Communications

Day 7 Saturday, Sept 12 @ 09:28 40.20 N, 130.31 W

Glenn is experiencing challenges with his communications systems which means that his updates via email have been sparse. We are working on helping him sort out the issues and hopefully he will be able to provide regular updates soon.

He has a handheld GPS device on board which, when working, gives his latest position. Click here to see Glenn’s position on a map or visit the WHERE IS GLENN NOW? section of the home page.

The square miles of smoke in the image above totals 963,269. That estimate has been computed using the measurement tool within the NASA Worldview application. Credits: NASA Worldview

Visit the Earth Nullschool website to see an animated weather map.

Thanks to the many people supporting me

Sunday, August 30, 2020

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning. A wee bit chilly as fall taps us on the shoulder. I’m back down to Westy this morning to work on a couple of problems that are keeping me from leaving. One is the leaks in the water tanks. Yesterday I managed to take the cabinetry out of the starboard settee to expose the 35 gallon stainless steel tank inside. I had been able to isolate this tank with a valve located in the bilge downstream from the tank and after measuring it for a few days (after topping it up), realized there was not much water leaving the tank and that it stopped altogether with the water level barely down an inch. I interpreted this to mean the water loss was probably at the inspection hatches on the top of the tank. These inspection hatches have rubber “O” rings to help seal them off. Two of the O rings had failed. Although the water loss was not substantial sitting at the dock in calm water,  at sea on a port tack over several days this would have reduced my meagre supply for the next six or eight months enough to become a big problem. Especially considering I rely only on rain water collected from the deck to refill the tanks. The solution was to silicone these lids in place. I will fill the tank up again this morning giving the silicone time to set over night, and see how things go. The port side tank which is also 35 gallons is under the settee and the cabinetry that it resides in will also have to be removed. This is the second thing on the list to do this morning.

with Ron Kolody, my right hand man for all things Ham radio, circa 2013

The first is to test my backup Panasonic Toughbook computer. Yesterday after five nonstop hours of remote diagnostic work, my friend Ron Kolody managed to get the Winlink messaging program to talk to my 802 ICOM ham radio through the Pactor 3 Modem and successfully send a test message. He has been working remotely through the Teamviewer program from his home in Vancouver over the past two weeks to help me with this most important job. All that’s left is to work out the bugs in the back up computer and “technically” I can leave. Ron has been with me in a very significant supportive role, voluntarily,  through all my voyages over the past 12 years. He is responsible for, among many other things, setting up a network of primary and secondary Ham operators around the world who spoke to me every day and relayed messages back to MaryLou. This group played a key role in my rescue in 2008 in the south Atlantic by the Argentinians.  I could never thank Ron enough for all his help over the years. He is a very good example of an amazing group of people from around the world who have, and continue to support me and MaryLou through these voyages. There are literally a small army of people without whose skills and generosity, I would never leave the dock! I am always grateful for their support and can never thank them enough. 

Thank you all.
Glenn and MaryLou            

On-board communications

Communication is a very important element of all my voyages. The first voyage in 1997 in our 26 foot Haida Sannu II started with a single-handed leg of 4500 nautical miles to the Marquesas. My only form of communication was a VHF radio with visual range of about 20 nautical miles. I spoke with one ship – the USS Force 6. After several attempts to connect and being buzzed by a helicopter from the Force 6, which I could only just see on the distant horizon, the captain came on the air and kindly relayed a phone message to MaryLou back in Victoria. She was at work and through a land line at her desk she received this surprise message from the captain who reported my position and that all was well. She didn’t hear from me again for four weeks when I arrived in Nuku Hiva when I rowed ashore and used a landline. That experience set the scene for future voyages. I definitely needed a better way to communicate with home if I was going to be away for long periods of time. Ham radio was my choice.

The initial outlay for the radio and installation communication was inexpensive and I could send and receive email through a program known as Winlink to anyone in the world. For my upcoming voyage I am still using ham radio with an upgraded Winlink connection. The upgrade required a password and online reregistration. Although this should have been very simple, it has proved to be beyond my technical skills. My daughter Claire kindly volunteered to come to my rescue. We spent several hours changing passwords and trying to go from one screen to the next and used several “help” options. In the end I called my ham instructor Ron for help. He is one of those people you have on speed dial. He waded in with that keen analytical mind and after many sessions on the phone and me going back and forth to the boat we called upon Loring Kutchins, a fellow ham operator and with his experience the problem is very close to being solved. This small glitch has caused a delay in my planned departure. It’s important for me to feel confident my radio works before I leave.

