Thursday, May 27, 2021

Hilton Head Island: alligators have right of way; great shoot out; electronics

Why did the alligator cross the road?  Usually it is to get to another body of water but during the mating season which runs from late March to early June it may be to get to the body of another alligator.

We know this fellow.  Not on a first name basis, but a bike path we often use is on the other side of the road from the pond that is his primary residence.  We often see him sunning himself on the bank.  The photo was taken a mile from our condo.  He is described as 12’ and ‘magnificent’.

This is not the gator whose photo I have run here before.  That one resides in a different pond and is only about my size.

Soccer fans, of whom I lamentably know that most of you are not, watched an unparalleled Europa Cup final Wednesday between Manchester United, who are one of the three richest clubs in the world and the NY Yankees of English soccer, and Villarreal, a town of 50,000 in the east of Spain.  Truly David and Goliath.  However Villarreal has a young manager who has already won the Europa Cup three times with another club.

The game itself was not exciting.  Villarreal scored first.  Man U. tied later and regulation play ended 1-1.  In most soccer games that would be it, but a few matches, usually championship games, must have a winner, so thirty minutes of extra time were played without another goal being scored.  

Still drawn the winner is decided by a penalty shoot out.  Five players alternating from each team kick from the penalty spot against the goal keeper.  All is in favor of the shooter, but sooner or later, the goal keeper guesses right or the kicker shanks his kick. 

None of the first five from both teams missed.  So it goes on until someone does.

On Wednesday it went on to 10-10.  I have never seen that or even heard of it happening.  This left only the goal keepers of each team to shoot against one another.  The Villarreal keeper made his shot.  The Manchester United goal keeper is Spanish and the goal keeper for the Spanish National Team.  He shot.  The diving Villarreal keeper got a hand on the  ball and deflected it and David won 11-10.  A dramatic moment in sport that probably will be remembered forever in Villarreal who had never before won a major tournament.  

I have sailed to Spain twice and spent several months there.  I didn’t even know where Villarreal is, but I am happy for them.  Unless you are a Manchester United supporter how could you not be?

Joshua wrote:   Would you share what electronics you used on the last circumnavigation? I myself am a minimalist (too?). It is sometimes difficult to sort out  from the gimmicks and the "more is more" salesmanship. Practical examples are more reliable. 

The question has been asked by others, so I decided to answer it here.  I have a vague feeling that I might already have done so.  If I have, forgive the repetition.

Before that I want to comment on the ‘more is more’.  

As you know I don’t read much about sailing anymore, but over the decades I have seen an absurd number of items described as ‘essential to go offshore.’  I have never owned most of them and am reasonably confident that I have spent several more years and circumnavigations offshore than those who consider these items essential.  People set themselves up as experts on what I consider very little experience.  That they get by with it does not change my opinion about the general lack of human intelligence.

On GANNET’s circumnavigation her electronics were:

Velocitek ProStart
Raymarine tiller pilots
iPhone and iPad as chartplotters with iSailor and iNavX apps and charts
Raymarine Tacktick wind instruments
iCom handheld VHF radio
Yellowbrick tracking device

I also had on board two or three Garmin eTrex GPS units, but never used them, and an old iPad that also could serve as a chartplotter, but never used it.

The wind instruments failed three times due to the masthead being under water during knockdowns.

The tiller pilots failed many times due to getting wet.  I do not criticize Raymarine for this.  They do not build tiller pilots to meet my needs.  It would not be profitable to do so.

The Velocitek is not essential.  I use it to read out COG and SOG on deck.  I can get that information from my iPhone, but the Velocitek is hands free and more convenient.

I carried no radio on my first two circumnavigations and only started carrying a handheld VHF in South Africa on the third when port authorities expressed displeasure that I did not call them when entering port.  As far as I know there is no international law that requires a yacht to have a radio.

The Yellowbrick is totally optional.  I carry one for Carol.  Others are welcome to look in and I like seeing the track after I complete a passage.

So what is truly essential:  a depthsounder, although I sailed into the shallow waters of Hilton Head Island the first time with mine not working due to the transducer being taped over by the boat yard that antifouled GANNET and forgot to remove the tape before launching her in my absence, and some kind of chartplotter, though a sextant and charts work for those who know how to use them.

A solo sailor also needs self-steering.  A wind vane is in most cases preferable to an autopilot, but I can sail anywhere without either using sheet to tiller self-steering or tying the tiller down to windward.

I am writing later than usual.  Now a little after 7 pm and I have had dinner of tortellini with pesto sauce, salami and olives prepared by Carol and accompanied by red wine.  I am sitting by our oversized bedroom window.  Looking out I can see the top of GANNET’s mast.  I biked down to her today to check a details of the new dodger and wash her down.  Snowy egrets sometimes leave calling cards.  I am trying to visualize her and consider if I have forgotten any electronics.  If I have let me know and I’ll make the correction, but the fact is that very little is essential other than the will and strength and competence of the sailor.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Hilton Head Island: home; hooded; a changed word


We arrived back in Hilton Head a little after six last evening after a tiring 950 mile drive for Carol and a tiring ride for me.  I am not designed for land travel.  It was a great relief and pleasure to step into the condo and be again in the presence of live oaks and Spanish moss and palms and spartina and Skull Creek and the marina.  We soon were having evening drinks on the screened porch.

The drive crossed six states:  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.  Indiana is a flat as Illinois, but the country becomes hillier and prettier once you cross the Ohio into Kentucky and becomes dramatically beautiful near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.  That is, I read, the most visited of all national parks with 12.5 million visitors in 2019, which seems like several million too many to me.

Along the way we passed an extensive wind farm in Indiana, the Buffalo Trace and other distilleries in Kentucky, a farm for retired race horses, various places related to Daniel Boone, the birthplace of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dollywood, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  We did not stop at any, but may on our way back, taking three days instead of two.  If we do, Dollywood will not be among them.  Buffalo Trace will be.

Not expecting to find southern radio stations to my taste I downloaded four free audiobooks to listen to along the way.  BLEAK HOUSE, HEART OF DARKNESS, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, HUCKLEBERRY FINN.  I have read them all more than once.  Carol has not read HUCKLEBERRY FINN so we listened to about three-quarters of it.  I have observed that upon rereading the novel a few years ago, I enjoyed and admired it less than in the past, especially the last chapters where Tom Sawyer makes his appearance.  Listening to it on the drive, I found my lack of enjoyment also extends to the chapters about the con men known as the King and the Duke.  I regret to criticize a book so admired and praised, but it really may be just for children.

This was the first audiobook I have listened to.  Although it is out of date and fashion, I prefer reading.

While I was away a new dodger was made for GANNET.  The material is SeaMark which is now owned by Sunbrella.  It is like Sunbrella with a rubberized interior surface which should make it more impervious to water which sometimes soaked through the old dodger.  They replaced the lines I used to tie it down with adjustable straps.  The workmanship looks first rate.

I changed a word on the home page of the main site. ‘beyond’ instead of ‘to’.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Evanston: more early disturbances; coming apart; love


We have already seen in the past few weeks the earliest formation of a tropical disturbance in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a rare Indian Ocean cyclone hitting the west coast of India, and now as you can see above two early disturbances in the Atlantic.  Tropical storms—hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons are the same except in name—are heat machines and the ocean is already too warm.

I, of course, have a deep personal interest in this, having found a place on land I really like that is in the hurricane zone.  I will be in Hilton Head for only part of this hurricane season.  If Carol is there and a storm is approaching, we will evacuate.  If I am there alone, I won’t.  I am among the world’s most experienced at living without outside support and if our building continues to stand and I am uninjured I will be prepared to survive self-sustained for at least two months.  Naturally I hope this doesn’t happen.  I am aware of the possible irony of our condo being destroyed just after it has become habitable after all of the time, expense and stress, mostly Carol’s, of making it so, but that is a known risk and if it were to happen, I will not wring my hands and cry out, “Why me?”

The Evanston condo is coming apart and it will not ever come together again until the new owners move in.  We took the living room carpet to be cleaned and now there is a sheet covering the mat.  This afternoon we will remove some pictures from the walls to be taken to Hilton Head, along with glasses, cutlery, clothes, and I know not what else.  The next five weeks are going to be busy and difficult.  Then, hopefully, our lives will be simpler.

I was at the main site yesterday seeking on the lists page one of the quotes I have used in the front of my books and found a list I had forgotten headed ‘I love’.  I did remember that I have posted it here before and through the Blogger search found that I did so in Durban, South Africa, more than four years ago.

I stand by that.  Perhaps it is worth reading again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Evanston: EGREGIOUS found; ‘s’; autopilot; a really bad idea


When I completed my first circumnavigation in early October 1976 I had less than $2,000.  About $9,000 now.  Still not much for two people to live on for more than a few months, even though Suzanne and I were staying rent free in my grandmother’s house in Mission Beach.

I had a good literary agent in New York, who had tried unsuccessfully to sell some novels I had written earlier and would now try to sell the manuscript about the voyage, but that was uncertain, so I put EGREGIOUS on the market.  Without an engine or lifelines or plumbing or an electrical system she was not an easy boat to sell.

I rewrote two episodes from the manuscript into magazine articles, one about the rounding of Cape Horn, one about the cyclone in the Tasman, and sent one to YACHTING, one to SAIL.  No one knew who I was then and magazines often take months to respond.  I get treated better now.  Eventually both magazines bought the articles and in her letter of acceptance Patience Wales, then editor of SAIL, asked that I telephone her.  I did and SAIL bought everything I sent them for the next twenty-five years.

In the meantime my money was diminishing with distressing rapidity.  I heard by chance of a delivery of an Ericson 35 from San Diego to La Paz, Mexico and back.  I do not like boat deliveries because I do not like to sail boats I have not prepared myself and I have done only two, but I accepted this one.

Suzanne and the boat’s owner accompanied me south.  This was in early December.  The arrangement was for Suzanne and me to return to the US, while the owner’s family flew down to spend the holidays on the boat, then Suzanne and I would return and sail the boat back to San Diego.

When we reached San Diego in late January, I learned that both book and boat had sold.  And soon thereafter that the magazine articles had too.  My money worries were over for a while.

EGREGIOUS was sold for $22,000 to a Canadian from British Columbia.  I know that he immediately had an engine installed and took her north.  A few days ago Gary, who owns an Olson 30, emailed that he had heard rumors that EMMA, a light blue Ericson 37 on a mooring in Maple Bay, B.C. was my old boat.  He tracked down and contacted the owners, Chris and Tricia, who affirmed that the gel coat under the paint is indeed yellow.  They are the third owners of the boat, having boat her in the 80s from a Canadian who had bought the boat in Southern California and sailed her home.

Note in the photos that she has a tiller.  Good for Chris and Tricia.  There cannot be that many originally yellow Ericson 37s with a tiller in British Canada.  I am reasonably certain that EMMA was once EGREGIOUS.  That even looks like the spinnaker I had.

She is a pretty boat and always was.  She looks to be in fine condition, particularly for an almost fifty year old boat that was once sailed as hard as any production boat ever had been.  I trust that she has brought sailing joy to Chris and Tricia and will for years to come.

I thank Gary for taking the time to track the boat down and for permission to use the photos.

You are not likely to have noticed, but this site and my main site are now https.  The change cost nothing for the journal.  Only changing one setting.  I thank Rik for informing me of this.  The host of the main site is charging me $50 a year for the ‘s’.  This is probably a rip off.  Almost the cost of a bottle of Laphroaig.  The sacrifices I make for you.  

If you have the main site bookmarked, you will have to go to the site by typing it into the address line and rebook mark it.  If it says ‘Not Secure’ you are going to the wrong place.

I was in Hilton Head for seven months.  Upon returning to our Evanston condo which we have owned for fifteen years, I discovered that I had forgotten how to do certain things here and where certain things are.  The first morning I stood for a few seconds in the middle of the kitchen trying to remember where the juice glasses are.  I have tried to toss trash into the location where the bin is in Hilton Head rather than here.  And I have tried to get ice from the refrigerator door as I do in Hilton Head rather than in the freezing compartment where it is here.  As has been noted before we live a significant portion of our lives on autopilot.  I have tweaked mine just in time to go back to Hilton Head.  I don’t think I’ve been gone long enough to have forgotten where things are there.  At least I hope I haven’t.

And as Art noticed, I automatically headed Monday’s post ‘Hilton Head’.  He caught it.  I did not. I thank him and have made the correction.

