Thursday, February 29, 2024

Lake Forest: flew; Shackleton; Audubon; movement of cruising boats; the four components of war

18F when I woke this morning at 6 am.  Now in early afternoon a balmy 35F.  Obviously I am not on Hilton Head Island.  I am in Lake Forest, Illinois, having flown here yesterday.  Both my flights were delayed, but not disruptingly, and so it was merely a tiring day of sitting and waiting like obedient cattle.  I am glad it is over.

Lake Forest is a nice place, but I am not looking out at water and beauty.

I expect to be here for at least two months as Carol retires from a long and successful career and we get rid of a lot of stuff and close down her apartment, following which she will drive us east to Hilton Head for what should be the very last time.

I thank David for a link to a website of immense beauty, John J. Audubon’s Birds of America, which includes reproductions of 435 of his watercolors.  Almost everyone knows of Audubon, but I had never before studied his watercolors carefully.  They are wonders.  I have bookmarked the site and added it to my daily habits.  I now view four or five birds a day with awe and appreciation.

I thank James for a link to a nine minute film SOUTH about Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to reach the South Pole.  The film contains fascinating original footage but requires some previous knowledge of what the men endured.  If you do not know here is a link:

And here is the link to the film:

I thank Doug for a link to Jimmy Cornell’s latest survey of the world wide movement of cruising boats which I had not seen.

I expect it still reflects residual effects of the pandemic, but perhaps people are truly becoming more timorous than they were.

It re-enforces my personal observations that the average cruising boat is now 45-50’ long and an increasing number are catamarans.

While sitting and waiting yesterday, I read a great deal of UNKNOWN SOLDIERS, a novel by Vaino Linna about Finland’s part in WW2 in which, having been earlier invaded by the Soviet Union, they fought as allies of Germany.  It is quite a good antidote to Horace’s Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

A quote:

Besides being cold and hungry, the men were also sleep-deprived—so, of the four components we might say encapsulate the essence of war, fear was the only one missing.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Hilton Head Island: power boater videos

I shot two short videos at anchor on Port Royal Sound late Wednesday afternoon and uploaded them to YouTube yesterday.

If you are interested here are the links:

In watching Power Boater 1 I saw that GANNET was indeed moving about a bit.  I did not even notice it at the time, but there was cause for me to still feel her motion for five or six hours after I stepped ashore.  

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hilton Head Island: power boat

I powered away from the dock yesterday.  I powered back to the dock this morning.  In between I set the sails in a forlorn hope of wind.  It was a gesture.  There was none.  So I anchored a mile from land in Port Royal Sound, reorganized some things in the interior, sipped a glass of cabernet sauvignon and one of Laphroaig in the cockpit, while listening to music.  Had an excellent freeze dry dinner of Alpine Aire’s Creamy beef with noddles and mushrooms, and slept well.

This morning numerous odd glitches occurred, among them that I had no cell phone coverage, which I learned after returning to the condo and reading the news happened to many.  The Raymarine tiller pilot I used yesterday, this morning failed to respond to the port side buttons.  I went below and brought up another.  It did not respond at all.  A third didn’t either.  I brought up the Pelagic and it didn’t work either, though later at the dock it did.  There were more which I forget, although I do remember that as I was approaching our slip I did not see the orange ring I have around the piling at one side of the slip.  After I docked I found it stuck below the water.  I could not reach it with my boat hook.  I think it is stuck on barnacles.

Despite all this I enjoyed being on the water, which is even better than living next to it as we do, and living in that little space which so suits me.

Strangely, considering that GANNET only deviated from being level and rock steady on a couple of power boat wakes, I am still feeling her motion after five hours ashore.  I don’t know how it is possible to feel motion that never existed, but I do.

I am presently sipping a Webb and have a Netherland’s Bach Society video on the TV of Bach’s French Suite Number 1 in D minor.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hilton Head Island: excellent company; EINSTEIN AND THE BOMB; a memento; prepared

Douglas has been repairing a family home in Scotland that will soon go on the market.  He plans to build a small cabin somewhere in the Highlands where he will live a solitary life.  He wrote to me recently, “Doubtless this will be considered crazy, but I will consider myself to be in excellent company.”  I smile and wish him well.  I know that alone he will indeed be in excellent company in the monastery of the land.

