Friday, February 28, 2014

San Diego: between; 'A'; short list

        The sun is shining and the companionway hatch is open.  We are between waves of rain.  So far they have been no more than moderate.
        It is interesting to follow the storm on my iPad mini.  I’ve kept one page open to Weather Underground’s radar on which approaching bands of rain can be clearly seen.  Between two this morning I donned one of my foul weather parkas and carried the pants with me just in case and ventured ashore.  
        Above is the satellite image from the Living Earth app.  My location is the light blue dot to the right and slightly below center.  And here is a rare wind map captured this morning showing southern California to be windy.

        So far I’m only seeing maximum wind speeds in the high 20 knots at the NOAA buoys and maximum 9’/3 meter waves.  
        That all this information is so easily accessible is to me still quite amazing.
        Waves will certainly be higher tomorrow; and the San Diego River channel impressive when run off from the mountains inland pours into it.
        My only preparations for the storm have been to tighten the port side dock lines to keep GANNET from being pressed against the dock by south wind, and to chain my bicycle to the dock box so it won’t be blown away.
        Sun has gone.  Time to close hatches. 


        I brought the Yellowbrick down below a while ago and deactivated it.  After sending positions twice daily for three weeks and sending one email and receiving one, the battery was at 93%.  I’m impressed.  Actually by the whole Yellowbrick system, which is intelligently designed and implemented.


        I am reading Ambrose Bierce’s THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY one letter at a time.
        Here are my favorite ‘A’s’.

        abstainer:  a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.  A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.

        Admiral:  that part of a war-ship which does the talking while the figure-head does the thinking.

        age:  that period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the enterprise to commit. 

        ambition:  an overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.

        Australia:  a country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.

        (And the home of Ron who called GANNET ‘yare’, not New Zealand as I misstated.  I do know the difference and apologize.)

        Be warned:  this is likely to be an ongoing feature until we reach ‘Z’.


        After I’ve been crossing off and adding items to my to do/by list long enough, I recopy it.
        I did so yesterday.
        It is now a short list.  Here it is:

            (emergency rudder)
            (forward hatch back-up)
            spare Torqeedo prop
            face mask
            net bag for snorkeling gear
            plates for drogue shackles
            courtesy flags
            waterproof bags/boxes

        Those in parentheses have been ordered.

        The back up for the forward hatch is a piece of Lexan 24” x 24” that I can bolt through the deck over the hatch.  While it is unlikely that anything will happen to that hatch—other than leak—its failure would sink GANNET.
        The sheet of Lexan is due to be delivered today.
        It is also big enough to bolt over the companionway; but then I don’t know how I’d get out.

        I inadvertently left my wet suit and snorkeling gear on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA.  I’ve replaced all but the face mask in which I have prescription lenses.  Er, lens.  I need to see my optometrist again before ordering it.

        The huge shackles securing the Jordan drogue bridle to the attachment plates may rub against the transom, so I’m going to put small stainless steel plates in place to prevent that.

        I am under no delusion that GANNET is going to be a dry boat.  Anything that can’t survive getting wet must be protected.  
        I already have waterproof Pelican cases for my laptop—actually two; iPad and iPad mini.
        I also have several other waterproof boxes and bags.  I’m not sure how many are enough.  
        On CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE I learned that triple trash bagging is effective.  It is also cheap, as are zip-lock bags.
        CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE was a self-simplifying boat.  I expect GANNET will be, too.

        Provisioning includes an order of about 150 freeze dry meals from Campmor that I’ll have delivered directly to San Diego in May; some super market runs; JetBoil fuel canisters, also shipped directly here.  And, of, course, a bottle of Laphroaig.  Or two.
        I also have a note to get my driver’s license renewed, though I seldom drive.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

San Diego: rain; train; unbricking; flat clam

        Our first storm wasn’t much.  Light rain last night persisting into morning.  But it was enough to establish that I still have a leak at the aft edge of the forward hatch.  This is particularly frustrating because GANNET has no headliner.  Everything is exposed.  And, as far as I can see, which admittedly is not one of my strengths, everything is covered with sealant.  There is one seam in the hatch rim which is in the vicinity of the leak.  I just ran a bead of sealant over it.
        The sky cleared for a while and the hatches are open, but clouds and wind have returned and I’m about to close them.   Atypically halyards are clanging on several fortunately distant masts.
        Rain is forecast to begin again tonight and continue all day tomorrow and into Saturday.  
        With gusts to 36 knots, for the first time since GANNET has been here San Diego will likely be the windiest location among my Windfinder favorites, which include Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands.
        Water spouts are even possible and waves Saturday may reach 14’, not all that high, but practically unheard of here.

