I’m about to head back to Hawaii to spend a few days working on Illusion – and maybe get a little winter sunshine, too! This time there’ll be no sailing of course – without an engine it’s too much effort to get in and out of the marina – but heading back to the boat has had me contemplating those last couple of weeks when I was sailing up to Hawaii from Nuku Hiva. Arriving back to Vancouver I was exhausted; a friend recently used the word “depleted” which is a pretty good description. The first few weeks back were a bit of a blur: it was great to see everyone at the ‘Welcome Home’ party (thanks to all who came and gave me such a warm welcome), but somewhat overwhelming to be surrounded by so much noise and activity after all that solitary time and seven months living on the boat, most of them without a whole lot of sleep! I wrote a bit about some of my experiences at sea alone, but I thought it might be interesting, especially for those who have never done long passages, to have an idea of the kinds of things that need to be done and thought about whilst under way. It’s all relevant to group sailing too, but just a little more intense when there’s just one of you… Continue reading “Solo Sailing: Routines”
In the past I’ve done quite a lot of solo sailing on Illusion, starting in my first years of ownership, sailing into San Francisco’s inland waterways (1000 miles of diked paths snaking through California’s central valley), then later coastal cruising around New Zealand. But this voyage – from Nuku Hiva (in the Marquesas of French Polynesia) to Hawaii – was my first open-ocean passage alone. Usually I set an anchor each night – this was different: 15 days with no anchoring; two weeks out of reach of land. It sounds dramatic, perhaps, but in other ways it was very similar to previous sailing experiences. And as I was alone on the boat, I didn’t feel the same responsibility or concern for how the others were doing. I could make decisions solely based on my needs. If anyone was going to be sick or get injured or break something, it would be me…
As with most ocean crossings, the days were filled with sky and sea, brief radio check-ins, getting food and trying to get sleep. There are plenty of ocean-crossing sailors who describe it as boring. I wouldn’t say that, but there aren’t necessarily lots of anecdotes to come out of it! The first day proved to be the most action packed so it gives an idea of a busy day at sea:
The last ten days, while Doug has been at sea, alone, heading towards Hawaii from Nuku Hiva, have gone slowly here in Vancouver. And while it’s felt slow to me, I know time will have been even weirder for him.
The seven day passage from Tahiti was a lesson in the bendiness of time. Time off (mainly sleeping or cooking) flew by. Watches, for the most part, didn’t. A three hour stint of steering the boat under the moonlight could feel like just a few minutes one night, and never-ending another. The three minutes between banging on the floor to ask for relief and somebody’s head popping up to say they’d be there in a minute dragged ridiculously. As did the next ten minutes waiting for them to get their drink and snacks and life jacket, and get up on deck to take over. Continue reading “The Illusion Show”
It’s a few years now since I’ve spent any time at sea. Over that time, knowing that one day I’d be back out there, I’ve been following a great advance in collision avoidance systems for ships. Having spent many nights out on the ocean, any advance in technology that can assist the sleep-deprived in keeping the boat and its passengers safe gets my attention. One particularly challenging aspect of night watch is identifying ships from their lights and trying to work out whether they are likely to crash into you. In some situations, minutes of uncertainty can result in hair-raising, adrenaline-rushed moments of panic. This is where AIS comes to the rescue! Continue reading “AIS, DSC, VHF, oh my!”
Those two dreaded words. There is possibly nothing more frustrating than a bad customer service experience. Right? Minutes, even hours, on hold. Wrong information. No trace of previous conversations. Time being wasted on all sides. Aaagh. (In fact, we recently changed mobile phone companies for exactly that reason.) In the middle of all the planning and computer-based work I’ve been doing to prepare for the trip, a recent incident stood out…. wait for it….. because of how good it was! Really! Continue reading “Customer service?”