Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Webb Chiles Does It Again!

Webb Chiles is  77 years old and has just completed his sixth time around the world under sail. He is fit and capable and has proved an extraordinary point that I hope I can get across in these few words. He  sailed from South Carolina to Panama, crossed the isthmus with his boat on a  truck and then sailed from Balboa to San Diego in just about six weeks. He keeps a satellite tracking device on his boat which marks his progress across the face of the earth. 
Chiles is very well known in the world of sailing. He has sailed almost the entire way around the planet in an open boat about which trip he wrote two books. He was the first American to sail alone around Cape Horn and he did that in an unsuitable boat that wasn't really up to the task. He however was, manifestly so. On this his sixth circumnavigation he took a 24 foot ultra light racing sailboat and sailed it where no one ever imagined it could would or should be sailed. And he did it with style. Frankly I'm still reeling from the news of his arrival in San Diego on Monday. As reported by Latitude 38 the San Francisco sailing monthly:
Here's the thing: no one sails from Panama to California because it is as tough a  sail as anywhere. Those who do make their way north from the Canal tend to hug the coast and basically harbor hop using engines as much as sails. Chiles has a useful and very functional electric outboard, a Torqeedo, suitable for entering and leaving harbors but not for extended passages. He sails. His own first brief description of this passage hints at  how arduous the sail was: Self Portrait In The Present Sea, Journal. Each blue dot represents  six hours of sailing on the Yellow Brick satellite  sender. A hard sail indeed:
The thing about sailing is that long off shore passages are generally comfortable in one direction and in the right season. On the west coast of North America winds generally  blow from the north west and swells follow suit. Or it's a dead calm. Not good news for a man sailing north on a  small light boat like Gannet.
I photographed the Moore 24 in Marathon after Webb had sailed from California to New Zealand to Australia to South Africa to a cabin the size of two large broom closets. He is a man of astonishing resilience and he loves being afloat, he lives to sail offshore and on his own with no way of calling for help should he get into a pickle. There aren't many like him, and I'm certainly not cut from that adventurer's cloth.
I am glad he made it back to San Diego safely but I had no doubt he would. Of much greater concern to me was his plan to thread the islands and reefs of the Bahamas around the east end of Cuba on his way to the Canal. The irony is that I suggested that route because getting south from the east coast of the US isn't easy - those pesky southeast winds and north flowing currents...Of course he did fine but then had to struggle to get across Panama where he ended up using a truck on the road and thus bypassing the Canal bureaucracy. Been there done that and this time he was on a boat small enough to be able to take the land route. Gannet comes through in its own particular style! And then off he went again on the  water! This is what the Yellow Brick looks like when you click on a  blue dot:
I've been reading Webb Chiles ever since I started sailing in the mid 1980s, spending long winter evenings on my own boat reading his stories in books and magazine articles. He has made his living from writing ever since. And he has plenty to write about. Now he says he is entering the third phase of a well planned and well executed life. Perhaps no more circumnavigating and that seems reasonable enough with so many already completed and smartly too. 
I shall miss reading the passage notes of extraordinary journeys by an out of the ordinary sailor. If you want to know what it's really like to cross oceans in a small boat I can do no better than to recommend his series of videos made at sea explaining exactly how it feels. No truer videos were made in my opinion:  YouTube Link. To read his books check this Amazon author's Page. I envy you if you have yet to read any of his adventures for the very first time.  And finally here is his page on the Cruising World magazine page to which he has contributed since forever. I think his wife will be glad to have him home for a while. I share her joy from the periphery. I have missed his emails while he has been away.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Caroline Street

The  New Market on Caroline Street has somehow devolved into a corner convenient for the residentially challenged population to use as a hang out. Early enough in the morning and it is a beacon of warm lights:
Towards Duval Street the  art gallery that doubles as a bike rental building reminds me in passing how hard it is to make a living in this town:
And Pepe's has been here a long time no matter what:

His chest was rising gently as he slept the morning away at an impossible angle. There is a Facebook page dedicated to those defeated by the demands of gravity in Key West, so prevalent is this behavior:
Too early:
Construction underway, also known as gentrification just up the street from the homeless hangout.
Key West remains despite the odds a very mixed population.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Rusty Walk

A few easy going pictures of me and the hound out enjoying beautiful morning weather in the back country. 
The skies have been exceptional with white clouds on a blue background - just lovely.
Joe Cool is happy.
I'm happy playing with my camera!

What a lovely way to start or end the day, me my camera and above all my dog.
In all this open space never imagined by the crowds shuffling along the Duval Bar Crawl.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Old Bahia Bridge

It was too much to hope for a bright sparkly sunrise with all the clouds overhead but a late cold front brought energizing cool air so we got energetic did Rusty and I.
I went bird spotting and he went looking for other things which he did not seem to find whatever they were.

And then the motorcycles went by on the highway and I was reminded I can ride again after seven months away.
 And I can walk gravel trails, at least some of them, even without my cane which I am trying to ditch to encourage me to walk straight.
The surgeon told me most of the physical improvement I will see will come in the first year of recovery so I am exercising like mad, walking Rusty and going to the gym to make my legs work properly.
 Walking provides opportunities for photography:

 And opportunities for Rusty:

 And what happened here I have no idea:

 King of the Castle:

 Hurricane Irma tore the area under the bridge apart. Now closed to people:
 The Old Bahia Honda Bridge:

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Paint And Art In The Woods

Hitting the dirt is getting easier and easier for me, even nowadays when I walk without even a cane!
 I used to come out all the time to check out the abandoned cement pipes in the mangroves. 
 Finally I was able to make it back and enjoy the informal paintball field and open air artwork:

 Open warfare across trenches of pipes:

My constant companion:

 The paint ballers are funny: they use old carpet to protect their knees from...
...paintball fire:
 The pipe field by the light of the setting sun:

 A rusting trailer:
 How this rubber dinghy got here I can't imagine, miles from tidal water access:

 Oolite rocks, particular to the area with their funny cheese-like holes:
Civilization in the distance: