I don’t watch many sailing videos, but Sailing Anarchy has a link to one eight and a half minutes long of the VC Cup sailing on Lake Lucern, Switzerland, I enjoyed and you may too. Some interesting boats in a spectacular setting.
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
A wonderful experience today.
My friends, Tim and Cheryl, are visiting and they wanted to see GANNET, so we went down to the little boat and in passing the ferry boat monstrosity opposite her I noted two notices taped to her hull announcing that she has been seized by the US Marshalls. I do not know or care why, though I can surmise.
On the way out of the marina I saw Ben, the Dockmaster, who confirmed the decrepit hulk is on the way out.
You may have seen that Jeff Bezos is having the world’s largest sailing yacht built. It is 127 meters/417’ long. However, because a helicopter landing pad cannot be fit on it, another magayacht will be built to accompany her to provide that necessity.
I thank Larry for the link and also for one he sent me a few days earlier about the world’s richest people from which I learned that Jeff is not presently the world’s richest person, having been surpassed by Elon Musk. Both are worth about two hundred billion dollars. This means that Jeff’s boat represents only ¼ of 1 percent of his wealth.
I wonder why he went so small.
Sail is best. Even powerboaters know that in their dieseled souls. Further proof: Ecuador’s naval training ship the barque, GUAYAS, captured a narco sub off the South American coast.
CRUISING WORLD has just posted on their website my article, ‘My Seventh Circumnavigation”, which ran in their October issue. I will include the article myself on the articles page of the main site, but if you want to see it as it appeared in the magazine, including photographs, here is the link.
Friday, October 22, 2021
In a comment on a recent journal entry Matt asked: What do you have in the way of ground tackle? And if you don't mind can you go through your MO when it comes to anchoring single handed.... Under sail? Head up and drop from bow? Or drop from cockpit, set and walk the rode to the bow? And how do you weigh anchor? I replied that they are good questions and I would answer in a journal post, which I am now doing.
I expect that Matt is interested in how I anchor GANNET, but I anchor GANNET differently than I did my bigger boats. On RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA I used all chain rodes. Chain has the advantages of providing a catenary between boat and anchor and resistance to chaff around rocks and coral and being self-stowing. It has the disadvantages of lacking elasticity and sending shock loads from boat to anchor if the boat is pitching or swinging harshly and of being more difficult to retrieve. All these can be solved with a good bow roller, snubbing lines and a windless. I have never owned an electric windlass. My observation of others is that they often need repair and I found that with an Anchorman manual windlass which operates with a normal winch handle I could raise anchors quicker than those with electric windlasses.
On RESURGAM my primary anchor was a 33 pound Bruce. On THE HAWKE OF TUONELA it was a 26 pound aluminum Spade. I have read some anchor tests in which Bruces do not do well. Neither do CQR Plow anchors. Because I have used both for multiple circumnavigations without problems this causes me to suspect the anchor tests, not the anchors.
On GANNET my primary anchor is a 10 pound aluminum Spade. I think I read that Spade advises that for heavy use you should use a steel version. I have not found that necessary and the weight difference makes anchoring with the aluminum versions dramatically easier.
There are some newer anchors which may be good. I have no experience with them and cannot say.
To me the primary disadvantage of Spade anchors is that they are very expensive.
Because ultralight GANNET cannot carry the weight of a chain rode, my rode is 20’ of ¼” chain followed by 220’ of ½” nylon line. This is bigger than GANNET needs, but the extra diameter is some protection against chaff. The rode is kept in the blue deployment bag shown in the photo above. It is excellent. I may have bought it from Defender. It has a velcro closed slit in the bottom so you can cleat the end of the rode before anchoring, which is certainly a good idea, and is mesh so the rode dries. Plastic markers are on the line at 30’,60’, 90’, and 125’.
I had to install the small bow roller off to starboard. it would be better directly off the bow, but there is no room on GANNET. On the deck you may be able to make out two self-adhesive non-skid pads that I bought in New Zealand to try to prevent the anchor before and after anchoring from scratching the deck.
Both deployment bag and anchor normally are stowed in the bow forward of the v-berth. When I intend to anchor I first move them back under the forward hatch. I put a plastic sheet beneath them to protect the v-berth cushions.
With my bigger boats I sometimes anchored under power, sometimes under sail. On GANNET I always anchor under sail. Usually under main alone, but I have anchored under jib alone. I have never anchored with both sails set.
About a quarter mile from where I want to drop anchor, I lower one sail or the other, usually furling the jib, and go forward, open the forward hatch and pull the deployment bag on deck. It has a clip to attach to the lifelines, and I cleat the end of the rode. Then I pull the anchor on deck. The rode is permanently attached to the anchor with a shackle whose pin is wired in place. I place the anchor on the pads. If the water is not smooth, I tie the anchor to the pulpit so it can’t fall over the side. I then open the deployment bag and pull out about three times the depth of water I will be anchoring in. I flake that down on the deck and tie it off to the starboard cleat at about twice the depth of the water.
