It’s all coming back to me

Glenn on West Wind II at the start of his
third attempt at completing a solo westabout circumnavigation

Sunday, September 6, 2020 15:30

I’m now five miles off East Sooke park heading back from the American side. The wind is 10-12 knots from the west coming right down the Straits. We have 15 degrees of heel and making 5.5 knots. It’s sunny, cold and very bright. There’s fog against the US shore and I hope it stays over there.
It’s all coming back to me. The vane is steering, I’ve made tea and have been pecking away at my roasted chicken and eating Trevor Hayward’s fabulous rock cakes. I changed into warm clothes for the night.
We got headed and are now heading directly for East Sooke. No panic I’ll tack in a bit. The tide will be changing to an ebb in an hour or so, so that will help us on our way.

Friends gather on the wharf at Royal Victoria Yacht Club to say goodbye

I’ve been fortunate to have such amazing friends who would show up in the middle of a pandemic to say good bye. Thank you, it was greatly appreciated, more than you know.

West Wind II is escorted out of Cadboro Bay by our 26′ Haida Shadow with MaryLou, Claire and Nicola aboard

I’m tired now and tonight will take some doing but the wind looks promising. It’s supposed to lighten up during the night then fill in from behind early Monday morning with 15 + knots.
With lots of tea and warm clothes, I should have no problem. I hope the fog stays in the American side!

There will be a moon around 22:00 hrs which if clear will brighten my spirits. Thanks again to everyone for coming to the dock and sending messages from near and far.

Here’s a link to the story in today’s Times Colonist by Jeff Bell.

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

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.

D Day – Sunday, September 6

Wednesday Sept. 2 @ 08:48
Starting my voyage from Victoria and sailing out into the Pacific always requires transiting the Straits of Juan de Fuca and inevitably staying up all night to keep watch. Although the moon will now be waning for the rest of the month, it was full last night and on Sunday night it will be full enough to keep me company.

I’m leaving on Sunday morning at 11:00 am from the Visitors Dock at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Cadboro Bay. You are very welcome to come down and join us or meet in the bay as part of the escort. 

I’ve solved all the problems on the list and the food stores and supplies for the next eight to ten months are finding their way into every nook and cranny on board WW II as her water line slowly disappears below the surface. The next few days will be spent doing last minute things, and making sure everything is in place for MaryLou to maintain our land base while I’m away.

MaryLou has also been busy helping with all the things I need to make it through my voyage. One of them is the tedious, but extremely important job of vacuum packing all the stores of food that will be taken on board so they will still be fresh in month ten when I come back up the Pacific in March, April of next year. And, much to her chagrin, she is the Queen of this job. There is not a trophy big enough on the planet to recognize MaryLou’s incredible contribution to my voyage. Her support and understanding are epic and the most important element in me realizing my dream to finish my circumnavigation.

Many people have expressed interest in coming down to send me off and it is a wonderful feeling to see you all there, but please – keep in mind Bonnie Henry’s rules for social gathering under the current COVID conditions.

Cheers, Glenn           

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            

Anchor chain and rode

I have 250′ of 1/4 inch BBB (bend before break) anchor chain and
250′ of 3/4 inch nylon twist line with 25 feet of 1/4 inch BBB chain.
For anchors I have a 40 lb. stainless steel plow and a 40 lb Bruce galvanized.
The plow will remain on deck in the rollers till we clear the Straits then stowed below.
I’m working very hard to keep WWII’s trim even, both fore and aft as well as to port and starboard. The provisions can start to come on board as soon as all the sailing gear is stowed which should be tomorrow.
Cheers G

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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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Article in Soundings magazine, thoughtful and heartfelt

Sept 2 waving copy

Setting off, September 2, 2013.

Over the past year, Glenn spoke with writer, and fellow sailor Dieter Loibner on the wharf, on board West Wind II and over the phone about solo sailing, what it takes to leave the wharf, and how the adventure impacted our lives.

In this May, 2014 article in Soundings magazine, Dieter writes a very thoughtful and heartfelt piece titled Disappointed yes, but in no way defeated.