Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Noon Position 36 34' S, 88 55' W, SOG 4.5, COG 040, Day's run 85 nm.
Well, after a few light air days, it looks like I'm back into the
breeze. Unfortunately, the wind is from the East, pretty much the
direction I want to go, but at least I'm moving faster than 2 kts
today. On Christmas Night (Christmas Day Eve? The night of the 25th?
3 nights ago?) I finished opening the last Christmas cards that I
hadn't managed during the day, then settled down to read a bit. I was
working my way through an anthology of Keith Laumer's short stories
about aliens invading Earth when all of a sudden I head something
flapping and flopping about in the cockpit. Was it a flying fish? It
didn't sound quite fishy enough to my discerning ear. Was it perhaps
one of the alien Gool, emerged from the e-ink screen of my kindle to
harvest my brain? I peered out into the stifling darkness, partially
blind from my reading light. The night was overcast, with out even a
hint of moon or stars, so I could just see the vaguest impression of
movement. I sat for a moment, hoping that whatever was raising such a
ruckus would flop itself back overboard and let me get back to reading
in peace. No such luck. I stumbled over my lee cloth and up on deck,
and in the glow of my headlamp was greeted by a rather small albatross
sitting at the helm, trying to climb back up over the seat back. Since
the back of the seat is fairly high, and the bird was on the small side,
it was not succeeding, try as it might to turn its wings and webbed feet
into something more approximating the footwear found on a gecko.
Stories of how sailors used to catch Albatross and keep them as pets on
board ships flashed through my head. They apparently needed more room
than was available on the deck of a ship to get airborne enough to clear
the bulwarks, so once on board were stuck there until pitched back over
the side. Clearly this little fellow, while certainly not the great
wandering albatross of the high latitudes, was suffering from the same
difficulty on a smaller scale. I have no idea what made it think my
cockpit to be a suitable albatross roost, although clearly it had
decided upon arriving that it had been mistaken. After a brief but
invigorating game of "Catch the albatross" I managed to deposit the
squirming bird onto one of my solar panels, where took took a few
seconds to gain its bearings. Then, with a whisper of wind, it was gone
into the blackness. The next morning I discovered that it was not
simply orienting itself upon my solar panel - A small token of its
appreciation was streaked across the outboard edge of the panel.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Noon Position 35 25' S, 099 57' W, SOG 5.2, COG 120, Day's run 130nm.
So of course after spending so much time Monday writing about noises, I
spent the rest of the afternoon listening to ALL of them in excruciating
detail. Yesterday was squally and overcast, with the wind slowly going
left all day - unfortunately last night it didnt' go as far as I had
hoped, so her I am, still steering 120 - The gribs are calling for a
further wind shift tonight and tomorrow, so hopefully I can get pointed
East or just north of it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Noon Position 33 03'S, 104 24.7' W, SOG 3.5, COG 155, Day's run 70nm.
The Last 24 hours have seen almost a 90 degree wind shift. Yesterday at
noon found me sailing due east at 5 kts on starboard tack, today at noon
finds me sailing South east on Port. This affords me the chance to
drive south, which I'm taking full advantage of - I'm hoping that if I
can get down to 35 or 36 S I'll have a bit more consistent wind, and
hopefully more westerlies, although I certainly wouldn't complain if
this wind continues to back and I can get back to sailing East. For the
week ending yesterday my run was 562 miles sailed - certainly the
slowest so far. I'm just hoping I can do better than that for the next
two weeks heading to Chile. Now that I'm back on Port tack, I've
rediscovered some of the wonderful noises that Odyssey makes. Depending
on how fast we're going, the sea makes a whole variety of noises against
the hull - from a whisper smooth glide in light air to a dull, rushing
roar when we catch a wave just right and surge down its face. Upwind,
of course, add in the the assortment slaps, swooshes, crashes, and thuds
of waves hitting the bow, rolling over the deck, and generally making a
nuisance of themselves. When the bow drops off a particularly large
wave the whole boat shudders with a dull bang like the slam of a giant
screen door. When we're rolling, the spare blocks hanging above the
port bunk occasionally chime in with a tink or clink as they swing into
the cabinetry. In light winds like today, there is a whole cacophony of
noises from the sails slatting when a particularly large swell knocks
the wind out of them, a high pitched rattle from the slides in the mast
track on the main, a lower creaking groan from the sheets. On port
tack, like I am now, the bulkhead aft of the galley seems determined to
simulate a small balkan land war, constantly creaking and popping like a
thousand tiny machine guns. Not to be outdone, of course, on starboard
tack the shelves above the port bunk fire back, with a slower, more
measured pace. Every day or two the stove decides that the gallons upon
gallons of WD-40, T-9, Silicone Spray, Teflon Grease, Lithium Grease,
and Teflon spray that I've saturated its forward gimbal with need some
more company, and begins an ominous creaking groan, timed perfectly to
the roll of the boat. When I sleep my head is separated from this awful
moan by no more than 1/2" of plywood on which the stove is mounted.
Invariably the stove decides to start it's complaining somewhere between
the hours of 2 and 3 am, so I end up lying awake, cursing the world,
hoping against hope that it will go bother someone else, or at the very
least postpone the complaining until a more civilized hour. After
burying my head under my pillow for veritable ages, rolling over,
straining my arm to try to jiggle the stove without having to get out of
bed, I must invariably bow to the inevitable, and pry myself out of
blankets, over the leecloth, across the boat to chart table, tangling my
foot in a foul weather jacket that manages to migrate to the middle of
the floor in the middle of the night. Upon opening the front of the
chart table I am, of course, assailed by an assortment of lubricants,
all so eager to help me quiet the stove that they leap from their shelf
and hide themselves about the cabin. I grab a spray can at random,
point it in the general direction of the stove, and let it rip.
There! It stopped creaking! So i gather up the errant inhabitants of
the chart table, jam them back into their prison, and return to bed.
Generally it takes 2 or 3 late night excursions to finally defeat the
stove's grumblings for a day or two. Oh, the simple joys of sailing!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Noon Position 31 55.5' S, 110 00' W, SOG 4.3, COG 110, Days run 110nm.
Today I made my first time change of the trip - we're now on GMT + 7,
which is an hour later than California time. I'm feeling frustrated and
empty these days. We're still drifting along to the East, towards
Valparaiso, but clearly progress isn't fast, and I'm not even able to
really get south, since with the breeze direction and swell we have, my
choices are sailing 110T or 230T. So I choose the direction that at
least is moving me towards Chile. In any other circumstances I would be
reveling in this weather - warm water, flat seas, and clear skies. But
all I can think about is whether everything will hold together for
another 2 or 3 weeks, and about how slowly I'm moving towards shore. If
I still had months of sailing ahead I could feel philosophical about it,
since a slow week here or there is to be expected, but with less than
2000 miles to go, every calm strikes me like a hammer, driving me back
from my destination. The most frustrating thing is that I can't do much
about it, just keep plugging along and hoping for a wind shift of some
sort. Last night I stayed up late reading, then spent some time on
deck, looking at the sky. It was truly magnificent - the moon was down,
and there were just a few scattered clouds. The milky way was so bright
it almost popped, and as I ghosted along I thought of other times and
places that I'd looked at the sky, and the people I'd been with. This
morning we're back at it, slogging along. Unfortunately this is just
the way the weather is, and until I get a wind shift, there's not a
whole lot to do about it. There's a big, long south swell ambling it's
way across the sea today. Down below I can hardly even tell it's
there. A few hours ago I was on deck enjoying the weather when I
realized that I was in the middle of big set - in the troughs I could
stand on the cockpit benches and still be looking up at the crests of
waves in all directions, then see forever as they passed beneath me. A
few minutes later the swell had died back down again, but it reminded me
that I'm glad I'm not in the roaring 40s with a sloppy rig.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Noon Position 30 57' S, 111 27' W, SOG 4.8kts, COG 105T, Day's run
30nm. So if you notice that today's noon position isn't that far away
from Mondays, you're right! I'm plopped in the midst of the horse
latitudes right now, so named because ships would have to throw the
horses overboard to save water as they were becalmed. I wish I had a
horse with me, I'd hook it up to a bridle and make it swim and tow the
boat. On a related note, I am no longer making for Cape Horn. On
monday night I was checking over things when I discovered that my mast
was moving. On closer investigation, I've discovered that the steel
plate upon which the mast is stepped is corroded badly enough that it
has started to bend, thus letting the shrouds pull the mast down into
the boat. Right now a lot of the down force is being taken by the
collar where the mast passes through the deck, so as I go over waves,
the deck flexes a bit, allowing the mast to move up and down. Clearly
this is not a desirable situation, and I've decided that I cannot take
the boat into the 40s with things as they are. The deck is certainly
not designed to take the loads of the mast, and if the mast step or the
partners were to give way further in extreme conditions, the results
could be most unpleasant. At the moment I can't carry as much rig
tension as I would like, since increased shroud tension merely flexes
the cabin top downwards. That being discovered, I made the unhappy
decision to make for Valparaiso, Chile, 2000 miles to the West, to
repair the damage before continuing. The combination of being thwarted
in my goals and lack of wind has made me a decidedly unpleasant person
to be around the last few days - Lucky I'm alone! At this point I'm
hoping to be able to continue after repairs in Chile, but that of course
can't be determined until I can get the mast out and fully investigate.
Of course, being in the horse latitudes means that I can expect lots of
light and variable wind all the way to Chile - I'm going to try to make
my way down to 35 or 36S to try to get a bit more of the westerlies, but
so far have been thwarted by wind that varies between nonexistant and 5
kts out of the south.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Noon Position 30 14' S, 115 25' W, SOG 5.3, COG 155, Days Run 130nm,
Weeks Run 1015nm. It's a good end to a good week - Once again, the
fastest week yet, averaging just over 6 kts, with a two real quick
days. Yesterday was gorgeous high pressure weather - clear skies, hot
and sunny, with just enough wind to keep sailing with the drifter up.
Sunrise is early this far south - it's fully bright by 5 am, so
yesterday morning I decided to go up the rig to do a quick survey before
we get into the 40s, and to investigate my non-functional anchor light,
which also doubles to light up my windex at night. About halfway up I
realized that the swell had built a bit since I woke up, and that
instead of being perfectly smooth, we were now rolling into 1-2 foot
seas - not much, but amplified to the end of a mast 55' off the water
there was quite a bit of motion. The trip was successful, although my
legs and arms are complaining stridently today about the abuse meted out
upon them. I'm now about 2400 miles from Cape Horn, a similar distance
as from California to Hawaii. I've been taking advantage of the good
weather to work on boat prep for the southern ocean, but I've also been
reading a lot - I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible during
the day, so odds are good that during the middle of the day I'll be
found hunkered up down below with my kindle. I have a few different
waterproof cases for my kindle, thanks to Len Edgerly, who does the
Kindle Chronicles podcast. I'm currently using a Klear Kase - it's a
royal pain to put onto the kindle, but because you can access the power
switch and data port with the kindle still in the case. It also is the
easiest to manipulate the little joystick with. It seems like it's more
of a splash proof than a waterproof case, but for now that's all I need
it for - just to keep the occasional dribble from the hatch off of it.
I may switch over to a beefier case in the southern Ocean if I end up
with a lot of water around. I'm reading a few different books at once
- I'm working my way through the Essential P.G. Wodehouse, and
interlacing some sci-fi from Baen publishing's free online library of
ebooks. I've been trying to throw in a few "classics" here and there as
well - I ended up really enjoying Les Miserables, despite the painfully
slow start to the book.

Friday, December 9, 2011

picture! [Delayed Attachment: IMG_0071.JPG]

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Noon Position 24 03.5' S, 118 08' W, SOG 6.8, COG 170, Days run 160nm.
We've gotten to the weather that I was hoping the trades would bring -
lazy, easy, and fast. I haven't touched the sails for the last two
days, and the boat is just scooting along, and we're actually starting
to climb back to the East as well. I've started in on doing some boat
prep for the southern ocean - I swapped down to the small jib and did
some sail repair on the big one, which is now in it's semi-permanent
home for the next few months as a seat at the chart table. The weather
is actually almost too nice again - it's making me lazy. I realized how
out of shape I've gotten after swapping jibs and spending a few hours
sewing - the next day I was actually kinda tired all day, just from the
stitching and battling with the jibs. I've started doing some leg
exercise in the mornings to pretend to fight off the atrophy, but I
doubt it will do much - it's hard to get a whole lot of exercise when
the longest distance you can walk at one go is about 15 feet. On land
my moods are normally pretty stable, but I've found that alone at sea
they tend to oscillate much for rapidly, and to greater extremes - small
things have disproportionate influences on how I'm feeling, whether its
the weather, or the fact that it is physically impossible to open a can
of pineapple juice without it spilling at least 2 drops in a random
direction. I think in some part it's due to the lack of sleep - I know
that I get very irritable when I don't get enough, and I've been
noticing that on days when I'm up frequently at night I'm a lot
crabbier. I think the solitude also plays a part - without anyone to
talk to, it's harder to share experiences and let others help moderate
my moods. It's not a bad thing, just part of the experience. I came
out here to see if I could sail around the world, to live fully, and
feeling fully certainly is part of that. I've heard rumors that there
are concerns about the organized crime ring surrounding pens that was
operating on board. The good news is that the ringleader has been
apprehended and strongly reprimanded, after being so crass as to leave 4
pens in the galley on top of the fridge, where clearly no pen has a
right to be. After restoring the pens to their natural habitat, the
criminals seem to have toned down their efforts - a clear win for justice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Noon Position 19 02' S, 118 37'1' W, SOG 6.5, COG 195, Days run 150nm.
IT LIVES!!!! Apparently nearly a week in a bag of rice has done the
trick on my laptop - for the time being at least it is once again
numbered amongst the living. This is so far the high point of my week -
the low point being a frustrating exercise in cussing out the boat, the
weather, the sea, the sky, the clouds, a roll of duct tape, two tubes of
silicone, and lots of seawater and mold that occupied the majority of my
morning yesterday as I tackled the persistent leak in the v-berth
hatch... I spent a few hours drying everything out and cleaning, only to
discover that not only had I not improved the seal of the hatch, I'd
actually made it worse - waterfalls of water now cascade through the
starboard seal, instead of just a slow trickle. By noon I was not fit
company for man nor beast - fortunately the few petrels heard the ruckus
and wisely stayed well clear. This afternoon we shall do battle again.
The last few days have been fast and a bit frustrating - still a fair
number of squalls rolling through bringing 20-25 kts of breeze and some
choppy seas, but the breeze has come aft enough that we're almost beam
reaching, and even with the gear-shifting that the squalls entail we've
been able to put down some decent mileage. Plus, the computer is
apparently alive! Hooray!!! The rice shall make a permanent addition
to the computer bag from now on.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Noon position: 14 9'S, 118W, SOG 5.8 kts, COG 170T, 24-hr run 130nautical miles.
Eric wanted to share these interesting statistics about his voyage to-date:
This past week Eric sailed 915nm, his best week yet.
Current direct distance from Los Angeles harbor:  2,852nm south, but only 15nm due east. (Hardly seems possible that he is only 15nm east of LA, but check out this astonishing fact on a globe or Google Earth)
Current direct distance from Peru:  2,363nm due east.
Total distance sailed since departure Nov. 7th: 3,320nm.
Average speed of direct distance covered: 4.2knots
Average speed of distance actually sailed: 4.95 knots

Monday, December 5, 2011


Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 at 2:10 p.m. PST: 12 14S, 117 55W, SOG 6kts, COG 175, 24-hr. run 110nm.   Eric reported in this afternoon.  He turned off his GPS a few days ago and has been testing his celestial navigation skills.  When he turned the GPS back on today, he was pleased to see that his readings were close, only 2 miles out of latitude and 6 miles out of longitude.    For the last 36 hours he has been moving slowly, enduring what he calls a "tropical wave":  overcast weather, squalls, and a confused sea with 8ft swells coming at him from different directions.  Odyssey has been going up and down, up and down continuously, catching waves and spray that wash over her frequently preventing Eric from catching any fresh rainwater from the squalls off the mainsail because its all contaminated with saltwater.  The weather seems to be hovering, moving slowly, but Eric is hopeful that this system is starting to show signs of moving on.  The trade winds are blowing from the SE, and he is sailing mostly upwind at about a 70 degree angle to the wind.  Eric is also discovering that Odyssey leaks on the leeward side, so now he has an additional 10-11 new trickles going down behind the stove on the starboard side.  Luckily these are much smaller than the ones he experienced earlier on the port side which he has mostly managed to seal from outside.  Without completely pulling out the headliner nicely lining the ceiling of the cabin, Eric can't get to the leaks from inside the cabin.  He's hoping the leaks won't get any worse so he won't have to strip the ceiling bare.   Most of our lengthy conversation concerned plans for purchasing replacement electronics:  computer, inverter, stereo to be shipped to the Falkland Islands.   We are very grateful to good friend and experienced sailor Rich West who quickly leaped in as consultant on this project, helping determine the specs for what needs to be purchased and making recommendations, providing Eric with a list of shortwave sources for voice weather broadcasts, and supplying a long list of helpful tips to try and shake and coax his computer back to life. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011


3:14p.m. PST:  06 9' S, 117 13' W, SOG 6.5kts COG 200T  After the exhilaration of crossing the equator and zipping along at a good clip, Eric awoke this morning to find that his beloved, but quite ancient, Lenovo T61 had finally given up the ghost.  Black screen.  1-3-4-3 pattern of beeps.  He feared the worse.   Even with his background in computer science, there is only so much that can be diagnosed and fixed when you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  This afternoon Eric called home and I (Eric's mother), a phone clamped to each ear, linked him up with Lenovo tech support who quickly diagnosed the problem.  The video card on his system board has gone...well, south.  The only way to fix it, replace the system board.  Of course, that is one spare part that Eric wasn't expecting to need and doesn't have on board.  Not even his trusty 3G Kindle 2  is able to come to the rescue.  Besides posting to this blog, Eric relies on his computer for weather reports.  After debating various options--he has decided to continue on,  round Cape Horn and stop in the Falkland Islands where we will ship him 2 new laptops loaded with the software he needs to access weather and 2 new back-up inverters.    In the meantime, Eric will be calling in every few days for voice weather reports from home.  Until he reaches 40 S weather shouldn't be too much of an issue, so Eric will have plenty of time to train us into weather experts.   As for Eric's blog postings, he will continue to post using the text function of his satellite phone...but, loyal blog readers, please be patient.   Until he is able to reach the Falklands and receive his new computers sometime after the first of the year, Eric's posts will be restricted to mini-posts...haiku-length posts.  Despite this setback, Eric sounded great on the phone and very optimistic.  He also expressed how much it means to him to know that he has so many supporters and well-wishers at home. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Noon Position 00 54' S, 116 32.6' W, SOG 7.5, COG 175, Days Run 155nm.  At 0335 Pacific Time today we crossed the equator!  Finally!  Conditions are becoming fast and fun - close reaching in 12-20kts of breeze with a hint of sea, pointing south!  I'm in love with Odyssey this morning - we've been doing over 6 knots since yesterday afternoon, and over 7 since this morning, all very easily - currently we're under triple reefed main and full genoa, charging along.  In honor of crossing the line last night, I got out my bottle of champagne and went on deck, planning to pop the cork just as we hit 0 degrees.  The champagne, however, had other ideas, and opened itself about 3 minutes earlier, giving the cockpit a delightful champagne-y bath.  When I woke up this morning Odyssey smelled a bit like a college dorm on a Sunday morning, as we haven't been taking much water into the cockpit.  In honor of the equator, I got my clean on this morning - swept the floor, scrubbed the stove and counters, and then tackled the big job - sorting through the various vegetables in the hammocks in the v-berth.  Imagine, if you will, an area roughly the size of the back of a small station wagon.  Now, pile 4 large sail bags, 4 or 5 dry bags of warm clothes and surprises, 1 wool blanket, 1 sleeping bag, 1 piece of plywood, 7 plastic bins of food, and two 4 foot long hammocks full of onions, squash, garlic, grapefruit, limes, ginger, and cabbage.  Add a slow trickle of salt water from above, then tilt this space approximately 20 degrees to one side, while shaking vigorously.  Then, approximately every 30 seconds (but not predictably so), imagine a large, angry man pounding the floor with a sledgehammer. That's what the v-berth of Odyssey has been like for the past 8 days.  After divesting it of the sail bags, dry bags, plywood, blanket, and sleeping bag, I managed to squeeze myself into the space remaining and start pulling out fruits and vegetables one by one, checking for rot.  Of course, the hammocks, being hammocks, are not stationary now that the sailbags which were wedging them in place are gone - they're swinging wildly, pummeling the boat and me with onions and any other vegetable you can get your hands on.  A few escaped alliums later, the job was done and the produce restored to it's home.  I've been impressed with how well things have kept so far - the only vegetables that I've lost to rot have been ones that have gotten wet.  I'm most impressed by my tomatoes - I still have 8 or 9 good tomatoes left after 22 days at sea. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Noon Position 02 46' N 114 41.8'W, SOG 5.6, COG 235, days run 140nm.
Well, the best that I can say for today is that the weather has
moderated. The breeze has gone more SE'ly, which is nice, except for
this damn current - the bow is pointed between 200 and 210T, and we're
doing 235-245 over the ground - nothing for it though, since if we tack
we do about 3 knots due east. It's a lovely day at least - switched
back to the big genoa this morning and am under pretty much full sail,
puffy white clouds - I'm hoping that we've hit the SE trades at last,
and that once I get out of this current (almost 2kts this morning during
the sail change) life will be improved.


Noon Position 03 36' N 112 35' W, SOG 6.5, COG 240 T, Days Run 100nm.
Wind and Sea, incessantly. Groaning, pounding, creaking, moaning,
Odyssey struggles southward. It seems an eternity ago that the bow was
actually pointed south, that we loafed along in the puffy clouds of the
trade winds, that I thought the equator was only a few days away. Today
is our fourth day of beating hard, our second day of sailing west -
West, when we want to go East and South, but nature opposes me. I tried
tacking six or seven times this morning, hoping that perhaps something
had changed, that the currents that have bedeviled me all morning had
switched, for anything, but to no avail. I clambered into my harness,
braved the gloom and spray, eased running backstays, turned the windvane
to tack, released the working sheet, sheeted home the new working sheet,
got Odyssey hard on the wind, only to go below and see the GPS reading a
COG of 089, or 077, or 065 - NE, an even worse direction than SW. So
back on deck again, swapping runners, changing the windvane, passing
sheets, just go be heading at right angles from where I want to go. The
SE trades seem a thing of myth. Each new weather file I download seems
to have them retreating further south into the overcast skies. I
realized a few days ago that every day now I am the furthest south I
have ever been - I just expected to be quite a bit further south than I
am right now. 18 full days underway, and not yet at the equator.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Noon Position: 05 46' N 112 38.8' W, SOG 6.0kts, COG 120 T. Today I
learned that, try as I might, I am not capable of eating 1/2 a can of
turkey, an entire butternut squash, 1/3 of a potato, 1/2 an onion, 6
pieces of bacon, and 1/2 a box of stove top stuffing in one sitting.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Noon Position 07 06' N 114 06' W, SOG 5kts, COG 135, days run 110nm
This morning I discovered the joys and delights of canned bacon! Now,
for those of you who are unfamiliar with the long shelf life version of
this food, I shall explain: The bacon comes in a normal sized can, but
as soon as you pick it up you realize that something is different,
something is special - It's camouflage! Yes, the can has a camo
wrapper, so it doesn't give you away in the jungle when you really need
that bacon fix. Inside, neatly rolled up in wax paper, are about 24
strips of bacon - all you have to do is unroll the paper, pull off some
bacon, and throw it in a pan! It's glorious! Now, while this isn't
thick center cut hickory smoked bacon, fresh off the pig and cooked to
perfection by my little brother, it's pretty darn good - I've definitely
had worse bacon at any number of diners and restaurants. Plus, it comes
with the added benefit of a little bit of bacon grease, perfect for
frying up the eggs that accompanied it this morning. I also ate one of
the delicious greenish grapefruit that my mother and aunt found at a
farmer's market - I've discovered that they're very similar (if not the
same) as Caribbean grapefruit, which, in my humble opinion, are the
absolute epitome of grapefruitdom. Sweet, juicy, not too tart, but
still with a little bit of tang. Today finds us slowly beating into a
dying southerly breeze - back up to a single reef in the main and about
1/2 the genoa, and actually able to point without slamming too hard.
Hoping for some change here pretty soon, but the pilot charts don't give
much hope - 44% of the time there's southerly breeze in this area. The
gribs have the breeze lightening quite a bit tomorrow, and with the
flatter swell I should be able to drive into the Southeasterlies that
are waiting for me at 5 N.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Noon position: 07 44' N, 115 52' W, SOG 6kts, COG 120, days run 95nm.
Ahh, the joys of weather - had a very frustrating day of squalls
yesterday - ended up hand steering for a lot of the afternoon, and
raised and lowered the main more than once. There were great, looming
rain squalls slowly drifting across the sea - each one brought for the
1/4 mile or so around it, then proceeded to suck all the wind, joy, and
life out of everything else. We'd hook into one squall, sail at 5 or 6
knots in a direction - sometimes S, sometimes SW, frequently due West,
(not at all the way to go, but it was easier on the boat to be moving
than not) for about 30 minutes while getting rained on, then go back to
rolling around on Hurricane Kenneth's swell moving across the glassy
waters. I've been watching Kenneth for about 5 days now, from the first
projections of it being a small tropical depression blowing 25 or 30
knots and going straight across my path to a major hurricane blowing
90-100... Very glad that Kenneth turned further north than they
originally thought, and that I made all the Southing that I needed to to
clear it - while I'm sailing to Cape Horn, hurricanes are certainly not
something anyone in their right mind wound want to get anywhere near.
It looks like Kenneth has disrupted the ITCZ (doldrums) enough that the
weather I had yesterday was my crossing of it - now, of course, it's
blowing 20 to 25kts from due South, with an accompanying 6-8 foot sea.
We're throttled back quite a bit, more close reaching than anything,
just to save the slamming of dropping of an 8 foot wave at 6 kts every
30 seconds or so - now we just drop off a 4 footer at 6 kts every 5 or
10 minutes. Much better! The leaks which I strove to defeat after the
last weather we had are back. I won one victory in that there is no
longer a steady stream of water dripping onto the GPS and the chart
table, but most of the rest seem unaffected - maybe a bit slower, but
not much. I think the biggest one is from where the traveller is
through bolted - it's bedded pretty poorly - there are gaps I could
stick a butter knife into, so that's up next on my list of leak
fighting. Unfortunately, the leaks have won the fight with the stereo -
watched "Around Cape Horn" by Irving Johnson last night with the sound
on the stereo, turned it off to go to bed, and this morning discovered a
long stream of dribbles down the wood and into the stereo, which of
course would not turn on. so now it's recuperating in a bag of rice,
hopefully to return to life, although I'm not particularly hopeful.
I've got headphones and the speakers on my ipod, but having real
speakers was a nice little luxury that I'm going to miss.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Noon Position: 10 57.5' N, 116 57.2' W, SOG 5.7, COG 185, days run
121nm. I realized this afternoon that I'm beginning to be affected a
bit by the lack of social contact - I spent an hour on the phone with my
mother on Thursday, then another half hour today with both my parents
plus another half hour with Shanley. Found myself talking at length
about anything and everything, even repeating myself between
conversations. In some ways I feel like I'm cheating myself by
maintaining satellite phone contact - it certainly is a different having
friends and family only a phone call away - certainly more "real" than
email or this blog. With the written word, I can pretend as if I'm
writing a letter that will only get posted when I reach land, and my bi-
or tri-weekly email download certainly helps to enforce that sensation.
On the other hand, I'm not sure how those on shore would tolerate me
should I not call them - other than the obvious call to the Coast Guard
when I missed a sched. Anyway, yesterday was a frustrating day - a very
fast night, surfing up to 10 kts at times - I think we had a bit of
current with us. Then, yesterday, spent most of the day drifting in
circles except for a few brief moments of sailing on the edges of
squalls. Did manage to collect a good 1/2 gallon of water to use for
cleaning though and get in a good shower and shave with all the rain.
When the breeze finally filled back in again, it was light, and from the
E to SE - which is nice with the light air, going upwind helps build
apparent wind speed so we can keep moving through the swell. It's been
slow ever since. I think today we've got a bit of a counter current,
setting us to the North and a bit West - our SOG is hovering around
5kts, frequently below, and our speed through the water is certainly
faster than that.


Noon Position 12 56.7' N, 116 51.9' W, SOG 5.8kts, COG 190, days run 138nm
Last night was exuberant. Today is not. Frequent rain squalls,
infrequent wind. Earlier some dolphins lolled by the boat, so I dropped
sail and went for a swim. The dolphins had other fish to fry - came
back as soon as I was on deck again. Tonight we are sailing again.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 16:01:28 -0500
Noon position 15 16.5' N, 116 40.7' W, SOG 6.5kts, COG 160, days run
150nm. Well, the wind has built during the night into the mid teens,
and this morning the staysail is back down and we're down to a double
reefed main and full genoa. Coming down the waves we've been surfing up
into the high 7s, which is certainly pleasant to see on the GPS. My
general philosophy with this boat has been one of simplicity, to keep
problems to a minimum - minimum electronics, minimum systems. I
invested pretty much every minute of the last 5 months to making Odyssey
a competent sail boat, where the various gewgaws were a nice add-on, but
by no means necessary. I've spent too much time fixing broken water
pumps and air conditioners and lights and fridges and what have you to
really have any desire to do any more of that, particularly on this trip
where there's so much more room (and time) for things to break. Now I
find myself with the potential to be screwed over by a worthless piece
of electronics, and more importantly, one which I only have a single
spare of. I've been kicking myself all day, and night, thinking about
the extra $50 it would have taken to have just picked up another
inverter or even a car-charger for my computer - then I would be far
more independent of the electronics devil. After all my efforts in that
regard, I'm realizing that I really approached all the electronics as an
afterthought - I was caught up in thoughts and romance of sailing off
into the sunset with a sextant. I console myself with the fact that the
boat is pretty well bulletproof and sorted out otherwise, so that worse
comes to worse and I suffer a total electronics failure, I can still get
my sorry butt wherever I need to be.And, truth be told, it's not like
I'm helpless if it goes down - it really only powers my computer, so I
still have my sat phone and SSB, which is quite a bit more
communications than absolutely necessary. I'm
going to protect the damn thing as best as I can, but I need to get
around Cape Horn as soon as possible - it's too far south to risk
lollygagging about in the pacific over some fool piece of electronics
when Summer is only a few months long.


Noon Position: 17 30' N, 117 45' W, SOG 5.8kts, COG 155 - I got this
position off a running fix from 2 sun sights this morning + a noon sight
- was within about 5 miles of the GPS position! Definitely heartening
to realize that I still remember how to take a sun sight. Today I can
tell we're fully in the tropics - it's been a hot, glorious tropical
day, with a brilliant blue sky and puffy white trade wind clouds, and
just enough breeze to keep us moving happily. This afternoon, in honor
of the weather (and in respect to the heat) I decided to give myself a
haircut and a take a bucket bath in the cockpit. I learned a few things
- namely, that a #1 length trim guard on the electric buzzer can't get
through my hair, That a #3 can in fact buzz my hair, and that on the #1
(reallly short) setting, the buzzer could in fact trim about a 4 inch
long stripe right down the middle of my head before choking on my
hair... Now I look a bit like a badger with a reverse mohawk.
Fortunately, theres no one out here to laugh at it but the dolphins, and
they're always up to no good anyway, so all is well. All is not well,
however, with the inverter that I was powering my buzzer with - I
switched the clippers off and on again fairly quickly, and apparently
this was too much for the inverter to handle - now it just beeps and
blinks a red light and turns itself on and off. Kind of a real setback,
actually, since I rely on the inverter to power my laptop for weather
and email access as well, but luckily the vacuum packed spare works. I
now just have to be super careful with the inverter and hope it holds
out - no more electric buzz hair cuts for me for damn sure. One thing
about this trip is that I certainly don't want to proceed into the
southern Ocean without weather knowledge - I wish I had the boat and the
balls to keep pushing on if I were to lose weather, but sailing a 35
year old boat, even one that's been extensively refit, behooves me to
minimize the wear and tear I put on her, namely through avoiding storms
as much as possible. Last night we passed near the Shamad seamount -
the chart says it has a depth of only 28m, but I didn't want to cut
between the two big fishing boats on it, so the depth sounder never saw
bottom. It was a bit weird seeing the bright lights of fishing boats
out here in the middle of nowhere, but there clearly are fish there, so
I guess it makes sense. Either they didn't speak English or weren't
monitoring their radios - no one responded when I tried calling them up
to ask how the fishing was.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spinnaker Sailing



21 33.3' N, 118 08.0 W, SOG 5.8kts, COG 218, 130nm days run noon to noon.
Terrible News! It seems we have a stowaway on board. Not just any
stowaway, but an individual of the most despicable and depraved sort!
I've had my suspicions for a few days now, but in the interest of the
delicate sensibilities of my readers have not mentioned them. Events of
today, however, confirmed my worst fears. I first began to suspect that
all was not right a few days ago, as we came of of the edge of that
pacific storm. Wedging myself at the chart table to make my noon log
entry, I opened the lid and reached inside for a pen, but came up empty
handed! There was naught but charts and pencils within. Now, a
skeptical mind (and mine was one) would attribute this lack of writing
implements merely to the rolly conditions we'd been experiencing, so I
grabbed a pencil and thought little of it. But over the next few days,
as the trend repeated itself, I began to notice a disturbing pattern -
Only pens would go missing! I could put a treasure chest full of
jewels, gold, and pencils in the middle of the floor and it would lie
there undisturbed, but put one pen in the chart table, and poof! Gone!
After having lost 4 of my finest to this plague, I am left with no
choice but to conclude that it is no coincidence. Some devious criminal
mastermind has hidden himself away aboard, emerging only when my back is
turned to make off with my pens. I must commence a manhunt for the
fiend and halt his foul depredations, lest he leave me inkless!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Today has been glorious! Clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, it
almost feels like we're in the trades, if the wind wasn't from due
north. At noon today my position was 23 12.7' N 118 14.7'W via sun
sights - which was only about 7 miles out of our actual position via gps
- not bad. My longitudes had all been pretty grievously off up to this
point, although my noon latitudes were pretty spot on - then last night
i realized that my watches were both a minute slow of UTC - I must have
set them wrong. Surprisingly, my position is a lot closer to where it
should be now. Today is a cleaning day on Odyssey - I've spent the
day airing out the boat and drying things out - all my sheets and
cushions off my bed are airing in the cockpit right now, and I'm going
to swap em out with the cushions from the stbd bench tomorrow. I even
went ahead and shaved and took a bit of a shower - try doing that at
home in less than a cup of water. We made glorious time last night -
170nm noon to noon, which puts us at 710 nm from Los Angeles at the 1
week mark. Not quite as far as I would've hoped, but not bad
considering I spent a couple of days drifting around various mexican and
southern california islands. Now we're running due south at between 5
and 7 knots, and life is good. I just changed the email system I'm
using on board as well, which will mean a lot less pain in sending and
receiving mail, so hopefully i can convince myself to put up blog posts
a bit more frequently. Anyway, I'm going to go check on the cushions
and see if they're dry yet, so that's it for now.


