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.


Anonymous said...

Webb - I think you have much to offer to any one who will take the time to learn a bit about you and listen carefully, including the audience at the local yacht club. Perhaps it helps, and is more meaningful, if one is a sailor, but certainly not required. In this crazy world, overwhelmed by social media and politics, your insights in to life and meaning are refreshing and encouraging. You have and continue to enrich my life.

Anonymous said...

To the point your back up.