Friday, December 31, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Paul Johnson; feeding chickens; 2022


My friend Roger sent me this morning the above photo of his friend, Paul Johnson, who recently died.  He is seen on board his 18’ Shetland boat decked over with plywood on which he crossed the Atlantic in the 1960s, possibly about the same time I was teaching myself to sail on San Francisco Bay.  I am told that at the time she was the smallest boat to have done so.  She is the same length as CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and her hull reminds me of CHIDIOCK’s.  A remarkable voyage, particularly at that time, of which I had not known and is now almost forgotten, except for the moment by those who are reading this.  I thank Roger for bringing Paul Johnson to my attention.

I am almost finished reading Alfred Mahan’s magisterial, THE INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER ON HISTORY.  This is one of those books I have seen referred to many times, most recently in a biography of Theodore Roosevelt which finally caused me to download and read it.  I am doing so with great admiration and pleasure.

Mahan was writing in 1890 in an effort to have the US. Navy built into a world class force.  Though his friendship with Roosevelt he succeded.

The book covers 1660 to 1783 and could as easily be titled, THE RISE OF ENGLAND.

They were decades of almost constant wars as England, France, Austria, Spain, Holland, and others sought power, wealth and dominance.  Wars between England and the Dutch.  Wars of the Spanish Succession, the Austrian Succession, the Polish Succession, and many more, including as you will have concluded from the final date of 1783, the American Revolution.

Despite some paragraphs many pages long, the book is very readable, largely because of the clarity of Mahan’s mind and vision.

I have sailed most of the waters in which the sea battles of which Mahan writes were fought and can though his words see them in my mind.  He was himself here at Hilton Head as a young naval officer in the Union invasion of Port Royal in 1861.

Among the many great, and not great, admirals in the book is the Dutch, Michiel de Ruyter, considered by many to be the greatest admiral of his time.

I like this description of him by the Comte de Guiche after de Ruyter’s greatest victory.

I bought a Kindle edition of the book from Amazon for $0.99.  Books are the greatest bargains.

I am looking forward to the new year and hope you are too.  Have a splendid one.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Hilton Head Island: eagles; two poems; reader; shorts; shadowed

I have not seen bald eagles around Hilton Head and only yesterday learned of an eagle-cam at a nest somewhere on the island.  Since then two eaglets have hatched.  I saw the mother feeding the first this morning, tearing off strips of flesh from some creature either she or her mate had caught and brought to the nest.  When I last looked a few minutes ago, only one of the parents was visible sitting on the nest with the eaglets presumably beneath her.

From THE PENGUIN BOOK OF JAPANESE VERSE an anonymous poem dating from around a thousand years ago with a sentiment eternal to some.

And from the BEING ALIVE anthology a contemporary poem, Black Moon by Matthew Sweeney, that I like and not just because the artist drinks Laphroaig.

While I was sitting on the screened porch yesterday afternoon reading Carol took the top photo.

The warm weather continues.  We had our sunset drinks on the deck last evening and today I switched from Levis to shorts.  

I went down to GANNET this morning around 11 am, hoping to paint the non non-skid parts of the deck.  Although the temperature is in the 70s, the expletive deleted ferry boat was still blocking the sun from reaching GANNET and the deck was still wet with dew.  I  re-glued the track that secures the forward edge of the companionway spray hood and then gave up.  I will try again one afternoon around 1 pm.  

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Christmas


My Christmas gifts included the traditional annual tiller pilot, which after taking down to GANNET and plugging in to be certain it works, I immediately registered to extend the warranty from two years to three.  I wonder why. 

In late morning Carol drove us to the ocean side of the island for a walk on the beach.  With a temperature of 68ºF/20ºC, a good many others had the same idea including the man and admirable dog in the photo above.  We watched them for quite a while as the man threw a green ball far into the ocean.  The dog waited until given permission to pursue it, which he then did with great enthusiasm, going out through the first line of surf into water of for him swimming depth.  The water is now a cool 57º/14ºF.  He didn’t seem to mind and returned the ball, sat down and waited for the next throw.

