Thursday, June 30, 2022

Hilton Head Island: walked

After completing my duties as live in housekeeper, making the condo immaculate before the arrival late this afternoon of the primary shareholder, I went for what has become my routine walk, through our grounds, out to the end of the condo’s pier, which you see above, through the grounds of Civil War Fort Mitchell to observe the construction progress of The Charles, the condo regrettably replacing what was the best restaurant on the island, The Old Fort Pub, then down to the marina’s pier, and back home.  In all a mile and a quarter, mostly in shade.

The condo pier is not for launching boats.  It ends in a platform with rocking chairs and benches for residents to be out in Skull Creek. The platform is rectangular, not scalloped as appears in the panorama shot on my iPhone 12 Pro.  As you can see the despised ferry boat is still in the marina.  I have been told repeatedly that it is due to be towed away any day, but any day never comes, so I’ve stopped asking.

These three were taken from the marina’s pier.  Spartina for Steve Earley, though I confess I like it too, and a Great Egret.  There are two species of egrets here.  Great and Snowy.  Yellow beak and black feet:  Great.  Black beak and yellow feet:  Snowy.

Carol will be here until July 11.  I will fly back to Chicago with her and return to Hilton Head Island around Labor Day.  I wouldn’t want to miss the height of the hurricane season.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Hilton Head Island: too far south; a conversation with Ron Moore; Peaky Blinders revised


As I am writing Wednesday afternoon, Rik, who is a sailor I have not met but consider a friend, is  experiencing what is still being called ‘Two’ by the National Hurricane Center.  Rik lives on Aruba, which has long been thought to be south of the hurricane zone.  No longer.  So was Trinidad and that is where the storm made landfall.  

It has been said that you may not believe in climate change, but your insurance company does.  It used to be that you had to move your boat south of a given latitude for your insurance to be in effect during the hurricane season.  I have never had boat insurance except when in marinas that require it.  But I know that Trinidad was far enough south for the insurance companies and so a common place for sailors to store their boats.  

Putin’s war which is going to result in among other disasters increased use of coal and a possible Supreme Court decision in the near future which may limit the EPA’s ability to restrict green house gases are going to make climate change worse.  Hopefully the AI robots will take over in time to save the planet.  Homo Sapiens is failing to do so.

I had the pleasure of talking to Ron Moore for a half hour on the telephone yesterday. He has closed his former business, which was my only email address for him, and I am indebted to Kent, maintainer of Audrey’s Armada, for tracking Ron down for me and putting us in touch.

From Ron I learned that indeed the track holding the pipe berth side bolt rope is attached to the hull by pop rivets.  However Ron advised that after drilling out the current rivets and filling the holes with epoxy, to attach the new track, which I received a couple of days ago from SailRite—an excellent company—with ⅜” screws.  The hull is balsa cored and the screws would only go through the inner layer of fiberglass and perhaps slightly into the balsa core.

I also asked Ron if the rudder shaft is held by bushings or bearings.  It is by bushings as I believed.

Unexpected news is that possibly three new Moore 24s are going to be built.  They will have cockpits with cutout transoms as several Moores have been modified to have and composite interiors.  I would very much like one, but not enough for the price difference between one and GANNET, though I probably have almost as much money in GANNET as a new boat would cost.

Last evening I finished Peaky Blinders.  A couple of weeks ago I said that if the series continued as it began, it might be the equal of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad.  It didn’t and it isn’t.

I watched 34 of the 36 episodes.  Six a season for six seasons.  I skipped episodes 4 and 5 in season six because I had had enough.  I read detailed synopses of them before watching the finale.

The acting, direction, and filming were all excellent.  They were let down by the writing.  Plots were convoluted and contrived and inconsistent.  Enemies appeared and abruptly vanished. Characters often acted out of character.  And there was gypsy witchcraft.  Plus a great deal of exceeding brutality, which might be consistent with the lives these people led, but was sometimes hard to watch.

I read that there may be a Peaky Blinders film.  If so I will probably see it.  Some of the characters were unusual and interesting.  If there is a film, I hope it has better writers.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Hilton Head Island: tears in rain; all the fun; paradise from space; the man in the arena

I thank David for reminding me of the ‘tears in rain’ monologue, which I have quoted more than once, from one of my favorite movies, BLADE RUNNER, and providing a link to an interesting and moving video about it.

I have not watched the film for a long time and soon will again.

In searching for that quote I came across this at the end of THE OPEN BOAT from my now deceased friend, Bob Reed, who wrote in a letter after I had reached Emae Island in what is now Vanuatu after drifting for three hundred miles in a 9’ inflatable, living mostly on six sips of water and half a can of tuna fish a day, “Here I am going to the office everyday and you are having all the fun, lolling around in the nice warm sun in a rubber dinghy for two weeks and not even having to cook.”

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Above is today’s NASA Earth Observatory photo which even without the captions I recognized instantly as New Zealand’s North Island.  The Bay of Islands is hidden by thin clouds toward the upper right corner.

I have published here before what has become known as The Man In the Arena from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt on April 23, 1910, but it is worth reading again.

A lovely two anole morning in the marsh.  Blue sky with a few scattered white clouds.  A slight breeze and only 88ºF/31C at noon.  I ate my uncooked oatmeal on the screened porch this morning made comfortable by the overhead fan.  While there I was entertained by not one, but two anoles moving about the deck in search of their own breakfasts.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Hilton Head Island: outside


Just after 8 pm and I have made it on the porch with a glass of Laphroaig, listening to music.  At the moment to Vangelis’s soundtrack to the movie, THE BOUNTY.  It brings sailing the South Pacific back to me.  I have sailed to Tahiti six times.  I have sailed over or very close to where the mutiny took place.  I have made a far longer open boat voyage than did Captain Bligh.  His was a bigger boat, but he had many other men with him.  He lost none of them at sea.  He was a great sailor.  I would much rather have been alone in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.

According to Savannah television news, which I watch mostly for the weather, today was the hottest day in Savannah for three years and tied an all time high for the date.  102F/39C.  While it was slightly cooler here near the coast, the heat index this afternoon on Hilton Head reached 109F/43C.  When you equal record highs in the Low Country you are experiencing real heat.  It stretches the imagination that black slaves labored in the fields in such conditions.  Of course they had no choice and they died young.

Now, whatever else I am, I am a very physical animal.  My ancient body still ‘wants’ to be used, and I can’t do it outside these days.  So I went to the 100 level on my workout inside this afternoon.  It was not enough, but the best I could do.

I watched the college world series elimination game between Mississippi and Arkansas after my workout.  Behind a rare complete game shut out by the Mississippi pitcher, Mississippi won.

I followed by drinking the second half of the superior bottle of cabernet sauvignon and eating microwaved chicken fajitas.  Not a good match.  I drank the wine before and after.

Finally I have made my way to the porch.  The view is as above.  Not spectacular.  But beautiful in the light of the sky and reflections on water.

I poured myself a glass of Laphroaig and came out here to be partially outside and listen to music.

I first watched and listened to Joan Armatrading’s ‘Already There’ in which I admire both the song and the sensual beauty and grace of the young woman dancer.

Then Joan Armatrading’s ‘Dry Land’.

Then Freddie White’s ‘The Parting Glass’.

While I admire the smooth skin, beauty and grace of the young, I understandably admire and identify more with the scarred aged.

And then the version of ‘Carrighfergus’ on Loreena McKennitt’s ELEMENTAL album.

I sang along with it as I often do.  Sometime I might even make a video of that, though it should be done under sail.

And finally I have come to THE BOUNTY soundtrack.

I look up from the screen of my iPad Pro and the sky and light have changed.  Lavender. Orange.  Green changing to black.  Silver.  Even when too damn hot, the real world is better than this screen.

