Friday, September 30, 2022

Hilton Head Island: over


Ian has passed, and here, at least on this side of the island, was a non-event.  Despite the  hysterical voices of TV talking heads and the cover-their-ass pronouncements by public officials, and despite the storm having wreaked havoc in Florida, I did not expect much of Ian and got even less.  That is not a complaint, but I did think the experience would be more interesting.

Rain began last night about 11 pm and continued at a steady, but far from torrential pace until the past hour.  I woke several times as I usually do and was surprised not to hear much wind.  There never was much wind on this side of the island.  The airport weather station has shown sustained wind in the 25-30 mph range, with gusts in the 40-45 mph range.  I estimate that Skull Creek has seen wind mostly around 20 knots, which is 23 mph, with rare gusts to around 30 knots/34 mph.  So we didn't even have a gale.  Outside our windows the live oaks and Spanish moss are in motion, but not frenzied motion.  What we've had is a rainy day.

Above you see the most recent European model GRIB showing the situation when I began typing at 1:18 PM Eastern time.  The eye is just ashore east of Charleston.  It passed Hilton Head about 10:30 this morning about 70 miles out to sea.  

You can also see why in the Northern Hemisphere it is better to be on the west side of a hurricane.

The second photo is the view out our bedroom window when I began writing.

It may be of interest to know that the water did not leak out of the bathtub.  I let it out an hour ago.  I still have ten gallons in the jerry cans.  A tree could still come down and take out a power line, but Ian is pretty much history.

Also, Audrey, of Audrey's Armanda, passed on though Kent that washing machines hold water.  I had never thought of that, but our washing machine holds a lot of water and if faced with a future  major storm I will turn it on and fill it, too.

A tiny squirrel just scurried down one of the live oaks.  I wonder how long he had been up there, and if he went up for the free carnival ride.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Hilton Head Island: waiting

It is 1:30 on a gray afternoon.  Solid low overcast.  Wind at the airport three miles here, but more exposed, 35 mph, gusting 41.  I judge the wind on Skull Creek is about 18-20 knots.  NOAA thinks in mph.  I think in knots.  There are no waves on the slate gray creek, but there are whitecaps which is unusual.  When I walked down to GANNET three hours ago the wind was 17 knots.

We are now under a hurricane warning.  However, the latest NOAA GRIB shows the eye of the storm tracking farther east than in earlier ones and making landfall at Charleston rather than Hilton Head Island.

I brought back from GANNET two five gallon water jerry cans, the portable solar panel, and the JetBoil stove with five gas cartridges.  Halfway back to the condo I thought that I should have brought one or two of my solar lights.  I did not go back.  I have a flashlight here.

I have filled the bathtub with water.  I tried to fill three sinks with water, but their plugs let the water seep away.  The bathtub plug seems to be holding.  Bathtubs hold a lot of water.  I have filled the jerry cans with water.  As I was doing so I realized that I could fill them to the top, which I do not do on GANNET because of the motion underway.  These should remain quietly level unless the building comes down in which event water may not be my most immediate concern.

I do not expect Ian to be a major event on Hilton Head Island.  If the GRIBs are accurate we will see maximum sustained winds of around 30 knots, with gusts between 40 and 50 knots.  The eye of the storm should be closest at around noon tomorrow.  Unfortunately high tide on Skull Creek will also be around noon.  Ian could cause outages of electricity and water.  If so, I will be self-sufficient for at least a month and probably more.

I have been thinking about the difference between the wind speeds being reported and those shown on the GRIBs.  One of the parameters on the GRIBs is 'Wind Speed 10 meters Above Ground'.  It is possible that the highest winds are thousands or tens of thousands of meters higher.  I do not know that as a fact; it is my speculation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Audrey, Steve, Ian, shot, fall, another sunset


I am not sailing, so I thought I'd show you photos of some who are.

At the top you have Audrey and the latest addition to her Armada, the pram, EXCUSE ME, on her maiden voyage.  EXCUSE ME's maiden voyage.  Audrey has been sailing all her life and comes from a long line of distinguished seamen and women.  EXCUSE ME was built by Audrey's resident shipwright, Kent, who is also self-described as 'moveable ballast.'

I really like the little pram and once had a fiberglass dinghy very similar which I ruined by cutting it in half to try to make it stow better.  I am not a shipwright.  My dinghies have been inflatable Avon RedStarts ever since.