        I don’t recall if I have mentioned in this journal that I’ve been considering taking the train when I return in May.  I like trains and want to feel the distance as one doesn’t when flying, again see parts of the country I haven’t for a while, and perhaps contemplate the fifty-one years since I started driving west the day after I graduated from college.
        Last night I made up my mind and bought tickets online.  Carol is coming with me.  For the journey, not to see me off.  No one is doing that.  I’m just going to push GANNET away from A dock whatever morning in May I am ready.  
        We depart Chicago on May 3 and arrive in San Diego on May 5, changing trains in Los Angeles.


        I made the bluetooth link to the Yellowbrick yesterday with my iPad mini and sent and received an email each way.  They took about five minutes to appear.  
        I only had bluetooth on for fifteen minutes.  That may have used 1% of battery life.  At present, having been in operation for twenty days, the battery is at 93%.
        During bright midday sunlight I found it difficult to read the Yellowbrick’s display, so I removed it from its mount and took it below, something I would not do at sea.  However when I checked later in the afternoon, the display was easy to read.  If I do send emails, I will simply have to choose my time.
        I am going to put the Yellowbrick to sleep soon.  This is called “Deactivate.”  So if you don’t see new positions, DO NOT CALL THE COAST GUARD!


        As I have mentioned here before, I have never been good at proof reading my writing.  My mind sees what it expects not what the eye actually observes.
        As an aside, it is interesting that we use the singular—which in my case is accurate:  the mind’s eye; I’ve got my eye on you.  Why not the mind’s eyes?
        I do spell check these entries and read over them before and after they go online, but mistakes slip past me.  Sometimes these are amusing.  An extra smile for the already low admission price.  I am always grateful when one of you brings them to my attention, as Jay did yesterday, for which I thank him. 
        I did not push GANNET out of her slip into a flat clam, though it is an interesting image.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

San Diego: milestone; Yellowbrick battery; not that cold; storms

        If you check GANNET’s tracking map after midnight UCT, 4:00 p.m. today San Diego time, you should see that the little boat’s stern is toward the dock.  I turned her manually this morning, pushing her out of the slip in flat calm with a long line tied to her stern to spin and pull her back in.  This is not hard labor.  She is, as I have noted, a leaf.
        I turned her to take measurements for the gudgeons for the emergency rudder being built by RudderCraft and to polish and wax her transom, which I noticed needed doing when she was out of the water.  I didn’t have any polish then, but bought some over the weekend.
        The rest of the hull didn’t seem to need polishing, but I started anyway.  Lying on the dock was too awkward and I soon stopped.  I’ll finish the job from the dinghy in some smooth harbor or when GANNET is next hauled.
        Last week was a milestone.  With the haul out, antifouling, installing Jordan drogue attachment plates, and ordering the emergency rudder, everything major on my to do/buy list has been done and paid for.  There are still minor items.  Courtesy flags.  More waterproof containers and bags.  Installing the gudgeons, which I won’t do until the rudder arrives in May.  
        The biggest remaining expense will be provisioning, one of my least favorite aspects of sailing oceans, even though I simplify it as much as possible. 
        But GANNET is ready three months before departure.


        The Yellowbrick has now been transmitting positions twice daily since February 7.  18 days.  Her battery is at 95%.  Remarkable.  At a discharge rate of 2% a week, the unit truly is set and forget for almost a year.  I intend to turn bluetooth on and send a few emails to learn what that does to battery life.


        Several of you have advised me that the photo of the frozen wave was taken not on the Great Lakes, but in Antarctica.  I thank you all.  Here is an explanatory link provided by Gregg.
        Chicago is having one of its most severe winters ever, but it isn’t quite Antarctica.    
        Still a remarkable image.