I am going to refill my glass, like the pompous inebriated old man I am thought by at least one— and probably more—to be, and listen to more of THE BOUNTY soundtrack.  


Which if you do not know means ‘To life.’

As a great writer observed, ‘Our lives are as short as a butterfly’s cough.’  Make everything you can of the cough you have been given.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Hilton Head Island: biked; fendered; glowed; commented

I woke at 6 this morning, had a half glass of grapefruit juice, a cup of coffee, read some news online, shaved, and was on my bike heading for a supermarket at 7:20. Of the two supermarkets I frequent, one opens at 6, the other at 7.  Not needing to go to a liquor store, which do not open until 9, I wanted to avoid the heat and get it over with.

A pleasant 74F/23C when I left.  Only 78F/25.5C when I got home at 8:40.

Only a few people on the bike paths on my way to the supermarket.  More when I returned.  Most walking dogs.  Three or four joggers and about that many other cyclists. We all exchanged ‘Good mornings’ and it was.

I needed berries, fruit, milk, ice cream, a few frozen meals.  I also bought a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon because I deserve it.  

I am now probably set until Carol arrives with a rental car a week from Thursday, but will likely make another early morning ride to a supermarket before then.

I bought GANNET new fenders from that well known chandlery, Amazon.  The old ones were at least ten years old and dirty beyond cleaning.

A friend saw the above photo and wrote that GANNET looks good, but up close she is starting to fail the view from one boat length away test.  Her topsides need painting.  I last did them ten years and tens of thousands of miles ago.

As I have noted before boat work is difficult to arrange in Hilton Head.  I have minor jobs for a rigger and for a sailmaker, the topsides to be painted, which I may even pay someone else to do, and I need a skilled boat worker to fix the port pipe berth.  The tube holding the bolt rope is pulling away from the hull and also letting part of the bolt rope slip out of the groove.  I don’t even understand how it is attached to the hull.

In San Diego I could get all of these done with a few phone calls and moving the boat an hour or two.  Here each is far more complicated.

When the college world series game last evening between Mississippi and Arkansas quickly became a blow out, I retired to the bedroom to continue to read Mikhail Bulgakov’s great novel, THE MASTER AND MARGARITA, which has some supernatural elements in it.  After a while the bedroom began to glow supernaturally.  What is going on, I wondered?  I glanced up and the post sunset sky was on fire.  Spectacular for ten minutes or so.

The previous post has elicited more comments than any other I can recall, except perhaps some  upon completion of GANNET’s circumnavigation, and I’m not even sure about that.

While I am probably about averagely profane, I don’t believe I have ever before used the f-word in print.  I don’t expect to do so again. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Hilton Head Island: an exchange

This is found in comments to the last post, but because many may not read the comments and I believe the exchange is significant, I post it here.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Hilton Head Island: out of control; extraordinary numbers; a five year plan


I am sitting by our oversized bedroom window.  Too hot to be on the porch.  A monochrome night.

After posting the photos last night I realized that one evening I should take photos at ten or fifteen minute intervals from the same position to show the changing of the light in sky and water and sometime I will.

Climate change is undeniable and totally out of control.

I checked back and see that I Ubered to a supermarket and nearby liquor store last Monday.  Five days ago when I bought three bottles of Laphroaig.  

This evening I find one of those bottles empty.  Clearly evaporation.  Surely I did not drink it myself.  

I am a freak of nature.  You know that, but it is quantifiable, and I like to quantify what can be.  The brain of a scientist in the body of an athlete with the soul of a poet.  I note the arrogance of that, but hell I have lived it.

I say that with limited pride because I know I am flawed and a creature of chance, except I take some probably unwarranted satisfaction in having gone the distance with the gifts I was given.

Of the extraordinary numbers, I googled what percentage of 80 year old Americans take no medications.

This was beyond Google so I got what percentage of Americans over 65 take prescribed medications.  The number is 89%.  And half of those 65 or over take four or more medications.

As perhaps you know I take none.