You can read more about the construction of EXCUSE ME at:

Next you have the bow of Steve Earley's SPARTINA.  Steve did an almost instant transition, returning from his vacation in Greece on Sunday and starting his fall cruise on the Chesapeake on Monday.  The photo was taken on his first night back on the water.  You can follow his cruise on his website

and his tracking page:

I thank Audrey and Kent and Steve for permission to post their photos.

The third image is the latest projected path of what is presently Hurricane Ian.  If accurate, the remnants of Ian will be directly over my head Friday afternoon.  By then it should have no more than low gale force winds and drop 4 or 5" of rain.

Earlier this morning I biked down to check out GANNET.  I doubled most of her dock lines and tied down the tiller and secured the clew of the furling jib before I left her in July.  I had only to readjust one dock line today.  I also set up the running backstays.  Probably not necessary, but it does no harm.  I did not remove the sails.  That is troublesome.  To unbend the mainsail, I must remove both the solid boom vang and the boom from the mast.  I don't think this storm warrants that.

I have been downloading GRIBs each morning.  This morning I downloaded both the European and the NOAA models.  The maximum winds I can find on either are in the range of 90-95 knots/103-109 mph.  That is serious wind, but no where near the 155 mph gusts being reported. I do not have an explanation, except that perhaps such wind is occurring in such a small area that it does not show up in a GRIB.

I have also been watching the evening news which shows agitated Floridians in stores with empty shelves.  You know what I think about planning and preparation.  You live in Florida or for that matter anywhere on this coast from Cape Hatteras or maybe even farther north to Texas and you haven't prepared for the hurricane season by June?  I can't say I'm surprised or even shocked.  We are not by and large an intelligent species.

I biked yesterday to a Walgreens four miles away and got the latest COVID booster.  I got a flu shot a couple of weeks ago at Walmart, but they did not have the COVID vaccine.  My latest was my fourth.  Fortunately I do not have a reaction to them.

The bike ride was lovely both ways.  67F when I started.  75F when I got home.  

Most of the trees on this island stay green year round, but there are some maples and they are losing their leaves.  I think the debilitating summer heat is over and it is fall.

And here you have last evenings sunset, even more spectacular than usual.  I was on the porch sipping my second martini and listening to music on my MacBook Air.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Saturday evening


I am on the screened porch.  Above is not quite what I was seeing a few minutes ago.  There was more color, but my iPhone has an algorithm that made the images far too light and by the time I figured out how to eliminate that the pink color in the post-sunset sky was gone,  It is quite amazing how our eyes, even my remaining and compromised one, are so good.

Hilton Head is transitioning from Hades to paradise.  The high yesterday after a front moved through was 75 F.  I opened all the doors and windows and have kept them open.  As you know I like living with the minimal membrane between me and the natural world.  Here for four summer months that is not possible.

Today the temperature went up to 79F and the air conditioning came on.  I wanted to keep the condo open, so I raised the thermostat to 77 which turned the air conditioning off.

I watched some college football on TV and then, after a dinner of a bought 'Santa Fe Salad', a known quantity that I have eaten before, I came out here with the last of a bottle of Botanist gin to watch on my MacBook Air Ohio State/Wisconsin.  Ohio State quickly scored twice and I turned YouTubeTV off and found a wonderful silence, broken only by a few bird calls.  At this moment someone is chirping somewhere.  An attempt at communication.  I hope successful.  I have tried to communicate myself.

I am an unsettled animal.  I believe I was designed to push our species's limits and there is some quantifiable evidence, and perhaps some unquantifiable, that I have.  In my unexpected old age I have found moments of peace.  Maybe I have earned them.  And even if I have, I like to believe that given health and time I will push human limits more.  But I would not like to make Fred Blakey's mistake.

As I have noted here before I am almost always writing in my mind, just as I have read some composers are always writing music in their minds.  I fully understand how Beethoven wrote music when deaf.  He heard the notes in his mind.  I hear the words.  So I am sometimes uncertain what I have thought and what I have published.  If I am repeating myself and you remember, I apologize, but I believe it was painful to get in here and I expect it will be painful to get out, particularly if you have an animal will inside you as I do that so wants to live it kept me alive through eight hurricanes and swimming for twenty-six hours.

A bird is chirping.

