Tuesday, October 29, 2013

San Diego: washed; amps; link; chef; garlanded

        Rumors of rain materialized into drops for about an hour at 3:00 a.m., washing GANNET and the sky, and, unfortunately proving that I was not successful in curing a leak on the aft side of the forward hatch which I noticed when I scrubbed and hosed down the deck a couple of weeks ago.  This is particularly frustrating on GANNET, where there is no liner and the inside of the hull is exposed.  I applied additional sealant along the edge of the hatch, both inside and on deck.  Obviously I’ll have to apply more.  I now think the leak may be around two bolts near the aft port corner.  
        Today is one of crystalline beauty.  Sunny.  Pure blue sky, dotted with cotton ball puffs of cumulus cloud.  Everything clean and pristine; and very few people around.
        I biked over to Pacific Beach, passing almost no one on the bay side of Mission Beach and only a few on my return along the ocean.
        Fall and winter are my favorite seasons in San Diego because of the greater contrast with the Midwest where I grew up, and because the crowds of summer are gone.
        October is often a month of strong Santa Ana winds, blowing from the east when high pressure develops over the desert.  With the wind coming off the land, the sea near shore remains flat and there can be spectacular sailing.  I was hoping for a Santa Ana, but thus far there hasn’t been one this year.


        Watts divided by volts=amps.
        I now have six 25 watt solar panels wired into a 12 volt system, which in theory could provide 12.5 amps of power.  THE HAWKE OF TUONELA had 180 total watts in her three solar panels, which could have theoretically produced 15 amps.
        I stress the theoretically because I never saw more than 6 or 7 amps being registered on the Solar Boost 2000e regulator on HAWKE, and I haven’t seen more than 5 yet on GANNET.
        The loss comes from shadows and angles and, to a lesser degree, wiring, though I minimize this by using over size wire with, except for the two panels near the stern, short runs.
        All of GANNET’s panels are functioning properly.  However they are fixed on deck and not often perpendicular to the sun and are subject to shadows.  A few mornings ago I noticed that five of the six panels were partially shadowed.  One shadow came from the tiller, which I usually leave vertical.  Simply lowering it and eliminating that shadow increased output by half an amp.
        Being able to tilt the panels so they are usually at right angles to the sun definitely increases output, but I find such structures aesthetically unacceptable and am unwilling to run around all day  trying to keep up with the sun.
        GANNET’s two new panels are providing a definite increase in total daily production, with the little boat’s bow to the west particularly in the afternoon.  Readings are generally two amps higher than they were with only four panels.
        The SolarBoost 2000e regulator is said to be like having an extra solar panel.  I had one on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, as well as on GANNET, and it seems to work.  At the moment, the panel current  reaching the regular is 4.3 amps; the output to the batteries is 4.9 amps.


        Saildrone continues steadily onward.  It is now 377 miles from Hawaii.
        Alan, who sent me the link, is kind enough to say that I am not going to become obsolete any time soon.  But I’m not so sure.
        Saildrone is self-contained and powered by wind and solar panels.  So is GANNET.
        The universe is unquestionably not on a human scale.
        I have long thought that as a species, we--or at least some of us--are best as engineers and technicians.  Obviously we make lousy politicians.
        What if we are not the glory and purpose of the universe, but in the evolutionary process only the creatures needed to build the machines who are the next step up?  This is not an original thought, but one that Saildrone has reminded me of.
        I have said that one of the advantages of solo sailing is no risk of mutiny.
        I have four tiller pilots aboard GANNET.  Soon they will be residing in a bag with the Torqeedo tiller arm.
        If they all get together…


        My culinary skills reached new heights two nights ago:  I used a pot.
        As you probably know, usually I just heat water in the JetBoil; but I bought some prepared soup at the supermarket and decided to heat it in my one pot rather than the vertical JetBoil cylinder.  
        Once I remembered where I stowed the pot, it worked.
        I am humble, but proud.


        When I returned from my bike ride, I found GANNET’s bow garlanded.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

San Diego: ALL IS LOST; trashed; Saildrone

        I thought about sailing around to San Diego Bay this weekend, but then remembered that the 170+ fleet for the Baja HaHa, a southerly floating party/cruiser’s rally, is assembled there for tomorrow’s start, and the coastal fog hasn’t burned off for two days, so I biked four miles inland to see ALL IS LOST.  I thank Larry for letting me know that it was playing nearby.
        I am not going to express my opinion now, although I would very much like to hear yours if you see the film. 
        I will note that I saw the heading of another review, “What if you had to consider your own death?”  As I was by the NY TIMES reviewer’s finding solitude terrifying, I was struck by the insular shallowness of this reviewer’s mind and life.
        A paradox is that we are herd animals, yet we are each alone.  
        Just as one function of cities is to block nature from those who can’t face it, so I think that Internet social networks are attempts to hide from the fact of essential aloneness.
        If you are more than a child and haven’t considered your own death, you haven’t been paying attention.  
        To paraphrase Socrates, the unconsidered death is not worth dying.
        If you see ALL IS LOST, please let me know your thoughts.


        GANNET is light enough to be moved by a landing bird.  
        Sometime Friday night I was awakened by such a slight movement, followed by sounds that I could not identify.  Rustling paper?  Tearing?  Scratching?  
        It was enough for me to untangle myself from the sleeping bag, push open the forward hatch, sit up and look around, but I saw nothing.
        Only in the morning light, when I opened the companionway, did I see that someone, presumably a sea gull, had raided the trash sack I keep in the cockpit and messily spread the contents.  Friday’s evening meal was freeze dried New Orleans Rice with Ham and Shrimp.  I did not eat it all and placed the resealed pouch in the trash.  Obviously the shrimp were perfume to a gull.
        Now I’m going to have to either walk the trash up the marina bin after dinner or put it in the dockbox.  I don’t think gulls can lift that lid.  


        While the admirable young people on the east coast tried to send an autonomous power boat across the Atlantic, a more professional and better funded group on the west coast have opted for sail, which would have been my choice for more than romantic reasons, and with seemingly greater success.
        Saildrone left San Francisco for Hawaii on October 1 and as I write has sailed 1710 miles and is 477 from its destination.
        You can follow its track here.  (I first typed ‘her’)
        If you google Saildrone, you will find some short videos, but I haven’t yet come across detailed specifications, such as length, sail area, and weight.
        I may have just become obsolete.

Friday, October 25, 2013

San Diego: wrecked; the right stuff; no more; changed

        Martin in England sent this link to a series of photographs of ships wrecked along the British coast, some dramatic, some with captions of a vanished era.  
        Thanks, Martin.


        Whenever I’ve driven across this country, particularly from the Midwest to California, I’ve found myself thinking as the sometimes endless miles went by at sixty or seventy miles an hour, of those who in the 1800s walked across those plains and deserts and mountain passes.  
        I interrupted reading STRUMPET CITY, a good novel set in Dublin, Ireland, in the early years of last century, to read all of Mike Roddy’s THEY RODE WEST account of biking across the country with friends in 2009.
        Before moving on the THEY RODE WEST, here is a passage from STRUMPET CITY:  The moment filled her with an oppressive sense of mortality.  She wanted to leave the garden and get back into the house, to feel its four walls putting comfortable bounds to a world which was too wide and careless to hold intact for any certain period the happiness it now and then offered.
        The novel is generally about the early days of organizing labor with main characters some of whom are among the monied class; some among the poorest; and three Catholic priests.  I haven’t quite finished it, but find it well written and memorable.
        I found Mike Roddy’s bike ride memorable, too.  The people he and his friends met along the way--mostly generous; a sense of humor; the regional differences in people and places; a good eye for telling detail; and the pitting of bodies and wills against distance and time and wind--a headwind is as undesirable on a bike as on a boat--and rain and thirst and long climbs up hills and mountains, just as some of our ancestors once did.   
        Published reports and personal observation show that most contemporary Americans are obese and sedentary.  I am pleased to know that Mike and his friends, and others they met riding who are doing the same thing, some women, some considerably older than they, have proven that there are still among us some who could have been pioneers. 


        You may have seen that the U.S. government, such as it is, is going to stop printing paper charts.  An interesting counterpoint to the shipwreck photos.
        This will not be a problem for me.  I do not own any paper charts.  I do have multiple copies of electronic charts, some in devices with waterproof cases.
        I will probably buy a paper world atlas and stow it in a Ziploc bag on GANNET in case of cataclysmic multiple failures.


        As I noted when I flew from Chicago to San Diego just over two weeks ago, the weather was better there than here.
        Today it is sunny and 70ºF/21ºC aboard GANNET; in Chicago it is freezing and there has been talk of snow.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

San Diego: painted, paneled, pad-eyed

                The two new solar panels arrived Monday, prompting me to put the second coat of non-skid paint on the deck Tuesday in the belief that it would be easier to do before they were installed and had to be painted around.
When a month ago I mentioned my intention to put a second coat of paint on the deck I left out a ‘d’.   Zane in New Zealand emailed that he wouldn’t want to go skiing on his deck, either.  
I appreciate the correction, Zane.
(My favorite all time typo was when I wrote from Tahiti to a friend that I was reading WAR AND PEACH.)
Not having to paint the cockpit, non-skidding the deck only took two hours and less than a quart of paint.  Painting white on white in bright sunshine, subsequently I can see a few places I missed on the second go around, but overall the deck looks better and easily passes my viewed from a boat length away test.
Yesterday I installed the two new solar panels.
This was easy.  I took measurements, but still don’t think I have them precisely parallel to the centerline.  They are close enough.  Certainly with my vision.  GANNET now has 150 watts of solar panels on deck.  This is only 35 less than did THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, and GANNET’s are considerably less obtrusive.
Wiring was simple.  I had only to splice into existing connections.  I tested the circuits of all four of the forward solar panels, and all showed full output.  Today has remained overcast.  When we next have bright sunshine, I’ll go around deck, covering each panel sequentially with a towel and observe whatever changes appear on the SolarBoost 1000e regulator.
Although I seldom even take spray on deck when sailing here in San Diego, I know that in the future there will be times when waves will sweep GANNET.  On EGREGIOUS, RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, waves snapped vanes on Aries and Monitor self-steering devices and washed tiller pilots from tillers.  So I bought a folding pad-eye at West Marine a few days ago to tie down the tiller pilot. 
I knew at the time that it is bigger than I need, but it was the only one in stock and was on a hook showing a price of $24, so I bought it, along with several other bits and pieces and didn’t look at the receipt until I got back to GANNET when I found that the pad-eye actually cost $66.  I could have taken it back, but didn’t.  It has a safe working load of 3500 pounds, more than enough to lift the entire boat if bolted to a strong enough part of the structure.  I think it will adequately secure a tiller pilot.
I also installed four eye-bolts beside the v-berth, one on each side in the partial bulkhead forward, one on each side in the main bulkhead.  I’ll run lines fore and aft between them to secure bags and jerry cans, so everything won’t slide to leeward when GANNET heels.
I can’t think of anything else that needs to be done, so I’m going to walk around to the other side of Quivira Basin and eat a fish sandwich for lunch.

Monday, October 21, 2013

San Diego: tillered; hacked; They Rode West

               The tiller arrived late Friday and I fitted it Saturday afternoon.  Due I am sure to my imprecise measurements, some sanding was needed to reduce the butt end by perhaps 1/16”, so to use my power sander I plugged into shore power for the fourth time in a year.  The other three were to use a power hand saw. 
My thought was to drill the three holes for the bolts to attach the new tiller to the rudder shaft so it could go in place quickly if needed, but then remove it and continue to use the old tiller.  However, once the new one, made of mahogany and ash by RudderCraft, was attached, I liked it too much to remove and the old one will be the spare.

I ordered the tiller unfinished and have applied eight or nine coats of Deks Olje No. 1 over the past three days, with more to come.


On Saturday the home page of this site was hacked.  I don’t often visit that page, going directly to the journal page, but a couple of you did and emailed me.  Thank you, Eric and Steve.
I don’t recall the exact details, but the page had a black background, lettering at the top stating that it had been hacked by people with Islamic intent, contained some Arabic script and some in English, which I believe was from the Koran, and an Islamic chant played.  As far as I could determine, the rest of the site was untouched.
I didn’t have time to deal with the problem that evening, but worried that my laptop may have been compromised because earlier in the week I ran an ad on Craigslist to sell the Norvane for the man who gave it to me, and in addition to a half dozen serious inquires, received a huge amount of spam, some of which I did not recognize as such until I opened it.  
I woke Sunday morning to find with some relief an email from MacHighway, which hosts this site, stating that they had changed my passwords and that I should under no circumstances try to use the old ones.  As the day progressed, more information was received stating that the home pages of many of the sites they host had been hacked--I do not yet know how--and were being restored.  Mine was by late afternoon.
As Billy Pilgrim notes repeatedly in SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, “So it goes.”  In the Internet Age.


