Day 82 Pelagic company 22/11/13

 Nov 22, 2013Position: 42 15 S, 134 52 E

One of the wonderful opportunities sailing around the world across its many seas, is the opportunity to observe the wonderful variety of pelagic bird species. Sailing from Victoria down the west coast of North America and through the tropics, down the coast of New Zealand across the Tasman Sea and now out into the Great Australian Bight, I’ve passed many small islands that are nesting areas for magnificent birds. There are very few days that I am not visited by at least one or more of these curious feathered creatures. The smallest, the white rumped storm petrel, has entertained me with charming ballet performances on one skinny little leg dangling from its frail frame completely oblivious to the howling gale around us. Then there’s the magnificent Wandering Albatross also at ease in the tumultuous Southern Ocean, completely in control, expertly gliding under a pair of perfectly engineered wings mere centimetres above the breaking waves.  

There have been days when I’ve been becalmed where many birds take a rest on the surface and keep me company as we drift along. Many Cape petrels in pairs and threesomes have touched down nearby. Royal Albatross as well as pairs of Wandering Albatross have landed close to the boat and began an affectionate liaison stroking each other with their bills and nodding up and down. All of these birds are in pristine condition with rarely a feather out of place. I have several books to identify them – Rodger Tory Peterson’s “Western Birds”, Sea Birds of the Southern Ocean by P.P.O. Harrison and, Identification of Birds of the Southern Ocean by Dereck and Sandy Bartle. The last two were gifts from our friends Mike and Jean Layland. Identifying birds from the deck of a small boat in this environment s a little challenging but the birds are there every day and it’s fun to watch them. It’s also nice to be accompanied by other living things in this vast watery world. 

Course 303 T Speed 6.4 knots Wind SE 15 Waves SE 1.5 -2 m Cloud 95% Temp 12 C Baro 1022 Miles in last 24 hrs: 137 nm Volts 13.42

 

Day 81 Reflecting on my heroes 21/11/2013

Nov 21,2013Position:  42.44 S, 138.00 E

I lost a pair of good friends that were very close to me this afternoon – my high top sailing boots! While I was on deck doing some sail changes and performing some acrobatics getting the pole down and stored against the mast they both tore apart!  I’ll cut away the tops and recycle them into a pair of “romeo’ boots. I have my leather construction boots and at the moment have them filled with several chapters from my last novel to dry them out. We’re travelling over the waves at hi speed this afternoon, 6 – 7+ knots pushed along by a cool 20 knot wind from the South South East under a quilted sky with just enough light to tickle the solar panels and waves big enough to keep us dancing along. We’re on a broad reach with triple reefed main and a handkerchief jib rolled out. The motion is a little crazy and the main halyard has started its drum roll against the mast just to remind me it’s still there.

I’ve had a good day reading, going on deck, making cups of tea and great meals. I had some left over rice and stew which I heated up for breakfast. Then I had two scrambled eggs with fried shallots and salsa and a big pancake and maple syrup for lunch. For dinner I’ll have my ham stew with couscous. I snack on granola and spoonfuls of peanut butter throughout the day to keep the fire in my belly and the toes and fingers warm. With this wind blowing so strong and West Wind II making such good time right down the line, I have a feeling of great optimism in my heart that we are doing well despite some recent equipment failures. I think back to my heroes John Guzzwell, Miles Smeeton, Robin Knox-Johnston, Sir Alec Rose, Chay Blyth, and Joshua Slocum and draw strength from what they accomplished many decades ago in wooden boats without any modern conveniences.  They were successful because of grit and steadfast determination. I sail on with their rich stories firing my imagination and to this day I use them as examples of what can be overcome in order to succeed. 

A shout out to Harvey Nixon ZL2HN and his 8 year old grand daughter Jessica from Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, New Zealand who connected over the ham radio to Glenn when he was sailing past Banks Peninsula. Thank you both for reaching out and making the connection! Great to see young people interested in ham radio! 

