Wednesday, May 30, 2012


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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


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

Monday, May 28, 2012


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

Friday, May 25, 2012


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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


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

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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

Monday, May 21, 2012


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


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

Thursday, May 17, 2012


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

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


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

Monday, May 14, 2012

5/13/12 (again!)

Noon Position: 46 21' S, 179 12' W, SOG 5.9, COG 085, Day's Run 115nm.
We're back into West longitude again, having crossed the international
date line early this morning. (well, crossed 180 longitude - the
international date line does a funny jag to the west in these parts to
let Chatham Island, part of New Zealand, have the same date as the
kiwis) This means, of course, that I get to repeat Sunday all over
again, or at least Sunday from about 5am onwards.
This morning I awoke just before sunrise and lay in the warm, dry
confines of my bunk feeling the motion of the boat through the waves,
listening to the sails and the wind. "Alright," I decided, "We're a
little overpowered - I'll go put in a reef before making myself hot tea
and oatmeal, then climb back under my blanket to eat it." Thus
reassured with the promise of both warm toes and warm innards, I
proceeded on my morning routine - pulling fleece on over my long
underwear, pulling on my foul weather pants over everything, then boots,
then harness.
Thankfully not! Actually got up to shake a reef instead of put one
in, and we've got pleasantly smooth weather. I tried straightening the
boom this morning since it seems to be getting more banana shaped - I
think I reduced the curve a little bit, but it's still pointing more
towards the south pole than is really proper for a spar of its stature.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Noon Position: 46 45' S, 178 06' E, SOG 4.5, COG 105, Day's Run 129nm.
I don't mind getting up in the middle of the night to take care of the
boat - check conditions, trim sails, reef if necessary. There's the
promise of my still warm (and dry-ish) sleeping bag to snuggle back into
after business has been taken care of. Getting out of bed in the
morning, however, is a different story. Waking up for the day has no
cozy promise of returning to a warm cocoon, and to make matters worse,
by the time the sun is rising my body heat has normally fully dried out
my clothing and my sleeping bag, further de-incentivizing a departure
from the nest. Then, of course, the weather sometimes takes a hand.
This morning I awoke just before sunrise and lay in the warm, dry
confines of my bunk feeling the motion of the boat through the waves,
listening to the sails and the wind. "Alright," I decided, "We're a
little overpowered - I'll go put in a reef before making myself hot tea
and oatmeal, then climb back under my blanket to eat it." Thus
reassured with the promise of both warm toes and warm innards, I
proceeded on my morning routine - pulling fleece on over my long
underwear, pulling on my foul weather pants over everything, then boots,
then harness. I stuck my arm out the hatch and adjusted the windvane to
turn downwind, both to depower to make the reefing easier and to make
the boat drier while I was working on deck, undid the latches on the top
washboard, slid it out and put it on the floor, then climbed into the
cockpit. After making my way forward and taking a single reef in the
main, I returned to the cockpit to sheet in and head up close hauled
again, and judge the effect on boatspeed. A packet of spray came over
the bow and got me in the face. Discovering the boat was again
overpowered, I bore off, went forward, double reefed the main, returned
to the cockpit to sheet in, head up, and assess. Another packet of
spray came aboard, soaking my right arm from the elbow down. (Clever
man that I am, I had neglected to wear my jacket). "Hmmm...., still
overpowered." The wind was increasing, keeping just ahead of my pace at
reefing. So I pointed the bow south once more and went forward, taking
the third and final reef in the main, reducing it to less than half of
its original size. Back to the cockpit, trim, head up, and, of course,
another wave, this time to the face again.
Finally the boat seemed to be settled in, so I headed below,
replaced the top wash board, latched it in place, took off my harness,
towelled off my face and sweater, pulled my foul weather pants down to
my ankles to keep my bunk dry, made a cup of tea, and put the oatmeal
on the stove. Just as I was sitting down on my bunk to the oatmeal, I
realized the wind had increased again - Odyssey was lurching and
launching off the waves, putting her leeward rail underwater, luffing
the jib aggressively every few waves when one threw us too far off course.
So: The oatmeal went back on the stove to keep it from spilling,
the foul weather pants pulled up, the harness back on, the washboard
unlatched and put on the floor, and as I stuck my head out to adjust the
windvane to bear off again, a sheet of solid water came over the top of
