Friday, March 31, 2023

Hilton Head Island: installed


The Pelagic tiller pilot is installed.  

Three 1.5” thick, 4.5” long. 2” wide pieces of StarBoard custom cut at little cost, arrived yesterday.  6” bolts had arrived two days earlier.

I biked to GANNET a little before nine and was back home by noon, having used two of the pieces of StarBoard above deck to create a riser to level out the tiller arm, and one below deck as a backing plate.

As is to be expected this production Pelagic is better finished and more refined than the prototype I used during much of the circumnavigation.  It consists of three parts, two of which you can see in the photo above:  the tiller arm, which Pelagic calls the acutator, and the control box.  The control box is said to be waterproof and can be mounted on deck as I have done.  I have observed that there is waterproof and there is GANNETproof, which is a much higher standard only exceeded by that of submarines one of which she often resembles.  Yet I live in hope.  Quite illogically.

In looking at the photo I see the dangling cord between the tiller arm and the deck plug.  Underway I will place that in the line bag.

The third part of the system is the drive box which is located below deck.

Behind the Pelagic are the two new Solbian solar panels.  Also installed and working.  I have had a productive two weeks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Hilton Head Island: Waco; Idylls; mold; gators

Last evening I watched all three episodes of the new Netflix documentary WACO:  AMERICAN APOCALYPSE.  I did not initially intend to watch all three, but I found it well done and profoundly disturbing, so I continued.  David Koresh was a con man or insane or both, but the government made far too many serious and deadly mistakes and must share the blame.  I suggest you give WACO a try.  You may find it as compelling as did I.

Also compelling in a completely different and enjoyable way is Tennyson’s THE IDYLLS OF THE KING.  I started reading it last week.  I had read parts before but never the whole book length poem.  It is a very great pleasure.  The poetry.  The stories.  An imaginary world and time that one wishes had existed.

I am reading it in a Kindle edition of THE WORKS OF TENNYSON which I bought for 99 cents.  However, you need not spend even that immense sum.  Amazon has a free download of the Kindle edition of the poem.  

The IDYLLS caused me to google Tennyson.  He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom for forty-two years,  longer than any other.  He published two books of poetry in his early twenties.  The second met with such criticism that he did not publish again for the next ten years.  That third book included some of his best known poems, “Locksley Hall’, ‘Break.  Break.  Break.’, and ‘Ulysses’, and made his reputation.

Tennyson’s is one of the best Ulysses.  It is an old man’s poem written by a young man.  Tennyson was only thirty-two when it came out.  A great work of the imagination.  I just reread it. It, too, is worth your time.

Yesterday I biked to GANNET armed with bleach, a spray bottle, and a soft brush.  At the dock I filled the spray bottle with equal amounts of bleach and water.  I climbed onto the foredeck, sat down on the forward hatch and sprayed the solution over the two solar panels.  I let it sit for a few minutes.  I scrubbed.  I applied more solution.  I let it sit for a few minutes.  I scrubbed.  I rinsed.  I repeated.

The results are in one way inconclusive and in another quite conclusive.

The stains are still there, though lighter than they were.  I do not believe that anything can still be alive on the solar panels after the onslaughts of the past several days, so perhaps the stains are just stains.

What is conclusive is that I am not going to make any further attempts.  The solar panels are still functioning.  If they cease to, I will replace them.  What is another $1000 to a rich sailor?  Or even to me.

I biked to a supermarket this morning and had a two gator day.  Both were slightly smaller than I.  They were sighted from a distance and in motion.  I was the one in motion.  They were sunning themselves beside ponds a couple of miles apart.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Hilton Head Island: past and present; spirits and mold


On this Saturday night that image came by chance.  I used the mirror function on my iPhone to see if I had dinged my head today and saw the above.

That I wondered if I had dinged my head is because today I installed the replacement stern solar panels and found blood on the starboard port berth from what ding I do not know.  

The installation took a couple of hours, more than one of which was spent lying on my back in the dead space in GANNET’s stern connecting wires and filling holes in awkward and uncomfortable positions, as my aged back is reminding me.  A partially medicinal glass of Laphroaig is at hand to my left where I can see it, but regular readers will know the Laphroaig is only partially medicinal.

The installation went as I expected.  Some parts were easier; some more difficult.  But it got done.

This coming week I will be returning to that uncomfortable space at least twice to install the Pelagic tiller pilot.  I have most of what is necessary to make that installation, but need to built a support for what I call the tiller arm and Pelagic calls the actuator so that it and the tiller are level.  Custom cut StarBoard and 6” bolts should arrive next week.

My efforts to remove mold from the foredeck solar panels have met with total failure.  Thus far I have used soap and water, vinegar, Dawn dishwashing liquid recommended by a sailor, even Tilex carefully on a corner.  All with no result.  I ordered and this afternoon received from Amazon two more liquids:  Spray Nine and Bartenders Friend.  This last Carol used to remove hard water stains from the shower before we sold the Evanston condo.  I will give them a try in days to come.  

Ocean Planet Energy, from whom I bought the old and new panels, included with the new a liquid to seal the surface.  I took it down to the boat and don’t recall its name.  I will use it on the new panels, but not the foredeck panels unless I can get them clean. 

I have thus far been careful not to damage the surface of the panels, but that is becoming less of a concern as I face having eventually to replace them too if I can’t kill the mold.

A reader suggested I resort to radioactivity.  The image of GANNET glowing in the dark is appealing.  No need for nav lights.

I just took a sip of medicine.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Hilton Head Island: two emails and what little I think I know.


The image taken during the recent sail to no where.  I have reason to believe I am as much at home at sea as any of our species has ever been.  Am I at home there?  Am I at home anywhere?  I do not know.

So to some extent I define myself though my cyber contacts with you. 

I should be old and decrepit.  I should be dead.  I am not.  I am still trying to understand what is going on and what I ought to do.

Two emails may be revealing.

The first was an invitation to talk to the Hilton Head Plantation Yacht Club.

The Hilton Head Plantation is the largest of the thirteen gated communities on the island and where I live.

I made a response and thought about it for several days, believing it to have been too rude.

I just reread it and think it not too rude.


Indeed you should call me Webb.  Mr. Chiles was my stepfather who legally adopted me after my natural father’s suicide.

I appreciate your invitation but am inclined to decline.

I do not know what you know of me, but of sailors I am extreme and I expect beyond the expectations and perhaps understanding of your members, particularly if they are social rather than sailors. 

I am not into self-promotion, but as far as I know I have circumnavigated more than any other American.  Only an Australian and a Japanese have circumnavigated more than I.  And both of them had sponsorship, and the Japanese participated in races.  Most would think nothing of that.  I do.   There is difference in doing it completely on your own and not being able to call for help as I could not.  Total self-reliance.  An American myth, no longer much observed.  I am the first American to have sailed alone around Cape Horn.  I once held the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull.  I am the one who broke Francis Chichester’s record.  His time was 226 days in a 52’ boat that was given to him by a newspaper, and mine 202 days and some hours in a 37’ boat I paid for myself.  On my next voyage I sailed an 18’ open boat on by far the longest open boat voyage made at that time.

I am like most of the residents of the Hilton Head Plantation old.  81 at present.  

So, as I have said I don’t know what you know of me.

I suggest you spend some time at:



If you still want to renew your invitation I will be receptive.


I have not had a response.

And my response to another email from one of you who has talents I have not.

Kent recently wrote on his site about spirits and mentioned me.

I do not believe in spirits, other than Laphroaig 10 year, a small glass of which is at hand to my left where I can see and hopefully not spill it.

I have no wish to undermine anyone else’s beliefs, but among other things my life has been a search for meaning.  A largely unsuccessful search.

From my reading and experience, I observe that consciousness resists unconsciousness, which is odd for unconsciousness is free from pain and consciousness is not.  Kick over an anthill and the ants will all run to survive.

The other is that DNA seems to impose an imperative that it be projected into the future in an endless passing of the buck.

In many species young males engage in potentially mortal combat in an effort to reproduce.

Very deliberately I chose not to pass my DNA on.

I believe that the Catholic Church was quite right in terms of its own self-interest to oppress Galileo and science.

