Saturday, March 31, 2012


Noon Position: 42 47' S, 69 54' E, SOG 5.4, COG 080, Day's Run 144nm.
Well, the Indian has claimed a bit of electronic tribute - solar panel
to the pacific, radar reflector to the Indian. The cable snapped before
things calmed down enough for me to get aloft, so now I've got one arm
of the mounting bracket sticking out of the side of the mast like an
anti-albatross spike, trailing a bit of wiring. Worthless piece of
junky sheetmetal. On the domestic front, my battles with the stove have
shifted into a new front. I managed to solve the problem of the stove
unscrewing itself from the gimbals with judicious use of the last of my
loctite, and thankfully I've been greeted by no more late night crashes
as the stove plummets to the earth. Instead, the bracket that attaches
the gimbal to the cabinetry has been slowly unscrewing itself every few
days, dropping the bolts which hold it in amongst the tea kettle and
sponges below the stove. This at least is a less irritiating hobby,
since A) it's quiet, no horrid squawlings, and B) there are three bolts
holding the bracket, and the stove only seems to be able to back the nut
off of one bolt at a time, giving me fair warning to put it all back
together again. I feel like there's a bit of a repetitive theme on this
trip of nice equipment being undermined by inadequate, junky mounting

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Noon Position: 43 11' S, 62 50' E, SOG 3.5, COG 135, Day's Run 102 nm,
Week's Run 883 nm. We crossed the antipodes of Los Angeles last night.
This means I'm a little bit more than 1/2 way through with the trip,
since I don't have to go as far south as Cape Horn on the way back. I
celebrated by spending the morning debating whether was nobler to endure
sailing SW at 1 kt, or to quietly sail NW at 1 kt, as of course we were
almost becalmed, and could point no further east than either of those
two directions. Light air is frustrating, especially because there was
probably a good 5 kts of breeze, plenty to sail in if there weren't
great galumphing swells knocking about the sea, turning the boat and
knocking the wind out of our sails before Odyssey could get any way on.
I ended up compromising and spent some time sailing NW, some sailing SW,
and some going backwards in circles as the fancy took me. I managed to
collect another couple of gallons of rain yesterday before the cold
front came through, so as rain collecting is not an activity calculated
to keep me and the boat warm and dry, I interlaced my futile sail
handling this morning with drying out and cleaning up, most importantly
the entire jar of ground cloves that managed to unscrew its cap and
empty its contents all over the spice rack, and the jar of curry that
did the same in the fridge, which I use for dry-ish storage of sauces
and the like. All of this activity was set to the entrancing melody of
my very expensive Echomax active radar reflector antenna pretending to
be an entire percussion section against the top of the mast. Clearly
the cost of the antenna all went into the antenna, not the mounting
bracket, since the force of the wind yesterday first twisted the bracket
so that the antenna pointed straight forward, trying to joust with the
clouds, then slowly disintegrated as the day went on, leaving me with
one very expensive antenna and two very cheap pieces of stainless
bracket banging around the top of the mast, all suspended by the wire,
which is apparently more suited to the job of keeping the antenna aloft
than the bracket is. I'm waiting for either the swell to go down or the
wind to go up before I make an ascent to try to clean up the mess. The
bright side of all of this, of course, is that the galley is
significantly cleaner and less moldy, my sheets are pretending to be
dry, and I discovered both peanut butter and jelly buried in the bowels
of the fridge!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Noon Position: 43 25' S, 57 11' E, SOG 5.8, COG 100, Day's Run 90nm.
Becalmed for most of the night into this morning just after breakfast.
