Departure Day

Day 1 Sunday, September 6, 2020 @ 11:00 Departing Victoria, BC

I can hear the fog horns blowing as the local sea gull choir announces the sun rising. I slept well and feel good. Today will be the beginning of another adventure. It will be filled with lots of emotion at both ends of the scale. Outwardly it is a celebration. It’s the end of the planning and provisioning stage and time for the overdue departure, casting off the lines. Months and years of planning and hard work.

On the emotional side, my family are torn. They have been here before and many emotions rush back for them, not to be denied, but felt deeply. We talk about them now but it is not easy. It is not easy to show your vulnerability particularly in front of strangers. This is not the day they nor I have been looking forward to because of our love for each other.
Bitter sweet sorrow.  My wife MaryLou has a sweet personality and a strength of character that runs as deep as the ocean, and she gave those traits to our two daughters Claire and Nicola and I will miss them just as deeply.



There have been an amazing group of talented and caring people who have had a very large hand in helping me get to this day. Thank you. I hope through the blog postings that I send to MaryLou, which she checks and tweaks and posts on the website, that I will keep you vicariously with me on board West Wind II through our ups and downs over the next thousands of miles. Collectively, I feel you all with me on board. It is the best of women-man kind.

We’re all connected in some way by our feelings. I am a very lucky man and privileged to be setting off this morning to fill a dream to  sail single handed around the world.  

Welcome aboard and hold on tight!
Cheers Glenn 

NOTE: To see Glenn’s latest position on a map, click on Where is Glenn Now? on the home page.

Solar power

Two solar panels, one 80 watts and one 100 watts.

Friday, August 21, 2020

A very important commodity for this voyage is electricity, maybe not as important as water, but still necessary. On my first single handed voyage on Sannu II, a Haida 26, in 1997 from Victoria to the Marquesas, my only electronics were a GPS and a VHF radio and my running lights. The GPS I turned on once a day and the VHF radio only a couples of times in the six weeks it took me to cover the distance of about 4500 nautical miles.  This I powered easily with a two foot square solar panel that charged two 6 volt golf cart batteries. There was a 5 hp Mercury outboard motor with 5 gallons of gas that had no generating capabilities. Oh and I had a Discman and a set of speakers, all powered by AA batteries and a few headlights with AAA batteries.  

WW II’s thirst for power is much greater. I have a wind generator which, in the southern ocean with its strong winds produces all the electricity I can use. I also have two solar panels, one 80 watts and one 100 watts. They have been checked and a small diode replaced on the 100 watt panel. I have chosen to remount these on the cabin top forward of the dodger, a similar place as before but further apart so I can walk on the deck while tying the reefing lines in the mainsail. I had thought of mounting them on the life lines beside the cockpit as many local cruising boats do, but they are much too vulnerable to the boisterous seas in the southern ocean. In Kim Chow in 2007-8 I had the solar panels on the deck on top of the life raft but during very bad weather near the Falkland Islands these were torn from the deck along with the life raft. On WW II I have had some special brackets made to mount these panels and feel I have done the best I can to mitigate any damage.

I also have the generator on the trusty Perkins, with 50 gallons of fuel to keep it running. My ham radio coupled with the computer to send and receive emails is the biggest draw on my batteries. I have lots of small batteries to charge for things like cameras and recorders. I have an inverter that changes 12 volt power into 110 volt to charge my computer, and from that I can charge my Kindle, cameras and other toys. And, I now have a fridge! That will be a real luxury. In the brochure it boasted that it can make “ice cubes”, we will see how much power that takes. Heat and sunny weather are good ingredients to produce power, hence ice cubes.          

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‘Sea Fever’ print available for sale

Sea Fever hand-lettered print available at marylouwakefieldart.com

Victoria, B.C. Canada – 2018

A number of years ago, MaryLou created this beautiful piece of artwork, a hand lettered piece featuring the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.

Through her communications work, she’d met the accomplished Canadian marine artist Harry Heine who saw her work in progress and graciously offered to add a watercolour illustration to his favourite poem. The figure, sitting on the dinghy looking out to sea, is a loose representation of Glenn. Marylou and Harry discussed who was going to work on the blank sheet of paper and who was going to add their work over it.

“I was terrified to mess up an original Heine painting,” says MaryLou so she wanted to go first.  Harry it seemed, didn’t want to mess up her calligraphy and in the end, Harry won.  He painted the watercolour illustration first and MaryLou did her calligraphy afterwards, with much trepidation. The name Heine appears at the bottom left above the words Sea Fever just below the rocks and grass.

The original hangs in our home and has done since 1992. Signed prints on archival watercolour paper that measure 18″ x 24″ are available for sale.

If you’re interested in purchasing one for yourself or a friend or family member, contact MaryLou at mlwakefield@shaw.ca or you can visit her website at mlwakefieldart.com

Thank you.

MacGyver is at it again

May 5, 2017

I believe I have jury rigged a support for the engine. I’ve managed to lift the one corner that has the broken engine bracket sufficiently to allow me to run the engine in gear for short periods of time. That will definitely come in handy as I transit the shipping lane don the Straits. Not a permanent fix but probably enough to get me out of trouble if need be.

We have no shortage of photos of this scenario. Glenn, tools, knee pads, engine covers off.

Big squall going through right now with lots of rain. Even though I’ve shortened sail, we are hard pressed and flying along. It won’t last long but pretty exciting as it passes over us.

If my daily run in the next 24 hrs is the same as today, I will be at the mouth of the Straits at around 04:00 pm local time (tomorrow) with lots of daylight hours so I can see the traffic coming and going.

Hanging On

May 4, 2017 0:100
Position: 46.14 N, 129.09 W

With the horrific motion and noise onboard, sleep is illusive. I’ve been on deck twice to alter course and the seascape under the moonlight is awe inspiring. The waves marching at us are mountainous. Occasionally, one climbs aboard and completely covers us in white water which spills over the cabin and into the scuppers as well as any possible way into the cabin. Whenever we’re lifted up on a big wave, one of the water cans on deck smacks with a loud hollow thud that resonates throughout the boat making sure I don’t sleep.

I’ve just made  another cup of tea. My fingers are very cold and the warmth of the tea mug is very welcome. I must just hang on for two more days and we’ll be in the Straits.

We’ve been lucky so far with the weather – this is only 20-25 knots.  I’ll be glad when the break of day comes. Till then, I’ll drink my tea and hang on.

 

Reflecting on almost two decades of single-handed sailing

May 3, 2017 07:07 am
Position: 45.34 N, 130.25 W

I’m 300 miles off the coast of Oregon State, right in line with Portland. The sea the sky is grey, looking out the port lite. There is a distinct line between the very light grey sky and the greyish green ocean, a line that I could almost reach out and touch. A line that is moving like some great snake on the back of a four meter swell coming from the west. The horizon is very fluid.

We’re moving with the motion of those great determined swells passing under our port side, it’s a bit herky jerky but we are making 6 knots toward the entrance of Juan de Fuca, which lies 309 miles north east.  I should be there in a few days if all goes well then make the turn down the Straits and sail home
to Victoria. I will most likely sail around to Cadboro Bay and tie up at the visitors dock at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.

On reflection, I realized it’s been almost 20 years to the day (May 9, 1997) that I sailed single handed non-stop in my Haida 26′ bound for the Marquesas. Since then, I’ve crossed all the major oceans, and this is my fourth time across the great Pacific Ocean.

I’m sailing on West Wind II, a vintage S&S 42 (Sparkman and Stephens) built by Chris Craft in the 1960s.

Off the coast of Australia near Albany

It’s my third boat since I first left in 1997. In between the Haida, there was Kim Chow a 41′ Rhodes Reliant which I left to King Neptune near Cape Horn.

It will be good to finally sail home after over sixty thousand open ocean miles (60,000) and mostly single handed. A total of 19 months at sea. the longest passage without stopping was Victoria to Cape Horn in 221 days in 2007/08.

Glenn’s 221 day non-stop solo circumnavigation attempt 2007/08.

Home is definitely where the heart is and I will be glad to be home with MaryLou once again.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Steve and Jonathan at Geeks on the Beach and the folks at Hosting Nation for working on my broken automated email function. Hope to have it back up and running soon. We want to keep you all in the loop for Glenn’s arrival !

