Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Evanston: ordered; fire

        Accompanied by a Wagnerian thunderclap, which seemed excessive, a modest trumpet fanfare would have been enough, but I don’t manage sound effects, I pressed the ‘submit order’ button on Campmor’s site yesterday and 145 packages of freeze dry meals will soon be on their way to San Diego.
        Two of the items on my list, one of the wrap fillings and sweet and sour pork, were not available, so I ordered a few more of others.  
        Because each pack of Santa Fe Chicken makes two meals, this is a total of 152 dinners.
        $905, after a bulk discount of $145, was about what I expected, at an average cost of $5.95 per meal.  There are cheaper alternatives, but, barring damage to the boat, months spent as sea are inexpensive, and, for me, the convenience in provisioning and minimal preparation and clean-up are well worth the added expense.
        I also ordered several cheap duffle bags to help organize stowage.  This was guesswork.  I’m not sure exactly how I’ll use them.
        And I placed the order with JetBoil for a case of twenty-four 230 gram fuel canisters.  This is the middle size and best suited to GANNET.

        James from San Diego sent me a link to a news item:  Sailboat destroyed by fire in Mission Bay.  The article stated that the fire was at Driscoll’s Marina and the boat 24’ long.  Hmm.
        Not having heard from the marina, I assumed that it was not GANNET.  However, almost all small boats are on A dock and I could not recall many that are 24’ long.  
        I called Driscoll this morning.  The fire was on B dock.
        However, I did come awake in the middle of the night thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with all that freeze dry food?”

Monday, April 28, 2014

Evanston: El Nino?; the divorce rate for birds; SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

        I first read of a probable strong El Nino this year in the NEW ZEALAND HERALD.  A little research reveals that the probability is high. 
        What this means varies by location; but for me it may mean weaker than usual or even reversed trade winds.  
        If you view the Earth Wind Map as I do each morning, you will have already observed rather weak trades and a substantial gap between them.  Heading to Hawaii first, I will be crossing the Equator in the Pacific more than a thousand miles father west than I ever have before.  GANNET doesn’t need much wind to keep moving; but she does need some.


        If I were a bird, I reasonably could expect to be an albatross.
        Except for that divorce rate.


        Saturday evening we watched SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.  
        If you saw it when it was first released in 1998, as we did, but not since,  I highly recommend you do so again.  It is an immensely entertaining movie with a superb cast.  Peerless.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Evanston: the consolation of water

As she squatted at the end of the wharf, as far from the city as possible, waiting for the others to return, an ocean swell lapped at the pilings and Mai understood the consolation of water.

        You of course recognize that from shadows.  Well, perhaps not.
        I thought of it while reading a fine article in the May issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC about the River Seine in Paris.
        Among the craft on the river is the ADAMANT, a floating psychiatric clinic launched four years ago.

        From the first day aggression evaporated.  Why?  No one can explain, clinic director Jean-Paul Hazan says.
        “Perhaps,” suggests Jacqueline Simonnet, the head nurse, “it’s the rocking of the boat.”
        “These are very sick patients,” Hazan says, “but there has been no violence.”  He pauses, “I think it’s changed us too, but I can’t say how.”
        The layout is open.  The space ‘fluide’.  Glass erases the divide between inside and out.
        It also, metaphorically at least, blurs the boundary between ‘them’ and ‘us’—between the mentally ill and the presumably normal.  “We’re all in the same boat,” GĂ©rard Ronzatti, the architect who designed the ADAMANT, told me.

       You and I already knew the power of water.  And that, if not in the same boat, then swimmers together.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Evanston: variations on a theme

        I like variations on a theme; perhaps because my life has been.  Certainly I have created more variations on a voyage than most.
        The above photo came from Zane in New Zealand who happened across it on someone else’s website.   I thank him.   The gimbaled backstay radar mount broke in the Indian Ocean in 2008 and was never replaced, so the photo dates before that.
        I think THE HAWKE OF TUONELA looks nice.  She shares with GANNET an uncluttered deck, as did all of my boats, except CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE who had no deck at all.  You can’t get more uncluttered than that.
        One of my favorite comments, which I took as a supreme compliment, was made when some people on another boat passed near RESURGAM while she was on a mooring in Sydney, Australia.  We were down below with the hatches open and heard one man say, “That boat’s sailed around the world.”  Another replied incredulously, “Really?  She doesn’t have enough stuff on her.”
        THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was only of moderate size, but as Zane points out, she would dwarf GANNET.
        Hopefully before the end of the year, I will have a photo of GANNET in the exact same location.


        I was formed in part by epics of ancient Greece and the opening of the American West.  Although the apposite Gateway Arch had not been built when I was a child, Saint Louis was a good place to consider the latter.  My mind went down the Mississippi to the Gulf; but even more it went west to the ocean.
        I read books about the West and I read the Greek epics.  I wondered, as the young must, if I could have done what people, real and mythical, in those books did; though in time as those of you who have visited the poetry page know, I chose to be measured by the ocean.
        I have no idea how many times I’ve read THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY in various translations or variations on them.  They are still being written, including by me, and I just finished reading for the second time one of the most recent and cleverest.
        First published in 2007, THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY, by Zachary Mason, claims in a brief preface to be a translation of a papyrus fragment recovered from a rubbish heap, containing forty-four variations on what has become accepted as the standard version.  Mason suggests that this is the freezing of what was fluid and multifaceted.
        The alleged papyrus provides us with quite different possibilities of Ulysses’s voyage, his homecoming, encounter with the Cyclops, Calypso, Circe, the Trojan War itself, and his old age, when in the last fragment, “Last Islands”, he and his men set out to retrace their journey and visit destroyed Troy, where they do not find what they expect, but Ulysses does find a kind of peace.
        There is a pretty good review of a second edition of Mason’s book, published in 2010, at the NY TIMES, with which I do not entirely agree and find a bit too glib.  I also think it reveals too much that is better left to be enjoyed in reading and so have not provided a link.
        THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY is short.  I read it in two sittings on successive days with great pleasure, and I expect that in time I will do so again.

       I also reread last evening Carl Sandberg’s ‘Chicago’ which appeared in POETRY magazine one hundred years ago last month.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Evanston: bicycle: ride and THIEF

        Yesterday was beautiful and warm, so I dusted off our bicycles and we took the first ride of the year along the lake to Northwestern and back. Of course, everyone else wanted to be outside too after this winter of discontent, and it was no surprise that the bicycle path was a slalom course of pedestrians, children, dog walkers, and the oblivious.
        In certain light Lake Michigan looks like a tropical lagoon.  It isn’t.  One intrepid windsurfer was on his board.  It was not a day to fall off.  Only a few weeks ago that water was frozen; and it is still killing cold.
        People sitting on the grass at Northwestern
reminded me of Seurat’s, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”,
which hangs in the Art Institute twelve miles south.  But after I looked at the painting online, that’s a stretch.
        What looks to be land beyond the windsurfer is a cloud bank.  Michigan is fifty miles distant. 

        How I had never seen THE BICYCLE THIEF,  a film on everybody’s all time greatest lists and one almost as old as I, is inexplicable.  On Friday, two days before our bike ride, I finally did.
        Directed by Vittorio de Sica in 1948, THE BICYCLE THEIF is a memorable, thought provoking, troubling film with many images that remain in the mind.
        The plot is simple.
        In post-WWII Rome dozens of men wait outside a labor exchange seeking work.  A clerk comes down exterior steps and calls two names.  One is Antonio, but the job requires a bicycle.  He says he has one, but in fact it has been pawned.
        Antonio’s wife takes the sheets off their bed and pawns them so the bicycle can be reclaimed.
        On his first day on the job, pasting movie posters to walls, the bicycle is stolen.  
        Antonio, his young son, Bruno, and some friends, search Rome for the thief.
        I’m not going to refer you to any reviews, all of which are outstanding and most of which give away the ending.  And advise you not to check Wikipedia where the plot is accurately summarized in detail.
        If you like movies, this deserves its rank among the great ones.  
        I watched streamed from Netflix.  I believe it is also shown on Turner Classic Movies.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Evanston: dinner for the rest of the year

        When I return to GANNET in a little over two weeks, I have only to install the gudgeons for the emergency rudder and the chaffing plates for the Jordan drogue bridle shackles, provision and reconfigure the interior into passage mode.
        Ruddercraft has confirmed that the rudder will be shipped to arrive on or about May 6.
        A week from tomorrow I will place orders to be shipped directly to San Diego for freeze dry food and some extra duffle bags from CampMor and a 24 canister case of fuel from JetBoil.
        The title of this post is a slight exaggeration, but only slight.
        I’ve been considering the list of acceptable meals that I posted in January.  Since then I’ve experimented with a few new ones and rejected all except Natural High’s Beef Teriyaki.  This brings the total to twenty-two.
        Although I will eat ashore occasionally, I want to have aboard enough to  last me from San Diego to New Zealand, five months, 150 meals.
        While it has been my practice in the past to limit myself to fourteen different dinners and repeat every two weeks, this time I’m going to order seven each of nineteen of the meals, and four each of the Backpacker Pantry Chicken Salad Wrap and of the Mountain House Chicken Fajita Wrap, which are very similar, and of the Backpacker Pantry Chicken Vindaloo, which provides a welcomed change but is almost too thirst inducing spicy for a passage where fresh water is limited.
        If you do the math, you will find this comes to 145 meals, but as I noted in January, each packet of Santa Fe Chicken makes two dinners, so the real total is 152.
        Breakfast, as almost invariably ashore or at sea, will be uncooked oatmeal, trail mix, fruit—fresh ashore and in the early days of a passage, then dried, powered milk and water; juice; two cups of black coffee.
        I’ve determined that a container of Quaker Oats lasts me exactly two weeks.
        Lunch will vary some.  Canned fish, chicken, crackers.  Cheese.  Hummus while it lasts.  Maybe salami, though not as frequently as in the past.
        I used to have a can of Coke in mid-afternoon during passages as added liquid, but have lost my taste for soft drinks and now usually have a can of beer, though I seldom drink beer ashore.
        There will almost always be a drink at sunset.
        And there will be a bottle of Laphroaig aboard as long as I can find a source of supply.
        As I noted after being adrift when CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE pitchpoled in the South Pacific, if I ever get to the point of having only one last drink before I die, I want it to be something better than Coca-Cola.
        I’ve been asked about a specific departure date.
        I don’t have one.
        I have given notice to Driscoll that I’ll be out of the slip by May 31.  
        I expect I will be a week or two earlier than that.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Evanston: words; disclaimer

        Probably still under the influence of Ambrose Bierce and certain items recently in the news, I recalled my definition of royalty:  a mediocrity, or worse, with an ancestor who was the biggest brigand when the music stopped.
        Some of you will also remember:  a military genius:  a general of average intelligence whose opponent is retarded.

        Among the most misused words today is ‘adventure’.  ‘Hero’, ‘courage’, and ‘epic’ are not far behind.
        I’ve received several emails recently from friends wishing me well on my coming adventure.
        For many setting out on a voyage would be an adventure; but I am most definitely hoping not to have one.  To paraphrase the quote from Bilbo Baggins I used in the front pages of THE OPEN BOAT:  Adventures are nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner.
        If I have any adventures they will be totally unintentional.  I’m just going sailing.

        An article of mine about preparing GANNET is in the May issue of CRUISING WORLD.
        I’m not sure when I wrote it.  For that matter they might have cobbled a couple of my pieces together under a title that if you know me, know I would never have used.   What most struck me is how out of date it is.  How much more I have done and GANNET has evolved.  
        They pay me for these things on acceptance and then run them whenever.  The longest delay I can recall is an article about visiting Lord Howe Island in the Tasman I wrote in 1987 that appeared a circumnavigation later when I was there again in 1991.
        I've spent much of my life waiting for the world to catch up.  I'm beginning to doubt it ever will.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Evanston: the bloodiest month; the highest paid; the perfect novel

        One hundred and fifty years ago the Civil War was moving toward its bloodiest month:  May 1864.  There was no single battle equal to Gettysburg or Chickamauga; but after Grant crossed the Rapidan River on May 4, fighting was almost continuous in what has become known as the Overland Champaign.  By the time it was over, the armies had sustained more than 100,000 casualties, and Lee was besieged in Petersburg.
        In the U.S. version of HOUSE OF CARDS, Frank Underwood, a Southerner meditating on the death of an ancestor who died fighting for the South, declares that Grant was a ‘butcher’ who prevailed only because he had more men.
        That is not the opinion of historians without a regional bias, who find Lee and Grant equal.  Grant persistently outflanked and outmaneuvered Lee, sliding always east, forcing Lee to follow to protect Richmond, until finally Lee could not avoid checkmate. 
        The siege and the war dragged on for almost another year.  Photographs of the trenches around Petersburg are reminiscent of those in WWI, which started one hundred years ago.  Wonderful anniversaries:  we are quite a species.


        Something called ‘sportingintelligence’, which might be an oxymoron, recently published their annual list of teams with the highest average starting team pay.  Clicking on the list will enlarge it.
        Some of my fellow Americans will be surprised to learn that seven of the top twelve teams play what we call ‘soccer.’  That being my favorite sport, I was not.
        I do find it interesting that four of these teams are from England’s Premier League, two from Spain, and one from Germany.  Considering the money they have been spending, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Paris Saint-Germain to be included in coming years.
        At least in soccer/football you get what you pay for:  with the exception of Man. U., which is having an off year, these are the best teams in Europe.
        In other sports, not so much.
        Two are American baseball teams:  the Yankees and the Dodgers.  The Yankees always have big payrolls and the Dodgers just gave a pitcher a fortune.  He promptly was injured.
        The biggest surprises are the three American basketball teams, none of whom are top contenders.    
        I couldn’t figure out why the Chicago Bulls made the list, until I remembered that a couple of years ago they gave Derrik Rose a hundred million dollar contract.  He has been injured ever since.


        I finished reading FAR TORTUGA this morning, and I am filled with admiration.
        Peter Matthiessen died on April 5 at age 86.  
        I read several of his books a long time ago, including THE SNOW LEOPARD and AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD.  I thought I had read FAR TORTUGA, but I hadn’t.
        The story is of a crew of men who go from the Cayman Islands to the cays and reefs off Guatemala and Honduras to catch sea turtles.  While I don’t recall that any exact time is given, there is a reference to the 1962 “Bay of Pigs” fiasco, and the novel was first published in 1975, so one can place it between those dates.
        I am a very tough audience for sea stories.  
        Matthiessen gets it all right:  the men; their minds; actions; speech; the sea; the land; the weather; the boats; the birds; the turtles. 
        I’m still thinking about it, but FAR TORTUGA is as good as writing gets.  It might even be perfect.

        The temperature at noon is 58°F/14.5°C.
        The snow has melted. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Evanston: weather report

        80° and snow.
        The 80°F/26.6°C was Saturday.  The snow yesterday.
        Briefly on Friday, Evanston, San Diego and Auckland were all the same temperature:  67°F/19.5°C.  
        Above the view from our living room when I woke this morning.
        Below a few hours later. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Evanston: speed

        The above shows the results of the Double Handed Lightship Race in San Francisco Bay that took place on April 5.  
        Results are based on corrected time, applying a rating to elapsed time.  The higher the rating, theoretically the slower the boat.
        The three Moore 24s were the smallest boats and had the highest ratings in the fleet of 29 starters, 28 finishers, yet finished 1-3 on corrected time and within one minute of one another.
        Even more impressively to me are their elapsed times.   Boat for boat two of the Moores finished ahead of all but five in the fleet and the third ahead of all but six, including some fast and much bigger boats.
        Karl Robrock, the skipper of SNAFU, tells me that his maximum speed was 15.7 knots recorded by GPS.
        On another page about the race I saw that the course was 25 miles long.  Dividing that by elapsed time, the Moores’ VMG (velocity made good) was 5.84 knots.  The boats would have sailed more than the minimum course distance, so their speed through the water would have been greater than that.  And I am told there was a period of light wind and drifting during the race.
        All of which reenforces how difficult it is to average six knots for an entire ocean passage on a boat of moderate size.  
        Although I’ve always had boats that sail well, and as some of you will recall once held the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull,  I think I’ve only done it once, on RESURGAM crossing the Atlantic from Portugal to Antigua in 1989.  It is less a matter of going fast, than avoiding going slow and/or to windward.
        I’ve never owned a boat capable of the speed of a Moore 24.
        EGREGIOUS, RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, all easily reached 8 knots, but only rarely went much faster.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE occasionally pegged her knotmeter at 10 knots downwind in gale conditions, but her best 24 hour runs were between 145 and 150 miles, more than respectable for an 18’ open boat with 132 square feet of sail.
        GANNET is certainly capable of thousand mile weeks—a 6 knot average is 1008 miles a week—and while I do not race others, I sometimes race myself, as I ended up doing on my fifth circumnavigation (I won), and one of the things that interests me about the coming voyage is whether I can make passages faster in GANNET than in my previous boats.  Also if she can bring off a rare 200 mile day.
        The limitation may be steering.  I am not going to sit at the tiller for hours, and if the tiller pilot can’t control the little sloop while surfing, I’ll have to back off.
        I’m looking forward to finding out.
        This is not about time.  It makes little difference if I complete an ocean passage a day or two faster or slower.  But about the quality of the experience, of feeling a boat sailing as well as she can.

        My congratulations to the crews of all three Moore 24s for their fine performance.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Evanston: 'A Capitol Ship'

        That we are taking the train to the sea caused a reader to remember a sea chanty that her father used to sing.  She sings it still.
        The most relevant lyrics are:

        I’m off for the morning train
        to cross the raging main.
        I’m off to my love with a boxing glove
        10,000 miles away.

        Three weeks from today we will actually be off on an afternoon train.  Sans boxing glove.  My love will be with me.  And I expect to sail more than 10,000 miles.  Details.  The spirit is right, and I thank Nancy for bringing “A Capital Ship” to my attention.
        The full lyrics are below.  If they remind you of Lewis Carroll, they should because the author, Charles E. Caryll, an American businessman who was born a hundred years before I and died in 1920, wrote, among other things, DAVY AND THE GOBLIN:  OR WHAT FOLLOWED AFTER READING, ‘ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND.’
A Capital Ship
Charles E. Caryll

            A capital ship for an ocean trip
            Was the "Walloping Window Blind"
            No wind that blew dismayed her crew
            Or troubled the captain's mind
            The man at the wheel was made to feel
            Contempt for the wildest blow-ow-ow
            Tho' it oft appeared when the gale had cleared
            That he'd been in his bunk below

            So, blow ye winds, heigh-ho
            A-roving I will go
            I'll stay no more on England's shore
            So let the music play-ay-ay
            I'm off for the morning train
            To cross the raging main
            I'm off to my love with a boxing glove
            10,000 miles away

            The bos'un's mate was very sedate
            Yet fond of amusement too
            He played hop-scotch with the starboard watch
            While the captain tickled the crew
            The gunner he was apparently mad
            For he sat on the after ra-ra-rail
            And fired salutes with the captain's boots
            In the teeth of a booming gale

            The captain sat on the commodore's hat
            And dined in a royal way
            Off pickles & figs & little roast pigs
            And gunners bread each day
            The cook was Dutch and behaved as such
            For the diet he served the crew-ew-ew
            Was a couple of tons of hot-cross buns
            Served up with sugar and glue

            Then we all fell ill as mariners will
            On a diet that's rough and crude
            And we shivered and shook as we dipped the cook
            In a tub of his gluesome food
            All nautical pride we cast aside
            And we ran the vessel asho-o-ore
            On the Gulliby Isles where the poopoo smiles
            And the rubbily ubdugs roar

            Composed of sand was that favored land
            And trimmed with cinnamon straws
            And pink and blue was the pleasing hue
            Of the ticke-toe teaser's claws
            We sat on the edge of a sandy ledge
            And shot at the whistling bee-ee-ee
            While the rugabug bats wore waterproof hats
            As they dipped in the shining sea

            On rugabug bark from dawn till dark
            We dined till we all had grown
            Uncommonly shrunk when a Chinese junk
            Came up from the Torrible Zone
            She was stubby and square, but we didn't much care
            So we cherrily put to sea-ea-ea
            And we left all the crew of the junk to chew
            On the bark of the rubabug tree.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Evanston: open windows; packed

        Windows are open.  The first time this year.  This is a very big deal.  Even though the sky is overcast and it may soon rain and I’ll have to close them.
        I look down from our balcony and find buds on the limbs of the tree below.  Also, on a tree closer to the street, an indestructible plastic bag
that has effortlessly survived this most severe winter.
        Soon boats will be budding in Lake Michigan marinas.  But not quite yet.  North Point Marina sailing friends who are always among the first in the water and the last out, went up to Skipper Buds last weekend and anti-fouled and waxed the hull.  They intended to launch yesterday, but found ice floes still blocking the fairway.  Another week might not seem much; but it is to those who have been longing to be back on the water for months.


        For me time is accelerating, now that it is short.  There is increasing, not exactly excitement, but pleasant tension, a sense of heightened awareness, as felt by an athlete before a big event.
        On work days Carol’s alarm goes off at 5:30.  I, who do not like to be awakened by alarms, almost always wake up earlier.  These past few mornings I’ve come awake at 4, lay in bed for ten or twenty minutes, going over in my mind what I still have left to do, both here and in San Diego.  (This is not a contradiction of my recently noting that I had reduced my immediate to do list to zero.)   I do have to place orders for freeze dry food and JetBoil fuel about a week before we leave and a few other things.  
        This morning a rolling duffle bag I ordered to take gear on the train.  Several days ago I arranged the stuff I’ve collected:  waterproof bags and boxes, tarp, mesh snorkelingl gear bag, prescription face mask, some knives given to me that I could never take on airplanes, extra eneloop batteries, Zebralight, a backup Tripp Lite inverter, courtesy flags, watch cap, spare Torqeedo propeller, Columbia Omni-Heat fleece jacket, pants and gloves, two new pair of Levis; and measured to determine if it would all fit in the smaller of two sizes of rolling duffles available.  
        The bag was delivered at 11.  
        I had it packed by noon.  
        This is early, even for me.
        We don’t leave for three weeks and two days.
        Maybe I’m eager.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Evanston: a plague; a bottle; tides; an update

        Two readers wrote to ask what I think about the U. S. Navy ‘rescuing’ a family with small children  from a sailboat 900 miles off Mexico, particularly wondering why the husband did not remain aboard even if his wife and children needed to be removed.
        My response:

I saw a report on this on the evening news and it caused me to change station halfway though.  I disliked it on several levels:  the way the press handled it; that the man left the boat--in doing so he proved he shouldn't have been out there; a question as to whether the 'rescue' was even necessary; and the reported outrage expressed in 'social media' that a family would go offshore with small children.  A plague on all their houses.


        In THE GUARDIAN today is a piece about a message in a bottle being found in The Baltic 101 years after it was cast there and delivered to the granddaughter of the man who did so.
        Think of it bobbing since 1913, the year before WWI began.  Of all the ships and boats that passed.  All the people who lived and loved and fought and died on the surrounding land.  
        Ah, if only that bottle could talk.


        I am indebted to Jim on the west coast for a link to dramatic low tide/high tide photos along the British Coast.

        When I went back to check out Steve Earley’s photo that I added yesterday to the GANNET page, I realized that the paragraph above it needed updating, which has been done. 
        And will soon need to be done again.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Evanston: terrifying?; a Republican?; reduced; photo added

        I’ve watched it several times and find the patterns fascinating, particularly the echoes bouncing back toward the source and the confusion when the leading waves reach islands and shallower water as off New Zealand.
        Also interesting is that someone who has clearly been spending way too much time staring at artificial displays and has totally lost contact with the real world labels this ‘terrifying.’  
        I agree with Wayne that ‘terrific’ is better.


        They could lead to the conclusion that Barack Obama is a Republican.

        I have reduced the items on my immediate ‘to do’ list to zero by deciding not to do them.  This is efficient, effective, and satisfying.


        I added the above Steve Earley photo, for which I thank him, to the GANNET page.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Evanston: Ronnie Simpson update; Ambrose Bierce; 'W'; 'Y'.

        I emailed Ronnie yesterday and received a response this morning.  I also received from John a link that provides more details of the dismasting for which I thank him.
        I do not recall if Ronnie has a radio on MONGO, but I do know that he has an iPhone and was close enough to shore to telephone for assistance.
        In his email Ronnie said that he has found and bought a used mast that he can modify and is looking for a mainsail so he can keep going.  I wish him well.
        For those of you wondering, I am in agreement with Ambrose Bierce’s prescient definition of telephones included in Wednesday’s post and have yet to replace mine.  I do have aboard GANNET a handheld VHF with a range of eight or ten miles used to communicate with officials on entering foreign ports.


        I finished THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY yesterday.  Some definitions from ‘W’ and ‘Y’ are found below.  The dictionary does not include any words beginning with ‘X’ and I didn’t find any of those beginning with ‘Z’ of sufficient charm.
        The entire dictionary is worth reading.  There are many words I did not include here because the definitions are too long.  I recommend reading it as I did one letter a day.  Project Gutenberg has THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY available as a free download  in several formats.
        Ambrose Bierce deserves a greater reputation than he has, both as a wit, where he ranks near Mark Twain, and as a short story teller.  His CIVIL WAR STORIES are among the very best.
        Bierce disappeared in Mexico during the Revolution, and is the subject of a good novel, OLD GRINGO, by Carlos Fuentes, which was made into a pretty good film starring Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda, and a young Jimmy Smits.  
        I read the novel a long time ago.  We rewatched the film recently and found it entertaining, though in places a bit incoherent.


        Wall Street:  a symbol of sin for every devil to rebuke. 

        war:  a by-product of the arts of peace. 

        webb:  an old sailor who was the World Wide Web when Bill Gates was still poor.  (Some authorities doubt that this definition was written by Ambrose Bierce.)

        wit:  the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out. 

        witch:  (1) any ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil.  (2)  a beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil. 

        worms’-meat: the finished product of which we are the raw material. 

        year:  a period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

        yesterday:  the infancy of youth, the youth of manhood, the entire past of age.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Evanston: dismasted; 'U'; 'V'

        If you followed Ronnie Simpson on his passage from San Diego to Hawaii aboard his Cal 2-27, you know that he made it to Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii, in twenty days.
        Four days later he left Hilo for an overnight sail to Maui.  On April 1 he set off again, but less than two hours later—if I interpret his positions correctly—sent a message from his tracking device:  MONGO dismasted off coast of Maui.  Trying to stabilize situation.  
        If you zoom in close enough and check the times, you will see that the map on his tracking page has connected the dots incorrectly.  What happened to him after the last position, about two hours after the dismasting, I do not know.  
        He was close to land, actually dangerously close when the mast came down, but his final position shows he had managed to move a bit farther from the shore.
        Losing your mast is a very big and expensive deal.  
        I assume he was uninsured.  Insurance companies have no interest in insuring solo sailors and old boats.
        When my rigging was coming unravelled on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, I estimated that losing the mast, rigging, furling gear, sails, would probably cost me at least $20,000, or about what I paid for the boat to begin with.  GANNET’s new mast, including what I paid the riggers, cost nearly as much as I paid for her.
        I trust that Ronnie and MONGO have made it back to the harbor.
        My thoughts and sympathy as a fellow sailor are with him.



            ultimatum:  in diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions. 

            uxoriousness:  a perverted affection that has strayed to one's own wife.  (I must admit that this is a word I did not know.) 

            valor:  a soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler’s hope. 

            vanity:  the tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass. 

            virtues:  certain abstentions. 

            vote:  the instrument and symbol of a free man's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.

       A month from right now we should be boarding the train to Los Angeles.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Evanston: listed; symmetries; 'Farewell to Florida'; 'T'

        I started to write:  As nature abhors a vacuum, I again have a list; but caught myself in time.  
        Nature, however defined, cannot ‘abhor’ anything.  Any more than seas can be ‘treacherous’, as a television talking head said of the area in the Southern Ocean being searched for the missing Malaysian airliner.  (And, naturally, he emphasized the 100’ waves.)  Or that mountains can  be ‘cruel’ as was claimed in the narration to a documentary we watched two evenings ago about a day when eleven climbers died on K2, the second highest mountain in the world.  Only people can be.
        The fallacy is pathetic in all meanings of the words.
        Readers of THE OPEN BOAT may recall my writing then, The sea is insensate, a blind fragment of the universe, and kills us not in rage, but with indifference, as casual byproducts of its own unknowable harmony. Rage would be easier to understand and to accept.
        Nevertheless with our return from Florida and the beginning of April, I do have a list.  Actually two.  Both short.
        I remembered that GANNET’s flares are about to reach expiration date and I have several details I need to take care in Evanston before I leave.
        So, again, ‘To Do’ and ‘To Buy.’  I felt the void.

        Symmetries.  Some chance.  Some intentional.
        As I have noted here before, when I sail next month on GANNET, I will be starting a few hundred yards/meters south of where I began the open boat voyage thirty-six years earlier, and heading out the same Mission Bay channel to the Pacific Ocean.
        When GANNET was being towed from Lake Michigan to San Diego in October 2012, she passed within a mile of the suburban Saint Louis home in which a half century earlier I had sat in my room, looking out over empty fields, dreaming of the ocean.
        Twenty years ago Carol and I had our picture taken standing on the stairs in the background of the second photo in Monday’s entry.  Last week we had another taken in the same place.
        And I just realized last evening that December 12 next year will be forty years since I first rounded Cape Horn.  Marking that anniversary in GANNET in those waters has a certain grace.  And the timing is right to sail from New Zealand.


        Also last evening I glanced through my newly downloaded Kindle edition of Wallace Stevens’ poems.  There were so many that are unfamiliar that I suspect that I had only selected poems before, not complete.
        I read a few whose titles caught my eye.
        You might enjoy, “Farewell to Florida.”


        So many photos have been taken recently showing me looking goofy that I have concluded that I do.  Sad.  Both that I do and that at my age I care.
        However, in an effort at damage control, I have just included one of the photos taken by Steve Earley on the Webb Chiles page of the photo section.



        take:  to acquire, frequently by force but preferably by stealth. 

        telephone:  an invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance. 

        telescope:  a device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. 

        truthful:  dumb and illiterate. 

        twice:  once too often.

        tsetse fly:  an African insect whose bite is commonly regarded as nature’s most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Evanston: Holgaed; order in Key West; 'S'

        The above photo which looks as though it dates from before I was born was in fact taken in February by Topher, a professional film maker who lives here in the flatlands, but visited GANNET while he was in California working on a project.  He is experimenting with with a Holga defined by Wikipedia as “a medium format 120 film camera, made in Hong Kong, known for its low-fidelity aesthetic.”
        I like it.  
        Thanks, Topher.


        My photos of Key West brought a link from Kim to the poem, “The Idea of Order in Key West” by Wallace Stevens that I must have read because I had a copy of his COLLECTED WORKS on HAWKE, but had forgotten.
        Stevens was probably the only poet ever to be vice president of an insurance company; certainly he was the best.
        I’m not sure I understand the poem—or any other of Stevens’, except, maybe, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”  But I like many of them, including “Key West” and thank Kim for the link     
        After reading it I bought a Kindle edition of Stevens’ poems.



            saint:  a dead sinner revised and edited. 

            saw:  a trite popular saying, or proverb. So-called because it makes its way into a wooden head. 

            Senate:  a body of elderly gentleman charged with high duties and misdemeanors. 

            sycophant:  one who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked.