Day 35 Salt, squid and the sound of a familiar voice 06/10/13

 Oct 6 Penrhyn Atoll 2

Position:  10. 19 S, 156. 15 W

A busy morning on deck this morning. I did some minor sail repairs to the main headboard connection to the sail before I raised the main.

Very light winds all night and lots of uncomfortable rolling. It’s an inescapable motion that rocks every inch of the boat, all of its contents and every molecule of my being.  

We’re on a good course at the moment, travelling at 5+ knots and the motion has settled down considerably. Big rain squall last night washed everything clean. The build up of salt after a few days makes the boat uncomfortable to walk around on as the salt crystals are like sand. I found a  small squid on deck this morning. 

My big news is I talked with Cliff and Isobel on the ham radio after the Pacific Seafarer’s Net. It felt like meeting a lifelong friend I hadn’t seen in twenty years! We caught up on what has been going on with family and friends over the past six years, chatted about the other ham operators, and life in general. It was wonderful to speak to them.

(Cliff is in Balclutha on New Zealand’s south Island. Glenn spoke with Cliff on the ham radio for a number weeks as he sailed down the east coast during his first circumnavigation attempt in 2007.  We’ve kept in touch ever since.)

storm petrel

Storm petrel photo: Wikimedia Commons

M Layland asks: What news on the ornithology front? You should be seeing Tropic birds, terns and Magnificent frigate birds while you’re near the islands.

Glenn:  You are absolutely right about the proliferation of birds now that I am close to the islands and they are magnificent! Storm Petrels, Boobies, Tropic Birds, White Terns but no Albatross, because there is not enough wind. I think my favourite is the small dark storm petrel. They are around the boat day and night. They are distinctive in that they are the only birds that have a voice – a soft squawk. Lately, when I’ve been on deck shortening sail either just before, or during a rain squall I can hear them around the boat. I can’t see them at all as during these rain squalls at night.It’s difficult to see the bow of the boat and if it wasn’t for the light from the masthead, I could not see a thing. How they navigate is a total mystery. These black out conditions leave me completely disoriented. Most of the birds are attracted to my fishing lure, which is dragging behind the boat. Disappointingly, the fish are not. 

 Course 205 T Speed 6 knots Wind NE 10 Waves E 2m Cloud 50 % Temp  31 C Baro 1009 Miles in last 24 hrs: 100 nm



Day 34 Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands 05/10/13

Oct 5 Penrhyn Atoll close up

Click on image to enlarge

Position:  08. 51 S, 155 22 W @ 22:00 UTC

A strong squall early in the morning put us on our ear so I was on deck from 05:15 am trimming sails. 

All in all, a good steady day’s run. Weather remains hot and I frequently seek refuge below decks.

We’re alongside Penrhyn Island headed southwest through the Northern Cook Islands. First group of Cooks are about 600 miles off. We’ll be there in four or five days depending on the wind. Stewart Island south of the South Island of NZ is 3,683 nm at a bearing of 231 T.ETA 28 – 30 days. 

Course: 190 T Speed: 6 knots Wind: NE 10 Waves: NE 1.5 Cloud: 40% Temp: 31 C Bar: 1008 Miles in last 24hrs: 160 nm

Behind the blog:

A noteworthy virtual milestone here on the blog. We now have 500 subscribers. Thank you all for your interest and support. We should see some increased interest from New Zealand as Glenn gets closer. I’ll be in touch with the local media in NZ to notify them of his imminent approach. 

Day 33 Starbuck Island 04/10/13

Oct 4, 2013 am 

Position: 05. 59 S, 154. 32 W

We made good headway through the night. I ate my dinner – stew and rice – in the cockpit to keep cool and watch the stars. 

It must be coffee time there at home. I was up in the night on the lookout for the islands. We passed Starbuck Island last night. Unfortunately they don’t have a ‘sail through’ so we didn’t stop. We’re going well, at a nice speed and are a little off the wind – more towards a reach – so the motion is a little better. Still doing a steady 7+knots.  

It’s a fabulous day, bright blue sky, white cotton clouds and the sea is sparkling. We have 15 knots of easterly wind pushing us along, the sea is boisterous, very blue, and giving me a ride I find difficult to stand up to. At the moment we have three reefs in the main and the jib rolled up past the usual two reefs and she is still doing 6.5 – 7  knots and throwing lots of water over the deck, some of which much is finding its way down into the boat. Although the drips are small they are consistent.

A beautiful day like today is great for sailing but it’s no place to be exposed to the sun. The sun is brutal and my only refuge is down below, where it’s hot, but comfortable. I’ve been reading and charting courses and looking at the pilot charts to check out the prevailing winds. I’m hoping to carry this easterly for another five or six days which would take me down to 13 S and 159 W just at the end of a long string of islands that end in the northern Cook Islands. After that we’ll see how the weather is shaping up. Eventually I’d like to pick up the north easterlies and head across and down the NZ coast.