Returning to Skull Creek we ate in mid-afternoon on the screened porch a Christmas dinner of Thanksgiving dinner leftovers that Carol had frozen accompanied by a bottle of Cava.  The food was as enjoyable as it had been in November.  

I watched parts of error prone football games.

At another beautiful sunset we ate small pieces of pecan pie.  

In the evening we enjoyed on Amazon Prime the movie, BEING THE RICARDOS, a better film than expected.  Here is a valid review.

A lovely quiet and pleasant day as befits an octogenarian and a much younger woman.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Low Country Christmas lights

 Carol drove us around last evening to view Christmas lights.  This is my favorite.

I wish all of you a happy holiday season and a splendid 2022.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Hilton Head Island: White Christmas; reading novels; $140,000

A rainy, windy and cool day in the Low Country as a forecast front passes.  Solid overcast.  Spanish moss weaving and swaying.  And only 48ºF/9ºC in mid-afternoon.  However the front will move offshore tonight or tomorrow morning and Christmas Day is supposed to be sunny and 70ºF/21ºC.  I heard on the local news that Savannah had its last and only White Christmas in 1989.  Records have been kept since 1874.  That seems a good proportion to me.  I find White Christmases far overrated.  I much prefer sunshine and 70º.  Bing Crosby has a lot to answer for.

On this date in 1850 the twenty-two year old Leo Tolstoy wrote in his diary:  Must not read novels.

The current January/February issue of CRUISING WORLD includes their Boats of the Year.  The winner in the Best Pocket Cruiser/Daysailer category is the Beneteau First 27.  I think she is an interesting and pretty small boat.  As regular readers know I am not in the market for another boat, but I checked the price on the Specs page at the end of CW’s presentation.  $140,000.  That is 15.5 times what I paid for GANNET for three more feet and a little more interior headroom.  The Beneteau may sail well, but I doubt she sails as well as GANNET who is obviously one of the sailing world’s greatest bargains.

Overall CW gave awards or runners up to 27 boats.  Of these 13 cost more than $1,000,000 each.  I am glad so many sailors are rich.  I wonder how many of them or their million dollars boats will ever sail as far as $9,000 GANNET.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Hilton Head Island: interruption; RAN; correction


The company that hosts my main site is migrating to new servers so the site will not be accessible from about 3 pm EST tomorrow until about 6 a.m Sunday morning.  I know how acutely you will feel this loss, but perhaps you can just read old journal posts instead.  The journal will not be affected.

Last evening I rewatched Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 RAN, his Japanese version of Shakespeare’s KING LEAR with some overtones of MACBETH.  I first saw it many years ago, probably about the time it was first released.  Many consider it among the greatest movies ever made.  It is epic, dramatic, and visually arresting.  I enjoyed it.

I have read KING LEAR three or four times.  I believe I have written this before in this journal, but I have my own interpretation of King Lear.  Generally he is just considered mad, but madness is a condition, not a tragedy.  My reading of the play is that as it opens King Lear is mad and all powerful and as the play unfolds he becomes progressively less mad and less powerful, until at the end he is completely sane and completely helpless.  That is the tragedy.

In listening and viewing The Golden Record’s contents in the YouTube video I realized that there are two pieces by Beethoven.  I had said that no one except Bach has more than one.  I also rewrote a few other sentences in that entry.

I have twice this week engaged in a traditional sailor’s task:  chipping paint.  Mine that on deck between the Raptor nonskid pads in preparation for repainting those areas.  

The photo above has nothing to do with any of this.  It was taken some years ago from THE HAWKE OF TUONELA on her mooring in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.  I just like it.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Bach and the Golden Record; terrible times; three poems

I am sipping cava and listening to Bach.  I could post a photo of yet another spectacular sunset from this evening but I have pity on you and don’t. 