 Harvey and Jessica

 

Course 270 T Speed 6.5 knots Wind S 20 Waves 2 metres Cloud 100% Temp 11C Baro 1013 Miles in last 24 hrs: 155 nm Volts 12.80 

 

Day 80 Digesting the ‘elephant’ 20/11/13

Nov 20, 2013 Google Earth

Position:  42.58 S, 141.58 E

Now that I’ve ’rounded’ two of the five great capes, it’s time to focus on the next three. The next two are Cape Leeuwin off Australia’s south west tip and the Cape of Good Hope off the southern tip of Africa. I will pass many hundreds of miles south and not ’round ‘ them as I did the first two. The last of the great capes is Cape Horn off the southern tip of South America which I most certainly will be ’rounding’. I was trying to put the distances in some sort of perspective this afternoon. The Cape Leeuwin way point on the GPS is set at Lat. 42 degrees 30 minutes South and Long 115 degrees East. This is just an arbitrary point between 42 S and 45 S on 115 East longitude so I have some point of reference. My plan is to sail between 42 and 45 South, where the wind is most suitable for a west about circumnavigation.

My average daily distance covered over these last 9,513 miles is 121 nm per day. The distance to Cape Leeuwin way point is 1231 nm so I should be there in roughly twelve days, December 2nd. The Cape of Good Hope is 5391 nm off to the west so I should be there in 54 days January 12th. Cape Horn is about 4000 nm past that, so I should be there by the end of February. These are just guidelines of course, but it allows me to break the elephant into bite size pieces which psychologically is a lot easier to digest. On a new chart and started reading Mutiny On The Bounty by John Boyne so far very captivating. 

All is well, had a good night’s sleep.  Any ideas about power conservation greatly appreciated. I appreciate the awesome support.

Course 290 T Speed 5.3 kts wind SE 10 Waves SE 1.5 m Cloud 95% Temp 10 C Baro 1018 

 

 

Day 75 Highlight of my day 15/11/13

Nov 15, closeup

Well it’s been quite a day. The sat phone came to life and MaryLou and I finally got to talk. I know she worked very diligently in the background to make that happen and I’m very grateful. There are many wonderful experiences that this voyage has afforded me and there are many hardships, but by far the hardest thing to cope with is being so far away from MaryLou for so long. Hearing her sweet voice and enjoying her conversation eases the pain. We still have a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome, but any time I can get closer to her for however long is a great day. I spoke to my dear old Mum, and my two daughters as well as other family and friends. Apparently, there’s nothing quite like getting a phone call from the middle of the ocean so I phone as many people as I can. 

My attempts to arrange a drop of the camera chip near Hobart has met with a few obstacles and it seems that unless I stop and clear customs I can not just flip the chip in a small container to a passing boat, not in Australia at least. The last thing I want is to get anyone in trouble so with that in mind I’ve decided to abandon the idea and head for the open ocean and round South Cape at the bottom of Tasmania, the second of the five on my voyage. I would like to thank Vice Commodore John Green of Royal Victoria Yacht Club for putting a great deal of his time and effort into trying to make it happen. If by chance I meet another boat headed for shore who is willing to mail the envelope to MaryLou, we’ll see what happens. Keep in mind stranger things have happened and we are not giving up yet.

The sunshine today was the first I’d seen for some time and it kick started a flurry of cleaning that included the interior of the boat and a full scrub and change of clothes for me. No one on board was more pleased than I was. I almost tossed that other smelly guy overboard. My leather deck shoes don’t stay dry for long and my feet are always damp. It’s difficult to get them dry when the weather is so cloudy. Yesterday I finished a very good spy novel – a “paper” back novel to be exact and some how I had a flashback to when I was a kid and forever getting my boots wet. I remember my mom would magically get them dry over night by putting news “paper” all crunched up right to the toes. It worked and it still does. The paper back had one more purpose left in its life and that was to dry out my shoes. So along with a clean pair of socks I got dry shoes! 

 But by far the highlight of my day was talking to MaryLou.

Day 75 Hello? 15/11/13

 Nov 15, closeupPosition: 43.24 S, 150.17 E

After trying three or four times a day for the last three weeks, Glenn finally made sat phone contact this morning. A big shout out to our sponsor Globalstar for aligning the satellites, or opening the gateways, or waving a magic wand over the heavens. Whatever it was… thank you.

It was a great moment to finally be able to talk on the phone for a few minutes. Glenn sounds excited and optimistic and very positive. He feels great, his elbow is healing really nicely, he’s well fed and is sleeping fine. He’s very happy with the performance of West Wind II and how she’s handling the weather and the sea conditions.

He said at times he has to slow her down when she’s charging along at 7.5 knots through the swells and it’s all he can do to hang on down below. Rather than deal with the robust motion or push the boat too hard, he’s opting instead to put a reef or two in the main and roll in the jib which gives him a relatively smoother and more balanced ride.  

He also said he’s had an  albatross with him all day.

To give you a sense of these impressive birds, I asked an expert – our good friend Hayley Shephard to share some of her photos. Hayley is an accomplished expedition leader, wilderness guide, intrepid kayaker and photographer who has spent time in the southern ocean. Her photos perfectly depict the power, beauty and grace of the albatross that have so captivated Glenn. Enjoy. 

ALB12

F1020031

Wandering Alb

Albatross southern ocean

Photos: Hayley Shephard

Thanks Hayley.

Course 333 Speed 6.5 knotsWind W 10 knots Waves W 1 metre Cloud 100% Temp 11 C Baro 1020 Miles in last 24 hrs: 135 nm

 

 

Day 66 South Cape, NZ 6/11/13

Nov 6 South West Cape, NZ

Position: 47.44 S, 169.56 E @20:20 UTC

I’m now south of Stewart Island and have made the turn to pass below it between South Trap and Snares Island. This course will take me into the Tasman Sea and with any luck I will be there in a few days. I will also be sailing under the first great cape, South Cape on Stewart island. This is a big moment for me and the voyage.

Thank you Ron Kolody for your guiding weather reports.

And MaryLou, the love of my life, thank you for being there 24/7. Your love has given me strength and courage.     

Course 180 Speed 3kts Wind sw 5-10kts Waves: all directions 1m Temp 11C Cloud 100% Baro 1015 steady Miles in last 24 hrs: 120 nm

Day 55 Sailing onto a new chart 26/10/13

 Oct 26 w Tauranga

Position: 37.10 S, 177.25 W

Course 215 T Speed 6 kts Wind NW 15 kts. Waves NW 1.5 m Cloud 100% Temp 18.8 C Baro 1017 falling Miles in last 24hrs 135 nm

We’re about 250 miles off the coast of New Zealand. I listened in on Auckland radio this morning and found pretty much the same sort of human behaviour there that you see everywhere else – there were several accounts of violence, a few car crashes, some teams won, some lost, and, if you rush down to your supermarket, you can get a good deal on a pressure washer.

It’s a time for me to celebrate my third time crossing of the great Pacific Ocean, twice single-handed. The first time in 1997 in Sannu II a 26 foot Haida was with MaryLou and the girls on board for the Pacific Islands part of the voyage, and again when I single-handed in 2007 in Kim Chow. I said “I” did it, but of course I did it with the loving support of MaryLou who, in her own right, is a great adventurer and the rock solid steady influence in my life that gives me focus and is with me all the way. I’m very thankful to have had these opportunities and consider myself a lucky man ; )

MaryLou updating the Going Solo blog

Updating the Going Solo blog in Victoria, B.C. Canada

Once again these voyages, although great sailing experiences, are in fact all about the amazing people and the best of mankind that steps up to greet us along the way, including all of you who read these words. I want to thank you all for your kind support. I feel your encouragement every day. I’m honoured you find our voyage of interest.

We have sailed onto a new chart, one that shows the north and south islands of New Zealand and for a voyager, it is very exciting to set way points for navigation and estimate the distance and time it will take. These charts, although paper, are the visual transition that make the idea of sailing across the plate real, and gives it some substance. There’s some anticipation in play and the excitement grows with each plot on the chart. The really big challenge that faces me in this phase of my circumnavigating is entering the Great Southern Ocean and being pitted against its formidable reputation. I have sailed 12,500 nautical miles across the Southern Ocean from NZ and got to within 750 miles of Cape Horn on my previous attempt at SHNSWAC (single handed non-stop west about circumnavigation) so it is no stranger to me, nor is it familiar enough to take for granted. Far from it. 