Science, including the James Webb telescope, has revealed a universe so beyond our imagination as to render all our species’ religious myths meaningless.

A man who grew up in South Africa and moved to England  because of the political corruption in South Africa recently quoted one of my poems to me.  I was pleased with that.

                    I know these trees.

                    I know these hills.

                    I know this water.

                    I know this sky.

                    I know this light.

                    I will carry them with me.

I wrote those words about New Zealand’s Bay of Islands but they are true of any place you have known and loved, and South Africa is as beautiful a place as I have seen.

I also thought as I first wrote those words that they had the sound of an Indian chant.

So no spirits, no god created many times in many places in our image, what does one do?   Try to act honorably.  If one has children, be a good parent.  Try not to harm others.  And if one can, go beyond the edge of human experience and send back reports.

I have tried to find my way.  I am trying still.  At my age I wonder if I am delusional.  If you are an original there cannot be anyone you can follow and so the experiment goes on.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Hilton Head Island: THE CELLIST OF SARAJEVO: the other Webb


Above is the beginning of an exceptionally powerful and troubling novel by Steven Galloway.  It is proceeded by a quote from Tolstoy:  You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

I know and enjoy Albinoni’s Adagio, as I am sure many of you do, but I did not know its history.

The novel is set in Sarajevo’s last war.  At least I think it was their last war.  There are so many wars it is hard to keep track.  The novel is centered on a true experience.  Here is part of the afterward.

I googled and the siege of Sarajevo by the Serbian Army took place from 1992 to 1996 and is the longest siege in modern European history. 

Sarajevo is surrounded by hills and in the novel the Serbs are simply referred to as the men in the hills.  From their elevated vantage points they rained shells on the city and had snipers who killed many of those who ventured onto the streets.

The novel follows three of the trapped residents of Sarajevo:  a young woman who herself is a talented sniper and fires back at the men in the hills.  A man who still works in a bakery.  Another man who has to run the gauntlet of mortars and snipers to fetch water for his family and a neighbor from an underground well.

The Serbs are aware of the cellist.  They send a man to kill him.  The young woman is assigned to protect him.

These are normal people caught up in a disaster not of their making, as so many have been during the troubled history of our species, as millions now are in Ukraine.

Maybe a great novel.  Certainly a very good one.  I’ve already bought another of Steven Galloway’s books.

I thank James for a link to a 5 minute video of images sent by the James Webb telescope during its first year.  They are beautiful and beyond imagination.

Knowing she would not read this journal entry, I sent the link to Carol.  Her reply brought a smile.

“It is wonderful that they named the telescope after you.  You always said that you go to the edge and send back reports.”

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Hilton Head Island: thanks; a correction; the crazed and the moldy and more details

I thank those of you who have made comments on my journal posts and videos.  I read them.  I try to answer questions.  I am pleased to know that a few find what I do of interest and perhaps even value.  For that matter I thank all of you who read the journal and watch the videos whether you comment or not.

Hugh, my sailing entomologist friend, corrected me about the insects who were trying to build a nest in my main sail.  He informs me that they were probably mud wasps, not flying ants.  He correctly forecast that rain would wash the mud away.  It did on my sail back to the slip a week ago yesterday.  Where I got flying ants from I have no idea.  Oddly my memory has not improved with age.

Above you see photos of one of the solar panels near GANNET’s stern and one on the foredeck.  Those near the stern were bought in Australia in 2016.  The ones on the foredeck when GANNET reached Florida in 2017.  I much prefer the ones on the foredeck which have a pebbled surface that can more safely be walked upon and whose wires exit from the bottom center of the panel rather than an exit box on the edge.  I did not have those options when I ordered in Australia.  Thus far the crazing has not reduced the effectiveness of the stern panels, but I have ordered replacements from Ocean Planet Energy which will be like the forward panels.  Tom Whitehead of Ocean Planet Energy, who has been of considerable assistance to me over the years, advised trying to remove the mold with warm water, soap, and a soft brush, and if that didn’t work, vinegar.  I will be scrubbing.

I also have ordered a new Pelagic tiller pilot.  My first Pelagic was a pre-production prototype. It worked well for a long time, surviving conditions that would have killed a Raymarine, including steering under bare poles in a gale in the Indian Ocean.  However, eventually it began to go into stand-by mode spontaneously which rendered it unusable.  Pelagic has now been in production for several years.  I conclude the glitches have been solved.  Pelagic has been sold to Scanmar, the manufacturer of Monitor self-steering vanes.  Scanmar itself has changed ownership.  My new Pelagic is due to arrive next week.

I’ve also ordered a new inverter, two triple ended cables, two acrylic discs large enough to cover the hole now occupied by the cockpit compass, four 2.6 gallon collapsible water containers, and two gel cushions.  

All this seems like action taken by someone who plans to sail more.

When sailing I discovered I had only one long sleeved shirt on GANNET.  Upon my return I searched on Amazon and found this.  $12 each in a pack of two.  Modeled by an old sailor with a pointy head.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Hilton Head Island: details


Above is a sign that amuses me because it is located on the pier leading out to the marina and it advises to avoid water.

I am presently washing my sleeping bag and boat clothes.  Another pair of Levis became boat clothes during last week’s sail.

I do not know how far we sailed.  At one point I noted that we were 160 miles from a waypoint off Port Royal Sound.  That point is about 10 sailing miles from GANNET’s slip, so we sailed at least 340 miles.  From our Yellowbrick track I conclude that we sailed somewhere between 400-500 miles.

I have noted that when sailing GANNET there will be blood.  I have five dings.  One on my left arm, one on my right leg, three on my head.  I need a carbon fiber skull cap.  The one on my leg is a bit nasty, but healing.

I have written that you only really get to know a boat by living on her.  GANNET is cleaner now that when we first left the slip.  I routinely cleaned canisters and glasses and other items as I used them.  I also added several items to my to do list,

Remove cockpit bulkhead compass.  This has leaked ever since I installed it despite my extensive efforts to seal it.  It leaked again.  From the leak water drips onto the starboard pipe berth where I sometimes sleep.  I seldom look at that compass and did not once during the sail.  I have an excellent compass on my wrist in my Apple Watch Ultra and I use the mastmounted Velocitek.  There are also compasses in my iPhone, iPad Pro, and iPad mini.  So the bulkhead compass is going.

Lines for water jerry cans.  The ones I am using to tie them in place are of too small a diameter and difficult to untie.  I’ll cut some thicker ones.

Replace halyard attachment line at the end of boom.  I hook the main halyard shackle there when the halyard is not in use.  The line is tied in a small loop and the cover has frayed.

Charging cords.  Charging cords corrode on GANNET.  The ones on board are still usable, but deteriorating.  I will buy new ones.  I need USB, USB micro, USB-C, Lightning, and the cord to charge my watch.  And GANNET is a simple boat.

USB cigarette light adapter.  On the starboard side of the Great Cabin I have an outlet with two USB outlets built in.  On the port side a cigarette lighter socket into which I can plug my portable inverter and the chargers for the electric outboards.  GANNET still has the Torqeedo on board as well as the newer ePropulsion.  The adaptors on board are corroding.  I have ordered new ones.

Inverter.  I have been using a small portable inverter into which I plug the charger for my MacBook Air and iPad Pro.  It no longer works.  It starts and then almost immediately shuts down.  I have an older bigger inverter on board.  It works.  I will buy a backup of the bigger.

Gel cushions.  Maybe two.  All three of the inflatable cushions I use to protect myself from sharp edges while sitting at Central leaked during the sail, so I used flotation cushions which are too firm.  Gel cushions are more comfortable, and of course comfort is what sailing GANNET is all about.  Or not.

While sailing I found a bottle of hand sanitizer I did not remember I had on board from pandemic days.  I used it as well as antiseptic wipes.  My level of hygiene is not as high while sailing GANNET as it is on land.  I will try to remember to take hand sanitizer on future sails.

Here is a photo of the light I used as a stern light.  Thus far I am impressed with it.  

NaviSafe makes several different models.  This one has only white LEDs.  I am having to use deck nav lights because the masthead Tri-color/anchor light has stopped working and Hilton Head being the most inconvenient place I have ever lived in which to get work done on a boat I have not been able to have it fixed.

And last, though it has nothing to do with the sail, permit me to say how much I dislike Daylight Savings Time, which was first introduced during WW1 as a way to save fuel and energy.  As far as I know there has never been a study that shows it does this or ever did.  I much prefer living with the natural rhythms of the sun. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Hilton Head Island: new videos

I have just uploaded five very short videos of the No Where In Particular sail.  There are no dramatic adventures.  As some of you know I do not seek adventures.  I seek to avoid them.  Still the videos are there if you are interested.  I am shocked to see that I, a writer, have now uploaded 144 videos.  My word!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Hilton Head Island: no where in particular sailing log

 March 4, Saturday

1300 I half pushed GANNET out of her slip, climbed on board and engaged the ePropulsion outboard.  I was delayed because when attaching the tiller arm to the shaft I discovered that the pin securing it to the shaft had partially striped threads.  I tied thin nylon line through a hole in the end of the pin and around a fitting on the shaft to secure it in place.

Wind light from the northwest was heading us, so we continued under power around the long curve of Skull Creek.  When the wind finally was free I unfurled the jib and we continued motor sailing at 3-4 knots until at 1500 I anchored in 38’ of water toward the middle of the sound.

I removed the outboard and brought it down below where I am charging the battery from the ship’s batteries.  First time I have done that.  Previously I’ve taken the battery to the condo to charge.  In theory I could have left the outboard on the stern and it would have recharged itself as we sailed, but the idea of dragging a prop in the water for days is not appealing.

I just glanced at my watch.  1700.  

After anchoring I had a 0 alcohol Heineken which was quite acceptable, but now it is time to go on deck and listen to some music and sip something stronger.

I’ll sail off the anchor and head offshore tomorrow morning.

March 5, Sunday

0820   Raised anchor.  I had out 120’ of rode.  The first 20’ chain, the rest ½” plaited nylon.  The anchor came up clean as it always has in Port Royal Sound. 

I lowered anchor and rode bag through the forward hatch and made my way aft where I partially unfurled the jib.  The tide was going out and had turned the bow.  I backed the jib, which spun GANNET around, gybed, trimmed the sail, and we were making six tide assisted knots on a close reach.

The morning was cool enough so that I was wearing Levis and a Polartec.

Once settled on course, I set the tiller pilot on auto and went below to stow the anchor and rode in the bow.  This is a little more difficult in sailing mode crawling over waterproof bags, but it got done.

1030  We are two miles beyond the buoy marking the beginning of the entrance channel into the sound.  Along this low coast you often have to go a long way out before you are free of the shoals.  We are now in 45’ of water.  The apparent wind is NE at 17 knots at an angle of 140º, so at least 20 knots true.  3’-4’ white capped waves are giving us a rolly ride.  We continue under partially furled jib making 6-7 knots, which is enough.  I set the port running backstay.

Earlier I saw a large sailboat father out heading south under power.  Why they were not sailing on a day like this I do not know.

I just ate my uncooked oatmeal.  I brought the last berries from the condo so had the pleasure of fresh fruit and being far enough off land to wash the measuring cup from which I eat and the spoon by leaning over the side and power rising them in the Atlantic.


31º 55’N   080º 35’W

COG 175º   SOG  6.0 knots

days run:  about 30 miles since leaving the slip

Sunny.  Wind down to 15-16 knots.

An hour ago we passed south of five ships anchored well offshore, presumably waiting to enter Savannah.

Cabin getting better organized as we move along.  I have restowed juice bottles and boxes and cleaned various containers as I make use of them, such as the one holding tooth brush, tooth paste and floss.

There are still a number of isolated buoys and towers ahead, some marking fish havens and a marine sanctuary, some belonging to the Navy.  I’d like to head more to the east and will if the wind eases.

All three of the inflatable cushions I use protect my side and arms while heeled over at Central are leaking.  I have other firmer cushions, but they are less comfortable.