I am going to break the wise two glass rule and pour myself a third, this of Laphroag.  I don't think it will kill me.  Like all of us I don't know what will.

Here is an enigmatic photo I took last night.  Make of it what you will, as you will make of me.  Another self-portrait in the present sea.



Hilton Head Island: 50' waves; Ian and me

You may have seen this footage taken by a saildrone in hurricane Fiona a couple of days ago in waves reportedly of 50' and winds of more than 100 mph.


I am impressed that the drone was so well designed and constructed that it could survive such conditions, though they don't look as bad as I expected.  Cameras always seem to reduce waves.

The images are not unfamiliar to me.  I have been in hurricane force winds at least eight times.  Hurricane force starts at 64 knots.  I think I have been once in winds close to 100 knots.  They did not last long and I did not expect to survive if they did.  I have been in at least 30' waves, probably higher.  I don't think anyone is good at judging the heights of such waves from a sailboat in them and I try to err on the low side.

Of hurricanes I expect to be visited by the remnants of one next Thursday or Friday.  

The low I wrote about two days ago has now been named Ian and is expected to be at hurricane strength when it reaches Florida Tuesday or Wednesday.  This far ahead its track is uncertain.  Some models show the center passing out to sea east of Hilton Head.  Some inland over Georgia.  At this point all show it weakening by the time it is this far north, having lost strength over land.  Thank you, Florida.

In any event I have checked my provisions.  I like to have enough to be self-sufficient for two months.  So yesterday I increased essential supplies by biking to a supermarket and buying another canister of oatmeal--one lasts roughly thirty days--and two bottles of Laphroaig at a nearby liquor store.  A friend has observed that two bottles of Laphroaig are not enough for two months.  I agree, but that is all they had.

I also ordered more trail mix from Amazon which will arrive tomorrow.  I already have many other supplies on hand, having stocked before last year's hurricane season.

In case of the arrival of a major storm, I will bring several things up from GANNET.  The JetBoil stoves--I have two.  Gas canisters for them.  The four 5 gallon water jerry cans.  What food is on board.  A small portable solar panel.  Solar lights.  And whatever else catches my eye and mind.

Twenty gallons of fresh water will last me two months.  I would also fill the bathtub and the various sinks.  And presumably there would still be water in the condo swimming pool to use for washing.  I expect I would be the only one here and could even bathe in the swimming pool.

There is a lot of glass on the side of our unit facing Skull Creek.  As the developer knew that view is what this place is about.  I would move cushions into either the utility room or my walk-in closet and live there until the storm passed.

If this building remains standing, I'll be good for two months, by which time I expect some relief will be underway.  If GANNET survives intact, I will, of course, be good indefinitely and able to sail to some place undamaged.

I don't expect Ian to cause great distress.  But with global warming rapid intensification has become common and you know what I think about preparation and planning.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Hilton Head Island: a dubious record; slouching; Dirtbag; deserving of attention

Not all world records are equal.  

I recently read of one that is not, that I think should not even be considered.  But then people do want attention.

A young Brit whose name I do not include but which you can find in the linked article has set the praiseworthy record for drinking in the most pubs in twenty-four hours.  He drank in 67 different pubs in his home city of Brighton, England, in that period of time.  I doubt I have been in 67 bars in my long life.  He did confess that he did not drink alcoholic beverages in all the pubs and that he made frequent use of the men's rooms.

Hail, Britannia.

I just finished reading SLOUCHING TOWARDS UTOPIA by the economist, J. Bradford DeLong.  This is not my normal reading, but I happened across a review of the book and decided to buy the Kindle edition.  DeLong's grand narrative--his phrase--is that the years 1870-2010 constitute the 'long 20th Century'--during which there were two thirty year periods when our species made unparalleled material progress.  The century ended in 2010 with the Great Recession for various reasons, including the loss of the world's trust in United States leadership.  Some of the economics in the book are beyond me, but I know the history of those years fairly well.  I am apparently one of the few still living who know when WW2 happened and that it did not start in 1941 as most Americans who have any idea believe or in 1939 as the few Europeans who have a clue believe, but in 1937 when Japan invaded China.  And I agree with DeLong's observations about history and individuals.

Here is a quote that I find interesting because I don't think I act this way.

In a well-functioning market economy you began nearly every meeting you have with a stranger thinking that this person might become a counterpart in some form of win-win economic, social, or cultural exchange.