Rolling along …

Monday, May 1, 2017 05:30

We are rolling along before 15+ knots and have a pretty impressive log to show for it. Looks like another 150 nm day today!

Lots of creaking and groaning going on … almost as much as my old knees. The motion is not too bad and the sound of rushing water as WW II surges homeward fills the cabin.

My little Storm Petrel is gone from the cockpit this morning. I hope (s)he is fine. So difficult to interfere with ‘mother nature’. The sun is trying to break through on the horizon as if it’s under the door of the day. Low grey clouds fill the room. The tea is on the brew and I am dissecting one of my last oranges and savouring the fresh taste.

It is a cool 58 ° in the cabin at the moment but my fleece is keeping me very cozy and warm. Should be well into the sixties by day’s end.

Going on deck to gybe the main and square us off to the waves and bring our heading more to the north.

Hope your day has dawned warm and sunny. ( Actually, not. It’s grey, overcast and a chilly 8° C here in Victoria).

Gybe complete. Actually worked up a sweat. Feels good to do a little surfing (the boat, not him). Now sitting at the nav station with the hatch open, I can hear the waves breaking off our stern. All’s good.

I’ve got the old Perkins humming and vibrating away for the next hour. It’s cloudy and the solar is minimal and because we are running with the wind, the
wind generator isn’t able to spin enough to make any power, so Perkins has stepped up and taken that on this morning. I have the “InReach” and the computer plugged into the inverter to give them both a boost. I’ve just been on deck to give the Fleming some fine tuning.

While I was up there enjoying the ride, my thoughts went to my friend Paul Lim. Paul set out in his small boat from Hawaii to Victoria last September on his way home and never showed up.  I’ve watched and spoken out to him many times on this passage.  So wherever you are Paul, I hope you have sooth sailing my friend. You are thought of often and warmly. There by the grace of a higher power go we.

Not a breath of wind or a ripple of sea


What a splendid morning, sun is just up over the edge of the pond. Not a ripple anywhere, the sea is molten mercury, we are waddling in a south west swell which we have been in all night. We have drifted three miles closer to home and by the looks of things, our prospects of going much further could be going only another three by days end. There is nothing to do but give myself up to the fate of the wind gods and “roll” with it!

Having computer problems this morning so hope the gremlins cooperate and I can send out some mail and most importantly receive some.

Cheers from me “rollin in the deep”.

We’re working on it …

 

We have a technical glitch at the moment. The result is the program that sends subscribers updates via email is not working.

I’ve been working madly to try to fix it. I reached out to WordPress for help and the best I was offered was to post my problem to a public forum. This was after doing their updates!!!  Anyway, that was days ago and I’ve heard nothing so I have enlisted the help of our local tech geeks (their word) who are working on it as we speak and will hopefully get things sorted out today.

I’ll continue to post regular updates from Glenn here so stay tuned.

Thank you.
MaryLou

 

 

A fine balance

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tonight, I watched the blazing orb of the sun set for the second night in a row. It slipped quietly into the grey molten sea without a splash as if an act in a magic show.

Without the light of day, night sailing takes on a rather white cane approach. All my senses are piqued and shift into another realm. The humming of the wind generator signals the strength of the wind, the sound of the waves as WW II moves through the water signals our speed. A slight luffing of the sails lets me know we are off course. The movement of the boat as the swells manipulate her keep me abreast of sea conditions. The wind is very light and without WW II’s sizeable tonnage, she would falter in the fickle wind, but during the lulls she presses on against her own inertia. I still have one reef in the main as to let it out would be just too much sail and with the swells she would start to flap maddeningly. Her course, if plotted on a small scale, would reveal a rather drunken stagger but for that weight and clean bottom she recovers easily and keeps a forward motion.

I feel the fine balance and know that Fleming can only steer if the wind blows a certain strength, so I am ready with Ray, the electric auto pilot to
take over at any time. All these parts must work together or the game is up and we are “rollin’ in the deep”.

Fleming under sail

Fleming tied up

Perkins, of course has retired with a broken leg for the rest of the season and can’t be relied upon to take over as the iron sail. For such little wind, I am always amazed at our progress. West Wind has proven to be a more than able world cruiser, from the gales of the Southern Ocean to the equatorial calms and doldrums. She will, without a doubt, make a great coastal cruiser for Marylou and me.

Perkins diesel engine at rest

More common view of Perkins

Cruising the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

 

Email is back !

Friday April 21, 2017

Lat 24.42 N, Long 157.04 W Course: 053 Speed: 6 knots Wind:ESE 10 knots Waves: E 2 metres Cloud: 40% Barometer: 1020 Distance to home: 2098 nm

Bright sunny morning here. Half moon still with us hanging faintly over the port stern quarter. A majestic sooty albatross has been circling us looking curiously for breakfast. I have shaken out the night reefs in the jib and main to catch a ten knot easterly blowing over a slightly calmer sea with a two metre swell from the NE.

It is still warm although cooler than Honolulu …thank goodness. Still a little drowsy and I think breakfast is imminent. Nice motion on board this morning not quiet so life threatening as yesterday.

Our speed over the ground is 6.5 knots and we have a course of 23 T. The entrance to Juan de Fuca is bearing 47 T and is 2130 nm over the eastern horizon.  

Wind today will swing around from E to SSE at ten knots as the day wears on. Should be able to lay the mark and fall off the wind a little.

And now for tea and a light breakfast.

Can hear Glenn loud and clear on the Pac Seafarers Net this evening and he reports “All’s well.”

Settling in …

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 

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I’m here in the legendary and very hospitable Waikiki Yacht Club.

I am happy and very lucky to be here with my MaryLou and to have arrived safely. MaryLou and I have just enjoyed a coffee and fresh breakfast prepared by chef Jasmine.

I’ve been for an early morning swim in the pool, which overlooks the boats and Ala Wai Boat Harbour. I’ve done my poolside yoga lying in the early morning sunshine. 

We’ll spend the rest of the day working on West Wind and preparing her for her 6 month stay in Hawaii. 

Thanks for all your welcoming comments.

Motor sailing through the hi

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December 24, 2016 Leg 2 Day 4

4 a.m.

There’s a Hi moving in from the North East and I am on the edge of it now with wind coming from the North, North West at 10 knots. Not a good heading for me to sail into. My course at the moment is 301 at best. I have Perkins on, otherwise our boat speed in this wave condition would not be enough to keep Fleming steering.

Going west would bring us into some wind but our heading would be South of West sailing away from Honolulu. I might have to just bite the bullet and take the jib down and power at 3 knots due north till the hi passes in a day or so. It means powering into the waves which may not work at all. I will stay on this course till daybreak in about an hour when I can see the sea conditions better.

Till  then it’s back to my bunk beside Perkins.

Had a difficult afternoon yesterday. Couldn’t upload or download any mail for a few hours.

I’m now on port tack. Came around from starboard tack because we were heading due west. Now wind has shifted to the east and we are headed east. Can’t seem to win here today. Have a triple reefed main and only 1/4 yankee out and we may be overpowered at that. Lots of wind and heavy seas most of the day. Lots of water making its way into the boat in the form of drips which although small, do eventually make things wet. So hard to find the source of these little devils. I have been reading and thought of working on the chain but the motion is just a little too much.

Got it together to boil a few eggs and had a Plowman’s lunch with cheese and crackers, a little sun dried tomato and pickled onion.

The sky has just gotten very dark so probably in for some torrential rain very soon. Thinking of you. 

I’ll try get this off later this afternoon when propagation is better and down load faster.

Bye for now love you  

4 pm

Merry Xmas to all

Lat. 15.52.82 S Long. 160.25.57 W Course 040 T Speed 5.5 knots Wind NW 10 Knots Waves W 2 M Cloud 100% Baro 1010
Miles in last 24 hrs: 125 NM Range to Honolulu 2239 nm

Motor sailing. Hope to push through this hi in the next day or so. How are things looking for transiting the ITZ’s? And what is above the high?

Trying to stay with a course as close to 160 Longitude as possible, shortest route.

122416-close-up

Thanks again for all the wonderful support and hope you enjoy family and friends over the holidays.

