Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Odyssey is for Sale

Unfortunately I have decided to sell Odyssey.  It's a bit tough after all we've been through, but it's going to be at least a few years before I'll be cruising on small boats again, and it just doesn't make any sense to let her sit in a slip going to waste in the interim.  I'm asking $28,500, which is an excellent price considering her condition and gear fit out.  I'm hoping to be able to sell the boat quickly.

 For those of you who are interested in purchasing Odyssey:
Odyssey is a 1977 Islander 36 tall rig.  In preparations for my circumnavigation in the summer and fall of 2011, I extensively refit her, including replacing cabin windows and chainplates, adding extra cockpit drainage, reinforcing some bulkheads and adding tie-downs to the aft-lower chainplates for increased stiffness.  I also added an inner forestay for setting storm sails, which proved invaluable off Cape Horn and in the southern ocean, backed up with dyneema running backstays.
I sailed 28,000 miles and for all but perhaps 60 of those, when I hand-steered, Odyssey was steered by my monitor windvane, which functioned wonderfully.
A partial equipment list and some photos are below:

2 mainsails (1 full batten)
130% roller furling Genoa
95% roller furling jib
Storm Jib
Drifter (160%?)
.75oz Spinnaker

85W and 65W solar panel
new (2011) AGM batteries,
Adler/Barbour refrigeration,
AM/FM stereo with CD player
Icom SSB radio
Watchmate AIS receiver / GPS
VHF radio
Autohelm ST50+ Radar

Dyneema/Webbing jacklines
ACR Globalfix Pro EPIRB
Viking 6-man liferaft (inspection good until 2014)
Jordan Series Drogue

Westerbeke 4-108 Diesel
25 gal aluminum fuel tank
2-bladed folding propeller

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back on Shore again

Finally back in California again after delivering a Beneteau 393 from Tahiti-Victoria, BC - trip left me glad that I sailed around the world in an Islander instead of a Beneteau.  I'm not really planning on doing much more in terms of updating this blog, since it was really just a documentation of my circumnavigation.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lots of Pictures

Barnacle Growth between Valparaiso and New Zealand

Seaweed Grew on the Topsides

Fouling - Valparaiso - New Zealand

Monday, August 6, 2012


More Pictures

Cape Pigeon in the Indian

New Inverter from Chile allows haircuts again

I'm going to upload a lot today - going to be computerless for a week at a wedding, so will try to finish off my pictures next week and maybe do a bit of final writing.

The Moon


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Indian Ocean

Feeding Shearwaters

Feeding Shearwaters

Post-Knockdown Mess


Friday, August 3, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Into the South Atlantic

Sailing is Serious... so am I

Black Browed Albatross and a Fairy Prion

It's not always cold


I'm going to be putting up some pictures and video from the trip over the next few days:
Cape Horn

Looking forward

Albatross at Sunset

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's really nice to be back ashore again - so far I've been sleeping, watching terrible television with my darling mother, and eating anything and everything I can get my hands on that isn't out of a can.  So far I don't feel quite as much of a culture shock as when I came into shore in Chile, but I also haven't really been outside the house much either yet - still just sort of adjusting and recovering.  I can't really focus on the trip as a whole yet, I'm still too focused on enjoying flushing toilets, showers, dishwashers, and clean sheets to be particularly interesting.

Monday, July 23, 2012


5PM Position: 33 45' N, 118 15' W, SOG 0, COG 0, Day's Run 90nm.   Docked.  240 days at sea, 28,000 nm, average speed 4.6kts.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Noon Position: 32 11' N, 118 42' W, SOG 5.8, COG 010, Day's Run 100nm.
I'm settling in for the last 100 miles or so to LA, trying to get a lot
of sleep today since I know I won't tonight. In a lot of ways, being
out at sea is a lot easier than being inshore, even in a gale, as
there's nothing to worry about hitting. From just after Cape Horn until
I was in the trades in the South Pacific I saw no ships, the only thing
I had to look out for was a single iceberg. Now i'm seeing a few ships
a day, and aware of far more just over the horizon with AIS. I think I
was pretty lucky with weather this trip, despite all my moanings and
whinings about being becalmed - in all those miles in the southern ocean
and a close encounter with a hurricane in the north pacific I never
really had sustained wind over what I estimate to be force 9. There
were certainly dangerous situations, but never really what one would
term "survival" storms, the kind of weather that is a very real
possibility on this route. Jesse Martin, who until a few years ago was
the youngest nonstop solo circumnavigator, was knocked down 5 times in a
row in while enduring something like 48 hours of force 10 wind on his
approach to Australia, The Moitessiers had to run under bare poles, hand
steering for 6 days before a succession of monster gales en route to the
horn, the Smeetons were pitch-poled end over end by a huge breaking
wave, even W.A. Robinson was nearly pitchpoled on board his much larger
(~50 tons) Varua. I took 3 knockdowns before I learned to be very
vigilant and aggressive in keeping the boat before big breaking seas,
and despite steadily worsening conditions escaped further damage after
my third roll in the Indian. Sometimes it really does seem that some
sailors attract storms and some attract calms, despite the apparent lack
of logic of such a statement.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Noon Position: 30 46' N, 119 39' W, SOG 4.9, COG 040, Day's Run 107nm.
One of the ways I've entertained myself in the last few weeks has been
to think about the creation of the "perfect" boat. Clearly perfect is a
bit of a silly term, but my thoughts lie towards a 35-40 foot ocean
cruiser, optimized for single and doublehanding from the tropics to the
high latitudes. I won't bore you with all my maunderings, but a few
characteristics spring to the fore, namely - Dry: I fantasize about a
metal boat, with everything welded, no leaky through bolts, so I could
sail upwind without a little puddle on the floor as a constant
companion, and books and clothes in various lockers wouldn't
mysteriously emerge soaked and moldy. To take it even further, said
boat would have a far more spray-proof companionway than Odyssey, and
when shut up would be totally watertight, able to be rolled 360 by a
breaking wave without leaking. The other characteristic that I would
love is strength, and by association, stiffness, so that going upwind in
25-30 kts of wind as I am right now I'd slow down for my own comfort,
not out of concern for the boat and rigging, and could face big breakers
without too much worry. These, of course, come on top of good sailing
qualities, a boat that could be operated essentially as if it didn't
have an engine, saving that grumbling goblin for maneuvering in and out
of tight docks. I've drawn and written out pages of thoughts and goals,
but in the end it's really a futile exercise. I'd rather be out sailing
now on my 35 year old, leaky, bendy, boat, than spending the next 20
years in a cubicle farm in Albany or Secaucus, slaving away while
dreaming about sailing away some day. The world is full of sailors and
would be sailors doing just that, and there are countless dream boats
lying half finished in yards across the country, sad monuments to dreams
deferred. Better to be wet and nervous and uncomfortable, but on the
ocean, than looking at pictures of tropical islands while slowly dying,
day by day, in the snakepit ashore. Still, while I'm out here doing, it
doesn't hurt to dream.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Noon Position: 28 34' N, 122 43' W, SOG 4.5, COG 090, Day's Run 84nm,
Week's Run 587nm. As I sailed south in November, each day I listened to
the radio, as first the FM college radio stations dropped out, then the
stronger FM broadcasts, then last of all the AM news and talk shows and
I was surrounded by the silence of the sea. Now, sailing back towards
shore, the reverse is happening - for a few days now I've been able to
receive AM stations on the SSB's big antenna, and last night for a few
hours I picked up my first FM station on the stereo - Santa Barbara's
KTYD. It was an exciting moment, far more so than just hearing
different music for the first time since January could account for, and
I capered around the boat, sang along, and tried to come up with good
slogans for KTYD ("Easy listening for easy living"). Just as the
euphoria of this tangible proof that I was once again approaching land
was wearing off, and, incidentally, the signal was starting to fade out,
I heard one of those noises that sailors dread to hear - A
SPROING-DOINK-Doink-doink.. kind of sound. Hopeful, I pretended that it
was just a fork or a knife leaping from the galley counter in a
spectacular fashion, despite the fact that I had carefully put
everything away as the wind picked up yesterday afternoon, but my hopes
were quickly dashed as the boat lurched, luffed up, and tacked, then lay
quietly hove to. The clutch pin for the windvane's wheel adapter had
finally broken, doinking it's way across the cockpit, and in the process
disconnecting the self steering from the wheel. I guess I should be
grateful that it waited until this late in the trip, particularly as
Odyssey pretty much sails herself close hauled, making the windvane a
mostly superfluous luxury so I can adjust course without leaving the
cabin. Still, I continue to be not particularly impressed with the
rugged construction (or lack thereof) of the Monitor. It certainly has
taken a lot of abuse, and I don't know that any other commercial vane
would be in as good of shape, but the welds that broke last night looked
like they were initially only made about 1/2-way around the pin, not
taking full advantage of the available surface area. After gybing back
on course and getting the boat close hauled again I broke out the stumpy
emergency tiller and rigged the windvane up to it with a gorgeous
kludge-y spiderweb of rigging across the cockpit, so I've got full
steering capabilities again, although I suspect that because of the
shortness of the tiller the windvane isn't going to be able to steer at
low speed as well anymore. I continue to regret not just ripping the
wheel off before I left and installing a proper tiller, but there was
only so much time and far more work to do than time to do it in.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Noon Position: 27 10' N, 26 29' W, SOG 5.2, COG 010, Day's Run 38nm.
Yesterday I felt like I was sailing at Tufts. I normally record changes
of course and speed in the log. Yesterday, after discovering that I had
tacked 10 times in the last hour, and gained 1 mile of distance, I
decided to save the trees and just gave up. The weather continued like
that, constant 45-130 degree wind shifts, puffs, and flat calms, until
around 6 am this morning when the breeze finally filled back in. I was
actively sailing, tacking on every header until I went to sleep, and for
about 10 hours of almost constant effort gained about 10 miles. Last
night I pretty much gave it up as a lost cause, only getting up every
hour or so to tack to try to keep moving, but didn't really get anywhere
until this morning. It seems like I've finally gotten a bit of a lift
today though, so hopefully it'll last long enough to get some mileage.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Noon Position: 26 31' N, 122 35' W, SOG 3, COG 330, Day's Run 80nm.
Beautiful, Sunny Southern California has extended all of it's very best
attributes 500 miles out to sea, just for me! Gloomy, overcast skies,
chilly water, and no wind makes me feel like I'm already back on shore.
I hoped that when I escaped the doldrums I had seen the last of the
drifter, but its yellow and blue stripes are slowly drawing us along. I
guess I should be grateful that I don't have smog, traffic, and strip
malls springing up all around on top of the weather :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Noon Position: 25 26' N, 120 40' W, SOG 4.5, COG 320, Day's Run 72nm.
A few days ago I dug some .txt and .pdf ebooks out of the carcass of my
old laptop, and have been devouring them in all-day reading binges. In
the process, I have been reminded of the best feature of my deceased
kindles - the screen. Reading all day on my laptop's lcd leaves my eyes
bloodshot and dry, trying to crawl out of their frazzled sockets,
throbbing and clawing at my eyelids when I go to sleep. After two
nights of bleariness I've finally given in and gave my eyes a break, and
today am re-reading some paperbacks (for the second time...) just so my
poor eyeballs stop trying to escape. I wonder if this is in part due to
having gotten LASIK - I don't remember computer monitors being quite so
brutal with glasses. In the last seven days I've only gained 470nm
towards LA - about 68 nm made good per day.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Noon Position: 23 50' N, 122 10' W, SOG 2, COG 325, Day's Run 108nm.
Unfortunately, instead of giving me the wind shift I was hoping for, the
passage of Hurricane Emilia seems to have just sucked away all the wind,
so we're slowly drifting NW. We left the tropics today, and for the
past few days it has been noticeably cooler - the water has a bit of a
nip to it, no more do I swelter in a puddle of sweat through the middle
of the day, and I've even had to break out a big wool blanket for
sleeping at night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Noon Position: 20 59' N, 120 18' W, SOG 5.7, COG 330, Day's Run 122nm,
Week's Run 615nm.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Noon Position: 18 13' N, 117 36' W, SOG 5, COG 310, Day's Run 98nm.
The final beat against the trades has begun - about 930nm to go,
straight upwind. Fun. For those of you who are interested in such
things, I should have an article about rounding Cape Horn coming out in
the August issue of Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine (www.seafaring.net)

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Noon Position: 15 22' N, 115 59' W, SOG 6.2, COG 345, Day's Run 140nm.
WARNING: Those of you who are easily offended by the throwing of wild
animals may want to find a different blog to read today. We had a good
ride through Daniel last night, with the breeze slowly building and
backing as Daniel (finally declared a hurricane last night) passed north
of us. Most of the night was spent tearing along in force 8, with
several hours of force 9 winds. The seas surprisingly didn't get
particularly big or steep, never seemed to get over about 10 ft, and
didn't ever start breaking really heavily, just sort of crumbling aboard
and alongside as they went by. I didn't end up getting to sleep until
the breeze got back down to force 8 around midnight, and was up a lot
through the rest of the night, so this morning after dropping the
staysail and setting part of the jib I went straight back to sleep.
About an hour later the breeze had dropped some more, and I woke up and
went into the cockpit still groggy-eyed, to unroll the rest of the jib.
I was reaching for the furling line when I realized that there was a
brown fuzzy ball sitting on top of the jib sheet and furling line on the
bench. Now, I would like to tell you how, being the hardened,
adventurous seaman that I am, I calmly assessed the situation and
reacted with dignity and aplomb. Unfortunately, I screamed like a
little girl and jumped back below, now fully awake. I slowly peered
back around the edge of the companionway and found myself staring into
the sleepy eyes of a brown booby. I quickly withdrew. About a minute
later I peeped out again and it was back asleep, head tucked under it's
wing, but still standing, wobbling back and forth on it's stumpy little
legs like some sort of giant fuzzy toy egg. Occasionally the boat would
take an extra big lurch and one leg would make a little stutter-step for
balance, then gently resume rocking, all without blinking an eye. The
booby didn't seem particularly disturbed, so, I slowly pulled the
furling line out from under its tail and set the rest of the jib and
then, inspired by its example went back below and to sleep. The next
time I came on deck there was a lovely stream of grey running down the
seat from the booby. Enough, I decided, you may be tired from the
hurricane, but that gives you no excuse to make a mess upon my decks,
and I picked the booby up, eliciting nothing more than a groggy blink as
it pulled its head out, and unceremoniously dumped it overboard. The
wind had eased by this time, so after scrubbing the deck I went to set
the main. Just as I was finishing up the booby was back, landing this
time on the cabin top, butt poised dangerously over the topping lift.
Scrubbing the deck is one thing, but cleaning liquified fish off of line
is entirely another. Still, I felt a little sorry for it - I was tired,
and I had been able to get some sleep last night, whereas I imagine it
had been airborne in the thick of the storm. Finally I picked the booby
up again and put it on the floor of the cockpit under the wheel, where
theres a steady wash of water from the cockpit drains, so that anything
unpleasant gets rinsed away before it has a chance to stick. As I write
this the booby is still sitting there, eyes closed, rocking back and
forth. I wish I had sea legs as good as his.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Noon Position: 13 05' N, 116 22' W, SOG 5, COG 045, Day's Run 42nm.
Wednesday afternoon the trades came back, and I had a glorious 8 hours
of sailing on smooth seas before I decided to heave to, due to the
approach of Daniel, which can't seem to make up its mind whether to
become a hurricane or not. So, instead of making two good days of
sailing, I spent 30 of the last 48 hours hove to, just waiting, and
finally this morning was able to start sailing north again to pass up
the backside of Daniel as it passes north of us today. So far the
weather has been decent - 25-30 kts of wind, 8-10 foot seas from all
directions, which makes for a bumpy ride, but nothing real big, and not
enough wind to make anything really start breaking. We may see a bit
more breeze tonight as we get a bit closer, but we're now very much on
the right side of the storm.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Noon Position: 11 44' N, 116 32' W, SOG 3.5, COG 320, Day's Run 49nm,
Weeks' Run 335! At sunrise this morning I looked down into a glassy sea
of blue stars, tiny glints reflecting the light, slowly receding into
the depths. Here and there an upside down jellyfish swam by - not an
actual Upside Down Jellyfish, which live in mangroves, merely a
jellyfish which was upside down - swimming slowly back to deeper
waters. For all but one day in the past week I have been visited by
dolphins, at dawn, at dusk, just after dark, or some combination of the
three. Alliterative creatures, these dolphins of the doldrums.
Yesterday afternoon I had an exciting hour and a half of sail changes as
I sailed through a rain squall, from drifter to jib back to drifter,
then as the wind went aft I tried adding the jib poled out to windward,
then I dropped the main, then I reset the main, then I struck the jib,
then got the spinnaker out to set, but realized that I would have to
gybe, so struck the drifter, set the jib, gybed, the set the spinnaker
and struck the jib. The spinnaker took advantage of a moments
inattention and light wind to tie itself in a knot around the forestay,
and by the time I got it sorted out I was streaming sweat. I couldn't
swim, so I ended up just sticking my head in a bucket of rainwater I'd
caught that morning a few times then dumping it over my head. Just as
my body temperature was starting to return to something approximating
normal I happened to look astern and in the water, just a few feet off
the windvane, were five green-blue shapes, swimming along in our wake,
with shimmering iridescent blue fins and bright yellow tails. More
Dolphins! (of a different sort - Mahi-Mahi are sometimes called
dolphinfish). I felt a little bit guilty for thinking about trying to
eat these gorgeous creatures of light, but in the end tossed in my
lures. I shouldn't have worried - after a quick initial spurt of
investigation the mahi patiently ignored both my green and purple squid,
despite all the jiggling I could muster to make them look enticing.
Later in the afternoon the breeze shut off again and I struck the
spinnaker and slipped into the water to scrub the bottom, gently easing
in fins first to not spook the fish if they were still around. They
still were - just astern, just behind where one of my lures was slowly
sinking, the mahi were still languidly following me. Another Mahi swam
up from behind and went straight towards my lure, and I realized it
wasn't a Mahi - it was a shark! It took a chomp at it, decided it was
no good to eat, then vanished back to where it came from. It wasn't
much bigger than the mahi, which didn't seem particularly disturbed by
it's presence, and I am much larger than a Mahi, so I stayed in the
water and cleaned the bottom. Still, every time I looked around as I
was scrubbing and caught a bit of movement my heart raced before I
resolved it back into a mahi, patiently circling the hull.
Just around sunset we started sailing again, mahi bunched up tight
against the stern, chasing us now, occasionally breaking the surface
with the tip of a tail, and mammalian dolphins swam up for their daily
check-in. One leapt a few times astern, another slapped the water five
or six times with his tail like some sort of oceanic beaver, and they
passed by, swimming near Odyssey for a few minutes before heading back
to wherever they came from. While they were alongside I heard a faint
questioning whistle from down below and went and listened - the dolphins
were talking! There was a series of who faintly whizzing rising
whistles, repeated probably 10 or 15 times, then they were silent again,
and when I came back on deck they were swimming away. I've never heard
dolphins before - always wondered if there was something wrong with my
ears, or if I was just associating with the wrong dolphins. I'm still
not sure, but some sort of cosmic confluence connected their chirps and
my ears.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Noon Position: 10 10' N, 116 02' W, SOG 2, COG 330, Day's Run 48nm. I
just sailed past, in succession, a red bottle with two tiny fish hiding
under it, a booby sitting on the back of a large turtle, with a gannet
floating alongside, and finally a fishing float with 5 or 6 medium sized
fishing hiding in its shade, and a little turtle that went scurrying
away across the sea as we sailed by. The fish were, unfortunately, not
tempted by the oh-so-delicious looking purple and green squid that
mysteriously passed them just a few seconds after the boat did.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Noon Position: 9 27' S, 116 25' W, SOG 4, COG 060, Day's Run 50nm.
There are times you wonder if the wind will ever come back, or if you
are doomed, like some seafaring Tantalus, to roast forever beneath the
blazing tropical sky, teased by patches of rippled water that wander by,
just out of reach. You know the wind will come back, it always does,
but still... You recall stories, horrible stories, of sailing ships
becalmed for weeks in the doldrums, until water runs dry, fresh food
runs out, and when the wind at last returns the scurvy-ridden crew can
barely trim the sails to escape with it. You wonder what the crew of
the helicopter that circles you thinks, seeing you sitting there,
panting in the tiny patch of shade under your tarp, as the wind whips
the shirt sleeves waving out the open door. You wonder what they would
think if they pass over again on their way home and see you sitting
there on the motionless sea, under the same tiny scrap of tarp, reading
the same book, roasting in the same sun. Will they wonder if they've
flown into some sort of time warp, a Bermuda triangle of the pacific?
You swim, you tease the pilot fish, scrub at grass and algae and
insatiable barnacles. You sit and sweat, and swim again, diving down
into the cool shadow of the hull, looking up at the totality of your
world, rolling in the swell. Just for fun you tug at the bow with your
fins, towing it to point North, then kicking hard to tow it to face the
sun, trying to give yourself as much shade as you can when you get back
aboard. By the time you're dried off and looking for shade the boat has
spun again, another cycle in its aimless circle out here on the sea.
You chase the shade, moving from one seat to another, as the sinking
afternoon sun creeps beneath the edges of your canvas. You watch as
rain clouds mushroom up over the sea, thick gray cylinders topped with
white cotton candy, an stationary example of the water cycle at work.
You watch, hopefully, wondering if that cloud is moving, moving towards
you, away from you, it doesn't matter, movement means wind. But the
clouds keep watering their little plots of sea, relentlessly determined
to desalinate their little piece of the Pacific. Finally, just as you
resign yourself to another windless night, the sun sinks below the
horizon and there's something different about the boat, noticeable by
its lack. Then you realize - the main has stopped it's flapping, the
mainsheet has stopped creaking and clanking on the traveller, and the
boat has steadied, quieted. And you go on deck and are greeted by a
breath of cool night air, moving across the sea to brush your cheek. As
you unroll the jib and trim the main the boat gathers way, becoming once
more a living being, awakened from a hot and sullen sleep of creaks and
groans to the almost inaudible gurgle of water along the hull. You knew
the wind would be back, but still, you want to shout for joy, shout for
salvation, "Wind! Wind! The Wind is back!" Still, even as you slide
softly over the sea, you know that next time you will once again wonder
if the wind will come back.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Noon Position: 8 50' S, 116 57' W, SOG 0, COG ???, Day's Run 1,089,145
inches. I suspect that the field of plankton I sailed through a few
days ago contained a large quantity of barnacles - when I went for a
swim this morning the bottom was covered by innumerable miniature bodies
waving as the boat rolled. I spent about 2 hours scrubbing and teasing
the pilot fish. It seems my two big fish have abandoned me for a
passing whale or dolphin - the last few times I've been in only my
little friend is there. Today as we drifted at mach 0 there were two
other schools of little tiny fish hiding around the rudder and keel -
I'm not sure what they were, but unfortunately too small to do much of
anything with but chase with my finger. As I was swimming Odyssey was
drifting imperceptibly forward, driven by the roll of the swell on her
keel and mainsail, and looking down a parade of strange gelatinous
creatures passed below me - some trailing tentacles, some curled into
weirdly symmetrical curves, only to unroll and drift away when
disturbed. way down in the depths I caught the wriggle of a little fish
- It didn't look like one of my pilot fish, but they did seem to like
hiding deep under the boat when I was in the water. There are probably
people who would pay exorbitant amounts of money for my life at the
moment - drifting through warm tropical seas on a private yacht,
swimming at will, baking in the golden rays of the sun, if only I had a
bar equipped to make frozen tropical drinks. I'm very close to the line
of the ITCZ/monsoon trough - for some reason in the weather discussion
yesterday it morphed from one to the other. The hints of breeze and
swell now trickle from the north instead of wafting up from the south.
Unfortunately it's a lot harder to drift upwind in 1kt of breeze than it
is to drift downwind, so today's run is best expressed in inches

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Noon Position: 7 37' N, 117 06' W, SOG 5, COG 350, Day's Run 65nm. The
game of inches continues... I awoke this morning to a peal of thunder
after a night of slow but constant northward drifting and was soon on
deck dealing with the always fun wind shifts of another squall filled
day. First we went wing off - eased the working jib sheet, took up on
the foreguy as the pole swung foreward, sheeted the jib in on the same
side as the main as the wind came forward, then ease the topping lift
and tighten the foreguy to drop the pole out of the way. The wind goes
further forward, so I adjust the windvane, sheet in the jib, take off
the main preventer, sheet in the main, reset the main preventer, and now
we're close hauled where just a few minutes before we were running
before the wind. Then the wind keeps going, so I have to go forward,
take the lazy sheet out of the jaws of the spinnaker pole, then try to
put the pole away so it won't get in the way when we tack and realize
that I need to go back to the cockpit to ease the foreguy so I can slide
the pole back to it's chocks, then back up to the bow, slide the pole
aft, thread the butt onto the little post at the aft end, grab the bar
of the forward chock with the jaws, then back to the cockpit, take all
the slack out of the foreguy and topping lift, then flip the windvane
around to tack, but the wind is too light for it to do the job, so I
have to disengage the vane, spin the wheel to tack, ease the working
sheet, sheet the jib in on the new side, get us on course and re-engage
the windvane, then release the main preventer (which is now to windward,
acting like the sheet), reset the preventer to leeward, then haul the
main traveller up to lock the boom in place against the preventer so it
doesn't bang around if the wind drops. The heavens open, a torrential
downpour, and I fill 5 gallons of water jugs before the rain stops,
leaving us rolling around, sails slatting, so I ease the jib sheet, haul
on the furling line to roll up the jib so it doesn't destroy itself and
go below and continue cleaning the head. All of this in 15 minutes
before 7am. Half an hour later the wind is back again, now from a new
direction, so it's on deck to repeat all over again, trying to squeeze
as many yards and feet and inches to the north out of each little puff.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Noon Position: 6 33' N, 117 12' W, SOG 3.6, COG 030, Day's Run 51nm,
Week's Run 817nm. Yesterday we sailed into what I would term the
beginning of the Doldrums, although my friendly weather forecast would
call the frustrating, hot, cloudy wet day yesterday merely "A LARGE AREA
spent far too much time on deck (changing course and sails with every
squall), with not enough clothing (because of the rain), got far too
much sun (despite the clouds), and finally just rolling around becalmed
through the night. Last night we drifted into what I at first thought
was an immense oil slick, but I soon realized that the sea was carpeted
with tiny specks of something - plankton, jellyfish eggs? who knows?
We were still in them when I woke up at 6 this morning, and the coating
was heavy enough to prevent wind ripples from forming in the light
breeze - we were disconcertingly sailing at 4-5 kts over a sea that
looked like an undulating sea of glass. Any number of feathers floated
by, man-o-war jellyfish large and small, as well as two weird pink
swimming crab-like creatures, that looked vaguely like cross between a
jellyfish, crab, and pink flying fish with wings extended underwater,
which frantically and ineffectually struggled away from the boat. I
started in on my second to last unread paperback, Foucault's Pendulum,
and as the sunrise wind slowly started to dissipate I heard the sound of
breathing from on deck. There were little dolphins all around the boat,
some leaping energetically, some languidly surfacing, but all slowly
passing us. By the time the tail of the group arrived ten minutes later
fifty or sixty must have gone by. I got out my mask and jumped in to
see if any would swim with me, but just like the last time I tried
swimming with dolphins in the doldrums, as soon as I hit the water the
rear-guard scarpered, and I just caught the vaguest impression of a fast
moving shape out of the corner of my eye before they were gone. I did,
however, discover a pilot fish, maybe 8 inches long, hiding behind the
rudder. From underwater the plankton cloud was even more noticeable, a
haze extending through the top foot of the water column. Instead of
diving with dolphins I decided to battle with barnacles, which despite
the thorough scraping I gave the boat just a few weeks ago had already
come back in force. I climbed back aboard and rigged lines from bow to
stern to give me something to brace against while scrubbing and got out
my scrapers and scrubbers. While I was cleaning Odyssey's accompanying
guard of fish multiplied - first I noticed a little finger-sized pilot
fish who followed me around, curious what this strange creature was
doing, while his larger sibling still shyly tried to keep the keel or
rudder between us. Soon he was joined by two equally diminutive fish,
one small and blue, the other skinny and brown, that looked like it
might be a tiny remora or some sort of sucker-fish. By the time I got
out the breeze was slowly coming back, and another bigger pilot fish had
arrived, and seemed to be involved in some sort of territorial dispute
with my original escort. Back on deck, I saw lithe black bodies leaping
on the horizon - the dolphins hadn't gone far. We're now sloowly
drifting downwind, and I'm sitting in the shade of the spinnaker on the
bow typing, as the only vaguely comfortable spot on the boat. A few
minutes ago a small pod of whales passed me on the eastern horizon,
heading south, blowing and spouting spray.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Noon Position: 4 12 N, 118 51' W, SOG 5.5, COG 020, Day's Run 130nm.
For the last two nights dolphins have visited me at sunset, terrifying
passing flying fish into frenetic flight. As darkness falls they take
up station on the bow, playing and surfing and surging, trailing glowing
and sparkling wakes, occasionally setting off great green flashes that
outline a nose or fin. I suspect that these sparkling creatures which
visit in the Twilight may be vampire dolphins, but that certainly does
not detract from the warmth of their welcome back into the northern
hemisphere. I'm onto my last large chart of the trip, covering the
whole west coast, much abused from the trip out. Fortunately none of
the tears and stains impinge on the route from here to Los Angeles.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Noon Position 00 04' S, 120 14' W, SOG 6, COG 025, Day's Run 118nm.
Yesterday Afternoon, Fortunately, the wind was light enough to have full
sail up. Unfortunately, the wind increased. Fortunately, it's easy to
reef. Unfortunately, I had to walk to the mast. Fortunately, I found a
squid! Unfortunately, it was glued to the deck. Fortunately, it peeled
off easily. Unfortunately, it left a mark. Fortunately, it should wash
off. Unfortunately, I was hungry. Fortunately, I had a squid!
Unfortunately, the squid smelled like poop. So I threw it overboard and
made instant mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner.


Noon Position: 01 54' S, 120 58' W, SOG 5.5, COG 010, Day's Run 127nm.
The water (and air) temperature has dropped a little bit as we've sailed
into some westbound current, carrying a little bit of the southern ocean
out across the Pacific. I've been reading over my journal from the way
out, remembering how the stove plagued me with its squeaks and squawks
and the villainous assaults of the pen-bandits. Funny. Yesterday
morning the stove fell off (the third time, I think?), and in the past
four days I have lost two pencils and at least three pens. Clearly it
wouldn't be proper to cross the equator without the stove having caused
some last bit of deviltry or with all my writing implements intact.
Drawing inspiration from the past, in my search for pens I checked the
fridge, but all I can find in there is a small colony of bugs. 20,000
miles out to sea, with only a few of the indomitable sweet potatoes
left, and I am plagued with these stupid little bugs. Apparently
they're neat freaks, since they didn't start to appear until I started
to give the boat a good-cleaning back in the variables. If only I could
train them to nibble mold out of cracks and crevices, and we could get
along just fine. But instead, I seem to find at least one new spot a
day to hose down with Raid.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Noon Position: 6 14' S, 121 34' W, SOG 5, COG 015, Day's Run 122nm,
Week's Run 777 miles. The weather is getting increasingly warm, and I
have made the astonishingly belated discovery that I am both a far more
pleasant person, and am far more pleasant, if I periodically dump a
bucket of water over my head between the hours of 10 and 2 before
retiring to the airless pit in which I hide from the sun's rays. As I
was skimming my Great Big Book of the Oceans (with an introduction by
Fabien Cousteau!) yesterday I came upon the information that the
Atlantic flying fish is capable of remaining airborne for up to 100m,
and I began to wonder how this suspiciously round number was
ascertained. I enjoyed the image of teams of highly educated
ichthyologists laying out long strings of floating line, demarcated in
1m intervals, from their research vessel before dashing about the ocean
in small inflatables, trying to first herd a school of flying fish the
start of the course, then scare them into the air, transforming the
school for a few brief instants into a flock. I'm sure in reality some
grad student at Wood's Hole grunted out the first plausible number that
came to mind when the Great Big Book of the Ocean people came calling
early on a Monday morning, eager to return to a restorative pot of
coffee. But one can dream.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Noon Position: 10 20' S, 122 W, SOG 5.5, COG 010, Day's Run 110nm.
It's hard to do much of anything in the mid-day tropical heat,
particularly in the sweaty cave of the cabin, closed up against the
waves, where I am confined by the sun, but I managed to work up the
energy to soundly curse the weather, the ocean, and the trade winds upon
discovering that we had only managed a pathetic 110nm today - the wind
has been sitting at a pretty steady 25-30 kts from the EXN, which led to
a rough night even with the pathetic speeds we managed. It's pretty sad
that since getting to the trades, I've only managed to average over 5
kts twice.
For those of you who are interested, I've discovered that I can still
read, after a fashion on one of my kindles, since only a quarter of the
screen is missing. I start the page upside down, read the top half,
then flip the screen and the kindle over and read the bottom half before
flipping back for the next page. It's a pretty miserable way of
reading, breaking up the flow of the book pretty badly, especially since
I have to read half of the middle line on one flip and the other half on
the second flip, and after reading about 30 pages I gave up on it for
now - I was starting on Reamde, which I wanted to enjoy, and the
flipping just kind of killed it for me. If I get desperate I may go
back and try again, but for now I still have 2 real books that I haven't
read, and I've re-read a number that I read the last time I was in the

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Noon Position: 12 10' S, 122 13' W, SOG 5.7, COG 010, Day's Run 105nm.
I have apparently managed to happen upon the 7.5% chance (according to
my pilot charts) in which the wind in this region is North of East.
Still slugging it out upwind, although today it's finally veered to EXN
and built to 20 kts - great wind for going the other direction. This is
what I get for hoping for 1000 mile weeks in the trades, I guess. Now
that I'm out of the south, I'm pretending to be a purist - I stopped
downloading weather files somewhere in the vicinity of 30S, and for the
last few days I've been taking advantage of the relatively smooth
conditions to turn off the GPS and work on my celestial navigation.
This, of course, will cease shortly after crossing the equator as I play
the always fun game of "don't get hit by a Hurricane." I've got a pot
of a fish & lentil stew going on the stove right now - the chunks of
dried wahoo that I threw in have withstood an hour of pressure cooking
and about 36 hours of soaking with no noticeable reduction in
toughness. The dried fish is pretty bland, but is a decent way to save
the extra.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Noon Position: 14 45' S, 123 20' W, SOG 5, COG 000, Day's Run 100nm.
Wednesday I finally picked up the trades, which have been sending us
North ever since. I had been imagining weather like I had on my way
south, 15-25 kts out of the E to ESE, which going North again would
drive us along at quite a good clip. Instead the trades have been
light, rarely over 12kts, and last night we even spent 6 hours becalmed,
drifting around. I was looking forward to a nice swim once the sun was
up, but with the sun came wind, so we're sailing instead - unfortunately
NE wind, so we're close hauled, but at least we're moving in the right
direction at something approximating an acceptable pace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Noon Position: 18 27' S, 124 05' W, SOG 6.5, COG 015, Day's Run 105nm,
Week's Run 592. Yesterday I used 4.5 rolls of toilet paper. That's an
entire convenient, septic-safe 4-pack plus a bit extra. It was not, as
you may surmise, as a result of eating some poorly cured dried wahoo, or
even eating moldy cheese or a bad bit of sausage. It was, in fact, a
sacrifice in yet another massive push against the mold. As of yesterday
afternoon, everything from the companionway forward (including the
v-berth, fetid mass of wet sails that it is) has been de-molded and
dried. I only have 2 rolls of paper towel left, but approximately
2,000,000,32 rolls of toilet paper, so a substitution was made. I have
high hopes that I may get until next week before it starts appearing again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Noon Position: 20 10' S, 134 34' W, COG 075, SOG 2, Day's Run 42nm.
I've sailed through the screaming fifties, the roaring forties,
struggled through the threatening thirties and the tiresome twenties,
almost through at last to the tropical teens and the nudist noughts (so
called because, of course, you wish you were a nudist in the heat). If
I carried both sufficient fuel and the will to use it my passage through
the variables would have been no doubt faster, but not, I think,
better. Certainly it would have been nice to be through quicker, to be
buffeted by fewer cold fronts, and I certainly could have motored
through the night last night instead of rolling back and forth in my
bunk as we bobbed about, totally becalmed, but it would be a different
trip. I will admit, with some chagrin (one of my log entries reads
"Main Engine ON - forgive me") to motoring as much as I could on that
painful slog to Valparaiso, preoccupied as I was with thoughts of
repairs and preserving as much of the southern summer as possible. It
didn't really make much of a difference, the 15 or so hours that I
gained with the engine on were used up lying hove to off the coast,
waiting for dawn to go to shore, and those 15 hours certainly weren't
pleasant, listening and feeling the roar and vibration of the engine.
On every other boat that I've sailed running an engine and/or generator
is a fact of life - from relatively light hour or two a day of charging
of small cruising boats all the way up to the obscene dawn-to-dusk
generator on a big schooner, on top of the grumble of the engine as soon
as the wind got light. I can certainly do it, have in the past and will
in the future, but it's a different kind of life, a different mood, a
different goal, driven by the whims and schedules of the shore, the so
called "real world" where people have planes to catch and cold drinks
and air conditioning. I always loathe the moment that the engine
grumbles to life, casting it's pall of smoke and grease and noise over
the boat, and I expect most sailors do, but just accept it as a
necessity. Despite the frustration of essentially engine-less sailing,
the slow days, the irritation that flares up at silly little things
knocking about in calms, it brings to life a certain beauty, a rhythm
not dominated by the mechanical god of the shore.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Noon Position: 22 24' S, 125 52' W, SOG 6.5, COG 045, Day's Run 125nm.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Noon Position: 25 31' S, 127 55' W, SOG 4, COG 080, Day's Run 65nm.
The transition in ecosystems from the south to the tropics is becoming
clear - three days ago a big albatross wandered by, looking a bit
confused, then yesterday morning I was visited by a tropic bird, who
hovered overhead despite all my shouting and waving, as if trying to
decide whether it was worth it to befoul my sails. The birds in the
southern ocean were, in addition to being rather stately, far cleanlier
than tropical birds, who seem to take joy in leaving presents of
excrement or regurgitated fish on travelling boats. For two mornings
now I've woken up to find a fat juicy flying fish or two on deck, and my
sleeping bag now only serves as a bottom sheet, a buffer against the
damp cushions. Sunrise yesterday was spectacular and red, and perhaps I
should have heeded the rhyme, for in the last 24 hours I have gotten to
enjoy a fabulous 400 degree wind shift, backing from NE all the way
around the compass back to NE, then onwards to just W of North again. I
have also been graced with the privilege of enjoying wind speeds ranging
from glassy, drizzly calms that had the sails and boom slamming and
slatting recklessly, to wind strong enough that twice now I've had to
heave to and wait for it to decrease. At least in all of these
shenanigans I've managed to claw my way 65 miles closer to the trades,
one day closer to escaping this obnoxious muddle of wind.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Noon Position: 27 27' S, 127 30' W, SOG 5, COG 055, Day's Run 100nm,
Week's Run 620nm.
Miles Sailed since just before Tasmania: 4799nm
Average Day's Run: 114nm
Average Speed Sailed: 4.75kts
Miles Sailed since Valparaiso: 15934nm
Average Day's Run: 119nm
Average Speed: 4.9kts
Miles Sailed since Los Angeles: 22687nm
Average Day's Run: 115.75
Average Speed: 4.82kts
I was all set to complain about the slow week's run, but then looking
over old logs to come up with the numbers since LA I found a week's run
of 562 and another of 495... Of all the terrible places to sail east
in, the middle of the variables off of the coast of Chile was certainly
one of the worse picks.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Noon Position: 30 11' S, 130 00' W, SOG 5, COG 075, Day's Run 115nm.
An Unpleasant night - by 10:45 or so I was bashing upwind with a triple
reefed main and partial genoa, which is not in any way, shape, or form
an appropriate upwind sail when rolled that much. Every time we dropped
off a wave a little video clip from the america's cup a few years back
ran through my head, of Team New Zealand launching off a big wave upwind
and crashing down hard in a plume of bow spray, and instead of stopping
it's plunge like the hull, the mast kept going, crumpling (in slow-mo)
over the side. I finally got the boat throttled back enough to fall
asleep, only to be awakened from a disturbing dream of Christmas
shopping while being pursued by government thugs through an underground
warren of basements and tunnels by a new and obnoxious beeping. I
stumbled out of bed, still fogged with sleep, thinking that perhaps the
AIS alarm had somehow gotten a new sound over all these months of
inactivity, and rushed to the chart table. Nothing - no lights
blinking, no messages flashing, just an obnoxious beep. I finally
figured out that it was the continuance of the electronics holocaust
that has engulfed Odyssey these last few days - the inverter, despite
being turned off, had managed to do something unpleasant in it's innards
and wanted to let me know. I turned it on and the beeping intensified,
accompanied by blinking error codes and horrible grinding noises from
the fan. I finally had to disconnect the power to get it to shut up and
let me get back to sleep.
Whenever I've been feeling melancholy of late my eyes have turned
towards Cape Horn on my little inflatable globe, back towards the
southern ocean. In a spurt of curiosity, I downloaded the Chilean
weather forecast for Cape Horn this afternoon:


That snapped me out of it pretty quick - suddenly 25 kts on the nose doesn't seem so bad anymore...


Noon Position: 30 11' S, 130 00' W, SOG 5, COG 075, Day's Run 115nm.
An Unpleasant night - by 10:45 or so I was bashing upwind with a triple
reefed main and partial genoa, which is not in any way, shape, or form
an appropriate upwind sail when rolled that much. Every time we dropped
off a wave a little video clip from the america's cup a few years back
ran through my head, of Team New Zealand launching off a big wave upwind
and crashing down hard in a plume of bow spray, and instead of stopping
it's plunge like the hull, the mast kept going, crumpling (in slow-mo)
over the side. The electronics holocaust also continued last night, as
I was awakened in the wee hours by an obnoxious beep, and hurtled out of
bed, my still sleep-fogged mind thinking that the AIS alarm was warning
me of some nearby ship - nope. Despite being turned off, the inverter
was beeping like a dying animal, and when I tried turning it on, only
beeped louder, accompanied by blinking error codes on the little display
and horrible grinding noises from the fan. I put the spare in this
morning, so at least I still have power - the inverter survived all
sorts of abuse in the southern ocean, only to finally die a horrible
beeping death in relatively mild conditions.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Noon Position: 30 40' S, 133 07' W, SOG 4.5, COG 320 (I'm going to tack
soon), Day's Run 75nm. Well, we're fully ensconced in the variables,
the Horse Latitudes of youre. When I switched from jib to Genoa a few
days ago I thought it would be a good way to bring the wind, since
typically as soon as I increase sail area the wind picks up so as to
make it unmanageable, but instead the breeze slowly died - We are
definitely dealing with the vindictive winds of the 40s no more. I had
forgotten how big the genoa was - I can't believe that I sailed some
3500 miles on the way out with it up, although I suppose I am a bit
biased from the last few months. It's been nice to have the big
headsail, since sailing on the starboard tack I can't set the drifter
without some nasty halyard chafe, so it's let me keep moving in this
light stuff. I haven't had any really long glassy calms since I last
posted, just light and variable wind, leaving me slapping around at 1 or
2 knots for half an hour, then rushing along fully powered up at 6 kts,
then back to 3, and so on, all with changing directions too. I'm hoping
this wind continues to back into the NW or W and I can get some
spinnaker action going, to start really cranking out the miles in this
light stuff, but we shall see.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Noon Position: 32 18' S, 135 12' W, SOG 3, COG 020, Day's Run 60nm.
RIP Kindle #2... I discovered yesterday afternoon in a horrible
confluence of technology that if you drop a satellite phone onto the
screen of a Kindle, said screen will no longer function. I can now read
only the very bottom line on each page on my second kindle, worse than
the bottom half of the page that I could read on the first broken one.
This does at least give me fewer reasons to avoid cleaning, so I spent
the morning (mostly becalmed, winds light and variable) scrubbing,
drying, and de-molding. Odyssey is starting to approximate a habitable
space again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Noon Position: 33 04' S, 136 08' W, SOG 5.1, COG 048, Day's Run 125nm,
Week's Run 945nm. I'm a little bit worried that I've gotten too far
north too soon, as the breeze has come around to about ESE, leaving me
sailing close hauled. My last three week upwind journey off New Zealand
was uncomfortable for me and damaging for the boat, but today at least
the breeze is relatively light, 10-14 kts or so, and we're trundling
along upwind with the small jib and 1 reef in the main in an almost
pleasant manner - no waves over the top of the cabin, no slamming and
juddering and pounding off of steep square sided waves, no sickening
sideways lurches. The sun is shining, The solar panels are charging at
the highest voltage I've seen in well over a month, giving me hopes that
I may be able to get the resting voltage on my 12V batteries over 12V by
the time the sun sets, also for the first time in well over a month, and
if it weren't for the clammy puddle on the floor, the condensation still
dribbling down the shady side of the cabin and off the ceiling, and the
never-ending assault by mold, mildew, and assorted growths upon every
available surface one might even consider it civilized. I had almost
forgotten how comfortable and almost sailing could be in normal latitudes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Noon Position: 34 27' S, 138 05' W, SOG 4.8, COG 050, Day's Run 140nm.
A few well intentioned emails have gotten me thinking about the future
for the past few days, about what lies ahead on shore. For almost a
year now my world has been focused on this trip, planning, preparing,
then sailing, first south, then forever east. The thought of returning
to shore to face the unknown has filled me with a mixture of black rage
and anxious dread. I've wished any number of times that I could just
keep on sailing east, but south America lies in the way, with Cape Horn
reaching down to the now icy depths of the pacific, and winter is here,
bringing with it increasingly violent weather that I'm now fleeing
from. I wonder if by turning North now I might be quitting before I've
gone far enough, but at the same time I'm afraid of going too far like
Santiago, losing myself as the winter takes great toothy bites out of me
and the boat alongside, leaving nothing but great bones washing through
the sea. If I could just catch the right wave, warm and gentle, to ride
around the world, but Odyssey is tired and so am I, wet and moldy and
breaking down. So instead I'm sailing back north towards the trades,
out of the fearsome and violent south, wondering where I'm bound.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Noon Position: 37 11' S, 142 36' W, SOG 6.5, COG 055, Day's Run 150nm.
I've replaced my crippled Kindle2 with my mom's old kindle which I
carried as a backup, and have been informed by sources of no ill repute
that it is best designated as either a "Kindle 3" or a "Keyboard
Kindle." It's certainly smaller and lighter than my kindle 2,
particularly as the replacement does not reside in a plastic
water-resistant housing, but in a gallon zip lock bag. From seeing it
before I left, I thought I would be bothered by the smaller buttons for
changing pages, but I don't mind them, and actually kind of like that I
can now change pages by squeezing the side of the kindle in addition to
the push from on top - this is of course made easier by the narrower
width. I am not at all happy with the relocation of the power switch
from the top left corner to the bottom right - maybe it's just because
I'm left handed, but I could pick up and turn on my kindle 2 one handed,
which despite all my awkward fumbling I have been unable to accomplish
the the "keyboard kindle." The only thing I can think of that might
work would be to display the text upside down, then I could use the
whole device upside down and hit the power switch left handed like I
used to. Another thing that bothers me is the lack of numbers on the
keyboard. I really only used the keyboard for occasional dictionary
references and going online with my kindle 2, the latter usage obviously
having been neglected the last several months. But I did use the number
keys frequently, too frequently actually, for typing in locations in the
book. This was necessitated by a feature-turned-flaw in the
interactions between my kindle 2 and its case - because of how the case
interfaced with the little joystick nubbin, a funny look or the brush of
a blanket when I put the kindle down to go deal with the sails would
frequently send the kindle off on a chapter-hopping spree, often leaving
me with no way to return to my starting point when I returned, other
than typing in locations in 100 unit increments to zero in on my spot.
With the Keyboard kindle this seems to have been obviated by the little
square arrow buttons instead of a super-touchy joystick poking through a
rubbery sleeve in a housing, but has created a new challenge. The back
button is directly underneath the down arrow, and I've noticed that any
number of times my fat thumbs have inadvertently hit back instead of
scrolling the cursor down a page to look up a word, leaving me in the
same straits as before, but with a difference. With my Kindle 2,
depending on what seemed to be whimsy (but I suspect may have in fact
have something to do with the format of the ebook, whether it was a
.mobi from a non-amazon source or whatever the DRM'd amazon format is
called) I could sometimes use the back button to undo all my joy-stick
driven chapter hops, but with the keyboard kindle, one cannot use the
back button to undo it's own actions, leaving me awkwardly trying to
type in locations without a number pad. To be fair, I suspect that
there must be some method of returning to the furthest page in the book
that has been read, known to those who are kindle-savvy (or at least
read the manual), but in my curmudgeonly way I just poke away at the
keys. I feel a little bit like I imagine my mother does when she's
using a computer, mystified and surprised as lights flash and things go
"beep!" I don't really have any excuse for not reading the manual other
than sheer Ludditery, to use a word that greatly angers my
spellchecker. But, I figure that I'm sailing around the world by myself
on a 35 year old boat, so I figure I've got a little bit of an excuse,
computer-science degree or no. A lot of the books I had on my kindle
were from non-Amazon sources, primarily Project Gutenberg and Baen
Publishing's e-book store, which I have reason to be grateful for in
this instance. Since my mom's kindle is still registered as hers, it
has a whole slew of new books on it, but I can't transfer any of my
amazon purchases between kindles. Fortunately Baen is an enlightened
publisher and has had success selling non-DRM'd ebooks (and in fact
offering up a significant free library), and project Gutenberg obviously
does as well, so I was able to finish the book I was in the middle of by
transferring it to the new kindle, along with a few others I had been
planning on reading soon.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Noon Position:  38 31' S, 148 14' W, SOG 5, COG 065, Day's Run 135nm.  My Kindle, which has been warning me for the past few months that it's battery was slowly dying and that I really should go out and buy another Kindle or two from Amazon, finally decided today that it had had enough of my malingering and kicked the bucket.  When I turned it on this morning, the portrait of Virginia Woolf vanished from all but the top right quarter of the screen, where it merely faded and blurred, leaving me with a reading device that only lets me read the first half of the lines on the top half of the page.  On the plus side, I got the engine running today without much fuss, a prospect that I was a bit nervous about given the fairly shoddy state of my batteries and the number of weeks since I last turned it over.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Noon Position: 39 59' S, 153 31' W, SOG 5.6, COG 090, Day's Run 130nm,
Week's Run 937nm. This concludes the first week in the past month that
I've run over 800nm, also the first week that I've actually been able to
sail downwind. In eating a pack of WASA cardboard-crackers, I've
discovered one of the secrets of dieting: The "light" version of the
crackers are no more card-boardy than the normal crackers, just half as
thick. Same number of calories in a package, just twice as many
crackers, so I don't get as fat per cracker, although how anyone could
do much more than waste away eating even the normal crackers I'm not
sure. I brought a bunch of them because I thought they'd last better
than wheat thins and triscuits and chex mix, which has not proved to be
the case, but my enthusiasm for the more delicious crackers has left me
with a solid wall full of bricks of rye crisps that I now am starting to
gnaw my way through, normal and "light" alike.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Noon Position: 42 16' S, 158 35' W, SOG 5.3, COG 070, Day's Run 115nm.
Our position has moved onto a new chart, officially called "South
Pacific Ocean - Sheet II," but which I prefer to think of as bearing the
more grandiloquent title "The Vast Uncharted Wasted of the South
Pacific" Stretching from the Equator to 60S, and from 160W to 110W, the
top half of the chart is speckled with the island of French Polynesia,
but the south half is a void. A few lines of soundings run here and
there, from some survey ship unfortunate enough to be sent across the
waters, and there are a few specks reporting "breakers reported, 1978"
or "discolored water reported, 1947", but even these vanish south of
40S, leaving just a vast white emptiness crossed by lines of latitude
and longitude. In the far south of the Indian and the Atlantic there
were scattered islands and lots of depth soundings, but the far South
Pacific is a void. I can easily imagine bored sailors filling up the
space with doodles of sea monsters and storms, just to have something to
look at as the dots of position march along across the page.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Noon Position: 42 27' S, 161 08' W, SOG 4.5, COG 110, Day's Run 140nm.
The last 3 or 4 days have been beautiful sailing during the day and
frustrating squally nights, with not much continuous sleep to be had. I
just finished reading Anna Karenina, and my dreams have been haunted by
unpronounceable Russian nobility, filling roles completely unrelated to
Russians or nobility. Going back to sleep after adjusting the sails I
stayed awake a few extra minutes, trying to figure out how to pronounce
the names of the gas station attendant, yacht captain, or cab driver
whose unpronounceability had featured prominently just before I awoke.
I'm pretty sure my mother even appeared with a Russian name. Just
writing about it now has me silently trying to sound out some of the
worst as I type. Last night, instead of a host of Russians inhabiting
my dreams, I had a host of weather inhabiting my waking hours. One of
the weaknesses of the GRIB weather files I've been using is a tendency
to strongly underestimate the winds associated with a frontal passage.
When I looked at noon yesterday, I was reassured by seeing max
windspeeds of 25 kts or so through the night. So I was frustrated as
the breeze built to a solid 30 from the NNW by nightfall, growing
increasingly squally with lots of lightning flashes lighting up the
clouds all around, oddly enough unaccompanied by thunder. Finally
around 0130 this morning I had to strike the main in a nasty squall,
which proceeded to blow 40+ knots for the next four hours as Odyssey
rocketed down waves rigging thrumming and screaming, seldom seeing
speeds under 7 kts as we surfed fast under just the staysail. This
morning the breeze finally eased back down to the mid 30s and has slowly
been backing off throughout the day, but is still certainly blowing
harder than the smooth and lovely 20kts W wind forecasted for 6am this
morning. Looking at the weather forecasts is a bit of a weakness of
mine - most of the time even knowing what's coming there's not a whole
lot I can do about it, especially at the moment as I'm trying to get
back north, but I still religiously pull down GRIBS daily and stare at
the contents, as if somehow through sheer willpower I can affect what
we're going to get.


My latitude on 5/16 was 44 57' S, not 49 57' S.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Noon Position: 49 57' S, 172 18' W, SOG 6, COG 055, Day's Run 120nm,
Week's Run 772nm. Because of crossing the international date line, my
weeks now end on Wednesday instead of Thursday. This morning I passed a
north-bound sperm whale, who clearly is wiser than I, he was heading due
north for warmer weather while I still slant away to the east. After
being becalmed again last night, today is once again a glorious day - it
probably says something about me and the southern ocean that instead of
joyously welcoming the nice weather, I keep nervously looking to
windward, waiting for something dark and ominous to roll across the
horizon. Two nice, sunny, downwind days in a row! Something must be
wrong with the weather systems down here. I took advantage of the
dryness yesterday afternoon to tackle, for the 47th time, the
prodigiously leaking stbd aft lower chainplate, which has been doing
it's level best to turn the shelf above the bunk into something
resembling a jurassic swamp. As I was putting everything back together
I noticed that the shroud had a few broken strands just at the lower
terminal! After a second night time shroud repair mission, happily this
time without having to go aloft, Odyssey now has two jury rigged
shrouds, this one repaired with the bottom half of the first broken
shroud, and I am beginning to dislike swaged wire terminals.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Noon Position: 45 52' S, 174 47' W, SOG 6, COG 065!, Day's Run 90nm.
In Storm Passage, Webb Chiles wrote "The best sailing days in the
Forties are the equal of the best days anywhere, and the worst the
worst. Unfortunately the latter are far more common than the former."
Today is finally one of the best days, after a depressingly long string
of miserable weather. Yesterday the Northerly gale dissipated in the
afternoon before getting up any really nasty seas, but dissipated into a
rainy calm, which, while welcome for a chance to refill my water tanks,
was not particularly welcome as the remnant waves seemed to rush about
in all directions. We even managed to slam the bow off a couple of
waves doing less than 2 knots - lots of fun. Then, of course, an even
more exciting night, squally and with very variable wind, varying 30 or
40 degrees in direction and from everywhere from dead calm to 20kts, so
I was up every hour or so reefing, shaking reefs, changing course, all
in a constant drizzle, before retiring to my damp sleeping bag in the
sopping cabin, since I am apparently constitutionally incapable of
collecting rainwater without pouring exactly 50% of the water all over
the floor. Today the squalls died out, the sun came out, and the wind
settled down to a 20kt westerly, drying everything out and giving me my
first day of downwind sailing in non gale-force winds since probably
Tasmania. It certainly is the equal of the best sailing anywhere - nice
temperature, clear skies with just a few clouds, and fast wind from the
quarter with just enough swell to gently surf every now and then. A
much appreciated break from the weather gods.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Noon Position: 46 33' S, 176 37' W, SOG 4, COG 110, Day's Run 105nm.
One of the things that I've been diligently avoiding this trip is going
aloft. The last time I did, on my way to Chile, I ended up with bruised
thighs, a mast that looked like a chainsaw chipmunk had been attacking
the paint, and didn't even succeed in fixing the light I was hoping to
fix. Here in the South, where there is almost always some sort of W
swell, I have studiously avoided a repeat performance, telling myself
that I was saving my mast-climbing mojo for a moment that mattered.
Well, last night navigational progress went SPROING!!!!! The breeze had
just come up enough that Odyssey was starting to sail well close hauled
under full sail and I had just gotten settled into bed, set a timer for
an hour and half, and was trying to fall asleep when I heard the
aforementioned SPROING!!!, far too loud and sproingy to be a normal boat
noise. My first thought was that the banana-boom had decided to
transform into a boom-erang, but when I got on deck with my headlamp I
realized that was not the case, as boat was still sailing well, boom
straight. Nothing seemed particularly wrong, and I wondered if this was
just a new phase in the "obnoxious noise game" that seems to be one of
my chief forms of entertainment. A few days ago, beating NE in 30 off
of Stewart Island, I had heard a similar, though much fainter sproing-y
sound, but hadn't been able to find anything the matter, so put it from
my head. Unfortunately, after another look I noticed the leeward lower
shrouds were disturbingly loose, and aiming my light aloft I found the
source of the SPROING!!!! the port forward lower shroud had parted
right at the upper swage fitting. Apparently throwing a 15'000 lb boat
off of 5 foot waves for days on end is not, in fact, beneficial to its
health. I suspect that one strand parted a couple of days ago, and that
the weakened shroud chose last night to blow. I quickly pulled down the
main and bore off to a broad reach, and prepared my mast-climbing mojo
for this, a moment that mattered. Three trips to the lower spreaders
later (one to remove the broken shroud and see if it was salvageable,
one to install the replacement, and one to install the cotter pin that I
dropped on the second trip) the back of the mast is doing it's turn as
chipmunk-food, chewn up by the hardware on my ascenders, but at least
I've got a shroud again. By this time, of course, the wind had built
enough that I could only put up the main triple reefed, and I've
continued reducing sail all night until this morning I'm slogging
through a Northerly gale under staysail alone. I am very happy that the
shroud decided to part last night in light air and before the seas got
up. Unfortunately with the wounded rig I didn't really want to push too
hard last night, so the mileage average continues to drop.