I do not believe I seek personal gain from people I meet.  I mostly just want them to be reasonably courteous and not cause me any grief.

And here is a quote with which I completely agree.

It is a hard problem, how to conduct rational public discourse in a twenty-first century in which communications channels such as Facebook and Twitter are run by those whose business model it is to scare and outrage their readers in order to glue their eyeballs to a screen so they can then be sold fake diabetes cures and cryptocurrencies.

Dirtbag is not a word I normally encounter, yet I have twice from readers in the past week.  Neither was directed at me, but I am beginning to wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something.  

The first was on Bill's site which had a performance of a song 'Teenage Dirtbag'.  The second was a recommendation from Douglas about a documentary film of that title, which is about a legendary American mountain climber, Fred Beckey, who probably has more first ascents than anyone ever.  In the film 'dirtbag' is defined as someone obsessed with mountain climbing.

I am not a mountain climber.  I don't like heights.  But I have often thought that my sailing has more in common with some mountain climbing than it does with most sailing.

After watching the film, which is an hour and a half long and which I recommend, I believe Fred Beckey was a true original.  I observe that we had in common a number of quite attractive women in our lives.  We differ in that he never married one.  His climbing was phenomenal, but it always required at least one climbing partner.  I had the advantage of being able to sail alone.  Like most originals Fred was not easy to get along with.  Modestly I claim to be the easiest possible original to get along with.  Carol might take exception to that, but she doesn't read this journal and so will never know I made that claim.

Some of the film is older footage from when Fred was in his prime, but a lot of it was made when he was no longer and is painful to watch.  The will was still there--at least sometimes--but the body was not.  He died in 2017 at age 94.  I think he lived too long.

There is an area of low pressure presently just north of Venezuela.  On this mornings' GRIB this is how the European model projects it will develop and where it will be a week from now.  I will be paying attention.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Hilton Head Island: whiskey stress; ancient windward; my last laptop?; appalling

I learned yesterday from an article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL that there is a whisky boom which is changing the character of Islay, the home of my--and apparently an increasing number of others'--favorite liquid.  I did not know that and I am not responsible, except in that I may have influenced a few others to try Laphroaig.  I personally have not increased my consumption.  I have been drinking Laphroaig 10 year at a slow but steady pace for decades.  The problem of housing for workers is becoming common, if not yet already universal.


I thank Dan for a link to an article about a 'science' experiment to discover how ancient sailors made their way west in the Mediterranean Sea in summertime.  I put 'science' in quotes because I doubt the problem, and the claimed solution is obvious to any good sailor.  I expect this gave a number of people some fun, but it was a waste of money.

First, I have spent parts of several summers in the Med.  The cliche about the Med is that there is too much wind or too little.  I think there is some truth to that.  In summer, particularly in the west, too little.  However, I sailed the length of the Med in CT2 from Port Said to Vilamoura, Portugal, with only a single stop at Malta and I remember no difficulties other than the Levanter in the Straits of Gibraltar and almost being run down by a Portuguese patrol boat two nights later.  I was awake and turned a flashlight on the mainsail.  The patrol boat roared up to me, came to a stop, and the officer in charge angrily demanded, "What do you think you are doing out here?"  I replied calmly, "I think I am sailing from Malta to Vilamoura."  He stared at me.  His mouth opened to say something.  His mouth closed.  He gestured to the helmsman and the boat speed away, leaving CT2 bobbing in its wake.  It is true that CT sailed better and much closer to the wind than ancient ships.

Second, I find it obvious that ancient sailors when facing adverse wind would heave to or anchor and wait for the wind to change.  I still do.

Third, in the absence of any wind I would have expected ancient sailors to turn on the power:  i.e. start rowing.

The man behind this 'experiment' is said to have been a pilot for twenty years before taking an interest in sailing.  I say he is still not a sailor.


I just bought a new laptop, a MacBook Air.  Possibly it will be my last.  I now use my iPad Pro more than a laptop.  In order to future proof this one I pretty much maxed it out.  16 GB ram; 1 TB hard drive.  I bought one in the color Apple calls Midnight.  I read several reviews claiming this is a fingerprint magnet.  The reviewers have stickier fingers than I or are more neurotic.  I do not find fingerprints a problem.