If you have subscribed to Mark McQuire’s Because Wonder emails, and I do— will have recently read of The Golden Record which was placed on Voyager 1 when it was launched in 1977.  Actually there are two ‘records’, gold plated copper discs intended to last billions of years and to carry far into the universe twenty-seven tracks of music in an attempt to convey to any other intelligent life—I am inclined to put ‘intelligent’ in quotes because our species often isn’t—some essence of human life.  While I know that the universe is far beyond my imagination—the universe is itself the most extreme example of wretched excess in the universe—what I can imagine causes me to believe that we are not the only so called intelligent life forms extant. 

You can listen to the Golden Discs from a number of sources.  Spotify.  Apple Music.  YouTube.  I am listening to it on YouTube.

I note that three of the tracks are Bach.  Beethoven has two.  No one else has more than one.  That seems right.

Of Bach, James sent me a link to a performance of Bach’s CHRISTMAS ORATORIO, for which I thank him.  I noted the comment as shown below.

I read further and found many other than myself listen to Bach everyday. 

Of the terrible times, this is historical myopia.  

I have just watched the ten episodes of a very well done Netflix series:  The Greatest Events of WW2 in Color.  I know the history, but I have learned and seen a good deal that was new to me.  The episodes on the bombing of Dresden and the Allies reaching Buchenwald were particularly revelatory.  Those were terrible times.  Our pandemic is nothing by comparison.

Of the series, my only criticism is that it is too slanted toward us and does not give enough time to the Eastern front in Europe.  The Soviet Union suffered more than twenty million deaths in the war.  The US 500,000.  There is an episode on Stalingrad.  There should have been ones on Moscow, Leningrad, and Kursk, the greatest tank battle in history after which German defeat was inevitable even without D-Day.

On another music video that I admire, Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Joke’, I saw this comment which I find very sad.  Many responses told her she was not old at forty-four, with which of course I quite agree, but I feel her loneliness and isolation.  I am not latino, an immigrant, or gay.  I am old and I need mostly to be alone, but that is not the usual human condition.  As I have written before, we are herd animals who know deep inside that we are all alone.

I noted that after finishing an anthology of Chinese poetry I downloaded one of Japanese.  

The first Japanese poems in the anthology were by or about emperors and princes and not worth being preserved.  However as the anthology progressed beyond nobility, it became interesting. Dates and background of the poets are not provided,  but I admire these two by Tajihi, whoever he was and whenever he lived.  His loss reaches across time.

I also read each afternoon some Western poetry, presently from the BEING HUMAN anthology in which I came across the following.  I could have written it myself.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Hilton Head Island: an historic triumph


The forecast front passed through yesterday afternoon with strong wind and heavy rain for two hours before it moved offshore where it only distressed multi-billionaires who couldn’t find dock space for their megayachts.

This morning I biked to GANNET, opened the companionway, and with fear and trepidation climbed down into the Great Cabin.  Finally I mustered the courage to look at the v-berth.  It was dry.  Dry, I tell you.  Not a drop of water.  Anywhere.  I fixed the leaks.  For the present.  I sang Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’.  Twice.  Which disturbed two egrets and the flock of blackbirds that reside on the upper deck of the ferry boat.  And biked home.

I am writing sitting by our bedroom window and glanced up to see the above.  You are just going to have to put up with sunset photos.  I can’t help myself.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Hilton Head Island: poor little rich girl; Lord Byron: a poem: a leak fixed?; two songs

I happened across this tale at Apple News+ of unbearable suffering.  Rough, sleepless nights at sea.  I can’t imagine.  We must have sympathy for the mega-rich.

As I presume you know, eighty years ago today Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in what many of her naval leaders knew was a tragic mistake even as they carried it out.  I was twenty-six days old.  I have no memories of WW2, though perhaps those of us who were infants and young children then were unknowingly affected by our parents fears.  My father and step-father were both in the US Army though neither saw combat.  What is odd to me is not that we kill one another in terrible ways, but that at some point it stops and we become friends with our former enemies.  After WW2 almost instantly in fear of our former ally.  We are a strange species.