NZ North Island

Chart courtesy Land Information New Zealand licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

 

I retrieved my fleece jacket from my locker this morning and will wear that constantly for the next 5 or 6 months, another consequence of sailing south in the southern hemisphere, it gets colder. I must go now and have my morning “Only Oats” which has been a staple food for me from day one and it’s a small highlight of many that make up the fabric of my day. I bring the water to a boil, drop in the oats, reduce the heat, stir for 3 minutes.  I mix in a sufficient amount of powdered milk, add some brown sugar and Voila, breakfast is ready. 

From MaryLou

“This past week I’ve been touched by the kindness and generosity of strangers who have connected me to Glenn in one way or another – by email to pass on a message of “All’s Well”, by relaying their ham radio signal so we could chat voice to voice for a few minutes, and for giving our daughter in New Zealand the opportunity to speak to Glenn on their ham radio in Tauranga. All without being asked to and just because “It’s what we do.” Thanks to Cliff in Balclutha, NZ, John in Tauranga, NZ, Cornel in Cordoba, Argentina, Mike in Canberra, Australia, Tom in Riverside, California, John and Catherine in Brisbane, Australia, and Don in Port Hardy, B.C. I’d also like to thank those who have taken the time to add your comments and questions on the blog. Thank you all.”  

Course 215 T Speed 6 kts Wind NW 15 kts. Waves NW 1.5 m Cloud 100% Temp 18.8 C Baro 1017 falling Miles in last 24hrs 135 nm

 

 

 

 

Day 44 Hearing your voice 15/10/13

 Oct 15 islands

Position: 23. 30 S, 166.45 W @16:30 UTC

 A big change in the weather here this morning. The temperature at 6:00 am was 23 C.  Two days ago it would have been 29 C already.

I am wearing a full set of clothes again, and last night I had to use the sleeping bag which was a little too warm to leave early this morning but great to jump back into.

I am up with my first cup of tea, first time in weeks, meeting Ron on our early morning radio show. The heat of the tropics is behind us till we come back around again. I must prepare now for much cooler weather in the coming months – long johns and merino wool.

Keeping dry may be my biggest challenge. I must work hard to keep it out of the main saloon. The wood trim port lights seem to be the biggest problem. I will go at those again ( with caulking) when the weather settles down and I can work on deck again.

The storage area in the forward cabin which I have named ‘the chicken coop’ has worked out well. I seem to have the water under control there. I’ve isolated the eggs from the motion and yet made them easy to get at. I open the egg cartons every other day and inspect each box. I really want to keep ahead of the bad eggs before they start to smell.  How do you tell when an egg has gone bad?  They start to sweat and leak a rather green liquid. I wash the carton, discard any bad ones and put them all back safely. My attrition rate at the moment is about two eggs a week. I think with the big change in temperature that will get smaller.

My supply of sausage from Choux Choux has lasted really well. I opened my last package yesterday and will be putting it in my lunch time omelettes for the next week. And, I still have some cheese left as well.

I really enjoyed having a conversation with MaryLou on the ham radio last night. Her words of  encouragement are the light at the end of the tunnel and raise my spirits enormously.

Ron Kolody w Glenn

Primary ham radio operator Ron Kolody with Glenn in Victoria, B.C.

 

Behind the blog:

A shout out to our friend and primary ham radio operator Ron Kolody in Vancouver, BC Canada. Ron has been in daily contact with Glenn via ham radio since he left giving him weather conditions and recording and relaying his position and conditions back to me. Last night Ron was able to patch Glenn through to me on the ham radio. It was wonderful to hear his voice, strong as ever, and no doubt a morale boost for him. Thank you Ron!

Heading: 219  Boat Speed: 6.5 kts Wind: E 15 knots Swell: E 1.5 m Cloud: 50 % Temp: 23 C,( down 10 C in last 24 hrs Bar: 1019 
Miles in the last 18 hours: 120 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