I then return to the tiller and sail to where I want to anchor. Because GANNET is light and moves around a lot and because I will be on almost all line rode and because I like space around me, I usually anchor father out than other boats. Taking into consideration wind and tide— sometimes tide is the more important—I slow and turn GANNET into the wind, put the tiller into the tiller pilot so it remains amidships, and go quickly forward and let the anchor go over the side, trying to keep it away from the hull. When the tide is stronger than the wind, I lower the mainsail and anchor under jib alone, turning the bow into the tide and furling the jib just before I go forward.
The rode should run out smoothly until it reaches where it is cleated. Sometimes I have to help it along, particularly the 20’ of chain. The roller helps keep that from the hull.
When the rode comes taut, I check to see if the anchor seems to be set and then I let out more rode. The reason for not letting out all the rode at once is to reduce the possibility of snarls catching on the anchor.
Depending on conditions and depth and room, I usually let out 75’ to 125’ of rode, though I have let out on rare occasions more than 150’. One of the best qualities of line rode is that it is easy to retrieve and I don’t hesitate to let more out.
I look around to be certain we are holding, then go back and lower the mainsail if it is up and flake it down and secure it to the boom.
When I am ready to weigh anchor, I turn on the tiller pilot in standby with the tiller amidships, then I take a bucket which has a line attached to it with a carabiner hook at the other end forward, hook it to the lifeline, drop it over the side and bring it back up mostly full of water. I also take a scrub brush forward and a floatation cushion to sit on. I will have already attached the main halyard to the mainsail, sometimes I raise the mainsail before going forward with the sheet slack, but more often leave the main down and sail off anchor under the jib which I can unfurl quickly when I return to the cockpit. Often earlier in the morning I will have already brought in some of the rode, so that usually at this point I only have about 75’ out. I sit down on the cushion, feet braced against the pulpit, uncleat the rode from the starboard cleat, place it over the roller, and start pulling. As I bring up the rode, I pause ever few feet and either hold it in my right hand or if necessary take a turn around the cleat, and with my left hand flake what has just been brought up into the deployment bag. When the rode is perpendicular I am over the anchor and give a pull and the anchor comes free. There have been times when the anchor is deeply dug in and it takes more than one attempt.
Once the anchor is clear of the bottom, the boat is out of control and speed matters. Another reason to have room beside you. I bring the anchor up as quickly as possible. If it has come up clean I reach over and pull it through the pulpit, leave it on deck and scurry back to the cockpit and get GANNET sailing and set the tiller pilot to steer. If it is covered with mud, I raise and lower it into the water to get as much off as possible, Then bring it on deck.
Once GANNET is under control I go back forward. If necessary I use the brush and bucket of water to clean the anchor and the deck. Then I open the forward hatch, lower the deployment bag and anchor onto the plastic sheet on the v-berth, close the hatch, and restow the bag and anchor in the bow when I can.
I also have a second anchor on board, a 15 pound Delta with a second 150’ rode, but have never used them. On my bigger boats I carried three anchors, but seldom used more than one. I know there are place and situations where you need to anchor with two anchors, but that creates complications I don’t like.
I hope I have answered your questions, Matt, If you or anyone else has more, please ask in the comments.
I think the photo was taken at Paradise Bay in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.
This was in an email I received today from West Marine. Certainly essential boat equipment. Don’t go offshore with them. I am trying to figure out where I will put them on GANNET.
Thursday, October 21, 2021
The beautiful image of a stained glass window above was used today to illustrate an article reporting that scientists have now established that Vikings were in Newfoundland exactly a thousand years ago in 1021. It has long been known that they were here hundreds of years before Columbus, but until recently a precise date could not be established,
Of course neither Vikings nor Columbus ‘discovered’ America. It was already populated by others who had been here for thousands of years. And all of us, no matter when we arrived, are immigrants from Africa.
Most of you do not have the same existential interest in the hurricane season as I do and so may not have noticed that the hurricane season came to an abrupt halt and I hope end at the beginning of this month. Nothing has happened. Nothing is happening. Nothing has spun off Africa. The flow of trade winds has been smooth and uninterrupted.
In the past one could reasonably conclude the season is over. Today I am not sure.
From THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK an entry from October 15.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
I do not write about politics because I don’t want to be caught up in that feeding frenzy of fools. However, this entry will be seen as political by some. They are wrong. It is about public health and numbers. That these have become politicized by some to advance their careers and/or because of stupidity is not my fault. I have considered whether I should write this and decided that silence would be complicity with those who have made science political. I do not want to start a debate and will not participate in one.
I was sent a link to an opinion piece by an American woman who might be quite famous but of whom I had never heard. I rarely read opinion pieces. I seek facts and numbers on which I can form my own opinion. She was complaining about the restrictions put on Australians by their government as measures to combat the COVID epidemic. From her comments I expect she has never been in Australia. A side comment of hers that the Afghan War was started by the US to spread democracy is manifestly untrue.
So I googled and did the math. As of this afternoon Australia had 1,448 COVID deaths out of a population of 25,671,900. The US has a population of about 330,000,000 or about 12. 6 times that of Australia. So multiply 1,448 by 12.6 and you get 18,244.8 which would be the number of COVID deaths in the US if we had the same death rate as Australia. The present number of COVID deaths in the US is 727,000.
The freedom that Australians are being denied by their government is the freedom to die of COVID which some fools in the United States consider their inalienable right.
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.