For now, it doesn’t get any better. 

Heading: 185 true Boat Speed: 7 knots Wind: NE 15 knots Swell: NE 1.5 m Bar: 1008 Cloud: 30 % Temp:27 C Miles last 24 hrs: 180



Day 32 Malden Island 03/10/13


Oct 3, 2013 near Malden Isl 

Position: 03. 23 S, 154. 08 W @16:45 UTC

Very exciting times here on WW II as we are coming up to Malden Island. Because of a wind shift last night last night we are going to leave Malden Island to our starboard side.

Listen to Glenn’s Audio report . (Apologies for the scratchy audio…it’s music to my ears).


Malden Island is a low, arid, uninhabited island in the central Pacific Ocean about 39 km² in area. It is one of the Line Islands belonging to the Republic of Kiribati.

At the moment we are about 30 miles North east of the Island and about 20 miles due east of the reef off the northern point of the island. The island is about 500 ft high so should be able to see it some time soon. The weather for us  is good for the next few days as long as I can stay east of 160 west where there are light winds. the next island we will pass will be Starbuck Island, which is 100 miles south west of Malden and after that it is Penrhyn, Rakahanga, and Manikhiki all three of which are part of the Northern Cook Islands. 

Bird sightings include petrels and boobys.

Heading:165 true Boat Speed:6.5 knots Wind:E 15 – 20 Swell: E 1.5 m Cloud:40% Bar:1008 Temp: 26 C  


Day 32 Approaching the Islands 02/10/13

Oct 2 w labels

Position: 01. 25 S, 153. 39 W @16:10 UTC

Could you hear the merriment from the ‘crossing the line’ party last night? It wasn’t a flash affair – no one got their head shaved or had to eat soap, but I did make a toast to King Neptune and ask for safe passage through his Kingdom. The first sunrise in the Southern Hemisphere was a broad display filling the eastern sky and radiating under a long band of cloud and beaming out through the top. The winds are still steady and I’ve now taken the evening reef out of the main and we are sliding along at  7+ kts. We are 250 miles north of out first way point gate off Malden Island which we hope to leave to starboard,then set a course for the South Cape off Stewart Island, the southern most tip of New Zealand, the first of the five great capes that we must pass under to qualify as a true circumnavigation. The distance to the South Cape is about 4000 nm in a straight line and at our average speed, we should get there at the end of October. This is an interesting passage as it takes us through the many South Pacific Island groups many of which we visited as a family in our Haida 26′ Sannu II in 1997 while en route to NZ.


Wakefield family, Bora Bora lagoon, 1997

Bora Bora July 1997 at the beginning of our year-long offshore adventure. Glenn got a slight head start on his tropical tan during his 60 day solo passage to Tahiti.


I have a few important jobs to tend to today. At the top of the list is a very persistent leak somewhere that’s making a fair bit of water in the bilge. I was was totally surprised yesterday afternoon to open the floor boards and find water at the level of the engine! I pumped over 50 pumps this morning to clear it.  One good thing is that it is not fresh water so it’s is not coming from my water tanks. I suspect the culprit is the bushing around the propeller shaft.    


Course: 206 T Speed: 7kts Wind:10-15 E Waves: 1.5 m E Cloud: 40% Bar 1010 Temp 30 C Miles in last 24 hrs: 150 nm


Day 31 Crossing the Line 2/10/13

 Oct 1 Equator

Behind the Blog  by MaryLou Wakefield

This evening, Glenn will cross the equator, a significant milestone in any offshore voyage, but particularly noteworthy in a 30,000 nautical mile solo circumnavigation. At 0 degrees latitude, it marks the ‘circle of latitude’ between the northern and southern hemispheres. So starting tomorrow, you’ll notice a difference in how his position is reported – the first number will be his position South, instead of North. This is Glenn’s third crossing – once in 1997 on a family trip to the South Pacific where our two daughters and I joined him for a year-long sailing adventure, once in 2007, on his first solo circumnavigation attempt, and today, on his second solo attempt. I’ll be raising a glass to you tonight from our home in Victoria. Cheers mate!

crossing the equator

Position: 00. 33 N, 153. 00 W @ 0:300 UTC

We’re less than 50 miles from the Equator so will probably cross some time during the night.  

