness.  The final words of the final episode of the HBO series about truth and lies are great.

I highly recommend both the HBO series, CHERNOBYL, and Higginbotham’s book, MIDNIGHT AT CHERNOBYL. 

I thank Carlos for a link to an article about NOAA’s plan to stop producing paper charts.

I am sure there will be ‘traditionalists’ who will complain.  As you know I will not be among them.  I don’t even recall when I last used or owned a paper chart.  You can download all NOAA charts for American waters for free directly into iNavX.  I prefer Navionics charts which cost $20 for all American waters, less than the price of a single paper chart.

Electronic charts are subject to a zoom complication.  Many hazards do not appear at all zoom levels.  This is known.  Any competent navigator will study his intended route in close detail before setting course.  Paper charts are the equivalent of cotton sails.  RIP.

I read that San Diego had its wettest Thanksgiving ever yesterday.  More than an inch of rain in the city.  Two or three inches to the north and inland and several inches of snow on Mt. Palomar.   Julian had over an inch of snow.  A few perhaps foolish drivers had to be rescued from vehicles trapped by floods.

San Diego gets a few winter storms, but in my memory they mostly occurred after January 1.  A storm last week.  A storm this week.  And the seven day forecast shows another due next week.  The sky is indeed falling.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Evanston: from others

I am not doing or thinking anything interesting, so permit me to share from friends who are.

The above photo was taken this dawn by Roger as he sipped his morning coffee on TRAVELER anchored behind Fenwick Island fifty miles from his home in Bluffton, SC, near Hilton Head, on the last day of his successful summer cruise from there north to New England and back with a changing crew including his wife, Laurie.

As do many of you Roger possesses skills I do not and beautifully built the roughly 40’ TRAVELER catamaran himself, including making his own carbon fiber mast, which is almost unheard of.

As I write Roger is underway.  He will tie up to his home dock later today with well earned satisfaction and perhaps slight regret that the cruise is over, any such regret tempered by the knowledge that the ocean is still there waiting for sailors to push away from the dock again.

From Michael comes:

Twenty and thirty knot wind is howling around our building.  Carol has already bought the making of our Thanksgiving dinner which she cooks magnificently.  We will spend a quiet day at home.  I will watch some football.  Accompanying the traditional feast will be a bottle of champagne.

I wish my fellow Americans a happy holiday.  I wish all of you a fine day wherever you are in the world.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Evanston: puppets

Leonard Cohen died three years ago.  Before his death I knew some of his music but I would not have recognized his name.  Since then I continually come across him.  Music.  On television.  A film.  BookBud offered a biography, I’M YOUR MAN, which I bought but have yet to read.

I have bought several of his albums.  YOU WANT IT DARKER, released only days before his death, is one of my favorites.

Last week I learned that his son has assembled and just released a posthumous album, THANKS FOR THE DANCE.  I bought it from iTunes on Friday and have listened to it a few times.

One of the songs, ‘Puppets’, may be as profound a song as he or anyone else has ever written.

Here is a link to a review of the album.

Here a link to a video of ‘Puppets’.

Here a link to the lyrics

My virus rallied on Saturday and, though I am improved, is still hanging on.  I do not admire its perseverance, 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Evanston: return to winter

The flight from San Diego was uneventful and arrived twenty minutes early.  My virus behaved itself and remained quiescent.  After arriving at our condo at 7:00 PM I showered and made a martini, which I drank while nibbling cheese and crackers and watching Thursday Night Football. 

When I woke this morning a few minutes before Carol’s alarm was due to go off at 5:10, I found the temperature outside to be 35º.  Although we have other heating, I light the gas fireplace when the temperature drops below 40º.  So I did.  Chicago has already been considerably colder than this and Carol has used the fireplace.  I checked and the flue was open.

The temperature dropped for the next couple of hours until it reached 32ºF/0C

I have resumed wearing socks and when I walked to the bank a couple of blocks away I wore a leather jacket and gloves.

The trees are bare.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

San Diego: panic in the streets; zinc

Another redundant sign of the Apocalypse:  it is raining in San Diego.  

Here along the coast we have only had .25”, but some inland areas have seen 2” and there are kinds of warnings.  Flash flood warnings.  Even in the mountains a winter storm warning.

Last evening the talking heads on the local news were in a frenzy, warning privileged drivers who are not used to driving on wet roads that they can be slick and interviewing unprepared fools who were lining auto supply stores buying new windshield wipers.  I have seen less hysteria before blizzards and hurricanes.  I really like San Diego but many who live here don’t have a clue.

It is cool and dank in The Great Cabin, but not wet.  No leaks so far around the forward hatch.

My virus is getting better.  Or rather I am.  The virus from its perspective is probably getting worse.  Good.

James advised me of a cold remedy, Zicam, which he has found decreases cold symptoms.  It’s basic ingredient is zinc.  I ordered a bottle from Amazon on Monday with next day delivery and began taking the pills just before noon yesterday.  The directions are to take one every two or three hours, but not more than seven in twenty-four hours.  Since starting I have much improved.  This is not a controlled experiment, so the virus might just have mostly run its despicable course and I might be feeling better anyway, but I am going to continue to take Zicam as is suggested until all symptoms are gone. I don’t remember when I last had a cold.  As noted you people are a menace.  If you get to me again, I will definitely give Zicam a try.

I fly back to real winter tomorrow.  Even more than usual I am looking forward to that.  Life on GANNET when one is ill is hard.  Maybe life on GANNET is always hard, but I don’t usually notice.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Health hazard; Pompeii; Carol amidst the ruins

You people are hazardous to my health.  And to each another’s.  I am not much around people and so am seldom ill.  I was ashore for a week and one of my fellow citizens generously gave me a virus.   Not a serious one.  Not even a real cold.  Just a sore throat and congestion.  I will survive at least a little longer.

During the age of sail it was well known that once scurvy could be prevented, ships became increasingly healthier as they left ports behind.  

Curious about scurvy I did some research.  While Vitamin C was not identified until 1932 and the mechanism of the disease not fully understood until then, that fresh food, particularly citrus fruits, prevented the disease had long been known.  I was amazed to read that during the The Age of Exploration from 1500-1800 perhaps two million sailors died of scurvy.

Following my own good advice to stay away from people I have not left the Great Cabin today.  Not even to step on deck much less the dock.  I have stood in the companionway.

I just finished reading a most enjoyable novel, POMPEII by Robert Harris.  I have read several of his books, including AN OFFICER AND A SPY about the Dreyfus Affair which has just been released as a film.

POMPEII begins two days before Vesuvius’s eruption in 79 AD and follows an Aquarius, an engineer responsible for the aqueducts in the Pompeii region, who strives to repair a break in the water system.  There is a secondary love story.  With so many being killed, I wondered how that would go.  Robert Harris handles it very cleverly at the novel’s end.

Here is a quote from the book:

He had long ago resolved that when death came for him he would endeavor to meet it in the spirit of Marcus Sergius, whom he had crowned in his NATURAL HISTORY as the most courageous man who ever lived—wounded twenty-three times in the course of his campaigns, left crippled, twice captured by Hannibal and held in chains every day for twenty months; Sergius had ridden into his final battle with a right hand made of iron, a substitute for the one he had lost.  He was not as successful as Scipio or Caesar, but what did that matter?  “All other victors truly have conquered men,” Pliny had written, “but Sergius vanquished fortune also.”

“To vanquish fortune’—that was what a man should strive to do.

Seeking photos to illustrate a magazine article, I chanced upon the above one of Carol and post it because I want to enjoy something pleasant.  It was taken during the year that Carol sailed with me in 2001 at the ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Lisbon, Portugal, destroyed in the great earthquake of 1775 and never rebuilt.  The cats live a privileged life there.  I am privileged to live a life with Carol.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

San Diego: Real life

Yesterday Carol drove us back to sea level after we had spent the night at 4,000’ at our friends, Howard’s and Susan’s home in Julian.  Carol’s business travel awards provided a free suite at the Sheraton on Harbor Island.  Once again we were on the eight floor, but this time with two 65” LG Oled TVs, two refrigerators, and two balconies.  We were also given privileges at the Club on the thirteenth floor where excellent free dinner and breakfast buffets are provided.  The above unfortunately fuzzy photo was taken there last night.  From right to left is Glenfiddich 12 year—they didn’t have Laphroaig.  An orchid.  A glass of Chardonnay.  And Carol, who at this moment is flying back to the very frozen flatlands.  I fly back a week from tomorrow.

Harbor Island is not an island, but a man made peninsula created from harbor dredgings.  Marinas first opened there fifty years ago.  I moved the Ericson 35 there in January 1970 and lived on board her and her replacement, the Ericson 37, until I left for my first attempt at Cape Horn in November 1974.  My slip was on the first or second dock from the end of the island at the top of the photo.  Carol and I walked down there and I could not be certain, but I think the second.  I do recall that I had the third slip in from the end and on the east side of the dock, which in San Diego is almost always the lee side, so I could sail the engineless EGREGIOUS in and out of her slip under almost all conditions.

There was no feeling of nostalgia as we stood outside the marina gate or in the above view from our room.  I have grown old enough so that some parts of my life seem to have happened to another person, a stranger.  I may have once belonged on Harbor Island to a certain extent, but I am now an outsider here, perhaps everywhere.  I suppose I like it that way.

I have now happily returned to GANNET and real life.

A nautical forest.

Monday, November 11, 2019

San Diego; 78

After Carol went to sleep last evening, I went onto the balcony with my iPad and sipped gin  while listening to Zhu Xiao-Mei play Book 1 of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier.  It was an appropriate place to spend the final hours of my seventy-seventh year.  Almost straight below me was the dock from which I rowed CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE almost forty-four years earlier to began the open boat voyage.  I lived aboard my first boat, an Excalibur 26, in the next marina from 1967 to 1969.  And on the opposite side of the basin is GANNET and the slip from which I began my sixth circumnavigation in 2014.

This morning I did my full workout, including more than my age in push-ups and crunches.  I did 80 of each in the first set and 40 each in the next two sets which will carry me though November 10, 2022, 

By chance the above poster is in this hotel room.  

Sunday, November 10, 2019

San Diego: the other side of Quivira Basin

We have come down in the world but are still elevated.  Our room is on the 8th floor of the Hyatt Hotel overlooking Quivira Basin.  After moving over here early yesterday afternoon, we walked to the Royal Rooster for carne asada tacos.  Carol now shares my opinion that they are the best in the world.

All three of these photos were taken from our balcony.

GANNET is visible in the one above.  More so in this.  Look left of the highest mast and down.

Last night’s moonrise.

Tomorrow we drive to see friends, Susan and Howard, in Julian.

Friday, November 8, 2019

San Diego: from the aerie; Chicago Beer Can; CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE; sixth

I am enjoying my aerie time.  This will be our last night at this hotel.  Tomorrow we move to the Hyatt on Quivira Basin which is also a tall building so we may still be elevated.

Carol’s conference did not end until 5:30 yesterday and since 4 is the new 5 I poured the last of our mediocre bottle of wine into a glass at 4 pm and sat looking out our window listening to David Shemer play THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS on the harpsichord.  I don’t recall if I have mentioned this before, but THE GOLDBERG on harpsichord seems a  completely different composition than when played on the piano.  Not better or worse, just  different.

As an aside the speakers on my iPad Pro—there are four—have a surprisingly good sound.    I now often listen to music from the iPad Pro directly rather than connect to the Boom 2s.  Although the Boom 2s definitely have superior sound, they require a few extra steps and the iPad is playing music instantly.  That is what I was listening to last evening.  A caveat:  this is coming from an old man who wears hearing aids.

Outside the window, a handful of sailboats were heading back to their slips.  Military helicopters back to their bases.  A colorful kite with a long graceful tail was gliding a hundred yards away and a story or two higher than our 13th floor.  As the sun set the sky became bands of blue, peach, rust, red, black, all blending together as though colored with smudged chalk.  

A very pleasant hour.

The good thing about bad wine is that is becomes less bad as you drink it.

My friend Jay, who sails the Olson 34, SHOE STRING, has compiled, or has had compiled, a video of this year’s Chicago Beer Can Series.