Noon Position: 25 24.4' N 117 55.5' W, SOG 6.5K, COG 180T, 130 NM days
Well, since the last post a lot has changed - the big storm that rolled
through (at least I assume it did) California also rolled through me on
Friday - luckily we were far enough west that we got mostly SW'ly
breeze, which slowly built from Friday through to Saturday Afternoon,
ending up with beating into 25-30kts of wind under triple reefed main
and staysail - The seas were big and from a few different directions, so
there were frequently waves breaking over the deck from the beam as we
dropped off waves from the bow - I kept from pointing too high so that
we wouldn't slam off the waves too hard, but with the multiple
directions there was still a bit of pounding. Everything was creaking
and groaning, and there was one particular creak that drove me nuts -
every time the boat rolled, it sounded like soumething was about to rip
out of the boat. Well, clearly this was not a good sound, particularly
while trying to sleep, so after much creeping around, hanging onto all
the handholds available with my ear to various parts, I was relieved
when it turned out to be the stove - apparently the gimbals on it need
some grease. One can of WD-40 later and I was happily able to get to
sleep. I spent a lot of the day in bed reading - I'd go on deck to
adjust the windvane or the sails, then crawl back into bed and try to
ignore the slow drip that was leaking onto my right shoulder. After a
night of taking a beating, I awoke this morning to moderating wind
(15-20kts) from the W, and brilliant clear skies, so we're back up to a
single reef in the main to help the windvane steer and full genoa,
rocking along straight south - You have no idea how wonderful it is to
be moving faster than 3 knots, and in the right direction! If I had
ended up drifting around off Mexico for another week I think I woul'dve
just called it a day and motored into the nearest resort to wait for
wind. The electric autopilot came off today - he decided to fall apart
twice in the space of about 20 minutes, so I just pulled it off and
chucked it in the V-berth - no need for it anyway with the windvane.
The boat actually steers a lot more cleanly now without the drag of the
wheel pilot as well. Anyway, Here's hoping for a few good 140 or 150
mile days in the next few days to make some good time to the equator.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Sailing Again!
1230 Local Time: 29 04.5 N 119 29.9 W, SOG 4.6 K, COG 235 T, Days Run
54nm :(
Well, the depression has finally started arriving, and it should start
raining later tonight - I've been sailing on Port tack SW to West, but
this afternoon the wind has clocked a bit more westerly, so I'm going to
tack before dinner and start making some south again. Last night was
exceedingly frustrating - I ended up rolling around under triple reefed
main with no wind for a lot of it, then I'd get a bit of wind and roll
out the jib and sail for 30 minutes or so at 3 knots, then roll around
again with just the main, over and over - Finally this morning the
periods of wind got a bit more and now I've finally got it - hopefully I
can get some good southing out of this weather - I've made frustratingly
little distance so far.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Noon Position: 29 50.9' N, 119 01.9' W, SOG 4.5, COG 225, Days Run
106nm. It's been a frustrating few days - breeze has been up and down,
I had a full day yesterday of broad reaching to running wing on at 6-7
knots, only to end up rolling around all night with a triple reefed main
to keep the slatting down. Today I was able to get the chute up and
have been doing 3-4 knots all morning, but it's been getting a bit
lighter - unfortunately it looks like thats whats in store for tomorrow
too, before I get Southerlies (hopefully some SW in there) coming
through on Friday with the big storm. Right now I'm slowly working my
way East, so that hopefully I can see more of the W component of the
breeze from the storm, and then close reach in a SE'ly direction, but
we'll see how that pans out - it's frustrating rolling around going slow
- right now (1321 California time) I'm only doing 2.4k. Thank god for
the spinnaker - without it up I'd just be sitting here complaining.
Mentally the last few days have been challenging and fairly emotional -
I found myself questioning many times (particularly when I was rolling
around with no wind) what I was doing out here. The weather has a very
real impact on my mood - as long as the boat is moving with some
semblance of poise I'm happy, then when we slow down I start getting
morose again. It's sobering realizing that (if all goes well) I won't
see any of the people that I know or care about (or even those that I
don't particularly like ;) ) for the next seven months. The other
challenge I've been fighting with is the not so amazing discovery that
if you're running downwind to the south, and the sun is to the south,
the sails are going to be shading the boat pretty much all day - nice
for me, but not so nice for the solar panels. I've been broad reaching
back and forth a bit to keep at least one panel in the sun, and it's
working - I've got my battery voltage back up again. Fortunately once I
get south of 20S or so this will cease to be a problem, since the sun
will be behind me. Fortunately with this light air, it's actually been
good to be broad reaching anyway just to keep boat speed and apparent
wind up, so all is well. Anyway, we're just passing Guadeloupe Island
off of Mexico - at least it's progressing down the side of the boat, not
just sitting in the same spot like San Clemente did leaving LA.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm off!

I got off the dock in Wilmington yesterday and headed to sea, sailing
straight south to pass the east ends of Catalina and San Clemente
Islands. The wind was light, but I've been continually impressed by
Odyssey's light air performance - we were making 4-5 knots pretty easily
all afternoon, and I had high hopes for making some miles. One of my
big hopes with leaving yesterday was to be able to get out and away from
the land breeze and not spend the day drifting around in the shipping
lanes, but alas, it was not to be. After having to motor briefly
through the lee of Catalina, I ended up spending the night drifting at
anywhere from 0 to 0.5 knots slowly towards San Clemente Island - there
was no traffic but a few Carnival cruise ships, and it actually ended up
being kind of nice since I could get some sleep not worrying too much
about hitting anything since there was no wind. Finally the morning the
breeze is back and I'm back up to drifting at warpspeed of 3 or 4 knots,
and I should be getting clear of San Clemente in just a few minutes.

Underway at Last

Eric set sail today just before noon on his around the world solo-circumnavigation.  The setting could not have been more beautiful as the sky was a brilliant blue, the sun radiantly beamed and the wind held as he departed slip 82 to embark upon his incredible journey.  After so much preparation and organization, the time had come, and those who watched could not have been more proud or excited for him.  He is an inspiration and a flesh and blood reminder that dreams are possible...and really do come true.  Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sailing Alone Around the World

So for those of you who are unaware, I'm soon departing for a solo non-stop circumnavigation aboard my Islander 36, Odyssey.  As of today, all non-perishable food is aboard and stowed, and pretty much all the other gear is aboard too.  We just have a little bit more fiberglass and paint work to do to finish up the bow hatch, and then fresh food to load.  Currently I'm aiming for a Sunday departure, it looks like we should have some decent breeze.  The route I'm taking is the Southern Ocean by way of the great capes, as seen in these pictures.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The last few days have been taken up with provisioning - I have approximately 1,778.6 pounds of provisions to load, not counting stove fuel, but including things like soap, vinegar, and bleach.  Today we finally got all the canned goods on board, tomorrow the rest of the food will go aboard.  With full water tanks and all canned goods on board, Odyssey is sitting noticeable lower in the water - trimmed stern down by about 2 inches, which is good since a lot of the remaining dry goods and condiments are going under the V-berth.  I've installed 14 big plastic bins in the quarter berth, V-berth, and lazarette which are filled with cans and pasta, and then the vacuum bagged rice, flour, and dry goods will be going under the V-berth.  Right now this sunday is looking like a good go-day (see below image from So I'm pushing to get all the food aboard tomorrow so the rest of the week can be used for last minute boat prep details.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Test Post - Photo of Jordan Series Drogue

Here's a Picture of the series drogue on Odyssey.  We took it out and tested it on Sunday, and it's a pain to haul back in, but pretty impressive in stopping power.