Last evening I watched an unexpectedly good movie on Netflix, EINSTEIN AND THE BOMB,  In begins by stating that it is based on true events in Einstein’s life and that all the words are his own, either spoken or written during his life time.  Among those words are his declaring his distrust of authorities and later in his life stating that he has been punished for that by being made an authority himself.

As has been stated here before I am among those who unequivocally believe that the atomic bombs should have been dropped on Japan.  I have related that I have met over the years four men, two British, one Australian, one American, who told me that but for the atomic bombs they would not likely be alive.  All were in mid-1945 being redeployed for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.  The willingness of the Japanese to die to the last man had been proven at Iwo Jima and Okinawa and many other places.  The estimated Allied casualties of the invasion of Japan was one million.  Many, many more Japanese would have died.  Only the atomic bombs enabled the Japanese to surrender without being obliterated.

The parts of the film about Hitler and the rise of Nazism and persecution of the Jews reminded me of a man I met many years ago.

He must have been born about 1930 in Hamburg, Germany.  In his early teens he was a member of the Hitler Youth.  That in itself does not mean much.  Membership was essentially mandatory.  Physically he was the image of the Nazi ideal.  Blood.  Blue eyed.  Handsome. Unfortunately he was small.  Less than average height.  Hardly an imposing member of the master race.

In 1945 while still a teenager he was among those too young and too old called into the army in Hitler’s last desperate and hopeless attempt to avoid defeat, which had been inevitable, unless the Germans developed the atomic bomb or some similar weapon before the Allies did, since Stalingrad and Kursk.  He survived a few weeks of combat and after Hitler’s suicide and Germany’s unconditional surrender walked I know not how many miles back to his family in Hamburg.

He studied and became a doctor of medicine and then, perhaps surprisingly, immigrated to the United States, one of the enemies against which he had fought, and had a successful medical career in Florida.

Hitler’s private yacht was confiscated at the end of the war and somehow ended up near Jacksonville, Florida.  From this photo of a sister ship, she was an elegant 85’ yawl, the OSTWIND.

I would have expected Hitler to have a huge power boat.  It is said that he was only on the OSTWIND a few times.

I met the man of whom I am writing on his own sailboat.  During our conversation he pointed at a small finely crafted wooden jewelry box beside the chart table and told me with pride that he had it made from wood taken from Hitler’s private yacht.

That is all there is to the story.  I find it strange.

I biked to a supermarket and liquor store this morning and then down to GANNET where I fit the Evo on the stern.  It started as it should and always has.  I tested a tiller pilot.  Moved the anchor and rode to under the forward hatch.  Tightened lifelines.  GANNET is ready to go sailing, but there is flat calm.  Skull Creek is glassy.  

Tomorrow I will go down to the little boat and take her from the dock, unless as is unlikely conditions prohibit that, and try to sail.  If there is no wind I will power slowly and anchor somewhere for the night.  I had planned to sail for a week or so in January, but COVID intervened.  I fly to Chicago a week from tomorrow.  This is my last chance for a while.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Hilton Head Island: a little peace

Although the day in the marsh has been grey and cool, I put on a fleece and am having a martini and listening to music on deck.  It is always better to be outside.

I know I have said this many times, but the beauty here is always startlingly new.  And the quiet.

I sit looking out at gray and green and am at the moment at rare peace.

When Carol and I first met and married, which were almost simultaneous, she asked for thirty years.  We will have been married for thirty years this August, so I have willingly fulfilled my part of the bargain which has been the great chance grace of my life and will willingly extend the contract.

I am not quite halfway through my five year plan which if fulfilled will result in a voyage whose outcome cannot be known and may be fatal.  The willingness to undertake such an endeavor, after planning and preparation, is as some of you know my definition of nerve.  When you are 82 you don’t have much time left even if you seal yourself in a bubble.  

So I am enjoying this unexpected peace.  I am going to continue to enjoy this to me new marsh beauty.  I am going to enjoy my time with Carol.  And books.  And music.  And using my aged body.

In the previous entry about numbers, there are some that might be world records created not intentionally, but as casual byproducts of how I have lived.  The 3,000 mile first leg of the open boat voyage was later exceeded by a 4,000 mile passage from Singapore to Aden which might be the longest open boat passage ever.  Eight times in Force 12 might be too.  As might be putting the mastheads of four boats in the water.  And completing circumnavigations in five successive decades.  I don’t know that any of them are and I can’t prove them, other than the circumnavigations, but they might be.  They were not intentional but perhaps quantifications of a life that repeatedly over a very long time in our species terms but is a butterfly’s cough in terms of the universe pushed beyond the edge of human experience and put words together that too have pushed beyond that edge.  And if the body that has carried that life is still alive and healthy at the end of 2026 will again.

The image on my iPad is part of a music video, ‘Le vent nous porters’ which translates as ‘the wind carries us’ sung by Margarita Pirri.  You might enjoy it.  Here is the link:

To life.  

And pushing as hard as you can as long as you can and being grateful for whatever moments of peace you find.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Hilton Head Island: Webb Chiles by the numbers


Steve Earley wrote most of this entry as well as took the above photo Tuesday evening while we were sipping drinks on the screened porch. 

Six years ago for reasons no longer of importance, Steve compiled a list of Webb Chiles by the numbers.  I did not know this until he recently mentioned it to me and then showed me the list.  I found it interesting and amusing and asked permission to share it with you, which Steve graciously granted.  I thank him.

I updated some numbers, such as my age and circumnavigations, and added a couple more, but it is Steve’s list from most to least.  

If you think of other numbers that ought to be included, please suggest them in a comment.

Webb Chiles by the numbers

1,000,000+ published words:  books, website, journal, magazine and newspaper articles, short stories, novella, poems

3,000 miles first leg of open boat voyage

1,500 gallons of water bailed every twenty-four hours from EGREGIOUS during the weeks before reaching New Zealand

82 years old

57 years since bought first boat

50 years since last worked for anyone else

30 years married to Carol

26 hours swimming and floating in the Gulf Stream after sinking RESURGAM

18 feet length of CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE 

16 days imprisoned in Saudi Arabia as a spy

15 times crossed the Equator

10 years alone at sea

10 words in most famous quote

8 boats owned

8 times in Force 12 wind

6 circumnavigations

6 times married

5 consecutive decades in which a circumnavigation has been completed

5 women married

4 boats whose mastheads have gone in the water

3 compasses on CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, two of which went into the inflatable after she pitch-poled.

3 five year plans.  

2 times adrift with survival in question.  

1 life  

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Hilton Head Island: on engines, seas, mermaids, and tangles

Douglas in Scotland recently sent me this quote from one of the books by the sailor/mountain climber, Bill Tilman.  

I read some of Tilman books sixty years ago and so know of this remarkable man, though he was not my kind of sailor.

We had with us no Belloc whose love for the sea and sail was equalled only by his hatred of machinery. 'I would rather die of thirst', he writes, 'ten miles off the headland in a brazen calm, than have on board what is monstrously called an auxiliary... For it is with headlands as with harbours, if you have machinery aboard your craft is gone. Whether it is done under sail or power, the rounding of a great cape, more especially a cape that divides two oceans, has about it something both solemn and elating. Although it is a normal and long foreseen step, the moment the cape looms in sight the pent-up hopes and fears of a long voyage focus themselves upon its successful rounding.

I replied to Douglas, who also is I think responsible for making me aware of Vital Whey protein powder for which I am very grateful:

I know of Tilman and read some of his books a very long time ago.  Thanks for the quote which I will pass on in the journal, though I no longer agree with not having an engine.  As you probably know I had EGREGIOUS built without one, CT never had anything but sails and oars, and GANNET can’t power more than a few miles.  But a sailor is more independent now by having an engine than he is not having one because the harbors of the world are now set up with the expectation that vessels are able to power at least short distances.  If not, you will have to ask for or pay for and wait for a tow at times no matter how well you and your boat sail.  There are many places in harbors to which you cannot sail unless the wind and tide are exactly right.

I recently finished PESSOA AND COMPANY, one of the anthologies I have of the poems of the Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa.  Toward the end I came across one which my aged memory tells me I have posted here before.  If so, it was a while ago and worth reading again.  This tiny nation claims to be first in all oceans.  Perhaps they weren’t quite, but close enough.

After finishing Pessoa I am now reading the anthology, BEING HUMAN, the third in the successful series which began with BEING ALIVE.  

Here are the last lines of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, a poem I admire about a man with whom I have nothing in common.  The mermaids sang to me.

And last from ONE HUNDRED LEAVES a poem that brought a smile.

I write sipping Laphroaig.

To life.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Hilton Head Island: Steve Earley’s winter cruise and a cup of coffee

I have been remiss in not mentioning that Steve is now on his fourth annual winter cruise.  He launched SPARTINA yesterday in Charleston and is making good progress today.  The last time I checked he was moving at five knots.  I expect he will be reach Hilton Head Island in time to watch the Taylor Swift Bowl.  I also expect the telecast to have a divided screen with the main picture coming from a camera permanently fixed on Ms. Swift and the game itself in a small image in one lower corner.

You can follow Steve at his tracking page:

and his website:

You can follow Taylor Swift everywhere.

I may be the only person on the planet who has never heard her sing.

I also forgot to mention yesterday that my breakfast includes a cup of black coffee.  No sugar.  So it adds nothing to my diet except liquid.  

Of liquid, I have mentioned this before but it might be of interest to some.  There is a general rule of ½ gallon of fresh water per person per day on a passage.  I found repeatedly during GANNET’s circumnavigation that I used just over ⅓ of a gallon a day.  .37 to be exact.

Also of liquid.  It is Thursday.  I get a real drink this evening.  Actually two.

To life.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Hilton Head Island: breakfast; two more poems from ONE HUNDRED LEAVES; and an aarticle


I was recently asked how I have managed to provision without refrigeration.  As long time readers know part of the answer is above:  my breakfast at sea and ashore and by far my biggest meal of the day.

A few years ago I downloaded an app and kept track of the calories I consumed, both food and drink.  Here is the outdated summary of my breakfast.

The ingredients are still about the same, but the portions are now smaller.  That is a trend I have noticed.  Without planning to, over the past few years I am eating and drinking less.

I now have about 3 ounces of juice.  I have ½ cup of uncooked oatmeal, not the ¾ cup shown above.  I have about twenty blueberries, a half dozen raspberries and four or five blackberries, which reduces the calories in my bowl from 764 to about 685 and the grams of protein from 40 to about 37.

Most of that protein comes from the scoop of Vital Whey protein powder.  The scoop comes in the package of powder and holds 20 grams or about .7 of an ounce.  I buy Vital Whey from Amazon.  It is more expensive than some whey powders, but I like it because the version they call Natural has no flavor.

The picture is of my breakfast this morning as it has been for decades almost every morning on land or sea.  At sea the fruit and milk are dried.

Ashore I no longer eat much of a lunch.  Often just some fruit and maybe a piece of toast.  When I am here alone, dinner is whatever I can microwave.  When Carol is here she cooks and she is an exceptionally inventive and good cook.

At sea lunch has been a can of fish or chicken or Laughing Cow cheese, all with crackers, and dinner is a freeze dry meal.

I also have snacks, RX protein bars, chips, cookies, peanuts, chocolate, etc.

