Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Batting .500 in baseball even for a short stretch is outstanding and no has batted even .400 for an entire season since Ted Williams did it the year I was born. However .500 for tiller pilots is not so good.
I biked to GANNET this morning. During her circumnavigation and even when in the marina in San Diego GANNET was complete, but since trucking her here a year ago I have moved much off her to store in the dock box or at the condo, so I wanted to find out if I still had essentials on board. With the exception of a bottle of Laphroaig, which some might not consider actually to be essential and I can live without for a brief period, they are.
I filled one 5 gallon jerry can and my four smaller day bottles with water.
I fit the Torqeedo on the stern. It started as this one always has. Good Torqeedo.
I brought up a tiller pilot and plugged it in. Instead of the usual beep when it first comes on, it made a constant shrill sound and none of the controls worked. I went down below and brought up another tiller pilot. Plugged it in. Same constant sound; same dysfunction. This caused me to wonder if something had gone wrong with the wiring. I went below, cleared bags, foul weather gear, and Avon off the starboard pipe berth, slithered aft with a headlamp. The wires were properly attached.
I slithered back to the Great Cabin, crawled onto the v-berth and took the remaining two tiller pilots on deck. Plugged one in. Single beep and it worked. Plugged the other in. Single beep and it worked.
Of the tiller pilots, the two that don’t work date from 2019, the two that do work date from 2019 and 2015. The one from 2015 should go in the Raymarine tiller pilot hall of fame. The two that don’t work are still under warranty. I have brought them up to the condo to send to Raymarine. We should arrange a regular courier service.
After this charming exercise, I went down below and applied another coat of oil to the companionway bulkhead and the floorboards. Closed up and biked home.
Tomorrow I go for a sail. Although our fine weather is not accompanied by much wind—I see nothing more than eight knots for several days—it will be good to be on the water and watch the sunset at anchor somewhere.
Monday, October 11, 2021
A lovely day. The low that has been sitting a hundred miles offshore and causing our rain has eased north. 70F/21C when I biked down to GANNET at 9 this morning with a slight breeze from the NE. This was the first day I have been able to work in comfort on GANNET for months.
I scrubbed the overhead with mold spray, removed the floorboards and sanded them on the dock, cleaned the bilge in their absence and chipped away flaking paint, put them back in place and oiled them and put another coat of oil on the companionway bulkhead, after which I had to get off the boat while the oil dries. I notice that there were no signs of water dripping from the compass and we have had significant rain since my last attempt at sealing it. Maybe I was successful. I live in hope, however unrealistically.
I also found that the cover on the battery compartment of my waterproof Pelican flashlight has broken off. I like this flashlight which is small and has a luminescent body and is easy to find at night, so I’ve ordered a replacement.
The forecast for the coming week is perfect, so I may do something radical and go sailing and anchor overnight somewhere not far away. This perfection does not include much wind.
Friday, October 8, 2021
Another day of steady rain. Above is the current radar. Rain is to be expected when you live in a swamp, even a very nice swamp.
I am sitting on the screened porch, enjoying the sound of the rain on the roof, deck, trees and Skull Creek, as I have enjoyed the sound of rain on the deck from inside the cabin of boats, assuming none of it was leaking on me. I am curious what I will find below the compass when I am next on GANNET.
This morning I read John Steinbeck’s novella, THE PEARL. I last read it more than fifty years ago and while I remembered the trajectory, I had forgotten the details, so it was like reading a novel I had not ever read before, but knew the ending. A good story. I think you would enjoy it.
I also read in today’s entries of THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK a discussion by the Scottish poet, Alasdair MacClean, of the differences between diaries and journals. He died in 1994 and so was fortunate enough probably never to have heard the abomination, ‘blog’. The last paragraph came as a flash of insight.
This is not a journal or a diary, it is a log. That’s what I write. Land logs and passage logs.
If you are, as I and others believe, what you actually do rather than what you say you do or would like to do, I found myself wondering what I have actually done most in my life, not including sleep, which is probably what we all do more than any other single activity.
I suppose that for most people what they have done most is work at whatever their jobs have been. That might even be true of me who hasn’t worked for anyone else since 1974. My job may not have been to have a job.
I am not sure how much time I have spent making ocean passages. It is certainly more than eight years, maybe ten or more.
My first thought was that what I have done most is write. I have been writing steadily, almost daily for more than sixty-five years. But then I realized that I read more than I write. So that’s it. The activity I have spent more of my life performing than any other. I would not like it to be the single word to define me. I much prefer the triad: writer, sailor, lover. But I can’t deny: Webb Chiles, reader.
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Finally some sunshine this morning after days of cloud and rain. I biked down to GANNET and reeved the new main halyard and got a coat of oil on the interior wood. Actually two coats on some areas. I also tried to fix an intractable leak around where the cockpit compass passes through the companionway bulkhead. I could see clearly where water had run down over the newly sanded wood. I have applied sealant to the compass many times before and applied some more. But I am beginning to consider removing it and sealing the hole with a piece of plastic. I seldom use it. I have the Velocitek and both my phone and my Apple watch have accurate compasses. I am giving it warning.
On the rainy days I did housework. In fact I did all the housework and had none left to do after mopping and polishing the hardwood floors.
I also watched some sports on television and a Netflix documentary about climate change titled BREAKING BOUNDARIES. In it I was told that during the Holocene, the current or perhaps just ended geological epoch, the temperature of the planet has been constant, varying by only one degree centigrade. For my American friends that is 1.8ºF. If the Holocene has ended it is because we have ended it, increasing the planet’s temperature more than that since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
I also read a book, PERIL, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, about the end of the Trump presidency and the beginning of Biden’s. I don’t read much about current politics—it is too depressing—but saw in Apple News an interview with Woodward and Costa that interested me. I am not going to make a comment on the book other than that if there is a good guy in it, he is not a politician, but a soldier.
In STAYING ALIVE, the anthology of modern Western poetry a few pages of which I read each afternoon, I am in a section about death and dying. Here are four poems on that subject. Two from the book. Two by me.
I went to the poetry page of the main site and find there only twenty-four poems left.
I have been paring away for decades. Of the twenty-four death is mentioned in eight.
no one who has ever read the Iliad
has remembered you
raised by a loving family
your father a king
but left for the glorious war
before you had lain with your bride
and in your first combat
Agamemnon killed you
that is all
Homer gave you perhaps twenty lines
blew life into you
marched you into battle
had you slain
meat butchered by heroes
the first time I read the Iliad
even I did not notice you
but the second
during my “honeymoon”
in Chicago in 1962
with a woman from whom I am long divorced
your brief life made me wonder
what happened to your virgin bride
how soon did she forget
did you have time for regret before you died
or was the thrusting sword too quick
you could not know
that Homer would sing of you
and that in 3000 years
I at last would be touched by your death
but if you had known
if that would have been enough
Monday, October 4, 2021
I am back in the air conditioned condo after biking to GANNET and getting a little work done this morning. I scrubbed the half of the bottom facing the dock with an extension broom which works quite well, and I filled some gouges and sanded the companionway bulkhead. This was the first time I’ve used my DeWalt battery operated sander. I like it. The temperature now is 86F/30C, but I think the maximum while I was on board was 80F/26.6C. I have a hand size fan that runs on the ship’s DC which significantly improves cabin comfort. Relative comfort. Rain is in our forecast, so progress may be slow. I have more wood to sand and then to oil it all. On GANNET I have to move stuff to clear work space and then move it back to clear different space.
I was recently asked to provide some photos of CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and of GANNET. Among them are the above two which were taken from the same vantage point on a bridge in San Diego’s Mission Bay thirty-six years apart. The one of CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE by Suzanne in 1978 shortly before I began the open boat voyage. The one of GANNET by Steve Earley in 2014 shortly before I began GANNET’s circumnavigation.
In yesterday’s entries in THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK I came across a joke that causes me to chuckle every time I think of it. Be warned that it contains a vulgar word, so don’t read on if you are likely to be offended.
Saturday, October 2, 2021
I know the world is anxiously awaiting the report on my aged body’s reaction to being shot twice yesterday. In a word: none. Now on to more important things.
I have been remiss in not mentioning that Steve Earley is a week into his fall cruise. He has been in St. Michaels, Maryland, for the small boat festival and is again underway this morning. Here is his tracking page:
And here is a link to his site where he has been posting photos along the way.
I might also mention that the current October issue of CRUISING WORLD contains my article, “My Seventh Circumnavigation”, which includes a lovely photo of Skull Creek. The Chamber of Commerce should put me on retainer.
MacHighway which is the webhost for my main site advises that they are migrating to new servers a week from today, October 9, and service will be interrupted for eight or ten hours. I know this will leave a huge gap in your day. You may just have to reread old journal entries instead. Personally I am going to watch soccer on television.
Friday, October 1, 2021
I received my second Pfizer COVID shot six months ago yesterday, so today i biked to Walmart where I was shot twice. COVID booster in my left arm. Flu in my right. I had no reaction to my first two Pfizer shots and I have never had a reaction to flu shots other than the slight soreness that comes with any shot. We will see what my body thinks of this.
I have recently come across videos of two women singing that I enjoy greatly, Both have recorded extensively and are well known, but not until this week by me.
I thank Andy for the link to Joan Armatrading. His favorite of her songs is ‘I’m Lucky’ which I like, too, but my favorite is ‘Already There’. You of course already know that under the heading ‘I love’ on the lists page of the main site is, among others, “the athletic grace of the young’.
The dancers in the background of this video have amazing grace and beauty.
The other is a Bach aria sung by Magdalena Kozena which I came across by happy chance.
I am going to watch them both again as soon as I post this entry.
I thank Larry for a link to a video taken by a nautical drone that was steered into Hurricane Sam. This is a very good use for such a drone. I have been in 91 mph/79 knot winds several times. I don’t know if I have been in 40’ waves. I don’t recall if I ever claimed I’ve been in more than 30’ waves, but I have learned that I tend to underestimate. I expected the conditions to look worse than they do, but then cameras flatten waves.
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Earlier today I had an email that led to confusion. In part of the interchange, the other person wrote that he felt privileged to converse with a celebrity/legend.
I am not a celebrity. I am now in old age routinely called a legend in a very small world.
Monday, September 27, 2021
Thursday, September 23, 2021
A glorious day. 64F/18C when I got up at 6 am. 70F/21C at noon and as you can see sunny. Hilton Head cools in September and is a legitimate version of paradise until the following May. From about mid-May to mid-September it is a legitimate version of hell. However I like it here and the good far outweighs the bad.
I biked to GANNET at 8 am and replaced the three Raptor nonskid pads that had been damaged by a negligent rigger in Panama. The process left me very impressed with the adhesive Raptor uses. It was suggested that a multitool would have made this easy. I do not have one and am reluctant to buy a tool that I will seldom use again, so I used my hands and a putty knife driven under the edges of the damaged pads with a hammer. Removing the old pads took about an hour and a patch of skin on the palm of my right hand. Cutting and fitting the new pads took ten minutes. You can see the color difference. The new ones are whiter but not glaringly so. They are the two closest to the mast and the one on the port side of the forward hatch.
While I was working the riggers came. Someone in their office was supposed to call me but hadn’t. It was fortunate I was there. They installed the new Windex and the new Raymarine masthead wind instrument. I think these are the fourth of each to go on GANNET’s mast and hopefully will be good until I put her masthead in the water again which, even more hopefully, will be never.
I wrote to a few friends that I have checked two tasks off my to do list. However when I looked at it I checked off three. The Raymarine and the Windex were listed separately. A glorious day indeed.
An article today at Ars Technica reports the results of a genomic analysis that purports to trace and time more accurately than has been done previously the Polynesian settlement of the South Pacific. The article itself is rather dry. The essence is in this chart.As a sailor who has crossed that ocean many times I have long been impressed by those early Polynesian voyages. Big stretches of empty ocean and mostly small targets. That the voyages were made once could have happened by chance. But, and this is what I find most impressive, they were repeated and if you know anything about the winds in the South Pacific, they were mostly to windward. Only the broad line from Samoa to Fiji is partially with rather than against the trade winds.
While if my addition is correct there are 73 pouches, they contain at least 111 meals because many of them are two meals for me.
BP stands for Backpacker’s Pantry. AA for AlpineAire. MH for Mountain House.
All of the AlpineAire are two meals. So are the BP Santa Fe Rice and Beans and Chicken and the MH Spaghetti, Pepper Steak, and Chicken with Dumplings. Some of the others might be stretched too. 300 calories is a meal for me, any pouch with over 600 calories counts as two. That might not be enough for others.
I always advise testing before you buy in quantity though occasionally I have not done that. Some freeze dry food tastes terrible or like nothing and some is too spicy or salty for a passage made on a boat with a limited supply of fresh water.
This order works out at $5.06 per evening meal. About $150 a month. Add oatmeal and trail mix for breakfast, cans of fish and chicken and Laughing Cow cheese and crackers for lunch, and a few snacks, plus of course wine and spirits, and life at sea is less expensive than on land, until something breaks.