Day 107 Rain chaser 17/12/13

Dec 17 w weather

I’ve had an exciting day. The first part till my radio sked at 03:00 pm local was mainly keeping out of the sun and staying cool. The mercury ocean returned in the late morning after a couple of breezes teased me away from my book.  I set full sail only to take it down 30 minutes later then 30 minutes later put it up again, then down. You can’t ever say I’m not trying to get home.  If the wind blows, I am on it. After my great radio show with Cliff and my mates in Western Australia, at around 05:00, I felt the wind start to fill in from the south. 

On the wester horizon, a very large black “rain cloud” loomed so off we went in hot pursuit at 6 knots. I figured it would take me an hour to get there. On the way I planned my strategy. I could see the rain falling from the belly of the cloud in sheets and the cloud seemed to be heading north at about 3 knots, I had a good breeze and could see I was gaining on the cloud. It was dropping rain along a line stretched over a good distance. The trouble I had before when trying to collect water was that I had no speed of my own and relied on the squall to come over me and collect as it went overhead. It didn’t work that well, firstly because there wasn’t much of a rain fall, and secondly I needed to wash the deck first before I could let water in the tank. If I open the valves too soon, the water would be too salty. As I got closer I could see there was a pretty good volume of water falling. I thought if I could get inside the rain zone and stay sailing with it for a while I could wash the decks clean of salt then flip the valve open and fill the tank.

I sailed up behind the cloud, and shortened sail.  I swung in up behind the cloud and into the falling rain. It was a good volume coming down and I waited. I slapped my hand down into the water collecting on the deck by the drain and tasted it. It was ready so I opened the valves and kept the boat in the rain for about 3/4 of an hour. I was running with the wind at about 3 – 4 knots just keeping pace with the rain over the boat. I could not believe my luck ! I managed to collect 10 gallons of water in just over an hour!  I did it. I feel so much better. YAHOO !

With that reserve, I’m now good to go and I know I’ll be able to collect more.


Day 106 Rain dance 16/12/13

Dec 16, 2013Position: 31. 19 S, 92. 54 E

UPDATE:  We are moving along nicely at the moment – no sea, good breeze, great speed and good course heading. Comfortable ride.

The sea is like liquid mercury stretched over the skin of a heaving monster. It’s an amazing scene and it’s been that way since last night. There is the odd zephyr of breeze, but fleeting. The swells are more impressive in the calm than the storm. I think it may be like this for several days.

Note: Ron Kolody advises Glenn:  “You are in a ‘shear zone’, between the Tropical Cyclones (TC) in the North and the equally violent run-of-the-mill storms in the 40s. You’re in the calm before the storm. Currently, the satellite shows that everything will fill in Wednesday at about 01:00, your time. The Tropical Cyclone (TC1) is still forming at 10 S 80 E. Its current forecast path will take it to 25 S 68 E by next Saturday evening. A second Tropical Cyclone (TC2) is due to form tomorrow morning, at 08 S 95 E. Its current forecast path will take it to 18 S 82 E by next Saturday evening. The edge of a nice little Tropical Cyclone may be the answer to your water problem.  Next Wednesday, you will have the sustained winds to take you South into the Southern Ocean storms, if that is necessary.” 

Wednesday could bring some wind from the east. I hope the rain and wind are coming soon so we can move on and, I hope it is more than the scotch mist of the last few days.

If you know a good rain dance … now is the time! 

Course 270 T Speed 3.5 knots Wind N 5-10 Waves SW 2m Cloud 100% Temp 24 C Baro 1017  Miles in last 24hrs: 29 nm Volts 14.1 Range to half way: 1713 nm

Day 105 Becalmed 15/12/13

 Dec 15, 2013Position: 31.15 S, 93.30 E

Dead calm since 10:00 pm last night. Very quiet, lots of reading and writing. Eggs are starting to go off in the heat, along with several cans. 

Course becalmed Speed 0 knots Wind  0knots Waves SE 3m Cloud 90% Temp 23 C Baro 1016 Miles in last 24hrs: 40 nm Volts 14.1 Water .5 litres (so far)


Day 104 All about water 14/12/13

Dec 14, 2013Position: 30.36 S, 95.55 E

The scale of the sky is completely awesome and I have the feeling of the universe about me. I feel like the speck of sand under this galactic canopy that stretches off into space. It’s warm tonight and I’m sitting here in my T shirt gazing into the night sky illuminated by the moon as West Wind gently gives way to the low swell. There are bands of open sky speckled with stars. The steady movement south of the great bands of cloud give the sky life, it moves perceptively past the face of the moon driven by quiet forces and energy beyond comprehension. I feel relaxed watching this great scene unfold around me.

Today, I had visions of running out of water and making a plan about how to solve it.  The water will come, I’m sure. I haven’t collected any water in the last month and a half and I am a bit concerned.  I have no idea where or when the next rain is coming from. There are rain clouds on the horizon right now, it’s just that at these latitudes, they don’t have much water in them.  Running out of water is not an option. 