Of drinking there appears to be good science that proves you can handle alcohol less well as you get old.  This has been my experience.  Some of you may remember that a year or so ago I instituted the two glass per evening rule.  I usually stick to it.  And again without planning, two nights a week, usually Tuesday and Wednesday, have become ‘dry’ nights.  Dry meaning no alcohol.  This came about by my starting to drink 0% Heineken for my mid-afternoon liquid while sailing.  I am not a big beer drinker and was drinking regular Heineken for the liquid not the alcohol.  I find I like the 0% as much as regular, so have kept it on hand and one Tuesday I was reheating leftover pizza and decided to have a 0 Heineken with it.  This became a habit.  Tuesday 0 Heineken.  Wednesday a tonic with lime.  I cannot say that I notice any real difference in how I feel, but it is probably a good thing to do and certainly does no harm.

So some evenings L’Chaim is said with more feeling than others.

I am halfway through ONE HUNDRED LEAVES.  Here are two more poems I particularly like.  I will be sorry when the book ends and will surely, given time, read it again and again..

The above illustrates the first poem.

Both poets lived about the year 1000.

I am told that the only article I wrote for paid publication last year is in the current issue of SAIL.  I believe under the title ‘Destination Nowhere.’  I have not seen it in print.  A month or so from now I will upload it here.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Hilton Head Island: storms; two videos; two poems

I thank Larry for the above photo and the link to a video.  I  did at least write one of the poems, though more than forty years ago in which I made a serious miscalculation.  The poem is more true now.

Those of you in the United States are probably aware that there are storms on both coasts.  A front passed over Hilton Head Island yesterday with gale force wind forecast and rain.  I heard heavy rain last night and we have light rain now, but on this, the more protected landward side of the island, we usually have much less wind than does the ocean side and experienced no gale.  

However the storm on the other coast is much more severe.  Southern California is having worse weather than we are.  The world is upside down.

I have seen several photos online of boats driven ashore in the storms there.  None more dramatic than the above.  I do not know the story behind it.  She is a nice boat.  Or was.  I think I see two rodes running into the water from the bow, so perhaps he has anchors out.  If the boat is as close to the rocks as she appears, I don’t think anchors will save her.  Even getting off that boat in those conditions without being injured would be difficult.  As Larry said, a photo taken ten minutes later might have been revealing.  I hope the sailor saved the boat and himself, but I don’t have much hope for the boat.

A short to me amazing video about an eagle whose eyesight is somewhat better than mine, but then so is yours, though yours is probably not quite as good as the eagle’s.  .

A poem by the Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, whose works I am presently re-reading, and one by me.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Hilton Head Island: some poems and SOCIETY OF THE SNOW


As regular readers know I read some poetry, Japanese or Chinese and Western, and I listen to some Bach everyday.  Generally when I finish whatever book of poetry I am reading I scroll down in my library which is arranged by most recent on my iPad mini and start rereading whichever I last read longest ago.  However, from time to time I go to Amazon to see if there is something new and recently bought a beautiful book, ONE HUNDRED LEAVES, which is a recent translation of the HYAKUNIN ISSHU, a collection of one hundred poems compiled about 1237 by Fujiwara no Teika.  I find the book beautiful because each poem is preceded by an artwork, one of which is above.  Here is the poem:

While I read using the Kindle app, I do so on an iPad mini because it has a color screen and also serves as a chartplotter.  ONE HUNDRED LEAVES would not be as beautiful in black and while on a Kindle.

Here are two more poems from ONE HUNDRED LEAVES.

I am presently only at poem twenty-five.  I limit myself to five a day.  So you may see more in the future.

From the previous book of Japanese poetry I was reading, THE CLASSIC TRADITION OF HAIKU, the first by Masaoka Shiki, 1867-1902; the second by Arakida Moritake, 1472-1549.

Compare the last with:


whose author you know.

Last evening I watched on Netflix, SOCIETY OF THE SNOW, which is the true story of those who survived a plane crash in the Andes for seventy-two days in part by reasonably resorting to cannibalism of the frozen bodies of those who died.  There have been other movies and books about this.  I think this one is very well done, honest without being sensational.  If you watch, continue through the closing credits behind which are shown photographs of the actual survivors.