Day 57 Filling in from the NE 28/10/13

Oct 28 w Gisborne NZ

Week 9

Position: 38.59 S, 179.21 E

We are a little more than a hundred miles off Gisborne at the moment. The last time I was on deck my nostrils caught the unmistakable smell of land, earthy, and kind of smokey.

The number of birds, both albatross and petrels, has been increasing. I had about ten petrels around the stern of the boat for about an hour this afternoon. I took the fishing line in and they went away. The graceful albatross have been around, swooping right under the bow of West Wind as she pounds through these big swells from the south. I got some wonderful video of that this afternoon in the bright sunshine. My gawd, it’s rough at the moment!

I’ll paint the scene this morning. I had a very nice sleep in my warm and cosy sheep skin quilt. Difficult to pry myself out of that soft warm cocoon to go on deck and face a brisk New Zealand morning at 5:30 am. The really wonderful part is I am rewarded with the sunrise. It is always different and it always raises my spirits. No matter how difficult the previous day has been, it’s a new day and I can draw a line in the sand and move on. I can’t change what happened yesterday. I’ve been trying in vain to get sat phone coverage for the last two days. I went so far as to sail into shore in the hopes I could make a call to MaryLou. It initializes, the umbrella symbol comes up with three bars, then it disconnects before I can go any further. I am as close to shore as I am going to get for a while so I hope there is better coverage further south.

West Wind II's jib

We’ve been becalmed since midnight so I now have West Wind II pointed on a course of 223 T, hoisted the main, set the windward running back stay and unfurled the jib, which put us on port tack. The wind from the Southeast was light <5kts so steering with the vane was almost impossible. Yesterday left me with 12.34 volts in the bank, so the little Auto helm 2000 would need a boost if I was to use it this morning. I decided it was worth it so I started the engine, opening the exhaust valve first, and ran it for half an hour. Fifteen minutes after setting the auto helm the wind filled in really nicely to 15 kts so I was able to switch over to the Fleming wind vane and put the Auto down below. This exercise is accompanied by several trips below to put on my wet gear and of course finish my tea before it gets cold. The increase in wind and boat speed meant I had to go on deck and put in the flattening or first reef in the main and roll one in on the jib as well. This does not reduce our speed much but does make it easier for the wind vane to do its job.

The wind has just filled in from the NE 10-15 and we are on a broad reach 6-7 kts so we are off and running. Looks like we will have this for at least 24 hrs and we have a good course to the way point off Stewart Island, 740 nm south of here.. YES !!!

It doesn’t look like I will get any phone coverage till I get to the South Island. I am moving away from shore, or the shore is moving away from me as the South Island swings in towards Wellington and back out again to Christchurch. 

Course 223 T Speed 0.0 kts Wind 0.0 kts Waves 0.0 m Cloud 100% Temp 16 C Baro 1018 steady Miles in last 24 hrs: 85 nm






Day 56 On the nose 27/10/13

Oct 27, 2013 w NZ

Position: 38.45 S, 179.14 W

We’ve been headed by the wind – it’s coming from the direction I want to go, so I’ve tacked into shore. Unfortunately we’re sailing into yesterday’s waves which are right on our nose so we just get going and then we are almost stopped in our tracks by several large waves. The sun is out and I have the cock pit draped with towels and clothes just to freshen things up.

We should be on this tack most of the day before wind swings around to the west. Then I’ll tack and head south. Hopefully I’ll get closer to that ‘sat phone booth’ later today.

Best place for me to be is in my bunk, lying down reading. Eating lunch will be difficult to make, almost dangerous. I’ll snack on food bars instead. Birds all around, mostly petrels. Sailed past a large patch of kelp with a fish in its shadow. I’ll put a new lure on the line and we’ll give it another try. 

Course 320 t Speed 6.5 kts Cloud 30% Temp 18 c Baro 1012 steady Miles in last 24hrs: 135 nm


Day 55 Sailing onto a new chart 26/10/13

 Oct 26 w Tauranga

Position: 37.10 S, 177.25 W

Course 215 T Speed 6 kts Wind NW 15 kts. Waves NW 1.5 m Cloud 100% Temp 18.8 C Baro 1017 falling Miles in last 24hrs 135 nm

We’re about 250 miles off the coast of New Zealand. I listened in on Auckland radio this morning and found pretty much the same sort of human behaviour there that you see everywhere else – there were several accounts of violence, a few car crashes, some teams won, some lost, and, if you rush down to your supermarket, you can get a good deal on a pressure washer.

It’s a time for me to celebrate my third time crossing of the great Pacific Ocean, twice single-handed. The first time in 1997 in Sannu II a 26 foot Haida was with MaryLou and the girls on board for the Pacific Islands part of the voyage, and again when I single-handed in 2007 in Kim Chow. I said “I” did it, but of course I did it with the loving support of MaryLou who, in her own right, is a great adventurer and the rock solid steady influence in my life that gives me focus and is with me all the way. I’m very thankful to have had these opportunities and consider myself a lucky man ; )

MaryLou updating the Going Solo blog

Updating the Going Solo blog in Victoria, B.C. Canada

Once again these voyages, although great sailing experiences, are in fact all about the amazing people and the best of mankind that steps up to greet us along the way, including all of you who read these words. I want to thank you all for your kind support. I feel your encouragement every day. I’m honoured you find our voyage of interest.

We have sailed onto a new chart, one that shows the north and south islands of New Zealand and for a voyager, it is very exciting to set way points for navigation and estimate the distance and time it will take. These charts, although paper, are the visual transition that make the idea of sailing across the plate real, and gives it some substance. There’s some anticipation in play and the excitement grows with each plot on the chart. The really big challenge that faces me in this phase of my circumnavigating is entering the Great Southern Ocean and being pitted against its formidable reputation. I have sailed 12,500 nautical miles across the Southern Ocean from NZ and got to within 750 miles of Cape Horn on my previous attempt at SHNSWAC (single handed non-stop west about circumnavigation) so it is no stranger to me, nor is it familiar enough to take for granted. Far from it. 

NZ North Island

Chart courtesy Land Information New Zealand licensed under Creative Commons 3.0


I retrieved my fleece jacket from my locker this morning and will wear that constantly for the next 5 or 6 months, another consequence of sailing south in the southern hemisphere, it gets colder. I must go now and have my morning “Only Oats” which has been a staple food for me from day one and it’s a small highlight of many that make up the fabric of my day. I bring the water to a boil, drop in the oats, reduce the heat, stir for 3 minutes.  I mix in a sufficient amount of powdered milk, add some brown sugar and Voila, breakfast is ready. 

From MaryLou

“This past week I’ve been touched by the kindness and generosity of strangers who have connected me to Glenn in one way or another – by email to pass on a message of “All’s Well”, by relaying their ham radio signal so we could chat voice to voice for a few minutes, and for giving our daughter in New Zealand the opportunity to speak to Glenn on their ham radio in Tauranga. All without being asked to and just because “It’s what we do.” Thanks to Cliff in Balclutha, NZ, John in Tauranga, NZ, Cornel in Cordoba, Argentina, Mike in Canberra, Australia, Tom in Riverside, California, John and Catherine in Brisbane, Australia, and Don in Port Hardy, B.C. I’d also like to thank those who have taken the time to add your comments and questions on the blog. Thank you all.”  

Course 215 T Speed 6 kts Wind NW 15 kts. Waves NW 1.5 m Cloud 100% Temp 18.8 C Baro 1017 falling Miles in last 24hrs 135 nm





Day 54 On the move again 25/10/13

Oct 26, 2013 

Position: 35.20 S, 175.44 W

It is a real  bonus to be moving well again. We have done over a hundred miles since 5:30 last night and it’s now 9:00 in the morning. Psychologically, this is huge. It changes my whole attitude and having a good attitude makes life a lot easier. The struggle in not making good time is the fact that you have no control over the weather, so you just have to go with it, accept it. The frustration and struggle can quickly over come you and sometimes it does and that manifests itself into crippling thoughts and feelings. So that is where the success or failure of the voyage lies, in attitude! I sometimes spend an hour getting the boat on course and engaging the self steering gear. I try over and over again and WW II will wonder off course so I start the process all over again of taking the helm, steading the course, adjusting the wind vane and then waiting to see if it will hold the course. I did that this morning for example.

We have a 2 meter swell from the southwest and a 1 meter swell from the northwest.  We have a 5 -10 knot breeze from the northwest.  WW II has full sail up and her best point of sail is a broad reach which a good point of sail and allows her to power through the waves. That said, some of those waves can bring her up and just about stop all of her 11 tons in one sharp motion. The shudder that follows is jaw breaking and you can imagine the kind of effect this has on the rig. So, to make sure this doesn’t keep happening, I bring her up into the wind about 20 degrees off course and leave her there till the conditions change – sometimes in an hour, sometimes in five minutes. If that’s the case, I’m back on deck going through the steering readjustment for as long as it takes to get her back on course or until I need a break in which case I make her comfortable and come back when I feel I can cope better with the conditions. This is just one scenario and sometimes it goes very well for days at a time. Such is life on board.

I have about a thousand miles to go till the bottom of NZ, then round the corner and off we go. 

News flash: I lost my fishing lure last night to a very big fish that broke the 120 lb test leader!

Course 205 T Speed 6.5 kts Wind 15 NW Waves NW 1.5 M SW 2 M Cloud 5% Temp 21.8 C Baro 1019 falling Miles in last 24 hrs:  235 nm

Day 53 Up and Down 24/10/13


Oct 24, 2013

Position: 33.30 S, 174.33 W

Today I hooked up the electric auto helm and it’s working well in this light air. Good news is we are sailing right down the line making maximum distance to the mark.  I hope to get past the ‘300 nm to go to my waypoint’ some time today. This very slow progress is messing with my head a bit.  Still doing lots of small jobs. I did laundry today. Hope they dry soon. 

This afternoon I had enough wind to hoist the sails again. Then the wind died completely all sails came down. Just  now it’s all sail back up. Up down, up down, up down. I’m feeling worn out and I’m not going anywhere. Such is the life of a sailor. I’ll draw another line in the sand and start again. I figure at this rate, it would take me 18 months to finish. OUCH !!!

Course 125 T Speed 3.5 kts Wind N 5 Waves N .25m Cloud 90% Temp 23 C Baro 1021 steady Miles in last 24 hrs: 40 nm

Day 52 Forecast: Calm 23/10/13

 Oct 23, 2013

Position: 33.14 S, 173 57 W

We’ve had a very good run for the last 24 hours and it all helps to bring us closer. I think I may have focused on it a bit too much lately and there is still such a long way to go. This past week has been terribly slow and the forecast is for more calms. I will be glad to break away and get going. 

Course 290 T Speed 5 knotsWind WSW 10 knots Waves S .5 M Cloud 60% Temp 21 C Baro 1020 Miles in last 24 hrs: 120 nm

Watch a short clip of Claire talking to Glenn on the ham radio. Thanks John Stephens (ZL2DD) in Tauranga, and Cliff (ZL4AS) in Balclutha NZ for making it happen.

Day 51 Captain Kirk and HRH ‘Andrew’ 22/10/13

 Oct 22 w Tauranga, NZ

Position: 31.34 S, 173.17 W

We’re still sailing in the beautiful High and I feel spoiled. The weather and the sea conditions have been intoxicating and I’m afraid I’m in for a big shock when it starts to rain and get cold and blow like hell! I was comparing last week’s run with the week before that. This last week we did a total of 550 nm and the week before 928 nm. I also compared where I was in 2007 on Day 50 with where I am on Day 50 this time around. WW II is 900 nm ahead of Kim Chow for the same 50 days. 

I am always enthralled by the bizarre shapes of the clouds. They are an ever-changing canvas of shapes and colours on a very large surround canvas. Captain Kirk and his good ship the USS Enterprise were stationed off our starboard stern quarter for half an hour this morning until they beamed themselves into thin air at warp speed. As you can see I’m easily entertained these days.


Royal Albatross, Dunedin NZ , Benchill wikimedia commons

HRH Royal Albatross ‘Andrew’, Dunedin, NZ. Photo credit: Benchill via Wikimedia Commons

My friend the HRH Royal Albatross ‘Andrew’ was back this morning to check up on me. He was navigating very well in the light breeze. He is so markedly larger by far than any of the petrels or frigate birds I have seen so far out here. The wing span must be 8 to 10 feet. He has a white under body. His top wing side has a grey pattern that is mirrored on each wing. His body hangs low from his wings,like a big Russian transport plane. His pink landing gear is up and only just visible. The bill is pink and quite long. He is a handsome fellow.

He glides up just over the swells from out of the sun and then shows his under side in a very graceful turn watching us all the while. He comes back twice and then glides off over our bow disappearing in the swells. It is without a doubt, a major event for me even surpassing the encounter with Captain Kirk. 

I have been up the mast this morning while we are under way just to make myself feel good that everything is ship shape up there. I tightened a few screws in the spinnaker tee track that gave me some trouble a week or so ago and checked all the shackles. There was a strap on one of the main sail cars that could do with some attention when I have it near the deck so it is easier to sow, but other than that all is well. It is always surprising how much easier it is to go up the mast while the boat is sailing as the motion is much steadier, particularly in 10 knots of breeze when we are sailing just off the wind. I use a bosun’s chair with a block and tackle which is hoisted up on the spinnaker halyard and then I use a climbing clamp to belay myself up.  The ride up and down was not exactly smooth and I have a few bumps and scrapes to show for my effort but the view of the boat and my entire world from horizon to horizon from up there is very exciting!

I’m going to enjoy this last day of nice weather and put it in the bank for the days and months to come in the Southern Ocean.

Course  224 T Speed 6 kts Wind NW 14 kts Waves .25 M Cloud 5% Temp 23 C Baro 1022 Steady Distance in last 24 hrs. 50 nm

AND …Remember those gooseneck barnacles Glenn described that were growing all over the pumice floating in the ocean? In case that sounded appealing to you, this article in the Globe and Mail a few days later says they’re making a comeback in Vancouver restaurants.
Just in time.

Day 50 Calm seas, gentle motion 21/10/13

Week 8

Position: 30.03 S, 172.09 W

Oct 21 after crossing IDL

The scene I find myself in is hypnotic. It is so tranquil with the the calm seas and the gentle motion. This is practically unheard of while making an ocean crossing. Our speed fluctuates with the gentle breeze of the Hi we find ourselves in for the last day and probably the next two days. I am sitting on the foredeck with the computer on my lap looking forward, my back resting against the coach house. I’m sitting in the shade wearing a tee shirt and shorts, no shoes and a burgeoning Earnest Hemingway beard itching my face. My heart is filled with contentment. My surroundings are so different and rich in colour. West Wind II is extraordinary. She turns these gentle winds into 4.5 knots of gentle speed over swells that have travelled from many miles away with a graceful motion, always forward. 

The feeling of sailing towards a horizon that remains the same distance away is an odd one. It feels as though I’m sailing on a plate of ocean that is being carried across the world like a waiter would carry a plate across a restaurant. I never seem to get any further across, always sailing in the middle of the plate. The only thing that changes is the dome above the plate, half the time in the light, the other half in the dark or under the glow of heavenly bodies. Most of the time the waiter is gyrating the plate from place to place and occasionally I find myself in the dishwasher.

I think when I get close to New Zealand I’ll take a good look beyond the plate at the land so I can gather some perspective before I start across the southern ocean, the biggest restaurant on the planet. For now, I’m enjoying being on the plate, sailing merrily along.

The sun is just coming up over the edge of the plate and we have been becalmed since 10 pm last night. The main is down and there is a small triangle of jib out in the hopes it will keep us moving and steady the death roll. Up twice in the night. I think the nice little breeze that quietly drew us along towards NZ has gone for today and we will just have to “roll with it” for the rest of the day. 

I have just gone around and tightened all the toe rail stanchion bases and jib t-track bolts in an attempt to stave off the leaks. Another round of caulking this afternoon after lunch. Picture perfect day on the high seas, bright sunshine, a warm 10 knot breeze. Deep indigo sea. Full sail bright white against the deep blue sky. Billowy white clouds all the way around the horizon and off the edge, clear sky above. Down below the sound of water gurgling by. Very light motion reminds me of swaying in a hammock. 

Course 215 T Speed 4 knots Wind 5-10 East Waves swell 1 m Cloud 10% Temp 23 C Baro 1022 falling Miles in last 24 hrs: 125 nm


Day 49 Ship board life 20/10/13

Oct 20 worldview

Glenn’s daily progress using Google Earth


Tracking Glenn's progress - Old School

Glenn’s daily progress the old school way – pins on a paper map in my home office.

Position: 30.03 S, 172.09 W

7:30 am Just finished my morning routine.

There are only one pair of eyes here so it’s important to use them wisely. I am acutely aware of my surroundings and any changes that take place in it. The sounds of things are very important as well. I am used to the normal sounds of the boat and anything out of the ordinary I have learned to acknowledge, and either act upon or store for future reference. Smell is also important. 

I have a list of regular jobs I do every morning to keep the boat going and monitor all the systems. They aren’t written down, I use the Glenn system of monitoring, it is a learned process based up visual cues. As I walk through the boat I see the the battery box or solar panels or wind generator and remind myself to check the volts with the meter. I clean the solar panels, look down at the hatch to the cabin sole to view the bilge or  when I’m at the bilge pump in the cockpit it triggers a check of the pump. The water tanks are dipped just to remind me that I need water and that it’s not escaping into the bilge. I walk the deck and make a mental note to tighten the shackles or the screws on a deck fitting. I think about caulking that stanchion next time the caulking gun is out. I look at the rigging, check the set of the sails as well as the stitching and look for signs of chafe. The self steering vane is keenly observed for any movement and chafe. I am training  myself every day to observe and make mental notes of what ‘normal’ looks like so that when abnormal shows up it will pique my interest. I think you could call this routine my daily vigilance exercise. Something you can never have too much of.

I wash the boat inside at least three times a week. Every warm sunny day that is dry on deck I air out all the bedding and rain gear and clothes as well as all the rags and sponges I use to mop up the leaks. Last night a can of crushed tomatoes burst and sprayed tomato around the forward cabin so that is on the list to clean up this morning. And so it goes.

At the moment the wind, although light, is steady so I’m getting a bit of a rest, spending time reading and writing. Welcome to my world.

Course 215 T, Speed 4 kts Wind 5-10 East Waves swell 1 m Cloud 10% Temp 23 C Bar 1022 and falling.





Day 48 Crossing the line 19/10/13

I crossed the International Date Line at around noon today at 175 degrees of longitude which means I lost a day and went from Saturday to Sunday in a moment. (The IDL generally falls on 180 degrees longitude except where it deviates to 175 degrees around a group of islands in Kiribati).

International Date Line

image courtesy wikimedia commons

The night sky lately has been out of this world!  The quality of the light, the clouds, stars reflecting in the sea, it’s hard to put into words. It’s nothing short of a spectacle and I love the size of the screen. Part of the magic about being at sea with no land around is that the stars go right down to the horizon. It’s very special.

We’ve had a great run today –  light wind and no seaway. The motion is minimal and the sound of the water rushing by is fantastic. I hope all the caulking I did this morning is going to make a difference. Must keep my fingers crossed. They just seem to appear out of no where.

It’s warm, bright sunshine but not too hot, the motion is magical, the warmth of the sun is not overpowering, and the breeze is warm. West Wind II is gliding along at 6.5 – 7 knots on an indigo sea. Things are drying out here really well today. I have my sleeping bag out to air as well as my rain gear and all my clothes. There’s nothing like bright sun light to kill all those nasty bugs.

Yesterday evening I saw my first Albatross. It was off in the distance playing in the waves and wind. It was very dark in colour so very likely a young one.

I’m  excited about the ham radio show tonight. I may get Alek and or Barry (in Australia) on frequency tonight.

Welcome new subscribers! We now have 550 subscribers from 35 countries, most recently from India, the Solomon Islands, Hungary and Bermuda. Welcome aboard.

Day 48 Slow going 19/10/13

Oct 19 w Tauranga

Position: 28. 25 S, 170. 38 W

I’ve just finished removing and storing the kevlar jib, roved a new roller furling line and hoisted the Yankee (jib). I also up-ended the jib sheets. The wind has died down and we are becalmed. Good thing about that is it makes it easier for me to change the jib. Later today when  the sun is drying things out, I’ll attack the leaks. Although I haven’t slept since 4:00 this morning, I’ve gotten lots done, stopped and had some “Ener-C” vitamin C drink and a couple of handfuls of my g.o.r.p. and then my oatmeal of course at around 6:30.

The sun rise was fantastic and it is a prilivage to be out here seeing it in these surroundings.

 Course 215 T Speed 3.5 kts Wind E 5kts Waves E 1m Temp 22 C Cloud 50 % Baro 1023 Miles in last 24 hrs: 98 nm

Day 47 Making connections 18/10/13


Oct 18, 2013

Position: 27.00 S, 169.50 W @ 16:30 UTC

It’s Friday afternoon still sunny and the wind is holding very well from the east. We’re on port tack with a single reef in the main and full staysail pulling us along at a steady 5+ kts and closing the gap on NZ. The wind has been a little variable at times but still there and apparently will be for the next three days. The waves are quite large, some of them over three meters. It makes a very bold seascape especially with the sun-enhanced indigo colour contrasting with the white caps which lay out as far as the eye can see. The clouds float along at the same level across the sea, some so small if you look at them for long enough they evaporate before your eyes. I’ve only seen one bird in the last few days and that was off in the distance. The waves are still breaking on the deck and making their way below. I think some of the water is coming from the stay sail tack on deck so as soon as it’s dry for a while I will have a go at it with the caulking. Till then it’s mopped up with rags and sponges.

These afternoons are spent reading and writing. At the moment with the wind steady and the sail plan working, I have some time on my hands. I am surrounded by motion. All the little things that hang from the head liner move at a funny herky jerky motion, gradually wearing out their hold on whatever it is they are tied to.

The wind has just picked up a little and we are doing 6.2 kts and with it an added amount of water on the deck proportional to the speed. I had a small pub style lunch, a snack really,  of cheese  and crackers with a beer earlier and I will make something with eggs in awhile, probably scrambled with shallots and onions and a few slices of sausage. 

MaryLou and I want to send our thanks and appreciation to a couple of ham radio operators in New Zealand – Cliff in Balclutha on the south island and John Stephens in Tauranga on the north island. Between the two of them, they coordinated a conversation between our daughter Claire (who is currently a student  in Dunedin, NZ) and Glenn via ham radio at John’s home.  John also linked me in from Victoria, BC on Skype so I could listen in and “watch” the conversation. Gotta love technology. As John said, “This is what being a ham radio operator is all about – connecting people.”  Thank you Cliff and John for connecting all of us.


Claire on the ham radio

Claire in Tauranga talking on the ham radio to her Dad on West Wind II. Photo credit: Morag Stephens


ham operator John Stephens connects Claire to Glenn

This is a photo of my computer screen. I’m connected via Skype to John in Tauranga with Claire.


John Stephens

Here’s John Stephens in Tauranga, NZ


Course 215 T Speed 5 kts Wind E 15 Waves E 2 m Temp 21 C Cloud 50% Baro 1023 steady Miles in the last 24 hr. 130 nm

Day 46 Sailing through pumice 17/10/13

Oct 17 w Kermadec Isl

Yesterday I was becalmed and  just making head way at about 1 knot. We have been drifting through this patch of material which I will describe. At first I thought it was styrofoam because of its yellowish colour and the fact that it was mainly in small piece. Some are the size of a loonie, (Canadian one dollar coin), others as small as a penny along with larger bits and all floating fairly high in the water. This material has gooseneck barnacles hanging from some of the larger pieces, so I imagine it has been out here for some time. I managed to scoop up several pieces with a sauce pan and to my astonishment discovered it is pumice.  And there’s acres of this stuff. It’s not as thick as a carpet but scattered about randomly and definitely in a significant enough concentration to get my attention. I am going to take it down to my lab and run some tests on it and I will report back on my findings.

I’ve been drifting through it for 6 hours now and it’s still coming over the horizon. What is astonishing is the amount of wildlife on a single piece as big as a baseball – gooseneck barnacles, small crabs, and black centipedes. The gooseneck barnacles have beautiful white shells with a very thin bright yellow eye liner around the edge and the neck, in contrast, is black and looks like it belongs to a rugby player.

Gooseneck_barnacle wikimedia

photo courtesy: wikimedia commons

They are only about an 1  1/4″ inches long and 3/4 “wide and shaped like a small spoon. The centipedes are black with furry legs on each side of their bodies which are about 1” long. The small crabs are tortoise shell with miniature white pinchers and they are about the size of a dime. There seems to be a coral covering the pumice in a very delicate tiny pattern and grey in colour. I broke a piece of the pumice off easily with a pair of pliers. It’s very light and filled with air pockets which is what gives it its buoyancy. The one piece I picked up had three gooseneck barnacles, one crab and two black centipedes. I imagine if I was sailing through this acreage of pumice I may have heard it on the hull as I pass by. But at the moment I only wish I was sailing through this unusual phenomena. Nonetheless I’m glad to be going slow enough to be observe it closely.

The Kiwis have found me on the air.  The afternoon ham radio show is now an hour long. I spoke to ZL2MS Peter from Napier who was the first Kiwi ham I talked to when I sailed by last time. He also knows all about the source of the pumice. I’m going to speak to John ZL2DD in a few minutes. At the moment there are five kiwi hams I speak with every night. They are all very nice guys.

Then … another piece of the pumice story unfolds in this email from ham radio operator Peter in Napier who sent the following email. 

“Hi Glenn
I talked to you on 20m at 0400 UTC 17 October. You described floating pumice that was encountered during the day’s sailing. It is likely the pumice from an undersea volcanic eruption located near the Kermadec Islands. The eruption occurred in July 2012. The
estimated area of sea covered by the floating pumice was about 25,000 square kilometres. The area spotted initially by overhead aircraft measured about 460 km long by 55 km wide. Pumice drifts up to 3 metres deep were encountered by vessels. Hope to contact you on the radio again soon.”

A Google search of the Kermadec Islands produced a link to an Earthquake Report  site. It reported a magnitude 5 earthquake at the Kermadec Islands on October 15th. 



Day 45 Becalmed 16/10/13

Position: 25.16 S, 167. 44 W @16:30 UTC

 Oct 16 noon

We’ve been becalmed for 12 hours and there is no sign of wind till later this after noon … maybe.

I got lots done this morning.One very important job was to find the container of distilled water and top up the batteries. They did not take much which was a good sign. However, when I found the container it had chaffed a hole right through its side and more than half of the water was gone. I’ve now patched the hole and put it to bed with lots of padding till i need it again which will probably be in a couple months.I’ve also gathered up the pieces of the Series drogue (otherwise known as a sea brake) that my Mom sewed together for me. I’m putting it together in readiness for the Southern Ocean.

I had a great breakfast of pancakes this morning and I am having scrambled eggs and sausage for lunch with a Spinnakers beer. So all is well here although our progress is some what slow, well less than slow. Hope you had a good morning and it was very productive. 

Course 215 T Speed .8 kts Wind: 0 kts Waves E 1.5 m Cloud 10% Temp 26 C Baro 1018 Miles in last 24 hrs: 65 nm

Day 44 Hearing your voice 15/10/13

 Oct 15 islands

Position: 23. 30 S, 166.45 W @16:30 UTC

 A big change in the weather here this morning. The temperature at 6:00 am was 23 C.  Two days ago it would have been 29 C already.

I am wearing a full set of clothes again, and last night I had to use the sleeping bag which was a little too warm to leave early this morning but great to jump back into.

I am up with my first cup of tea, first time in weeks, meeting Ron on our early morning radio show. The heat of the tropics is behind us till we come back around again. I must prepare now for much cooler weather in the coming months – long johns and merino wool.

Keeping dry may be my biggest challenge. I must work hard to keep it out of the main saloon. The wood trim port lights seem to be the biggest problem. I will go at those again ( with caulking) when the weather settles down and I can work on deck again.

The storage area in the forward cabin which I have named ‘the chicken coop’ has worked out well. I seem to have the water under control there. I’ve isolated the eggs from the motion and yet made them easy to get at. I open the egg cartons every other day and inspect each box. I really want to keep ahead of the bad eggs before they start to smell.  How do you tell when an egg has gone bad?  They start to sweat and leak a rather green liquid. I wash the carton, discard any bad ones and put them all back safely. My attrition rate at the moment is about two eggs a week. I think with the big change in temperature that will get smaller.

My supply of sausage from Choux Choux has lasted really well. I opened my last package yesterday and will be putting it in my lunch time omelettes for the next week. And, I still have some cheese left as well.

I really enjoyed having a conversation with MaryLou on the ham radio last night. Her words of  encouragement are the light at the end of the tunnel and raise my spirits enormously.

Ron Kolody w Glenn

Primary ham radio operator Ron Kolody with Glenn in Victoria, B.C.


Behind the blog:

A shout out to our friend and primary ham radio operator Ron Kolody in Vancouver, BC Canada. Ron has been in daily contact with Glenn via ham radio since he left giving him weather conditions and recording and relaying his position and conditions back to me. Last night Ron was able to patch Glenn through to me on the ham radio. It was wonderful to hear his voice, strong as ever, and no doubt a morale boost for him. Thank you Ron!

Heading: 219  Boat Speed: 6.5 kts Wind: E 15 knots Swell: E 1.5 m Cloud: 50 % Temp: 23 C,( down 10 C in last 24 hrs Bar: 1019 
Miles in the last 18 hours: 120 nm

Day 43 Cooling off 14/10/13

Oct 14, 2013

Position: 21.7 S, 165. 20 W @16:30 UTC

Week 7

Slept on the cabin sole last night because of leaks over my bunk. The motion is better but still difficult to type on the computer as the motion is very lively. And still no fish. The plastic vane on the wind vane broke off in the middle of the night and I replaced it with a spare. 

I’ve just come back from being on deck where I rolled in the jib and rolled out the stay sail. The motion is tolerable. We are off the wind, close reaching through some fairly heavy waves, 2+ meters. There is water over the deck and occasionally the toe rail on the leeward side scoops up some water and it rushes back down the scuppers to where it came from. Our course is zig zag but we are within 5- 10 degrees of our course – 215 T, which will take us to our way point off East Point on the north island of NZ – now a distance of 1168 nm away. The sun is out and all in all, a relatively good start to the day.

Nice easy morning …still no fish. I’m probably going too fast! Bilge water seems manageable at the moment.  Hungrier that usual this morning – I had a second bowl of oats which went down very well, definitely filled me up. One big difference today is the temperature. It’s still only 26 C. Usually it’s 31C by now. So today I’l wear a full set of clothes for the first time in a month.

It’s nice and cozy down below and belies the raging that is going on on deck. Because of the wind I have lots of power and I’ve have been enjoying some music for a nice change –  little classical, a little jazz. 

Oct 14 w East Point NZ

Close up of East Point, east of Tauranga on New Zealand’s north island.

This wind gave us good miles for the last 24 hrs and NZ is coming up fast! 

 Heading: 215 true Boat Speed: 6.5 knots Wind: SE 25 knots Cloud: 60 % Bar: 1012 Temp: 24 C Miles in last 24 hours: 150 nm


Day 42 Rough and noisy 13/10/13

Oct 13, 2013

Position: 20.08 S 163.50 W @16:30 UTC

The wind is howling tonight.  I’ve just come back from being on deck to take in the third reef in the main and get ready for a very rough night.Wind is 25-30 knots with lots of water on deck and consequently … down below as well. I have my sponges ready and have been on the bilge pump before I left the cock pit.

I store all of my canned fish and meat protein in the bilge locker forward of the engine. I had to take all the cans out of the locker as they were getting damaged by the bilge water. Fortunately I didn’t lose any of the cans but they all had to be washed and dried and restored in a dry locker.I moved them to an empty cooler beside the stove and the rest of the cans of beans, corn, tomatoes, and fruit still have to be washed. That I temporarily stored in an empty laundry basket  and left it on the cabin sole in the forward cabin to dry out.  Then I wrote the numbers of the cans that still had paper labels on them so I could identify the ones that didn’t. A long and nasty job. So I have made a stew with the most damaged cans and will eat that for the next few days.


Floor boards removed reveal the locker compartments (in drier conditions) adjacent to the engine where the canned food is stored. Photo: May, 2013

The ride tonight is very rough and the noise of the wind in the rigging is louder than the music. Ear plugs tonight for sure.

I hope you are all enjoying family and friends on this Thanksgiving weekend. Thinking of you and missing you.

Course 225 T Speed 6 knots Wind E 15 Waves E 2m Cloud 60% Temp 29 C Bar 1015 Distance in last 24 hrs: 135 nm

Day 41 Go West … 12/10/13

Oct 12 2013 

Position: 19.19 S, 162.18 W

One thing I’ve have noticed in the last few days is the appearance of high level cloud above the white puffy tropical surface cloud, the nights are a little cooler but there is a definite downward trend. So naturally the more southing we make the cooler it will get and the weather will change. I have a way point off East Point on the north island of NZ and my course to that is 215 degrees true about 25 degrees west of south so I am making west as well as south.

I have about 30 degrees of westing  and 30 degrees of southing  to get to the southern tip of NZ. The wind is due to clock around to the south east in the next day or so which will make my westing a lot easier. This is the plan at the moment so we will stick with it and make changes where we have to.

It’s now 2:00 pm, the time in the day when it’s far too hot to do anything outside unless you absolutely have to. I just finished up my latest battle to keep the water from leaking through the cabin and deck. Caulking was my ammunition and today it was aimed at the wood surrounds on the starboard pair of port lights. 

I also dealt with the mast collar a rubber gasket around the mast at the deck level, and one or two other small suspects. So all that’s left on the list is fishing and a shave. It’s too hot to fish or shave so I’ve reverted to writing.That will soon give way to a nap and reading. The radio show starts at around 5:00 and goes til 6:30 – 7:00 and then it’s time for dinner and some music in the cockpit after sunset. This could all change of course if the wind fills. 

It’s now 3:00 pm. The  main is down. I’m sailing with just a poled out jib.  I have been reading for a while and thought I’d look for a beer in the bilge. I found 8 empties!  Someone has been pilfering the beer and putting the empties back in the bilge. There was also 3 cans of coke that could not take the rocking and rolling. 


Course 200 T 

Speed 2.8kts.

Wind E 5kts

Waves E 1m 

         SW 1m

Cloud cover 30%

Baro 1015 steady

Temp 30C

miles in last 24 hrs 85nm

 We are virtually becalmed lots of wave action will be taking down the sails soon.

Day 40 near Aitutaki, Cook Islands 11/10/13

 Oct 11, 2013 near Aitutaki

Position: 17.50 S, 161.06 W 

I’ve been on the radio with Cliff in NZ and another single hander on a Vega 27 who is sailing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas Islands. I got out my old chart from 1997 today knowing that some time later this afternoon I will be crossing my 1997 Sannu II* tract from Aitutaki to Niue. I will be very close to Aitutaki for the next few days.

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

It’s been a busy week on board. I managed to tune the rig today and it feels much better. I also looked for the source of the leak, not much luck but I eliminated a few suspects. Nice to transfer the collected water as well. There  is almost no wind as I write this. We are rolling along at
1.8 -2 knots. I think it will be like this for the next few days, and maybe all weekend. I’ll have to figure out something to do with my time. Clean house maybe? 