I bought my first laptop thirty years ago.  It was an Apple PowerBook which had 4 MG ram and a 40 MG hard drive.  Back then that was enough.  I wrote two books on it.  It also was the most expensive laptop I have ever owned, costing roughly $500 more than the new MacBook Air.  An impressive business.

A few days ago I saw an article headed:  When Was WW 2?  Really?  People have to ask?  I realize that only a small percentage of those presently alive on this planet were alive during any part of WW2.  I am one of them, though I have no memories of the war.  But not to know about WW2?  To have to ask when it happened unless you are very, very young?

George Santayana:  Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

There's a future to contemplate.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Hilton Head Island: a boat; a beer; a correction; a death poem—not mine


Steve and Elizabeth Earley have been vacationing on the Greek island of Hydra.  Naturally Steve found an open boat.  He posted the above photo of a very pretty one on his site.  Naturally he also has posted photos of food.  As I pointed out some years ago his LOG OF SPARTINA is really a food site with occasional mention of boats.  Hydra looks lovely.  Food and all.

On passages I routinely drink a can of something in mid-afternoon.  On my early voyages it was Coca-Cola.  But some decades ago I lost my taste for sweet drinks and began having a can of beer.  This truly was for the liquid, not the alcohol.  I very seldom drink beer ashore.  A few years ago Lee suggested I consider non-alcoholic beer.  Well, as you can see I finally did and I like it.  The Heineken also comes in cans, essential on GANNET.  On the off chance I ever make an ocean passage again, a case will be on board.  Someone once told me you can’t drink warm beer.  Of course you can.  And air temperature gin, too.

If you read the comments on the preceding post you know that there is, in fact, a Webb Chiles Wikipedia entry.  I thank Sean for informing me of this.  I also thank whoever took the time to create it.  I don’t recall when I last checked Wikipedia for myself.  Perhaps a year or two ago. From the dates it appears this entry was created a few months ago.  What is there is basic and accurate.

As is known I read some poetry and listen to some Bach every day.  Of the poetry I usually read a few poems by Western poets and a few by Japanese or Chinese poets, usually in the afternoon.  I recently finished THE POETRY OF ZEN and looked on Amazon for something similar.  I found JAPANESE DEATH POEMS:  Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death.  The introduction states that writing a death poem is a Japanese tradition.  Or was.  The most recent I have seen in the anthology date from the 1700s.  Many of these poets lived unusually long lives.   A few were even older than I.  Here is one I like:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Thursday evening


Almost 7 pm.  Above is what I am seeing.  I am sitting on our deck, a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc--would I drink any other?--to my left.  The temperature is 80F and quite pleasant.  A front passed three days ago, leaving behind it sunshine and lower humidity than usual in the Low Country.  The true temperature and the heat index have been only two or three degrees F apart.  Routinely in the summer here the difference is ten to fifteen degrees with heat indexes of 105-115F.

It is quiet. 

In this condo complex there are four buildings.  Each three stories high.  Each with three units on each level.  The two end units on each level are three bedroom.  The middle unit on each level two bedroom.  We are the middle unit on the third floor and so have both a screened porch and an open deck.  I like both, but when insects are not a problem I prefer the deck.  You know I like space around me.

Even though I regularly use my body, I had today a more active day than usual.  I walked down to GANNET trying to find screws to secure the replacement track for the port pipe berth.  Yes, you can say Webb has a screw loose.  Actually a couple of dozen.  I have twice searched the condo and GANNET without success.  I have a third set of screws of a different length, but would like to find the others if only because I know they exist somewhere.  I also swam in the condo pool and did my weight workout.  Even if you are gifted with good genes, you have to keep using your body, though the will to do that may also have been in those genes.

As I have been writing of course the sun has lowered and is now just above Pickney Island.  The colors are more dramatic.  I am not going to take another photo.  Use your imagination.

A pause as insects drove me into the screened porch.

As I have written paradise is usually somewhere else.  

Hilton Head is a valid version of paradise about eight months of the year.  It is too hot the other four months which are now coming to an end.  The serpent in this paradise is not alligators, but bugs.  I have found unexpected happiness here, but this is second best.  My paradise is somewhere else:  New Zealand's Bay of Islands, but for reasons of the New Zealand government that I accept as being completely valid, I can't live there full time, and I don't want to fly back and forth.  So I adapt and accept the charms of the possible.

As an aside I am an American.  I somehow think I would have been different had I been born a New Zealander or an Australian, both of which I would be pleased to be.  I can't define how, but different.

Of Australians, there is a good documentary on Netflix about their winning the America's Cup in 1983.  Untold:  The Race of the Century.

That very long link will only be of use if you have Netflix.

It begins with John Bertrand, the winning Australian helmsman, saying he has never met a world champion who was not screwed up in some way.  Defining 'screwed up' in my own way, I accept his statement.  I understood instinctively the species' need for originality and the exceptional individual.  You want to be the best in the world.  The best ever.  You are not going to be one of the guys or girls.

In the documentary, Dennis Conner says of the America's Cup, it is about "Show me the money." Thus I have limited interest in it, as I have in the big name round the world races.

In this Dennis also claims to be the best sailor in the world.  For a while he was the best in sailing 12 meters around buoys.  I am not aware that he has ever sailed across an ocean.  I am reasonably certain he has never done so solo.  And I don't believe that he can any longer claim to be the best America's Cup helmsman.  Russell Coutts may have that claim.  I googled and correct myself, Sir Rusell Coutts.

I have goggled and learned that Dennis is about a year younger than I.  I am surprised to learn that he is not richer than he is.

Once we passed near one another.  The year must have been in the early 70s.  I was driving along Shelter Island in San Diego when to my left I saw him in a boat yard climbing onto a Ranger 32 that he had bought and did not keep long.

On the day the seventh race of that America's Cup was to be run--as I recall it was postponed for reasons I do not remember--I almost died sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE 2 through the Straits of Gibraltar.

The southern most point of the mainland of Europe is Tarifa, Spain.

A strong easterly wind known as a Levanter came up and increased to 50 knots as it funneled through the Straits.  I had full sail up on CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE 2, but could not leave the tiller even for an instant to release the main halyard only six feet away and drop the sail.  We continued, and as we approached Tarifa we were sailing by the lee.  It was very close and delicate.  To gybe was certain capsize.

People ran down to the point of Tarifa as we neared to watch me die.  As is evident I didn't.  I finessed it and barely cleared the land.  

I have been close to two other sailors of fame:  Bernard Moitessier and Jon Sanders.

I have written in THE OPEN BOAT:  Across the Pacific of my having dinner with Moitissier.  He was in his mid-50s then.  I in my late 30s sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.  He knew he was over and he was.

Jon Sanders was at St. Helena at the same time as I in GANNET.  One morning we rode the same launch ashore.  I was on first so perhaps he did not know who I was or what boat I had come from, but there were not that many boats there,  He was on a roughly 50' that had been given to him.  I said a few words about his boat.  He responded with a grunt.  Jon Sanders has made some impressive voyages.  Some of them were sponsored.  I do know know of his personal relationships or that he has words.  It seems not.  Sailing oceans alone does not require words except to the extent that as a reader you can learn from others, if you have words  teach others.  

In writing this I have goggled both Dennis Conners and Jon Sanders and found Wikipedia articles about them both.  There is no Wikipedia article about Webb Chiles.  I have considered commissioning one.  I could write it better myself, but don't want to deal with Wikipedia protocol. But I have decided not to.  I am certain Bach did not authorize a Wikipedia article about himself. I do not claim to be Bach, but if no one else thinks I am worth remembering, so be it.  If the species forgets me, the species' loss.  I have done my job.

Imagine Dennis Conner or Jon Sanders in a Drascombe Lugger pushing away from the dock to try to sail around the world.

Imagine either of them completing a circumnavigation knowing they had set a world record and telling no one.  Anchoring, rowing ashore, and getting a taxi to his grandmother's house and the  woman he then loved.

I never contacted Guinness.  I did not need their validation.  I needed only to prove to myself that I am what since childhood I believed myself to be.  I did write about the voyage.  I am a writer and I needed the money.  And after a while Guinness through Nobby Clarke, now long deceased, contacted me.

I don't know how to say this modestly or immodestly--and I would prefer modestly if that is possible--but I might be the pure flame.

I thank Larry for this link to light sails.

This science is beyond me, but I do know that sails of whatever kind are devices of simple grace.

Considering my limited understanding of the size of the universe, I expect there are many other civilizations more advanced than ours.  Considering the distances I doubt we will ever met them face to face or face to whatever they have.

