Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Noon Position 37 37' S, 79 11'W, COG 245, SOG 5.3, Day's Run 95nm. A
frontal system rolled through this weekend, with the warm front passing
sunday afternoon and the following cold front early yesterday morning.
Whatever low was kicking them out must have been pretty far south and/or
fairly weak, since I only saw 15-20kts in the squalls as the front came
through, but unfortunately it put an end to the wonderful west wind that
let me drive pretty much straight south, leaving me beating against a
slow current into light air - frustrating, especially last night when
the breeze was cycling between 0 and 10 knots with a period of about an
hour. I got some midnight entertainment when I got up in the middle of
the night to roll the genoa to save chafe during a calm, only to
discover that the furler had decided to vomit forth various screws and
bolts all over the deck and into the ocean, rendering it entirely
useless. Midnight roller furling repair is not entirely my idea of a
good time, but at least it was calm when it happened - it would have
been truly atrocious to have discovered the failure in the midst of a
big squall and be stuck trying to wrestle the genoa onto the deck and
out of the sea. Today I took advantage of the calm weather to swap from
the genoa down to the 95% jib, which I plan on having up for the
duration - I'm now down to my "small" suit of sails. Also got to take
care of some minor leakproofing of a few spots that we missed or didn't
quite do a perfect job on in Valparaiso, got the storm jib on deck, and
generally continued to sort the boat out. Also of note is that I cooked
my first actual meal of this leg tonight, (sweet?) potatoes and onions
and garlic in the pressure cooker. I've been really impressed by how
well things have kept - the potatoes and garlic were both from
California, and looked in better shape than their equivalents that I
stocked up on in Chile. At some point I'll put together a blog about
food preservation and longevity, but the key so far seems to be wrapping
almost everything in newspaper and keeping it dry. Onwards to the south!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Noon Position 33 29.8'S, 075 17'W, SOG 3.8, COG 207, Day's Run 95nm.
Things are going much better today - My cold seems to be dissipating, my
toe doesn't hurt, and I haven't puked since yesterday morning! In fact,
any and all nausea seems to have gone away. I think it was largely due
to not having eaten much for 24 hours on top of being in the lazarette,
topped off by the cold. Today the weather is shining, and we're sailing
SW in a light westerly, which is far more pleasant than the strong
Southerly breeze we could be facing. I anticipate some calms ahead as
we get back into the high pressure, but it makes for a nice ride at the
moment. It gave myself another haircut today and the new inverter
didn't even cough, which was wonderful, although I seem to have a
tendency to give myself unfortunate haircuts - this time the entire back
of my head is longer than the rest, sort of a buzz-mullet, if such a
thing exists. Fortunately I can only see the back of my head with some
effort, so the crew of Odyssey will not be offended by the sight. I've
really been appreciating the work that we did on Odyssey in Higuerrillas
- the new hard dodger is very nice, and rebedding all the cabin top
hardware and re-sealing the forward hatch have both made significant
improvements for the drier in my life, and the mast is rock solid with a
new spar-tite collar and set screws installed this time. I switched to
the small main (a cut-down Catalina 38 sail) in Chile, and while the
canvas and stitching are both in good shape, the sail shape leaves quite
a bit to be desired. My real mainsail was a bit too full, but at least
it had a shape - this sail seems to consist mostly of wrinkles, but I
can deal with that until I start heading downwind, where the deeper
third reef in this main will make my life a lot happier. I now just
need to watch the weather and pick a good window to swap back down to my
small jib before hitting anything unpleasant and we'll be set.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Noon Position: 33 04' S, 73 22' W, COG 235, SOG 5kts, Day's run 90nm.
Last night wasn't pretty. I was in a nasty funk of self-pity,
congestion and sneezing, chills, and nausea, so I decided that
discretion was the better part of valor and rolled the jib down to a
scrap for the night to ease the boat's motion, pumped myself full of
drugs, and watched my weekly wednesday episode of Dr. Who (a day late)
before passing out for a night of troubled rest. This morning Odyssey
had clearly decided that I'd spent enough time malingering and feeling
sorry for myself - "Hey You, the anchor's still on the bow, you didn't
tighten the lowers enough when the mast went back in, and the inner
forestay needs to be set up! Take care of me or I won't take care of
you!" I felt a lot better than last night, so I hauled myself into
foulies and onto the bow after turning downwind to get a bit of a
smoother ride. Not quite far enough, however, but a few waves down my
pants and one smack upside the head from the anchor locker lid later I
was back in the cockpit, feeling pleased with myself for having gotten
something done. I unrolled the jib, set the windvane back to close
hauled, and headed below for a much anticipated cup of hot tea that had
been brewing all the while, only to hear the whisper-thud of the the
genoa, then the main, gybing as the boat turned exactly the opposite
direction that I wanted. "Damnit boat, not something else!" "Ha, you
think that was enough?! One of the blocks on the windvane just broke,
you bum, and you were too lazy and shore-bound to even notice it! Get
back up here and take care of me! This is what you get for being such a
sad sack last night!" Tea delayed once more, I headed back on deck to
pull off one of my two Garhauer double cheek blocks that lead the the
steering lines from the windvane to the wheel - the rivet going through
the middle of the blocks had sheared off at the lower end. I'm not
quite sure why, but I do know that this particular block has always had
a disturbing amount of wiggle and play in it, where my spares don't move
at all - I think it may have been badly riveted from the beginning. A
rummage through the spares locker and several laz dives later, I emerged
back on deck from the bowels of the stern to the sound of an immense
breaking wave, and found myself staring straight down the blowholes of a
tremendous whale, so close that if I'd had a boat hook on deck I could
have reached out and touched it. "Look, look what good comes of taking
care of me!" I could hear Odyssey snickering to itself, as the whale
surfaced a second time then disappeared into the depths as I got under
way. My tea was, of course, by this time, lukewarm, and to add insult
to injury I promptly puked it back up all over the cockpit. I normally
don't get seasick, and I hadn't been feeling bad this morning, so I'm
not sure what's going on - the combination of a cold with being back at
sea again after too long on land? Either way, we're sailing again, at
least somewhat in the the right direction.