I also saw what was either a shark or a very sneaky shearwater (I'm
pretty sure it was a shark, but it didn't come back) swim by the rudder
while I was becalmed before breakfast. The better part of the can of
corned beef hash that was supposed to be my breakfast ended up in the
bellies of a small flock of shearwaters, a happening that my mother (and
my cholesterol) are probably rapturous about, but my stomach was not. I
discovered this morning that while shearwaters are very interested in
onion peels, they have some sense of taste, since they all sheared off
after an exploratory peck. Corned beef, however, was received very
favorably. I ended up with about 8 shearwaters swimming around the
boat, cheeping and burching, waging a furious war over all the tidbits I
could offer. Backpedalling, diving, body-checking each other, all while
keeping an inquisitive eye on me, waiting for the next chunk. By the
time I'd shot 7 minutes of video and taken about 40 photos I realized
that if I kept it up I'd soon be foodless myself, so I went below to
actually cook my breakfast - cold corned beef hash dipped in salt water
shearwater-style didn't appeal. The shearwaters kept resolutely
paddling after me, hoping for another burst of food from above, until
the wind crept back up out of the northeast and I could unroll the jib
and escape from their rapacious appetites.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Noon Position: 43 51' S, 54 55' E, SOG 6.5, COG 065, Day's Run 150nm.
Today I'm 12 hours ahead of California time (barring daylight savings,
which I am not observing, respecting, or acknowledging). I'm also in
what I believe is the region of most magnetic variation that I'll
experience the entire trip - 47 degrees W. I've had time to get used to
it as the variation has slowly climbed, but every now and then I still
get a surprise out of seeing the compass by the mast reading 140 or 150
n the middle of the night, when I know that I should be (and am)
pointing East-ish. I really appreciate having GPS - it functions as my
knot-meter and compass in one, and saves me even having to think about
converting between magnetic and true for the most part (except at 2am
when I can see the compass from my bunk but not the GPS) I grew up in
the era of GPS, so I know I take it somewhat for granted, but in these
latitudes it's a lot nicer than trying to take sun (or heaven forbid -
moon or star) sights - some days the sun never even appears, and there's
frequently enough swell to make the horizon fairly iffy. I'm psyching
myself up today to do battle with mold - every time the boat dries out
after getting really wet all the walls slowly start to develop a fine
dusting of grey, which I of course must now go and wipe off with
bleach. It's not particularly hard or onerous, but I've been
procrastinating on it for a few days, and I decided this morning that
today was the day. I wish that I had thought about both insulation and
ventilation a bit more before I left, it would certainly make life a lot
nicer on the cold, nasty days when everything inside the boat starts

Saturday, March 24, 2012

3/23/12 [Delayed Attachment: IMG_0224.JPG]

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Noon Position: 43 19' S, 48 22' E, SOG 6.5, COG 090, Day's Run 129nm.
Before I started on this trip, my mental image of the pervasiveness of
life in these waters was based on my experiences crossing temperate and
tropical oceans. I expected occasional bursts of bird life, or visits
from whales or dolphins, depending on proximity to currents and land,
but I was not at all expecting the near constant airborne companionship
that I have experienced since entering the 30s on my way to Valparaiso.
Since rounding Cape Horn, I can think of perhaps 4 or 5 days in which
there were no birds at all, if that many. Every other day has been
accompanied by at least a few stormy petrels pitter-pattering away at
the water with their feet. A few days have been overwhelming - South of
Good Hope I had 36 hours where I was surrounded from dawn til dusk by a
flock of perhaps 80 or 100 fairy prions, which are the prettiest birds
to grace these waters. A small petrel, just a bit bigger than the
stormy petrels, they have very pale grey and baby blue plumage, with a
dramatic dark M swooping across their backs from wing tip to wing tip,
dipping towards the tail as it crosses their bodies. Like the stormy
petrels, they mystify me with their (lack) of eating habits - constantly
skimming a foot along a wave or scurrying across a face, with just the
tips of their little feet in the water, the only time I've seen one land
was in a failed attempt to digest a fishing lure that was the same size
as the bird. According to my bird book both they and the little stormy
petrels feed by plucking up food from the water with their feet, but
I've never seen them either land to eat it or perform the foot-mouth