I motored around to the Oak Bay marina and topped up my fuel tanks yesterday. I will have 45 gallons of diesel on board, 35 in my main tank and two five gallon jerry cans. I also filled up my water tanks the other day and after I noticed my bilge pump coming on every half hour or so and realized I had a leak. This will require me to open up the two settees on either of the main saloon and see what I can find. All this takes time and makes it a little difficult to answer that so often asked question on the wharf “When is departure day Glenn?” My usual reply is, “When I’m ready”. Tomorrow is our 38th wedding anniversary so I won’t be leaving tomorrow!

My 12 dozen eggs arrive Friday, so not till I get those either.  But probably early next week provided there are no more surprises. Stay tuned.

Cheers, Glenn     

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Up the mast


Top of the mast heading to New Zealand, circa 2013

Sunday Morning August 23/20 07:30
The sun is just coming up over the trees in our front yard. The crows and seagulls are greeting the new day with their usual cacophony of song, if you can call it that. I was up early and had a good night’s sleep after a fabulous dinner that MaryLou cooked. These dinners with Claire, Nicola and ML are very special. This time next week I could very well be on my way out the Straits and gone for eight months. I was up last night at 02:30 taking the thoughts raging in my head and making yet another list in my trusty Moleskin. Not bad actually, only 31 items! This allowed me to go back to sleep.

I had a small accident last week. While cleaning the main cabin in my flip flops I raked past a reciprocating saw blade and sustained a rather long gash over the top of my left foot just at the base of my toes. Yesterday, after two days of changing dressings twice a day it started to swell and there were signs of infection. This morning, after cleaning it thoroughly last night and keeping it elevated, it feels and looks a lot better, although at the end of today it may be different.

I made great, satisfying progress yesterday. Among several small jobs, I was able to focus on the sails and rigging, the real boat jobs. I started by hoisting myself up the mast with two jobs in mind, first to push the staysail halyard through the shive on the mast which had become stuck while trying to re- rove* it through the inside of the mast. The second was to retrieve the spinnaker halyard which I had let go the last time I was up the mast a week or so ago and has stubbornly remained there. Going up the mast this time I felt in much better shape than that first ascent two weeks ago. I didn’t get out of breath and my fear of heights remained in the box. It was not without its problems though. Planning, when you’re by yourself doing rigging jobs is very important. My first job on my way up was the staysail halyard and though I thought it was going to be just a matter of pushing the taped join through the shive, it remained jammed, I either needed to extend my arms to thirty-five feet or lower myself down to the deck and pull on the trace line as I push from above. Not possible!! (common predicament for a single hander). It was early Saturday morning and with a panoramic view of the yacht club and Cadboro Bay perhaps I could persuade some unsuspecting person to lend a hand. I soon realized I was alone and going to have to go back down the mast and get another purchase on that trace line then go back up the mast and try again. Being lazy at heart, from my unique position I scanned the area for a helper. After a short time my helper appeared, Mike, who was rowing back from a night of self isolation to practice his guitar on his boat in the bay so as not to keep his family up, was rowing quietly back to the dock. I hailed him and he responded with bewildering swings of his head searching for the source of the hail as if God was speaking to him from on high. Mike is a wonderful fellow and dutifully rowed over to WW II and climbed aboard, solved my problem and went on his merry way.

Now for job two, retrieving the spinnaker halyard. I pulled myself the rest of the way up the mast till the climbing gear was stopped in the mouth of the main halyard shive, 55 feet off the water!  I reached and grabbed it and started back down the mast easing the bosuns chair line slowly hand over hand with the vagrant halyard attached to the chair. I soon found myself stopped in mid air not being able to descend any further! The other end of the spinnaker halyard was still cleated to the base of the mast 45 feet below! Not even my thirty-five foot arms could rescue me now. I quickly  turned around and yes, Mike was still in sight. This time when I hailed him he didn’t even turn while he was wrestling his dinghy into its berth on the dock and said “I’ll be there in a minute”, rather gruffly I thought. I shouted back “thanks Mike” from my pulpit up the mast. Once again Mike came to my rescue and problem solved. All this took place before 09:00. I pushed on with my day and list. Next the staysail was bent and the sheets roved and brought back to the winches in the cockpit, through the turning blocks inside the stays on the deck track, especially positioned for them. The new main from Leach and McBride Sails had been bent and hoisted once but the reefing lines and ties had not yet been roved. This went well till it came to the reefing ties. The dyneema line I bought was too small and my figure eight knots pulled right through the cringles*. It’s one of the items on that list I did in the middle of the night! The rest of the day went pretty much the same with some successes and some new items for the list. I find as usual  if I just keep moving forward bit by bit I manage to make progress, and if I’m not there nothing happens so I’m off again now back down to the sea where the call of the list beckons me.

*rove: a small metal plate or ring for a rivet to pass through and be clenched over, especially in boatbuilding.

*cringle: an eye through which to pass a rope. In nautical settings, the word refers to a small hole anywhere along the edge or in the corner of a sail, rimmed with stranded cordage.

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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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