An interview with Eric who is on his way, again!

Repairs completed and restocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, Eric departed Concon, Chile, Thursday morning about 11:30 after having gotten clearance for his departure from the Chilean authorities late Wednesday afternoon.   Before his departure, he spoke by Skype with Len Edgerly of the weekly podcast, The Kindle Chronicles, about his voyage so far.  The terrific interview and show notes can be found at:  http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/2012/01/27/tkc-182-eric-loss/.

For those readers who missed Eric's first interview with Len a week prior to departing Los Angeles last November, it is fascinating to listen to Eric talk about his expectations for his solo circumnavigation of the globe and compare them to his experiences 70 days into his voyage:  http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/2011/11/04/tkc-170-eric-loss/

Eric's family also wishes to thank all those who helped Eric during his stay in Chile as well as the far-flung network of sailors and others who gave us invaluable advice and help in the period of time leading up to his landing in Chile.   We also very much appreciate the many loyal readers of this blog who continue to support Eric and follow his voyage.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


1923 Local, 2323 UTC Position: 32 52' S 72 02' W, COG 250, SOG 5kts.
I got off the dock around 10:30 this morning, after much fussing and
chasing about to finally convince the marina manager that I should, in
fact, be allowed to pay him (but only cash, apparently). Right now the
wind is pretty aggressively SW, so I'm sailing more west than South,
just to get offshore and away from traffic for the night. I thought
that leaving again this time would be easier, but it wasn't - in some
ways it was harder. I delayed from leaving yesterday afternoon until
this morning, ostensibly to deal with a few last minute boat things, but
in reality I probably could have left 4 days ago - I was really just
delaying. The last two weeks in Higuerillas have been golden, now I'm
back to sailing upwind, getting wet, and feeling sorry for myself. I
know that this will of course go away in a few days, but it changes
little at the moment. Shore was both kind and unkind to me - while I am
mentally in a mostly good place, I'm phyisically in worse shape -
snuffles and allergies from being on land again finally developed into
what I suspect is going to be a lingering cold, leaving me stuffed up
and unable to breathe, my nose is sunburned from an afternoon's
indiscretion, and two days ago I stubbed the living daylights out of the
same toe that I split back in LA in November - the 4th toe of my left
foot apparently is a harbinger of sailing. I lanced the nasty blood
blister that manifested itself and that seems to have relieved the
pressure, I can now walk and get into a sleeping bag without wincing in
pain. Just one last parting gift from shore, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


