Day 15 Wing-on-Wing 9/16/13

Sept 16, 2013 p.m.

 27 53.1 N, 136.49 W @ 12:00 PDT

Currently sailing wing-on-wing with a double reefed main at 6 knots. Wind is 15 knots from the North, waves are 1.5 metres from the Northwest. Temperature is 25 C with 80% overcast sky.

An example of sailing wing-on-wing

An example of sailing wing-on-wing

A container ship ‘Horizon Passage’ from San Diego bound for Hawaii came up my port side at 20 knots around 9:30 this morning. I spoke with the crew on the bridge who told me I showed up well on their radar.  

The hurricane currently in the Gulf of Mexico is not affecting me directly, although this is definitely hurricane season. The season starts around Nov 1st in the South Pacific, and will be present when I pass western Australia and the east coast of Africa. I was affected by a cyclone off the south east coast of Africa on my last trip, but not badly. Weather routing for a west about circumnavigation from the west coast of North America is definitely challenging when you take in to account all the weather anomalies, and rounding Cape Horn.

I believe we’ve made a good start and have to meet each one of those circumstances as they present themselves.

I took a rather good blow to the head today from the spinnaker pole. Not to worry all is well. I went to the first aid station and the doctor told me I would be fine, just put ice on it for a few days. No stitches, just a band aid. 


  1. Glenn would you care to describe wrestling with the spinnaker pole in a rising breeze while single handed on a forty footer? Some of us following your exploits from our couch might not fully appreciate the art, while some of us certainly do! Mind your noggin mate!

    • MaryLou Wakefield says

      Hello Peter Brand
      Nice to have you onboard! You want me to describe the scene of bringing down the spinnaker pole in a rising wind. You’ve done it many times yourself in the Great Southern Ocean during the Whitbread around the world race aboard John Ridgeway’s Debenum, all be it with a capable crew. At the time it is dire as you have usually left it too late but no matter what, it must be wrestled to the deck. There are so many things that could go wrong and as far as risk goes it is very high on the list. You feel as you approach the mast to start the deed that it is not going to go well but there is no choice. You don’t have a lot of time to think about it – you barely have time to get your safety harness on. The pole is 18 feet long and weighs about 50 lbs. One end is attached to a track on the leading edge of the mast the other is attached to the jib sheet. In my case, as I don’t have a spinnaker with me this time for very good reason – I would try and use it! In order to drop the pole I ease the jib sheet forward before I leave the cockpit. This gives the pole the freedom to swing uncontrollably between the forestay and the forward shroud, which it does every time a wave comes up from behind and twists the boat like a wine bottle at the end of a waiters cork screw. I go to the mast first and drop the topping lift so the pole lands inside the life line near the pulpit, keeping in mind the waiter has not got the cork off yet and now some other guy is throwing buckets of water in your face.
      Once the pole is inside the lifelines, you move your tether from the mast to the jackline on the deck and you half walk, half crawl on all fours to the end of the pole were you open the jaws and take out the sheet and disconnect the downhaul. Both the bucket guy or I should I say ‘guys’ and the waiter are still at it. Crawl back to the mast and try releasing the line that controls the track up the mast that the dead end of the pole is attached to, you have to pull the line and send the car up the mast bringing, or I should say dragging, it along the deck till it reaches the coachhouse then up to the base of the mast where the jaw at the lower end snaps into a dock and … all is well. I would not say it is like docking the shuttle into the space station. Those guys are still there throwing buckets of water and the waiter is still at the bottle but the fire department has also joined in just for fun as well. You have one hand on the pole at chest level, a second one on the line to raise the pole, and the third hand ….well I only wish. The jaw has closed and you haven’t docked it yet so it is still “live”, an eighteen foot pendulum! You can only just reach the control line and the latch that opens the jaw so you can dock it. The control line in your one hand releases unexpectedly. You let go to steady yourself and grab it with the other hand letting go the pendulum which comes to the outer end of its arch then heads back to your head. The smack made me fall to my knees and in a split second you realize you are a man down and the pendulum is still swinging. I caught it before it hit me again but now things are different. My glasses are on the deck in two pieces and the deck was being splashed with red dots, my red dots. In the confusion I somehow managed to dock the pole and pick up both the lens and the frame of my glasses. Now with only one unfocused eye and a sharp pain in my head I made my way back to the first aid station where I received great help from a one-eyed attendant. All was well and I managed to repair the glasses and we went on our merry way.

      • Glenn thanks for such a classic description of 10 ugly minutes in a typical day for a single hander! You’ve slogged through so many such episodes, but relentlessly keep going back for more. Wishing you continuing strength in body, mind and spirit!

  2. Pat and Fred Lark says

    Geez Louise Glenn…perhaps put on a helmet for dangerous conditions. For sure I want a picture of that!! I actually wore a helmet when I ( Pat) was supervising murder ball in the school gym. It was a backcatchers helmet. picture that!

    Pat and Fred

  3. Hi Glenn,
    Thinking of you every day knowing that you are where you need to be. I am very proud of you.
    I was there as you left the Yacht Club but didn’t get a chance to say how much I admire your courage and wish you a fulfilling journey. Lots of love, Muffy xoxo

  4. David and Nancy Franz says

    Read about your journey in the paper tonight. We are new sailors – bought our boat in March and have had a wonderful summer exploring from Victoria to Campbell River and Vancouver. We now live in Ladysmith (moved from Saskatchewan in January 2013). Way to go Glenn – we are in awe and cheering for you.

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