Sunday, April 29, 2012


Noon Position: 42 30' S, 143 44' E, SOG 5.5, COG 140, Day's Run 106nm.
We got forced fairly far north by the gale yesterday, so now Odyssey is
close reaching over the big lumpy leftovers towards South East Cape. I
managed to set two highly scientific, accurate, speed records for
Odyssey yesterday - first two rushing surfs to over 17 kts, then in the
late afternoon we managed to peg 18.5kts SOG on the GPS. The boat
reared up as the stern lifted to the wave then took off with a rush like
popping a laser up on plane, water rumbling and thrashing down the sides
of the hull. We also managed to broach three times yesterday - none
serious, just waves taken a little bit too far forward, so that Odyssey
ended the surf on her side instead of upright, heeled 60 or 70 degrees
over, all very smooth and gentle. My first weather report was wrong as
well - conditions didn't calm down until 10pm, not 4 or 5 pm like I
thought. Instead, around 4 the seas which I thought had been big went
to a whole new level. I don't really know how to describe them, or even
estimate the size - once again the biggest moving things that I've ever
seen, the swell from the stronger winds to the south passing through.
The height and length of the really big sets was awful and amazing at
the same time, perched on the crest of one wave and looking back and
down for seemingly an eternity before finally seeing what looked like a
small hill on the far side of a valley rolling up in the distance. At
the same time some SSW and NW cross swell came back, and the breaking
waves once again exceeded all my expectations. I had no conception that
a wave in the open ocean could behave in such a manner, with the top 6
or 8 feet of an already incredible crest tumbling and exploding into
foam. The wind was still blowing force 8, whipping packets of spray off
the crests and moaning through the rigging, punctuated by the grumble of
the tumbling seas. I'm really struggling (and failing) to do justice to
the seas. I watched until the sun set, and with sunset the seas started
to back off again, and by 10 the wind was down to force 7, and by 2am I
had the main back up, reaching across the now quiescent hills in the dark.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Noon Position: 42 52' S, 141 28' E, COG 075, SOG 5.5, Day's Run 137nm.
Just riding out the SW phase of a nasty gale - fortunately (or
unfortunately?) it is developing as it moves along, so last night didn't
blow too hard, now this morning blowing force 8 with gusts to force 9 in
the squalls. The seas are truly tremendous - bigger than I've seen yet,
with some worryingly large breakers for an hour this morning as the SW
and NW swells crossed. The Australian storm warnings call for "Rough to
Very Rough" conditions, with significant swell height (max size can be
double that!) in Tasmania of 9 meters. I don't think anything 18m
tall has come through, but definitely plenty in the 9-10m range at
least. Watching the albatrosses is a joy in these winds - they never
flap, just soaring and flashing by with their wing tips raked well aft.
The humorously awkward water take-offs and landings that give me such
joy in milder weather have become unbelievably graceful - to take off
they just extend their wings and give one or two little kicks with their
feet and suddenly they're tearing away across the face of a wave. I'm
going to end it here for today, since keeping Odyssey stern to the waves
is still requiring some attention with the wind shifts from the squalls
rolling through. The breeze is starting to back off a bit now, and
conditions are supposed to moderate in the next 4 or 5 hours.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Noon Position: 43 33' S, 137 45' E, SOG 6, COG 140, Day's Run 86nm,
Week's Run 848nm. Some more numbers three months out of Chile:
Miles sailed since Good Hope: 5193nm
Average Day's Run: 123nm
Average Speed Sailed: 5.15kts
Miles sailed since Valparaiso: 11135
Average Day's Run: 122nm
Average Speed Sailed: 5.09 kts

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Noon Position: 43 09' S, 136 01' E, SOG 5.5, COG 090, Day's Run 140nm.