It is said that the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant was so punctual in taking his walks that his neighbors in Konigsberg could set their clocks by him.  I am not that reliable, but if you think that around 4 PM in whatever time zone I am in I am working out and that at 5 PM I am pouring a drink, reading some poetry—having finished the Chinese anthology, I bought a collection of Japanese—and then listening to Bach, you are right.  Also for the year beginning July 1 I am reading the daily dairy entrees in THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK.  Two hundred and eight years ago Lord Byron wrote:

From the anthology, BEING HUMAN, a poem that I had not read before by the Portuguese, Fernando Pessoa.

I biked to GANNET today and sealed the tube through which the masthead electrical wires pass through the deck.  I could see where the sealant had pulled away from the tube.  I hope I fixed it.  
Tomorrow for the first time in a month we are due to have rain.  I will soon know.

You may recall that I am very much taken by Joan Armatrading’s song and video of “I was already there’.  I have since sought more of her music.  I don’t like it all, but I like some exceedingly.

Here are the links to videos of two of her songs, ‘Dry Land’ and ‘It Could Have Been Better’.

You will observe that the boats in Dry Land are not my kind of boats, but while I am at home at sea, I have longed for dry land.  Never more than after the five month passage in EGREGIOUS around Cape Horn when she was sinking beneath me, after the two week drift when CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE was swamped, after the twenty-six hour swim after I sank RESURGAM.

The video of ‘It Could Have Been Better’ is as much about the elegant grace of Fred Astaire, born Fred Austerlitz—his backstage parents changed it so the public would not associate it with the Napoleonic victory—as it is about the song itself.  He was born at the right time.  Today his grace would have no place and he no career.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Hilton Head Island: found; Franz Romer and the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane; a little shared serenity

The leak is found.  

I biked to GANNET this morning, covered the plastic plate into which the hinge screws go with duct tape, and turned the hose on the hatch.  When I went below there was a puddle on the v-berth cushion aft but not directly under the hinge.  I got a flashlight and examined the overhead in the vicinity of the hinge and the aft edge of the hatch.  It was dry.  Then a drip fell on me not from the hatch, but from where the masthead electrical wires pass through the deck.  Eureka!  Or words to that effect.  I returned to the dock and turned the hose on the tube that channels the wires being careful not to turn it on the hatch.  Down below again a puddle.  When it dries I will attempt to fix it.  Possibly I didn’t even need to rebed the hatch, but it is done.  The tube through which the wires pass should be easier.

I thank Bob and Bev for a link to an interesting article and video about a voyage and a storm I had not heard of.

In 1928 Franz Romer, a German, crossed the Atlantic in a 21’6” kayak with a sail on an 8’ mast.  Starting in the Canary Islands, he landed at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands after 58 days.

After recovering from the passage, he crossed to Puerto Rico which he left on his next leg with an ultimate destination of New York City one hour before a hurricane warning was issued for what became a Category 5 storm and the second deadliest in North American history.  It was named the Okeechobee hurricane because most of the dead were killed near that Florida lake when a dyke gave way.

Here is a link to the article if you want to read more.  The video is imbedded in the article.  I watched it.  It is well done, though there are some images of a kayak sailing with jib and mainsail which I doubt is how Romer’s was rigged.

I think he took too much water and too few hats.  His average of 35 miles a day would have mostly been due to current.  I don’t think his sail did him much good.  And I doubt he went five days and nights without sleep. 

Of hurricanes, naturally media came out with articles after the official end of this year’s season on November 30.  I think they are deceptive.  Merely counting the number of named storms is fallacious.  

Not all lines are created equal.  Storms are named when they reach Force 8, 34 knots.  That is not seriously bad weather.  Hurricanes began at 64 knots.  Even that in my opinion is not cause for alarm.  If you look closely at the above, three of those tracks passed over or very near Hilton Head, hardly being noticed.

Here are the tracks of major storms.