All’s well here.

Cheers Glenn

Safety at Sea

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Day 4, December 1, 2016

Lat 42.13 S Long 174.58 W Course 123 T Speed 6.5 nm Wind: South 15 knots Waves: S 2 metres Cloud 90% Baro 1014 steady 
Range: CH 4213  Distance in Last 24hrs: 144 nm

Bright sun shine streaming through the port  side windows (ports) this morning, quite chilly outside, lovely and fresh. Thought I got a glimpse of a Suka off the stern this morning. This is a hawk-like bird and quite clumsy looking in its flight compared to the petrels. I will look it up in the bird book later and confirm. There many birds around due to our close proximity to the Chatham Islands. Unfortunately I have the smell of a burnt beans from my stew permeating the cabin this morning instead of the more pleasant aroma of Bergamot from my Earl Grey tea. I must have spilled some of my stew on the stove burner last night when I was ladling it onto the rice.  Add cleaning the stove to the list this morning.

Good sleep, only up a few times which is to be expected. I’m still not sure I have the right time zone but I will check things out in the almanacs I have on board. I’m going to start carving my wooden chain out of a solid block of wood this morning,

I’ll have to take my time and get it right. Also thinking of getting the GoPro Kite project on the go as well.

So combine that with my Yoga at Sea class, keeping the boat going, navigating, and feeding myself, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to fit it all in. And, oh yes, I see its vacuuming day as well (Imagine!). Maybe have to put the Kite project on hold.

Reading Wade Davis’s “The Wayfinders” and it has me thinking of the great inhumanity toward humanity.  So, I’m looking for some positive sign we’re going to save the world. Not sure where to find that but to look outside where I am, things here seem to be in order or as they should be.

To answer a few questions people posted through the blog…

Q: Do you ever feel seasick when you start your journey, the transition from land to sea? Or is that a malady for the unaccustomed?

A:  Everyone reacts differently to the wave action of the sea. From no reaction to full on coma. I’m lucky, other than my appetite is a little off. I have very little reaction to the transition from shore to sea, although if it is very rough in the first few days eating is not high on the menu, so to speak.

Q: Are you tethered to the boat at all times? The thought of losing your footing and falling overboard would scare the you know what out of me let alone the  eerie silence of the night.

A: As the famous UK circumnavigator Dee Caffari once said to me, “You can’t finish if you’re not on board”. Good advice, I thought. I have every intention of coming home. Wearing the harness is a two-edged sword, sometimes it’s absolutely essential and other times it’s more trouble than it’s worth. The weather and motion of the boat dictate its use. Night time is one of the times I absolutely need to wear it. Reefing of the main sail is done on deck at the mast and it’s a lot easier to do with two hands. On a cold dark and stormy night when the boat is awash – waves constantly over the entire boat, and I have to go up to the mast, I do have my harness and safety line on. I hook it to the “Jack line ” that runs from the cockpit along the deck to the bow. Most of the time in conditions like this, I am on all fours as low inside the lifelines as I can get till I get to the mast, then I stand up and transfer the safety line to the mast, step up on the coach house beside the mast and rap one leg around the mast and start the reefing procedure. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes an hour and of course all that time, the guy with the fire hose is laughing his head off as he tries to get the water down the back of my neck or up my pant leg.

At this point, my eye glasses could definitely do with automatic wipers. So here I am holding on for dear life my leg tethered to the mast, almost blind, trying to work with lines that the wind is tearing at, saying to myself, “You can do this Glenn.” Occasionally I have to laugh, what was I thinking getting out of that nice warm bunk to come here and be violated by mother nature and the fire hose guy.

All seriousness aside, the safety harness is 50% psychological and 50% practical.  Marylou who is here in my heart, is sometimes standing right beside me saying “If you go over the side I’ll kill you.”

There are always risks in life. I have worked as a logger, a fisherman, and have been in the construction industry all my life. Risk of injury has always been with me and I have a huge respect for the consequences of ignoring it. By the grace of God go I. To him or her, all I ask is safe passage back home to those loving arms.

If I had crew on board they would not be allowed to leave the main hatch without their safety harness on. Double standard you might say and you’re right, but I’m still the Captain.

Hope that answers some of your questions. I’m happy to answer them, and thanks for being there.

 

Light winds overnight

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Day 2 November 29, 2016 @ 04:45

The winds have been light and shifting back and forth all night. As you can probably see on the InReach Google map, our track is somewhat erratic. I’ve had the motor on since 2:00 am at 500 RPMs, just enough to keep us going in the right direction.

By the look of the dawning red sky off the bow we are indeed heading away from NZ. The wind has shifted to the west and along with it the sweet smell of hay and sheep. I hope the wind fills in with the sunrise.

We have some very big steep waves coming from the south west and smaller waves coming from the north east. These two sets of waves and light wind make it impossible to keep sail up as the waves shake all the wind out of the sails as each one passes. We need more wind and less sea in order to sail this morning. I’ve taken the jib in and we have two reefs in the main to stop the slatting. As you can imagine sleep has been illusive. 

I’m looking forward to the new day dawning to see what it brings to get us on our way. We aren’t fussy, we’ll work with just about anything. 

I’m going to lie down beside the motor and try to get some sleep. Just had a section of juicy orange from Gisborne. So sweet!

Will check in later.
G

Goodbye Gisborne


WEst Wind II leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Day 1 Monday, November 28, 2016 @ 17:30 leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Lat 38.45 S Long 178.31 E Wind:SW 10 knots, Waves: SW 2 metres, Course: 85 True, Speed: 4.5 knots, Cloud: 60%, Temperature: 13° C

Its 5:30 in the afternoon and the sun is streaming down on me as I sit at the nav station typing. I have the “iron main” on and my ear plugs in. There isn’t enough wind to sail and I want to get as far offshore as I can before it gets dark to avoid or at least see the traffic going up and down the east coast. I just spoke with Cliff. It was a short sked unfortunately as I had to put the engine on to stop the main from trying to destroy itself.

I left Gisborne’s inner harbour at noon with lots of wind and I’m sure if Peter had not helped me getting out it would have been next to impossible to leave. I chose to leave at the same time as the freighter that was in loading up with logs destined for China, so ended up doing several tight circles to kill time and stay out of the way of the two big tugs escorting her out. Once out into Poverty Bay, I had a good breeze but after leaving Young Nick’s Head off the stern the wind started to fall light. There are three swell patterns and so motoring with the main up was the most comfortable way to go and here we are with the old Perkins (engine) vibrating away.

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I had a tough time leaving Gisborne. In only a week, I had become quite attached to the charming city and most of all the lovely people who helped me do a number of difficult repairs. The first night I wandered up to the fishing club and was very quickly signed in by one of the club members. I sat outside and enjoyed a cold beer and emailed Marylou and caught up on the phone with her. I ordered dinner and when it arrived John McKendry invited me to join his family at their table for dinner. His wife Suzy and their three great children Holly, Georgia and Matt were very welcoming and I felt very much at home with them. The next morning John was down at the boat and offered to take me to get the dodger stitched and then off to the electronics shop, to see Laurie at Colvin’s about repairs to the Ham radio.

This is John’s town so he took me to meet the right people to get my repairs done as soon as possible. For an out-of-towner on a tight schedule finding the right people is so very important. I was invited back to John’s for dinner several times with offers to use the laundry and have a shower. He introduced me to his friends and they in turn invited me for dinner all the while having my repairs professionally dealt with in amazing time. Greg Pawson rolled up his sleeves and put his great gift for fixing things to work on the broken engine mount and in an afternoon we had the motor lifted, the bracket removed, repaired and reinstalled ready to go and then I had to cajole him into letting me pay for his incredible effort. New Zealanders are the most accommodating, generous people I have ever met and Gisborne has more than its share of warm friendly people.

 

112816I’m about 20 miles offshore now and New Zealand is dipping below the horizon along with the evening sun and I am here aboard West Wind II alone and feel sad to have left such good friends. I have just been on deck to roll out the jib and turn the Perkins off in the hope of sailing. There’s a school of dolphin playing around our bow. The wind is very light but hopefully with nightfall there will be enough to take us offshore and on our way again. All is well.