Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Hilton Head Island: sailed

 Nearing sunset.  I am sitting by our bedroom window.  High tide.  I look down at Skull Creek which is not far away.  It is completely quiet here.  Not a sound.  The Spanish moss is weaving slightly and silently.

I did go sailing yesterday, anchored overnight on Port Royal Sound, and sailed back today.  

I pushed GANNET out of her slip around 10 am yesterday and Torqeedoed very slowly out Skull Creek.  The Torqeedo was not functioning normally.  It had little power even at full throttle.  We were powering against an incoming tide and GANNET’s bottom may be more fouled than I believe.  The battery level dropped below 30% before we reached the sound.  I changed to the second battery underway.

I had the mainsail up but it was decoration.  There was only two or three knots of wind and out on the sound that vanished.  Unwilling to drift with the tide, I anchored in 30’ of water at noon.  An hour later sitting at Central I felt wind coming through the open companionway hatch behind me, got up, raised anchor and sails and tacked down the sound against a south wind that grew to eight knots.  Our speed was mostly three knots.  Occasionally we reached four.  Again against tide.

I anchored in the middle of the sound about 3:30.  Between then and 5 when I was on deck having my evening drink, two boats, one sail, one power, came by to ask if I needed assistance. Kind of them and good seamanship.  They must have wondered why anyone would willingly anchor a small boat in the middle of the sound.  In my experience GANNET is the only boat to do so.

I enjoyed sitting on deck sipping tequila and listening to music at sunset, being on the water instead of looking at it.

I found that I had about thirty freeze dry meals on GANNET.  I choose Leonardo da Fettuccini. 

I also found that I did not have a pillow on the boat.  Well, not a real pillow.  I had taken it up to the condo to wash and left it there.  I did have an inflatable pillow.  Actually two, which I use to cushion sharp edges when sitting at Central and GANNET is heeled.  I inflated one and found it quiet satisfactory.  

Wind blew all night creating chop that keep GANNET in constant motion.  A motion that I am still feeling.

I had charged the newer Torqeedo battery overnight.  In the morning it was at 96%, so I put it back on the Torqeedo, though with an east wind of 15 knots, gusting 18, I did not expect to have to use it for long.

I was anchored in 45’ of water with 120’ of rode out.  While it is undoubtedly better to anchor with all chain, GANNET cannot carry that weight, so my rode is 20’ of ¼” chain and 220’ of ½ branded nylon.  ½” is stronger than GANNET needs.  I use the larger diameter in an attempt to guard against chaff. 

One of the advantages of a mostly line rode is that I do not hesitate to put out more.  However I wondered if I would have trouble pulling the rode in this morning.  I was aided by the tide which partly neutralized the wind.  The anchor came up clean and I got it stowed below deck and the furling jib set.

On a beam to broad reach we sailed at 4 to 5 knots under the little jib, having to gybe once in Skull Creek.  I furled the jib a couple of hundred yards off the marina and started the Torqeedo which seemed more its normal self.

We were back in the slip at noon.

We didn’t sail far or long.  Only about three hours each day.  But it was good to put gear in motion.  My new Spinlock halyard clutch appears to prevent slippage better than the old Lewmar clutch did.

I found I need new solar camping lights and have ordered some today.

I will have a diver clean GANNET’s bottom.  I have yet to decide where I will haul out to antifoul.

When I know GANNET has a clean bottom I will test the Torqeedo again.  If she needs repairs, that will present difficulties.

In addition to still feeling GANNET’s motion, I am more tired and stiff than I would have expected after so short a time on the water.  It is possible that I really am 80.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Hilton Head Island: unstitched

 I removed my stitches this morning.  I was given a suture removal kit by the beautiful skin doctor and I am experienced in using them.  Not a skill I ever anticipated developing.  

You may recall that a great writer has observed that life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue.  I am doing my part.

A front that brought rain for almost twenty-four hours has passed and the forecast is for sunny, warm weather with temperatures climbing each day from 68ºF/20ºC tomorrow.  No rain is expected until next Thursday.  On Monday I am going sailing for the first time this year.  I had a virus in January.  Then I was away.  And until today I had stitches.  Even though I don’t day sail much, this is a long time for me not to sail. 

 I may head up toward Beaufort to check out a boat yard there which is the closest I can haul and have GANNET anti-fouled.  I am told that no boat yards in South Carolina allow owners to do their own work.  An unfortunate increasingly prevalent trend.  Until Safe Harbor closed the little boat yard a few minutes walk from our condo, this was the most convenient place I have ever had a boat to haul out.  Now it is the least convenient.  

As long time readers know I would rather anchor with space around me, rather than in the confines of what I think is called the Beaufort River, so I don’t know where I will end up. I am looking forward to being on rather than looking at the water.  Looking is good.  On is immeasurably better. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Hilton Head Island: MOBY DICK the movie; becalmed

I’ve read MOBY DICK at least two times.  Maybe three.  I consider about half of it to be a great novel.  The other half is too wordy and boring.  Melville needed a good editor.  

Last evening I watched the 1956 MOBY DICK film, starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.  My opinion of the movie kept increasing as the film developed.  By the time it ended I thought it a very good film indeed.  This is perhaps not surprising with John Huston directing and sharing credit for the screenplay with Ray Bradbury.  

In searching for reviews I found I am not alone with that opinion.

From Wikipedia:

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it "a rolling and thundering color film that is herewith devoutly recommended as one of the great motion pictures of our times ... Space does not possibly permit us to cite all the things about this film that are brilliantly done or developed, from the strange, subdued color scheme employed to the uncommon faithfulness to details of whaling that are observed."

The credits thank the whalers of Madeira who I conclude were still hunting whales then from long boats based on their island.

Although the film came out when I was a teenager and is one I would have expected to see, I don’t believe I ever did before last night.

I watched on Amazon Prime.  If you want to do so, you need to act quickly.  It leaves Prime at the end of this month.  It is available for rent from a number of other sources.

I am feeling becalmed because the stitches in my leg are preventing me from doing much other than walk and ride my bicycle.  There is work I would like to be doing on GANNET, but small boats put one in awkward positions and require contortions unadvisable for a while longer.

By chance I have received two comments in the past day, one here from anonymous about the last journal entry, one on my YouTube channel from Jon Pope about the Zoom SF Single Handed Society video.  Usually I don’t comment on comments except to answer questions, but these are particularly welcome just now.  I thank them.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Hilton Head Island: apologia and giving directions

 Today while looking for something else I happened to reread the Apologia at the beginning of THE OCEAN WAITS.  Written forty years ago when I was half my present age—I pause to consider that startling fact—I believe it is still worth reading now. 

An apologia is not an apology, but a defense of one’s beliefs and actions.


What I was looking for was an incident brought to mind by Steve Earley’s entry about Day 5 on his winter cruise through Low Country waters.


Here is the specific section:

  A big powerboat comes up from the stern.  A man comes out of the wheelhouse and shouts "This the ICW south???"  I tell him yes.  He goes back into the wheelhouse, confers with his captain, comes back out and asks "This the Skidway River?"  Yes, I tell him.  Seems like a boat that size ought to have a GPS.

I wrote to Steve that perhaps some people ought not to be on the water.

His story resonated with me.  I vaguely remembered something similar and late this afternoon found it in THE OPEN BOAT.  It took place on the afternoon I sailed from Suva, Fiji, in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.

As I later learned, tired and desperate to get into harbor, they put the ketch on the reef that night, rather than stand off and wait for dawn.  She was a total loss.  They were rescued.  Perhaps they too should not have been on the water.  I wonder if they ever were again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Hilton Head Island: home


A martini and Liverpool/Arsenal on the screened porch.  I am home.

I arrived yesterday afternoon.  Although I removed the bandage from my leg before going to O’Hare, the stitches showed up on the TSA scan and I got patted down. Courteously.  At least they didn’t do a strip search.  Possibly because they did not want to have to view my aged body.

Rain last night and this morning finally ended at 3 PM and I walked down to GANNET.  She is in good condition.  No bird droppings and a dry bilge.  Unfortunately the ferry boat is still docked across from her.

I was gone less than six weeks.  I enjoyed being with Carol.  But I missed this place and am very glad to be home beyond continent’s edge.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Lake Forest: coincidence; coasting


The painting is ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ by Max Beckmann, the German Expressionist painter, who left Germany with the rise in Nazism, first to Amsterdam and eventually to the United States.  For a few years he taught at Washington University in St. Louis and many of his paintings are in the St. Louis Museum of Art.  I remember being impressed by them when I visited the museum as a teenager.  I did not remember this one.  It is not really representative of his work, which became increasingly violent in response to his times.  Carol and I happened to see it last week at the museum and I read yesterday in 1913:  The Year Before the Storm, a clever and entertaining book recording month by month some of the events of interest of that year, such as that in January a young Hitler and a young Stalin probably passed one another unknowingly while strolling in the Schonbrunn Castle Park in Vienna.  Also that Max Beckmann completed ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ that month.  An odd coincidence to read mention of the painting only a few days after seeing it.


As mentioned in the article, Beckmann completed a great many self-portraits.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons I have written one.

About this time tomorrow I should be walking into our condo overlooking Skull Creek and be on water’s edge beyond the continent.  I have only been away for less than six weeks, but it seems longer.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Lake Forest: hobbling; an added article; chance and stupidity; greed

I am hobbling around like an old man.  Oh, that’s right, I am an old man.  This particular hobbling is due to having been resliced and stitched yesterday by a beautiful woman.  I am ever diminished.  For your enlightenment, if you haven’t already read it I refer you to:


Title by Steve Earley.

I also refer you to an article just added to the main site.  ‘My Seventh Circumnavigation’.  It ran in CRUISING WORLD a few months ago and I forgot to add it afterwards.


I counted.  There are now 49 articles on the main site.  A veritable treasure trove of great prose.

I am reading the superbly titled, HOW CHANCE AND STUPIDITY HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Erik Durschmied, which is an examination of seventeen battles from Troy to our Gulf War which could have been won, but were lost due to chance and/or stupidity.  I have not yet read the chapter on the Gulf War.  I thought we won that one.  The chance varied from rain to found cigars.  The stupidity is legion.  If you have been reading this journal for a while you are aware that I do not think we are homo sapiens—wise or knowing man—but home insipiens—foolish or stupid man.  Stupidity is endemic among kings, emperors and generals. You may recall my:  A military genius is a man of average intelligence whose opponent is retarded.  I am sure that ‘retarded’ is not politically correct, but it gets the point across.

In planning for Iceland I recently visited Noonsite which used to be a good source of information about entry requirement for yachts in many countries.  I find that they now are hiding the most useful information unless one becomes a member.  

I also found that Canada still has complicated procedures in place for entry of foreign yachts with fully vaccinated crew.  Unvaccinated crew cannot get in.  I know how to sail to Iceland.  I still haven’t figured out how to get back.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Lake Forest: found; congratulations; rechop; booked

You have probably already seen this.  The wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s EUDURANCE has been found on the bottom of the Wedell Sea only four miles from where she was crushed by the ice more than one hundred years ago.  


I admire Shackleton, as who would not, along with Roald Amundsen as the greatest of Polar explorers.  Recently I read a quote from Amundsen, “Adventure is just bad planning.”  You may recall my own:  “Amateurs seek adventures; professionals seek to avoid them.”  Planning is the key to avoidance.

Steve Earley has just completed an impeccable cruise in his SPARTINA from Charleston, South Carolina to Palatka, Florida.  He covered the almost 400 miles more quickly than I and perhaps he expected.  I congratulate him.


I learned Monday that one of the bits the beautiful skin cancer doctor chopped from me last week is a squamous cell carcinoma and that I will have to return this Friday to be rechopped.  While I would rather not be rechopped, this has enabled me to book a flight to Hilton Head next Tuesday.  Good.  I am old but I have a boat to prepare for a voyage to Iceland.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Lake Forest: a new video


We are back in Lake Forest after a weekend in St. Louis.  Actually we stayed at the Ritz Carlton in a suburb, Clayton.  The hotel room was free with Carol’s business travel earned Marriott points.  Our ‘free’ room ended up costing us a little over $160 a night in parking, food and liquor. The food was good.  The wine was good.  I also had a glass of Laphroaig which of course was good.  The martinis were not good.  Far too weak.  I know better than to order cocktails in a restaurant.

On Saturday Carol drove us the short distance to Kirkwood, the suburb in which I grew up, and then to downtown St. Louis and then to Forest Park.  I shot videos at four locations that had significance in my childhood and have spliced them together under the title Beginnings 1.  They can be seen at:


As I wrote in the description of the video I have mixed feelings about it.  

Yesterday Carol drove us back to what we call the factory housing.

Not far north of St. Louis the landscape becomes one of endless flat farms until three hundred miles later you reach the distant outskirts of Chicago.  The high point of the drive was stopping at Wally’s in Pontiac, Illinois.  If Wally’s isn’t the biggest gas station in the world, it must be close.  76 pumps outside a Walmart size building inside which you can buy an almost infinite number of things you don’t need and an equally infinite variety of food.  We bought two very good BBQ beef sandwiches which we ate in the enormous parking lot before rejoining the Interstate and viewing more farms.