If you live in Southern Louisiana, parts of New England and Mexico, you had a bad hurricane season, but for most of us it was a mild one despite the number of named storms.


I had to compress this to get it under the Blogger 100 mb limit so it is a little fuzzy.  Taken last evening from the screened porch, I wanted to share the serenity.  The music is from Erik Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies.  

Friday, December 3, 2021

Hilton Head Island: hatched; around the neighborhood

I biked to GANNET yesterday and comprehensively bedded the hatch.  I used two layers of butyl tape and wrapped each bolt with a collar of butyl tape.  I returned this morning and hosed the hatch.  I then hopefully went below.  I would like to report that there was no leak, but sadly I cannot.  There were several drops of water below the middle of the aft end of the hatch.  No water came from the hatch flange.  I believe the leak is at the hinge.  Two screws go through the hatch to a small plate on top.  I will let this dry.  Put a piece of tape over the plate and hose again.  If dry below, I have found the culprit.  If not…sigh.

A few readers have asked for photos around the neighborhood.

First a Google view of the neighborhood.

That is Skull Creek from the only bridge onto the island at the bottom to Port Royal Sound at the top.  The image was taken sometime since early September of last year because GANNET is in it as perhaps you can see in this close up.  She is the fourth boat opposite the ferry.

The top image is of our condo development’s pier.  It ends in a platform with rocking chairs to enable those who don’t own a boat to enjoy being on the water.  People often gather there for evening drinks.

Here is the ferry from our pier.  It looks even worse from this side.  The US Marshall’s signs are still on it, but nothing has happened.

The only canon at Fort Mitchell.

The Civil War began with the firing on Fort Sumpter on April 12, 1861.  Less than seven months later on November 7, 12,000 Union troops landed and took Hilton Head Island is what was the largest amphibious landing until D-Day in WW2 in order to secure Port Royal Sound.  Overwhelmed Confederate troops escaped across Skull Creek.  More than a thousand slaves on the island were the first to be freed by Union troops.

Savannah, only a little more than twenty miles away, did not fall for three more years until General Sherman occupied the city on December 21, 1864.

Our building.  This complex is called Indian Springs presumably because there once was one here.  It consists of four identical three story buildings with three units on each floor.  Some are three bedroom, some, including ours, are two bedroom.  We are the middle unit on the third floor and have the advantages of an open deck and a screened porch.

Hilton Head remains mostly green year round, but some trees lose their leaves and there is some color.

The African Americans who lived on South Carolina’s sea islands and low country were known as Gullahs and some still are.  There is a Gullah cemetery near the pier that runs out to the marina.  Many of the markers date back a hundred years, but people are still being buried there.

Spartina for Steve Earley.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Hilton Head Island: a start; a sign; a poem

I said I would and I did. I biked to GANNET this morning and worked for three hours removing and cleaning the forward hatch and the deck beneath it.  Tedious labor and on GANNET often performed in awkward positions.  Sixteen bolts to be removed along with butyl tape and LifeSeal.  The butyl tape was still soft and pliant.  I don’t recall exactly when I last rebedded the hatch, but it was several years ago.  Possibly before GANNET’s circumnavigation.  I stopped when my ancient back cried, ‘Enough.’  I cleaned up the considerable mess I had made and dropped the hatch back in place.  Hopefully I will finish tomorrow.  Wistfully the hatch will never leak again.

Above is a sign you probably don’t have in your neighborhood.  Carol and I saw it a couple of days ago when we walked through the site of Civil War era Fort Mitchell, our next door neighbor.  There were two of these signs on the grounds and we later saw another farther along Skull Creek Drive. We don’t recall seeing them before, and we have only ever seen one alligator from our condo.  It was floating between the shore and the marina late one afternoon.  A man on another boat said he saw an alligator on the shore beside the pier leading out to the marina one morning.  Earlier this year a woman about my age was grabbed by a gator on the edge of a pond behind her back yard who tired to drag her into the water.  She was saved by her neighbors, one of whom beat the alligator about the head with a shovel until he let go, but that was two miles from here.  Nevertheless I am not tempted to go into Skull Creek to clean GANNET’s bottom.