1530 This is getting to be a rough day.  Wind 17 apparent just aft of the beam, so perhaps 19 or 20 true.  4’-5’ waves rolling and sometimes slamming into us.  A few coming on board.  Perhaps we are experiencing wind against Gulf Stream.  Our COG is west of the true compass heading.  I just furled more of the jib.  Our SOG is 4.5-5.0, also evidence the Stream is slowing us.

1830  An unexpectedly hard day.  Rolling and tossing so much I spilled water transferring it from one container to another.  A just poured gin and tonic spilled after only one sip.  And a few minutes ago as I was eating my dinner of freeze dry chicken and dumplings a wave came down below and added salt to the meal, to my Levis, and to a glass of boxed red wine.

A half hour earlier GANNET was drawn as if to a magnet to one of the eight towers the Navy has constructed well offshore.

We are rolling so much I can’t type.

2000  Becalmed.  Jib still set but slating. We are drifting back northwest.  Another Navy tower not far to our south is no longer a concern.  I have not been able to free myself from the land.

Monday, March 6

0715  A miserable night with the jib collapsing and filling fifteen or twenty times a minute.  I partially furled and over trimmed it to reduce the force.  Also set up the starboard running backstay.  I had to wake many times looking for a Navy tower.  It is in sight a mile to the east of us now.

I haven’t set the main because the boom would slam around. A line of clouds ahead.  We are making maybe a knot north.  I am tired.

0800  After the last entry we were becalmed for a half an hour.  I furled the jib and let us drift.  Fifteen minutes ago wind returned from the north.  I raised the main and unfurled the jib and we are making 4 knots east on a port beam reach.  Maybe I can get away from the land and ships and towers and buoys.  However the last forecasts I got yesterday morning said the wind today would be from the east, so this may not last.  At least we are sailing.

0930  Wind has veered ENE at 4 and 5 knots and we are sailing ESE at 3 and 4 knots on a close reach.  

I see a ship to the east of us.  Another of those blasted Navy towers and another Navy buoy are still to the east.  

I can feel us slowing.


31º 16’ N   080º 16’ W

COG 135º  SOG 4.5


We are 42 miles from yesterday’s noon position, but there is no point in considering a day’s run because we changed course so often, southeast, south, west, north, east and now southeast again.

Our speed has increased from 3.5-4.0 knots in the past few minutes with a slight increase in the wind to 6-7 knots.  

I got some work done this morning.  Re-glued the velcro around the main hatch to secure the screen which of course is not in use out here, sponged 8 cups of water from the bilge, and fitted a new stern light.  The one I have been using since the masthead light stopped working also doubles as an anchor light and is so blindingly bright it ruins my night vision.  The new light runs off 3 AAA batteries and has modes to be an anchor light, a steaming light or a stern nav light.  It fits into any GoPro mount.  I tried to put one near the stern with its own adhesive which did not stick, so I Superglued it and tied a piece of twine to the light and a stanchion so I don’t lose it if it breaks free.

No ships or boats for a while.  I am fifty miles offshore and just passed the last Navy buoy.  A tower ahead but off to our north and should not be a problem.

I dozed off while reading this morning and probably will this afternoon.  I did not get much sleep last night.

1415  Rain to the south.  

 We continue to sail at 4.5 knots on a close reach.

I have not been checking the barometer.  I just did.  1019, which is high, but I don’t know in which direction it is moving.

2020  Wind headed us and backed as I expected.  I tacked and now instead of heading SE on port tack, GANNET is heading NE on starboard tack.  There is something to be said for not having a destination, only a good sailing angle.

I don’t know that I am in the monastery of the sea, but 

I am very glad to be out here and seemingly to have the ocean to myself.  I know I don’t really, but it is satisfying to think so.  

Tuesday, March 7

0800  I slept well until 0400 when I felt we were moving too fast for the tiller pilot to keep up.  We were making 8-9 knots.  I went on deck, lowered the main, partially furled the jib and set up the starboard running backstay.  The wind was 20 knots from the west.

After that exertion, which took a half an hour, I did not expect I would get back to sleep, but I did, finally waking for good at 0630.  I went on deck and turned off the stern light.  I do not yet know how often its batteries will need to be replaced.

Conditions continue the same except we are now making 5 and 6 knots.  A wave just rose up and drenched the tiller pilot.  I went out and dried it with a paper towel.  To go to sheet to tiller would require raising part of the main which I don’t want to do.

The barometer is down 5 millibars since yesterday.  1014 now.

1030  Wind continues to veer and we have changed course from 080º to 115º.  I also furled the jib more deeply.  We aren’t going anywhere so I smooth the ride.

I found that the two small inverters will not charge the iPad Pro or the MacBook Air, which they have done in the past.  I have two larger investors on board and one of them is charging the iPad successfully.

I cleaned the canisters in which are stowed trail mix, protein powder, and powdered milk.  And I changed into clean, dry clothes.

I still have the chore of transferring water from one of the 5 gallon jerry cans into the four daily bottles.  This is the first time on this sail I have had to do that.


31º 16’ N   078º 34’ W

COG  115º   SOG 4.5 knots

barometer 1014 mb

We are 90 miles from yesterday’s noon position, but again have had many course changes and not sailed a straight line.

Getting warm.  Inside cabin 83F.

I transferred water without spilling more than a few drops.

Sky hazy blue.  Ocean dark blue with white caps.  Wind decreased to 15 apparent almost on the stern, so 19 or 20 true.

My watch has not proven to be a good way to create noon positions.  In fact the waypoints I already had in for the slip and the condo have been lost, presumably in a software update.  The compass on the watch face is accurate and useful as is being able to read latitude and longitude.

Depending on the wind, I expect to turn back Thursday.

Writing on iPad Pro, satisfactorily charged to 98%.

1815  I sit at Central, having had my dinner of freeze dry Santa Fe Chicken and Rice.  Normally this is a package I divide in two, but we are rolling too much and this is not a passage.  I have more than enough food.  So I made the whole thing and ate perhaps 2/3s.

The wind is decreasing.

I wonder if sailing to no where can be enough.  I, the hermit, have social engagements this month I need to be back for.  Perhaps those who know me only casually will be surprised that I take pride in being on time and reliable.  But if I went out for a month, would that be enough?  Enough for what?  I do not know.  But I do know that there is an 81 year old man who is still wondering what he ought to do, what he wants to do, rather than merely wait for time and chance to end him.

It is good to be out here.  Just me and GANNET and the ocean.

1900  Two spheres of light above the western horizon.  The higher and brighter probably Venus.  I do not know the lower and it does not matter.  Below both a band of amber and rose just above the sea horizon and I thought:  I am exactly where I ought to be. 

March 8, Wednesday

0800   The wind decided.  It continued to veer and is now NE 20-25 knots.  I put on foul weather gear and went on deck, backed the jib, tied down the tiller, brought the tiller pilot below, went back on deck, put a snatch block in a car on the starboard rail, ran a second sheet through the snatch block and the tack of the jib, released the normal sheet which was rubbing on a shroud, trimmed the sail with the second sheet which is not rubbing on anything, and came below.  We are making 3 knots about 280-290.  The mouth of Port Royal Sound is 160 miles away bearing 312º.  Not what I had hoped for.


30º 26’ N

078º 35’ W

COG 290º  SOG 2.5

barometer 1021 rising

yesterday’ noon position is 52 miles due north of today’s

Sunny.  From Central it feels as though the wind has recently diminished and may have continued to veer.  When I finish writing this I will put on foul weather and go on deck and see.

This morning a few waves crashed over us, but did not come below.

1500   Sailing again.  In about the right direction toward Port Royal Sound.  Under partially furled jib.  Wind just forward of the beam.

I’ve just came below after a half hour on deck.  While there I saw wind speeds of 17-22 knots.  The waves are about 5’, with a few bigger.  Boat speed varies from 3.5 to 5.5.  I saw a brief 6.  Probably averaging 4 to 4.5.  

It would be nice if the wind continues to veer and weaken.

1730  Sitting on the starboard pipe berth facing amidships with my feet braced on the port pipe berth, sipping a tequila and tonic with even a slice of lime.  I brought one lime on board.  For the record I pour weak drinks at sea. Listening to Erik Satie’s ‘Three Gymnopedies’.  Serene music.

I tried to stand in the companionway a few minutes ago.  Here in the Great Cabin conditions seemed to have smoothed and so they may have, but when I stuck my head above deck the wind is stronger and the seas bigger than I expected.  Also more water coming over the foredeck and moving toward me.  I returned to the lavish luxury of the Great Cabin.

1800  From where I am sitting I look out through the main hatch, which is closed except for the vertical slat, and see the ocean streaming past, sometimes blue, sometimes white foam.  It looks as it did hundreds of times during GANNET’s circumnavigation, but I know it isn’t, and somehow that matters.

1840  I went on deck to turn on the stern light.  A wave came.  GANNET lurched.  I got a gash on my head from the backstay and another on my leg from the cockpit coaming.  Not serious.  Just the cost of doing business on a small quick boat.  As I have observed before, when sailing GANNET there will be blood.

Thursday, March 9

0620  A rough night.  But then except for Monday afternoon this has all been rough.

I got in my sleeping bag at 2030, but had trouble getting to sleep.  Conditions seemed to be easing and I debated setting the mainsail.  Before coming to a decision I fell asleep.  Two hours later I was startled awake by the sound of a loud nearby engine.  I struggled from the pipe berth and found a helicopter passing overhead and that the wind and waves had increased again.

That was the pattern through the night, easing then increasing.  Heeling too far.  Sliding around on the pipe berth unless I wedged myself in place with floatation cushions.

I woke this morning at 0530.  Got in foul weather gear and went on deck to turn off the stern light.  Found a small flying fish in the cockpit and that the wind has veered a little more.

Back down below I checked iSailor on my phone and discovered we are getting a big boost to the north from the Gulf Stream.  Our COG is 30 to 40º higher that our compass heading.  I went back up and eased us off the wind 20º.  We are 80 miles from the mouth of Port Royal Sound.

I also discovered that the Yellowbrick was knocked from its bracket sometime during the night and was on the port pipe berth beneath a food bag, so presumably some position updates were missed.

0940  We are inside the Gulf Stream and no longer getting a boost north.  I raised the mainsail and reduced the already partially furled jib and hardened up to a close reach.  Good sailing for a change without much water coming over the deck, though I did put on foul weather gear to raise the main.

I found two more small flying fish in the cockpit and enough water in the bilge to use the hand bilge pump rather than sponging it out.  Maybe three inches.  

And I believe the cockpit bulkhead compass has signed its death warrant.  It has leaked ever since I installed it despite my exhaustive efforts to seal it.  I seldom look at it and have not once on this sail.  I use the mast mounted Velocitek, my phone, my iPads, and I have an outstanding compass in my Apple watch.  I also have a handheld compass in the Great Cabin.  So enough with the leaking cockpit mounted one.

We are not going to make it in before dark.  I might enter Port Royal Sound after dark in the right conditions and we have a full moon, but probably I will heave to for the night offshore.  I’ll decide at sunset. 


31º 30’ N

079º  55’W

COG 318º  SOG 4.8

barometer  1023 rising

we are 95 miles NW from yesterday’s noon position

Pleasant sailing under full main and jib on a close reach in 8 knots of wind.  I hope the wind does not fade away completely. The sky is clear to the north, partially cloudy overhead.  Cool enough so I am comfortable in a long sleeved shirt and Levis rather than shorts and t-shirt.

1700  Some of our best sailing.  6 and 7 knots for a while.  Sunny, cool. I’ve put on a Polartec.

No drink for me this evening until I get an anchor down somewhere.  I don’t know how far I’ll go, but the sea is not rough and I can anchor in 40’-50’ of water well offshore.  I’ve moved the anchor and rode bag to under the forward hatch.  A complicated approach with anchored ships, buoys, towers, one of which is a mile away under our port bow.

Almost full moon due to rise at 8:37. 

1740  I did permit myself a drink:  a can of 0 alcohol Heineken with my freeze dry chicken and rice for dinner.

2130  Anchored in 60’ outside entrance channel into Port Royal Sound.

I am rewarding myself with a sip of Laphroaig.


I wrote about the last day in the previous post.