Looking in the mirror this morning, i realized I have taken on a
surprisingly sinister appearance. I took advantage of the nice weather
a few days ago to give myself a very short buzz, which when combined
with my thick and luxurious beard, a well placed scrape on my nose, and
a pair of sunglasses makes me look even more like some sort of
villainous eastern european mercenary than usual. One of the trials of
any sailing trip is the countless mysterious injuries that appear,
particularly after a few rough days of sailing. So I'm not particularly
upset or surprised by the scrape on my nose, the mysterious cut on my
right ear, the missing toenail (finally fell off after I smashed it just
before leaving Valparaiso), or the countless small nicks and dings on my
hands and occasionally on my feet. What does pique my curiosity is the
presence of numerous small blisters on the soles of my feet and toes. I
can lay the two biggest, on my port pinky toe, at the foot (get it?
foot?) of nonskid-burn from a slip a week or so ago, but that only
involved the corner of one foot, not the entire soles of both. I've
started wearing my bedraggled and fuzzy slippers down below and avoiding
standing for as much as I can, and fortunately none of them are
particularly bad, but still a bit of a pain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Noon Position: 42 57' S, 132 33' E, SOG 5, COG 090, Day's Run 121nm.
The odd foggy drizzle of this morning is slowly clearing, and we're
still moving along in relatively light air towards Tasmania. Yesterday
I spent the morning in company with 3 black browed albatrosses, one grey
headed albatross, a few fairy prions, and one crazy looking bird that
looked like a black petrel that had gotten into a white paint fight with
a bunch of kindergartners. One of the black browed albatrosses buzzed
me 6 or 7 times, whipping by the running backstay close enough to reach
out and touch before flopping down in the water alongside, giving me a
vaguely disgruntled look, then waddling back into the air. Passed my
first piece of trash today as well - a brown bottle, apparently corked -
maybe it had a message in it! Unfortunately I didn't see it until it
was well astern, so I'll never know.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Noon Position: 42 16' S, 127 45' E, SOG 5.8, COG 080, Day's Run 130nm.
A very uncomfortable night last night - lots of heavy squalls, nasty
choppy waves, sailing on a beam reach with the rail under under triple
reefed main and staysail - taking a beating. After such
unpleasantness, I discovered this morning that a breakfast of bacon and
fruitcake fried in bacon grease, while exceedingly delicious, is not
perhaps the kindest of meals for the digestive tract. Tasmania is now
within striking distance, some 800 or so miles ahead. It's starting to
get colder again, as the oncoming winter and my increasing latitude
combine, and the olive oil is starting to cloud up - still liquid, but
on its way to the solid mass that I enjoyed for much of the South
Atlantic. I need to get down to at least 44S for Tasmania and 47S for
New Zealand, so I'm trying desperately to dry out my boots and slippers
when I can before I am obliged to re-don footwear.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Noon Position: 42 27' S, 124 42' E, SOG 5.5, COG 090, Day's Run 106nm.
Now that I'm back in "civilization," with Australia only few hundred
miles to the north, I've been keeping myself awake at night turning
ordinary noises into the sounds of company. A flash of moonlight on the
wall above my bunk with a low hum from somewhere aft had me on deck,
looking around for the coast guard boat that I was sure was hitting me
with a spotlight. The juddering groan from one of the crudded up
windvane blocks had me sure that a tanker was somewhere in the vicinity,
blasting away with it's foghorn. So naturally this morning while I was
on the bow, basking in the unaccustomed warmth of the sun and repairing
some stitching in the staysail, the roar of a jet engine as I was
watching a pair of albatross skim by had me instantly wondering what new
weirdness Odyssey was assailing my ears with. Then I realized it really
was a jet engine - a big airliner from Adelaide or Melbourne, headed out
across the Indian Ocean shooting across the sky. The first tangible
evidence of human existence outside of this boat since mid February.