From Larry comes a link to essential equipment for my next voyage.  I don’t understand how I could have gone so long without realizing I need this.  I will now be able to grill my freeze dry dinners in mid-ocean.  I am sure you will rush to buy one, too.

Larry called this “a bad idea waiting for disaster.”  Indeed.  I thank him for the moments of amazement and amusement.

Don’t fail to scroll down and watch the video.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Evanston: at altitude; disposing; a hanging artist; the end


My transit from the lower flatlands to the upper flatlands went smoothly on Saturday and now at altitude I am dizzy from lack of oxygen.  Well, at 600’/183 meters perhaps not.  But I am suffering from not being in the constant presence of water, of being able to glance up as I do dozens, perhaps hundreds of times a day in Hilton Head and see live oaks, Spanish moss, Skull Creek, and the top of GANNET’s mast.  I take solace in that I will be able to do so again in a week.

There is water around here—the fifth biggest lake in the world on which my friend Jay’s Olson 34, SHOE STRING, is somewhere in the above photo which he has given me permission to run.  I thank him.  SHOE STRING went into the water Friday for the first time since October 2019.  The Chicago waterfront was closed until late last year due to COVID and Jay did not launch.  I hope he and all the other local sailors have an excellent summer to make up for the lost last one.

Of flatlands, Chicago is as flat as Hilton Head.  I have nothing against hills.  I just never see one.

Carol and I spent much of yesterday throwing things out.  Five trash bags went into the bins.  Two more are ready in the living room delayed so we don’t overload the bins before pick-up.

Not surprisingly I am more draconian about this than Carol.  I have twice lost every possession I owned in the world and know of how little importance they are.  I also have no sentimentality about my past.  Given a dumpster and a free hand I could have this place cleared out by sunset tomorrow.  At the latest.  However, having neither, it will take longer.

My friend, Tim, the marathon running violinist, recommended an excellent book to me, THE PERFECT MILE, about the competition to be first to run a 4 minute mile and the perfect mile run by Roger Bannister against John Landy at the British Empire games in Vancouver, Canada, in 1954.  I remember listening to that race on radio.  I would have been twelve years old at the time.

THE PERFECT MILE is worthy of THE BOYS IN THE BOAT, which is high praise, and about more than running as THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is about more than rowing.  Both are about the pursuit of excellence and the discipline and sacrifices encountered along the way.

A quote heading one of the chapters, “A man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged.  No matter how logical his plans, he can not carry them out without physical suffering.” —Paul O’Neil.  True of solo sailing, too.

I have finished THE SEASHELL ANTHOLOGY OF GREAT POETRY.  The last section is about death and the last poem Shakespeare.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Hilton Head Island: resolved, for now


Above is a screen shot of what I got last night when I tried to visit this site on my iPad Pro and my iPhone.  It appeared in Safari, Chrome and Edge browsers.  It did not appear on my MacBook, and emails and comments report that it did not appear on Windows.

It does not appear on any of my devices this morning.

I do not know why it appeared or why it disappeared.  Possibly my and others reporting the error helped.  But not knowing is troubling.  It makes me acutely aware that I am writing on sand at low tide.

I use Apple’s iWeb to create the main site.  This is old and clunky and uploads slowly and has not been supported by Apple for years.  During the THE HAWKE OF TUONELA circumnavigation, my fifth, I decided to start using WordPress for the journal.  After about two years my account was hacked and I was unable to access it.  There was no support from WordPress, so I turned to Blogger.

I had kept copies of all the WordPress posts on my laptop and so was able to restore the two lost years.  It was a very time consuming and laborious process.  I keep copies of the Blogger entries on my iPad Pro and laptop.  I am not sure I have them all, but restoring them on another platform would be Herculean.

I am a writer.  While I still write some for publication, what I write mostly now is this journal.  One day it will stop.  Perhaps with my death or senility.  Perhaps with a hack or malware or whatever happened last night.  I will give this some thought.

If you find this site inaccessible I suggest you go to the journal page on the main site and see if there is any new information there.

I thank those of you who emailed or made comments.

Now I have a plane to catch.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Hilton Head Island: sabotaged update

I have discovered that the 'Deceptive Website Warning' does not appear on my MacBook running Mac OS.  It does appear on both my iPhone 12 Pro and my iPad Pro running IOS.  