I have some concerns about my rigging being loose especially the Harken Mk IV stay sail furler which is on the foredeck about 3 feet aft of the forestay just ahead of the anchor winch. It has the stay sail furled on it that I will be using when there is too much wind for the jib – twenty knots and up. In order to tighten it I need to get to the turn buckle which is at deck level or the bottom of the furler. First the sail has to come down and tied to the toe rail. We are doing 7 – 7.5 knots to windward with water over the bow all day, mind you nice warm water. In other words the guy with the fire hose has the staysail furler totally covered. Once I wrestle the sail to the toe rail and tied down, I’m soaked through. I have decided to wear a tee shirt and shorts so I don’t get burned and so I can carry the tools I need in the pockets, much better than the pockets in my birthday suit.

In order to get the drum assembly off at the base of the furler there is a cross pin with a cotter pin on one end and two nylon washers at each end of the pin about two inches above the deck and under the drum. The waves are 1-1.5 meters about 2-3 seconds apart. My tools that I have sprayed liberally with Fluid film consist of a WW II era pliers and a small pair of vice grips. The cotter pin comes out fairly easy and out comes the pin and I manage to catch both nylon washers as well. These important irreplaceable bits go into the pocket of my shorts. Although the water is warm having it thrown in your face while trying to perform a tricky maneuver,  even at the dock, is at times hilarious, and makes me say out loud, “What in the hell are you doing?” That turns out to be the easy part. The next part is to remove four small allen head screws from a small clamp which holds the hub base to the foil at the right spot. I manage to remove all four of the screws and they go in the shorts pocket as well. I lift the hub base and hold it in place with the vice grips and start to remove the two turn buckle cotter pins storing those in my mouth.

With the old pliers and the vice grips, I am able with about four turns to take out the annoying slack and it’s time to put it all back together hoping I have the same luck as I did taking it apart. I pause for a bit and decide to go back to the cockpit to re group. That hour and a half on the foredeck went by quickly. The salt water is stinging my eyes and my glasses are well out of focus, and with the wind over my wet clothes, I’m starting to get chilly.  I have an idea while I’m cleaning my glasses that I will put all the bits and pieces in a small zip lock bag so I can  find them easily. Back on the fore deck the bag works well and I manage to get it all back together. There are times that are flashes out of the movie where I’m trying to save the world … if only I can just get the pin in, bomb won’t go off and I can save the day.

I finish putting the housing back together and decide to stop for lunch before doing any more. I treat my self to a large pancake and scrambled eggs washed down with a beer. After a short nap I’m am ready for the next stage. I put my almost dry shorts and tee shirt back on and off I go. Things go well and in just under an hour the staysail is back up and furled on the foil and the wagging that was so bothersome is gone.

Another full day here as we slide down across the Equator. 

Heading: 205 Boat Speed: 7.3 knots Wind: E 15 knots Swell: W 1.5 m Cloud: 10% Bar: 1007 Temp: 30 C Miles last 24 hrs: 150



Day 30 Steady Progress 1/10/13


Oct 1, 2013 wider view

Positon: 01.45 N, 152. 02 W @ 16:30 UTC

Note: To get a closer view of Glenn’s position and enlarge the picture, click on the map.

It was a steady day, steady wind, steady progress south. I spent some time in the cockpit, the rest reading and writing.

reading down below on West Wind II, Aug, 2011

I joined the Pacific Seafarer’s Net ( a group of volunteer Amateur Radio Operators ) so every night I can join in the roll call of boats and give my position report when they call my sign and boat name. I registered on their website which will update my position daily. A very interesting group. One fellow I spoke to from Seattle for example, has been travelling with his wife on board their boat for two years. They’re currently in Guatemala. 

Heading: 127 true Boat Speed: 6.7 knots Wind: E 15 knots Swell: E 1.5 Cloud: 10% Bar: 1010 Temp: 26 C

From MaryLou: Welcome new subscribers. We now have a total of 480 registered subscribers from 18 countries! Thanks for all your terrific comments and questions.

Day 29 Space Ship 9/30/13

Sept 30, 2013 noon

Position: 03. 32N, 152. 06 W @noon

Week 5  Last night I was drawn out of my deep sleep by a change in our motion. We had slowed considerably from the time I’d left to find that elusive sleep. The encounters on deck in the middle of the night are a little surreal. I find my headlight which I’ve placed on the top step of the companion way. I struggle a little to get it on right side up, then slowly and purposefully climb the companion way which is like climbing a ladder tilted about 30 degrees and moving as if I’m in the back of a pickup driving down a bumpy road, at speed. My harness is on, and the tether waits, ready for action. I clip it on. Then a quick visual of the scene on deck and off I go. I roll out the jib first and set it.  Then I clip on to the starboard side of the mast and take one reef out. Back to the cockpit. Check the masthead wind indicator which is conveniently lit from below by the running lights.

I turn on the remote GPS in the cockpit and check our heading and if all is well, I’m back down the wobbly ladder. This is done under the light from my headlight in the cool of the night. Tonight I stop at the nav station and tap out an email to ML hoping that when I connect with the land station I will receive a newsy letter from her. I send off my message and tonight I’m rewarded with a download of 1800 bytes!  I read it several times over and digest every word. It leaves me in a pleasant frame of mind. I turn the nav light off and dim the GPS. 

In the darkness of the cabin I stand up holding on to the grab rail and look out the port light. I feel    like David Bowie’s Major Tom. There in front of me on the horizon is a bright horseshoe sliver of a  moon rising out of the ocean and into a dark sky full of stars.A lucky encounter not lost on me. Am I in  outer space on the good ship West Wind II? I drift off into sweet slumber.

inside the space ship

inside the space ship






 Course: 190 Speed: 5 knots Wind: E 10 Waves: 1.5 east Temp: 30 c Cloud: 20 %  Bar:              1010 Miles last 24 hr: 120nm  



Day 28 Repairing the mainsail 9/29/13

Sept 30 w NZ in view

West Wind II with New Zealand in sight

Position: 05. 05  N, 151. 43 W @3:00 UTC

It’s very hot here today and I’m trying to hide from the sun. The wind lightened up a little so I’ve been up on deck to take a reef out of both the jib and main. I’m back below now absolutely soaked with sweat.  Time is dragging a little. The nights are long.

I’m having a food bar and a beer for lunch today – too hot to cook an egg or an omelette. I think the rigging is a little lose and when the time is right, I’ll tune it up. I had to do the same thing on Kim Chow last time. 

I was looking at the charts and checking my log book for speed over distance. The best case scenario is that I could be within sat phone reach by the end of the second week of October, but more likely the third week. I am a little further west than I would like, all because of where the ITCZ was located. I’m now through the ITCZs.

Glenn splicing line by hand

‘Working the lines’  Photo was taken on a calm day in Victoria with West Wind II tied up alongside.
















I’ve been on deck again and while I was looking up at the main sail, I noticed one of the tapes that holds the sail to the mast car was hanging off!!! The only solution was to drop the main right away and sew it back together. I dropped the main and tied off the sail. I went below, got my needle, thread, and palm and then back up to try and pull it back together so it could be restitched. Fortunately, the tape was reusable so it turned out to be a simple sewing job. Trying to thread the needle with one hand and stop the horse from throwing me off was the hard part, sewing with the other hand turned to be easy. At least the guy with the fire hose didn’t get wind of it or we would have had a different ball game all together. The main is up and we (Harrison Ford and I) are back on the railway track. YAHOO!  

This morning we were at lat 05 54 N, only 354 miles north of the equator. Today is also an anniversary of sorts, four weeks, our first month at sea. Our distance covered is 3625 nm so an average 144 nm per day. I feel very good about that. 

Heading: 177 True Boat Speed: 6 knots Wind:E 10 – 15 knots Swell: E 1.5 m Bar: 1008 Cloud: 50 % Temp:30 C Miles last 24 hrs:150






Day 27 Waves from three directions 9/28/13

Sept 28, 2013 near Kiribati

West Wind II’s position showing Christmas Island (Kiritimati) to the south (red marker).

Position: 07. 24 N, 150. 25 W 

We’re moving again and I’ve been running back and forth along the deck. The problem I’m having is the size and direction of the waves coupled with the relatively light winds. Setting a full main is just barely doable as the waves shake all the wind out and the thrashing is unbearable. To avoid that, I keep a few reefs in the main to keep it under control, but then I lose speed.  The same is true for the jib. I tried to use the spinnaker pole to control the shaking and slamming but I found that some of the screws on the track that holds the pole on the mast  have backed out. For now, I can’t raise or lower the pole. When it gets a lot calmer I’ll have to go up there and screw them back in place.

The waves are coming from three directions, from the north east at 2 meters, from the south east at 1.5 meters, and from the east at .5 meters. This is quite unusual but very difficult to make any head way against. West Wind will get some way on and then get hit by  a wave that almost stops her in her tracks and then she slowly works up speed again.

In a fit of frustration I rolled up the jib and unfurled the stay sail. It pulls very well and does not get the wind shaken out of it. Sum of which is we are moving forward at a respectable 4.5- 5 kts and the rig is not being shaken out of the boat. 

Hard work but we are making our way. Trying hard to stay out of the sun.

Course: 220 Speed: 4 kt Waves: NE 2M, SE 1.5 M, E .5M Wind: E <10 kts Cloud: 60 %  Baro: 1011 Temp: 31 C Miles last 24hr: 120nm

The Line Islands (Kiribati)

Note: Glenn will be sailing close to Kiritimati (Christmas Island), part of the Central Line Islands of Kiribati. Kiritimati has the distinction of being the largest atoll in the world at 217.6 square km and has a population of about 5000.

Kiritimati (Christmas Island) Kiribati