It's almost as if a dream has ended - a dream where days roll by
endlessly, marked only by the wind and the clouds and the sun, a long
blur of constant motion, action, inaction, brought to a grumbling
awakening by a jet headed towards South Africa, covering in a few hours
what's taken me more than a month of blood, sweat, shivering, more than
a month of glorious days and agonizing calms. I wonder a bit if the
passengers on that plane take for granted the miles of ocean they're
breezing over, if anyone happened to look down and wonder about the
little speck of white and tan, rolling along towards Tasmania.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Noon Position: 41 18' S, 119 28' E, SOG 4, COG 075, Day's Run 114,
Week's Run 897.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Noon Position: 41 11' S, 116 50' E, SOG 5.5, COG 095, Day's Run 121nm.
I'm still slowly cleaning up the aftermath from yesterday's fun. The
sun came out yesterday afternoon which let me start drying things out,
but then just before sunset a little wave splashed aboard and soaked
everything in the cockpit, so I'm back at it again today, a job
complicated by the rain squalls moving through every hour or two. I'm
still finding weird items in weird places, far removed from their points
of origin - the furthest (and weirdest) so far has been a dyneema soft
hank that I was building for the storm jib that I discovered on deck in
the stern this morning, far removed from its fellows sitting neatly on
the shelf by the mast down below. Very odd. The breeze is down and the
swell is starting to flatten out a bit, but every now and then a really
big set rolls through, 3 or 4 mountains progressing sedately eastwards,
enough that I have to gasp in admiration as I perch on one crest and
look down, down, then up and up again, some 200 yards astern, to where
the next peak blots out the horizon. I passed under Cape Leeuwin last
night as well - no big celebration, since that would seem to be asking
for trouble after such a fun morning, but my noon positions have now
moved from my chart of the Indian Ocean to one of South Australia! Even
more exciting, a day's run is now 3 or 4 inches on the chart instead of
1 to 1.5, which is immensely heartening - I was almost giddy with joy
plotting yesterday's and today's positions and seeing how far apart they
were. Even though it's just a trick of the scale, it's wonderful, makes
it seem like we're flying along after so many weeks of creeping across
vast oceans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Noon Position: 41 11'S 114 10' E, SOG 5, COG 115, Day's Run 125nm. The
sun rose a sullen, angry orange disk on the horizon, striated and
partially obscured with clouds, shedding light on a tumultuous sea. A
steady progression of big swells rolled under Odyssey, the tops breaking
off into tumbling white foam, spray spitting and whipping downwind in
little puffs of steam. It was a majestic scene, perfectly orderly
before the NNW wind, long parallel crests extending to the horizon,
hiding the sun as it hung over the horizon when we dipped into the
troughs. After a few minutes the sun disappeared into the cloud banks,
leaving a pale glow behind. While I was waiting for my tea to boil I
spent a few minutes trying to film the seas - an always depressing task,
watching the huge waves get compressed into a tiny screen, one that left
me ready for breakfast and a nice cup of tea. The boat was sailing
smoothly, rushing down waves at 5 and 6 kts under staysail before the
gale, and breakfast was an almost civilized affair, a pot of oatmeal
with cinnamon and sugar eaten in my bunk, moving smoothly enough that I
could balance my oatmeal on one knee and my kindle on the other.
Glorious sailing - a little intimidating as the waves rose astern, but
each in turn disappeared beneath the windvane as the stern lifted and we
rushed smoothly down into the next valley. Rain squalls came whipping
across the sea, bringing more westerly winds as they hissed down,
leaving us struggling along slowly in the light air behind them. I
stood at the chart table, watching the rain and sea out the windows, on
the verge of suiting up to go gybe to keep the seas astern, debating
whether to wait for the wind to come back and the rain to let up when I
saw the clifflike face of an enormous rearing up along side. I just had
time to dive across the boat for my bunk to leeward before it hit,
roaring down across the boat, a chaos of crashing and falling objects
raining down upon me. As we whipped back upright again the mess was
impressive - my other knockdowns had been to port, and I've got
everything pretty well secured for that direction, but going to
starboard was an entirely different experience, with an entirely new set
of objects piled up on the starboard side. The genoa was on the stove,
cushions on the floor, one of the cabinet doors from the windward
bookshelves was sliding around where the cushions used to be, the
contents of two drawers full of tools were sliding about up forward with
the unbagged storm jib. My oatmeal pot was nowhere to be seen, a jar of
applesauce had nestled in with my pillow, and my ipod had contrived to
land neatly in the grabrail above the bunk, as if I'd put it there to
listen to music while cooking. The deck was less of a mess - the vane
had pulled out of the windvane, dangling uselessly in the water, and the
control lines had unravelled themselves from the wheel. I feel a little
guilty for all the times I've reassuringly said to nervous students
"Don't worry, this boat can't capsize, it has a keel!" This was a full
capsize, not just a knockdown - keel probably 30 degrees out of the
water, mast under. The plank between the lower shrouds for working at
the mast was snapped from hitting the water, the radar 20 or so feet up
the mast had hit water too - the mount is twisted sideways and down, so
for now it's useful only for determining if there are any icebergs
sitting on the foredeck. Good thing I'm north of the ice limits...
And all this before 8am - one hell of a way to start a morning. The
wave was the last malignant gasp of the gale - the breeze diminished,
the seas have gone down, and now we're running under full jib with
clearing skies in 15-20kts from astern.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Noon Position: 40 15' S, 111 26' E, SOG 7, COG 090, Day's Run 142nm.
One of the things that I strove for in outfitting Odyssey was
simplicity. For the most part this was aimed towards simplicity of
systems, having no desire for any repetitions of the battles with
inverters (hah!), refrigerators, generators, air conditioners, and
electronics that were all too common aboard both Ocean Star and Argo.
Such things certainly have their place, particularly as boats approach
ships and start carrying more people (and more landsmen) but in my mind
the sea is no place for toasters or blenders. A goal of simplicity
does, of course, happily go hand-in-hand with keeping the budget under
control too. To that end Odyssey has minimal electronics - depth
sounder, gps, radios, radar and an AIS receiver and active radar
reflector. It's a little ridiculous thinking of that list as minimal,
but compared to many (if not most) similar sized boats doing long
distance voyaging I would be willing to suggest that it is. I tried to
make sure that any addition or change to the boat while I was fitting
her out would make my life safer and simpler, and not add needless
complexity. For the most part all that gobbledegook above stays turned
off except the gps and AIS receiver since there's not a whole lot down
here to need it for. I haven't seen a boat, or even a hint of human
existence, since somewhere around 50 W longitude in the South Atlantic.
Just as a point of interest, due to my total lack of instrumentation all
wind speeds reported here-in are necessarily approximations, and all
boat speeds and courses are over ground off the gps, not through the
water. To the same end sail handling gear is relatively simple -
furling jib, which is a godsend, with an inner forestay for hanked on
storm sails. Almost none of my lines are led back to the cockpit -
although I sometimes curse having to get on foulies and go to the mast
to reef, I'd have to go forward anyway to tie in reef nettles, and I
find that the lack of clutter and friction from having my halyards on
the mast is a lot easier to deal with, especially short handed, without
having two people to jump and tail halyards led to the cockpit. Reefing
is a one stop affair - ease the sheet a bit from the companionway, then
everything else is taken care of at the mast, close at hand in case
anything misbehaves. For being 35 or so years old, Odyssey was in
remarkably good shape before I started in on this southern ocean
beat-down, and has held up well - definitely shows some strain when it
gets nasty, but I'd certainly feel more secure in her strength and
ability to take it than I would in the modern 37'er that some friends
chartered in the BVI a few years ago, and Odyssey is designed as a
sailing vessel, not a mobile rum barge.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Noon Position:  40 26' S, 105 15' E, SOG 5.3, COG 065, Day's Run 135nm.  Last night I ran the engine for an hour or so while I was cooking dinner just around sunset.  I took on an extra ten gallons of diesel in jerry cans in Valparaiso in case I should need to divert into the Patagonian Channels, but even so I still only carry 35 gallons of fuel, which should give me a range of about 200 miles under power - clearly I'm not going to be motoring across any oceans.  That being said, I've been trying to run the engine for an hour or so at least once a month, just to keep everything lubed up and flowing - it would be a shame to discover that something had frozen from all the moisture in the air next time I try to pull onto a dock.  I tend to confine my engine operation to calmish weather, since the starting the engine requires some aerobics crammed head first into a cockpit locker with a screwdriver to short the contacts on the back of the ignition switch, which is corroded beyond the point of functionality by taking one too many waves straight into it's keyhole.  The rattling thunder of the engine in the twilight as I was cooking brought back a conglobulated mass of  weekend trips with Westwind and Mariners, motoring out to Catalina on Friday after school, sailing back Sunday afternoon.  I even mixed up a bottle of Crystal Light (tm?) to complete the effect.  Catalina had an almost mystical air about it, a certain foreignness - almost as far away as Canada or Hawaii.  I remember the first trip I took with Westwind out to Catalina certainly treated it as such - we met the week before the big day and spent a few hours planning, learning about safety, navigation, food, schedules.  And then the departure, with weepy-eyed mothers waving from the end of the dock as we motored around the corner and down the channel, into the unknown.  I remember a radio conversation with the boat Claire de Lune, hearing something about engine troubles - Nearly every trip on the small boats seemed to involve engine trouble of some sort.  Sitting in the cockpit on watch, motoring out past the red buoy covered with sea-lions, extra eyes peeled when our dead reckoning said we had entered the shipping lanes, keeping a sharp lookout for tankers.  Finally arriving in the wee hours of the morning in Avalon, or Two Harbors, the profound still silence when the engine was at last quieted, going back to sleep with smelly wet hands from the mooring lines.  And then, awakening to the rock of the boat, the smell of the sea, to dawn, dawn in a whole new world, full of seagulls and boats and strangeness, a world without parents or worries, eating scrambled eggs or instant oatmeal before venturing forth.  I remember a phone call home from the payphone at the Isthmus, proud of how far away I was (and perhaps feeling a little bit lonely as well), half wondering if there was a time difference to call all the way back to shore.  It was a world full of newness and excitement, ice-cream and gewgaws at the little shop on shore.  A full day and a half of exploring, sailing, maybe going to anew anchorage, Avalon for the movies and more ice-cream, Long Point, or my favorite spot, Little Gibraltar, anchored stern-to to an enormous rusty bollard in a towering rock in the middle of the cove, before sailing home again Sundat afternoon, bowling downwind through the waves and the sun, racing the other boats, shouting and waving back and forth.  Finally seeing land rise up out of smog, arriving back at the dock, exhausted, to pack up and unload and clean up before crumpling into the back seat of the car for the long drive home.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Noon Position: 41 54' S, 100 01' E, SOG 6, COG 100, Day's Run 150nm,
Week's Run 831. We're finally back into the triple digits of longitude
- now only 140 degrees or so to go. This is the first week in the
Indian with an average of under 5kts, which is a little bit
disappointing, but understandable. In my cleaning and sorting down the
last few days I had to throw out all but two of my cans of fruit - all
the rest were holed and leaking. The canned fruit bin, exorcised of the
foul black ferment of its contents, has now become the container for my
remaining UHT milk. I lost one can of fruit salad in the first month of
the trip and didn't catch it until the rest of the cans had started
rusting, so the inevitable processes of time led me to this state. It's
a little disappointing, I'd only eaten about 4 cans since I'd been
saving the rest until I ate through my fresh fruit, but that's what I
get for not sanding and greasing or painting all the rusty fruit back in
the pacific. I also traced the source of the water that seems to be
constantly present in the bilge - I had though it was the packing gland
on the prop shaft, which I know leaks more than it should, but
discovered yesterday that the packing gland on the rudder was in fact
leaking. When the boat really starts trucking the stern wave gets
pushed up the prop shaft and through the packing gland, leaving me
pumping the bilge once or twice a day when I'm sailing hard.
Frustrating, because I had this problem back in California before I left
and I thought I'd fixed it by replacing the packing and tightening
everything up - apparently not. I'll have to go laz-diving with a
wrench to see if I can crank it down any more and staunch the leak.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Noon Position: 41 38' S, 96 46' E, SOG 5.5, COG 090, Day's Run 130nm.
Today is the first day I've had in a while with acceptable conditions
for drying things out - Sunnish, minimal rain, and wind far enough aft
to minimize spray. It's nice, everything was starting to get a bit
soggy. Odyssey is back on pace again after a good long chunk of slow
days. Yesterday and (clearly) the day before both had weirdly large
waves for the wind - even yesterday after the breeze was down a bit I
still had 2 or 3 waves come thumping aboard filling the cockpit, not
with any force, but with plenty of water. I think the big wind
direction changes out of that system are largely responsible, creating a
set of swells from the whole range of S to W, all of which were lumping
up together. The knockdown I took on Monday was a lot less frightening
than the first one I took off Chile - largely because I've had a lot
more experience sailing in moderately unpleasant conditions since then,
instead of it being my first real blow of the trip. By the same token,
even though I wasn't particularly consciously shook up by it, I did end
up sailing a lot more conservatively than I normally do afterwards, and
certainly more conservatively than I should have been yesterday when the
seas weren't nasty, just rainy and puffy as a cold front rolled through.
One of the safety goals of these waters is to sail as fast as
possible at all times, since every extra day that I spent down here is
one more day for nasty weather to potentially roll through. Sometimes
it's a tough balancing act, trying to keep everything in control but
still make miles, but every time I have a slow day because I throttled
back too soon I end up beating myself up, thinking that I could have
endured a rough ride for a few more hours. Clearly when breaking waves
start putting the boat on its side I need to sail accordingly, but
everything short of that I find myself in a constant struggle between
comfort and speed. Now at least I'm finally making some miles again -
this isn't going to be a record breaking week, either for most or least
miles, but certainly will be more below my average than I'd like.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Noon Position: 41 17' S, 91' 20' E, SOG 4.5, COG 060, Day's Run 130nm.
I got caught out by the sea this morning. We had a tolerably rough
night, with force 8 wind for a while in the wee hours, which obliged me
to run off to the NE in front of it. Today the weather is moderating -
breeze is down to force 7, and it seemed the seas were down a bit too,
with the breeze going further west, so after a bit of indecision I
finally decided to head up and start sailing straight E again, and to
unroll some jib in addition to the staysail. Pretty soon Odyssey was
charging along at a solid 6 or 7 knots, rising up over the big S and SW
swells with ease. I retired to the comforts of my sleeping bag and was
happily ensconced, reading "Treason's Harbor" by Patrick O'Brian, when
there was an awfully familiar bang and the whole world turned sideways
as I was pelted with onions, cabbages, and even a roll of duct tape from
the high side of the boat. A small torrent of water gushed in through
the shut hatch, cascading down the companionway as Odyssey enjoyed her
second knockdown of the trip. Fortunately I had the one remaining
cockpit solar panel securely lashed below, for when I went on deck there
was a familiar air of things all-ahoo. Knee-deep water rushing about
the cockpit, sheets everywhere, and the wind-vane lines had contrived to
jump off the wheel, leaving the boat bowling along beam on to the seas
in a not particularly pleasant manner. Sometimes I think the jib likes
to mock me in heavy conditions - it seems like every time I unroll some
jib in a blow the wind always contrives to come up almost instantly,
overpowering us. Today instead of wind the water got me. Now of course
we're back trudging along to the NE again at 4kts under staysail alone
in a surprisingly heavy sea - the wind is only force 7, but the big S &
SW swells are creating some exciting constructive interference that
causes waves to come exploding out of nowhere. This time the knockdown
wasn't as far over as the last - not quite horizontal, but pretty
close. There was a very clearly defined high water mark about 16 feet
up the luff of the staysail, and if I extrapolate the angle of that line
it would seem to indicate the lower spreaders were 1 or 2 feet clear of
the water. This stupid depression has been plaguing me now for days - a
quick nasty blow on the front side, then it stalled and killed my wind
for a few days, and now a nasty blow on the way out again.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Noon Position: 41 49' S, 88 30' E, SOG 2, COG 070, Day's Run 110nm.
Except for the brief frenzy of shearwaters encouraged by my corned beef,
The birds of the southern ocean are largely indifferent to my presence.
They drift by, solemnly circling, rarely coming close enough to catch a
draft off the sails, but mostly just continuing with their avian
existence. My presence or absence from the deck does not seem to
disconcert them, or even be worthy of notice. My highly scientific
research into the startle-ability of seabirds has been a complete
failure - no matter how loudly I yell and shout "BOO!" or "Hey You!
Stupidhead!" or even a long bellow of "Albatroooosss!!!" I get no
reaction, not even the twitch of a wing-tip or flick of a foot. Perhaps
because of the lack of any humans to interact with, I tend to
anthropomorphize the sea, the weather, and the birds, reading emotions
and motives into everything from a nasty swell to a headwind, or
ascribing human embarrassment to an awkward albatross. This, of course,
is patently silly - the sea and the sky are just as inhumanly
indifferent to my presence as the birds. There's no malice in the
drizzle that soaked my shirt while reefing, or the wave that seems to
get me just before I go below every time I'm on deck without foulies on,
nor is there any benevolence or joy in a warm sunny day drying my
cushions and sheets or in a glorious sunset. They just are. The sea
and the sky and the birds silently whirling overhead, all grandly
indifferent to my presence. My presence or absence in these waters
makes no difference to the world, and the sea and the sky and the birds
would still be here, solemnly circling in the wind and the rain and the sun.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Noon Position: 42 14' S, 81 54' E, SOG 5.5, COG 095, Day's Run 140nm,
Week's Run 865nm. The decent mileage for this week is a testament to
the excellent conditions at the beginning of the week, not the miserable
stuff of the last few days. I didn't realize focus on it yesterday, but
as of yesterday I have now been at sea longer than I ever have before.
The first leg of this trip seems shorter in my memory than this leg,
and, I guess it was by a day or two now, but I think that the thought of
how much I still have left to go makes this piece seem longer. I
tackled the V-berth today - bleaching all the mold and mildew, cleaning
out shreds of soggy newspaper and onion skins. I've now consolidated
all my remaining fruits and veggies into the main cabin, so I no longer
have to worry about the banana hammocks in the v-berth chafing and
mildewing the onions and citrus. Now, of course, I just need to keep
the infernal aft starboard lower chainplate from gushing water onto
them. I've tried re-bedding the thing about 4 times so far this trip
with no luck - I'm not really sure what more to do, other than wait for
a nice warm day and try again. The same chainplate on the portside used
to leak, but was fixed by re-bedding only once after it killed the
stereo. The two types of sweet potatoes I got in California are, I
think, some sort of mutant super-root vegetables. going through them
today I discovered that the chainplate had (of course) gotten the bottom
layer of potatoes soggy, but they seemed no worse for wear, 4 months
after purchase, at least 2 months of those spent in a bit of a puddle.
Maybe they're not actually potatoes at all, but some sort of dormant
alien life form, just waiting for the right signal from the mothership
to emerge from hibernation and take over the world!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Noon Position: 41 50' S, 78 52' E, SOG 5.8, COG 115, Day's Run 30nm. A
little depression is tracking straight over the top of us today as it
makes its way SE into the 50s, bringing with it absolutely lovely
weather. I ended up spending the night hove to, since the breeze was
coming hard out of the E all night. The 15 or 20 miles to windward we
would have made wasn't worth the pain of beating into 25-30kts, so I got
a good night's sleep slowly drifting SW, then began sailing again this
morning after the breeze had shifted to the NNE. Going "upwind" in
these seas is a joyous prospect - I have to bear off to keep the boat
moving and avoid the worst of the slamming, and even so this morning on
4 separate occasions Odyssey dropped off a wave hard enough to slam open
the mirrored front of the medicine cabinet in the head. The percussive
crack of the door slamming into the bulkhead almost on top of the
shudder and duller thud of dropping off a wave was heart-stopping the
first time it happened - My mind instantly raced to shearing bolts or
busted bulkheads. By the fourth thud-crack-bang I just grumbled and dug
out a roll of duct tape to tape the thing shut. One of the
multitudinous little bottles of 5-hour energy drink that some mumping
villain hid about the boat has taken up residence in the medicine
cabinet, but at least has confined its contribution to the day's fun to
sliding back and forth with a gentle "tink" on each side of the cabinet
instead of leaping forth and covering me with caffeine-y goodness. The
little bottles seem to be breeding somewhere amongst the cabbages - I
seem to find a new one every few weeks lurking behind a potato or
pretending to be garlic powder among the spices. I need to figure out a
way to train an albatross to carry freight and ship the lot of em off to
Turkey or wherever my darling younger brother happens to be at the
moment - He at least would put them to good use by drinking them.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Noon Position: 42 27' S, 76 25' E, SOG 6.2, COG 090, Day's Run 141nm.
Had a good blow yesterday - about 14 hours of solid force 7 from the NW,
running off under just staysail, that kicked up some nice seas before
the wind went hard S and died out a lot, bringing a big S swell to play
with. I'm starting to get through my fresh provisions now - I still
have plenty of lemons, oranges, and onions, with garlic and ginger as
well, but I'm down to my last two rather bedraggled looking cabbages and
almost through the 20lbs of potatoes I got in Chile. Once those are
gone I'm going to start in on the unbelievably indestructible sweet
potatoes of an unknown variety that I still have from LA. I also have a
few dozen eggs left, covered with a light coat of vaseline and stored
under the port bunk I'm operating without refrigeration, except of
course for the air temperature, both to save power and because on a trip
of this length there isn't much point to a fridge. Anything that will
keep this long will keep just as well unrefrigerated as refrigerated, it
seems. I've had about the same amount of loss from rot as I did on the
first leg of the trip - the cold in the south atlantic acted as a
preservative, but the pervasive moisture just about counterbalanced it.
Some things, like tomatoes, lasted a lot better in the cold than in the
tropics - my green tomatoes from LA had to be eaten in the first 2 or 3
weeks out, but the ones I got in Chile lasted just over a month. I took
a lot of fresh vegetables along out of each port, and for the most part
was able to pretty easily get 2-3 weeks out of them. The real winners
in longevity are of course what's left, although I had mangoes that
lasted a month from Valparaiso too. The key to preservation seems to be
the admittedly futile goal of keeping things dry - most of my losses
have been very noticeably due to water. All the citrus fruit is wrapped
in newspaper, and as long as the wrapping remains intact and dry the
fruit remains in solid shape. I ended up wrapping most of my vegetables
- peppers, cabbages, tomatoes, cucumbers & zucchini, in newspaper and
found that it answered well, leaving only the naturally wrapped onions
and garlic loose. One thing that has seemed important has been getting
high quality & fresh vegetables - my california garlic and ginger both
look significantly better than the rather pitiful specimens I obtained
in Chile. I do wish I'd brought more apples - I was still eating
California apples arriving in Valparaiso, but I only got a few for the
next leg and finished them all before the horn. My biggest problem with
food so far has actually been with the canned fruit - I've lost about 8
cans, all of which dribbled a foul black goo into the bottom of the bin
before I realized and could get it all cleaned up.