        Another sunny day here, but that is about to end.  Two, count them, two rain storms are forecast.  Tomorrow evening and again Friday into Saturday.  The latter may be the biggest storm to reach southern California in two or three years, with San Diego receiving between one and two inches/2.5-5 centimeters.  
        As many of you know California is having a hundred year or five hundred year drought, depending on which report you read, and desperately needs the rain, though not the mud slides that will inevitably accompany it.
        Maybe I will be able to locate the exact source of the leak around the forward hatch.  Maybe I will even find the leak has been stopped, said he, wistfully.
        A weekend storm is forecast for Chicago, too.   That will be snow.
        I fly back a week from tomorrow.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

San Diego: slithered; frozen wave; drift; GANNET as gannet; Saildrone revisited; yare

        I spent the morning slithering aft on the quarter berths tightening nuts on the bolts for the Jordan drogue attachment plates.  It all went about as expected.  One hole didn’t quite line up because as I later realized I had turned the backing plate top to bottom.  One nut fell into an almost inaccessible crevice in the bilge and took a half hour to retrieve using a hack saw blade and a metal file as chopsticks.
        However we are now plated.
        And my back is feeling it.  
        Here is a view that puts the plate in perspective.



        From Larry on the west coast came this photo of a frozen wave,
variously said on the Internet to be on Lake Michigan or Lake Huron.  I’ve never seen its like.

        From James in eastern mountains comes this link to a computer generated possible track of the man who recently claimed to have drifted for more than a year from near Mexico 6,000 miles, more or less, to the Marshall Islands.
        I know the currents and understand the drift.  What surprises me is that he caught enough food and water to stay alive so long. 
        When I was adrift for two weeks I only caught one passing coconut.
        James also send me an album, Wild New Zealand, of bird calls.  Track 18 is: Gannet Colony at the end of Farewell Spit.  Now GANNET can sound like a gannet.


        I think it is going to get crowded out there.  
        These things should be provided with some sort of collision avoidance system.


        I thank them all, and Ron in New Zealand who says GANNET looks yare, which his father said can be applied to boats, ladies and fine drink. 
        GANNET is pleased.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

San Diego: whisper of wings

        I stood in the companionway this evening watching four pelicans fly through the dying light.  A changing formation.  Separate.  Together.  One ahead.  Then another.
        Almost fifty years ago, when I lived aboard my first boat with the woman who was then a part of my life at Seaforth Marina on the other side of this basin, one night I was rowing the dinghy after dark and a pelican flew past me within arm’s reach.  So close I could see each individual wing tip feather and hear them brush the air.  A magical moment  that has stayed with me a lifetime.
        Here, this basin and adjacent Mission Beach, are the center of much of the best of my life on land.  
        During the life saving summers I spend with my grandparents in North Mission Beach, I sat on the sand and watched sailboats.  Dreamed and planned.  One night when I was fifteen or sixteen I walked down to the jetty and climbed barefoot over the jagged boulders of which it is constructed to the end.  Somehow it was important that I reach the end.  By the time I did my feet were bleeding.
        I have been here with all the women to whom I have been married, except one; and with others who were important to me.
        My time here now is short.  A matter of a few weeks.  Two more now.  A few in May.  Being here again at intervals this past year and a half has been a grace.


        I did not work hard yesterday.  An hour or two in the morning; another in the late afternoon.  I had things I could do today, beyond scrubbing the deck; but I didn’t.  I didn’t feel like tearing the boat apart again and making a mess.  I wanted to enjoy GANNET clean and uncluttered and back in her slip.  So I did.
        I rather like her in a black skirt.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

San Diego: slung

        I’m floating in air.  GANNET and I are spending the night in the smaller of the two travel lifts.  The yard slung her late this afternoon so I could paint the bottom of the keel and those spots blocked by the prop stands.
        The last of the VC17 is gone.  Finally.  It put up a good fight, lasting almost two years since my first assault in April 2012 when GANNET was still on her trailer for winter storage at Skipper Bud’s in Winthrop Harbor.  But I persisted and prevailed.  That often happens:  persisting and prevailing.
        I also touched up a few places on the hull and the rub rail; and had the yard drill holes for 3/8” bolts in the Jordan drogue attachment and backing plates.   
        We’ll be back in the water and our slip first thing tomorrow.  Deck scrubbed next thing.  And then I’ll decide how I like GANNET in a black skirt.

Monday, February 17, 2014

San Diego: black

        GANNET was hauled from the water first thing this morning.  
        As you can see she came up with a clean bottom.  Luis, the diver, did a good job.  In scrubbing monthly since last August, he had removed almost all the white Pettit Vivid, which is an ablative paint; so GANNET was back to the barrier coat as I had hoped.
        I was very pleased when the remaining diamonds of red VC17 and a strip on one side on the keel I couldn’t reach when GANNET was on her cradle came off easily with acetone.  
        I filled a few nicks.  Then wiped the bottom down with mineral spirits and taped the waterline before noon.

        The first coat of black International Ultra, a hard antifouling paint that can be aggressively scrubbed while the boat is in the water, went on after lunch.

        Painting was considerably easier with the boat propped by stands than it was when she was on her former trailer.  I did most of it sitting down.  The yard’s surface is concrete, so I sat on an old cushion.
        A second coat goes on tomorrow.   
        Finally, with GANNET in the travel lift, I’ll paint those areas covered by the prop stands.
        We should be back in our slip Wednesday.
        My back is feeling the work a bit.  I trust ibuprofen and a medicinal sip or two of spirits—as though I didn’t have a sip or two every evening—will effect a cure.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

San Diego: a seven glass night

        Three friends from out of town were aboard GANNET last sunset and they all brought wine with them, preferring inexplicably to drink something that came from a bottle rather than a box.  This, with a touch of Laphroaig, resulted in a GANNET record seven glasses.  Actually two crystal glasses for the Laphroaig, and five plastics.  I even brought out my good plastic, wine glasses bought at the Milwaukee Museum of Art shop.
        I enjoyed the company and hope a good time was had by all.


        The Torqeedo is on the stern.  A duffle bag of painting supplies has been moved from the dock box to the cockpit.  In preparation for the haul out tomorrow to antifoul.  Pointlessly I even checked the weather forecast.  No surprise:  it is going to be fine.  Tomorrow.  Tuesday.  Wednesday.  Forever.
        Assuming nothing unusual appears when GANNET is lifted, and assuming the yard gets her out of the water in the morning, I expect the little sloop to be back in her slip with two coats of black International Ultra on her bottom on Wednesday. 
        The only unknown is how long it will take me to remove with Acetone the four remaining diamonds of VC17.  If this proves impossible, I’ll paint over them no matter the manufacturer’s warnings.
        If you check the tracking page

GANNET should be a couple hundred yards/meters SSW at the 0000 UCT Tuesday/1600 San Diego time Monday position report.

Friday, February 14, 2014

San Diego: painted, biked, ruddered

        I touched up a few spots on the rub rails and the mainsheet bridge, then biked over to Mission Beach.  This was my first time this visit over the Mission Bay bridge from which Steve Earley took the photo of GANNET.  Hardly the Tour de France in the Pyrenees; but I was riding a one speed to windward.  Made it.  Easier coming back with a full backpack, but downwind.
        Back in the Great Cabin I completed the order with Rudder Craft for an emergency rudder.  This is the same firm, located curiously in Idaho, beautiful country but hardly a hub of marine industry, from which I bought GANNET’s tiller.
        They are a pleasure to work with; and if they make anything you need, you should.
        I emailed detailed questions and received a prompt and useful response, which convinced me to buy the less expensive of their two options.  Strength and weight are said to be comparable, but one costs half as much as the other.  The reason being that they build hundreds of them as stock; and only a few of the others on a custom basis.  How many builders will clearly explain why you should give them less money?
        The rudder will have to be positioned off the center line because of the backstay, which is not a problem.  When not in use, only the two gudgeons will be on the transom.
        A reasonable question is that if GANNET’s transom needed reinforcing for a self-steering vane, why does it not for an emergency rudder?  The answer is that a self-steering vane would be flexing the transom for tens of thousands of miles; an emergency rudder for probably much less than a thousand.  In an emergency, GANNET will just have to put up with that.
        One of the most famous lines in 20th Century poetry is from Yeats’, The Second Coming,’:  the center cannot hold.  I’ve written before:  at times at sea the center has to hold.  And the center is the sailor as well as the boat.
        I’ve never carried an emergency rudder before, although on CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, whose rudder was a simple steel plate that dropped through a slot near the stern, I did carry a spare.  
        In some ways GANNET will be the best prepared boat I’ve ever taken to sea.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

San Diego: thirty-six years; unphoned

        The two photos were taken from the same vantage point on the bridge over Mission Bay thirty-six years apart.  The top one of GANNET yesterday; the second of CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE in 1978.  I am 72.  It took me half a lifetime to get a big boat.
        The shot of GANNET was taken by Steve Earley, who is a professional photographer as well as a friend, and it shows.  We went sailing for a couple of hours on a day so lovely I hesitate to mention it, knowing what the weather is like for many of you in the east of this country and the west of the UK.
        Once out of the channel, the tiller pilot mostly steered and Steve was in nearly constant motion, finding angles from which to shoot which I would not have imagined.
        Back in Quivira Basin, I dropped Steve off at a fuel dock, perhaps needless to say GANNET’s first ever visit to that dock, and he walked to the top of the bridge.
        He took lots of photos and has posted some on his site:

        Steve said that while he was on GANNET, she did not feel small.  He sails an open boat, a Welsford Pathfinder, about the size of CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.  But from the bridge she did look small.
        Steve thanked me for taking him for a sail.  I thank him for taking such great photos.


        Last evening my cell phone died.  This is not a big deal.  It was a cheap Tracfone which I almost never use.  I am far from a Luddite, but I have never liked telephones.  
        I’ve not wanted to get an iPhone because I don’t want a contract.  I am aware that there are contract free plans, so I started to google them last evening, then thought, Why?  I got by very well without a telephone when I kept THE HAWKE OF TUONELA in New Zealand.  With Internet access I can Skype.  It is one less thing to have to carry around and keep charged.  The phone that died chirped annoyingly when its battery was low.  And it is always good to reduce weight on Moore 24s.  So I may rephone  and I may not.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

San Diego: unoared

        Going from the mound in the cockpit in the last post to the above was easier than I anticipated thanks to the well made Oceanbrake deployment bag.  This is an accessory, but, I think, almost essential to organize a very long line that has to run out cleanly.
        This is the intermediate stage.

        The white strips parallel to the edge are elastic sewn into 2” loops.
        This is not the entire assembly.  There are two 15’ bridle lines of huge diameter and with equally huge shackles to fit the hull attachment plates.  They are secured to an eye splice at the lower right hand corner of the photo.  And a 15 pound weight, which in GANNET’s case will be the Delta anchor, is shackled to the eye at the end of the line in the upper left.  This would be dropped overboard first and all the rest should seamlessly follow.
        Finding a place for the rolled deployment bag led to crunch time.  There is very little more to go onto GANNET, except provisions and possibly an emergency rudder, which is just as well because there is no more room.  Not quite literally true, but certainly no more room that I want to fill.
        I spent a couple of hours moving and removing stuff, finally finding a better way to stow the spinnaker pole and deciding that the 10’ oars had to go.  They are too big and too much in the way and, once I decided not to install a self-steering vane and to keep the Torqeedo, it is highly unlikely I will use them.  So I gave them away.  Not the first stuff I’ve given away and not the last.  
        I managed to fit the Spade anchor down below beside the Delta and will give away the 5 pound Danforth that came with GANNET.  And that won’t be the last either before I sail away.


        If you’ve visited the tracking page,

you will have found the Yellowbrick dutifully sending up position reports every twelve hours as directed.  As I mentioned, I’ve set the time to UTC, the politically correct abbreviation for what was GMT when the Royal Navy was the most powerful force on the planet, so the updates are a few seconds after 0000 and 1200 UCT.  San Diego is -8 UCT, so this is 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. here.
        As presumably you have discovered, the yellow circle with a black center marks the latest position.  Clicking on it brings up a box with the time of the position, Lat./Long., air temperature, altitude.  If you zoom in close enough blue dots indicate past positions and when clicked upon bring up the same details.
        It has been interesting to see the positions move about the slip.  As I write the latest at 12:00:06 UTC today is closest to the actual position of the Yellowbrick, only about three feet away.
        Most of the information given is within acceptable parameters.  The Yellowbrick is about 1 meter above sea level.  However, some air temperature readings at the 00.00.00 position are considerably too high.  One showed 30°C, which is 86°, and it hasn’t been nearly that hot.  I expect that the late afternoon sun shining directly on the nearly stationary unit heats it beyond the true air temperature.
        I haven’t checked the battery usage yet and don’t plan to for a week or two.

