Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hilton Head Island: cavernous; hobbyist; new career; 4 for 50; Shackleton: sailors rule

 The above vast space is GANNET’s freshly painted cabin floor looking aft from Central.  I got the first coat of paint on yesterday and hope to get a second on later today after light rain this morning ends. 

I am working inside, but I like to have the hatches open while painting to vent the fumes.  I cannot afford more brain damage.

I was able to move all the stuff normally stowed beneath and between the pipe berths to the forepeak.  I am a little surprised that it all fit.

You can also see the new thicker walled aluminum pipe berth tubes.

The flecks of paint on the wood are chips of old paint, not spills of new.

On my way back to the condo, I stopped by the marina office and asked Ben, the new dock master, if I can paint GANNET’s topsides in the slip, and was told I can.  I am not yet sure I will, but it is likely.  I painted THE HAWKE OF TUONELA while she was in her slip and we were living aboard in Boston.  GANNET will be easier both because I calculate her surface area is less than half that of HAWKE and because the water here is almost always flat.  In Boston I had to contend with wakes.

I thank Paul for a link to an interview I had completely forgotten.

Obviously it was done before I began the GANNET circumnavigation.  Although I don’t even recall how I did the interview, I am still satisfied with my answers.

I believe in less.  The best writing has the fewest words and I took some pride in defining myself in six.  Try it.  I will be interested in your efforts.  If  you send them to me, I’ll post them with your permission.

However, I have been exceeded.

A few days ago I mentioned that I had been working on GANNET and a person said, “That’s nice.  Everyone should have a hobby.”  This was said matter-of-factly, not in jest.  So there you have it.  One word.  Can’t improve on that.  Almost 80 years.  All the joy and all the despair.  All the beauty and all the suffering.  Webb Chiles:  Hobbyist.  Although my bruised ego does want to add:  Legendary Hobbyist.

I have a new career:  furniture assembler/ locksmith.

Probably most of you already knew this, but then I have not had many of the most common experiences.  Naively I thought that when you bought furniture it came complete.  Greater fool I. Everything comes broken down for the smallest packaging.  So far I have assembled chairs, tables, and most recently a bed frame.  As a sideline I have also installed a new smart lock and a door knob.  It will do you no good to call for an appointment.  I do not make service calls.

I realized a few weeks ago that I know only four people from the first fifty years of my life.  Three women and one man.  Three live in Southern California.  One in Australia.  I have communicated with them all recently and learned that my experience may not be all that uncommon.

Here is the partial text of one of those emails.  The reference to roses is that my friend says she talks to them as she prunes them.

I was initially surprised that your experience is the same as mine in not having many friends from the first 50 years roughly of life and it causes me to wonder if this is perhaps the norm, or closer than I expected.  I have observed that although we are a herd species we all know that we are alone, though most do their best to forget that.

As a fellow reader I just finished a remarkable retelling of Beowulf in a modern setting, THE MERE WIFE by Maria Dahvana Headley.  Quite original.  It is one of three contemporary novels retelling epics suggested by an article I saw in the NY TIMES.  The other two were GRENDEL by John Gardner, also Beowulf, and THE SILENCE OF THE WOMEN by Pat Barker, a retelling of the ILLIAD from the point of view of Brieses, the captive who Agamemnon took from Achilles.  All are very good.  As is some of the poetry of Louise Gluck, of whom I had not known until she got the Nobel Prize.  Her best I think also go back to Homer.

I do not talk to roses, but then I don’t have any.  I don’t even talk to GANNET, at least not much, though there have been times I have told a boat:  I’ve been careful with you, but now you just have to do it.  And they did as did I.  It is such a surprise to be this old.  Like being on the right side of a joke.  So let us grow older in quiet or loud pleasures and despite the fools.

I finished ENDURANCE.  Despite some hyperbole about the Southern Ocean what Shackleton and those with him endured one would think was beyond endurance, except they did.  He was a great leader, but perhaps not a great seaman.

Here are some quotes from the book:

Today, of course, such an ordeal could not take place.  A contemporary expedition would simply get on their sat phones and an ice breaker would be sent or they would be air lifted out.  There is an immeasurable difference in working without a net.  Of having no way to call for help.

Worsley’s thought that it was a pity no one would know how close they came resonated with me.  I had the same thought when EGREGIOUS was in the strongest wind I have ever known south of Australia after almost four months at sea.

I thank Michael for this, though I refuse to run the world.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Hilton Head Island: two small boats

 The above photo comes from NASA’s Earth Observatory site today.  It was taken April 24, 1916 and shows Ernest Shackleton and five men setting out from Elephant Island near Antarctica in an attempt to reach South Georgia Island and help after their ship, ENDURANCE, was crushed by ice.  Their boat was bigger than CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, but not much.  They were truly sailing into the unknown.  Shackleton thought, I believe rightly, that they had no choice.