From Mark comes a link to a new shape wine bottles.  He likes it and so do I.  I thank him.

On boats I carry boxed wine for its convenience.  The best boxed wine I have found is the Australian, Yalumba, which as far as I know is not available in the US.  Square bottles would make stowage easier on GANNET.

I read today that Roger Federer has announced his retirement.  He said that he knows the limits of his body.

Reinhold Messner, the exceptional mountain climber who among many other achievements climbed Everest without oxygen, stopped climbing in his 50s.

What they did demanded physical qualities that time erodes faster than it does what I do as a sailor.

But I still have this internal drive to push on, even though I no longer believe it matters.  That is significant.  During most of my life I thought what I did and wrote mattered.  Now I no longer do.  Being me, in a way that makes me want to push on even more.

I expect this is not what you expect, but then you can not expect the expected from an original.

It is lovely and silent and peaceful here.  I look out on a few lights in the marina and the flashing buoys on the Intracoastal.

It is now almost 9 pm, so it has taken me two hours to write this.  I am a writer.  I could not have spent the hours better.  My glass is empty.  Still I offer you:

L'Chaim, which if you do not know means,  To Life.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Hilton Head Island: California hurricane; negroni; two poems; Bach and God

The above screen shot of this morning's Earth Wind Map shows odd behavior.  At least odd in the past.

In the Atlantic you have Earl and Danielle wandering about.  Danielle formed far north of where storms usually do and has followed a most erratic track.  Off Baja California you have Kay moving up the west coast of that peninsula.  She is expected almost to reach San Diego before curving out to sea.  Here I am in Hilton Head, South Carolina, with nothing to worry about in the immediate future and San Diegans are on the edge of a hurricane.  I note that is what the National Hurricane Center is calling Kay.  I was uncertain what storms are called in that part of the world.  Hurricanes in the North Atlantic.  Cyclones in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.  Typhoons off eastern Asia.  Apparently hurricanes off the west coast of this continent.

I seem to recall reading that San Diego was hit by a hurricane in the mid-1800s.  The must have been quite a storm.  San Diego is usually protected by cold water.  Tropical disturbances need sea temperature of 79ºF/26ºC to sustain them.  The average sea water temperature off San Diego in September is 69º.  However yesterday it was 73.9º which tied the warmest temperature for that date in at least the last ten years.  Getting closer.

In comparison the sea temperature off Hilton Head Island yesterday was 84.6º and has been above 79º all summer.

I expect that with global warming storms are going to reach places, such as Southern California and New Zealand, where in the past they have usually not.

I was first informed about what has become Kay by my friend Susan Wormsley who noticed it on a forecast weather map more than a week ago. I thank her.  Susan was born in San Diego and has lived most of her life there.  I don't think she used to think about hurricanes.

Thanks to David I had a new to me drink last evening, a negroni.  Actually I had almost two negronis because Carol did not care for hers, so I generously finished it for her.

As the more dissolute among you know a negroni is made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth.  I had to buy the Campari and sweet vermouth.  I of course had gin on hand.  Campari is one of those liquids I had long heard of but never tasted.

I enjoyed the drinks and will have no difficulty over time reducing the bottles of Campari and vermouth rosso.  Whether I will then replenish them I have not yet decided.

While I have said that I am not a zen person, I am very much enjoying the POETRY OF ZEN ANTHOLOGY.

From Kikaku, (1661-1707) a pleasing snippet:

And from Mansei words that I have often thought and written myself while glancing back at my boat's vanishing wake.

And I thank Tim for a wonderful quote from Bela Bartok:

It may well be that some composers do not believe in God.  All of them, however, believe in Bach.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Labor Day Evening


I do not much care for holidays or vacations.  I have never needed a vacation from my life, and of holidays, Labor Day is among the most irrelevant to me who has not held a ‘real’ job since 1974.

I am sitting by the bedroom window, sipping Plymouth gin and listening to Yo-Yo Ma play music by Ennio Marricone.  

The image above was taken a few minutes ago.  Nothing unusual. The norm here is beauty.  The light has changed since then as it always does.  I like the changing light on sky and water.

Carol and I walked down to GANNET yesterday.  We found her much as I left her.  I sponged two cups of water from the bilge and removed the Evo battery from the stern to take back up to the condo to charge.  I also found that one of the new fenders had cracked.  Odd for it is held away from the dock.  An off brand that I bought through Amazon.  I should have known better.  And in fact I do.

