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.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Hilton Head Island: landfall; cavernous; startled; bad news

 4 PM in Hilton Head and Lee is almost at Hilo, Hawaii.  Only 11 AM there.  I expect he will be in well before sunset.  MORNING STAR has had good sailing recently.  I see some 7 and 8 knots.

I biked to GANNET yesterday to remove the port pipe berth so I could measure the broken tube.  I didn’t expect it would be easy and for a few minutes it seemed impossible.  

First I had to remove an aluminum track that holds the bolt rope at the head of the berth.  This requires undoing four bolts the nuts of two of which can only be felt not seen.  After some fumbling I did manage to secure the vice grip to them successfully and the track came loose.  In two parts.  It cracked at one of the bolt holes.

Then I removed everything stowed on and beneath the berth and in the space beneath the cockpit and lay down on the cabin sole and unlaced a long line that runs back and forth holding the berth in place.  Despite contortions unpleasant and unseemly for an elderly man, this went well.

And finally I had to pull the side berth bolt rope through a long aluminum track riveted to the hull.  It wouldn’t budge.  There was no possible position in which I could gain leverage.  I begin to think I would have to cut the berth and then try to work the bolt rope free somehow, but in a moment of frustration I tugged hard on the berth and a foot of the bolt rope popped out of the side of the track.  Once that was out I had leverage and the rest came easily.

I removed the broken aluminum tube and folded up the berth.  Then cleaned areas I have not been able to reach for years.

That the aluminum tube and track broke is not surprising.  I expect they are original equipment which means they are forty-one years old.

I was able to find replacement track online at SailRite and new aluminum tubing at a place called Speedy Metals.  The broken tube is 84” long, 2” outside diameter, with a wall thickness of 1/16”. I ordered two tubes with double the wall thickness.  A little added weight, but GANNET is not going racing under present ownership.  I ordered two to preemptively replace the unbroken but equally aged tube on the starboard berth.  Each cost about $90 with $30 shipping.

Without the port pipe berth GANNET’s interior is cavernous.  Well, relatively.  I’ll take a photo.

NASA’s Earth Observatory site ran a photo from space of Hurricane Iota 

I have been startled by how quickly several storms so rapidly intensified this year.  One day a Force 1.  A day later a Force 5.  It is beyond unjust that Iota made landfall twelve miles from where Eta did two weeks ago, but then you may have noticed that the world is not just.

This is harsh, but I’m going to have to live with it.  We all are.

I have written that life is only forty years long.  That what really matters and defines you is what you do from age 20 to 60.  It could be 25 to 65.  The point is the same.  The ‘being’ part of my life was 33 to 77.  44 years, but then legends by definition exceed norms.

I agree with the title of the article, but I am on the wrong side of 75.  To use Dr. Emanuel’s quote from Thoreau I have ‘sucked the marrow out of life’ and I never expected to get this old, but I am not Michelangelo, Benjamin Franklin, Goethe, or Verdi.  Or maybe...

I note that Dr. Emanuel is culture bound.  Are we to believe that there are no Chinese or Indians or Africans or others who were the equal of his four?

I am going to lie down and try to remember if I did my workout today.

(I did.  Went to 100-50-50.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hilton Head Island: your response; my inclinations; snap; two hulled snow birds

First I want to thank those of you who have responded to the question posed in last Friday’s journal entry.  In addition to the posted comments, I received several—I might even say many—thoughtful and generous emails.

As I said, this was not a referendum, this was not a vote, this was not asking you what I ought to do.  That is not how I function.  Never has been.  Never will be.  My question was:  if you want me to circumnavigate again, what is in it for you?  

I have been somewhat surprised that nothing is in it for the majority of those who have made their opinions known because the majority don’t care whether I sail around the world again or not.   A good many have said I have done enough.  Some have said that they enjoy my writing whatever I write about.  This is pleasing.  If compelled to define myself in one word, it would be ‘writer’, not ‘sailor’, even though that is how most think of me.  I recently told a friend that I sometimes feel like Marilyn Monroe wanting to perform Shakespeare. Me as Marilyn Monroe is an image to conjure with.

I recently saw an article about the value of five year plans.  Stalin and I already knew that.  The difference is that mine worked and his didn’t, incidentally killing millions of people while failing.  

I have twice successfully made and stuck to five year plans to free myself from the land.  The first led to my first attempt at Cape Horn and the beginning of the ‘being’ part of my life.  The second to our sailing from Boston for the Azores in 2001 on what was intended as an endless voyage, but turned out not to be, though I have never since lived full time on land for long.

At 79 I find five year plans too ambitious.  So I have instead two or three year inclinations, to none of which am I as totally committed as I have been to goals in the past and that may not be enough.  I like absolute commitment.

I want to explore what are now GANNET’s local waters.  A boat like CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE or a Welsford Pathfinder would be better for that than GANNET, but I like GANNET and am sticking with her.

I would like one summer to sail to Bermuda, which I have never visited, and one winter to the Bahamas, which I have also never visited.

And one summer I would like to sail to Scotland, hopefully via Iceland, which is not too cold in July and August.  If you have been here long you know why Scotland:  to make a pilgrimage to Islay, the home of Laphroaig.  As good a reason as any.

I will admit that sailing from New Zealand back to Hilton Head via Cape Horn has appeal.   New Zealand to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands; Port Stanley to somewhere in the Caribbean; the Caribbean to Hilton Head.  To see whether I could do it in my 80s.  To see if GANNET could.  To experience the Southern Ocean again and admire Wandering Albatross first hand.

However I can muster no enthusiasm for getting to the New Zealand starting line which is 15,000 nautical miles from Hilton Head via the Cape of Good Hope and I am certainly not going to ship the little boat there.  From now on she only moves on her own bottom.

And, of course, all of this is dependent on being able to sail anywhere again in a post-COVID world.                

Oddly in my old age I have unexpected comfort and security.  I am significantly blind and partially deaf, but desire, feeling and will are not paralyzed, and I do not know what I am still becoming

Cool and sunny here this morning.  Only 48F/9C when I got up.  Back to Levis and a fleece when I walked down to GANNET.  A few days ago I removed the Sportaseat covers and brought them to the condo to wash.  I was taking them for the dreaded ordeal of getting them back on.  Sportaseat offers a technique for doing this which I have not found useful.  It comes down to pulling and wiggling inch by awkward inch.  And so it was for the first cover this morning.  I seriously thought that it would be better and certainly easier just to buy a new Sportaseat with cover already in place.  Gratefully the second went on easily.  Perhaps it had shrunk less.

I then became ambitious enough to remove the lee cloths to be washed.  I was successful in doing this.  Then sat down on the port pipe berth and had the pipe break under my enormous weight of 153 pounds.  I think the pipe is aluminum.  Replacing it is simple if I can find a piece the correct diameter.

Daily I see snowbirds heading south on the Intracoastal.  Often one or more anchors near the marina for a night or two.  There was one at anchor this morning.  While some are powerboats, of those with masts almost all are catamarans around 40’-45’.  These would be good boats to power up and down the Intracoastal.  I have never seen one with a sail up.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Hilton Head Island: Vivaldi and Max Richtner and Icarus and me.

 Not in that order.

I am presently listening to Max Richter’s reworking of Vivaldi’s FOUR SEASONS.  What admirable nerve to attempt a variation on one of the most admired and most recorded compositions in Western music, and he succeeds.

My birthday went as I expected, except there was no martini.  I had two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon and then a carefully measured two ounces of Laphroaig, which I took out and drank on the deck with Live Oaks and Spanish Moss and Skull Creek ahead of me and the open sky above.  As was commented about my most recent video, I feel quiet satisfaction in knowing that the ocean is one and that GANNET whose mast I can see from our windows and glass doors could sail from where she is  to anywhere the ocean reaches. As I have written elsewhere, though I used the third person pronoun, I hold the world in my mind.  Perhaps she will.

Which brings us to the question I alluded to a while ago and considered dropping, but I have had two martinis and my instincts are weakened so I ask.

Many, perhaps most, of you would like me to circumnavigate again.  To attempt Cape Horn in GANNET.  My question is why do you want this?  What is in this for you?

I provide from the lists on the main state a quote used in the front of one of my books:

I am, I believe, following the clear path of my fate.  Always to be pushing out like this, beyond what I know cannot be the limits--what else should a man’s life be?  Especially an old man who has, by a clear stroke of fortune, been violently freed of the comfortable securities that make old men happy to sink into blindness, deafness, the paralysis of all desire, feeling, will.  What else should our lives be but a continual series of beginnings, of painful settings out into the unknown, pushing off from the edges of consciousness into the mystery of what we have not yet become, except in dreams that blow in from out there bearing the fragrance of islands we have not sighted.

                             --from AN IMAGINARY LIFE by David Malouf 

Unexpectedly and unjustifiably, though if you have been paying any attention at all you know that justice is not a common part of life, I have in my old age found a place of beauty and the love of an exceptional woman,  You want me to leave this and attempt  to do something no one else has ever done or even imagined.  Something that will inevitably at the least cause discomfort and pain and may result in my death.

I add, needlessly if you have any concept of who Webb Chiles is, that this is not a referendum.  I will do what I think I should, as I always have regardless of others, but I truly would like to know why you want me to go to the edge of human experience again.  So tell me.

Yesterday I chanced upon a poem I have long admired, W.H. Auden’s, ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ about Bruegel’s painting, The Fall of Icarus.

The painting first.

Look at the lower right corner of the painting, just below the ship setting sail.  That leg is all that is left of the drowning Icarus.

If you don’t know the myth, Icarus was the son of Daedalus who created wings made of feathers and wax so that he and Icarus could take flight.  The wings worked, but Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun whose heat would melt the wax.  Icarus with the blind impetuosity of youth did fly too close to the sun, the wax melted, and he plummeted to his death.

The poem:

And I discovered that William Carlos Williams wrote a similar poem:

Ultimately blind numbers matter.  Inexplicably to me DNA demands to be projected into the future.  I have no idea why.

But I am struck by how a few rare small populations have done so much:  Ancient Greece.  Elizabethan England.  Two generations of Portugal around 1500.  Revolutionary America, which despite the historical myopia of Tom Brokaw, was unquestionably our greatest generation. 

Somehow beyond explanation in some places for brief times there has been a concatenation of rare greatness of our species.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hilton Head Island: impossible; Eta; the making of a motor sailor; the way to the market

After considerable thought I have determined that it is not possible that the solitary boy living a thousand miles from the ocean he had never seen, who went to the public library and checked out biographies of great men as how-to books, could live 79 years.  

The ‘impossibility’ is having a pleasantly quiet, still solitary day as befits a married monk whose wife is a thousand miles away.  Carol and I talked on the phone this morning.

A windy and intermittently rainy day, with more wind and rain to come as Eta heads our way.

I had my breakfast on the screened porch with rain falling only a few feet away.  It was like being in The Great Cabin and hearing rain on deck and seeing it through the companionway.  That is one of the best characteristics of this condo:  it is like living on a boat.  But with better plumbing.  Carol has had many successes, so I can’t call this condo her masterpiece, but she has created a wonderful space here in a beautiful location.

I am writing just after lunch of Quiche Lorraine, two pieces of which I bought at Publix the other day.  I stretched my cooking skills and heated it in the microwave.

Later this afternoon I will of course do my new age in push-ups and crunches.  Likely I will do more.  I went to 100 again on Monday.

Dinner will be cheese and salami and other treats from a gift box of delicacies Carol had sent to me.  There will probably be wine, possibly a martini, and I will likely make a rare exception to my two glass rule and have a taste of Laphroaig as well.  I will be careful.  The two glass rule is a good one.  I have demons.  Perhaps we all do.  Mine are quite understandable and predictable.  I keep them under control, but they lie in wait and sometimes with too many glasses they escape.

Some of you may recognize the photo as a frame taken from the video I made last week at anchor.

79 is not a significant number.  But if I make it another year I will become an octogenarian.  Inconceivable.

Eta is a very persistent and erratic storm.  It seems to have been wandering around forever, twisting, turning, backtracking, killing more than 150 in Central America.  Yesterday it seemed to be heading toward Kent and Audrey and their Armada near Pensacola, but now it seems heading this way.  That is fine with me.  Those along the Gulf Coast have endured enough this year and the storm is not expected to be serious when it passes Hilton Head early tomorrow.  We may get an inch or two of rain and 20-30 knots of wind.  So long as the ferry boat doesn’t pull the dock apart, we should be good.

The new Torqeedo battery arrived yesterday.  I expect you can see that it is the one on the right.  I had brought the older one up to the condo to charge, not wanting to leave it charging overnight on GANNET without my being there.  GANNET is now officially a motor sailor.

I’ve run a photo like this before and likely will again.  Taken on my bike ride to a supermarket.

It has been an impossible life, but a good one.



Monday, November 9, 2020

Hilton Head Island: business is good; motor sailor; halfway; sea unlevel

 Boat business is good on Hilton Head Island.  In fact judging by lead times, it could not be better.

You may recall that I am waiting four to eight weeks before a rigger will be free to go up the mast and re-install the OpenWind transducer.

Last week I telephoned Kevin, a canvas man recommended by Fred, the dock master.  I need to have the v-berth cushions and the pipe berths replaced.  They are nine years and more than 30,000 sometimes wet miles old.  Kevin came by GANNET the next morning, climbed below, took measurements, and provided me with an estimate by email later that day.  The price was higher than I expected, but I am probably living in a time warp about these costs.  I accepted the estimate and I was given the next available time slot:  next March!  I don’t often use exclamation marks, but that deserves one.  I can wait and will.  As often noted, I have time until I don’t.

Snowbirds are making their way south.  I see them from our condo and Marc, the marina office manager, told me that they have so many transient reservations they are having trouble finding space.  

I have sailed this coast Florida Keys to New England and back twice over the years.  I have always gone outside, stopping only in Beaufort, North Carolina or not at all.  Skull Creek is pretty.  I expect that much of the Intracoastal is, but I can’t imagine powering that far.  Not that GANNET could.

However, I am doing something about that and have ordered a second Torqeedo battery from Defender.  This will increase our range under power depending on headwinds and currents from 5-7 miles to 10-14.  My friend, Michael, declares that I am turning GANNET into a motor sailor.

I have been following Lee on his passage from Catalina Island to Hilo, Hawaii, in his Valiant 32, MORNING STAR.  He fell into a windless hole a day out and drifted for a while.  One of his messages revealed that he cooks more at sea than I do, but then everyone cooks more at sea than I do.  Eventually he broke free of the coastal weather pattern and has reached good wind making 5 and 6 knots.  At his last position MORNING STAR was doing 7.7.

Occasionally at sea I have had the illusion that I was at the bottom of a bowl and that the ocean was rising all around me.  I don’t know what caused that, but a recent article I find interesting at the NASA Earth Observatory site states that the sea is not level, but varies by 2-3 meters/6-9 feet, that the Pacific is 20 centimeters/8” higher than the Atlantic, and that over the last 140 years the global mean sea level has increased  21-24 centimeters/8-9”.  I don’t think we are going to be able to leave this condo to our grandchildren.  Oh, that’s right, we don’t have any grandchildren.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Hilton Head Island: a new video and some progress

 A new video shot at anchor Tuesday sunset has been uploaded to YouTube.

As I note in the comments it was shot on my iPhone 12 Pro which according to all reviews takes superb video.   Somehow the uploaded version is far from suburb and is not representative of how the video looks on my phone or MacBook.  I am not going to speculate why.

I initiated, or tried to, the next work that needs to be done on GANNET.

I telephoned Marine Tech Services to get a rigger to go up the mast and re-install the OpenWind transducer.  Also while up there he needs to tighten the Windex which I observed wobbling while we were sailing.  To my surprise and disappointment I am told that they are working 4 to 8 weeks out.  I am not aware of any alternative on the island.  I’ve been without wind information for a long time and will be for a while longer.

I also telephoned Kevin who does canvas work and was recommended to me by Fred.  Much better response time.  He is meeting me at GANNET tomorrow at 9 am.  I want to have the v-berth cushions and the pipe berths replaced.

I am considering buying another battery for the Torqeedo.  The spare I have came with my first Torqeedo and is now nine years old and has no doubt deteriorated.  Around here I will mostly be sailing in confined waters and narrow channels sometimes against wind and tide.  Doubling our range under power might be useful.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hilton Head Island: sailed

I went sailing yesterday for the first time since trucking GANNET east.  Leaving the land on Election Day seemed a good idea.

Cool in the morning, only 42F.  In another first I turned on the heat in the condo and I changed from shorts to Levis and put on a long sleeved shirt over my t-shirt.  I even wore socks, but they didn’t last when the temperature rose into the 60s in the afternoon.

I walked down to GANNET at 10 and left the dock at 11.  Torqeedoing away from the marina I raised the mainsail, but there was no wind and we whirred along Skull Creek until near the entrance when I unfurled the jib and we sailed.  Briefly.  A quarter mile out on Port Royal Sound the wind died and the outgoing tide tried to carry us out to sea.  We drifted for an hour before slight wind ruffled the previously glassy water and GANNET heeled a few degrees.  

We headed north.  My intention was to go into Mackay Creek on the west side of Pickney Island and anchor there for the night.  A half dozen small powerboats roaring in and out of the creek changed my mind.  The creek is narrow and twisty and I could too clearly envision one of them roaring around a blind curve and smashing into GANNET, so we sailed a little farther north and anchored in 25’ of water at low tide at the mouth of the Chechessee River and the north end of Port Royal Sound.  I was out in the middle almost a mile from land.  You know I like space around me.  There was no shelter and no reason to need it.  In a straight line I was only two and a half miles from the marina.

As you can see the sunset was spectacular.  I had charged the Boom 2 speakers when I first came on board in the morning and of course I had remembered to bring the bottle of Plymouth Gin with me.  Drinks on deck.  Old times.

I had cell phone coverage, but did not listen to the news.  I slept well and when I woke at 6:30 there was five knots of wind from the northwest that I could ride all the way back to the marina, including the bend in Skull Creek.  I went to raise anchor and found it more difficult than expected because of the tidal current.  Finally it came up and surprisingly although it had obviously been well dug in, it came up clean.  Later in the day Fred, one of the dock masters, told me I must have been in sand and that there is a lot of sand in the Sound.  I expected mud.

GANNET was back in her slip by 8:30.  Fred had seen me coming and kindly walked down to take my lines, relieving me of the necessity of leaping gazelle-like onto the dock.

I shot some video, both on a GoPro and with my new iPhone.  I have yet to view them on my computer to see if they are worth sharing.

Last night I wrote:

This is so good.  GANNET is alive at anchor as she is not at a dock.  And there is no human being within a mile of me, probably more.  Often there has been no human within hundreds of miles of me, but I have not been this alone for more than a year.  

It is different than being in the condo where one too is always in the presence of beauty.  I can’t define the difference, except there one is on land and here on water and I am against all odds a creature of wind and water.  Earth, wind, fire, water.  My connection to Earth is Carol and I have nothing to do with fire.

After sunset now.  What little wind there was has died, but GANNET still moves with ripples and tide.

I am in the Great Cabin, but when a few minutes ago I stood in the companionway, I saw the last vivid dying light and felt a slight cool breeze against my face.

No one else is anchored out here.  I love being surrounded by water.  I love being able to live in this small space, and I still can.

If you feel the need for more of my words, Sailing Anarchy has run the excerpt from STORM PASSAGE that I published here a while ago,  Scroll down to ‘Little Fugue in G Minor’.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Hilton Head Island: something radical and two updates.

 Lovely twilight here a few minutes after sunset, which now that we have gone off Daylight Savings Time was at 5:32.  I seem to recall that there is a movement in California for the state to be on Daylight time year round.  For myself I would prefer that we not be on Daylight time at all, but live by the natural rhythms of the sun.

I had left two Megaboom speakers here.  Yesterday I charged them and am presently listening to Yo-Yo Ma play the 3rd Bach Cello Suite.  A glass of boxed Sauvignon Blanc is to my left.  It is acceptable, but not in the same class as bottled NZ Sauvignon Blanc which I will buy in the future, leaving boxed wine for GANNET.

Of GANNET, unless the forecast changes I am going to do something radical tomorrow and go sailing.  I will venture all of seven or eight miles and anchor for the night on the other side of Pickney Island.  Don’t want to push this too far too soon.

GANNET is no longer self-contained.  I have moved several things up here, including clothes and booze.  I will have to remember to take libations with me.  Not likely I will forget.

From Bob and Bev comes a update about Harper the long distance Great Blue Heron.  I find the details fascinating and thank them.  While this is not science only my own speculation, I hypothesize that Harper sensed the low, probably even waited until she sensed it, and then rode the eastern edge which provide tail winds south.

If you have been following Lee on his passage to Hawaii as I have you know that he fell into a deep windless hole and was drifting for the past day or two.  He seems finally to have found some wind, although unfortunately from ahead, but as I know when you have had no wind, wind from any direction is welcomed.

As I have been writing, the colors have deepened.  It is such a pleasure to be able to look up and see the sky and water.  The balcony railing and Live Oaks and Spanish Moss are black.  Skull Creek pewter.  Pickney Island black.  The sky above it gold.

Time for me to choose which frozen dinner to microwave and pour another glass of inferior wine.

Yo-Yo Ma is on the gigue.