As of this morning I still hadn't gotten any response to the request for
clearance that the marina sent in to the Armada for me last week, so on
the advice of Joloc & Keke, two spanish cruisers who are the only other
visitorts here at the yacht club, Shanley and I took the bus into
Valparaiso to charge into the Lion's Den, the Capitania. An hour later
I emerged, victorious, with the knowledge that tomorrow afternoon the
navy followed by the whole train of officials would come visit to grant
me a zarpe and to clear customs. The zarpe seems to be a weirdly
Chilean document - as far as I can tell it's essentially a cruising
permit, but taken to extremes. If you're planning to go anywhere within
Chile, you need a zarpe, and to spell out your itinerary on it in
advance, complete with ETAs at the various destinations. While I know
the US has somewhat similar requirements for foreign yachts, Chile also
requires it of Chilean yachts. Daniel, the skipper of a Chilean flagged
power yacht docked next to me, had to get a zarpe in order to sail from
here to Porto Montt, about 500 miles south, and back. I'm not sure if
theres a minimum trip distance or anything, but the whole concept seems
a bit extreme. Anyway, if all goes well and everyone shows up on time,
by this time tomorrow I should be offshore and bound somewhat South
again. Today we put the finishing touches on what we've taken to
calling the hutch, which is a sort of hard dodger - It's going to be a
lot nicer than the old canvas dodger, much drier and sturdier. A few
other things I learned in the course of the day - Haribo Brix candy is
disturbingly, puckeringly sour, Jehovah's witnesses from Wisconsin
apparently come to Chile to escape the cold and bring English copies of
"The Watchtower" with them. Also, the produce ladies at the grocery
store do not appeciate having to weigh an entire cartload of tomatoes,
oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, pears, peaches, lemons, and limes, when
one is a trainee and the other's scale is broken. Who knew?

