My plan for the Straits of Juan de Fuca

May 4, 2017

It would be nice if I could enter the Straits early on a clear morning and have the rest of the day to work my down to Victoria.

I’m thinking of crossing the big ship lanes as I enter the Straits and heading down the Canadian side. I’ll ask Peter to check the traffic over the next day or so and let me know how busy it is and how many ships are heading down my route in to the Straits.

I’m putting some sleep in the bank and I have a good pot of stew ready for the next few days.

Looks like I have enough wind to get me there. I have 270 miles to my waypoint at the entrance.  At current speed, I  should be there in two and a half days, say Sunday, maybe earlier. I will see how I do in the next 24hrs.

Right now, I’m moving comfortably along at 5.5 -6.2 knots before 15-20 knots of wind from the NW. Alls well here.

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 !

The ham net is humming tonight

Monday, May 1, 2017

Ham radio operators in Olympia, Washington, El Cajon, California and Vancouver, BC relay messages from VA7MLW marine mobile on WestWind II to home base in Victoria, BC.

Positon: 41.1 N, 136.3 W Distance in last 24 hrs: 160 nm

Shout out to ham radio operator Gary (W7WWI) in Olympia, Washington who pulled a few strings (or wires) and was able to patch me through to Glenn on the radio tonight.  Not sure how that works, but it was great to have a few crackly words across the ocean. Also to Steve (KK6ZUU) in El Cajon, California for relaying Glenn’s familiar “All is well on board WestWind II” message on email tonight. And to Ron (VE7BGK) in Vancouver for relaying his messages.

Thank you all.


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.

Knocking off the miles

Sunday, April 30, 2017

03:10 pm

I’ve been out on deck reading and taking a few photos. There are a pair of Albatross cruising around the boat and one lone Wanderer. My tiny storm petrel is still hold up under one corner of the life raft and not being very sociable. I hope he or she will be ok and fly away.

Still very grey low cloud cover but good steady breeze and we are knocking off the miles. Very cool here. The kettle’s on for more tea.

later that evening …

Sleep seems to be evading me tonight. It’s a beautiful night with a tangerine crescent moon hanging over our port stern quarter. We have 15+ knots of wind coming up on our starboard stern quarter pushing us along at 6 -7 knots with a distinct rolling motion. We’re making good time and the sound below is accentuated by the darkness, occasionally we are moved around but Fleming always brings us back on track.

We made 150 miles in 24 hrs. today,  average overall is about 125 miles. The wind is supposed to build in the early hours of tomorrow and so I will take the last reef in the main and a couple of rolls in the Yankee.

Sleep has been a little hard to get started these last few nights and tonight will be no exception. I’m feeling a little anxious about things but should probably believe in my abilities after all these years at sea. I am going now to give it another try…

Good night Marylou ~~~~~_) ~~~

Threading my way home

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Small green circle is WestWind II at 38.43 N, 140.57 W April 29, 2017 @04:45

Position: 38.43 N, 140.57 W

Having another great sail this afternoon (yesterday). Blue sky, sunny, steady wind, WW II sailing off the wind making good time on a great course. Looks like we are just threading our way above the high and below the low headed home.

(From ML) Thanks to the ham radio operators W7ABT in Oregon, and W5AQZ in Denver who heard Glenn on the radio last night and sent me an email to relay his “All is well on board” message. Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated.


On to a new chart !

04:15 am Saturday April 29, 2017

I have just finished a tour of the deck and spent an hour and a half repairing a parted reefing line. Wind has died down a fair bit and we are down to 4.5 knots but WW II is still moving well. The sun is coming up in a little while so the sky is flooding with tangerine light. We have a big cloud bank just south east of us that seems to be moving towards us. I have been up several times during the night and feel tired so will be going back to my bunk soon. Its cool here low 60’s and lots of dew on deck.

Big day here as we move on to a chart that shows the west coast and Vancouver Island. 1016 miles to go!


Great run last night. We are halfway home !

Lat 35.55 N
Long 144.46 W
course 045T
Speed 6+knots
Log: 1157 to go

Distance in last 24 hrs: 150 nm

Things are great on board tonight. I have a new stew on the go and looking forward to that. We are making good time and our course is very good. I am so looking forward to sailing on for home. Feels emotional for me. I have done a lot sailing since I left the Straits the first time in our little Haida. I feel very lucky.

Enjoying pleasant weather …for now

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Position: 33.45 N, 147. 61 W @ 20:45 Pacific Daylight Savings time

It is a splendid afternoon, the sky is bright blue and the ocean a deep indigo. Our speed is not earth shattering but for a light ten knot breeze coming just off our stern starboard quarter we are doing a respectable 3-4 knots. I can not maintain a course dead down wind or North in this light breeze with a fairly active swell on our quarter because the sails will not hold the wind and Fleming can not steer. I am just off a broad reach with the yankee poled out to Port along with the a triple reefed main. Both sails guyed down as much as possible to keep them from spilling the light wind due to the swell. I have the Ray Marine 2000 electric auto helm doing the steering, which has me running the engine an hour or so to charge the batteries.

The air is warm and pleasant enough to sit outside and I have been doing some reading sitting on the foredeck so all in all a very pleasant sail. I’m reading  The Island by Victoria Hislop set in Crete. Good read. I spend most of my day reading and some time carving another chain. I have good music and the food is excellent. My nights are full of sleep in such conditions as there is no need to be jumping up putting on rain gear to take a reef in the main or jib.

This will change in a few days I’m sure but in the mean time I’m enjoying the whole experience. I realize that all too soon it will be over and I will be back to my regular activities on land dreaming of days like this.

The miles I make at night while I sleep are very sweet. So great to wake up in the morning and look at the GPS and see we have done 40 miles or more. I hope I can keep this weather for a few more days at least till I reach the half way point, which is just 200 hundred miles away. Been a little out of contact here these last few days and looking forward to getting back in touch. Miss you lots.

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.