transfer. Shearwaters accompany me as well, with the same group often
following the boat for 3 or 4 days. The shearwaters are very fond of
whatever garbage I throw overboard, from onion peels to scrambled eggs
to grapefruit rinds, although the item that they have seemed most
excited about was the white metal lid of a jar which floated for a few
seconds until a bird flipped it over with a hungry peck. In the last
week I've had a fairly constant entourage of albatrosses, at least a few
of which I can recognize from day to day. They range in size from the
massive wandering albatrosses, weighing 20-30 lbs with an 8-10 foot wing
span, down tho the black browed and grey headed albatrosses, more on the
size of an abnormally large (or normally sized Chilean) seagull. The
albatrosses are a constant source of amusement - they're incredibly
graceful in the air, soaring effortlessly up and downwind. Occasionally
I make a game of trying to catch one flapping its wings, a game that I
only rarely win. But for all their size and obvious power, they
constantly seem to have slightly silly expressions on their faces, which
makes the occasions when one tries to scratch an itch with a foot
mid-flight or peers back under it's wing while swooping overhead
slightly absurd. There's one brown albatross with a white head, a
medium-sized bird, that's been with us for about a week now, and is
unfortunately the most ludicrous looking creature I've laid eyes on
yet. From a distance the combination of white head and pale beak make
it look like the bird is burdened with a tremendous schnoz, and when he
deigns to pass closer, this unflattering image is merely replaced by a
visage that reminds me of nothing so much as a vaguely befuddled,
slightly senile old man, peering out at the world. But the real joy of
the albatrosses comes when they land or take off. Coming in for a
landing, the huge wandering albatrosses fly upwind and dangle their feet
like a set of goofy landing gear, bodies upright, wings stretched wide,
as they slowly drift in to the surface with their necks thrust forward.
Sometimes they pause like this, awkwardly hung between sky and sea, to
wait for a wave to pass under them , before finally plopping down feet
first and folding their wings in a very slow and dignified manner, as if
to deny the spectacle that they just created. Take-off is almost worse
- wings spread, head thrust forward, they trundle up a wave, running
furiously with their swinging paddle-feet, until they gain the speed
need to take to the sky. Its good that they're so graceful once aloft,
for otherwise they would be an exceedingly popular subject of YouTube
videos. The last time I had fishing lines out one Albatross came in for
the kill, determined to gobble the delicious looking green squid I was
trailing, only to be flabbergasted when it kept moving, instead of
placidly remaining stationary as he landed to lunch. I looked aft and
saw the bird determinedly running along the surface of the water after
the boat, wings half spread for balance, swinging his head from side to
side and squawking indignantly. After about 3 albatross lengths he
suddenly gave up, folded his wings, and placidly sat contemplating the
sea, as if that was the goal the entire time. I hope that someone,
somewhere has put some good videos of albatrosses taking off and landing
on YouTube - all my attempts so far have been thwarted by lack of zoom,
unwilling subjects, and intervening waves.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Noon Position: 43 13' S, 42 54' E, SOG 5, COG 070, Day's Run 150nm,
Week's Run 869nm. A graph of the wind speeds I've had for the last 5
days would make an excellent saw. Yesterday was one of the days that
makes life worth living - reaching at 7.5kts under crisp blue skies and
a warm sun, racing over flat seas. Then, of course, the wind went up,
the seas went up, then the wind went down, and the seas haven't quite
gone down yet, so this morning we're lumping along under a fabulous grey
overcast, Odyssey doing her very best to chafe the stitching right out
of her sails. Shaking reefs and gybing repeatedly in the drizzle this
morning as the breeze died left my hands doing a good impression of
cadaverous claws, and I took a certain morbid pleasure in peeling great
strips of skin off before they dried out again. On days when I go
barefoot (a novelty in being so far north!) I have to restrain myself
from doing the same to my feet, as the callouses from several months of
barefoot warm weather sailing are now slowly sloughing off from the soft
usage of socks and boots. Despite (or perhaps because of?) my lovely
entertainment, I'm feeling a lot more energetic - I've been trying to
get more sun when it's available, been eating more, gotten a little bit
of exercise, and been trying to get a bit more sleep when I can, all of
which combined are having a beneficial effect on my well being. This
ill-mannered lurching about, that I will have to endure for a few more
hours until the seas go down, is not.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Noon Position: 43 39' S, 36 28' E, SOG 6, COG 080, Day's Run 150nm. A
fast night of running before Force 7 from the SW, with a building
swell. The seas are big today, but ponderous - Every few minutes a big
SW swell comes breaking through, curling over and flopping into a tumult
of foam 5 or 6 feet high. The big breakers today are oddly large, yet
peaceful - they look impressive as hell, but aren't moving very fast, so
just sort of tumble into themselves, sometimes breaking for a good 50 or
60 feet before dying out. One came through the cockpit this morning, a
loud thud, green through the windows, foam everywhere, but we just
gently heeled a bit, no more than 40 degrees, then shook it off and kept
going. Squalls have been rolling through all morning, bringing a brief
surge of wind and rain, before passing by. A really nasty (at least as
of yesterday at noon) looking system just passed to the north of us and
blew up just east, so from being becalmed two nights ago as it wiggled
it's way past, now we're feeling the tail end of an actual gale,
maintaining the wind strength here as it gets stronger and further away.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Noon Position: 43 41' S, 30 39' E, SOG 6.5, COG 110 Day's Run 135nm.
An impartial observer, seeing the sunrises that have greeted Odyssey in
the last 48 hours, might be tempted to impartially observe that the
Indian Ocean was kindly welcoming me with open arms. A pale orange disk
rising out of a fiery sea, crisp blue sky with just enough clouds to
catch the sunlight to best effect, watched over by teeming petrels,
shearwaters, and albatrosses. These idyllic sights could certainly
produce a warm and fuzzy feeling in our impartial friend. What this
friendly observer failed to notice was the oh-so-welcoming moment
yesterday morning when the wind howled from 15 to 40 kts in the amount
of time it took me to put on my foulie pants, leaving me to claw down
oodles of flogging canvas on a deck plunging over and through every
available wave, or the frequent squalls that rolled through all
afternoon, keeping the wind at gale force, leaving Odyssey rolling
listlessly in the inevitable lulls on the backside of each squall, or
the always entertaining heavy rainfall, accompanied on at least two
occasions by the ever popular hailstorm. And this morning, While our
impartial observer was basking in the glorious daybreak, commenting on
the beauty of nature, I was cunningly using my face to break my fall
against the chart table, across the cabin from the galley, trying to
keep a half full water bottle upright in one hand and fiercely gripping
the lid of the teapot in the other. Actually, in retrospect, it seems
like just the sort of welcome the Indian Ocean would extend with open
arms. Welcome to the Indian Ocean indeed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Noon Position: 43 53' S, 23 03' E, SOG 4, COG 070, Day's Run 162nm,
Week's Run 1038nm. Some numbers on leaving the Atlantic:
Miles Sailed Since Valparaiso: 5942
Average Day's Run: 121
Average Speed Sailed: 5.05
Straight Line Distance Covered Since Valparaiso: 5448
VMG since Valparaiso: 4.6
Miles Sailed in Atlantic: 3716
Average Day's Run: 132
Average Speed Sailed: 5.5
Straight Line Distance in Atlantic: 3561
VMG in Atlantic: 5.3
Miles to the Longitude of Cape Leeuwin: 4027

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Noon Position: 44 06' S, 19 21' E, SOG 7.5, COG 090, Day's Run 158nm.
This morning we crossed the longitude of Good Hope, and will cross under
Cape Agulhas some 600 miles to the north this evening. Exactly one
month from Cape Horn to Good Hope, and Odyssey is bound eastward still,
towards the Indian and Australia. I suppose I should be celebratory,
ecstatic, cheering, shouting and jumping up and down, but besides the
fact that that seems like just asking for a beating from the weather
gods, I'm not. I'm mostly just tired, mentally and physically. I've
been fortunate to avoid any gales in the South Atlantic, but the 40s and
50s are still rough sailing, and cold - only in the last few days have I
been able to start shedding a layer or two, and the olive oil remains
liquid after a thawing a few days ago. The iceberg watch certainly
isn't helping, getting up frequently during the night to check the
radar, since with one solar panel on the bottom of the pacific I can't
generate enough power on cloudy days to run the radar all night, but I
think it's more mental fatigue than anything else. I'll have moments of
energy, bursts of enthusiasm, singing to the sea, yelling at
shearwaters, greasing anything that I can grease, but by the end of each
day I'm feeling worn down again, not really motivated to write (at least
write something interesting), eat, or do much but pass out and sleep.
Here's hoping the Indian brings some energy back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Noon Position: 44 24' S, 15 51' E, SOG 4.0, COG 090, Day's Run 118nm.
The Race is On! Odyssey is now just a little bit ahead of Joshua on the
same date during Moitessier's second lap of the long way. Joshua
rounded Cape Horn 9 days before Odyssey, but because we've stayed so far
south and avoided the calms that Moitessier ran into further north,
we've made up the difference. Now it's a drag race to Australia! I'm
not exceedingly optimistic, since from here on out I'll be sailing in
similar latitudes, and Joshua was a noticeably faster boat, both because
of his length and because Moitessier sailed the boat damn fast. I've
got something to compare against now though, and I should get a little
boost in the next few days by not messing around going into Cape Town.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Noon Position: 44 56' S, 10 01' E, COG 100, SOG 6.3, Day's Run 145nm.
The last twenty four hours has been lumpy and wet - the northerly that
pushed us so fast yesterday built, and with it the seas, so it was a fun
night of playing submarine at 7 kts, going through more waves than over
them. Finally this morning I've had to bear off a bit just to make my
life more comfortable and we're down to staysail and 1/3 of the jib. I
wish that I had an intermediate headsail - about twice the size of the
staysail, 1/2 the size of the jib, either setting on the staysail stay
or on a solent stay. It would let me abuse the jib a lot less, since
the staysail is a bit too small, the jib too big. I lunched today on
something that might be charitably mistaken for a risotto, but was, in
fact, an attempt at making fried rice. Having never successfully
duplicated this delicious dish in kitchens ashore, I foolhardily
attempted it in a galley afloat, with disappointing results. Edible,
even mildly tasty, but certainly not fried rice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Noon Position: 44 50' S, 6 35' E, Day's Run 165nm! 458nm in three days
- puttin up some big numbers in the fog!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Noon Position: 46 37' S, 00 28' W, SOG 6.3, COG 060, Day's Run 138nm,
Week's Run 890nm. After a rolly night of force 6-7 and tolerably large
waves, I was greeted this morning by a pair of black and white dolphins
tearing down the face of a steep breaking wave just off my stern,
glittering in the bright sunlight. It's nice to see the sun again - I
think it's been about a week since it hasn't been miserably overcast. I
find it noteworthy that all of the books I have on board about similar
trips - Robin Knox-Johnston, Bernard Moitessier, Webb Chiles - were
written over 30 years ago. I think the most recent solo
circumnavigation (not southern ocean) book I have on board is Tanya
Aebi's, and even that is from the 80s. I don't know of any really good
more recent books that deal with similar trips. Some of it is probably
due to the vast improvements in technology - sailing around the world in
a relatively slow, displacement hull is almost an anachronism in the
world of the Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race, but I know that people
have sailed around the world solo more recently than the 70s. Maybe I
just didn't look hard enough. I ended up really enjoying "The Grapes of
Wrath" - my complaints were a bit premature last time, I just hadn't
given the book enough time to get rolling. I'm now reading the "Diary
of Anais Nin" - I'd never heard of her plucking the book off a shelf
before the trip, but good lord - I'm reveling in her writing. It's an
orgiastic blend of emotion and analysis, and glorious to read. I've
been taking it slow - reading a chapter here, a few pages there, while
keeping a less intense side-book going as well. There have been some
splendid books so far on this trip - I find myself wanting to quote
paragraphs to an invisible companion, email selections to random
friends, read whole pages aloud to the storm petrels pattering in my
wake. I suppose it's just a natural extension of my nasty habit of
reading newspaper articles to people at breakfast, particularly when
they've just finished reading that section of the paper, but still.
I'd love to hear whole chapters of Midnight's Children read out loud,
the whole book was almost like an epic poem in the rhythm and pace of
the language. I find myself reading and re-reading Moitessier's
rounding of Cape Horn in "The Long Way," wishing I could so describe
even half so well my own experiences. I've always been a voracious
reader, but I don't ever recall feeling so moved by the written word
before. I can't imagine what doing this trip would be like without
books - I don't think I'd want to try.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Noon Position: 47 25' S, 7 22' W, SOG 6, COG 050, Day's Run 125nm. The
most frightened I've been so far this trip was the night after the
knockdown in the Pacific, as I lay shivering in full foul weather gear
in my bunk, unable to sleep, just waiting for another wave to come
sweeping over Odyssey in the moaning darkness. On a more intellectual
level, however, last night ranks a close second. Last night I hit an
iceberg. As often happens, I woke up around midnight, and lay in bed
listening, feeling - something was a bit different with the motion of
the boat. The wind had been slowly veering all night, and I had been
having to adjust course to keep us headed NE as it did, so I wasn't
particularly surprised. After a glance at the compass and GPS I darted
my head out the hatch, barefoot and clad just in long underwear to set
the windvane for a deeper angle, hoping my sleeping bag would still have
some warmth by the time I climbed back in. I waited a few seconds to
make sure the new course was acceptable, then did a quick sweep of the
horizon before heading back down below. The night was overcast and
misty, a weird, faint glow lighting the sky from the moon, which was
otherwise undetectable in the murk. It was fairly calm - we were under
full sail, coasting downwind at 5-6 kts on a flat sea. I pulled the
hatch shut, then realized there was something weird with the scene, and
went back out again - there, just forward of the beam, was a weird glow
on the horizon, as if the moon had just risen and was trying to break
through. The moon, however, had risen several hours ago, and the moon
certainly does not have any sharp angles or hard edges. Maybe an
iceberg? It didn't look too big, or too far off - maybe the size of a
car and only 100 yards away, but the lighting was weird, so I grabbed a
big flashlight to see if I was right. No luck - too far away for the
flashlight, but as I was playing the light around, trying to catch it in
the beam, I noticed a whitecap on the water that didn't go away - a
chunk of ice the size of a bucket floated by about 30 feet away. Now,
looking forward, I could see more chunks, some tiny, the biggest almost
the size of an oven, littering the water ahead and to leeward of the
glow on the horizon. For the next 5 minutes or so I played an exciting
late night game of "dodge-the-iceberg," weaving around chunks that I
could just pick up in the glow of the moon. I missed one small piece
and it clonked off the bow like a big ice cube. Then I was out of the
ice, and quickly I geared up and triple reefed the main, reducing speed
to 3.5-4 kts. After we slowed down I fired up the radar (which I've
been avoiding to save electricity) and the iceberg came up strong - now
a mile away off our stern, and with a big return - still very visible
too. I quickly revised my estimates of it's size - probably closer to
the size of a small container ship than to a car. It stayed visible
until it was about 3.5 miles away, and visible on radar to about 5.5
miles - then it was gone, swallowed up in the murk. I spent the rest of
the night with the radar on, sleeping in 40 minute chunks, getting up to
scan the horizon, but nothing more presented itself. This morning I
realized what a wasted opportunity for gathering water it was - I should
have hove to and picked up chunks of ice to melt in a bucket, but at the
time I was too focused on evasion and escape to think of such brilliant
thoughts. My sleeping patterns (and radar usage) are going to be
noticeably different for the next few days until I get closer to the
edge of the iceberg limits...

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Noon Position: 47 40'S, 11 54' W, SOG 5.9, COG 145, Day's Run 98nm.
The breeze gradually died all night, and I woke up this morning to a
dead calm, which is always nice to take advantage of for little
maintenance projects. In the course of my meanderings about the deck I
discovered a half cracked weld on the bracket that holds the clutch pin
on the monitor wheel adapter, which connects my windvane for self
steering to the wheel. Needless to say, I am not impressed - I'm glad I
caught it now, instead of suddenly losing steering in the midst of a
gale, but I spent the morning swearing under my breath and muttering
dire imprecations towards the good folks at Monitor and their rugged
offshore capable products. 3 hours later, with the help of two custom
made semi-countersunk machine screws and one impromptu rivet made from a
broken tap, I'm back sailing again, this time in a building easterly
wind. It seems like every time I've done a project in the last few days
I end up bleeding and swearing at various inanimate objects. Needless
to say, today was not an exception.

Friday, March 2, 2012

3/2/12 (really)

Noon Position: 47 18'S  17 35'W, COG 090, SOG 5.8, Day's Run 140nm.  So I learned yesterday afternoon about this weird phenomenon knows as the "leap year," where apparently February has 29 days instead of 28...  being at sea really leaves me out of touch with the world of calendars, among other things.  I'm back to reading "The Grapes of Wrath" on my kindle again, after taking a brief sojourn into the world of real books with "Midnight's Children" and a rehashing of "Thurber:  Writings and Drawings,"  whose short stories and essays are just about the right length to read 1 or 2 between squalls.  Unlike almost everyone I've ever met, I never had to read "The Grapes of Wrath" in high school, and I always wondered what I was missing in this quintessential 11th grade english novel.  I'm beginning to suspect that it's place in the canon may be more due to subject matter than to any inherent brilliance.   So far I have to say I'm not very impressed - I came into the book with very high hopes from reading "Cannery Row" and "East of Eden," but it seems to me so far to be less powerful and certainly less captivating than either of those other works.  A bit too heavy-handed or preachy, with the mini 3rd person lecture chapters which should serve to help set the scene detracting from my enjoyment of the story.  I still have 2/3 of the book to go and I'm hoping for redemption - if not for me, than at least for my respect for the book selection of high school english classes.  One nice advantage of going back to the kindle is that once I've peeled a glove off to get a fingernail into the little slide-y power switch, which otherwise resists all my advances, I can turn the pages just by mashing a button, which I greatly appreciate after awkwardly pawing at two stuck together pages with my gloved fingers on what seemed like every third page of "Midnight's Children."  (which I greatly enjoyed, gloved page-turning notwithstanding)  I've also discovered that in the cold, the kindle likes to warn me that the battery is dead about two days before it actually dies - I assume the temperature messes with it's sensing somehow.  As of last night Odyssey is now more than halfway from Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope - here's hoping that the second half of the seemingly endless South Atlantic is as good to us as the first half.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Noon Position: 47 27' S, 21 14' W, SOG 6.6, COG 080, Day's Run 119m,
Week's run 871nm. We're back on the wagon again - the last three days
have seen 30 kt easterlies, 8 foot seas, 5kt easterlies (still with 8 ft
seas), and now finally 25kts from the S - perfect weather to start
making up some of the distance we sailed N & S as this last system went
over. The big news on board today (besides the fact that Odyssey is
pointed in the right direction again) is that I actually managed to
catch a useful amount of rainwater last night - 3 gallons into the tank,
plus a tea-cup's worth to warm me up after 3 hours of shuttling back and
forth in 2am drizzle. Odyssey has (had?) 3 water tanks, a plastic 26
gallon hard tank plus 2 45 gallon bladder tanks. I say had because both
bladder tanks immediately started voiding their contents into the bilge
upon being flung forcibly against the bolts on the inside of their
compartments when we were knocked down off the coast of Chile. And, of
course, the nice weather that the south atlantic first greeted me with
was a double edged sword - it's hard to catch much rain when it's clear
and sunny. So, all in all, despite the small puddle sloshing about on
the floor, threatening my slippers with every roll, and the rivulets of
condensation streaming down every possible surface (and some that seem a
bit impossible), life is looking up.