Chicago from the water is beautiful.

The ship that appears in the second minute serves as the club house of the COLUMBIA YACHT CLUB of which Jay is a member and where I once gave a talk.

 While I enjoyed the video, these people sail too damn close to one another for my taste.  But then I am known to like several hundred miles between me and the next boat.

I thank Jay for permission to post the link.

In IMMORTAL POETS the other day I came across none other than the poet who named himself after one of my boats.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  I’m old and easily confused.

You can find the poem on the lists page of the main site under ‘quotes I have used in front of my books’, all of which are worth reading.

While on that page I observed that I had not added the GANNET voyage to the list of my circumnavigations, an omission now corrected.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

San Diego: a change of prespective

I am no longer at sea level, but thirteen stories up in the Hilton Hotel overlooking mega yachts and San Diego Bay.  Carol has flown here for a business conference in the hotel and will add vacation days to stay through next Wednesday.  On Saturday we move to the Hyatt on Quivira Basin so she can partake of the world’s best carne asada taco and we can sit and sip wine on GANNET in the afternoons.  We then drive up to spend a night with my friends, Susan and Howard, in Julian before Carol flies back to the frozen flatlands.  I follow her a week later.

I am managing to survive the hardships of a real bed with sheets, hot and cold running water, a flush toilet and not having to walk to a distant shower.  However the only true attraction, other than being with Carol, is good unlimited Internet.  I have caught up with app updates, magazine issue downloads in Apple News+ and am starting to watch videos to which readers have sent me recent links.

This morning I Ubered back to GANNET because two waterproof duffle bags I had ordered and which were scheduled to be delivered next week were delivered yesterday.  I bought them to improve my clothes stowage.  In the past I have had harbor clothes in one big duffle bag and passage clothes in another.  Neither of these bags were waterproof so everything inside them had to be in plastic trash bags as well.  The two new bags are about 2/3s the size of the first bags and therefore easier to stow and the contents, not being trash bagged, are easier to locate.    I have decided that if it won’t fit in the new bags I can live without it.  I made the transfer this morning and find the new arrangement as satisfactory as I hoped.

I then Ubered back to a supermarket not far from the hotel, bought a Boreshead Buffalo Club sandwich, half for lunch today, half tomorrow, some mixed fruit, and four bran raisin muffins, one of which I just ate for lunch dessert.  I also bought a bottle of wine after we paid hotel prices of $42 last night for a very poor bottle of wine that we drank in our room.  Tonight I am treating us to what I am sure will be very overpriced martinis.

I just remembered that this is workout day.  Well, I have an hour or two to recover from muffin overdose.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

San Diego: a study in senility: rugby; a price increase

Today was laundry day.  Being in the far corner of the marina, which is exactly where I want to be, I have the longest walk to the shore.  Marina gates are opened with key cards.  There are three gates between GANNET and the laundry room.  I swung the North Sails bag I use as a laundry bag over my shoulder and got all the way to the first gate at the top of the ramp to the shore where I realized I had forgotten the key card.  I walked back and got it, returned, continued through the next two gates, got to the washing machine where I realized I had forgotten detergent.  I walked back and got it.  At least I am getting exercise.

Those of you who follow rugby already know that South Africa defeated England in the World Cup Final.  After beating New Zealand decisively in one semi-final England were favored, but South Africa dominated and joined New Zealand as the only countries to have won the World Cup three times.  South Africa wins every twelve years, or every third World Cup.

Under Apartheid rugby was the white man’s game, soccer the black man’s.  South Africa’s rugby side  has been integrated for many years and their current captain is their first black captain.  My congratulations to South Africa.  My condolences to England.

An item in LATITUDE 38 says that the basic fee for transiting the Panama Canal is going to double January 1, 2020, from $800 to $1600 for boats under 65’ in length.

The first two times I transited the Canal I paid $125 for the 36’ RESURGAM.  The Canal was then under US control. In 2009 with the Canal under Panamanian control I paid about $500 for the 37’ THE HAWKE OF TUONELA.  Prices are certainly increasing.  However, considering that I paid at least $7,000 earlier this year to by pass the Canal, $1600 may be a bargain.