Over the weekend I met a young man who with some friends biked across the country. east to west.  He has written about the journey well and enthusiastically at THEY RODE WEST, which I started reading last evening.
I’m going to follow the whole way.  Some of you might enjoy doing so, too. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

San Diego: sailed; shopped; terrified

                I’ve been trying to go sailing for three days, but beneath a high blue sky there has been no or little wind.  Accepting that this is not going to change soon, I decided today to go anyway.   
There was never more than five or six knots of wind.  GANNET sailed mostly at four knots.  
I was able to compare my Quatix watch with the Velocitek ProStart.  Usually they showed SOG within .1 of a knot of one another.  The ProStart shows COG Magnetic, while I had the Quatix set to  True.  In San Diego there is a 12º difference.  With the Variation East, True is greater.
Once clear of the Mission Bay Channel, I sailed north toward La Jolla close hauled on port tack.  GANNET’s speed kept creeping higher.  When it momentarily touched 5 knots, the excitement was too much and I turned back.  Actually we were about to sail into a kelp bed.
On the return I put a waypoint into the Quatix just off the channel breakwaters.  I now have three:  the condo; the slip; and what I’ve named MB Jetty.
Several times I’ve tested the watch walking back to GANNET from the shower, which Quatix tells me is 556’ away.  When I’m 50’ away a message, “Approaching Slip” appears.
Standing in the companionway, Quatix usually tells me I’m 4’ from ‘slip.’  Good enough.
The sail was pleasant.  Everything worked.  And I remembered how to lower the mainsail.


In the absence of sailing, I shopped online.
Two tiller pilots have arrived.  I found them on sale at a place I’ve never heard of named Hodges Marine.
Someone noted that I could buy a lot of tillerpilots for the $5,000 boat yard estimate to reinforce GANNET’s transom.  Thirteen to be exact.  I now have four.  That should be sufficient.
I found a very nice man in Idaho, to whom I spoke by telephone, who made GANNET a spare tiller.  It is ‘Out for Delivery’ on a FedEx truck today, but hasn’t been.
Two Aurinco solar panels are in transit.  
After considering the mock-ups in various combinations for several evenings, I ended up ordering the almost squares to install near the mast.  Working out all the possible combinations of sun, shadows, and course, is impossible.  No matter where panels are placed, at times they will not be fully exposed to the sun.  In the end, the mock-ups near the mast just made GANNET’s deck look to my eye better balanced.
And a new Sport-a-Seat is also on the way.  This one with a black cover, which will be hot in the Tropics, when I will put a towel over it or use the grey one, but will not show stains.


The movie, ALL IS LOST, about a solo sailer trying to save his sinking boat and himself, staring Robert Redford, is reviewed today in the NY TIMES.
The review is positive, as have been others.  I will go see the movie when I can.
What I found most interesting and revealing in the review is:  And though this man’s radical aloneness is terrifying, to him and to us
In a too connected world, to be alone is to be terrified.
I also note that we are told the sailor, who apparently is never named, is wearing a wedding ring.  I suppose this is to show that he is not a true loner, which would be terrifying, though the idea of a solo sailor being married is obviously absurd.
I do not know about others, but this solo sailor does not wear his wedding ring when he sails.  I do wear one ashore.  While sailing a wedding ring can catch on lines and other things leading to injury.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

San Diego: The Man; SCOUT's end; flat; a year ago today

        “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 
        I did not know that Lord Acton continued:  “Great men are almost always bad men.”
        In my old age I try to assume a becoming modesty, but sometimes it isn’t easy.
        Two nights ago just before I retired to the v-berth, I saw from the companionway a dark shape at the far end of the dock.  I shined my brightest flashlight on the offending sea lion, who immediately rolled back into the water.
        Mid-morning yesterday, upon standing in the companionway I saw another sea lion on the dock.  Without evening climbing onto deck, I commanded, “Go!”, pointed my arm, and 100’ away the sea lion obeyed.
        I have created a Sea Lion Free Zone.  I am The Man.  The Lord of the Sea Lions.
        Lord Acton was right.  It is going to my head.


        In the transition from the flatlands to the sea, I lost track of SCOUT, the autonomous 12’ vessel, programmed to attempt to cross the Atlantic.
        The attempt has come to an end.  Imprecise minds would say that SCOUT is now at the mercy of the wind and waves, but I know that wind and waves are insentient and not capable of mercy or being merciless.
        I believe that SCOUT functioned for more than a month and stayed more or less on course for more than a thousand miles.  
        Although I doubt the young people behind the project have a real understanding of what it means to cross an ocean, the attempt is praiseworthy.


        Riding my bike to Pacific Beach on Sunday was hard.  As I was gasping to the top of the bridge between here and Mission Beach, I thought:  Damn.  Climbing those stairs wasn’t enough.  And the whole time I felt as though I were pedaling through deep sand.
        Before riding to Ocean Beach today, I checked the tires.  They were 30 pounds under pressure.  I pumped them up.  A world of difference.  Perhaps two worlds.
        Often it is said, “The Devil is in the details.”  But the correct quote, usually attributed to the architect, Mies van der Rohr, is:  “God is in the details.”
        In either case, as my legs can testify and voyages prove, details matter.


        Both days identically perfect.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

San Diego: end of season; intelligent life; failure; under consideration; oh, my

        Back in the Midwest, the sailing season is nearing its end.  All the marinas around Chicago close at the end of October, and my sailing friends are unbending sails and moving toward the storage yards, if they haven’t already done so.  I know of at least one boat that went up the Calumet River under jib alone, just for the fun of it.  Well, done, Dave and Mike.
        Most boats in most marinas are seldom used, but I observed when I lived here before that even in San Diego, where you can sail year round, usage is seasonal.  After the American Labor Day, at the beginning of September, there are very few people around.  
        I’ve certainly seen the contrast between when I was here in July and August and now.  No one waiting for the parasailing boat to go out.  Few activities at the kayak and board paddling school.  Almost no one on the docks.  And very few boats out on the water.
        I like San Diego best in the winter.  There is often more wind.  Everywhere is less crowded.  And the contrast to where I grew up most pronounced.


        I have found signs of intelligent life on Earth.  Obviously it is not us.
        I have long believed that those species who came ashore, recognized the mistake and returned to the water, have demonstrated superior judgement.
        Now members of one of those species have proven to be very quick learners.
        ODYSSEUS, the 88’ motorsailor, has departed.  While she was an impressive vessel, I’m pleased because that opens up the space around GANNET and gives me a view out across the basin.  However that big open space is also inviting to sea lions, who now have two side docks on which to loll.
        However, they aren’t.
        After being chased persistently on Thursday and Friday, they have moved elsewhere.
        I was sitting on deck yesterday, listening to Detroit pitchers strike out Boston batters on the radio, when I noticed two sea lions swimming just off the mouth of the empty 90’ slip, eyeing me and the end of the dock.  I stepped from GANNET and walked toward them, saying, “Don’t even think about it.”  Heads disappeared beneath the water.
        Today one did flop onto the dock.  
        I started for the dock cart, but hadn’t even reached it or the sea lion, when I shouted, “Go!”  And he did.
        Repeated probes of defenses are to be expected, but they are to be admired as quick learners.    


        Luis, the diver, came yesterday to clean GANNET’s bottom.  He found hard growth over almost all of it.  
        This is the first time I’ve used Pettit’s Vivid.  It really is white, as opposed to International Micron’s Shark White, which goes on grey, but turns white as it wears away during a passage.
        I only had two coats of Vivid on GANNET after laboriously removing her old VC17 fresh water only antifouling.  I had Luis clean the bottom in August, and it is possible that in doing so he rubbed away most of the Vivid.  However, I had noticed some growth on the rudder even before then.
        I planned to use Vivid when I anti-foul again in February or March, and still may to give it a second chance.  I’ll be in warm clear water next year and able to clean the bottom myself.  But I may just go back to Micron.


        While a towed hydrogenerator would generate more electricity than I need, I am uneasy about towing a line and propeller.  Among other problems is that I’d have to bring it in under seriously adverse conditions if I have to deploy a drogue.  And the whole contraption just seems clunky.
        So I am considering adding more solar panels instead.  

        Here in San Diego, my four 25 watt panels provide more than enough power, and did so while underway on my sail down to Guadalupe Island and back.  However, San Diego has more sunny days than most places.  The purpose of adding solar panels would be to increase output under cloudy conditions.       
        The mock ups in the photos are either/or; not all.  Either the almost squares near the mast or a second set of the long strips on the foredeck.
        I’m considering shadows from sails and mast and ease of moving about the deck.  I don’t often have to go to the mast or the foredeck, and the panels can be walked upon, but I’d rather not.
        I’m still deciding, but at the moment am inclining toward the long strips forward.
        If I encounter conditions in which even extra panels don’t provide enough electricity to run the tiller pilots, I can go to sheet to tiller steering,  even (horrors) steer myself, or heave to and wait for sunshine.


