Monday, October 3, 2022

Hilton Head Island: Audrey's Armada; Grace; heat; farmer Webb

I frequently communicate with Kent, maintainer and self-described 'moveable ballast' of Audrey's Armada.  That is in fact a misnomer.  It is in truth Audrey's and Kent's Armada.  But Audrey's Armada sounds better.

Last week I found myself wondering about the size of the Armada.  My impression was about twenty boats.  So I emailed Kent and asked:  how many boats and what is the largest?  I received this reply for which I thank Kent for giving me permission to share.

Hi Webb


The biggest is 1980 ONKAHYE (a Drascombe Lugger:  18' LOA  named after a 19th Century ship on which one of Audrey's many seafaring ancestors was if I remember correctly sailing master) and she has been around the longest. A family friend bought her in 1980 and Jack (Audrey's father) got her in 1982. Audrey took over in 1994. Audrey was the only kid really interested in sailing and the only one to bail her out after a storm, other than Jack or me. She's travelled from Corpus to Oceanside to Ft Worth to Navarre to Smithfield. 

The next boat to show up was 1965 Sunfish WAVE, acquired 
1994 from Audrey's Aunt. 14 foot WAVE is the furthest travelled, having trekked from Ct to Hawaii to Texas to Florida to Virginia. The Sunfish is Audrey's favorite for getting away from it all, meaning us, no voice activated ballast to move. 

When we were in Corpus Christi 1993-1996 Jack found another Sunfish PHOENIX. Jack and Adrienne trailered PHOENIX out to Yuma, AZ because everyone in Yuma needs 2 sailboats. WAVE stayed in Texas in storage.

Holding at 3 boats. Things stayed sane until we moved to Florida in 2011, when we got into restoration. We showed up with 3 boats and left with 14/15. While Jack was scooting around Pensacola he got the 16 foot 1961 O'Day Day Sailer II CYANE and Sunfish MADISON, so when we got to Florida guess who showed up in our boat yard? See a trend yet?

We got Jack the 17 foot Grumman canoe SCOUT for his birthday but we got it back a few years later. Jack and Adrienne bought us the 10 foot kayaks Clark and SACAGAWEA in 2013, they are the newest except for the boats we built. All the other boats are 1982 or older.

We posted about our restorations and a gent from Grand Island New York said he'd give us one the first 20 Sunfish prototypes, if I came and got it. 2252 miles later ZIP was ours, a 1953 wooden Sunfish, number 13 of 20 prototypes built for ALCORT family and friends. Our wooden Alcort fleet grew with addition of a14 foot 1950s Super Sailfish TRACKER that I got from South Carolina, and our friend Alan cartopped the 12 foot 1953ish Alcort Sailfish WINNIE down to Florida from Syracuse, NY. WINNIE is the oldest, and until recently the smallest. Somewhere in that timeframe we bought the 1959 wooden runabout WILLOW on ebay and I drove to Nashville to gather it up, after the seller hauled it down from Detroit.

We built a Penobscot 14 from 2013-2017, and the 1965 Alcort Catfish was trucked down from Schenectady NY the same year.

Last year we built the 8 foot punt SCUPPERS and the 7' 7" Nutshell Pram showed up this year. 

We like to have one foot of boat for each knot of wind, with SCOUT taking care of 0-7 knots.

The largest boat we have owned is a Catalina 22, in Corpus. And another factoid, we have owned/restored 41 other boats, 39 of those while we were in Florida. 

16 + 41 = 57

2 boats are on the drawing board, a new wooden Sunfish and a 14 foot catboat.

57 + 2 = 59....I don't like odd numbers, so I need to find another boat...if we won the lottery we'd build a replica of USS ONKAHYE...Hmmmm...would 96' be considered small?

Kent is one of you who can build anything and obviously manage a fleet.  A year or so ago he and Audrey moved from near Pensacola, Florida, to near Norfolk, Virginia.  They did not just move house.  They moved the fleet.  I have no idea how many trips up and down Interstate 95 that required.  I, who cannot built anything and found two boats and a wife too complicated, am filled with admiration.  I have every confidence that if Phillip the Second of Spain ever decides to invade the United States as he once did England, Audrey's Armada will protect us.

I have written about the song, 'Grace', here before.  When I clicked on the bookmark to watch the video of its performance by Jim McCann I found that the video has been taken down.  So I goggled and found an even better video of him singing the song.  Better because it shows photographs of Grace Gifford and the poet and Irish rebel leader and for fifteen supervised minutes her husband, Joseph Mary Plunkett, before he was taken out and shot by the British after the 1916 'rebellion'.  There are also photos of some of the scenes of that 'rebellion'--I put the word in quotes because it was a not a rebellion against legitimate government, but a seeking of independence from foreign invaders--including the General Post Office where the freedom fighters to call them by their right name fought until killed or forced to surrender by British artillery at point blank range.  

This video does not mention as the earlier did that although she was young at the time, Grace Gifford never remarried and died living with two or three other old women in Dublin in 1955.

A truly tragic song.  Here is the link.

