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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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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Weather Watch

It is 08:40 Friday morning August 21st. I’m on my second cup of coffee, it’s foggy and very Fall looking outside,  the street is wet, the list is still long and getting longer.I hope to leave next weekend.The rain is tapping louder on the skylight above me at the dining room table. I’ve been to the Earth Nullschool website and checked out cyclone Genevieve’s track and strength as it heads out across the Pacific. It’s the strongest storm of 2020 so far.

Cyclone Genevieve sitting off the coast of Baja

If I had left August eighth as I had planned to in June, I would be feeling her effects and taking evasive action to avoid contact with her 130 mile an hour winds. My daughter Nicola was right, “Don’t worry about your deadline Dad, there is probably a reason you shouldn’t leave on that day.” Genevieve is probably that reason. Good call Nic!

The risk of Covid is all around and I have given much thought to my leaving date and listened to many requests to come down and see me off. Although I would dearly love to see people gather round on the dock as I set sail on this voyage, I would rather not risk anyone being exposed to the virus. The choice is yours, but please remain vigilant of Bonnie Henry’s advice.


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Port lights

Friday, August 21, 2020

1/2 inch plate glass sandwiched between polished stainless steel outer trims

One of the jobs I managed to complete in the past weeks is re and re all of WW II’s ten port lights. This is something I needed to do since landing in Fremantle in 2014. As with all projects like this, 80% of the project is in getting all the materials up together and prepping the surfaces. That took the better part of a year and the actual installation took only eight days.

Twin back-to-back ‘C’s of the words Chris Craft

Of the ten lights, four are the same size. They are the largest and their unique shape represents the twin back-to-back C’s of the two words Chris- Craft who manufactured the Comanche as part of the then “Indian series” sailboats that Chris-Craft made along with their famous power boats. West Wind II was the last of the 22 Comanches built in the sixties. These four lights have 1/2 inch plate glass sandwiched between polished stainless steel outer trims and varnished mahogany inner trims held in place with quarter inch bolts and flush nuts. I put these together after several hours of preparation and a great deal of thought. Each one required one and a half tubes of caulking inside and out that all had to be put together at one time, glass, inside trim and outside trim and all 16 nuts and bolts had to line up as well as be tightened all in one process by myself. Holding the glass in place then the inside trim braced to the other side of the cabin, then the outside trim, then line up the nuts through the caulking and hold the nuts on the inside as well, without getting covered in fast setting caulking! 

I’ve realized over the years that taping each surface inside and out is the best way to stop the spread of the caulking to everywhere but where you want it. It is not foolproof by any means, and I always keep a 2 litre container of Methyl Hydrate handy. I also wear two pairs of murder gloves so when one pair become covered in caulking I peel them off to have a fresh pair as emergency back up. 

WW II had six beautifully chromed opening port lights that were in different stages of decay. I managed to rescue three out of parts from the original six and had them re-chromed and reinstalled, two in the forward cabin and one in the head. The other three I had new 1/2 inch glass cut and similar inside and outside trims made  to match the four larger ones. While I had these ten lights out I sanded the cabin sides and prepared them for paint. This led to a much bigger job that took longer than I thought and required a whole other set of skills but same elbow grease ingredient. I experienced the phenomenon commonly  known as “project creep”.

Before I knew it I was preparing and refinishing WW II’s entire deck including the the non skid! I really didn’t need this pressure but choose to push on and get it done.       

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The Ys of plumbing

Friday, August 14, 2020 @ RVYC

The Y valve is used to direct black water from the head either over the side directly (5 miles offshore), into a 25 gallon holding tank or can be pumped out at a land station. I revamped this holding tank from the one I had originally installed ten years ago. The Y valve was reused from the old system and I had cleaned it out before installing it. When the moment of truth came, it leaked very badly. much to my chagrin, as it was a struggle to install in such a confined space. Trotac supplied me with a new seal kit.

This morning, after carefully removing, cleaning 😷 and greasing, I was able to reinstall it and after test pumping it for an appropriate time met with success. Another item off the list. It’s also important to note there is a bolt that keeps the Y valve in either of the two positions, this is part of the regulations for holding tanks.

I had consider a composting toilet but the cost was about $1500. Not in the budget for this voyage.

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Kiwi Yoga

Saturday, August 8th 2020

It looks like the weather will be cooperative to re and re the Kiwi Grip in the cockpit today. I managed to get the washed out and partially hardened Kiwi grip scraped off yesterday before the rain started again, quite a mess. Before I try this again, I have to re-tape the borders which I’m getting pretty good at. I found one of the messier parts to this operation is removing the border tape just after I’ve rolled out the Kiwi grip. You have to put the tape on, keeping in mind it is coming off in sections no bigger than the section you can comfortably apply and roll out before it starts to set. Because of the somewhat awkward narrow deck configuration, you need to be a bit of a contortionist to pull the tapes off.

I definitely found myself several times thinking …if my foot slips this could turn out very badly. I actually thought of putting on a life jacket at one point. The consistency of Kiwi Grip is kind of like mayonnaise only it doesn’t clean up quite as nicely as mayonnaise, rather like doodoo to a blanket.

Try to picture removing the tape almost dripping in the product, the sun blazing over head drying it faster than one would like, one foot stretched out between the life lines on the edge of the toe rail, big toe straddling one side of the rail trying not to step in the fresh paint with the opposite arm stretched out at its limit on the coach house opposite with the free hand picking at the edge of the tape which now has decided to not let go! Your other foot is gripping just behind the live edge of the paint behind you and you’re not sure it will hold. Oh yes … and the wind is blowing the dog off the chain. You just can’t quite free the tip of the masking tape to get it started no matter what language you use to persuade it, your hand is now covered in the paint! The only thing to do is to try to get the small exacto knife to pick the edge of the tape free so you can peel it back, but where did you put it? You are frantically looking for it while trying to remain calm and keep your yoga pose with your big toe about to be separated from the rest of your toes. The knife, of course, is just out of reach.

The clock is ticking, the paint is drying in the Sirocco wind, blasting across the deck giving the boat a slight jerking motion on its taught mooring lines which test your resolve to remain composed and out of the wet paint just below you on the deck. You push off out of your pose hoping your toe doesn’t slip and you fall into the freshly painted deck. Phew, you make it back to the partially standing pose, the pain in your back very notable. You grab the the knife with the now paint covered hand and resume the position that is now called the Kiwi pose. You get the edge of the tape started and pull on it at the right angle so the line separating the fresh paint and the deck makes a clean edge, but half way down the section, the tape tears lose and is caught by the wind like the tail of the kite! It’s covered in paint and you are almost paralyzed in the kiwi pose. First the paint covered kite tail slaps the side of the freshly painted coach house leaving a deposit of fast drying mayonnaise smeared there,  then it flips across your chest depositing more mayonnaise on you chest hairs. You are trying to concentrate on the kiwi pose so you don’t either fall in the paint or pull your now over extended groin muscle. Fortunately, there are no spectators. You frantically push off the coach house holding the tape like a venomous snake, all the while trying to maintain your balance, and reach over and try to deposit it in a plastic bag already overflowing with similar snakes. The snake has its teeth firmly attached to your paint covered black murder gloves and will not let go, still secreting paint on whatever it touches. You manage to shake it lose. Now, with time running out, you resume the kiwi pose and frantically but with the composure of a heart surgeon, try to start the edge of the torn tape still stuck like crazy glue to the deck with the knife edge, and once again the wind turns the tape into a flailing venomous snake. This scene repeats itself for the next two hours. By the time I have finished, it’s dark and I am in an altered state of mind, physically distraught, covered in paint lashings. I’m sure water-boarding would have been a more pleasant experience. 

During the night I wake to the sound of hard rain.adrenal Kiwi paint is a water base paint, rather like latex. From my bed now fully awake, adrenaline pumping through my veins, I realize there can be only one outcome. If I’m lucky, and the kiwi grip kicked before the rain hit it will be fine, or the alternative which is what happened and is why I am starting from scratch this morning and getting ready for another yoga class, the rain will splash over the still wet surface and then dry all over the sides of the cockpit making an absolute mess of the whole cockpit.
It’s Sunday evening. It rained on Saturday. I managed to scrape and sand the cockpit Saturday morning before the rain and remove all the old paint except the splatters on the vertical sides of the newly painted cockpit the week before! I can go to sleep tonight with the knowledge that the Kiwi Grip job is finished but that the clean may take several years of sanding and repainting each vertical of the cockpit. I keep telling myself that because I’m single handed, no one else will even see it. (bull s—) it will bug me till I fix it. I may never leave !

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Southern Ocean stew

August 6, 2020 Victoria, BC

Today is a big day for a couple of reasons. First, I picked up a very important ingredient for my voyage, stewing beef. Part of my menu is the great stews I make every five days or so. These remain in the pressure cooker on the gimballed stove to be served with quinoa or rice.  Rebecca and Lee kindly stepped up to can 40 jars of stewing beef for the voyage. When in the southern ocean, these stews are something I look forward to.

Thank you Becky and Lee. Thanks also to Slater’s Meats for supplying the eighteen kilos of stewing beef.

It’s a very blustery day and after some heavy showers during the night the drying power of the wind is welcome. Unfortunately, I painted my deck wth Kiwi Grip late in the afternoon yesterday and a large area had not kicked off before the rain started and I’m afraid it is ruined and it will have to be sanded and re-taped and painted again. One of those one step forward two steps backward situations.  It’s all part of the process and can be repaired. Another first world problem!

I mentioned there are a couple of good things about today. It’s also my 70th birthday! I’m going to relax a bit as the last few months have been full on with work and getting ready for the voyage. I’ve been reflecting on how very lucky I am,  first to have such an understanding and supportive wife and two great daughters who have put up with the ups and downs of my voyages. Also to be surrounded by an amazing group of supportive friends from all over the world, some I have never met.Thank you all for the encouragement and kind regards.

Third voyage – Closing the loop

August 5, 2020 Royal Victoria Yacht Club N 48 27.2′ W123 17.7′

Later this month I’ll be heading off in West Wind II on another voyage back to 48.10 S, 51.57 W where I left Kim Chow in April 2008. This will complete my circumnavigation.

This spot in the south Atlantic is about 300 kn miles North East of the Falkland or Maldives Islands depending where you are from. It is where I was picked up by Captain Hernan Montero and his very brave crew aboard the Buque Oceanográfico ARA Puerto Deseado and taken safely to Argentina. My rescue was coordinated by now Rear Admiral Pablo Fal whom I have never met. It is my hope that I will be able to meet up with these amazing people in southern Argentina if the current Covid situation allows.

I still foster a desire to finish what I started in 2007, a single handed non stop west about circumnavigation. Both my previous attempts were met with failure, albeit the kind of failure that accompanies daring greatly. Something that has only been accomplished by a few. I do not have it in me to once again start off from Victoria and attempt to do the whole voyage again. Instead, my route will take me south from Victoria through French Polynesia then further south and east around Cape Horn back to where I left off in the south Atlantic tying the knot of a circumnavigation and then turn around and continue west about around Cape Horn and back up the Pacific to Victoria, completing a single handed west about circumnavigation. This voyage will be a distance of approximately 18,000 nautical miles or about 33,000 kilometres taking about seven to eight months. I will have satisfied a personal goal not for any notoriety or place in the history books, except the one I have been trying to write ever since I arrived home safe, but not unscathed from Argentina twelve years ago.  

Today Marylou and I did my first big shop for supplies to last for ten months. It will take me several more tries before I get all of what I need. I finished my last house renovation a week ago and have been full time getting West Wind ready for the long voyage ahead.  Although she is still pretty well ready to go I have taken on some long overdue cosmetic maintenance projects that are time consuming. Replacing all ten port lights with new stainless steel frames and wooden interior trims. The coach house and cockpit were in bad need of a paint job which crept into a re KIWI Grip of the whole deck. There is a new holding tank, cushions and many small upgrades such as relocating the mainsheet traveller aft into the cockpit area, relocating the solar panels so I have better access to walk on the coach house while reefing the main, and removing a small lazarette that enclosed the rear of the cockpit to decrease the volume of water when pooped. The bottom has been thoroughly cleaned and repainted, and hull cut polished and waxed. The staysail furler and running back stays have been taken out of storage and re hung. All the sails have been to the sail makers and checked and a new main and jib cut. The Fleming self steering gear has been serviced, the rudder removed and serviced. The list goes on.

I will once again keep sending email through my Ham radio to Marylou who will post them on this blog. I had originally set to leave August 8 th but due to other commitments this has become unrealistic, so I think I will wait till I am ready in a few weeks which will be announced here on the blog. I will be sailing away from the visitors dock at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and people are welcome to come by and say goodbye keeping in mind social distancing and any other protocols put in place for Covid.  

Cheers Glenn      

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‘Sea Fever’ print available for sale

Sea Fever hand-lettered print available at

Victoria, B.C. Canada – 2018

A number of years ago, MaryLou created this beautiful piece of artwork, a hand lettered piece featuring the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.

Through her communications work, she’d met the accomplished Canadian marine artist Harry Heine who saw her work in progress and graciously offered to add a watercolour illustration to his favourite poem. The figure, sitting on the dinghy looking out to sea, is a loose representation of Glenn. Marylou and Harry discussed who was going to work on the blank sheet of paper and who was going to add their work over it.

“I was terrified to mess up an original Heine painting,” says MaryLou so she wanted to go first.  Harry it seemed, didn’t want to mess up her calligraphy and in the end, Harry won.  He painted the watercolour illustration first and MaryLou did her calligraphy afterwards, with much trepidation. The name Heine appears at the bottom left above the words Sea Fever just below the rocks and grass.

The original hangs in our home and has done since 1992. Signed prints on archival watercolour paper that measure 18″ x 24″ are available for sale.

If you’re interested in purchasing one for yourself or a friend or family member, contact MaryLou at or you can visit her website at

Thank you.

Latest Swiftsure Update

May 28, 2017  Royal Victoria Yacht Club

At 15:00 I called our second crew meeting and asked our navigators Paul and Nicola to evaluate the wind and current situation based on the models on hand.

We had the tide against us at 3 – 6 knots for the next 5 hours and no wind in the forecast. This would have effectively carried us back to the start line. We were in 350 feet of water, with 300 ft of chain, left us 50′ short of anchoring.

That, with the prospects of rounding the mark and finishing the race within the time limit was slim to none. So, we decided unanimously as a crew to withdraw from the race and head back to yacht club and to the bar. We consoled ourselves heartily with MaryLou’s homemade chili; drowned our sorrows in Spinnakers Pale Ale and arrived at the wharf with stories of another adventure.


May 27 @0:11:07

West Wind II had a brilliant start of Swiftsure this morning at around 0:9:30. It’s still early in the game, but at the moment, she’s looking very good amongst the competition in her Division 3 (the ones with track lines marked).

Stay tuned for updates here or go to the Swiftsure tracker website.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Here’s my able crew for the 2017 Swiftsure Lightship Classic. Left to right: Paul Roberts, Brendan McShane, Skipper Glenn, Nicola Wakefield, Dorian Halliday, and Stephen Shepherd. Photo credit: MaryLou Wakefield

We sailed the boat around to the Inner Harbour last evening and we’re now tied up at Dock #2 at Ship Point (not on the causeway in front of the Empress Hotel).

If you’re in the area, please drop by to say hello.



Swiftsure Lightship Classic

May 18,2017















Check out this article and short interview with Oak Bay News about how sweet it is to sail back down the Straits of Juan de Fuca after so many years.

No rest for the wicked. Now that I’m back, I’ve registered West Wind II in the 47th Swiftsure Lightship Classic race that takes place May 27 – 28. This is the largest international yacht race on the west coast and for me, a fantastic opportunity to teach others to sail. This is my 10th Swiftsure and the 3rd boat I’ve entered in the race.

This year, my crew is our daughter Nicola, (participating in her 3rd Swiftsure), and first time participants  Stephen Shepherd, Dorian Halliday and Brendan McShane.

We’ve been working hard to get the crew and West Wind II ready for her Swiftsure debut and the excitement is building.

You can watch and follow all the action of the 2-day race by going to the Swiftsure website. For friends in other parts of the world, you can watch the pre-race excitement in Victoria’s Inner Harbour via webcam and … you can track our race progress via the Swiftsure Race Tracker once we’re underway.

And …if you’re in the neighbourhood (Inner Harbour of Victoria) at the end of next week (Thurs/Fri) drop by and see us!


Arrived in Victoria

May 7, 2017 @03:30

Glenn arrived safe and sound at 3:30 this morning. He had an epic transit of the Straits of Juan de Fuca in about 12 hours and at times sailing over 9 knots.

He’s glad to be home with loved ones in this beautiful place.


The Home Stretch

May 6 @ 20:45

I’m having an amazing run down the Straits. Visibility is great and not too much traffic. An incredible sail to finish off a great passage. The sun is low in the sky and the moon is up. Both shores are extremely beautiful in this early evening light. I’m very tired but having the sail of my life.

I feel sooooo lucky. I’ll be phoning you as soon as I get coverage which should be in a few hours. Can’t wait to see you.

Land Ho!

Saturday, May 6, 2017 @ o9:40

I am about 35 miles off the coast and I’m not alone.

Just past the “Dora Mae” an old west coast troller. I spoke, I should say shouted, “Good Morning” to the two fellows baiting a long line out the stern to the flock of waiting sooty Albatross, must be a least one hundred of them, some diving for the bait on the long line hooks others on the water shooting the breeze and still more gliding around them and me. Great looking old wooden west coast boat. I asked them which way Canada was and they laughed both pointing in a different direction.

My old Perkins with its makeshift cast on is saving the day. Not a breath of wind here and big seas. I am not running him too hard but we are making about four knots in the right direction. Visibility is at least ten miles so no problems with being seen. Just going now to fry up some onions, potatoes and eggs for breakfast. I have had lots of sleep even with Perkins snoring in my ears. I feel much more relaxed now that it’s daylight and we have Perkins bringing us home.

All is well, cold but well. Those fishermen must be tough sons of fisherman!

May 6 @ Noon

Land Ho! 10:30 this morning! Off in the distance is Vancouver island and Cape Flattery.

Doing very well after an amazing breakfast, and lots of mail. I have been thinking about all the hundreds of people from all over the world who have supported MaryLou and I and our sailing adventures this past decade. From the morning I stood on the helicopter deck of the Argentinean Navy Vessel Porto Deseado and spoke with MaryLou for the first time after being rescued, we have always realized that our journey was not about the sailing as much as it was about the people we met along the way.

To all those who were there from the very beginning, I would like to send my deepest heartfelt gratitude for all your deep support and especially to the Ham radio operators who faithfully met me every day and listened and shared their lives with me and those on the blog as well. It is very important for me to thank them for supporting my dearest MaryLou through some difficult times as well as some hilarious times.

And of course it goes without saying that without her love and support I would never have made it. Many times I have sat at this nav station and shared more than a few tears of joy at being so very lucky to have been able to do what I have done.

Thanks to you all.

May 6, 2017 Position: @ 16:45 48.42 N, 124.69 W

MacGyver is at it again

May 5, 2017

I believe I have jury rigged a support for the engine. I’ve managed to lift the one corner that has the broken engine bracket sufficiently to allow me to run the engine in gear for short periods of time. That will definitely come in handy as I transit the shipping lane don the Straits. Not a permanent fix but probably enough to get me out of trouble if need be.

We have no shortage of photos of this scenario. Glenn, tools, knee pads, engine covers off.

Big squall going through right now with lots of rain. Even though I’ve shortened sail, we are hard pressed and flying along. It won’t last long but pretty exciting as it passes over us.

If my daily run in the next 24 hrs is the same as today, I will be at the mouth of the Straits at around 04:00 pm local time (tomorrow) with lots of daylight hours so I can see the traffic coming and going.

Signs that land is not far off

May 5, 2017 08:20 am
Position: Lat 46 31 Long 128 11  Temp 53 F

Glenn sails out the Straits of Juan de Fuca on his second solo circumnavigation attempt, September 2013.

The sun is up, albeit behind some very billowy clouds. The seas are still mountainous and the wind blowing hard. Good for making volts, not so good for standing up. My bunk is by far the most comfortable and warmest place be. If all goes well, we should be at the mouth of the Straits by the afternoon tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll have clear weather.

The tides, of course,  will start to play a big roll in my transit of the Straits.

I’ve been trying to imagine what it would be like trying to make landfall in a square rigger in these conditions. Boy those guys must have been tough. Up in the rigging on a night like last night is hard to imagine. How about Captain Cook and his crew, they didn’t even know where land was!

Photo: Intrepid solo kayaker, Hayley Shephard

In my very brief forays on deck and poking my head out the hatch I have seen sooty albatross and petrels in numbers that would make you think that land is close.

Looking out the galley port lights is difficult because of the condensation, but even so, the blue sky is visible and it looks warm.

All is well.

Slogging it out in big seas

May 5, 2017 0:6:30
Position: 46.33 N, 128.59 W

Still slogging it out in some big seas with a good course and lots of wind. I got a few hours sleep and once I go on deck and adjust our course, I am back to my bunk. At night, in the dark, my mind dreams up all kinds of scenarios, some of which come from an Alfred Hitchcock movie and make sleep almost impossible.

With the bright light of dawn those thoughts are gone and things are a lot more realistic and not quite so scary. I will feel better with a cup of tea and some hot cereal.

Only 186 to go to the mouth of the Straits. Should be there noon tomorrow and enter in daylight.

All is well and feeling good.

Hanging On

May 4, 2017 0:100
Position: 46.14 N, 129.09 W

With the horrific motion and noise onboard, sleep is illusive. I’ve been on deck twice to alter course and the seascape under the moonlight is awe inspiring. The waves marching at us are mountainous. Occasionally, one climbs aboard and completely covers us in white water which spills over the cabin and into the scuppers as well as any possible way into the cabin. Whenever we’re lifted up on a big wave, one of the water cans on deck smacks with a loud hollow thud that resonates throughout the boat making sure I don’t sleep.

I’ve just made  another cup of tea. My fingers are very cold and the warmth of the tea mug is very welcome. I must just hang on for two more days and we’ll be in the Straits.

We’ve been lucky so far with the weather – this is only 20-25 knots.  I’ll be glad when the break of day comes. Till then, I’ll drink my tea and hang on.


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 !