Friday, February 7, 2014

San Diego: Yellowbricked; drogued; anchored

        The United Kingdom’s weather has made the news which is never a good thing, not only in the UK, but on the west side of the Atlantic in a long article in the NY TIMES.  Floods last year were said to be one hundred year floods.  If so, time flies, for this year’s floods are worse.
        Several photos have been sent to me by readers in what one calls the ‘South Wet of England’.  I think this dramatic one of Porthleven came from Tim.  I thank them all.
        With continued climate change, boat handling skills may be at a premium.


        I replaced the Weems and Plath barometer with the Ambient Weather, which presently shows the temperature to be 76°F/24.4°C.  I could say I’m sorry about that to my fellow flatlanders, but I’d be lying.  Rain did patter pleasantly on the deck for a brief while last night, but today is sunny.

        I also mounted the Yellowbrick on the stern pulpit and turned it on. 
I sent up one position and have it set to do so at twelve hour intervals in order to test battery life.
        You can see where GANNET is at:

        If you zoom in you will see a different boat.  I believe they use Goggle maps and that is an old image.  That is the right slip.

        The clutter in the cockpit is the Jordan drogue.  By itself it is not so heavy.  Other items, including stainless steel hull attachment plates--visible on the lower left--were in the package.  It is going to take a while to sort out.  My first impression is that the workmanship is first rate and everything is on a very big scale for GANNET.  Intended to be used in extreme weather, it should be.

        The Spade anchor arrived this morning.  
        The shaft and the head come apart and are held together by a bolt.  Several years ago in New Zealand a boat was lost when the bolt loosened.  I believe the owner sued unsuccessfully.
        I saw the potential for a problem when I bought my first Spade and decided never to take the anchor apart.  I used Loctite on the nut and then covered it with epoxy putty.  I did the same with this Spade, which is also presently sitting in the cockpit.

        I’ve done enough today and am going to walk up and shower, then sit on deck and listen to music with a plastic of boxed wine.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

San Diego: with pleasure

        Chicago was a mess yesterday morning.  Only 6” of snow fell over night, but it was still falling as I went to the airport and the taxi slid around a bit.  My flight was delayed a couple of times, but finally took off and that is all that matters.  About a third of the seats were empty.  I had a row to myself.  Almost civilized.  Landing in San Diego, sunny, in the 60s, palm trees, boats sailing on the harbor, people in shorts, it was difficult to believe not just that San Diego is in the same country as Chicago, but that it is on the same planet.
        My messenger bag proved a success.
        Needing a coat in Chicago, I did not bother with the vest, and did not, as one reader suggested, have 31 pockets full of gadgets.  Only five of the coat’s seven, and several of those items, such as the Yellowbrick, are not going back with me.
        None of this weighed very much.  The MacBook Air at just under 3 pounds, the most.  The rest are hand sized.  
        I didn’t reach GANNET until just before sunset.  She is in fine shape and appeared to be cleaner than I expected, although when I scrubbed her deck this morning, considerable grime washed away.
        The two parts of my life are so unrelated—the only common element is me—that the transition is sometimes surprising.  Last night I found myself wondering what was in the blue bag on the port quarter berth, until I opened it and remembered that I bought a new waterproof food bag when I was last here.
        I leave enough on GANNET so I don’t have to make an immediate trip to the supermarket, but biked over this morning anyway to get fresh fruit and other essentials, including nuts and gin.  I know you’re wondering.  I have only an inch or two of Laphroaig, but the source for that is farther away and would take too much time.  Contrary to popular belief, I can live with Laphroaig.  For a while.
        Before scrubbing the deck, I bent on the furling jib.  This is always a hassle because wrinkles in the sailcloth over the luff rope stick in the foil.  Lots of trips from bow to winch and back.  Eventually the jib went up.  Usually I lower and stow it below when I return to Evanston, but I think that this time, expecting to be away only two months, I’ll leave it in place.
        I also returned the bow sprit to the deck, which enabled me to restore order to the cabin.
        However, the Jordan drogue has arrived.  Quick trip.  It was shipped from England last Friday.
        I have not yet opened the package, but it is bigger and very much heavier than I expected.  I’m not sure where I will stow it.  Perhaps in the cockpit during passages.
        The dock around GANNET was relatively clean, and the sea lions have for the present taken up residence elsewhere.  None even out on the bait barge.  I did startle a black crowned night heron when I stood up in the companionway this morning.  I apologized as he flapped away.
        Hosing the deck established that I still have a leak around the forward hatch.  Sigh.
        Although I was hot while scrubbing the deck and the sun is shining now, rare rain is predicted for tonight. 
        Being here is great in many different ways, chief among them living mostly outside again—even though I’m writing in The Great Cabin, hatches behind and ahead of me—I’m facing aft—are open, and I can feel the wind on my back and see the sky; and to be no longer dormant.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Evanston: gone?

        I have just completed my duties as Carol’s housekeeper.  Bathrooms Sunday.  Dusting and vacuuming Monday.  Kitchen and hardwood floors today.  However, another snow storm is due to reach Chicago this afternoon and extend into tomorrow morning, adding another 5” or 6”/12-15 cm to the 51.7”/1.31 meters that has already fallen this winter.  Last year at the same date we had only 6” total for the season.  My chances of getting out of here tomorrow are chancy.

        I have been asked what I am taking back to GANNET, and the answer is not much.  That might seem odd when time is getting short before my departure, but I think that when I go out in early May I will take the train.  I want to see parts of the country I haven’t for a long time and feel the distance as one doesn’t in the air, and consider what has happened since I drove that way in June 1963.  A pilgrimage to the monastery of the sea for what is probably my last long voyage.  (Though if I’m still around and healthy in 2021, don’t bet against my giving it another go in my 80s.)  If I do take the train, baggage is not a problem.  
         In addition to the usual things I carry back and forth, such as laptop, iPad, iTouch and two Sony pocket cameras,
I am taking with me the Yellowbrick and its rail mount;  an Ambient Weather weather station; and a BearExtender wi-fi antenna.             
        Having downsized laptop and iPad, and gone from noise canceling earphones to noise canceling ear buds, I am hoping to fit everything in my purse, a.k.a.messenger bag, and pockets, and not need any overhead space on the plane.  I have pockets.  In addition to the 24 pockets in the Scottevest, there are another 7 in the gamekeeper coat I’ve travelled with in the past.  I may not even need the vest.  My iPad was too big for the coat’s pockets, but the iPad mini fits easily.
        The Ambient Weather is to replace the Weems and Plath barometer which was a mistake.  Temperature is difficult to read on it and the barometer itself has proven less accurate than those in my two sailing watches.  I had an Ambient Weather on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA.  Whether it will survive on GANNET remains to be seen.  
        I also had a BearExtender on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA.  It proved essential in connecting to the Internet from my Opua mooring.
        The Jordan drogue and Spade anchor are being shipped directly to San Diego and are already on the way, as is a waterproof Pelican case for the MacBook Air.
        I will be buying other waterproof cases and bags while in San Diego, but need to see what fits where and take measurements first.
        I’m leaving behind the Columbia Omni-Heat fleece and pants; the bivy; the ratcheting screwdriver; and some excellent knives given to me by another Moore owner who also owns a knife company.

        I very much hope that the next entry is headed ‘San Diego.’  But I am not confident. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Evanston: cabin fever; weather sites and apps

        Cabin fever has become pandemic.  Cases are reported as far away as England.  Here in the frozen flatlands, the ailment is nearly universal, particularly among sailors.  Jay treated his symptoms productively, producing the signal flags above last weekend on a borrowed Sailrite sewing machine.  His next project will be a staysail.
        Arranging the flags against the snow on a windy morning, Jay got the shot just before half of them blew askew.  The photo is the image he wanted.  Capturing the vision you see in your mind is rare.  I like it, and thank Jay for permission to share the photo with you.
        I don’t read signal flags, but I would not be surprised if these are part of an affirmation:
        “You can never hold back spring.”


        Admiral Halsey who lost ships in a typhoon whose position he could not determine with all the resources of a wartime navy in 1944, would have given anything to have a fraction of the information available to everyone on the Internet today. 
        There are myriad weather sites and apps.  Here are the ones I view on a daily basis when ashore.
        Earth wind map.  Since this appeared a few weeks ago, I’ve observed that there is almost always a serious low in the Gulf of Alaska and another just west of the United Kingdom.  Also that the Southern Ocean has been relatively tranquil so far this year.
        As you may know, but I did not until a reader, David, told me, clicking on any point on the map brings up a box with Latitude, Longitude, wind direction and speed in kilometers per hour.
        U.S. Wind map.  This has been around longer than the Earth wind map and is only in black and white.  I view the Earth map in the morning; the U.S. map in the afternoon.
        iPad apps:
        Living Earth displays a globe which can be configured to show clouds, wind, temperature, humidity in near real time.  I have mine set to clouds.  
        There is a useful icon that pinpoints and details tropical storms.  At the moment there are none in the world.
        WeatherMap+ usually opens focused on Sweden, its country of origin, but can easily be expanded to the entire world or another small region.  It has overlays for temperature, precipitation, wind, barometric pressure, and all of the above, which on a world view is rather cluttered.
        BuoyData is really ugly, but really useful if you are interested in waters covered by NOAA buoys.  About the only option is to set the radius for “nearby buoys”.  I have mine at 200 miles, and by clicking on that icon I immediately see wind speed and direction of all NOAA buoys within that distance, starting with the closest, which for our condo is 9.28 miles out in Lake Michigan.
        You can set favorites and also search by map or region.
        Tide data is also available.
        WindfinderPro.  Set your favorites and at a glance you know the weather, temperature and wind for all of them.  You can also check forecasts and search by map, proximity, country, name.

        Some of the apps are free.  Some cost a negligible amount that I am glad to pay.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Evanston: peace

        Most of the 65 Reuters Pictures of the Month for January on their iPad app are of human violence—in the Central African Republic, the Ukraine, Syria, the West Bank, Kashmir, Mexico, a 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz; one of our violence toward nature, hunting dolphin in Japan; others are of natural violence—an Indonesian volcano; floods in England; snow in Atlanta.
        A more representative image is of nature being violent to itself:  a sea gull attacking a dove released in St. Peter’s square during a prayer by Pope Francis; but I prefer the one above of a Japanese Macaque in a hot spring.  Only he seems to have found peace.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Evanston: remote

        In THE GUARDIAN this morning I read of a man perhaps adrift for sixteen months in a 24’/7.3 meter fiberglass power boat, the same size as GANNET but certainly less seaworthy.  
        Reportedly he stayed alive by catching fish and sea turtles with his bare hands.  A companion died at sea.  The article says the boat drifted 8,000 miles from Mexico to the Marshall Islands, but the Pacific Ocean isn’t that wide.  I measure the distance as about 5,000 miles.  The currents would easily have carried him that far in sixteen months; but initial information is sketchy and may not be accurate.  You can read the full story here.
        I am pleased to learn that remote is now defined as having only one telephone and, gasp, no Internet.  A place so isolated that only birds tweet.
        In the 1970s, it was possible to make overseas telephone calls from Papeete, Tahiti, only from the main Post Office and only at certain times of the day.    A roof top antenna was moved by hand to point variously at Australia, Asia and the United States.
        Even as late as 1978 it was not possible to make a telephone call from The Marquesas Islands, or else Suzanne and I would not have been divorced the first time.
        Twelve years later, in 1990, the French had put up satellites that enabled the locals to receive European television, including MTV, and the Polynesian kids were all trying to look like Michael Jackson, an equal opportunity image achievable by all sexes.
        When I was last there in 2009, the anchorage at Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, was covered by a wi-fi signal.
        So, no Internet = remote.