Friday, January 29, 2016

Evanston: storms and typos

        Steve on Vancouver Island wrote me recently asking about how I handled storms at sea.  As you will see, I gained much more from our exchange than I gave. 

From me to Steve: 

I don't know that I have ever written about storm 'management' in one place.  I put the word in quotes because in retyping A SINGLE WAVE, I recently came across "Small storms you manage.  Big ones you merely hope to outlive."

What I have done in storms varies by the severity and the boat.  

In EGREGIOUS, RESURGAM, and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, a gale was not even a problem if the wind was aft of the beam, and only unpleasant if on the bow.

In really severe weather, Force 10 and above, and I've been in Force 12 at least eight times, given sea room, I went downwind under bare poles.  Sometimes the wind vane could steer,  A few times I steered myself.  And sometimes I lay ahull.

I only once tried to set a parachute anchor off the bow, and that was in a 55 knot storm near South Africa in RESURGAM.  The motion was very unsatisfactory and even with three layers of anti-chaffing gear, the line to the anchor chaffed through in a few hours.  I was actually glad to be rid of it.

With her yawl rig, CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, my 18' open boat, hove to better than any other boat I've owned.  Lower the main. Furl the jib.  Put the centerboard ⅔ down.  Tie the tiller amidship.  And flatten the mizzen which held the bow into the wind.  The only problem was that in this position in 50+ knot winds, the little boat went backwards very fast.

On GANNET, the ultralight Moore 24 which I am presently sailing, I have a Jordan drogue.  I've never used such a drogue, but respect the science of the late Professor Jordan.  Jordan drogues are set off the stern.  Here is a link to an entry about the massive plates I installed to connect the drogue.

I've been in a 45 knot gale in GANNET, but it was on the beam as I approached New Zealand and I did not use the drogue.  Instead I hand steered to get us in before the wind backed and headed us.

I don't think there is any 'right' solution to storms.  Different approaches may all work.  What is critical in really severe weather is chance over which a sailor has no control.  A thousand waves may pass uneventfully, and then one curls and breaks at precisely the right, or wrong, instant and your boat capsizes, as mine have several times.  In each instance they came back or I would not be writing this to you.

From Steve to me:

I had the chance to deploy my Jordan Series drogue 3 times: twice briefly, for less than 6 hrs each time, approaching Valdivia from Easter island in 2011, and then again for 3 days while approaching Adak in the Aleutians in June 2013.
What I learned is that I needn't wait for 'survival' conditions to deploy the drogue. It was easy to deploy and to recover, much more so than I had heard about.
In the 3 day gale near the Aleutians the wind obviously clocked around as the system moved over us so that we described a big 'U' shaped course over the 3 days. 
We drifted downwind at 1.5 to 1.8 knots. I expected that after the wind shifted we would be struck abeam by the old seas. Never seemed to happen enough to suffer a knockdown. There was a Bering Sea Crab boat not far away, that I met later in Dutch Harbor, who had hove-to , or jogged into the seas for the whole 3 days, unable to fish. They reported persistent 70 knot winds for much of the time.

We were actually pretty comfy. It was a boat I had built, a 36' steel boat with a submarine type dogged companion way hatch in a center cockpit, so the aft breaking seas were relatively harmless, although very noisy. The boat was shallow draft with twin keels, so probably didn't have an excess of stability for it's size, so I was pleased to not be knocked down/capsized. Ever, in 20 years on that boat.

I think that the Jordan Drogue is  a game-changer, especially in very small boats. But it is hard to accumulate enough data in this field.

Coincidentally, as I sailed towards the Aleutians I made SSB radio contact with another Canadian vessel with Greg aboard who was anchored at Adak. It turns out that he was just finishing up a 9 year high latitude circumnavigation. He had spent a couple of MONTHS at the Kerguelen Islands just looking at mosses and birds. Then he had a horrendous south Indian Ocean crossing in which he rode to his Jordan Drogue on 7 different occasions.

As our storm approached  in the Aleutians( seen on the Gribs), Greg and I would chat each morning. It was like prepping for a big game with a good coach!
I wondered at the time if there was anyone in the world with more Jordan Drogue experience than Greg on Alcidae.

So now I have an F27 trimaran which is a great  little sailing boat, and I have the drogue: I wonder how the little tri would behave? The aft attachment points are everything. As I see from your photo you've got that figured out.

The loads were awesome. I sat aft and felt and watched the 10 ton boat start to free fall vertically down the front of a wave and then get arrested as on a bungee and subside down the back side.
It was a high point of my life and extremely satisfying.

From me:

I am interested and pleased to learn of your experiences with the Jordan drogue, particularly that you did not find retrieval difficult, and would like to share them in the journal.  Roger Taylor, the only other person I have corresponded with who has used a Jordan drogue, found it impossible to retrieve and eventually cut it free.  I've thought that with GANNET being so light retrieval might not be so difficult.  If you have any particular pointers about retrieval I would appreciate knowing them.

I bought mine from a firm in England, who also, at additional cost, provided the attachment plates and a deployment bag.  The plates, shackles and bridle are all enormous by GANNET standards, but I can imagine the strain on them in use.

From Steve:

I built my drogue from a Sail Rite kit with 125 cones. Took me two winters sitting by the fire.

 My crewman on the Alaska trip, who was a greenhorn, suggests that I suspend the drogue in our house above the fireplace, as a reminder.

 I am still thinking about how I might use it on the trimaran, but the drogue is quite a heavy thing, probably 50 or 60 lbs. How much does your drogue, with everything, weigh? Any idea? I guess that you need to pay close attention to excess weight on Gannet to maintain sailing performance, much like on the trimaran.

I also built one of their deployment 'bags' which worked well. Offshore, I kept the whole deal ready to go in a duffle bag at the stern, with the bridle arms shackled and wired to the drogue chainplates and with the slack bridle lines zip-tied to various stanchions etc. The routing of the bridle lines was best done ahead of time so that I was certain that nothing would be fouled, like cleats, or worse, the wind vane.
 This all nicely cleared everything when I dropped the end-weight overboard to deploy.

At deployment we were moving right along under bare poles,at perhaps 6 or 7 knots, therefore the process was really fast and powerful. Once the end weight hit the water and pulled the first cones into the water it was too late for second thoughts. It was like a whirring, flailing machine and I kept my hands and feet well clear to avoid being plucked overboard or injured. 

As the full load of the moving boat came on the drogue, once the whole thing was in the water, the bridle arms came very tight and water visibly spurted; squeezed from the weave of the double-braid. Your situation may not be quite as dramatic , with lesser loads involved. Nonetheless, it was a Holy S*** time!

And a HUGE relief to have it out, with much more inclination to just sit and watch the awesome conditions. Of course the birds were constant in those high latitudes and were a comfort as they just lived their lives, thriving on the big seas and singing wind.

The wind vane was disconnected, and no steering was done.

To retrieve the drogue on my boat:

 First, I never tried retrieving it in winds over 20 knots. I guess that helped.

No sail up until the drogue was aboard.

I had rigged a slack line from the boat stern to just past the apex of the bridle. 

That retrieval line was winched in first, just using a cockpit sheet winch, to bring the actual drogue line within reach.

Another short line was rolling-hitched to the drogue line as far out as I could reach, and that line winched in.

That gave working slack in the drogue line so that it could be wrapped on a winch.

Then I could slowly winch in the drogue line with cones, watching carefully for foul-ups in two main places; as the drogue line came over the stern toe rail and made its way to the cockpit winch, and also as it wrapped around that winch.

 I was surprised how readily the big line with cones was winchable and how seldom the cones actually fouled. 

Still, there were lots of trips to the stern rail and small slack-offs to avoid tearing the cones. I did not use the self tailing feature on my Anderson winches for this process.
Nevertheless, the drogue was slowly but inexorably ground in, making use of lulls in the wind and brief slackenings with the heaving of the seas, with the slack drogue being deposited in a wet heap in the cockpit.

Two people makes it easier, but its not essential. In My Experience, haha.

Only needed two winches.

Took perhaps 30 to 40 minutes for the whole retrieval. Re-packing the drogue took longer but that doesn't really matter.

I haven't looked at Roger Taylor's site in a while: I wonder if he has cockpit winches (maybe not needed with the junk rig).

Retrieval would be brutal without winches, I think. And in strong winds. Very hard.

        As a direct result of this correspondence I will assemble the various pieces of the Jordan drogue, bridle, drogue, weight, when I return to GANNET and consider how best I can arrange them for deployment, realizing that once the wind is blowing fifty knots, everything is difficult to do on a boat, and perhaps more difficult on GANNET than most.  
        Right now I can’t visualize having the entire drogue permanently on deck during a passage.  I don’t think there is room for that on GANNET.  But I might at least be able to keep the bridle shackled in place.  
        Professor Jordan advised against using a trip line on the drogues because he believed it likely to foul the drogue and make it ineffective.  However Steve’s idea of a retrieval line to the end of the bridle is a very good idea.
        I replaced GANNET’s original Barient 10 winches with Harken 20.2s, which are powerful for a Moore.
        I don’t expect to use the drogue this year, sailing from New Zealand to South Africa, unless I run into an out of season cyclone.  But I might need it next.


        I enjoyed not having to commute this morning.
        My medical appointments the past two mornings were both at 9:00 a.m. and in downtown Chicago.  By train and foot, the eleven mile journey takes me an hour each way.  I rode in jammed against productive members of society.  All of us had eyes glued to our phones, including me, who started February’s Aubrey/Maturin a few days early because I didn’t want to carry the paperback copy of A HORSE’S MOUTH.
        I thought of the latin word I recently learned, otium.
        Returning around 10:00 the cars were mostly empty.  A few students.  A few senior citizen.  A few indeterminates.
        My glaucoma specialist dilated my eyes, which messed up such vision as I have until late afternoon.  I could still see, but not read, so I pulled the pile of stuff I have collected to take to GANNET from a closet and assembled it on our spare bedroom floor to see what size duffle bag I need to carry it.  The tiller is 37”, so I ordered a 40” bag from Amazon.  I’ll take a photo of some of the stuff one of these days.
        Finally, about 4:00 p.m. my vision cleared and I was able to resume typing A SINGLE WAVE.
        Here is an updated PDF.

        a single wave.pdf

        Many of you have sent me corrections.  I am distressed that there are so many and deeply appreciative to all of you who have taken the time to advise me of them.
        Some of the typos are amusing.  I have several times written about a furling jim.  Once I looked at my fact in the mirror.  But, ranking up there with the angle of hell, is:  But unfortunate because in my weakened condition I liked the police so much I wanted to stay.
        Not a good enough reason.
        Should have been ‘place’.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Evanston: big waves; proof reading

        Windyty offers a lot of information.  The past few days I’ve been using the wave overlay to search for the biggest waves on the planet.
        The screen shot above is from yesterday when the biggest waves were 44’/13.4 meters in a storm in the South Atlantic.  They have diminished slightly today, with a maximum of 38’/11.6 meters, about the height that both EGREGIOUS and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA were long.  The area of waves over 30’/9.1 meters is large, 500 nautical miles north/south and 400 miles east/west.  A sailboat caught in such as storm would be caught for a long, dangerous time.
       Here is a screen shot from the day before when the biggest waves were in a storm in the south Indian Ocean.  It was just such a storm that continued south and twice capsized EGREGIOUS forty years ago next month.

       This was also taken Saturday and shows that the greatest danger in rounding Cape Horn is sometimes not off the cape itself, but to the west where the Chilean coast is a stark lee shore.  Al Hansen, the first man to round Cape Horn alone, did so from east to west and was killed when he was driven ashore in Chile.

        These wave heights are of particular interest to me because I don’t claim to have ever been in waves higher than 30’.  I may have to revise my estimates upward.


        My days are dominated by retyping RETURN TO THE SEA.  I’ve raised my quota to 5,000 words a day, which takes several hours, and am just over half way though with another week to go.  Between typing and appeasing my watch, I hardly had time to watch the football games yesterday.  A couple of routine medical appointments this week may slow me down.  
        Two readers have offered to help, one with typing and another with stripping formatting, but I am permitting myself to do minor rewriting as I type and so have to continue myself.  I am appreciative of their generous and thoughtful offers.
        As some of you may remember, I have resisted rewriting earlier books, deciding to leave them as original sources true to the times they were written.  But A SINGLE WAVE is not an original source, so rewriting is acceptable.
        I have long known that I am not perfect proof-reading my own writing because my mind remembers what I’ve written and sometimes sees what it expects rather than what is actually on the page or screen.  So I’m posting what I have already typed.  

       The link to the upload failed here.  You can find a link to the PDF here in the original journal post.

        I have spell checked and proof read it through Chapter 7, but if any of you have the time and inclination to read it and to notify me of any errors, I will be grateful.
        If you do so, I need to know the error, the chapter, and the first few words of the paragraph.
        If you don’t have my email address, one can be found in the contact link in the navigation bar.

        The upload is a PDF which should be readable on Windows as well as Macs.  Forget about the formatting.  The actual book will be in Amazon’s Kindle and in ePub which doesn’t always export perfectly to PDF.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Evanston: the perfect couple: Windyty resisted; a beast and musicians

        I wonder if John McCain does not often awaken in the middle of the night covered in a guilty cold sweat at the monster he unleashed upon this nation.  If not, he should.
        When Sarah Palin was on the ballet for Vice President I wrote that if she were elected I would apply to New Zealand for political refugee status as coming from a failed state.
        As you undoubtedly known, this week Mrs. Palin endorsed Donald Trump for President.  Of course she did.  They are a perfect couple.  If he is the Republican nominee, she should be his running mate.  It is a match made in heaven.  Tea Party heaven.  Or perhaps another place.
        If Donald Trump is elected President, the United States is over, and I will certainly be applying for refugee status in New Zealand.
        If that makes me sound like a Democrat, I’m not.  I don’t like Hillary Clinton either.  She is just another lawyer and wouldn’t even be considered as a presidential candidate had she not married Bill, who has charisma, but as President did nothing more than preside over an economic bubble and lie about sex.
        I am so glad I am going to be at sea most of the rest of this year.
        Good luck to the rest of you.


        A year ago Suzanne—not the one I married twice, but another,  though I do like the name—emailed me about  I bookmarked the site and wrote about it in the journal, but I haven’t visited it lately.  
        Martin in England just emailed me that the site has recently undergone significant changes and improvements.  I checked and he is right.


        Self-righteousness and outrage have become the new normal.  I suspect that the Internet is at blame, though perhaps the outrage was always there and the Internet just provides an easy means of expression.  But people have definitely come to believe that they have the right to be outraged.  I would write that people should calm down, get a grip, have some perspective, that stupidity multiplied a billion times does not result in wisdom.  But I realize that those of you reading this are not those people.
        According to what poses as the evening news, one of the things that causes outrage now is the absence of black actors and films nominated for the Academy Awards.  
        In the scale of the universe I doubt this is of much importance, but Carol and I watched BEASTS OF NO NATION on Netflix, and Idris Elba, formerly of the THE WIRE and LUTHER, did an excellent job of acting.  Certainly worthy of nomination.
        The film itself deserves nomination as one of the best of the year.  Set in an unnamed African country, because this has happened in many, it is about children kidnapped and turned into soldiers.  There is inevitable brutality in the film, but it is not exploited or overly dwelled upon.
        THE BEAST OF NO NATION is well worth watching even if it wasn’t nominated.


        Also worth watching is MOZART IN THE JUNGLE, a series on Amazon Prime. 
        This jungle is not the Africa of BEAST OF NO NATION, but New York, where a new conductor, similar to the Venezuelan, Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angles Philharmonic, has been appointed.
        One does not need to care about classical music to enjoy the series.  One does need to care about the passionate pursuit of excellence which is one of the traits I most admire about musicians, and others.
        MOZART IN THE JUNGLE is not going to make you laugh as much as SEINFELD, but it is an entertaining comedy about a serious subject.
        There are two seasons.  Both available, at least in the U.S., for free with Amazon Prime.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Evanston: a new tiller and the next ice age; a clerk; a voyage

        I just bought a second hand carbon fiber tiller from another Moore owner who is disposing of various bits after a major rebuild of his boat.  Of the tiller he wrote that it “will last until the next Ice Age.”  This is not reassuring when as you can see the next Ice Age has already reached Chicago.  
        The tiller is in fact a bargain, will last far longer than I will, and I am very glad to have it.  When it is installed, there will no longer be any wood above deck on GANNET.  I will not have to carry the can of Deks Olje into the cockpit and will save whole minutes of maintenance time.
        The photo was taken a few days ago by Jay, the lighthouse builder.  Assuming the ice retreats, in five months that view will include his Olson 34, SHOE STRING, swinging on her mooring.  
        I thank Jay for letting me use the photo.


        All efforts to remove formatting from a scan of A SINGLE WAVE having failed, I have taken on clerical duties and am retyping the entire book in order to create an e-version.  So far I’ve done 12,000 words.  57,000 to go.  At my current rate of 4,000 words a day, I’ll be finished in two weeks.  No carpal tunnel syndrome yet, but it is seriously cutting into my reading time.


        I exchanged several emails with Ryan Finn before he left a few days ago to sail his 36’ JZERRO solo from Los Angles to New Orleans via Panama.  This is an interesting voyage because JZERRO is a proa.
        I have no experience of proas and no opinion of them, however Ryan has been making impressive progress with twenty-four hour runs of more than two hundred miles.
        Thus far he has provided daily updates on his website.  His tracking page is hidden under the heading ‘California->Panama’ and can be found be found here.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Evanston: fellow Cape Horners; nature and the brain; the upper 10% is you; losing the minus sign

        An article in THE GUARDIAN about my fellow Cape Horners, or not, caught my eye.
        Except that ‘adventure’ is misused, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as it is kept in perspective.  
        I’ll never get ashore from GANNET.  At least I hope I won’t.


        There is a lot more to the article which is well worth reading.


        Most of you are among the wealthiest 10% in the world, and many in the wealthiest 1%, which goes to show how poor most of the world is.
        Bought a house in San Diego or Auckland or Sydney or London or a good many places a few decades ago and you’re in.


      When I woke this morning at 5 a.m. the temperature was -2°F/-19°C.  By mid-afternoon it was +2°F, still -17°C.  Whoopie!  One of the few advantages of using Fahrenheit over Centigrade.  For some reason I felt compelled to check the calendar and make certain I fly to New Zealand six weeks tomorrow.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Evanston: real books; relative values; videos

        A few years ago I told Carol that we needed more book shelves.  I was wrong.  I have become a complete convert to e-books and only buy paper when there is something I very much want to read that is not available in an e-edition.  Most new paper books are also issued as e-books and many older books no longer in copyright are available from Project Gutenberg and other sources.  But there are many in between that remain in limbo, among them some very fine works.
        Recently I have reluctantly bought the above five.  
If you can’t make out the titles, they are:  NORTH TO THE ORIENT and LISTEN! THE WIND by Anne Morrow Lindberg; WARTIME WRITINGS and THE WISDOM OF THE SANDS by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; and THE HORSE’S MOUTH by Joyce Cary.  This last, which was on a recent list of the 100 best British novels and is as I have mentioned my favorite novel about an artist, is the most inexplicable and inexcusable not to be available in an electronic edition.  
        I’ve already read and enjoyed three of the five and hope to get through the other two before I fly to GANNET.  I am delayed by trying to prepare Kindle editions of A SINGLE WAVE and RETURN TO THE SEA, a slow, tedious and often frustrating process because of formatting hidden in the scans of the hard cover books.
        Gully Jimson, the main character in THE HORSE’S MOUTH, may have to go to sea with me.


        When I got up at 5:30 the last few mornings the temperature was 0°F/-18°C and the days did not warm much.  However, this morning it was 28°F/-2°C and the afternoon has reached the mid-40sF/7°C.  
        This is the same temperature it is off Cape Horn, but here it seems by comparison with what we have had remarkably mild.  I put on a medium coat, not my winter parka, and took a pleasant walk down to the lake which is calm and pretty in bright sunshine.


        You will not have noticed the addition of videos to the navigation menu.  Neither would I had I not created it.
        At present you will find only a lonely link to the Idea Tank interview.
        Will there be more in time?  I don’t know.
        People occasionally ask me to make videos.  I have not because I realize that to do so well--and there is no point in doing anything poorly--requires skills that I do not possess and do not have much desire to learn.  I am first and foremost a writer.  Taking photographs is very secondary.  And video far removed.  But I may experiment.  
        If I ever add anything to the nascent video page, I’ll let you know.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Evanston: an hour of me

        This might seem cruel and unusual punishment, but actually it is only fifty-seven minutes, though there are no commercial breaks.
        A few weeks ago Lauren and Paolo, who produce YouTube videos of conversations with people in various fields, emailed asking if I would be interviewed by them.  I agreed and we did this last Tuesday, Lauren in Los Angeles, Paolo in Rome, and I here in Evanston.  I did not know in advance what questions Lauren and Paolo would ask and afterwards, as is usual, found myself thinking of other responses I might have made.  
        Paolo edited quickly and the video was uploaded yesterday.  Carol and I watched last evening with pleasure, and, despite in the early days of 2016 once saying ‘last year’ when I meant 2014, I am satisfied with my performance.
        Regular readers of this journal will find most of what I say familiar, though Carol, who has been listening to me for more than twenty years, commented that she had never before heard at least one anecdote.  But if you have nothing better to do—and you know you don’t—you can observe an old (sea)lion in his lair here.
        Thank you Lauren and Paolo for your interest and the opportunity perhaps to reach a new audience.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Evanston: hobbled; waiting for snow

        I have been hobbling around like an old man.  Oh, that’s right, I am an old man.  But this hobbling is due to a chunk of my left leg the size of a silver dollar being removed around a skin cancer.  This is the third or fourth I’ve had over the years, one on the top of my head, all the rest on my left shin, though not in the exact same place.  I found myself wondering what kind of knot is used to tie off stitches and have learned that the most common is a variation on a reef knot.  My left leg is now ready for a gale.
        After stitching, the leg was covered from the knee down with what is called a boot, but is really two layers of elastic bandage to reduce swelling.  I now have to wrap my leg in cling wrap to take a shower.
        Not wanting to rip out the stitches, I’ve already lost two workouts and will miss at least one more before they are removed next week.  Sailing this year, I won’t come close to my goal of one hundred anyway.
        As a great writer has noted, life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue.  My skin hasn’t been baby smooth for more than seven decades, and the scars keep coming.


      The photo is another I dug out for the ‘raveling’ article.  It shows the new G1 the first and thus far only time that sail has been set and is a cheerful contrast to the gray lowering sky outside our windows from which snow is soon to fall.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Evanston: Chicago Light; rethinking sharks; NOSTROMO; before and after

        Chicago is the first place I’ve lived where boats can’t be kept in the water year round.  This being the case, local sailors start in November counting the days until marinas reopen on May 1, weather or indoor storage permitting perform maintenance or modifications to their boats, have passing hopes for the Cubs, and one, Jay, built the above exemplary  lighthouse out of a tree stump.  The final stage will be to wire it to flash five seconds on, five seconds off, as does Chicago Light.  Or so I’m told.  I’ve never sailed into Chicago after dark.
Here it is lit.
        Well done, Jay.

        From Bill in the UK comes a link to a rethinking sharks video.  I thank him for the smile it brought me.


        I was wrong about Joseph Conrad’s NOSTROMO.  Well, partially wrong.  It is a more interesting novel than I remembered.  Indeed an enjoyable one once you get into it.
        Set in a fictitious South or Central American country, there is a silver mine run by an Englishman, a regime change civil war, two sisters in love with the same man, an unintentional theft of a fortune, and a surprise ending that I foresaw only a few pages before the end.  Or what would have been a few pages had I not been reading on my iPhone.
        Here are two passages I found interesting because I think Conrad was wrong.

        He was well aware of the most dangerous element common to them all:  of the crushing, paralyzing sense of human littleness, which is what really defeats a man struggling with natural forces, far from the eyes of his fellows


        But the truth was that he died from solitude, the enemy known but to few on this earth, and whom only the simplest of us are fit to withstand.

        NOSTROMO is still not my favorite Conrad, but well worth reading.


        In seeking photos to illustrate an article titled, “Raveling GANNET” I found good before and after photos of the cockpit.
        Prizes will not be awarded for determining which is which.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Evanston: captiaterra; accounting

        Above was our view Saturday morning.  We arrived back in Chicago after dark that evening.  The flatlands were frozen and covered with a few inches of snow.  
        The interior of our condo is pleasant and we were both glad to be back in our own space.  But when I looked out the windows the next morning I suffered a severe attack of ocean withdrawal.  
        Regular readers will recall that ever since my childhood in a suburb of Saint Louis I have suffered from a self-named disease, captiaterraphobia:  fear of being trapped by the land.  At present I am again trapped by land, but I have no fear because yesterday I went online and made reservations to fly to New Zealand on March 1.

        One afternoon in Kill Devil Hills I saw a gannet hunting above the ocean.  What first caught my attention was the unusual downward sloping angle of his head as he flew.  Gannets are more interested in seeing what is below than in front of them.  Potential food is below.
       This photo was taken by Steve Early who has seen many gannets while sailing off Norfolk, Virginia.  Hugh, who lives here in Illinois, wrote to me saying that he saw many gannets while recently kitesurfing in Florida.  There are breeding colonies in Canada, but I am not aware of any in the United States.  The birds range south depending on food supply.


        Sitting on the balcony at dusk our last evening at Kill Devil Hills we watched a man about my age walk out from our building to the stick tree in the sand.  I had noticed two small battery packs hanging from the branches.  Obviously he flipped the switches because the lights came on.  He walked back to the building, stopped at the edge of the beach to look back, nodded with satisfaction and continued on in.


        We flew back from Norfolk and stopped and had lunch with Steve Earley and his wife, Liz, and were able to see SPARTINA, Steve’s homebuilt Pathfinder yawl.  She is as pretty in person as she is in photos, as for that matter are Steve and Liz, and Jim, another fellow sailor with whom we had lunch one day in the Outer Banks.

        In 2015 I worked out 81 times, which is quite good considering that they all came in the last eight months of the year.  This totals 12,410 push-ups and crunches.
        My Withings app awarded me the Sicily badge for having walked 550 miles, the distance around the island.
        I was on GANNET for only four months and probably sailed less than a hundred miles. Here is the Yellowbrick tracking page for the year.  I sailed a few times for short distances without turning the Yellowbrick on.  I expect this year’s track to be somewhat longer.

        And here is the list of books read in the last six months.

THE STRANGER   Albert Camus
CORIOLANUS   William Shakespeare
A TIME OF GIFTS   Patrick Leigh Fermor
MORIARTY  Anthony Horowitz
NIGHT FLIGHT   Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
IMPERIUM   Robert Harris
SOUTHERN MAIL  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
THE MARCH   E. L. Doctorow
WIND, SAND AND STARS   Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
KING LEAR   William Shakespeare
THE FIFTIES   David Halberstam
DECEMBER 6   Martin Cruz Smith
THE AENEID   Virgil/RobertFitzgerald
ASTORIA   Peter Stark
SPQR   Mary Beard
WARTIME WRITINGS   Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
LISTEN!  THE WIND   Anne Morrow Lindbergh

            I think that brings us up to date.  
         On with 2016.