The article caused me to buy the Kindle edition of ENDURANCE by Alfred Lansing, a very good book that I have not read for a long time.

On the Sailing Anarchy site is a brief piece about a sailor who makes voyages to no where in his Cal 20.  I highly approve and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago am contemplating doing so myself around Bermuda next year.

In studying the photo I am uncertain about his means of self-steering and I do wonder about his timing.  He will be in the South Pacific during the cyclone season. I conclude that I am going to have to grown a beard if I ever want to be taken seriously as a sailor.  I wish him a safe and fulfilling voyage.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Hilton Head Island: gale warning; disarray; more views from the bedroom window


White caps on Skull Creek.  A rarity though on only 3”-4” ripples. We have a gale warning caused by an approaching front.  The live oaks and Spanish Moss are in a frenzy.  The temperature here is still 66F/19C but is due to drop below freezing Saturday night.  About as cold as it gets here.  I hope.  And considerably better than Evanston which is currently 17F/ feels like 02F and due to get colder.

 GANNET, whose mast you can see in the top photo—it is the only black one—she is stern to in her slip—is in disarray.  Yesterday I removed the starboard pipe berth and replaced the tube with a new one with a thicker wall as I have already done to port.  I biked down to GANNET this morning but did not accomplish much.  I need to scrape old loose paint and sand before painting the areas under the pipe berths I have not been able to reach for years, but to do so I need to move everything there.  This wasn’t the day for it and neither will be any of the next several.  So I puttered around for an hour, checked dock lines and fenders and came back to the condo.

The photos were taken through the huge bedroom window.  We now usually have our sunset drinks sitting in front of it.  In the middle two if you look at the bump on the live oak that I think looks like a bird, you will see a real bird standing on its head.  A Great Blue Heron has landed there two afternoons recently about 4 PM and remained motionless for more than an hour.  I believe he is taking a nap before dinner.

Carol has also seen the raccoon again exploring the water’s edge at about the same time.  

We will spend a quiet Christmas at home, as is our custom.  However this year no Christmas tree.  We couldn’t figure out how to carry one on our bicycles.

We wish you a happy holiday—whichever one you celebrate—and a fine new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Hilton Head Island: deaths; disproportionate; beyond; a poem


Eric pointed out to me that the number of deaths from this pandemic now exceeds the number of US combat deaths in WW II.  I was surprised to learn that.  I thought the number of casualties was higher and it is if non-combat deaths are included.  I was led to an entry in Wikipedia of interest in several ways.  Among them that it includes numerous military engagements of which I have never heard or read of.  Another is to scroll all the way to the bottom and see the number of military deaths as a percentage of the then population where you will find that the second highest percentage, exceeded only by the Civil War, was the American Revolution.

From Dana comes a link for which I thank him.  I quote the heading:

Enormous xylophone in the woods of Kyushu, Japan plays a Bach tune when a wooden ball rolls down each "key." An impressive piece of engineering.

An impressive piece of engineering indeed.  Worthwhile?  I don’t know.  

I did not count that as my Bach for the day.

Although Apple tells me I don’t use oxygen sufficiently well to exercise, I resumed my full workouts a week ago, the day after the final stitches were removed from my leg.  I went to the 100 push-up/crunch level on Friday and have twice lowered my record for the entire routine, now down to 16 minutes 32 seconds, more than a full minute better than my best prior to the skin cancer removal.  Perhaps it was holding me back.

I decided to use the EEG app on my Apple Watch.  I followed instructions.  Held my arm steady with my finger on the crown for thirty seconds, at the end of which I was told that the EEG failed because my pulse is less than 50 per minute.  Sigh.  It has been at rest for as long as I can remember.  I am starting to think that I am beyond Apple.

Observant early viewers of the preceding post may have noticed ‘a poem’ as part of the heading—soon deleted—and then wondered why there was no poem in the text.  I forgot, but at least I realized that I forgot, so am perhaps not totally senile.

So here is the promised poem.  In fact two as a bonus, both by the Greek, C.P. Cavafy, one of which I have posted here before.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hilton Head Island: THE GUARDIAN OF MERCY; wrong

 I finished THE GUARDIAN OF MERCY two days ago.  It continued, with an exception, to be a unique pleasure to read.  The exception is the six page epilogue, which has some slight interest in telling us what became of some of the people in the book, but then devolves into a paean to Pope Francis that seems stuck on and I expect was insisted upon by the publisher to make the book seem more contemporarily relevant.  I highly recommend the book; not the epilogue.

Here are some quotes used in and from THE GUARDIAN OF MERCY:

As they waited for the attack they knew would be the last, one of them said he had heard the Persians were so numerous that when they shot their arrows, they hid the sky.  "Good," said another.  "Then we will fight in the shade."  --Herodotus, THE HISTORIES

This is the true joy in life:  being used for a purpose recognized as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn-out before you're thrown on a scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. --George Bernard Shaw, MAN AND SUPERMAN

Art is actually one of the only ways through which a troubled soul can express what he carries inside.

Then she asks as if speaking to herself, "What have we done to deserve all this?  There are thousands in the world without a roof over their heads, and we are in this divine home.  Why us?  In life, it's only a matter of luck how you start can there be justice?  It's pure luck if we find ourselves here, instead of in a huge building managed by the Camorra (the Mafia) in Scampia.  There, it's one in a thousand who can break out and have a life.

The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with  beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.  --George Santayana

The heart's memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good; and thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burdens of the past.  --Gabriel Garcia Marquez, LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA

"This is life, my dear one," she whispers, "don't worry, keep laughing--the worst is yet to come."  And we burst out in laughter.

For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.  --Wendell Berry, THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

Ustitched on Monday, I resumed my full workout on Tuesday and am again back in the routine.  Weights Wednesday.  Push-up/crunches/knee bends workout Thursday.  Weights yesterday.  Push-ups today.  Resistance bands tomorrow.

An update to the Apple iPhone health app contains a number decided by an algorithm of VO2 which is supposed to be the volume of oxygen your body can use.  It states that mine is low and I will have difficulty exercising.  From this one can only conclude that the algorithm is flawed.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Hilton Head Islanda: cyclone Yasa and a correction

 I checked on cyclone Yasa this morning.  The eye seems to have passed between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, the two largest Fijian Islands, and is now just beyond them.  Sustained winds of 240 kilometers per hour/149 miles per hour/130 knots with gusts up to 345 kilometers per hour/214 miles per hour/186 knots have been reported.  If accurate  Yasa may be the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.  Whatever the true numbers, rapid intensification is not limited to one side of the Equator.  Yasa went from a Category 1 to a Category 5 in little more than 24 hours.

 Vanua Levu and Viti Levu are high islands.  The waters between them are named Bligh Waters. The much and perhaps unjustly maligned Captain Bligh sailed through there in the BOUNTY’s launch after the mutiny.  But many of Fiji’s hundreds of islands are small atolls and may be inundated by storm surge.

This is the second Category 5 storm to hit Fiji in the past four years.

I thank Hugh for pointing out that 300,000 is not 0.01% of the US population, but 0.1%, a very substantial difference.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Hilton Head Island: cyclone; THE GUARDIAN OF MERCY; 60 in 90; fools


God-like I spin the world each morning and in doing so frequently first become aware of storms, tropical and otherwise.  Such was the case this morning when I saw the above.,-21.49,410

I then went to the Living Earth app where I learned that the bigger storm between Fiji and Vanuatu is Yasa, a Category 3 cyclone with 110 knot winds moving SSE and the smaller storm over Tonga is Zazu with 50 knot winds moving WSW.  

As the hurricane season ends in this hemisphere the cyclone season begins in the Southern.  Same storms just different names.

I hope that this cyclone season on the better side of the Equator is not as historic as was the just ended hurricane season on this side.

I am reading a jewel that came via BookBud  THE GUARDIAN OF MERCY:  How An Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed An Ordinary Life Today.  The painting is The Seven Acts of Mercy.  It was painted in 1607 and is in a small chapel in Naples, Italy.

Renaissance art is not my favorite and I generally am not interested in explanations of paintings, but the explanation of this painting is fascinating and the author, Terence Ward, an American who married an Italian woman, brings the painting, Caravaggio, and Naples both in his time and ours to vivid life.  I am only half way through the book, but so far it has been an unexpected and unequivocal pleasure.

I thank Larry for a link to a study about testing heart health.

The link says it.  A flight is stated to be fifteen stairs.

Immodesty should prevent me from observing that 60 stairs in 90 seconds seems very slow to me, but obviously it doesn’t.  As regular readers with good memories know, in Evanston I routinely do the 100 stairs from bottom to top of our condo’s stairwell in less than 60 seconds.  My record time, not running, but moving fast is 43 seconds.  Here in Hilton Head we have only two flights of stairs.  I did buy a stair stepper, but seldom use it.  My legs and heart are exercised in other ways, including bicycling, weights and resistance bands.

An article in the NY TIMES this morning suggests that yesterday was historic:  the confirmation of the election of Joe Biden and the first shots of anti-Covid vaccine.  The article may be right.

Another article in the TIMES says that a recent survey shows that 25% of those in the US are unwilling to take the vaccine.

Based on my experience and reading of history, I am long on the record as believing we are not an intelligent species, but clearly some of us are stupider than others.  Of those who refuse the vaccine I would like to say, fine, let them die; but there are hospital costs involved in their dying paid in one way or the other by all of us, and the virus does not kill all who contract it.  Some of those who are not vaccinated will survive infection and spread the virus to others, some of whom will die, even some of whom have been vaccinated.  The vaccines are said to be about 95% effective.  That leaves 5% ineffective which in the US is almost 17,000,000 people.  It must be hard to go through life so ignorant and fearful.

Of numbers, also in the news is that the death toll in the US from the pandemic has just surpassed 300,000.  That is not quite 0.1% of the US population. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Hilton Head Island: THE QUIET AMERICAN; Moving Art: a new old article; unstitched

BookBud offers one of Graham Greene’s novels from time to time and I just finished rereading THE QUIET AMERICAN, which I first read several decades ago.  After Modiano it was a relief to read about characters of flesh and blood and not just wistful regrets.  

Graham Greene was a fine as well as successful writer who I seem to remember never won the Nobel Prize for Literature because one man on the committee that awards the prize despised  him and effectively black balled him.

I was impressed that the book was published in 1955.  This was the year after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and their withdrawal from what became the divided Viet Nam, but early for Graham Greene to have seen so clearly what was still to happen.

After completing the book, I watched with Carol the film version.  It follows the book fairly accurately except for an inexplicably changed ending, but was less interesting because it is too wordy.  Odd that a film should be more wordy than a book, but the film has too many pontifical speeches that Greene was far too skilled and subtle to have written.

I recommend the book, but not the movie.

From Rob in Perth, Australia came a link to a Netflix series, Moving Art, now in its third season.  I must have missed it while crossing oceans in GANNET.  Unlike other nature documentaries there is no narration, only images, many aerial views, perhaps some from drones and others from airplanes flying breathtakingly close to cliffs and mountain tops, and a musical score.  I watched the episode on New Zealand, most of which was shot I believe on the South Island, though I recognize some places in the north, including a gannet colony and the Waitomo glow worm caves.  A beautiful film.  I will watch more.

Rob is a retired anesthesiologist and a skilled photographer, often of his Western Australia, which is one of the great beautiful largely unknown places  on the planet.  Australia is about the size of the contiguous United States.  WA is ⅓ of Australia but has only 1/10 of the population, about 2.5 million people, most in Perth itself.  There is great emptiness which appeals to me, but also wine country and a rugged southern coast.  You can view this beauty at Rob’s site.

I came across “Between Hurricanes”, an article about sailing from Hilton Head to the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, two years ago and have included it on the articles page of the main site.  I expect there are others I have mislaid along the way.

A dozen stitches were removed from my leg this afternoon.  Though unstitched I am glued and can’t resume my standard workout until the latest tapes fall off.

The small limb to center left of the photo looks to me like a cartoon character.  Perhaps a rooster.  

Last evening we watched a raccoon searching along the waterline below us.


Friday, December 11, 2020

Hilton Head Island: billion dollar weather; two distances

 It has been said that you may not believe in climate change, but your insurance company does. Recent reports from NOAA and NASA show why.

First, NASA’s final evaluation of the 2020 hurricane season.  What I find most interesting and living where I now mostly do alarming is the explosive intensification of storms, three of which saw increases in wind speed of more than 80 mph in twenty-four hours.  Hurricane winds start of 64 knots/74 mph.  That is unpleasant but not serious.  I have been in such storms at sea at least six times.  Maybe eight.  But add 70 knots/80 mph and you have a looming disaster.

We were not prepared for the hurricane season this year.  We were not here for much of it.  We will be prepared next year.  If Carol is here with me and we have a car, we will evacuate to her family’s homes near Charlotte.  If I am here alone, I won’t.  But the problem of when to evacuate has become more difficult.  One probably wouldn’t for a Category One storm.  If possible one would for a Category Four or Five and now we realize a Category One can become a Four or Five overnight.

NOAA’s report shows that through early October the United States had experienced in 2020 sixteen weather/climate disasters that resulted in more than one billion dollars in damages each.  This ties the record for such events with three months still to go.  The number of such events is increasing.  Your insurance company knows and so I expect do you when you pay your increasing premiums.

I have made the transition from iNavX to iSailor.  I spent a couple of hours one afternoon studying the 180 page users guide—sigh—and now know how to do the things I want to do with it.  Or at least I think I do.

From it I have learned that GANNET is 509’/155 meters from where I am sitting by our bedroom window being distracted by several squirrels scurrying along live oak limbs.

I put in a waypoint off Bermuda.  I did not realize that Bermuda is due east of Hilton Head Island.

Unless my plans change I will sail there next May or June, but I may not stop.  I may just use the island as a turning mark.  I have never been to Bermuda and am told by those who have that it is a very nice place, but I recall the Boston matron who when asked why she had not travelled replied, “But I’m already there.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes is responsible for “Boston is the Hub of the Solar System” which was naturally expanded by Bostonians to “The Hub of the Universe.”  Being on Hilton Head Island I sort of feel the same way:  I’m already there.

An update of the Roomba app caused me to examine it more closely and I am amused to find that it records the unit’s activity history and provides a map of its coverage.

That’s our condo.  The areas shaded green were cleaned, those white include furniture, closets, the utility room which the Roomba could not enter because the door was closed, and walls.

It claimed to have cleaned 2000 sq ft.  The condo is about 1700.  It does go over some areas more than once.  It did about 1100 sq ft before returning to recharge and do the last 900.

We biked to the supermarket while it worked.  My maid duties have decreased.

A squirrel just made a daring leap from the branches of one tree to the branches of another about four stories above the ground.  There are times that squirrels, like people, cannot make a mistake.

I scraped and sanded the port rub rail on Wednesday and taped and painted it yesterday.  I’ll put a second coat on today and then turn the boat around or pump up the dinghy and do the starboard side.  While working I noticed that there is some growth at the waterline near the bow. Disappointing when I antifouled only a little over three months ago but easily removed. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Hilton Head Island: sleep over; the view from the bedroom; re-piered


I slept on GANNET Saturday night.  She is disorganized, but the starboard side of the v-berth is still clear.  I walked down about 8:30 and was passed by no cars or people.  Old folks are not out running around at such a late hour.

The night was in the mid-40s and I pulled the light sleeping bag as a quilt over the heavier one I was in and was quite comfortable.  

There was no wind and the water completely flat.  Not even a ripple.  GANNET was as quiet and motionless as if she were in a cradle ashore.

The little boat is no longer self-contained.  I have moved all but a few work clothes up to the condo.  I have little food there, other than maybe twenty freeze dry dinners.  I am down to my last three JetBoil gas canisters out of the case of twenty-four I bought before the start of GANNET’s circumnavigation.  When living on board full time a canister lasts me at least two weeks.  So I walked back to the condo for breakfast.

It was good to spend the night on board.

Above are two images of the view from our bedroom.  I am presently sitting in the chair on the right.  I can see the upper two-thirds of GANNET’s mast.  Almost high tide.  Water is reaching to the multi-trunked live oak whose branches I can touch from our deck.  I wonder how long this place will survive.  Barring a destructive hurricane, at least for my lifetime—which isn’t saying much—and I hope for Carol’s.

Of GANNET I telephoned Marine Tech last week to try to learn when the rigger will appear.  I was told they will get back to me.  They haven’t.  Sigh.

Of myself, I was partially unstitched this morning.  Only a single stitch, which had deliberately been tightened more than the others and needed to be removed earlier.  I return in a week to have the rest of the stitches removed.  I asked about exercise and was told not to do any push-ups.  I resumed my weights and resistance bands last Wednesday and am alternating them six days a week.

Kent and Audrey have piered out, repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Sally surge.  Their pier is almost the length of an American football field, 257’6”/78.5 meters and took 515 planks with six screws in each.

Photos, including one of Kent’s pocket, can be found here.

My congratulations to Galloping Horse Marine Construction.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Friday, December 4, 2020

Hilton Head Island: Bach; Pessoa; Mondiano; claw

New chairs arrived yesterday and I am sitting in one of them beside the huge window, divided into three parts, in our bedroom.  The angle and perspective are different than in the living room.  I am surprised to find that I am facing west.  I would have thought south.  That the island runs NW-SE throws me off.  I can see the top of GANNET’s mast through a gap in the live oaks and palms, and a long curve of Skull Creek with a green channel marker a few hundred yards away.  Last evening I was sitting here sipping Plymouth gin.  With low overcast the sunset was not spectacular, but fifteen minutes later, Skull Creek turned a lovely deep rose that gradually faded. 

 The new chairs are comfortable.

I listened to Bach early today.  For the past several evenings my Bach has come from a music video of Bach played by various mostly young artists on the guitar.  Eric sent me the link for which I thank him.  I note that several of the young women are as attractive as they are talented, not I expect by chance.  

If you want to listen with me:

I am rereading the poetry of the Portuguese, Fernando Pessoa.  

Of his work, not surprisingly I like the poems in MESSAGE most.  They are about the sea and greatness.

I recall that I have posted these two before.  They are worth reading again.

I just finished reading OUT OF THE DARK by the French novelist, Patrick Mondiano.  This was one of the books that came to my attention through BookBud.  I had not previously heard of Patrick Mondiano, although he won the Nobel Prize for Literature six years ago.  Not all books I take a chance on from BookBud turn out well.  Mercifully this one was short.  Had it not been I doubt I would have finished it.  It is not a bad book.  It is said to be about love lost.  I don’t think so.  There is some implied sex.  There is longing.  But the characters are too pallid, too disaffected, too estranged to be capable of love.  This may be a book for those who suffer from ennui and spiritual malaise.  Portugal’s sailors would not have been interested in it.  And neither am I.

Having no musical talent, I enjoy watching the hard earned dexterity of those who do.

I marveled at the fingers of the Bach guitarists.

I have long had Dupuytren’s Contracture, my only claim to being a Viking.  It has not much progressed or bothered me, until in the past year or so the little finger on my right hand has become a claw.  I first noticed this when doing push-ups.  It can be corrected, but I don’t need that finger enough to undergo surgery.  However, our recent cool spell caused me to order a pair of gloves from Amazon.  They arrived and are very nice gloves, except I can’t get my little finger in them.  A slight incision may be necessary:  in the glove, not my finger.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Hilton Head Island: cool; THEODORE REX; hermit

A gale warning for coastal waters the past two days saw only 20-25 knot winds here on the landward side of the island, but that was enough to drive live oak branches into a frenzy and Spanish moss to blow horizontally. .  

34F/01C when I woke at 6:30 with a feels like 27F/-2.77C.  This is about as cold as it gets on Hilton Head Island and temperatures will be back in the 60s and even low 70s in a few days, but it caused me to do some research and I find that January is the coldest month with an average low of 38F and an average high of 61F.  I can live with that.  Values are so relative.  People here are talking about the cold, while my friend, Michael, 600 miles south in the Florida Keys where it is 66F is talking about the cold, and people farther north would be more than happy to be this warm.

Next to our condo are the ruins of the Civil War Fort Mitchel.  I knew the Union occupied Hilton Head Island for most of the war, but in googling Hilton Head today I learned that the assault on Hilton Head Island on November 7, 1861, was the largest amphibious landing until D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Many, perhaps most of the books I read I buy through BookBud.  I just completed one of them with considerable enjoyment, THEODORE REX, the second volume of a three part biography of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, covering the years of his presidency, 1901-1909.  I have read other books about Roosevelt, but this impressed me even more with what a exceptional man he was and that the issues of his time are still the issues of our time:  the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, race hatred, fear of immigrants, and the destruction of the environment.

Teddy Roosevelt had enormous, almost preternatural energy, yet he was a consummate politician who understood the importance of newspapers, the media of his day, and manipulated them with skill, and was capable of subtle diplomacy, such as in his mediation of the Russo-Japanese War.  He was a voracious reader and a devoted father and husband.  I really don’t know how he found time to do all that he did.

He was not always on the right side of history and science.  Despite being the first President to invite a black man to dinner in the White House, Booker T. Washington, for which he was severely criticized, he believed that blacks are generally genetically inferior and the greatest mistake of his Presidency was dishonorably discharging from the Army a black regiment for the possible but unproven misconduct of a few.

It is said that for a while he was the most popular President ever.

I thank Michael for a link to an article about a hermit.  With usual journalistic exaggeration he is said to be the last.  I doubt he is, but I find his story interesting and that he lived without heat through almost thirty Maine winters astonishing.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Hilton Head Island: $50,000 savings; still closed

 I can save you $50,000, but you better hurry.

In the Black Friday sale of all Black Friday sales Samsung is reducing the usual price of its 98” Q900 TV by half.  Yes, friends, you heard right.  Normally $100,000, but you can have it now, today, for only $50,000.  You know you want one.  Maybe two.

I am considering buying one for GANNET.  Of course it will have to be deck mounted and is more than a foot wider than she is, but if I set it perpendicular to the center line, it should help down wind performance.

A few days ago I saw on the Marine Traffic site several yachts heading toward New Zealand from Fiji and Tonga and wondered if the border is open.  Today there are only three or possibly four.  I emailed a friend who lives in New Zealand who replied that as far as he knows the border is still closed.  I went to Noonsite and found that indeed it is.

The three crew of a 16 meter/52’ German yacht which arrived in Opua from Nuku Hiva were arrested and held in jail until they were deported.  The yacht has been seized and may be subject to duty, which when I was last in New Zealand came to about 20% of the boat’s value, including GST.

The Germans had applied for an exemption, but sailed from Nuku Hiva before receiving a response.  Their application was denied.

I don’t like rules, but I have no sympathy for the Germans.

I conclude the yachts I see heading for New Zealand belong to New Zealanders heading home.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Hilton Head Island: iNavX and iSailor revisited; college students

 iNavX made the mistake of sending me a Black Friday chart sale email.  I was using my iPad and clicked and went to their chart store and was shocked to see the cost of Navionics charts for the United States  listed as $79.99.  On the iPhone the same charts are only $29.99.  But with iNavX charts cannot be shared between iPhone and iPad.  If you want charts on an iPhone and an iPad you have to buy them twice.  With iSailor you buy charts only once.  Thinking of possibly sailing to Bermuda I bought the iSalior chart folio of Atlantic Islands on my iPad and then also easily downloaded it onto my iPhone.

I wrote some time ago that the charts needed for GANNET’s circumnavigation cost much less in iNavX than iSailor.  This would still be true if only an iPhone is used, but I want the backup of being able to navigate with both iPhone and iPad and for that iNavX is much more expensive.

Trying to compare the costs between iNavX and iSailor is like trying to figure out a cable TV bill. With iNavX you get greater coverage in a purchase.  They sell coverage for all the US and Canada in one package.  In iSailor you would have to buy more than a half dozen different regions to cover all US waters, but few need to do that.  If you only sail one region, iSailor is again less expensive.  iSailor sells the Atlantic Coast from Northern Florida to Virginia for $2.99.  That is more than enough for all but a few local sailors.

I have used iNavX longer than I have iSailor and find some of the actions I want to take less intuitive in iSailor, but I am going to start using it more.  I think for me iSailor is the future.

A warning.  Both iNavX and iSailor have made it easy on Apple devices to buy charts, and both are doing so as subscriptions which automatically renew after one year.  If you don’t cancel the renewal you will be paying for the charts again year after year.  You will be getting updates, but I don’t think they are worth it and so as soon as I purchase charts go to my App Store account and turn off the automatic renewal.  

They eat off plastic plates using plastic knives and forks.  Their table is a Crate and Barrel box turned on end.  They sleep on a mattress on the floor and sit on folding camp chairs.  Their primary means of transportation are bicycles.  Not college students.  Us.

The condo is coming together.  We have ordered a bed and some other furniture, but delivery is slow.  In the meantime we are doing quite well in our second college days, thank you.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hilton Head Island: Hot Rod Carol Thanksgiving

 Carol is here for Thanksgiving.  She rented a car earlier this week to do some shopping beyond bicycle range and to take me to my doctor’s appointment.  She did not specify what kind of car and the rental company gave her a muscle car, a Dodge Daytona.  The instant she turned the key in the ignition it roared VROOM.  VROOM.  VROOM.  I am sure by design.  This without her even touching the gas pedal.  A neighbor saw the car parked in front of our building and assumed that someone’s grandson was visiting.  Carol wondered why a rental company would even have such a car.  I reminded her that we are in Nascar country and lots of fans would love to drive a Dodge Daytona.  As is to be expected, it got lousy gas mileage.

After she turned the car in, she ordered a Thanksgiving feast from Dockside Restaurant about a mile away, just outside The Plantation gate.  My leg is not stressed by bike riding so we decided to bike there.  The feast was brought out in one large plastic bag filled with containers of soup and gravy and more and three large flat boxes with everything from beet salad to pumpkin pie.  The two young people who brought it out were open mouthed that two old people intended to carry all this on bicycles.  Carol unpacked the boxes and sorted the various containers into our two bike baskets and our two backpacks.  It all fit.  Barely.  We biked back to the condo and will feast late this afternoon.  Carol estimates that what is claimed to feed 4-6 will be at least 5 meals each for us.  Maybe 6.  Good.  I like leftovers.

I carried one of the new pipe berth tubes down to GANNET this morning.  It fit as it should and I am confident I will never have to replace it.  Wonderful to have GANNET so close.

79F/26C, sunny and with some breeze here.  I have known worse Thanksgiving weather.

I wish my American friends a happy holiday.  I wish all of you a fine day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Hilton Head Island: cratered and tubed

 A great writer once observed that life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue.  Well, I have a new one.  Or will when a blimp size bandage is removed from my left leg. 

I ventured to a local skin cancer clinic on Friday because of a cancerous growth on my left leg.  I found a very well run and very complex office with one M.D. and a seemingly endless number of nurses, physician’s assistants and office staff.  All cheerful and friendly and all moving a seemingly endless number of elderly patients from station to station.  

On Friday my diagnosis was confirmed and two other smaller suspects were removed and other spots frozen by a physician’s assistant.  A cancellation on Monday brought me back for removal of the squamous cell carcinoma on my leg and again I was moved efficiently along the assembly line.   Two of those who saw me commented that I must workout.  Two others asked if I had been in the military.  This has often been a common misconception, particularly among British and Commonwealth men my age or older.  I don’t know why.

Of workouts, I can’t for the next two weeks.  Maybe longer.  Anticipating this I did work out Sunday.

Sliced, diced, stapled and stitched, I was sent on my way to return in two weeks to have either the staples or stitches removed.  I don’t recall which.  And a week later to have the other removed.  I will then be able to introduce my new scar to the world.

Among the post-surgical instructions were not to smoke or drink for two weeks.  One out of two will have to do.  Tylenol and Motrin were recommended.  I took them, but I also made it a rare three glass night.  In combination they were effective.

Sailrite and Speedy Metals are very efficient.  Both the pipe berth track and tubes arrived yesterday, far more quickly than I expected.  

Close inspection of the lee cloths I brought up to wash revealed worn areas and two small tears, so I have decided to replace them.  They are not expensive.  $90 each from Defender.  I can afford that every nine years, though I expect the next will be my last.

I have work to do on GANNET.  Paint the rub rail.  Clean and paint the area under the removed pipe berth and cockpit.  Cut the track to length, drill mounting holes and paint it.  Paint the end of the tubes.  Only the forward few inches show when the pipe berths are in place.  But none of this is going to be done until I am able to perform requisite GANNET contortions.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hilton Head Island: David Attenborough: this hurricane season; a passage; cavernous; oregano; blotched


A few evenings ago I watched on Netflix DAVID ATTENBOROUGH:  A Life On Our Planet. 

He has indeed led an extraordinary life at a significantly transitional time.  He has seen more of this planet than almost anyone, and has done so with rare intelligence and sensitivity to all life forms, not just our own species.  

The film is said to be his testament.  There are few ways, if any, you could better spend an hour and twenty-three minutes.

Not unrelated to David Attenborough, CBS News has an interesting analysis of the 2020 hurricane season.

The common theme is that our species is changing and destroying this planet.  

This, like everything else in this too politicized age, is contentious. 

I believe in science.

I believe that that which is quantifiable and replicable is not a matter of opinion.

My own experience over the decades is that I see fewer birds, both on land and at sea, than I did four decades ago.  I see fewer fish.  And hurricane seasons are much more severe.

In the mid-1980s few even thought about hurricanes in the Caribbean islands.  None had caused damage for years, even decades.  In 1984 Jill and I sailed in September from San Juan, Puerto Rico, south to Isla Margarita, Venezuela, at the height of the hurricane season.  This is only a three day passage.  We did check the weather before we left, but there was no real concern.  Today there would be, both because of the increased likelihood of a low rapidly intensifying and because of the lawlessness in Venezuelan waters, which is a shame because there are two groups of islands off Venezuela, Los Roques and Los Aves, which are wonderful isolated cruising grounds. To sail there now is too dangerous because of homo sapiens.

Lee is anchored at Hilo very close to where GANNET was six years ago.  He sent me a report about his passage which I think might be of interest to others.  I don’t know where he plans to sail to next.  I don’t know where in this pandemic world he can sail to next.

The s/v Morning Star, a Valiant 32 with 01 persons aboard (namely this correspondent), departed Avalon, CA on October 29, 2020 for Hilo, HI where we made landfall November 19, 2020 (21 days at sea). We sailed a total of 2,442 nm averaging4.8 kts. Measured against the 2,129 nm straight-line distance (from Catalina’s East End Light to the Hilo breakwater light) ourover-all VMG was 4.2 kts. 

We saw a wide range of sailing conditions, but no hazardous weatherFor nearly a week we had periods of little wind alternating with utter calm, averaging less than 65 nm/dayfor the first six days out. Then for the next 12 we averaged 132 miles per, with a best 24 hour run of 145 nm. Winds seldom exceeded 20 kts, and the seas in that stretch were generally 8 – 10’ on a long period, making for a comfortable ride – at least in between squalls. Light conditions again beset us for a few days, before a final three days of decent speed took us into Hilo Bay.

There were days of squally conditions requiring frequent reefing changes. We had at least partial cloud cover most days, with several days of solid clouds and intermittent rain. That, of course, made the hand full of sunny days even more enjoyable. 

Wildlife was not abundant. We did see plenty of flying fish (some with astonishing range in flight), a few pods of dolphins, and a half dozen or so specie of sea birds.   No squid boarded us, and only one flying fish came in for a landing.  

We had no significant injuries or gear breakage. A cut to my left index finger on day 16 could have used a stitch or two, but the first aid treatment was sufficient.  The prescription antibiotics in the medical bag remain unopened.

The passage was completed with ship and skipper in good condition, and with food, water, fuel, and stamina still in reserve. The new genoa proved its worth through every configuration in which it can be deployed. The post-excursion to-do list is significantly shorter than the list we had after our 2018 sail to Hawaii and back.

In short, it was a lot of funwith hours and days steeped in the beauty of ocean wilderness and the joy of adventure. As importantly, much was learned about doing this sort of thing – which is good, because I am counting on more of it



Well maybe not really cavernous, but emptier than I am accustomed to.

You can see in the photo the end of one piece of the broken pipe and that I need to repaint the hull beneath the birth.  I will soon.  It is too ugly to live with.  I  bought the supplies to do so today and will paint under the other pipe berth when I remove it.

I thought I had read that Benjamin Franklin said, “Don’t worry if the truth you speak today is not the truth you spoke yesterday,” but I can find no record of that.  Perhaps I have improved on Franklin as my memory once improved on T.S. Eliot.

The sentence could be seen as advice to be wishy-washy, but I see it as a willingness not to be rigid and a willingness to change upon receiving new information.  I like to believe that I am capable of such change.

As you probably know I spent zero time on Facebook and Twitter, but from my friend, Michael, I have learned how wrong I have been.

I have occasionally gently chided him for spending time on Facebook, but he recently relayed that from Facebook he has learned that oregano protects against the Covid virus.  I had no idea and immediately ordered a pizza to be delivered with extra oregano.

A poem from STAYING ALIVE:

The lead photos were all taken walking out to GANNET yesterday,  In the last our condo is behind the Live Oaks on the left.