The above exceptional photo was taken by Steve Earley a few weeks ago on his annual fall cruise on his Welsford Pathfinder, SPARTINA.

Steve and I have a long understanding that we can republish content from one another’s site.  I thank him for letting me do so.

Monday, November 4, 2019

San Diego: The secret of happiness; 4 is the new 5; startled

I am absolutely certain that you get your money’s worth from this journal and now, at no extra charge, today only, I am throwing in the secret to happiness.  I expect that you are going to find that you already knew it

I thank James for the link.

Not watching news on my big screen television on GANNET it was not until Carol mentioned that we were going off daylight time that I thought of it.  It would not have been a problem.  All my devices, except the Kindle, automatically changed themselves.   With the change sunrise is now around 6 am instead of 7, which is good, but sunset is now just before 5 pm rather than 6, which means I now need—notice the ‘need’—to go on deck and start sipping at 4 instead of 5.  The sun is low enough so that GANNET’s deck falls into the shadow of the neighboring behemoth before 3 pm and I wear a long sleeved shirt and Levis on deck.

While San Diego has eternal spring, the past few days have felt cooler here along the coast.  The ocean off California is never warm, but the water temperature has dropped since summer cooling the wind that blows in from the ocean.

A Rustoleum clarification.  

At Home Depot last week to buy some flat black to paint the carbon fiber bowsprit I noticed for the first time that Rustoleum has a line of marine paints.  I checked with Kent of Small Boat Restoration who originally brought Rustoleum to my attention and he does indeed use the marine Rustoleum, which is said to cover more different kinds of surfaces and have better UV resistance than the standard paint.  In my ignorance I used standard on the interior, which won’t matter, and on the bow sprit.  A flat white inside.  Flat black on the sprit.  I will see how the black lasts.  Repainting the sprit takes only a few minutes.

In the November issue of LATITUDE 38 which you can read online I answer the unanswerable, ‘Why I sail’.  None of this will be new to those who have been reading this journal for a while.  The essay is found under ‘Sightings’ and will be on the Lectronic Latitudes site sometime this week.  In a month I will add it to the ‘articles’ page of the main site.

The photos are test shots from a GoPro Hero 8 Black that arrived Friday.  The top one is of the mouth of the San Diego River flood control channel.  The marina off to the right.  The other of last night’s sunset. 

I still have my Hero 5 Black.  I don’t really know what I am going to do with the new one.  If I were ever to go sailing again, I would mount one on the stern rail looking forward and move the other around, on the mast facing aft, on a mount inside the cabin on the companionway bulkhead facing forward, a head mount, hand held.

Of ever sailing again, in an email I received Saturday the writer expressed sadness that my sailing was over.  I was so startled that I emailed back, “Maybe it isn’t.”  Don’t get your hopes up.  I don’t even know what ocean GANNET will be on this time next year.   Nothing will even be considered until the Hilton Head condo is resolved and I have no idea when, if ever, that will happen.  

Friday, November 1, 2019

San Diego: it’s all right to be alone

The NEW YORK TIMES recently ran an article saying that it is all right to spend some time alone.  Really?  Who knew?  Well, I knew and if you have been reading this for a while I expect you knew too.

“Historically solitude has had a pretty bad rap,” states one ‘expert’.  And, “Despite the social stigma and apprehension about spending time alone.”  And, ‘Our aversion to being alone can be quite drastic:  a quarter of women and two-thirds of the men in a University of Virginia study choose to subject themselves to electric shock rather than do nothing and spend time alone with their own thoughts.”

I expect I, too, would rather have had an electric shock than spend time with their thoughts and score one for women.

I find it interesting that some reporter felt a need to write this article and some editor a need to publish it, and that it has for several days appeared on the ‘Most Popular’ page.

Apparently it is possible to get through journalism school without ever having read Thoreau.  I know it is possible to get through without having read Webb Chiles, almost as great a loss.

Sometimes I get discouraged.  I am so far ahead of the mass of our species that they are never going to catch up or even get close before I reach the finish line.  So, rather than spend time with my own thoughts, I walked around and ate a carne asada taco and a scoop of rainbow sherbet.