I’m very lucky to have some wonderful, knowledgeable and caring people out there to help me work through this problem and a plan is starting to come together.First thing is, I will restrict my water consumption to 3 litres a day for cooking and drinking. I have about 25 gallons or 100 litres, so 30 days of water or 2500 miles of cruising. There are plenty of lows to the south with rain associated with them, so I will head south and pick up several of them to top up my tanks. Many people have come together to help me and I’m very grateful for their concern and help. We still have to put the water in the tanks but we have a plan and that’s what’s important. 

I was tired and ready for sleep but now I could stay up all night and watch the sky energized by its sheer scale and heavenly beauty. I once again have the best seat in the house for this galactic show. My words fail miserably short of conveying the true scale of the magnificent beauty of scene above me. 

Course 226 T Speed 5 knots Wind NW 10 -15 Waves NW 1m Cloud 40% Temp 24 C Baro 1014 Volts 14.4


Day 104 The man behind the voice on the ham radio 14/12/13


Alek Petkovic

Alek Petkovic ham radio operator in Binningup, Western Australia

Meet Alek Petkovic, the man behind the voice Glenn hears over his ham radio every day while he’s in the Indian Ocean.  Alek and Glenn have a rather extraordinary relationship. They consider each other good friends, yet they’ve never met. Here’s Alek’s story.

Glenn and I were destined to become friends. Many years ago, as a member of my local radio club in Perth, I helped organize a ham radio special event, where we commemorated the opening of the East West Telegraph, between Adelaide and Perth. We set up a station with the call sign VI6EWT and members of the club, along with members of the Morsecodian Society, a group of ex Post Office telegraphers, travelled to Eucla, on the border with South Australia. Eucla was the site of one of the telegraph repeater stations. A re-enactment of the first telegram between Adelaide, in South Australia and Fremantle, in Western Australia was performed, as well as ham radio contacts all over the world, from the VI6EWT ham station.

As fate or luck would have it, I didn’t go on that trip with my club. Many years later, I learned how unfortunate that really was. Glenn and his family were travelling in Australia at that time. In fact, they were driving across the continent and they were there in Eucla on that weekend when the ham radio event took place.They stopped in and talked with the members of my club, who were running the show.

I found this out shortly after I was introduced to Glenn, on ham radio when he was sailing around the world the first time, in Kim Chow. My great friend Barry, VK6WF, convinced me to come on the air each day and talk with this crazy guy sailing across the Great Australian Bight at the time. What ensued is history but through those daily contacts, Glenn and I became very close friends. During our daily contacts, Glenn told me about that weekend in Eucla. We had both enjoyed the daily contacts so much, that on the day we decided that he was sailing out of radio range and he was being picked up by the hams in South Africa, I remember both of us crying at the prospect of not talking to each other any more.

My first contact with Glenn aboard West Wind II some weeks ago was a delight beyond words. Glenn sounded quite pleased as well. I reckon we will make the most of each other’s on air company again on this trip, because we both know, that in a few short weeks, he will be around the next cape and out of range. When that day comes, the tears are gonna flow at both ends of the microphone. 

There are just two things that would delight me more than anything in my life right now. One is to be magically transported to the middle of the Indian Ocean and dropped onto the deck of West Wind II. To sail just a few miles with him on board that ship until I feel the seasickness overwhelm me, would be the absolute best. The second is not such an impossible dream. To be there, on the dock, cheering and waving, as we watch Glenn struggle to get his balance as he takes the first steps back on dry land in Victoria BC. That would be the absolute ultimate dream come true for me.

We were destined to become friends and I know, that we are destined to meet, face to face. I don’t know where or when but I know that it is something I am really looking forward to. Win, lose or draw Glenn, it’s gonna happen mate. 

Alek's mobile ham radio station

Alek sometimes takes his mobile ham radio station to the beach to chat with Glenn

I’m 59 years young and self employed, running my own installation contracting business. I install split system air conditioners and all domestic gas appliances. I keep people cool in the summer and warm in the winter. As it’s my own business, I’m lucky to be able to choose how many days in the year that I want to work. I like that idea. Its not a luxurious lifestyle but comfortable enough. I love the work as I am able to do what I like best and that is, use my hands.

I’ve been a ham since 1985 and being an ex telecommunications technician, working 25 years in the construction field, I find the construction of radio related projects a lot of fun. The other facet of the hobby I really enjoy, is “DXing” (DX stands for long distance in ham radio jargon). There are some 340 different entities in the world where ham radio is allowed and I have had confirmed contacts with hams in 338 of those entities. I just need two more to have them all. They are Annobon Island, off West Africa and South Orkney Islands, in the Antarctic. 

At present, my ham station is very basic because of the impending changes to our place. When it’s all finished, I’ll have a new mast with high gain, rotatable, directional antennas and a nice radio shack underneath the house which is marked as a ‘Cellar’ on the house plans, so that it passes the local authority’s building code more easily. As basic as the station is, at present, I’m still able to have good reliable communications with Glenn in the Indian Ocean and I expect to be with him, well beyond the “4th Cape” in South Africa.