Still far too hot inside GANNET to try to replace the track for the port pipe berth.

Today we went for a bike ride, which included one alligator sighting.  He was swimming at the surface of a pond beside the bike path not interested in us.  I googled and find that alligators have been around for about 65 million years.  Home Sapiens about 200,000.  The gator was right to ignore a newcomer on a bicycle.

The owner’s manual for the Evo says that the battery will discharge to 70% when stored.  This differs from the Torqueedo battery which held at 100% for months when left unattended.  I could have tried to charge it from the ship’s batteries, but did not want to find that had failed, as it has in the past, when I wanted to run the engine.  I do have two new ship’s battery chargers for the Evo and will test them one night when I sleep on board.

Here in the condo the battery light showing full charge came on after a few hours.

The Torqeedo and the Evo differ in that on the Torqeedo the shaft and the tiller arm connect to the battery, so that you can read out the battery charge by simply connecting the tiller arm to the battery.  On the Evo the battery and the tiller arm connect through the shaft so you can only read out the battery charge by completely assembling the engine.

As I have been writing this is what has happened outside my bedroom window.


Saturday, September 3, 2022

Hilton Head Island: later


Hilton Head Island: back


Eric Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies playing on my iPad Pro, which has acceptable speakers for the hearing impaired, on the screened porch.  The sound of an outboard vanishing in the distance, which is what all outboards should always do.  The calls of a few birds.  A cooling downdraft from the overhead fan.  Overcast sky.  Although no rain has fallen since we landed early this afternoon, rain is constantly in the forecast.  When I left seven weeks ago the Low Country was in a drought, having had half normal rainfall this year.  In my absence they caught up with the rainiest July and August on record.  As Carol drove us from the airport, we saw standing water beside the roads and that all the ponds and lagoons are at levels close to overflowing.

I am very glad to be here.  No.  I am profoundly glad to be here.  In SHADOWS an Asian mother who has reason to believe her young adult daughter has been betrayed by a foreign soldier and become a bar girl returns to a dock where she finds the solace of water.  My phrase.  I saw an article online a few days ago claiming science proves what I already knew.  Lake Forest is very wealthy, very convenient, and Lake Michigan is only a mile away.  But here I am again in a world  of water.  In fact it is a world about half land and half water, but water is stronger, and from where I sit dominates.  Skull Creek looks like a lake, but it is an arm of the sea and GANNET could sail from her slip to anywhere in the world.  That pleases me.

It is mostly quiet.  

While I have been typing Satie has ended and a low thrumming tug has passed pushing a barge south.

I do not think that as Tim Henry stated I have been seduced by comfort.  I may after all these years and all those voyages and a lot of scar tissue physically and emotionally  be entitled to a little peace, and I have no quilt sitting here listening to beautiful music, sipping Laphroaig, and looking out at Live Oaks and Spanish Moss and Palmeto Palms, and the marina, where I see the top of GANNET’s mast—I will walk down and visit her tomorrow—and Skull Creek.

It is hard to go your own way, as it should be.  Perhaps even more now when hype has become the accepted norm and the number of followers on social media the measure of success as well as  a source of wealth.  Some may recall my noting Gresham’s Law:  the bad drives the good out of circulation.  In more than currency.

So I sit here in peace with myself—at least some—taking satisfaction and quiet pride in how I have lived my life, even knowing it might all have been set in my genes at birth, very glad to be here in my unexpected home, and looking forward to what I might still do, if given time.

I wrote to Tim Henry that my will might fail.  I was wrong.  My health might fail.  My will won’t.


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Lake Forest: Webb Chiles, And What Comes After Living an Epic Life

The subject line is the title of an article written by Tim Henry for LATITUDE 38.  I met Tim when I spoke at the Richmond Yacht Club shortly after completing GANNET’s circumnavigation.  LATITUDE 38 has long shown interest in my voyages and Tim emailed me a few months ago proposing this piece.  Here is the link if you want to read it.

Some may wonder why wait until 2026.  Were I to successfully do now what I am planning to do then, I would again be confronted with the same problem:  what ought I to do next.  Now I have five years with something to look forward to.  And it will be more interesting to see what I can do when I am even older, assuming I get even older.