Heat.  Not the debilitating summer heat of Hilton Head with heat indexes routinely above 100ºF/38ºC which is too much for me in my old age.  But heat as in the heat came on in the condo this morning.  The heat has not come on here since at least April.  Maybe March.  But overnight the temperature dropped to 60F.  I had left all the doors and windows opened.  Screened of course.  And when I woke at 6 a.m. I was chilly and couldn't figure out what was happening.

I had set our system just to cool, but there is an emergency backup which cuts in when the temperature in the condo is more than 5 degrees F below the thermostat setting, which I had at 75.  The temperature inside the condo was 64.  Once I woke fully and figured out what was happening, I closed the doors and windows and lowered the thermostat to 68 and we stopped trying to heat the great outdoors.

The day continued overcast and cool.  The high was only 68F.

I biked to a supermarket and liquor store, being out of berries and dangerously low on gin.  I wore a jacket.  Before leaving I was concerned it would be too hot.  It wasn't.  The ride was lovely.  

I also bought sushi--spicy salmon rolls--which I had for dinner.  Actually only half.  Excellent.  I'll have the other half tomorrow night.

The overcast is due to burn away tomorrow and the rest of the week looks perfect, except for lack of wind.  I'd like to go sailing, but with only single digit wind don't want to drift with the tides.  So I expect to go down to GANNET tomorrow and start the replacement of the port pipe berth track.

Google alerts me at no charge when my name appears on the Internet.  This is not completely accurate, but for free I am not going to complain.

Yesterday I got two alerts.  One showed a heading:  First Man To Give Birth.  Naturally I was surprised.  My memory is not as good as once it was, but surely I would have remembered that.

I clicked on the link and inexplicably found photos from my website interspersed with this absurd article.  Almost instantly I received warnings about possible malware threats and so will not share this amusement with you.

The other was the letters section of the most recent issue of LATITUDE 38.  

The letters were in response to the article in their Lectronic Latitude about me which I have written about here before.   The article was about what I am to do after leading an epic life.  One of the letters suggested that I take up farming. 

Now I am glad there are farmers.  We all should be or we would be spending most of our lives hunting and gathering for ourselves, and with my eyesight hunting is not likely to be productive.  However to suggest that I turn from sailing to farming perhaps reflects a lack of understanding of Webb Chiles.  Some know my name.  Some have even read my words.  But few give me more than a passing thought.

So this man sailed for a while and then became a farmer.  I suggest that perhaps sailing was and is a more essential part of my life than it was of his.  

I take people who claim to be sailors at face value until proven otherwise, as often happens with unseemly celerity.

I have never said I am giving up sailing.

I have said that the second part of my life which I have called 'being' ended with my reaching San Diego at the end of my sixth circumnavigation and this the third part is 'dying'.

Now three years on I think I may have been mistaken. 

I have made little progress toward dying.

I wrote on the very first passage of GANNET's circumnavigation "use yourself up, old man.  Use yourself up."

I don't seem to be deteriorating very rapidly.  Maybe I am not used up.  I miss the monastery of the sea.  I am uncertain how to re-enter it without a destination or a belief in meaning.  I am tying to understand.

Maybe this is not 'dying', but 'being.2'

I am not going to become a farmer.

It has taken me two hours to write this.  I started with a small glass of Laphroaig at hand.  The glass is empty and my throat is dry.  I am writing at my seat by the bedroom window.  Only a few lights in the marina reflecting on Skull Creek.  I think I deserve to refill my glass.




Flick said...

I don't know whether I've shared this before, but . . .

Webb: If you're ever in my neck of the woods and conditions are right, you're certainly welcome to join me in an attempt on Hammersley Inlet (Puget Sound). A real kick!

Go well.

Clark said...

Our friend described us as "boatstruck."

Author Michael Ruhlman spent some time at the boatyard of Gannon and Benjamin, learning about the craft of wooden boatbuilding. He offers up the definition of "boatstruck" in his book Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard.

"Some people become boat smart; others are simply struck. Something happens to certain men when they see a boat, and they become crazy. A man, or the occasional woman who is boatstruck shows no discernible outward signs of the illness....On the contrary, the boatstruck look more than reasonable. They are successful people. They are smart, cool, self-possessed, and they are pretty good on the water. They brim with a free and adventurous spirit. You tend to like these people - - they can be inexplicably magnetic.

And yet there is something exquisite about the condition of being boatstruck. An ecstasy runs through it, compulsive and contagious. You can see it, sense this delight, even if you happen to be free of this affliction yourself or don't sail or even if you don't particularly care for boats. Sometimes a beautiful boat is simply worthy of devotion, reverence and awe, and no one doubts it. A beautiful boat is as obviously invaluable as a Leonardo sketch or Monet's water lilies. The boat can be a magnificent structure." (p.11)

Webb said...

Thanks for the invitation. A part of the country I have only visited once. I will keep it in mind.

teddo said...

Ok, i only get to read and enjoy the blog say monthly .
While Mr Chile's wit is worth noting, the comments also are worthy, a rarity in most Social Media!
So in this case I go against my own advice "never read the comments".