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”
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”
I am still surprised by the confusion that emanates from others when I mention that we’ll be departing their island soon. Of course, they know that Illusion‘s main engine is not functional, so that helps to explain it – I tell them that we’ll sail to the next island. It is a sailboat…
Continue reading “Engineless”
A car on the quay tooted its horn and we looked over to see Atu waving at us. We’d been about to haul up the dinghy to store it on deck for the journey, but luckily hadn’t yet, so it wasn’t too difficult to get the fuel back out of the anchor locker and make our way over to shore. Euloge, his wife Hilda and 15 year old daughter Atu had come to say goodbye! And brought with them a bag full of food for the journey – banana crepes, stew and rice, a bag of bananas – plus clothes as gifts and a shell necklace. We were bowled over by their generosity and thoughtfulness. After hugs and kisses and address swapping, we headed back to Illusion and waved goodbye as they drove off to church.
We left Auckland on May 30th, sailing east towards Rapa in the Iles Australis. It was surreal to watch the city lights disappear on the horizon – hard to believe that the time had finally come to begin our journey. The weather forecast showed two low pressure systems building, so we sailed southeast to avoid them. The first few days were slow going due to light winds, but it picked up by day four, so that we were able to average about 150 nautical miles per day. We headed northeast, hoping to catch the coat tails of the storm and ride them east (low pressure systems rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere). The winds and seas got progressively bigger and we found ourselves in the middle of a 420 mile wide gale. No skirting this one unfortunately.
Strange thoughts run after being in uncomfortable sailing conditions for most of the 8 days we’ve been away from Auckland. We’re 35 degrees south of the equator, 162 degrees west of London… Which reminds me that I’m half a world away from Sara… and prompts me back to OpenCPN, the charting program we’re using to track our progress. Surprisingly enough, we’re on a direct course to where she is in northwest England! But it’s 9500 miles away and the “directness” of our course is challenged by the “S”-curve of a great circle route that has been plotted on a Mercator-projected chart of the globe. Strangely enough, the route would take us through San Francisco, about half way on a journey to northern England. Across Hudson Bay, too. And Greenland. Then through the western isles of Scotland. I really miss her, but for me this is the distinctly “not-fun” part of cruising, so perhaps it’s a good thing it’s not her introduction to the “cruising life”…
Continue reading “Choices – Starting an Epic Sea Journey”
We did it. We officially left New Zealand! Much like leaving the boatyard, it came with a sensation of simultaneous relief and disbelief. Almost like we didn’t really think we could do it. Right down to the wire as usual, we made it to the customs and immigration wharf just in time, as the officials were waiting and their shift had technically just ended. The good news is that customs officials who just want to get home will apparently give you the quickest and easiest check as they shoo you out of their country. We were in and out like lightning. The bad news is that the current high in the weather isn’t giving us much wind in our sails, so we’re not leaving the country very quickly. Continue reading “Aaaand we’re off, but not to the races – post by Janice”