the boat, catching me full in the back of the head and running down my
neck. Wonderful. I climbed out on deck, slowly dripping, took four
rolls in the jib, sheeted it tight again, climbed back below to get some
shelter from the spray before carefully extending an arm to the windvane
line to bring the boat back on course. I put the washboard back in,
latched it in place, took off my harness, took off my foul weather
pants, sat back down in bed and ate my oatmeal and drank my tea.
Unfortunately, unlike revenge, Oatmeal is not a dish best served cold.
Tomorrow morning I'm not getting out of bed :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Noon Position: 47 10' S, 175 02' E, SOG 5, COG 050, Day's Run 125nm.
Passing Tasmania in the night to the rich smells plants and damp soil
and woodsmoke was autumn, and today seems like the first day of winter.
An entire season gone in less than a week. Odyssey is as far from the
sun as she would be in northern Maine in November. The sun is low in
the sky, sharp and cold against a crisp blue sky, not providing much
warmth even at noon. Last night the ceiling of the head glistened in
the cold blue-white light of my headlamp, an inverted carpet of tiny
white gems, water droplets shining like little spheres of ice in the
night. This morning they're gone, replaced by an inglorious smear,
victim to my continuing futile campaign to keep the mold and
condensation in check with bleach and rags. The seas yesterday were
gray, with low sodden clouds looming about, vomiting their contents back
into the sea, pierced by the occasional clear grey light of the sun. If
it weren't for the double reef in the main and the spray across the deck
it could have been a scene from the doldrums, thousands of miles to the
north. It's amazing how much more pleasant sailing upwind is when the
breeze drops off enough to let me carry a double reef in the main - less
water across the deck, less noise, and even the pounding off waves is
gentle, more a reminder of the waves than a nerve-wracking constant
slam. Under full sail the waves are hardly noticeable, just an
occasional smack of spray in the sun. By now the sunward side of the
cabin is mostly dry, drips of dew warmed away, but small puddles still
lurk on the ceiling, threatening to drip and drop wherever they are, and
the shady side of the cabin is unchanged, a sheen of water shining where
I wiped up the worst of it, marred by small rivulets here and there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Noon Position: 47 18' S, 170 E, SOG 5.5, COG 015, Day's Run 48nm,
Week's Run 755nm. Slogging upwind in 25-30 is no fun. Everything is
still wet, mostly from condensation, but also some from leaks, such as
the stupid chainplate that seems to have managed to somehow dig an
artesian well in the deck. Just for entertainment this morning I tried
wiping down the ceiling and walls to stop the dripping, but within two
hours it was back, dribbling all over everything again. I could deal
with the cold and the wet a lot better if I were actually going
somewhere, but beating my brains out for 24 hours to gain only 48 miles
is just depressing. My tacking angles in these seas vary between 130
and 140 degrees - so much for the vaunted upwind prowess of the fin
keel. Ocean Star, the 90' full keel schooner I used to captain, was an
absolute pig to windward and could tack through 120 to 130 degrees in
flat water. After only a day and a half, New Zealand is already
starting to wear on me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Noon Position: 47 40' S, 169 12' E, SOG 6.5, COG 010, Day's Run 96nm.
Last night I enjoyed the lovely no wind, bitter cold, and heavy
condensation on every possible surface aboard Odyssey that seems to
often arrive with high pressure immediately following a gale. Now, of
course, we're slugging it out upwind again in building breeze, with the
wind right on the nose from the NE, exactly where I want to go. Had a
lot of fun this morning before the breeze came up trying to sail upwind
with the remnants of the big SW swell still behind us, every minute or
so one would shove Odyssey just right, and the increase in apparent wind
would bring the breeze way forward, luffing everything hard for a few
seconds, before the boat stalled out on the backside of the swell. A
very noisy night. I'm hoping I get some kind of wind shift so I can get
a little bit better angle on either tack - right now I'm aimed straight
at New Zealand, so in the interests of warmth and latitude we'll push
north for the day, then wind being equal, tack offshore for the night.
New Zealand doesn't seem to want to give us a break - upwind almost all
the way across the Tasman, then a gale from all points of the compass,
now beating it out upwind again. This morning I noticed that the boom
has developed a noticeable bend, with the middle pushed out to port. I
hadn't noticed until now because normally the reefed sail covers the
boom, but in the banging around this morning under full sail it was
pretty visible. My only guess is that it's from the capsize we took
back south of Australia - there was a preventer on the end of the boom
made off to starboard, so the hit of the water along it's length
certainly could have given it a new and novel shape. I'm just going to
pretend it's there to help give the foot of the sail a faster shape upwind.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Noon Position: 49 04' S, 167 40' E, SOG 6, COG 045, Day's Run 135nm.
Homeward Bound.