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Saturday afternoon finds Odyssey still docked at Higuerillas.  The combination of daylight savings time with the fact that all of Chile is in a single time zone, which is too far east for the coast, means that the sun doesn't set until 9:30 or so at night.  I've slowly fallen under the spell of the clocks, which has resulted in going to sleep at midnight (which only feels like 10PM or so) and then sleeping in until 9 or 10 in the morning, aided by the sun being hidden behind the hills inland of us and the morning weather, which reminds me of nothing so much as the "June Gloom" of Southern California.  I've decided now to try to get out of here Tuesday or Wednesday, authorities permitting - I had been operating under the assumption that I only needed a day or two of lead time to get clearance, but on Thursday discovered it could take up to a week from the date that I put in the request, so I optimistically asked to be cleared by Wednesday, but we'll see how things go with the progression of navy, immigration, customs, and agriculture.  Saturday seems to be the busy day here - the rest of the week the yacht club seems like a ghost town, inhabited by far more seagulls and pelicans than people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Today was a big day in the life of Odyssey - the mast went back in!  After much poking and prodding, hammering and smashing, we determined that the mast step was in fact solid - the looseness that I had been attributing to the step was in fact from the spartite collar at the partners where the mast passes through the deck working itself loose and then being slightly eroded by the motion of the mast.  While it may or may not say something about my mental processes to sail over 30 days and 2000+ miles over something which could have been fixed at sea in about 30 minutes, I do feel a lot more confident in my rigging now, which very important.  I'm going to regard the first 70 days of this trip as a 6700 mile shakedown cruise.  With the mast back in today we cranked on rig tension and everything was solid, so I'm feeling much bettter about that situation.  It's been good to take care of a few random jobs and bits of maintenance on the dock as well, and we're in the midst of building a small hard dodger to cover the companionway, since I discovered on the way down here that the canvas dodger has an unfortunate habit of letting the larger waves through it and into the galley.  So far Chile has been great.  We're docked at what I think is one of the nicest yacht clubs in Chile, Club de Yates de Higuerillas (I don't think that's quite right, but it's close) in ConCon, which is a summer vacation town about 10 miles north of Valparaiso.  The area reminds me a lof of Southern California - not just the beaches and summer tourists, which there are plenty of, but in the landscape and wildlife as well.  You could take just about any picture here and be hard pressed to tell whether it was in SoCal or Chile.  The biggest difference is the size of the birds - the pelicans and seagulls here are abnormally (well, I guess normally for Chile, but...)  large.  Any one of these birds could definitely win against 2 to 1 odds in a birdfight with the variety from California.  They also seem to have a predilection for finding human targets upon which to deposit their guano, and if there are no people about they seem to take great joy in going after sidewalks, boats, umbrellas, or whatever is the most likely to cause umbrage.  My spanish has been slowly improving too, although I still have a tendency to stare panic-stricken at people when they speak at a normal speed, I tell myself at least that I'm competent enough to go to a restaurant and order a meal with a minimum of pointing and sign language, which, of course, gives me no end of pride when comparing Spanish skills with Shanley.  One thing that is less than ideal here is the wifi access - there are only certain spots in the club where you can get a signal, and then your chances of actually being able to connect to the internet are at best 50/50, and service has a nasty tendency to cut out whenever I'm in the middle of writing an email or trying to download anything.  I'm going to head back to the boat now for some dinner, it's almost sunset and the air is starting to get a bit chilly.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Noon Position: 32 55' S, 071 32' W, COG NA, SOG 0, Day's Run 0! I
docked at Higuerillas Yacht at 10:30 tuesday, and set about clearing
customs into the country. This turned out be a more time consuming
process than I have experienced in the past - first, at noon, the
Chilean Coast Guard arrived to give my boat clearance to be in Chilean
Waters. By 3, Immigration had finally arrived to give me clearance to
be on Chilean Land. Around 5:30 a woman from customs swung by, to make
sure I wasn't smuggling anything, and finally at 7:00 the inspector from
Agriculture came aboard. The only thing I had that was a problem was
honey - apparently there's a bacteria in American bees that they're
trying to keep out of Chile, so all of my honey was sealed in Dept. of
Agriculture packing tape, not to be opened until after departure. This
was all a bit exciting, since my spanish is almost nonexistant, and most
of officialdom, while speaking fairly good english, seemed embarassed
that they weren't fluent, so our conversations were a bit awkward.
Still, it was very nice to have everyone come to the boat instead of
having to traipse around to various government offices, if a bit of a
long day. It seemed like the various clearance officers must drive a
circuit to cover various ports, hence the long afternoon. This, of
course, is entirely conjecture, since my lack of spanish limited our
conversation primarily to business matters. So far everyone at the
Yacht club has been very helpful - I'm going to get the mast out
tomorrow, and then make a determination of what is needed in terms of
repair. Being back ashore is overwhelming - the combination of little
sleep the night monday night, walking 2 miles, and dealing with people
(and in a foreign language) after being alone for 70 days has me feeling
a bit out of sorts. I think it will be a few more days before I'm fully
sorted out. I'm going to be posting less frequently now that I'm ashore
- I'm focusing now on getting the boat back together and ready to sail
again, but I'll try to update occasionally.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Noon Position: 32 43' S, 072 30' W, SOG 4, COG 115 T, days run 100nm,
week's run 628nm. Noon today finds Odyssey creeping across a smoothly
undulating sea towards Valparaiso, still 54nm ahead. I've been giving
my light air sails a serious workout the last few days - I've only had
the jib up for probably 6 hours out of the last 3 days. The
weather,while light, is a whole lot better than the week before, when I
had no wind. I've been impressed with how well the boat sails in this
light stuff - as long as there's a hint of wind she'll keep moving. I
was hoping to be into dock before dark (9pm or so) tonight, but unless
something surprising happens that's not going to happen. I really only
need about 3 knots more wind to make it in tonight, but we'll see what
happens. As I get back towards shore, after something like 10 weeks at
sea, I have mixed feelings. I'm excited to be able to sleep without
worrying about squalls and get the boat sorted out, especially after
slogging along in the variables for the last 2000 miles. Still, theres
a bit of reluctance, too - reluctance to re-associate with people, be
pushed back into the world of cars and bars and crowds. I realized
during a phone call with my parents yesterday that I was even reluctant
to talk to them, as if I was trying to savor my last few minutes of
solitude. An interesting change from the beginning of this passage. On
the other hand, I can't wait to have a hot shower with fresh water, and
to take the first beautiful woman that I meet out for a nice meal,
complete with fresh meat (not from a can!) and a luscious salad replete
with all the green vegetables I can pile on it. There are two sides to
everything, I guess.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Noon Position: 32 15' S 074 36' W, SOG6.5, COG115,day's run 108nm.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Noon Position: 31 59.8'S 076 40'W COG 100T, SOG 6.5,day's run 110nm.
Normally I sail with only "white sails" at night - no spinnaker or
drifter - because if the breeze comes up trying to douse either of my
two lighter sails can be a real hassle - they're both free flying, with
no snuffers or furlers. Last night I broke my own rule and kept the
spinnaker up all night, which was a blessing - without it I would have
just been dead in the water, as the wind was very light from astern, but
with the flat seas the chute let me keep moving at 3 knots or so. Today
I've progressed from spinnaker in the morning, down to the drifter a
little later as the wind went more North, then down to 95% jib as the
wind built, then to wing on wing as the wind went back west, and now
this afternoon back up to the spinnaker again as the breeze has dropped
again. As of noon today I was 270nm from Valparaiso. I'm going to
refrain from making any ETA or weather predictions or even hopes, as
doing either publicly seems to have a nasty tendency of jinxing me.
Today has been a very nice day of sailing - just enough wind to sail
fast for most of the day, but not enough to be unpleasant. Clear skies,
warm weather, and fast sailing - too bad such paradisical conditions
never last.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Noon Position: 31 23' S, 79 03' W, SOG ???, COG ???, Day's run 80nm.
Apparently I rejoiced in wind too soon - Today from about 3 AM until at
least 6 PM I've been brutally becalmed. It's frustrating, I'm so close
to being able to get out of this stupid weather and, by all rights, I
should be far enough east to be fully into the Southerlies that I'd
hoped for, but instead, I'm sitting here in glass, watching miniature
man-o-wars sail past me. This afternoon I've had a touch of hope - a
few breaths of wind, Southerly wind, too, which is promising,
interspersed with calms. I keep telling myself that it's going to
build, and that I'll be able to run the last few degrees of longitude
off quickly, but I feel like I'm just trying to make myself feel
better. I need to get out of these calms soon - I'm starting to lose my
ability to deal with them patiently, which is, of course, the only way
to deal with them, since getting angry accomplishes nothing. I just had
hoped that my suffering was over, that I finally had wind, but the
weather seems determined to taunt me once more. While rolling about
today with sails down I finished re-reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem on
my kindle. He's an incredible world builder in all of his books, and
Anathem is no exception. The first half of the book really shines, with
all the drama focused within the walls of the math - I had forgotten
that it got a little weaker as it turns into more of an adventure novel
in the second half, but still a good enough read to occupy my
afternoon. I'm going to go try to coax some sort of sailability out of
this breeze now - hopefully I get out of this eventually...


8 a.m. (?):  31 40 S, 78 57 W, COG 080, SOG 5 kts.  This is a quick guest post to update Eric's location  from an email that his good friend Shanley received this morning after her own arrival in Chile to meet Eric.   Eric reported all is going well, and he now estimates arriving as early as Sunday.  

Monday, January 2, 2012


Noon Position: 33 24' S 084 05' W, SOG 3, COG 050, Day's Run 60nm,
Week's run 495nm. I think all my complaining on yesterday's blog has
paid off - the breeze is back! Last night around 6PM I started getting
fitful puffs of southerly wind. One moment I'd be rolling along at 4 or
5 kts, sailing due east, then 2 minutes later the sails were flogging as
the boat coasted to a halt in the suddenly still air. All night the
puffs slowly got longer, and the lulls shorter, until this morning I
awoke to real wind! Now this afternoon I'm sailing 080 and doing 4.5 to
5 kts, as the breeze continues to go further south. I anticipate it
building now as I approach Chile, so hopefully I'll be able to cover the
next 650 miles more quickly than the last 650. I'll be passing North of
Robinson Crusoe Island, where Alexander Selkirk was marooned in the real
life inspiration for the story of Robinson Crusoe, Tuesday night or
Wednesday morning, all else being equal.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Noon Position 33 52' S, 085 01' W, SOG 0, COG ???, Day's run 30nm. I
find myself drifting into the new year on a smooth sea - too smooth of a
sea, actually. I've been struggling through this high pressure system
for quite some time now, only to have it move along with me just as I
thought I'd escaped out the east side of it. My day's have become a
tedium of raising and lowering sail, trying to catch the least breath of
air but still preserve them from the chafe and slatting of a boat
rolling about totally becalmed. I spend most of my time reading trashy
novels or trying to eke a few tenths of a knot or a few degrees of
height out of the sordid little puffs of wind that despoil the sky's
reflection. There have been moments of beauty as well: A morning spent
sailing gloriously at 4 kts, watching a peck of stormy petrels feeding
in my wake, slapping at the surface of the sea with one dainty
outstretched foot, while in the distance a wandering albatross loomed
like a somber giant of the skies. A sky full of amber fire, lighting up
a trail across a smoothly undulating sea of glass, broken only by the
crowns of tiny portuguese man-o-wars. The breath of dolphins at
midnight, harsh against the still night air, the sea lit by their
glowing track. And today, a pair of whales, not even pausing to
consider the awkward intruder that flailed about on the surface of the
sea, sails slapping in time to the sea. But mostly, I eat, read and
sleep, willing that the dreary hours be broken by a breath of wind.