The photo is of me in front of the house in which I grew up, assuming I ever did.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Clayton, Missouri: flat


We are in a hotel room in Clayton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.  The five hour drive south proved conclusively that the world is flat.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Lake Forest: four excerpts from a great book; lost charts; chopped; road trip

For the past several days I have been reading what may well be a masterpiece, WE, THE DROWNED, by the Danish author Carsten Jensen, which came to me via BookBub.  Centered around Marstal, a small Danish island whose livelihood came from the second largest sailing fleet in the country, it begins around 1850.  I have now read 500 of the 670 pages and am up to the time between the World Wars.  Despite two ships ‘keeling’ over and one sailing under the ‘forestay’, the writing and understand of ships, the sea, and people, men, women, children, is exceptional.  I wonder if the keeling and forestay are not errors by translators who aren’t sailors.  I don’t think Jensen would have made them.  Although the novel is sometimes troubling, I haven’t enjoyed a book more in a long time.

Here are four excerpts.

This last brings a smile as I prepare to sail the North Atlantic at 80.

Of that sailing I have begun to consider because of the hurricane season a return from Iceland via Canada and the east coast of the US rather than the UK and the Azores.  I am merely sharing thoughts, not seeking advice.  This is not Facebook.  The distance from Reykjavik to Nova Scotia is 1400 miles.

I went to the chart stores of both iSailor and iNavX.  iSailor has everything I need at very low prices.  To my surprise I found that iNavX no longer offers Navionics charts which for me renders it useless.

I went to see the beautiful skin cancer doctor yesterday.  One minor consequence of the pandemic is that some of her beauty is masked, but she also has a charming manner which is not.  As usual she froze parts of me and chopped off two others to be sent for biopsy.  I can’t make a flight reservation for Hilton Head until I know if I will have to return to be chopped again.  Results next week.

Tomorrow Carol is going to drive us to Saint Louis where I will take some photos and videos of a few places from my long ago unlamented youth which will be useful to my probably nonexistent future biographers and possibly of interest to others.

The temperature in Saint Louis on Saturday is forecast to be 72ºF/22ºC.  Right now it is 30ºF/-1ºC here.  I don’t know what to wear.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Lake.Forest: walked; failed; two ‘artists’; toast


Above you have the Skokie River exactly 1.12 miles from where I am sitting in Carol’s rented apartment.  Not much of a river, but I don’t name these things. We are having a heat wave.  Temperatures are in the 40s and even low 50s F and I am again able to go for walks in reasonable comfort.  After writing this entry, I will walk today in the other direction to the lake.  

I know that at least a few of you have followed the Hilton Head Eagle Cam.


That is the link, but there is nothing more to see.  Last week the two eaglets fell from the nest to the ground.  They were rescued and taken to a clinic, but have since died.  The cause is not yet known.  Avian flu is suspected.  I did not witness the fall, but I did see on Sunday one of the adult eagles standing in the nest presumably trying to figure out what had happened.  The nest has been empty whenever I have checked it since.

I regret the deaths of the eaglets, but nature is harsh.  I expect the parent eagles have already moved on.  I regret even more some of the deplorably sentimental comments made on the site.  One is “God has two new angels.”

I don’t usually read comments but the explanation of what happened to the eaglets was published in them.

I put ‘artists’ in apostrophes because while both of the men I will mention are called artists, I consider one merely a con man, that is Andy Warhol.

Warhol journal entries frequently appear in THE ASSASSIN’S CLOAK.  They uniformly reveal a supercilious, superficial life concerned completely with who gets invited or not invited to what party and who is seen with whom.  Here a typical entry:  I had a lot of dates, but decided to stay home and dye my eyebrows.  Greatness, indeed.

The other is an anecdote about a real artrist from an article about Theodore Roosevelt:  But the country agrees with Viscount Bryce, who said Roosevelt was the greatest president since Washington (prompting a Roosevelt friend to recall Whistler’s remark when told he was the greatest painter since Velazquez:  “Why drag Velasquez into it?”)

If the Ukraine War turns nuclear as some fear, I am toast.  You probably are too unless you live somewhere remote.  I have friends who are presently traveling in their van in Mexico’s avocado country and unless quacamole is an essential war material, I think they are safe.  New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is also looking increasingly desirable.  However, here in Lake Forest we are only a few miles from the Great Lakes Naval Station and in Hilton Head we are only about seven miles from the Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot.  Google says that Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads.  I expect they can spare two for those targets. 

As I noted last week, I am struck by how repeatedly in the short recorded history of our species one man gains the power to kill thousands, then millions, and perhaps now billions.  Now that’s progress.  We call ourselves homo sapiens.  The Latin is ‘wise or knowing man’.  A cosmic joke.