Noon Position: 48 48' S, 164 13' E, SOG 5.5, COG 150, Days Run 112nm.
For those of you not on intimate terms with my joys and sorrows, likes
and dislikes, even my whims and peccadillos, allow me to set the stage.
There are few things in life that give me greater joy than pulling
untold lengths of sodden canvas from the ocean. Not cold waves down my
neck early in the morning, not discovering that I made tea with salt
water instead of fresh, not even chipping burnt sweet potatoes from the
pan. Yesterday afternoon I was greeted by the always welcome noise of
flogging sails as my furler decided to indulge its passion for chafe to
a new extent and gnawed straight through the furling line, unleashing
the (no longer) partially furled jib upon the world. By the time I
managed to drag the jib down I was wholeheartedly wishing that some
genius would invent a hank-on furler. Jib safely on deck, I took the
furling line below for repairs, but was no more than halfway through
when I heard a sickly slithering sound behind my head and watched the
compass turn 30 degrees off course. Being fully aware of the
aforementioned joy that I take in extracting sails from the sea,
Odyssey, as always with my best interest at heart, had slipped the
entire jib over the rail. Now, the three corners of the sail were still
attached to the boat, normally a laudable thing, but the resulting 40
foot long scoop dragging through the sea resisted all efforts towards
recovery. Finally I cast off the tack and let the sail stream like a
flag, allowing me to finally drag it back aboard, lash it to the bow,
and return below to my repairs, sullen, soaked, and sweaty.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Noon Position: 47 01' S, 158 49' E, SOG 6, COG 100, Day's Run 138.
We're moving along almost close hauled under triple reefed main, a scrap
of jib, and the staysail windward sheeted hard as if Odyssey were a
15,000 lb 420, shaking and slamming and shuddering our way through,
over, up, and down a snotty 5 to 6 foot sea. I am, as Tanya Aebi so
aptly described it, "living on the walls", with the boat heeled a steady
20 to 30 degrees, interrupted only by the occasional rush of water down
the lee deck as we take roll rail under, the intermittent series of
rig-shaking slams that announce the arrival of a particularly steep or
short-spaced set of waves, and the occasional earthquake as the jib
luffs in a gust before the windvane can correct, shaking everything from
the sloppily loose forestay all the way aft to my tea mug hanging in the
galley. I've become even more of a hermit than usual, trapped below by
the near constant procession of waves and spray over the deck,
restricted to my leeward bunk by the heel. Moving about is a always
exciting challenge, swinging from one handhold to the next, trying to
time my motions so that the movement of the hull propels me forward
instead of swinging me into the nearest corner. To get to sleep I have
to pretend to be senseless, trying my hardest to ignore the slamming
and luffing and shaking and pounding, telling myself over and over that
at least we're heading in the right direction, that to reduce sail would
inevitably lead to sagging to leeward as well as a less abusive motion,
trying not to cringe every time we pound off a wave or lurch sideways
with a slight sensation of weightlessness in my stomach.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5/3/12 [Delayed Attachment: IMG_0691.JPG]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_0691.JPG


Noon Position: 45 09' S, 153 35' E, SOG 5.5, COG 105, Day's Run 90nm,
Week's Run 755nm. I took advantage of the calm yesterday afternoon to
start training for the pier to pier swim this summer, and, incidentally,
to scrape off a few of the gooseneck barnacles that I discovered living
in a thick barnacle-y colony on Odyssey's stern. The bottom's not quite
as bad as it was on arriving it Valparaiso, with nearly a month of calms
behind us, but close. It's going to take another good calm to really
get the bottom clean, but I'd rather be sailing with a dirty bottom than
becalmed with a clean one. It felt really nice to get in the water -
this is the first time I've swum since being in Chile, and the
depthsounders claim of 53 degrees notwithstanding, the water was fairly
warm - probably 60. I came out of the water feeling refreshed, not
shivering and numb like in Chile, which is bathed with icy water from
the south by the Humboldt current. Just before sunset a grey line
appeared across the entire western horizon and swiftly grew closer,
looking almost like an upside down cold front. Just to be on the safe
side I reefed the main, not a fun task in no wind with enough swell to
slam the boom around as soon as the sheet is eased, finishing just in
time to be engulfed in a dense fog bank. What was pushing this fog at 5
or 6 knots I have no idea, since, if anything, the nonexistent wind
actually decreased upon its arrival. After a few hours I got my first
180 degree wind shift of the night, with a very light southerly filling
in, building enough to make me reef, then promptly dying again, only to
be succeeded by another 180 degree windshift back to the north, then NE,
which has finally stuck - luckily with enough N in it so we're almost
pointing at New Zealand.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Noon Position: 44 51' S, 151 35' E, SOG 4, COG 085, Day's Run 150nm.
Today is the first genuinely dry, sunny, light air day we've had for
quite some time, so Odyssey once again looks like the ship of the dread
laundry pirate Robers, come to sweep the ocean of all dish towels and
sheets that he can plunder. The smooth ride this morning also helped me
in continuing to accomplish one of my most important goals of this trip,
namely, to be able to crack an egg one handed without shedding shattered
shells into the bowl. It's a good thing I'm starting to get the hang of
it, since my opportunities for practice are swiftly diminishing - as of
the end of breakfast, I only have two eggs left, both of which shall be
one-handedly cracked to make a splendid bacon and cheddar omelet in the
next few days. (As an aside, my omelet-ing skills are almost superb -
not quite up to Julia Child's ease and mastery, but close - the only
time I use a utensil is to beat the eggs and then to eat the omelet)
Having bragged a bit, I'm sure my next omelet will now turn out to be
full of shells from poor one-handed cracking, and I'll be scraping it
off some inappropriate surface of the boat with a spatula.
Unfortunately that seems to be the way that cooking afloat likes to work.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Noon Position: 44 29' S, 148 07' E, SOG 6.8, COG 105, Day's Run 150nm.
I sighted the Tasmanian coast yesterday afternoon at 1400 about 40 miles
away. This being my first sight of land since Tierra del Fuego, some
two and a half months ago, I thought it only appropriate to celebrate a
little. However, I was stymied. I have nothing Tasmanian on board,
know no Tasmanian songs or stories or cheers, and couldn't really have
my own private fireworks show with expired flares so close to land. So
instead, Tasmania being very near Australia, I celebrated by trimming
the jib with my Barlow winch handle (made in Australia, stamped in bold
font underneath), Eating some delicious canned cheese on crackers (Bega,
the Great Australian Cheese), while hailing the coastline with such
traditional down-under greetings as "Croikey!" and "Oy, look at the
teeth on this one, moyte!" Finally, I sang a few lines of that grand
old song, "Oh, Tasmania!," with lyrics of my own composition set to the
tune of "Oh, Canadia!" (I needed the extra i to make it scan) I
thought of all the Tasmanians just a few miles away, doing Tasmanian
things, thinking Tasmanian thoughts, maybe even (in the wildest reaches
of my fancy) chasing Tasmanian devils out of the garden with a broom!
It's nice to be back moving again, after losing almost two full days of
longitude from that last gale, and Odyssey sailed fast all night around
the Southern tip of Tasmania in oddly still waters, watched by the
blinking eye of the Maatsuyker island light, to finally find the horizon
empty once again as the sun rose this morning.