Monday, October 31, 2016

Evanston: not; splits; shopped

        The boat in the above beautiful photo is Steve Earley’s SPARTINA.  People often tell him that she is a pretty boat, which she is.  They then often ask him if she is a Drascombe, which she isn’t.  One man insisted that Steve didn’t know that SPARTINA, a boat that Steve built himself, really is a Drascombe.  Could he have unknowingly followed the wrong plans?  There are similarities,  both are yawl-rigged open boats of about the same size and lines, but SPARTINA is a John Welsford designed Pathfinder.  
        Steve can print this out and carry it in his wallet:  I know Drascombes and SPARTINA is not one.—-Webb Chiles.
        Steve took the photo.  I thank him for permission to use it.


        During the fifty-five day passage from Darwin to Durban, my fingernails split.  One on my left hand was split most of the way across, and by the time I reached Durban two on my right hand were, too.  The splits weren’t deep and weren’t painful, but they caught on things and were a nuisance.  Since returning to Evanston, all have reformed and grown out normally.
        I have since wondered about my diet and so did some research.  While vitamin or iron deficiency can be a cause, I take a vitamin and mineral pill every day.  Vitamins can lose potency over time and I don’t know how long those on GANNET have been on board.
        But further research found the following:  “Basically brittle nails can be divided into dry and brittle (too little moisture) and wet and brittle (too much moisture).
        The usual cause is repeated wetting and drying of the nails.”
        I will take a new bottle of vitamins back to GANNET with me, but case solved.


        I have already bought most of the stuff I want to take to GANNET.   It is so easy here to go online, find what I want, and with a few clicks have it delivered into my hands in a couple of days.
        The stuff already in a duffle bag in a back closet includes a saw, electric wire stripper/crimp tool, vise grips, Dremel cutting discs, a continuous line for the Profurl Spinex, a Yellowbrick mount, two winch handles, a sheet bag, bow running lights, battery operated fans, a forward hatch hinge, spray hood cleats, SolarBoost controller, Icom VHF radio bracket, rechargeable batteries, Luminaid lights, headlamp, Garmin Quatix 3 watch.
        Most of these are replacements for things damaged or lost during this year’s sailing.  The SolarBoost model has changed from 2000e to 3000i, but appears to be the same size.
        One thing I have not bought is a replacement Torqeedo battery because they can’t be carried on airplanes, even in checked baggage.  I did learn that Torqeedo has come out with a second battery for the Travel 1003.  This one has 915 watt hours, lists for $999 but can be found online for $875.  The standard battery has 533 watt hours and can be purchased for $612.
        A couple of lengths of surgical tubing to be used in sheet to tiller steering and a replacement battery cover for the Velocitek ProStart are to be delivered this week.
        I already have a five month supply of freeze dry meals on GANNET, but will take some back with me to provide variety.
        I am awaiting the outcome of the analysis of my Pelagic unit before deciding how many more RayMarines to buy.


        Go Cubs!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Evanston: The White Horse; $0.01

        On New Zealand’s classical music radio station one day I heard a hauntingly beautiful vocal from the previously unknown to me, THE RELIEF OF DERRY SYMPHONY, composed by Shaun Davey.  I bought and downloaded the symphony from iTunes.  
        I like the symphony, much of which is martial.  The siege of Derry in 1689 was part of a Protestant/Catholic war upon the replacement of the Catholic James II with the Protestant William and Mary.  It lasted 105 days during which 8,000 people died of a population of 30,000.
  Although I loved the vocal, I could not understand the words, so with a good Internet connection and time here in Evanston, I googled and learned that they are from a song, “The White Horse” which brought comfort to the besieged.

Above and below
by land and water
a white horse
a snow white horse
our hope and comfort
the city thus encompasses

Men swim the sea
my own children suffer
an angel
a snow white horse
our hope and comfort
the city thus encompasses

And where is the help
so often promised
and when will the wind serve?
For its is hard to wait
and death to so many

Aid far away
no more food for hunger
at midnight
an angel
a snow white horse
this city doth encompass

Here is a link to a video of the third movement.  All the symphony is worth listening to, but the vocal begins at 5 minutes 55 seconds in.


        I had ocassion to recommend one of my books to someone recently and suggested that A SINGLE WAVE, which is something of a ‘greatest hits’, or in this case, ‘greatest survival stories’, might be the best introduction.  I told him a Kindle edition is available and went to Amazon to see what the price is of a used hard cover copy.  I found that you can buy A SINGLE WAVE for $0.01.  That puts my life in perspective.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Evanston: trees and streaks and videos and a healthy life

        We moved into this building ten years ago when it was new.  A tree planted in the small front yard reached only to the first floor.  We are on the third floor and now look out onto its highest branches whose leaves today seemed to change before my eye.  Yellow.  Brown.  Gone.  Not all, but many and at an increasing rate.  
        It has been a lovely fall day.  Sunny, light wind, temperatures in the low 50sF/10-12C.  Inside I am wearing a t-shirt, Levis, and vestigially going without socks.  When I go outside I quickly realize that I am deluded.  Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in the Southern Hemisphere anymore.
        The photo above is not the tree outside our window, but a Baobob in South Africa.


        I don’t watch what poses as the national evening news.  I am a Trump-free zone.  I do watch the local news; and the only local news is the World Series, which presumes that the world consists of the United States and Toronto, Canada.  
        Cleveland is a deserving team that has played superbly in the post-season, but they have won the World Series in my lifetime—if just barely—and the Cubs haven’t for 108 years.  As I think I have pointed out before, there are places that have won the World Series that weren’t even places when the Cubs last did.  I think particularly of Arizona and Florida where in 1908 there were respectively only rattlesnakes and gila monsters and mosquitos.  
        Go, Cubs.

        I no longer read the NZ HERALD online.  It has become a silly shadow of a newspaper.  It is not the only one that has debased itself in an effort to survive at all costs.  If you can only survive by relinquishing integrity and honor, perhaps you shouldn’t.
        That has not kept me from knowing that the All Blacks have just set a world record, assuming the world is the eight or so countries that play big-time rugby, by winning their eighteenth test match in a row.  What is particularly impressive is that the streak continues despite the retirement of some of the greatest New Zealand rugby players ever.
        Go, All Blacks.


         There are now nine short GANNET in the Indian Ocean videos on YouTube.  I appreciate the positive response.  There are more to come.


        I have often written that life aboard GANNET is naturally healthy.  
        This was true in Opua, where I rowed ashore and walked around and frequently climbed the Opua hill.
        It was true in Darwin where I rowed forever just to reach the shore.
        But returning to land life in Evanston, I have realized that it is not true during a long ocean passage on GANNET, when during one two week period of rough weather I probably only stood up for a total of one hour, or in Durban, where in a marina slip my only significant exercise was a long walk on the dock to reach the yacht club to shower.
        I have resumed wearing my Apple watch, resumed my full workouts three times a week, resumed doing my shoulder physical therapy maintenance exercises twice a week, resumed climbing twenty flights of stairs a day, resumed completing all of the Activity circles on the watch app each day, taking only the weekends off.  
        The realization that life aboard GANNET has its limitations came when all of the exercises here hurt.
        They don’t much anymore.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Evanston: GANNET in the Indian Ocean videos

        After a rather frustrating morning in which I discovered that my Nikon AW1 camera makes videos in a format that cannot be imported into iMovie, I have started to upload a series of short videos directly to YouTube.  Before anyone emails me, I have learned how to convert the videos into an iMovie acceptable format, but the process is too time consuming.
        The first three videos are now viewable at:
        More will follow, including a tour of the Great Cabin and ending with some taken during the final 50 knot gale off Durban.
        I am a writer, not a cinematographer.  This is raw, unedited footage.  In this case, cinéma veríté is a euphemism for amateur hour.  But I hope the videos enhance your understanding of my GANNET experience.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Evanston: the virtue of losing it

        Most of the books I buy these days, I buy through the inelegantly named BookBub.  I believe it was Larry in California who told me of BookBub, and I thank him even though it costs me $30 or $40 a month.  
        After you create an account and specify genres, BookBub sends an email each day with several ebooks on sale, usually for $1.99 or $2.99, though once I paid $3.99 and some are free.  
        In the past month I bought 14 books from Amazon via BookBub.  Obviously I haven’t yet read them all.  A few turn out to be mistakes, but the loss is insignificant, and many have proven to be great finds.  Several that have been offered I didn’t buy because I already own them, such as a biography of Catherine the Great and Beryl Markham’s, WEST WITH THE NIGHT.
        A couple of days ago I bought a novel, A FINE IMITATION, which has the following quote at the beginning:  Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.  —Charles Mackay.
        My return to the United States has made me think that the herd has indeed gone mad.
        During my fifty-five days at sea between Darwin and Durban, the world had news of me via the Yellowbrick tracker, but I had no news of the world.  This was quite a satisfactory arrangement.
        When I reached South Africa I became aware that my age related hearing loss, noticeable for the past year or so, has become more severe.  Alone on GANNET it didn’t matter, but now too often I can’t understand what people are saying.  I’ll get a hearing aid, but probably not until next year, after, hopefully, I have completed the circumnavigation.
        Having been more than half blind for several years and now becoming deaf, clearly I am losing touch with reality.  Reality being what it is, I don’t mind.


        Kathleen Saville, who rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with her late husband, Curt, has another excellent quote at the beginning of her book, ROWING FOR MY LIFE, to be published next year.  I have written of Kathleen and Curt here before and was sent a prepublication copy.
         It is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one’s being alone.  —Henry David Thoreau

Friday, October 14, 2016

Evanston: good quotes

        As I noted a while ago, this journal is approaching a million words.  In addition I’ve had seven books published, numbering I do not know how many words, and countless magazine articles.  Of all those words, I expect that the ten above are the most likely to last.  
        My friend, Larry the dentist, who is the sole purveyor of toothbrushes for the GANNET voyage, took the above photo at the Annapolis Boat Show.  I think he also bought the sweatshirt, for which I receive no royalties.  A rather busy design in my opinion.  
        I thank him for the photo.
        In the email that accumulated during my recent land travel were some other good quotes.
        From Bill:  “I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious.” —Albert Einstein
        From Jay, who thinks them appropriate to my life, lyrics from a Cat Stevens song he heard at a live concert:

            Miles from nowhere
            Not a soul in sight
            Oh yeah, but it’s all right
            I have my freedom
            I can make my own rules
            Oh yes, the ones I choose

        And from Sid one that I have run here before, but can bear repetition:   “On the Plains of Hesitation, bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the Dawn of Victory, sat down to wait—and waiting, died.” —George W. Cecil

        I thank them all.

        To them I add from a book I finished while traveling, BURNING THE DAYS by James Salter, “I had come very close to achieving the self that is based on the risking of everything, going where others would not go, giving what they would not give.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Evanston: flattened

        We arrived back in Evanston two days ago after a splendid two weeks traveling in South Africa.  Near the beginning and the end, we stayed at two exceptional places, and in between we saw a lot of animals in Kruger Park, most noteworthy a pride of eight lions, six lionesses and two adolescents, feasting on a freshly killed kudu above a dry river bed.  We did not see any leopards or cheetahs, but we did see two rhinos which are rare because some of our deluded species believe their horns possess medicinal properties.
        Eastern South Africa is enduring a severe drought.    In Kruger it is in its third year.  Small creek beds are dry.  Rivers whose banks are hundreds of yards/meters apart are reduced to streams ten yards/meters wide or even to puddles in isolated declivities.  The hills are brown.  Vegetation sparse.  A guide told us that the skeletons of thousands of hippos who have starved to death liter the bush.  Part of the park looks like a lunar landscape.  And, as they say, there is no end in sight.
        Before driving north to Kruger, we stayed for two days at the Champagne Castle Hotel in the Drakensberg Mountains.  I don’t think many foreign tourists visit the Drakensberg.  A couple from Australia seemed to be the only non-South Africans there other than ourselves.  
        The place is simply wonderful.  The view of the looming mountains spectacular.  A small bar that feels as though it is a room in an English country house.  Food so dangerously good that even I overate.  Hiking trails.  Pure air at 5,000’/1500 meters.  Endless serenity.
        Carol wanted to go for a sunset horse back ride, so I got on a horse for the first and probably last time in my life.  I was given an old tired horse, which is just what I wanted, who nevertheless had lee helm and a tendency to veer to port.  The lurching motion reminded me of a power boat smashing into waves.  I had just been reading a history of the Civil War and two hours in the saddle gave me new respect for cavalry.
        After Kruger we splurged and spent two nights in a tent at Summerfields Rose Retreat and Resort in Hazyview.  This is not your usual tent.  Two stories high on a platform just above a small stream.  A king size bed.  On a side deck a bathtub and a shower.  A front deck with nothing in view but jungle.  No sounds but those of the stream and birds.  Excellent food and service.  And again blissful serenity.
        If we did not live so far away, we would visit both Summerfields and the Champagne Castle often.
        We flew to Chicago via Dubai.  Not exactly on the way, but Air Emirates offered by far the least expensive tickets.
        A woman with whom Carol used to work now has a consulting business in Dubai, so we stayed over and saw some of the city.  As we were driving on the main expressway, seven lanes of traffic on each side where ten years ago there was a two lane road, the skyline seemed be from a science fiction movie.  This may be the future, but it is not a future I want.  A land of malls and money, of buying stuff and artificial amusement.
        We rode up in the Burj Khalifa.  124 floors in one minute with no sensation of motion whatsoever.  To go to that level costs about $30 US.  For an additional $60 you can go to the 148 floor.  
        If you have ever been to the top of any other tall building, I wouldn’t bother to go up in the Burj at all.  The view is not qualitatively different from 100 stories, and the viewing areas of the Burj are jammed with people taking selfies.
        From the outside, the Burj Khalifa is I think the most beautiful of the super tall buildings.  At a few miles distance, so slender it doesn’t seem possible that it stands.  Up close you see that it is an elegant elongated pyramid.  Truly a rare human creation.
        The flight from Dubai, which is now the third busiest airport in the world, took fifteen hours.  Presumably to avoid Syrian air space, we headed north over Iraq and Russia, passing near Moscow, then turning west, over Stockholm, near Oslo, out over the North Atlantic, just south of Iceland, over the tip of Greenland, and curving south crossing into Canada and flying near Hudson Bay.
        We took off at 9:30 a.m. Dubai time, +4 UTC, and landed at 3:00 p.m. Chicago time, -5 UTC because of Daylight Savings Time, on a warm, sunny afternoon, which resulted in odd jet lag in which I was initially not tired at all though it was midnight in our bodies and I didn't go to bed until it was 4 a.m. in Dubai where we last woke up.
        A few leaves have fallen, but Evanston is as overwhelmingly green as Kruger is brown, and after almost seven months south of the Equator I am still adjusting to the season being fall rather than spring.

        The photo was taken from the balcony of our room at the Champagne Castle Hotel.