On the MacBook the site appears normal.

Hilton Head Island: sabotaged

I went to check my latest post a few minutes ago and received a ‘Deceptive Website Warning’ indicating that the site may try to trick you into doing something dangerous.

As you know I ask for nothing from readers.

I have no idea how this has happened.  I expect that someone has deliberately and falsely sabotaged me.

I have responded by reporting the error.  Whether this will make any difference I do not know. If you think the site is worth saving you may consider reporting the error too.

If you are reading this you will have gone to the bottom of the warning and clicked ‘visit this unsafe website.’ 

However this is not satisfactory and this may be the end of this journal.  I will not \continue to write under this warning.

If so or if not, I wish you joy, sailing and otherwise.

Hilton Head Island: hand made? wind vane; gone

As you probably know I don’t read much about sailing or watch sailing videos, except immodestly my own.  I actually have other interests.  But Carlos sent me a link to a video that I did watch.  I thank him.  Half is a promotion of their construction techniques from Bavaria Yachts; the other half the construction of megayachts by Amel Custom.  

Carlos provided the title:  hand made?  As you will see, indeed not.

Not long ago Larry sent me a link to an article about a 127 meter/417’ sailboat reportedly being built for Jeff Bezos for around half a billion dollars.

If you read you will learn not surprisingly considering how much richer the rich have recently become that the megayacht business is booming.

My favorite sentence in the article is:  ‘Clients can enjoy life at sea for long periods without having to go mix with others.”  A concept that I, of course, find outrageous.

I did not realize that Jeff is also a sailor and that we have so much in common.  I look forward to sitting down and swapping sea stories with him.

Bernard in the Netherlands sent me an email in response to the post about Jim’s idea to mount a self-steering vane utilizing the outboard mount.  I have forwarded it to Jim, but thinking it might be of interest to others asked Bernard permission to publish it here, which he has granted.  I thank him.

In your last blog post you mentioned Jim the other Moore owner with his self-steering vane plans. I just had to send you this email:

As I wrote to you in 2018, I have a Drascombe Gig. But, time passes and goals change, so we have bought an 40 year old Ovni 28 to be able to sail and dry out on the Waddensea. It is also capable to safely bring our family of 5 across the North Sea and last year it has to the UK. The Gig is still with us, waiting for the boys to grow old enough to take it for a spin.

Because I really wanted a self-steering vane on the Ovni, but did not have the money to buy a new one off the shelf, I contacted here in the Netherlands a year ago. This is a very small company that supplies professional Stainless Steel 316 (A4) windvane self-steering, but in a DIY-kit so it is affordable but still has excellent steering characteristics.
The design was made in the 80s by Tjeerd Bouma, who is now 90+ years old and was a professional metal construction specialist. Nearly 1000 kits were sold in the last 4 decades.

As I contacted this little company, I was told that it was closed indefinitely and that the owner was looking for a successor.
Long story short: I not only bought a DIY kit for my boat, but took over the stock of the little company to continue the supply of the kits. Fortunately I had some time to spare next to my parttime job.

I am not contacting you to be able to get some free worldwide exposure of the little company I now have. But, as a regular appreciator of your words, I would love to do something in return. Maybe I can offer some kind of help to Jim that he may need to succeed with his plans.
Without wanting to interfere Jim’s plans, maybe he can appreciate the following humble comments. 
The thin transom of the Moore 24 can probably made suitable to carry a self steering vane, especially when the mounting is as near as possible to the strong upper edge of the transom.  Probably a glassed-in reinforcement would suffice. 
The mounting could also be easily made custom with Stainless Steel square tubing fixed to the strong upper and lower edge of the transom, without adding too much weight. 
Using the outboard bracket hole would need some construction upwards to reach enough height for the pendulum axis, without being out of reach from the cockpit. This would add extra weight precisely at the extremity of the boat.

I do not plan to install a vane on GANNET.  I have gotten by this long without one.  I can continue to get by without one.  And in addition to re-enforcement installing one creates complications of moving the outboard mount and on GANNET solar panels.  

Perhaps the greatest unappreciated safety advantage of a vane, and one I do miss, is its ability to steer downwind under bare poles in severe weather.  50+ knots.  Although if the wind gets to hurricane force, 64 knots, even vanes can be overwhelmed.

A consideration of installing a vane on a Moore is that inside the stern is a terrible place to work.  Cramped.  You can not even crawl back there.  You must slither on your stomach or back.  And there is no ventilation.

I had a lovely six mile bike ride this morning to Dolphin Point and back.  Hilton Head is ten degrees F cooler than average this time of year and extremely pleasant in the mid-70s F.  Along the way I passed the Webb-sized alligator sunning himself in his favorite spot not far from the bike path, but far enough.  He had his mouth open, perhaps hoping a cyclist would fall in.  There is something to be said for living in hope.  Very impressive teeth. 

Carol accuses me of sitting on my suitcase a week before a flight.  I am not.  But then I am not taking a suitcase, only my messenger bag.  And I have been ready for several days.  Tomorrow I fly from the lower to the upper flatlands.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Hilton Head Island: normal; an idea; compass; two views of death

Today’s NASA Earth Observatory site shows the earliest development of a tropical storm in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since satellite records began being kept in the 1970s.  The storm was not as strong as the gale I was in a few weeks ago in the Atlantic and did not last long.

The article states that this is the third time in the past five years that a storm has developed before the official start of the hurricane season, now May 15, formerly June 1.  It seems to me that when an event occurs three times in five years it is normal.

Of hurricanes and storms generally, I am with my friend Bill in the UK who wrote some time ago of his dislike for the recent trend there to name winter storms.  I think the Weather Channel does that here too.  I am against naming storms.  Period.  They are not people.  They are not sentient or vindictive or treacherous or evil.  They are not Matthew or Jack or Irma or Jane.  They are not trying to come ashore.  They are not trying to destroy anything.  They just are.  And they do not know when an egocentric species has declared their season can start.

I was talking recently by phone with Jim, another Moore owner, who had the great good fortune to grow up in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands and now lives in British Columbia.  He is preparing his boat for ocean sailing and is planning to fit a self-steering vane.  To resolve the problems caused by the Moore’s thin transom his idea is to mount it on a fitting inserted into the tunnel intended for the Moore’s outboard bracket.  It is the square hole toward the bottom of the transom.

This might be a very good idea which never occurred to me.  That tunnel slopes downward and is heavily glassed into the hull.  If Jim goes ahead, I will be interested to see how it turns out.

Perhaps clarification is needed about the difference between what the compasses were showing  as our heading and our true COG when in the Gulf Stream during the recent sail.

I have two traditional compasses on GANNET.  One hand held that lives in the Great Cabin.  One in the cockpit.  I don’t use them much.  I do use the mast mounted Velocitek; my iPhone 12 Pro; and my Apple watch.  All of which have their own GPS chips.  When sailing toward Bermuda they all accurately showed our bow to be pointing east.  Reading 090º  or close.  Our bow was in fact pointing east.  It was only when I opened the iSailor app and saw our true COG was 030º that I realized how far the Gulf Stream was pushing us sideways.  So I corrected our course until when the bow was pointing 130º our COG was the desire 090º.  The same thing happened in reverse on our way back, except that we were becalmed for a while and had no choice but to go where the Gulf Stream took us.

In the SEASHELL ANTHOLOGY OF GREAT POETRY a few days ago I came across ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ written by Dylan Thomas on the death of his father.

Somewhere in one of my books when a much younger man I contrasted that poem with Socrates, ‘Why should I fear death, for when death is, I am not, and when I am, death is not.’ 

Now as an old man I do not expect to rage against the dying of the light.  Half mine went out a decade ago anyway.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Hilton Head Island: glassed; two favorite movies; landed


I am fond of glasses as well as the liquids in them.  Above you have the Norlan whisky glass containing a measure of Laphroaig 10 year.  You can see how the shape differs from their Rauk Heavy Tumbler intended to concentrate the aroma, which is one of the pleasures of whisky, certainly of Laphroaig.

Norlan recommends a pour of 0.75-1.5 ounce, which I follow.

There is the appeal to the eye, the nose, the taste, and the cool, smooth feel of the glass in hand.  Norlan’s whisky glass is double walled, light, and as I have noted far too fragile for life on GANNET.  However, it has become my glass of choice for Laphroaig ashore.

The last few nights I have rewatched two of my all time favorite movies, neither of which I have seen for many years.  The original 1956 version of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, and CHARIOTS OF FIRE.

I would have been 14 or 15 when AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS was first released.  I was as land-locked as anyone can be.  I had seen little of the world.  I had never been on a sailboat.  I had never been in love.  I was enchanted by the film.  I still am.  This is not profound, except in being profoundly entertaining.  David Niven is perfect as Phileas Fogg.  So is Robert Newton as Inspector Fix.  Shirley MacClaine is prettier than I remembered, but unlikely as an Indian princess.  And Cantinflas streals the show as Passepartout.

Who would have thought in 1956 that within a few decades I would have sailed alone around the world in then record time and a few decades later other sailors would sail around the world alone in far less than 80 days?

I had forgotten large parts of CHARIOTS OF FIRE, lost to the opening scene, the soundtrack, and the Olympic races.  The movie is much better than I remembered and about more serious subjects including religious and racial prejudice.  One would have to be far more hard hearted than I not to rejoice that both Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams won their gold medals.

My life for at least the next two months will be dominated by the land.

I fly to Chicago on May 15.  A week later I ride with Carol as she drives an SUV load of stuff from Evanston to Hilton Head.  Two weeks after that I probably ride back with her to Evanston, only to turn around and fly back to Hilton Head to be on hand when a moving van arrives.  Then back to Chicago to assist in moving some Evanston furniture to the place Carol has rented in Lake Forest, close to her office.

A lot of to-ing and fro-ing.  After which our lives should be simpler.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Hilton Head Island: GANNET worthy; goodbye to the NY TIMES; history in objects; the man who shot the war


As long time readers know I firmly believe that my favorite liquid, 10 year Laphroaig, should be drunk from a crystal glass.  Unfortunately GANNET is hard on crystal and no matter how carefully I pack them in bubble wrap, the Dartington Double Old Fashions that I have preferred for some decades do not survive.  A while ago I happened across the above, which may.  They are heavy and thick and pleasant in the hand.  Norlan states that they are intended for drinks with ice in them and advises for drinking whiskey neat to use their whiskey glasses which are formed differently.  Obviously they don’t know GANNET.  I have some.  Their whiskey glasses are nice, but far too fragile.  If I break a Rauk Heavy Tumbler I will tell you.

Even going to sea for only ten days, it was something of a shock to read the news online upon my return.  It shouldn’t have been.  The news has been the news, people’s behavior has been people’s behavior for a very long time.  Irrational to expect change, and I didn’t really, it is just that I had so completely put it all out of my mind as I left the land behind.  I have a small Sony radio receiver on board, but I don’t recall the last time I turned it on.  I don’t want contact with the shore.  An exception during this last sail was that I did send an email via the Yellowbrick to Carol wishing her a happy birthday.

An unanticipated consequence of the sail was that since returning to Hilton Head I have cancelled the auto-renew of my digital subscription to the NY TIMES.  I had been considering this for a while.  I accept that no business can survive appealing just to Webb Chiles and that the TIMES must find a young audience.  However in doing so there has been increasing entertainment and fluff in the paper rather than news.  The deciding article for me was one headed, ‘I stopped wearing a bra during the pandemic.  What do I do now?’  Really?  Not only is this not my problem I don’t want to associate with others who have to ask.  I will get the news via Apple News+ and the BBC site.

During the sail I finished an excellent book, A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS, which should have been subtitled ‘From the British Museum’.  I learned a great deal from it, including that agriculture sprang up almost simultaneously in seven parts of the world from Africa to the Americas, to India, China, and even New Guinea.  I had mistakenly thought the first agriculture was in the Middle East.

A fascinating and highly recommended book.

Also fascinating and highly recommended is a documentary film, THE MAN WHO SHOT THE WAR, about an until recently unknown Irish Corporal, George Hackney, who took his camera to the trenches in WWI and recorded what has been called the photographic find of the century.  I watched the film on Amazon Prime.  There is also a book, but in this case I think the film must be superior.

George Hackney was a remarkable man as well as photographer.  He was wounded during the war, but survived into his 80s.  

There is a line in the film that perhaps no man who fought in the war survived undamaged.  George Hackney was damaged.   I suppose that every man who fights in every war is.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Hilton Head Island: the sail; the list; Steve Earley rides again; not an old man’s boat

I find that I am part of a trend.  This is disconcerting.  It is unnatural for me to be a part of anything.  But the preliminary census data released last week proves what has been obvious:  people are leaving California and people are moving to The South.  Even worse I am part of two trends. 

A few miscellaneous thoughts about the recent out and back sail in no particular order.

The improvements made to the new model Velocitek ProStart proved their worth.  It was so useful to go on deck at night and turn on the unit and have the red backlight come on automatically, and not to have to change batteries.  I did remove it from the mount once to recharge it.  The tiny plastic cap over the recharging port somehow became deformed.  I used the essential duct tape to hold it in place.  Since my return I’ve gone to Velocitek’s site and found they sell replacement caps for $2.00 each.  I expect they cost maybe 2 cents each to manufacture, but like all boat owners I am rich and ordered two.

Perhaps the most surprising experience of the sail was the difference when we were in the Gulf Stream between our compass heading as shown by the Velocitek and our actual course as shown on the iSalor chart in my iPhone.  The difference was sometimes more than 60º.  If you just followed the compass, you would eventually be in for quite a shock.

The new pipe berths are wonderful.  Kevin’s workman put a thick layer of foam in them.  On the old berths I could feel the corners of waterproof boxes stowed underneath.  Sleeping on the new ones I can’t.

The most vivid impression of the sail is when I was on the port pipe berth while GANNET was lying ahull under bare poles in the gale and I began to wonder if the wind would press us beneath the surface of the ocean.  GANNET has only 2’/.6 meter freeboard and a short mast.  There is not much for the wind to get a grip on, but it did.

I tried several of the new to me AlpineAire meals and most were by my perhaps low standards excellent:  Chicken Gumbo; Tuscan Chicken Alfredo; Creamy Beef and Noodles; Al Pastor with Cilantro Lime Rice.  I did not care for their Three Cheese Lasagna.  And there were other meals I did not have the chance to try.

Of destinations, I don’t believe I will ever set out without one again.  After Carol retires and can fly there and join me, I might even sail to Bermuda.

As is inevitable after sailing about 900 miles my GANNET to do list is longer.  Again in no particular order.

inflatable cushion—when heeled I wedge myself in at Central with flotation cushions and an       inflatable one.  The inflatable has sprung a leak.

Velocitek battery cap

snatch block—I used one attached to the toe rail to keep the jib sheet from rubbing against the shrouds when I backed the jib.  The one I have was very difficult and sometimes hazardous to remove and switch from side to side.  I find I only have one and will buy two more from  Garhauer so that I don’t have to go forward to move them.

main halyard—the main halyard is slipping several inches when under load.  It has been doing this for a while and is getting worse.  I do not know if the halyard has stretched and narrowed or if the clutch is worn.  I will end for end the halyard and see if that results in improvement and then go from there.

oil interior wood

Windex—it is loose.  I need to find a useful rigger.

new spray hood—one has already been ordered and I learned today will be made later this month rather than in July as originally scheduled.

nonskid—the rigger who lowered and raised GANNET’s mast in Panama ripped some of the non-skid.  I’ve glued the ripped parts and will see if I can buy replacement material.

lower rudder and inspect bearings—this has been on the list for years.  I need to find a good boat yard.

leak forward hatch—this too has been on the list for years.  I have removed and rebedded that hatch twice.  A third effort should be made.  Sigh.

Steve Earley has built a new mizzen mast and is off today on his annual spring cruise.

I have a suspicion that Steve’s traditional spring and fall cruises are now going to be joined by a winter cruise in the South.  He offers no denial

I hope that Pat who lives in Queensland, Australia, will not take umbrage when I say that he is about my age.  Like several of you Pat is a builder.  He can and has built boats and houses and furniture and much else.   He recently sold a boat he had built and he has bought another.  This GBE catamaran.

Pat tells me that she is 26’ long, but designed to be 28’, and he is going to lengthen her to 30’.  Don’t ask, I don’t know.

I observed to him that that is not an old man’s boat.  He replied that indeed she isn’t.  Pat has the right stuff.