I finished reading THE ANCHOR BOOK OF CHINESE POETRY.  I have been reading a few poems in it every afternoon for several months.  The book claims to cover 3,000 years from ancient to contemporary.  I much prefer the old poems to the new. Almost all the contemporary poems were written by Chinese in exile.  That is to be expected.  If they weren’t, we would never have heard of them.

An exception is a poem by Yang Lian, who was born in 1955 and now lives in London.  It is titled ‘To a Nine-Year-Old Girl Killed in the Massacre.”

Monday, November 29, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Christmas parade; no excuses


I saw the above beautiful photo on Steve Earley’s site and immediately wanted to share it with you.  I thank Steve and his friend, Lynn Schoenbaum, who took the photo, for letting me post it here.  It is of boats circling before the start of the Norfolk Christmas Boat Parade.  You will note a small yawl just to the left of center.  That is Steve’s well traveled and well sailed SPARTINA.  Steve advises that if you look closely you will find Rudolph on the bow.

You can view this also at Steve’s site and catch up with the notes on his recent fall cruise.

Carol has flown back to the frozen Midwest for three weeks, leaving me a pot of turkey, barley, vegetable stew/soup, which may last me that long.  We had bowls for dinner last night and I will eagerly have another tonight and several more nights to come, though not consecutively.

If I do nothing else this week—and probably I won’t—I am resolved to rebed the forward hatch.  I have been putting it off, partially because I am reluctant to tear things apart again and partially because I expect that after doing so the expletive deleted thing will still leak.  Here is Hilton Head’s weather forecast for the next seven days.

Pretty nice for the beginning of December in the Northern Hemisphere—I know it is the beginning of summer for those of you on the better side of the Equator.  I do hold the world in my mind—and as you can see I have no excuses.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Hilton Head Island: a quiet Thanksgiving; proverbs; back-up


Carol and I spent a lovely quiet Thanksgiving.  She cooked the traditional meal, though for the two of us only a turkey breast—I wonder what they do with the rest of the bird.  Dressing, gravy, green beans, sweat potatoes cut into chunks with onions and almonds, accompanied by glasses of cava.  

We ate at 2 PM then walked down to the marina pier and admired the water and spartina and back.  

Near sunset we each had a piece of apple pie—Carol’s favorite.

HIlton Head Island has been in a weather pattern of high pressure with clear skies which assure beautiful sunsets evening after evening.  They are a prime selling point for the restaurants a mile or so south of us along Skull Creek.  To us they are the norm, but never taken for granted.  I have posted many photos of sunsets from our condo.  The above was taken Thanksgiving evening. I might one evening set up a camera and take a sequence because the light changes dramatically during the hour before and after sunset.  I live with beauty.  I try to.  I am thankful that I can.

Often I wake during the night and read for an hour or so.  Last night I did and finished the last section of THE 1001 SMARTEST THINGS EVER SAID.  The last section was ‘Proverbial Wisdom’ most of which are so well known they have become cliches.  I was struck by how many proverbs come from Aesop, so much that I googled and found Aesop to have been a slave and storyteller who lived in ancient Greece 620-564 BC, and if he is responsible for what we know as his fables one of our species great originals.  Such a man a slave?

Beyond the known, such as ‘Familiarity breeds contempt.’ and ‘Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.’. Both from Aesop.  Here are a few I like.

If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him your plans.—Yiddish proverb

An army of sheep led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.—Arab proverb

Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.—Aesop

Love is friendship set on fire.—French proverb

I can testify to this last as I hope you can too.

This evening after a repeat of yesterday’s turkey dinner though with smaller proportions—I gained an unacceptable pound yesterday—Carol and I watched a good movie on Netflix, WIND RIVER, set on an Indian reservation in Wyoming in which there are a rape and two murders.  In one scene an FBI agent says to the local tribal police chief, “What about back-up?” He replies, “You are in the land of no back-up.  Here you are on your own.”

That is the essential fact of life.  I embrace it.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hilton Head Island: procession; THE PIANO; departure

The snowbirds are passing, heading south on Skull Creek almost without exception in boats with masts under power even with the wind behind them.  I notice more than a dozen most days and I am not maintaining a constant watch.  Many must pass that I do not see.  One yesterday did have its jib set.  

The distance from Norfolk, Virginia, where the Intracoastal begins, to Miami is given as 1,095 miles.  That is statute miles, not nautical miles.  I googled why the Intracoastal is measured in statute miles, but did not find an answer.  I expect that much of the Intracoastal is beautiful and interesting.  Skull Creek is.  But that is a lot of powering.  Probably more than I have done total in my life.  There is an alternative:  go outside and sail.  That is what I have done on my two round trips up and down the coast, stopping only Beaufort, North Carolina twice and going the full distance from Florida to New York or New England the other two times.  I expect I know why these people power rather than sail.  

The image above is from Jane Campion’s 1993 film, THE PIANO.  I saw it when it first came out and then watched it last week on Netflix.  The soundtrack has long been one of my favorites, but seeing the film again was stunning.  If you haven’t for a while or ever, I suggest you should.  It is amazing that such an unlikely film was ever financed and made.  Yet it was a commercial as well as a critical success, costing 7 million dollars to make and earning 140 million.  Quite a decent return on investment.  Sometimes excellence is rewarded.  I will watch THE PIANO again this coming week with Carol.

From a documentary about an expedition that rafted down the Blue Nile:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Hilton Head Island: book burning; photograoh changes

 I thank Steve for the following:  

I thought that as a writer you would appreciate the quote below.  It was said by a librarian in response to certain novels becoming a political issue in Virginia where some school board members advocated removing books from school libraries and suggested…..incredibly….burning them.  

“If you have a worldview that can be undone by a novel, let me suggest that the problem is not the novel,” 

They are always among us.

I have reorganized the photographs page on the main site and in doing so realized that I should have a page of photos from GANNET’s circumnavigation..Perhaps eventually.  I have added a page of photos of Hilton Head. https

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Hilton Head Island: equipment; changes to main site; ships in bad weather; many, many marathons



For my birthday Carol gave me the Icom M94D handheld VHF I requested.  I already have an Icom handheld VHF, but this is the first to include AIS tracking.

I unboxed the radio and found that almost nothing about it except turning it on and off is intuitive or obvious.  I turned it on and immediately got a series of piercing beeps and a flashing ‘Collision Warning’ on the screen.  I pushed the Clear button and thankfully it stopped, only to resume after a short interval.  I turned the radio off and began to read the 75 page instruction book.  It is not necessary to read it all because the radio does a great many things I don’t need and won’t use including setting waypoints.  I do that in my navigation apps on my iPhone and iPad.

Once I had learned how to turn the volume up and down and change channels and how to display the AIS screen and control its functions, I found that there is a boat in the marina with an AIS transmitter constantly on.  This is what the radio determined was too close to me and likely to result in a collision.  It had no way of knowing that I was on the third story of a building on shore and reasonably safe.

From the porch of our condo I received signals from a dozen ships and boats.  I do not know yet what I would receive from GANNET’s considerably lower elevation or if AIS will be useful to me.  We will find out.

Here is a link to a review of the radio:

One of the dozens of magazines that I can read through Apple News+ is the British YACHTING WORLD.  In the current issue they ran tests of five small outboards in the 3 hp range.  Three were gasoline and two electric.  One of the electric was Torqeedo and the other a Spirit Evo of which I had not known.  The reviewer liked the electric outboards for the same reasons I do and he preferred the Chinese made Spirit over the Torqeedo because of its larger battery and because its propeller if left in the water while under sail at four knots or more free wheels and recharges the battery.  This would make some noise, but is a very good idea.  Were I buying an electric outboard now I would give careful consideration to the Spirit Evo.