Aitutaki 1

A page from my illustrated journal during our time on Aitutaki August, 1997.


Behind the blog
* In 1997, our family sailed across the South Pacific in our 26′ Haida Sannu II that Glenn refers to above. We arrived in Aitutaki in mid August after a particularly rough 6-day crossing (El Nino) to find the local islanders knew all about all our family and had been keeping a lookout for our arrival. The Aitutakians welcomed us into their homes and included us in their traditional island events. We plan to return one day.

Course 220T Speed 3.5 kts Wind E 5-10 Waves E 1.5m Cloud 30% Temp 3o C 

Day 39 Sky view 10/10/13

Oct 10, 2013 close

Position: 17.05 S, 160.33 W @22:00 UTC

The stars that fill the night sky are such a wonder to gaze at during the night. Last night as the light faded in the west, a sliver of a moon presented itself as a bowl with a very bright Venus just a little south. Their presence filled the western sky with moonlight that beamed back to us over the surface of the water. This was my dinner view out in the cockpit about 8:00 pm. West Wind II has made good use all night of the steady five knot increase in the eastern breeze and we striding along at a steady 7.5 knots. The seas are fairly low so the ride is tolerable and not too much water over the deck. I have the hatch open and feel the warm tropical breeze all night. A most comfortable night. 

Tauranga, New Zealand 

Transferred ten gallons of water purified with 6-7 drops of bleach in each gallon. I had a syringe left over from some epoxying I had done so that worked well to dispense the bleach. There was a 1 gallon plastic milk jug on board and I made a funnel out of one of the protein drink containers, and even though we were rocking and rolling I managed to spill very little of the precious liquid. I’m still looking for another leak that causes me to pump the bilge every day for a minute or so with the electric bilge pump. Of course while filling the water tanks it did cross my mind that one of them may be leaking. I isolated the tanks and will monitor the levels over the next week or so. Whenever there is a chance to catch water, I get right on it.  The wind has increased a little but the sea is up a lot so had to take a reef in the main and jib to stop the slatting. Speed is down a bit but there is a long way to go and there is no use pushing it this early in the game.

Today I set a new way point 180 miles east of East Point on the North Island of NZ, just east of Tauranga. It’s 1700 miles away so I should be there in about two weeks. I’m hoping to pick up sat phone coverage as I get close. 

Course 180 T Speed 5.5 knots Wind NE 10 Waves NE 2m Cloud 40% Temp 30 C Baro 1011 Miles last 24 hrs: 170 nm


Day 38 Forces of nature 9/10/13

Oct 9 2013 closeup

Position: 14.27 S, 159.42 W @

Nice quiet morning on deck adjusting course and checking for chafe. Found a small, 4-inch squid in his cloak with large marble eyes and tenticled mustache on the cabin sole. (on the inside!) Must have come through the hatch.

Last night while I was checking things on deck, I saw a school of dolphin in the moonlight. They were charging through the waves alongside the boat and then played for a while in West Wind II’s wake.

dolphin in waves

photo courtesy:


There is always a force of nature showing itself around the boat or in the sky. I feel so lucky to be able to see it and I often wonder what I’m
not seeing. 

Course:200 Speed 7 knots Wind E 15kts Waves E 1.5 m Cloud 30 % Baro 1012 Temp 31 C Distance in last 24hr; 160 nm

Day 37 Sailing off the chart 08/10/13

Oct 8 closeup

Position: 12.11  S, 157. 39 W @16:30 UTC

Up early and often this morning. I had my good morning ‘radio show’ with host Ron VE7 BGK Victor Echo 7 Bravo Golf Kilo. It was a bit early this morning but good to start my day with a chat and a familiar voice. We’re moving along about 4.5 knots and hope to get more out of the very light and warm winds coming over the rolling sea from the East. I am heading a little more West to increase my angle to a ‘reach’ (sailing across the wind from about 60° to 160° off the wind), so my speed will be up and the sails will not slat as much. I am on British Admiralty Chart no 4051 and have been since Sept 20. I’m way down in the south west corner with only 1 degree of Lat and 5 degrees of longitude before I sail right off this chart.

The running of the chart is one of those psychological games we play out here. It marks a milestone, however arbitrary it may seem, but it’s all part of the game of motivating oneself and gives me a feeling of accomplishment of reaching a goal. I also have a chart of the world and plot my course on it every week just to keep things in perspective, the big picture if you like. And so it goes, hour by hour, degree by degree, time zone by time zone, and chart by chart. There is a pace and depending on the wind it changes from dead stop to flying along, and, from completely frustrating, to absolutely out of this world. The ebbs and flows of life at sea.

Heading: 220 t Boat Speed: 4.5 knots Wind: E 10 knots Swell: E 1.5 m Cloud : 20 % Baro: 1011 Temp: 27 C Miles last 24 hours: 90

Behind the blog:

The map at the bottom of the home page shows where visitors to the blog are located. As of yesterday, visitors from 27 countries have visited us here at Going Solo. Welcome everyone. We’re glad you came by.


Day 36 Water, water everywhere 07/10/13

 Oct 7 2013

Position:  11. 30 S, 157. 09 W 

Week 6

Laid comfortably in my bunk this morning listening to the sound of the water rushing by, put me back to a sweet sleep several times. Woke with a good frame of mind as filtered light filled the cabin. Outside scene is grey squall and clouds. The wind was rising, I found my glasses and grabbed the rail above my bunk and swung out landing my feet on the cabin sole. Through the main hatch I could see a rain squall coming up our stern. I made a few entries in the log – it was 05:30 local time. The approaching squall had taken WWII off course. I could feel the boat gaining speed ahead of the squall and decided it was time for a course change, a morning shower and a chance to fill the bucket so I could do some washing. It was so refreshing as the rain built from a light spray to an outright deluge. I brought a soft wooden plug for the deck drain and a rectangular plastic container that I used as a scoop. In no time the bucket was full and I’d had my shower. Later, I got another squall going through – must be the 4th today. Water, water everywhere. I am working on a few answers to questions – a bird report and one about maintenance. Temp has gone down to 27 C with all the rain.

Question from Bob C.: How are you finding this voyage compared to your last attempt? Does the advancement of technology make your time easier alone and, in your duties i.e. internet, gps etc.

Glenn:  I’m using the same technology as last time. Paper charts, GPS, Aero Gen 4 wind generator, Solar panels. I don’t have a water maker, or refrigeration. The solar panels are 80 watts each instead of 60 watts previously. There are more Winlink stations, so I can communicate by ham net easier. I am six years older which is nothing as it turns out, the little kid is still with me and he and I can still wonder at the world and have fun. My incredible wife Marylou is still there for me and 100% supportive, and my two daughters Nicola and Claire I think understand this more this time around. I have been down this path before and all the way to within 700 miles of Cape Horn after that it will all be new. My big dream is to sail down Juan de Fuca Strait in one piece as soon as I can having left Cape Horn behind me, and well rounded.

Question from Mike F-C: I am interested in your program for going over ALL possible types of fasteners before the heavier weather conditions come alone to make such ‘repairs’ difficult. Do you categorize the types of fasteners or the type of rigging that is involved? Do you have a schedule for preventative maintenance for various areas of the boat. Like one schedule for rigging, one for structural areas, one for water access, one for all structures over five feet above deck level etc.

Glenn: Your question about ongoing maintenance is well put. I do not have an organized plan for maintenance. As far as I’m concerned I’m still in the ‘shake down’ phase and working out the wrinkles. This first leg to the bottom of NZ is a good test for me and the gear and from what I’ve seen so far are routine problems and maintenance particularly on a boat that was built in 1969. Once I turn the corner around the bottom of NZ and start the 13,500 mile leg to Cape Horn, we should have worked things out. This is not my first rodeo and we’ve done the best we can. I’ve just finished reading Robin Knox Johnston’s book Last But Not Least and I think I’ve done reasonably well considering what they set out with. I’ll go up the mast and up-end the halyards and tighten the rig before I hit the southern ocean. Thanks for your question Mike.

Heading:215 True Boat speed: 3 – 5 Knots Wind: NE 10 knots Swell: E 1.5m Cloud: 80% Baro: 1010 Steady Miles in last 24 hrs: 90 nm  

Behind the blog:

For a comparison, take a look at Glenn’s position on Day 36 of his first circumnavigation on October 28, 2007 00.20 S 144.56 W  He had just crossed the equator with Starbuck Island off to starboard (red marker).

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 7.04.27 PM


Day 35 Salt, squid and the sound of a familiar voice 06/10/13

 Oct 6 Penrhyn Atoll 2

Position:  10. 19 S, 156. 15 W

A busy morning on deck this morning. I did some minor sail repairs to the main headboard connection to the sail before I raised the main.

Very light winds all night and lots of uncomfortable rolling. It’s an inescapable motion that rocks every inch of the boat, all of its contents and every molecule of my being.  

We’re on a good course at the moment, travelling at 5+ knots and the motion has settled down considerably. Big rain squall last night washed everything clean. The build up of salt after a few days makes the boat uncomfortable to walk around on as the salt crystals are like sand. I found a  small squid on deck this morning. 

My big news is I talked with Cliff and Isobel on the ham radio after the Pacific Seafarer’s Net. It felt like meeting a lifelong friend I hadn’t seen in twenty years! We caught up on what has been going on with family and friends over the past six years, chatted about the other ham operators, and life in general. It was wonderful to speak to them.

(Cliff is in Balclutha on New Zealand’s south Island. Glenn spoke with Cliff on the ham radio for a number weeks as he sailed down the east coast during his first circumnavigation attempt in 2007.  We’ve kept in touch ever since.)

storm petrel

Storm petrel photo: Wikimedia Commons

M Layland asks: What news on the ornithology front? You should be seeing Tropic birds, terns and Magnificent frigate birds while you’re near the islands.

Glenn:  You are absolutely right about the proliferation of birds now that I am close to the islands and they are magnificent! Storm Petrels, Boobies, Tropic Birds, White Terns but no Albatross, because there is not enough wind. I think my favourite is the small dark storm petrel. They are around the boat day and night. They are distinctive in that they are the only birds that have a voice – a soft squawk. Lately, when I’ve been on deck shortening sail either just before, or during a rain squall I can hear them around the boat. I can’t see them at all as during these rain squalls at night.It’s difficult to see the bow of the boat and if it wasn’t for the light from the masthead, I could not see a thing. How they navigate is a total mystery. These black out conditions leave me completely disoriented. Most of the birds are attracted to my fishing lure, which is dragging behind the boat. Disappointingly, the fish are not. 

 Course 205 T Speed 6 knots Wind NE 10 Waves E 2m Cloud 50 % Temp  31 C Baro 1009 Miles in last 24 hrs: 100 nm



Day 34 Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands 05/10/13

Oct 5 Penrhyn Atoll close up

Click on image to enlarge

Position:  08. 51 S, 155 22 W @ 22:00 UTC

A strong squall early in the morning put us on our ear so I was on deck from 05:15 am trimming sails. 

All in all, a good steady day’s run. Weather remains hot and I frequently seek refuge below decks.

We’re alongside Penrhyn Island headed southwest through the Northern Cook Islands. First group of Cooks are about 600 miles off. We’ll be there in four or five days depending on the wind. Stewart Island south of the South Island of NZ is 3,683 nm at a bearing of 231 T.ETA 28 – 30 days. 

Course: 190 T Speed: 6 knots Wind: NE 10 Waves: NE 1.5 Cloud: 40% Temp: 31 C Bar: 1008 Miles in last 24hrs: 160 nm

Behind the blog:

A noteworthy virtual milestone here on the blog. We now have 500 subscribers. Thank you all for your interest and support. We should see some increased interest from New Zealand as Glenn gets closer. I’ll be in touch with the local media in NZ to notify them of his imminent approach.