        Oh, my. (Click on the words to see why, oh, my)

Friday, October 11, 2013

San Diego: downsizing revisited; a year; walking speed; Death Watch; sealer

        The above is an Excalibur 26, a sister ship to my first boat--for that matter it might be my first boat.  She is new to the marina.
        I took delivery of mine in January 1967 at Oakland’s Jack London Square and in sailing her around to Berkeley Marina made my first solo sail, which I wrote about in an article titled, “Downsizing”.  The article was about my trend toward ever smaller headsails; but since then I’ve downsized boats as well.
        In August of 1967 the woman who was then a part of my life and I sailed the Excalibur to San Diego and then lived aboard for a year and a half on the other side of Quivira Basin, before I traded the Excalibur in on an Ericson 35, which a few years later I traded in on an Ericson 37 that I named EGREGIOUS.
        Although I don’t want to offend any Excalibur 26 owners, GANNET, though smaller, is superior in every way except interior volume.  I couldn’t stand up in the Excalibur, but the woman I was with, who was 5’ 6” tall, could, and I could sit upright without having to be on the cabin sole.  More critically, the Excalibur was not built well enough to go to sea.


        This journal served one of its purposes when I found myself wondering when GANNET arrived in San Diego.  I knew it was about a year ago, but not the exact date.  It was October 15.  Carol and I arrived two days earlier.
        I’ve often noted that time is an uneven medium.
        The year has passed quickly.  But GANNET seems to have been here longer.


        The Garmin Quatix shows that I walk at 3.3-3.4 knots, which is 3.8-3.9 mph, and seems right.
        I learned that I don’t need to reset the watch for a new time zone.  
        Upon arrival in San Diego I turned on the GPS function and when the watch found out where it was, the time was reset automatically.  

        I thank Gregg for informing me of the “Death Watch”. 
        Not having a male member of my family survive to age forty for several generations, I didn’t need the watch to appreciate the point it tries to make.


        The seals were quieter last night.
        They woke me a few times, but that goes with the territory.
        Sometime during the night I heard one breathing as it swam near GANNET.
        So I was surprised this morning to find a clump of them at the end of the dock.  I couldn’t count how many as I chased them back into the water.
        And today I have repeatedly had to chase others.  At least five or six times.
        One woman uses a paint ball gun.
        I’m continuing with the dock cart.
        It is too soon to know if I’m making progress.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

San Diego: territorial dispute; harvest

        6 a.m. this morning, still pre-dawn darkness, found me hunting sea lions with a flash light.
        At too repeated intervals during the night I heard them close by.  They barked and grumbled and groaned.  I woke up.  After a while they stopped and we all went to sleep.  Then they started again. 
        Despite the disturbance--and though I brought ear plugs with me to block my fellow humans, they were not conveniently at hand--I was too comfortable in my sleeping bag to get up.
        However when I woke for good just before 6, I dressed and went hunting.
        I thought I had heard three different beasts, but about 100' away, at the end of the finger between the two 90'  slips perpendicular to GANNET’s, currently occupied by a 70’ power boat and an 88’ sailboat, I found not three, but five sea lions, all of moderate size, perhaps adolescents or young adults.
        I walked toward them, waving my arms and shouting, and they slid into the water, the first three quickly, the last two reluctantly.
        During the day I have subsequently chased sea lions from that location three more times, once two, the other two times a single lion.  One of these was larger and stood his ground, er, dock, so I took a nearby dock cart and ran at him.  Responding to the noise and aggression, he, too, left.
        I think conditioning is going to take a while; but here is the ineluctable deal:  I stay off the bait barge; and they stay off this dock.


        Predicted rain fell last evening, well after I reached GANNET in early afternoon.  Not much, but enough for me to close the hatches.
        I found the little sloop in fine condition, other than a grimy deck with a few bird splatters, and a jungle growing along her waterline,
with tendrils two feet long in the diamonds of VC17, a fresh water anti-fouling paint that I could not reach when I anti-fouled GANNET on her cradle in April of last year.
        I’m having a diver come on Saturday, but I lay down on the dock and cleared the waterline growth with a putty knife this afternoon.    It looked too slovenly to live with for even two more days.


        Returning to GANNET now has become routine.  I leave enough on the boat so I don’t need to go to a supermarket immediately, which is just as well because I didn’t get to one today.  Everything is in place.  And in San Diego there is no mold or spiders.
        After checking that the bilge is dry--it was--and the batteries kept fully charged by the solar panels--they were--I filled the water tanks:  my half gallon plastic jug and one liter drinking flask, then settled in to listen to the baseball game on the radio, with a glass of red wine from a box opened a couple of months ago--it was no better nor worse than then--and a dinner of freeze dry Chicken Dijon, before retiring to a sea lion serenade.
        Today San Diego’s one day aberration has passed and the weather has returned to expected perfection.
        I scrubbed the deck, and after it dried bent on the furling jib, put the bow sprit back in place, and reattached the tiller extension. 
        I also charged speakers and my electric razor.
        Unless I’m forgetting something, GANNET is ready to go.


        The top photo was taken from Central in GANNET’S Great Cabin, post seal hunt dawn.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Evanston: gone fishing

        I was asked for a photograph of my traveling Scottevest.  Carol thinks that I look as though I am going fishing.
        If I seem a bit bulgy, I am.  In its many pockets are iPad, iTouch, Bose Noise canceling earphones, sunglasses, Kindle Paperwhite, Sony RX100 camera, billfold, pocket change, and boarding pass.
        The vest weighs almost as much as my carry-on bag.
        It does simplify passing through airport security, which I should be doing about 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, and once at my seat, everything I might possibly want--beyond the flight being over--is at hand.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Evanston: a speeding sofa; seamless

        While I am looking forward to using a sextant again, a positive review in PRACTICAL SAILOR and an unexpected payment for photographs used with one of my articles--photographers make the big bucks--resulted in my buying what will be the fifth GPS unit aboard GANNET, a Garmin Quatix watch.  The others are three Garmin handhelds and my iPad.  And if Apple ever gets the retina iPad mini into production, there will probably be a sixth.
        I’ve only had the Quatix a few days--and didn’t notice until I saw this photograph that I’ve already knocked some of the finish off the case--and  have only used it indoors or while riding in a car.  
        Naturally it needs a view of the sky to locate satellites, but once locked on manages to keep the signal until I stay far away from a window for several minutes .  
        In addition to providing position, the Quatix does a great many other things--actually too many--including being a remote for some Garmin autopilots and a display for NMEA 2000 instruments.  Managing all these functions with only four buttons--the fifth controls only the light--makes for a complex owner’s manual.
        For myself, the ability to see COG and SOG when in GANNET’s Great Cabin or at night on deck without having to shine a flashlight on the Velocitek, track to a waypoint, and the built in three axis compass which so far seems to remain accurate whatever the angle of my wrist, are most important.
        The SOG agreed with the speedometer in Carol’s car and the location is accurate, though the altitude is not.  Evanston is about 600’ above sea level.  I’m going to wait until I’m at sea level to make any necessary adjustments.
        All the GPS units I’ve ever owned tend to show erratic speed when stationary, but smooth out when underway.  The Quatix sometimes shows me making two or three knots while sitting on the sofa.
        It is a big watch and heavier than any of my others, but not uncomfortable on the wrist.
        The battery is said to last for up to six weeks in time mode and about sixteen hours when GPS is activated.  Naturally it comes with one more proprietary charging cord.         


        My transition from Evanston to San Diego would be seamless--the high temperature forecast for Wednesday in both places is a pleasant 68ºF/20ºC--were it not that there is a 50% chance of rain--in San Diego! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Evanston: in case of technical difficulties

        One day this journal is going to come to a perhaps abrupt end, as did Bach’s ART OF THE FUGUE, which which I am not daring to compare it.
        But in the meantime, it might come to a premature end or prolonged interruption due to problems with software or hardware.
        I use Apple’s iWeb.  Unfortunately Apple has abandoned iWeb.  The most recent version dates from 2009, prehistoric by contemporary tech standards.  
        ‘Self-portrait in the present sea’ has now been online and growing for more than seven years, and is probably far bigger than anything Apple ever envisioned for iWeb.  It is likely that the journal contains more words than all of my published books combined.
        Sometimes there have been problems, as there were a few days ago when a photo failed to upload and froze the application.  I don’t believe there is any longer support for iWeb from Apple.  I was in this case able to resolve it myself after a long, frustrating afternoon.
        Earlier this year, while on GANNET, my MacBook Pro failed to function.  After a while, I solved that, too.
        In both cases, I realized that I had no other way of communicating with you.  There is no iWeb for iPad.
        So I have established an annex at: 

where I will post duplicate journal entries, starting October 1, 2013.      
        In the event I am unable for technical reasons to post here, I will there, which I can do from my iPad as well as my laptop.  As is now noted on the main journal page, if I haven’t posted here for a while, and I’m not at sea, you can check there.  ‘A while’ is deliberately vague.  
        Initially I thought of using tumblr, but when I opened an account, the page enthused about the community I was joining and suggested I would be interested in several other tumblrs.  The first suggestion was Justin Timberlake.  I thought:  No.  I don’t think so.   And deleted my account.
        Reproducing a post on my laptop is easy.  Less so on the iPad, with various tricks needed to move text and images from iWeb on the MacBook Pro to the iPad, via Dropbox, Pages and Photo Stream.  
        The free iPad Blogger app failed to upload images, a problem I recall some of you have had, so I’m using a $5 app unfortunately named Blogsy.  It does the job, but forces text into block paragraphs.  I’ll continue to use it from time to time, just so I don’t forget how to, but all entries will not be formatted the same.
        The Blogger site is only an emergency alternative.  
        Until it can’t be, due to failure of code, computer or creator, ‘self-portrait in the present sea’ will continue to be the way to follow one septuagenarian sailor.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Evanston: a personal history of Chicago; big boat owner



Carol and I have now lived in Evanston for more than seven years, although as she sometimes pointedly points out, I have not been here all the time.

I have more history in Chicago than that.


The first entire night I slept with a woman was in Chicago.

We were in college west of here and on our way to spend the Easter break with my parents in a suburb of Saint Louis. This involved changing trains at Chicago’s once grand Union Station. We left one day, after telling my parents we would arrive the next, and instead of switching trains that afternoon, went to a hotel. This was more than fifty years ago and what I expect would be commonly accepted now, was not then. But young lovers will find a way. And should.

I will not embarrass you or me with details, but I still recall how wonderful it was to turn in half sleep and bump into smooth, warm flesh. After that night, I better understood Henry Moore’s sculptures, all curves and hollows.


I was married just before Christmas my senior year in college, and we drove to Chicago for our honeymoon.

I bought a copy of the ILIAD, of which I’ve written before, and as I note in that entry, we went to hear the Chicago symphony.

I did not mention that the soloist was Arthur Rubinstein. I don’t remember what pieces he performed, except that after receiving thunderous applause following one of Chopin’s short compositions, he turned to the audience and apologized for having made a mistake, of which only he and perhaps a handful of others were aware, and said he would play it again, which he did.

A lesson about personal standards I never forgot.


When my mother was a teenager, her family lived in Chicago, where her father worked for now vanished Marshall Fields. He was named August Weber and didn’t like any form of his first name, so was called ‘Webb’.

One day while walking back from lunch, he collapsed on the sidewalk and died of a stroke or a heart attack. He was in his mid-thirties. My mother, who was not the most reliable of sources, said that he had been gassed during WWI, still known then, ironically, as The Great War.




If you walk down ‘A‘ Dock at Driscoll’s Mission Bay Marina, as I will next Wednesday afternoon, by far the smallest boat you will see will be named GANNET. Yet several of you own smaller.

Steve in Norfolk, who has just completed a fine 430 mile cruise in North Carolina waters, and Tom here in the Midwest, sail 17’ Welsford Pathfinders they built themselves. Doryman is sailing his recently restored 23’ Stone Horse, BELLE STARR, in the Pacific Northwest. Audrey permits her husband, Kent, to be moveable ballast on her 18‘ Drascombe Lugger in Florida. Dayton in South Carolina had an 18’ Cape Dory Typhoon. Glen in Saskatchewan his modified 17’ Osprey. Zane in New Zealand has a 22‘ sloop. There are probably others I’m forgetting and to whom I apologize.

I may have to start thinking of myself as a big boat owner.




I have a dumbphone, not a smartphone.

I was curious about the camera in my dumbphone and took the above with it at the Botanical Gardens where Carol and I had lunch a week ago.

I may have to get a smartphone. But not until after the next voyage.