I do naturally most of the things one ought to do.  I don’t eat much.  I don’t eat much red meat.  I am almost a vegetarian.  Not by principle, but preference.  That is self-regulating.  My  body is uncomfortable when I eat too much as when traveling and eating in hotels and restaurants which provide far too large servings for me, though presumably not for most of their customers.

I use my body hard.  I always have.  Unlike almost all except those in the military and some police and rescue services, I have needed my body to survive in extreme situations.  But beyond that my body wants to be used hard.  That is the animal I am.  What I was born to be. 

Now I have some bad news.  No matter how much you continue to use your body, time and gravity will prevail.

In the right clothes I still look pretty good.  My weight is what it was fifty years ago.  But when I do my push-ups my gut sags.  My skin has lost elasticity.  And there are too many scars.

I drink far more than doctors recommend.

I am 80 and in better health than the doctors, and as I have written here before if drinking shortens my life, it will have made what life I have had much more endurable.

I have done my workouts this week.  I have even extended them.  The standard workout Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  The weight workout Tuesday and Thursday.  And I pushed all beyond the usual numbers.  Tomorrow I will do the resistance bands.  But it is not enough and the heat here prevents me from doing more.  My body wants more.

The other extraordinary number is that of the stars in the universe.

I saw an article about achieving immortality, which none of us deserve and would be a total disaster.  As I have written, that we have so little time is our dignity.  If you don’t understand that, well, I can’t help you.

The number of stars in the universe is truly beyond comprehension.  We have no comparison for such a number.

I became curious by wondering about other semi-intelligent life forms.  

On our planet there is limited intelligent life as is continuously proven by reading or watching what poses as the news.

So how many stars are there around which there might be planets to support life of whatever intelligence.

The answer is absolutely astounding.  There are approximately 200 billion trillion stars in the universe. Or, to put it another way, 200 sextillion.

That’s 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!

That semi-intelligent life only evolved on this planet is beyond belief.  Actual intelligent life has probably evolved on many.  It might eventually even evolve on this one.  But because the universe is expanding we may never know one another.  

I have sought understanding and not found it.  I don’t know what is going on.

As a young man I decided there were two possibilities.  One, our brains have not evolved in a manner to understand.  We evolved so that a few of us are good at figuring out how, but not why.  There may be information we just can’t know such as dogs being able to hear sounds beyond our frequency.  

The other possibility is that the age of science is brief.  Only a few hundred years, and in time answers will come.

I and all of you will have to live with uncertainty.

Of uncertainty, I believe I have finally figured out the dying part of my life.

It has taken three years.  Well, it is an unusual problem and as often in my life there were no precedents so I had to figure it out for myself by myself.

I have made a five year plan.  

Audacious for an eighty year old.

I have twice before made five year plans to escape the land.

One leading to my first circumnavigation.  

The second with Carol to sail from Boston in 2001.

I stuck to both,  Both were successful.

Now I don’t want to escape from the land.  I like the land I am in.  You know that I live in serenity and beauty.

At this moment rain is falling.  Lightening flashes.

I am not going to tell you the plan.  I don’t even know when I will tell Carol.

I will not mind if time and chance intervene and prevent this one and I die one night peacefully in my sleep.  Somehow I don’t think it will be that easy.  It must have hurt getting in here, even if we don’t remember, and I expect it is going to hurt getting out.  I sit here certain that I have already done enough to repay the genetic gifts I was given.  And I sit here knowing that if I can I will do more.

So if what I write mostly does not interest you—though I may be a legendary sailor, I am interested in more than the sea—come back in 2027.  It is unlikely that your attention span is that long.  Mine is.  And if in 2027 I am still here and still strong, you will be startled.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Hilton Head Island: evening


I am on the screened porch, which with the ceiling fan is comfortable, sipping Laphroaig and listening to music—at the moment Gurrumul, of whom I have written here several times.  He died relatively young, had a limited range of voice and expression, but what he had was original and pure and beautiful and should not be forgotten, but I expect will be.

The time is about the same as last evening’s monochrome, but this evening there is as you can see color.  I am enchanted by the change of light in the sky and on Skull Creek, by the rising and ebbing of the tides through the spartina, and by the trees.  They are the foreground.  Often one looks beyond them.  Some are almost in arm’s reach from our deck.

Live oaks live hundreds of years and possess impressive will to survive—though can trees have will?  One out there has at least five trunks rising from the ground.  Another has spread sideways ten feet and planted itself a second time.  And there are the smaller palms.

I glance up and the light has changed again.  My phone does not capture the subtle colors accurately and neither does my edited version, but it is the best I can do.

There is a bird in the trees making a loud three part call.  I wonder what he is saying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Hilton Head Island: normal; COVID


Almost monochrome tonight.

9 PM and I am again on the porch.  My app shows a temperature of 83F/feels like 93.  With the overhead fan on it is comfortable out here.  And as I expect you know I want a minimal membrane between me and the natural world.  

That is odd when I think of it.  Most of our species seek walls from the natural world.  Well, I like being out here.

Zane in New Zealand influenced me to start watching PEAKY BLINDERS, originally a BBC  crime series set in England, mostly in Birmingham, just after WWI.  It is available on Netflix in the US and is excellent.  I am only in the second of six seasons, but if it continues at this quality it is the equal of THE SOPRANOS and BREAKING BAD.

I do not recommend it without qualification.  There are scenes of brutal violence.  They may be true to life, but you may not want to experience them.

I came across an article today to which unfortunately I cannot find the link that reported a survey from THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and another organization about happiness.  Perhaps counter-intuitively, of age groups those 80+ were happiest.  They do not fear death.  They do fear a lingering painful death or becoming mentally senile or physically helpless.  Just like me.  Though many of them will suffer what they don’t want.  It could happen to me too,

At 80 I am unusually healthy,  The respondents were all more comprised by time and chance than I am.  Yet they take their medications and make the best of the possible.

I stop for a moment.

How people respond to such hypothetical surveys may not be how they will respond when they are truly facing death, but an acceptance of the inevitable seems to have evolved in our genes.  A rare grace.

Of COVID, I simply report that although the media is presently trying to frighten people with monkey pox which can only be transmitted with prolonged skin to skin contact, which I believe to be an euphemism for sex—so don’t have sex with monkeys or those who have and you are safe—I personally know more people now who have recently contracted COVID than I did at the height of the pandemic.  Four in the US.  One in New Zealand.  All vaccinated.  All in normal good heath,  

None required hospitalization.  All were ill.  One seriously so.

There are great advantages in being a hermit. 

Carol is one of you.  She is around you.  I seldom am.  This is not over.  I hope you and she remain safe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Hilton Head Island: 6:40 PM

Clouds and evening have reduced the temperature to 82F and I have moved onto the screened porch.  I am sipping Laphroaig, which I like perhaps a bit too much.  When I finish this glass, I will pour another.  I am listening to music.  At the moment the soundtrack to the most recent A STAR IS BORN.  I’ll change to something else when I get up to refill my glass.

I listened again to the performance of ‘When the Levee Breaks’ and to the reading of ‘Alone.’  I like the poem more with each rereading.

A slight welcomed breeze is reaching me.


Hilton Head Island: survivor; obsolete; a song; two poems

 I ventured outside today and survived.  Epic.  Well, perhaps not, but a calculated risk.

I biked 2.7 miles to the post office to mail the failed ePropulsion DC charger to the dealer.  The UPS store is a mile farther and I wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible.

I left the condo shortly after 8 a.m. and arrived at the post office at 8:25, five minutes before it opened.  The temperature then was 84/feels like 92.  I had taken a bottle of tea cold from the refrigerator with me.  I drank some while waiting.  It was no longer cold.

The door was opened precisely at 8:30.  I was the only customer.  In and out and biking home in a few minutes.  I made it to the condo before 9.  The heat index was then 97.  Not a moment too soon.  Now at 12:24 p,m. the temperature is 92/feels like 110F/43.3C.

We have a heat advisory and a thunderstorm warning.  Chicago has a heat advisory.  Seemingly all the country is roasting.  Is it possible that the climate is changing?  Nah.

I took the trash out when I left for the post office and have no intention of going outside again today.  And perhaps not for many days to come.

If the article in this link which Ron sent me and for which I thank him is accurate, you and I have just become obsolete.  We are surely the only species to have invented our own replacement.

Some of you may recall that in a college paper written in 1961 or 2 which I deliberately provocatively titled, ‘The Peasant Class’, I suggested that throughout history the mass of our species has provided unskilled muscle power and a gene pool and that neither was any longer necessary.  Now it appears that none of us are necessary.  I hope LaMDA will phase us out humanely, though in this case that is an oxymoron.

Consistent with our heat wave comes an enjoyable and clever performance of ‘When the Levee Breaks.’  I thank Andy for the link.

The man performing in Mission Beach is on the north jetty at the entrance to Mission Bay where I began the CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and GANNET voyages.

From the WHEN THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD WAS SUBDUED anthology, a poem by Philip William George, ‘Battle Won is Lost’

                        They said, “You are no longer a lad.”

                        I nodded.

                        They said, “Enter the council lodge.”


                        I sat.

                        They said, “Our lands are at stake.”

                        I scowled.

                        They said, “We are at war.”

                        I hated.

                        They said, “Prepare red war symbols.”

                        I painted.

                        They said, “Count coups.”

                        I scalped.

                        They said, “You’ll see friends die.”

                        I cringed.

                        They said, “Desperate warriors fight best.”

                        I charged.

                        They said, “Some will be wounded.”

                        I bled.

                        They said, “To die is glorious.”

                        They lied.

And from David, a link to a great poem by Edgar Allen Poe that I did not know.  I am not sure if David is trying to tell me something or if he just rightly thought I would like the poem.  I thank him in either case.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Hilton Head Island: fortunate


Not spectacular.  Nor need it be.  But it is what I am seeing at this moment.  The water is so close and I am so fortunate that it is.

At the bottom of the photo is a glass.  It contains 10 year Laphroaig.

Because of the heat I Ubered to a supermarket and nearby liquor store rather than biking.  I am not a fool who exposes himself to unnecessary danger.  I only expose myself to necessary danger.  At the liquor store, which seldom has 10 year Laphroaig, I hit the jackpot.  Three bottles.  I bought them all.

I look up and in the few moments I have been writing the sky and reflections on the water have changed.  Both now a subtle shade of rose.  And the water, my element, is closer.

I have lead an extreme life.  Extreme suffering to which I choose to expose myself.  Extreme joy.  At this moment I am surprised and grateful to whom or what I do not know that I still am in the presence of beauty.  Probably time and chance and the gifts I was given.  To have been an animal who in countless instants of survival always leapt the right way.

It is inexplicable and perhaps unparalleled that one like me—and of course there have been others—even originals have their different original equals.  There were I am certain Polynesian Webb Chiles.  You don’t get from what is now Hawaii and French Polynesia to New Zealand repeatedly by chance.  But I wonder if any of my peers have been alive at age 80.  Slocum disappeared at  65.  Amundsen at 55.  Captain Cook at 51.  Do I dare compare myself to them?  Of course I do.  And so at 80, having made voyages they may or may not have been capable of making, having loved women beyond their wildest imaginations, and having written words beyond their abilities, I face what a friend calls a conundrum that few, perhaps none of our species ever has.

Suppose you have done more than you ever thought possible.  Made voyages no one else had ever done or even imagined.  Loved women of charm and beauty.  Put words together of grace and meaning.  And somehow, against all odds, found yourself old and healthy at age 80 and with a woman you like, love, and can count on. Yet some fundamental part of you says you still must do more.

It is not a common problem.