I have added my 80th birthday photo to the immodest page of pictures of myself on the main site and reorganized the page so that the captions can now all be seen.  I have also made minor changes to some of those captions and to the page that was labeled ‘condominium’ and is now called ‘Evanston’.  I will soon add a Hilton Head Island page as this is now my land home.  The picture at the top of this entry is of last night’s lingering sunset which I watched while sipping cava on the porch.  You may already be bored with such sunsets, I am not and there will be more.

From Larry comes a link to a video of dramatic footage of ships and yachts in bad weather.  I thank him.   The sailboat near the pier caused an involuntary expletive.  What were those fools doing anywhere near that spot?  They survived only through dumb luck.  Dump being the operative word.  I would have been heading straight out to sea before I got anywhere near such waves.

Of another scene I quote Larry:  ‘Note the guys on the rock steadaircraft carrier laughing at the rough ride of a destroyer escort. I remember doing the same.’

Big boat sailors are cruel.

Two days ago I read of the remarkable achievement of Alyssa Clark in setting a woman’s world record by running a full marathon every day for 95 consecutive days.  Almost incredible that her body could recover day after day after day.

I did not even know there is such a record, but reasoned that if there is one for women there is one for men.  Indeed there is.  It is held by the Spaniard Ricardo Abad Martinez who ran a full marathon every day for 607 days.  That does not seem humanly possible.

I note that neither of them played violin in a symphony orchestra in the evening after running their marathon as my friend Tim has done twice.

I also note that when I set what was then the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull in EGREGIOUS I didn’t even notify Guinness.  I felt no need of their validation.  Somehow they learned of the voyage and contacted me.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Hilton Head Island: thanks and so far, so good ; helmsman; over; my kind of boat

First I want to thank all of you who have sent me good wishes on becoming ancient.  It is heartening to know that I have been appreciated and may have been a good influence to some.

Carol and I have had two lovely days.

On my birthday she drove us to the ocean side of the island where we walked on the beach.  We returned to have lunch in GANNET’s cockpit.  Then went out to dinner at a restaurant named Poseidon.  Her choice.  Following which I did indeed have a few sips of Laphroaig and raised my glass as I said I would.

Yesterday we biked three miles and back to Dolphin Point which is on Port Royal Sound.  I don’t recall ever seeing dolphin there, but I almost always do on Skull Creek.

In the afternoon we went to a theater to see the latest James Bond movie, NO TIME TO DIE.  I saw the first James Bond movie, DOCTOR NO, in late May 1963 a few days before I graduated from college.  I think I have seen all of them since.  DOCTOR NO was low budget.  Sean Connery drove a Sunbeam Alpine in the chase scenes, not an Aston Martin.  We enjoyed NO TIME TO DIE which has deservedly received good reviews.

This was our first visit to a movie theater in probably two years.  This was an independent theater which surely has been hemorrhaging money since the pandemic began.  I don’t know how they have been able to stay open.  On a Friday afternoon there were only eight of us in the widely dispersed audience.

We returned to a frozen pizza expertly doctored by Carol accompanied by a bottle of Chianti.

This being seriously elderly has been pretty nice.  So far.

James sent me a fine poem, ‘The Helmsman’, I did not know by a poet, W.S. Merwin, I did not know but will investigate further.  I thank him.

Though I have no official status I officially declare the hurricane season over.  At least for Hilton Head.  As noted here before for reasons I do not know the tropics went quiet at the beginning of October and have remained that way.

According The first condition (to sustain a hurricane) is that ocean temperatures must be above 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit).  Below this threshold temperature, hurricanes will not form or will weaken rapidly once they move over water below this threshold.

Today’s ocean temperature at Hilton Head Island is 63ºF/17.2C.

The vessel in the photo at the top is NOAH’S VIOLIN.  She is slightly longer than EGREGIOUS and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, but I doubt sails as well.  I like her anyway.  The explanation: