Goodbye Gisborne

WEst Wind II leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Day 1 Monday, November 28, 2016 @ 17:30 leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Lat 38.45 S Long 178.31 E Wind:SW 10 knots, Waves: SW 2 metres, Course: 85 True, Speed: 4.5 knots, Cloud: 60%, Temperature: 13° C

Its 5:30 in the afternoon and the sun is streaming down on me as I sit at the nav station typing. I have the “iron main” on and my ear plugs in. There isn’t enough wind to sail and I want to get as far offshore as I can before it gets dark to avoid or at least see the traffic going up and down the east coast. I just spoke with Cliff. It was a short sked unfortunately as I had to put the engine on to stop the main from trying to destroy itself.

I left Gisborne’s inner harbour at noon with lots of wind and I’m sure if Peter had not helped me getting out it would have been next to impossible to leave. I chose to leave at the same time as the freighter that was in loading up with logs destined for China, so ended up doing several tight circles to kill time and stay out of the way of the two big tugs escorting her out. Once out into Poverty Bay, I had a good breeze but after leaving Young Nick’s Head off the stern the wind started to fall light. There are three swell patterns and so motoring with the main up was the most comfortable way to go and here we are with the old Perkins (engine) vibrating away.


I had a tough time leaving Gisborne. In only a week, I had become quite attached to the charming city and most of all the lovely people who helped me do a number of difficult repairs. The first night I wandered up to the fishing club and was very quickly signed in by one of the club members. I sat outside and enjoyed a cold beer and emailed Marylou and caught up on the phone with her. I ordered dinner and when it arrived John McKendry invited me to join his family at their table for dinner. His wife Suzy and their three great children Holly, Georgia and Matt were very welcoming and I felt very much at home with them. The next morning John was down at the boat and offered to take me to get the dodger stitched and then off to the electronics shop, to see Laurie at Colvin’s about repairs to the Ham radio.

This is John’s town so he took me to meet the right people to get my repairs done as soon as possible. For an out-of-towner on a tight schedule finding the right people is so very important. I was invited back to John’s for dinner several times with offers to use the laundry and have a shower. He introduced me to his friends and they in turn invited me for dinner all the while having my repairs professionally dealt with in amazing time. Greg Pawson rolled up his sleeves and put his great gift for fixing things to work on the broken engine mount and in an afternoon we had the motor lifted, the bracket removed, repaired and reinstalled ready to go and then I had to cajole him into letting me pay for his incredible effort. New Zealanders are the most accommodating, generous people I have ever met and Gisborne has more than its share of warm friendly people.


112816I’m about 20 miles offshore now and New Zealand is dipping below the horizon along with the evening sun and I am here aboard West Wind II alone and feel sad to have left such good friends. I have just been on deck to roll out the jib and turn the Perkins off in the hope of sailing. There’s a school of dolphin playing around our bow. The wind is very light but hopefully with nightfall there will be enough to take us offshore and on our way again. All is well.



The best of New Zealand

sailing to Waiheke

sailing to Waiheke

We’re now home from New Zealand with great memories and new friends. My original goal of bringing West Wind II back to Canada was not realized, but the foundation for that voyage was well and firmly laid at the end of this year. In lieu of that goal we spent several months in NZ interrupted by one quick trip home and back for business reasons.

I caught up with old friends I had first met in NZ in 1969 when I was travelling with my long time friend Mike Lemche. Our Australian mate Andy McLellan whom we had also met in 1969 joined us in NZ. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to get together with both of them once more for old times sake. Once they left, I got down to the serious preparations for leaving NZ .

Our daughter Claire, who lives and works in Auckland, decided she would like to join me on the sail home, so I gladly waited until she got her affairs in order and was able to join me on West Wind II for the leg to Tahiti with one stop in the Austral Islands. She and I got provisions, gave our 72 hour notice to the Customs office and set out one morning around 11:00 am. We found a good breeze after leaving the Bay of Islands and were making good time in some fairly heavy seas when I noticed we were taking on more than a healthy amount of water in the bilge around the forward keel bolts. This was more than a little disconcerting and I decided to turn back to NZ to try and solve the situation.

When we arrived back in Opua, I was able to take West Wind II out of the water and sit her up on the hard. During the next week to ten days,  I consulted with local experts and pursued many theories. I realized the problem was not the catastrophic failure of the keel bolts but a combination of several not so obvious symptoms. West Wind has almost 20,000 nautical miles under her keel since leaving Victoria in Sept 2013, all of which are open ocean miles. She has sat at the wharf in both Fremantle and Opua for almost two years waiting patiently to return home, and at the moment she is in need of some TLC. She has many stubborn deck leaks that allow water to build up in several areas of the bilge and behind bulkheads which release a steady flow of water when she heels over and tacks. This, I misconstrued as leaky keel bolts. That is not to say that the forward three bolts, as a result of failed caulking in the leading edge of the keel where it meets the fibreglass hull, were not susceptible to allowing some water up through their threads. I was able to remedy this in the yard and it is no longer the source of water in the bilge. The hawse pipe, which the anchor chain passes through at deck level as it turns out along with the chain locker was also holding a fair bit of this water and was the source of bilge water which I originally thought was coming from the keel bolts. Once I plugged the hawse pipe at deck level and caulked some of the deck fittings the so called keel bolt leaks subsided. That was the good news.  

The bad news was it meant Claire and I would be leaving NZ past the middle of December instead of mid November as I had originally planned which had us arriving in Tahiti at the beginning of their cyclone season in an El Nino year. Not a good idea. We made the decision not to go which left both of us feeling very disappointed.

The good news was that MaryLou and Nicola could join us in NZ and fulfill our family dream to do some cruising in New Zealand.  We set off to explore as many of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf as we could. Here’s a peek at some of them.

leaving Auckland

leaving Auckland harbour

This turned out to be an adventure beyond what any of us could have imagined. We found great anchorages,

 galley view

Our view from the galley 

had lots of fabulous hikes on the islands,

hiking vistas

hiking vistas

swam every day,

Waiheke waterfront

Waiheke waterfront – plantation style

and enjoyed a fine amount of NZ’s best wines and fresh food. Best of all, we met so many great Kiwis who were proud to show us their favourite spots.

I should also mention that we did have a few problems – the starter motor went on the engine which I replaced, and we ran hard aground in the mud, all of which we recovered from but will not soon forget. New Zealand is one of those places that’s difficult to visit because it’s so damned great even when it rains for two days and blows the dog off the chain.  You soon forget all that once the sun comes back out and dive over the side into that lovely green blue water or walk up a gorgeous trail and come upon a flock of sheep dotting the rich green fields.  “It’s all good” as the ever optimistic Kiwis say, and it is.

lush pastures

lush pastures

The plan is for me to return to NZ in November to try again to do what I thought I was going to do – bring West Wind II back across the Pacific and home to Victoria.

We all sat in the cockpit one afternoon and realized that WW II is our magic carpet and that she still has many adventures left in her …as do we.

rain dance

rain dance

We hope you’ll join us again in November for the adventure of the voyage home.

Thanks for being there.


At anchor in Kaiarara Bay, Great Barrier Island

Dec 28 7:15 am.   Kettle’s on and we’re anchored off Port Fitzroy in Kaiarara Bay on Great Barrier Island. Beautiful anchorage with natural wild hills and trees down to the water’s edge.


The sounds of the birds breaking the silence across the mirror smooth bay as the sun comes up over mount Hobson through light morning cloud.


 The smell of the forest is sweet in the air. There are several sail and motor boats scattered in the bay all pointing in different directions with their anchor chains hanging directly down from their bows. Very peaceful and still.

Yesterday morning we left our lovely anchorage and went up into Whangarei harbour past the oil refinery and the commercial docks to the Florida canals style community call Marsden, where we topped up with fuel then headed back out and across Parry Channel through the Hen and Chicken Islands with 40 miles to Great Barrier Island. All the islands we pass have steep volcanic terrain and scrubby natural green coverage and are uninhabited.

There were many rocky outcroppings which all seemed to have the face of an angry or sleeping man carved in them.  The crossing was a straight line over a moderate sea with a very light headwind and clear sky with fluffy white sheep clouds. We motor sailed from noon till we made land fall around 6:30 pm. Along the way, Jurassic Park peaks of Little Barrier Island kept our eyes occupied on the starboard side most of the way. This island resembles the ones of French Polynesia with steep mountain ridges and valleys and foliage that looked like it had been draped over it in one big blanket.

This was one of Claire’s must see spots in New Zealand. Along with seeing a place for the very first time from a sailboat, it was very exciting for her and for me. Everyone we talked to said that the islands many sheltered anchorages would be packed with boaters at this time of year but so far that has not been the case. 

Last night we were treated to another magical entrance by the moon, its bright white face rose above Mount Hobson the highest peak on the island, through the trees that fringe the mountain top before breaking out above their canopy and filling the bay with bright moonlight. Half an hour before that, the sun filled the horizon on the other side of the bay with many shades of red silhouetting the jagged landscape and sending its fiery light reflecting across the water of the bay to West Wind II.

This is a magical place and we feel lucky to be here. Our plan for today after breakfast is to row ashore, climb Mount Hobson and explore this amazing island.   

Love and fond regards from Claire and Glenn

Glenn receives Endurance Award from the Ocean Cruising Club (and in person February 28th)


I was very honoured to recently receive the Ocean Cruising Club’s  ‘Endurance Award’. I proudly share this award with my wife MaryLouise who has selflessly supported me through my triumphs and agonies over these many years and nautical miles, and who created this Going Solo blog with my daily reports for the benefit of thousands of sailors and supporters. 

UPDATE:  Glenn will receive his award in person from the local chapter of the OCC in Victoria on February 28th. We’ll post photos shortly thereafter. 

Read the full OCC Media Release.

OCC AWARD for Endurance

Arrived safely in the Bay of Islands

photo 4

Jan 2, 2015

Glenn arrived safe and sound in Opua in the Bay of Islands this morning around 10 am. While he cleared Customs on the quarantine wharf, I sat on the wharf opposite anxiously waiting. After an hour or so, the lovely NZ Customs officials ferried me across to West Wind for our long awaited and sweet reunion.

We’re visiting dear friends, Mike and Deb Carere in Kerikeri tonight. We’ll sail around the Bay of Islands for 4 or 5 days, then head to Auckland to visit our daughter, then head home.

What a journey it’s been. Thank you for sharing it with us. 

All the best,

Glenn and MaryLou


Land HO!

Dec 31 @ 0:2:20

Dec 31 - 2

I’ve just finished my afternoon radio sked with Ted VK6NTE near Biningup WA. and Wayne VK4 XG in Brisbane. They were both good copy to me but Ted only had light copy on me so I spoke mainly with Wayne who always has 9/5 copy and booms in here across the Tasman.

It is still overcast and light grey, not too low and nothing angry in the sky at the moment. The wind is a steady 15 kts from the north and we have full yankee andtriple reefed main and doing a respectable 6 knots. The wind is supposed to build to 20 kts from the NNE this afternoon and then swing around from the Southeast around 10:00 tonight. I am at present Lat 34 49 S and Long 172 27 E which puts me 20 odd miles off 90 mile beach. This is the same beach I hiked up at the same time of year by myself in 1969, 45 years ago. I remember it vividly as if it were yesterday. The die was cast by then and nurtured over a lifetime to bring me back to this same beach across many oceans.

3 capes

This morning was a morning to plan my rounding of Cape Reinga and two other Capes, Cape Maria van Dieman just to the west of Cape Reinga and North Cape just to the East of Cape Reinga. I have set a series of four way points to guide me around this narrow and prominent land which marks the Northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand. My first way point marks a dangerous sand bank that elbows out some 15 miles from land called Pandora Bank. I am hoping to clear that around 08:00 tonight then if the wind has filled from the Southeast by then I can run before it around the next three capes and come out to the east coast of the Island some time in the morning. It is about 120 miles down to the bay of islands from there.

I won’t get much sleep tonight but it is an exciting time and I have a great deal of anticipation about these next few days. I should be able to make the land inan hour or so, as a matter of fact you may hear me announce this great moment when I see it. “Land Ho!”

I will let you know my position as I bag each Cape. Not long now ….

UPDATE @ 15:30

~~~~~~~.)~~~~~~~”Land Ho” __________!!!!!

This is a feeling so very unique, after crossing The Tasman for the third time, making land fills my whole body with joy and excitement. I am tingling all over. There were dolphins at the bow and we surged ahead as I sprung on deck bare foot and let out a reef to free another 100 square feet of sail for West Wind to turn into knots. She eagerly pushed the waves aside and joined the dolphins and myself in the celebration.

There is a wonderful earthy smell filling the air and the line on the horizon gives way to a smudge that gradually comes into focus. The land is low and gently undulating with a soft green hue. Off to the port side it rises to the Cape not yet discernible at this distance. I will continue into the bay for an hour then come round onto starboard tack and work my way past Pandora Bank and off to the Cape.

Wonderful to be on deck now with some new horizon to focus on.


Closing in on NZ

Dec 31


Happy New Year All

Lat 34 52. 41S Long 172 08.51E Course 80 T Speed 6kts Wind N Waves NE 1 m Temp 18 C Cloud 100% Baro 1013 Miles in last 24 hrs: 130 nm Miles to Cape Reinga: 33.3

All is well

Harnessing the beast

Dec 30
Dec 30

It’s truly amazing how the slightest change in wave pattern has such an impact on WW II’s  course as well as her health and well being, not to mention the crew’s health and well being. Last night I was caught with a rising wind around midnight. The trauma from WW II’s 6+ knots of speed crashing through the big seas that were slowly and stealthily being lifted by the approaching northeast gale, was way too much for both me and the boat. I had a double reefed yankee and triple reefed main presented to this building force and in my head the first option was to get rid of the main then slowly roll the yankee in till I felt comfortable. Although the atmosphere below was hard to take during the build up to this point, it was nothing like those forces I faced when I slowly worked my up through the hatch and out into the storm.

It is after midnight and the air is filled with spray and wild howls, very dark but for a halo of light from the mast head running lights. I snap on my safety tether and make my way to the mast on my hands and knees, waves constantly breaking over the high port side deck. Standing up at the mast I snap on to my pad eye on the port side.I slip free the two sail ties on the deck level grab rail and put them in my teeth ready to tame the flapping mainsail as I release the main halyard and bring it down hand over hand, one hand always holding on to the mast, I take the main halyard and doubled it around a cleat below the main headboard and snugged up the halyard and flipped the handle on the clutch that secures the halyard and also the head of the main so it will not be snatched by the gale force wind that screamed at me like some great beast’s intimidating roar. I flip to the other side of the mast and work my way out on the boom making sure my footing is secure. The first tie comes easy from my mouth and I lasso the hysterical main in quick order and synch it up nicely. The next tie had to go further out on the boom and to the very limit of my safety tether.  I have to bear hug the rest of the main and slip the tie from my mouth and secure it before the wind grabs the free end and pulls it out of my reach.  All the time I am coaching myself out loud very controlled and forcefully saying, ” You can do this Glenn, you can do this.”

Back in the cockpit I take a moment to savour the storm that fills my space. Now the yankee has to be rolled in. This is done fairly easily in the cockpit, but the furling line does not lead well and I can see it’s going to chafe on the furling drum. This means a trip up into the bow to put a come along around the line and pull it away from the drum and secure it to the deck. This is a hands and knees job slowly but surely up the windward side of the deck and into the pulpit. The bow is pitching 10 to 12  feet every 15 seconds and scoops swimming pools full of water and pitches them at me, and finds its mark every time.

I have my head down trying to thread a line around the the furling line and through a loop welded to the bow fitting. It’s awkward and takes several tries. I can feel the water running back down my rain pants and into my boots as I struggle to brace myself against the pulpit. After a considerable struggle I’m satisfied that the line will not chafe through during the night. The last thing I need is for the yankee to completely unfurl into the clutches of the gale where in very short order it would be shredded by the lethal talons of the gale.  My mouth is as dry as parchment and I have worked up a good head of steam in my rain gear.

Down below, I give myself two ‘atta boys’ (sp?) and a cup of hot chocolate. After pumping the bilge I hit my bunk and try very hard to drown out the noise and find some peace.

Editor’s Note: Too much information! 

 Lat 35 13. 698 S Long 169 18.153 E Course 94 T Speed 6 knots Wind NE 15 Waves NE 2m Cloud 100% temp 18 C Baro 1016 Miles in last 24 hrs: 130 nm Miles to Cape Reinga: 158 nm

All is well. Thank you very much for being there for me. It is much appreciated.


Pelagic life off New Zealand

Dec 29
Progress here is painfully slow and it’s beginning to wear on me so I’m trying to keep occupied. The wind has just stopped completely and we are becalmed. Once upon a time I could take this, no problem, but not so much now.

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 11.31.50 AM

Fairy Prion. Source: Wikipedia

I have been doing some research about these quick little birds that are the only birds around the boat for the last few days. I have finally identified them as Fairy Prions. Identifying pelagic birds is a bit more difficult than terrestrial birds because they never land or stay still. I have three sea bird ID books on board and the Prion is in two of these books. Identifying then by site of course is first, but it is amazing how close the different types of birds are. There were three different types of Prions but only the Fairly Prion was shown on the identifying maps as being any where close to the northern end of New Zealand. They are  smaller than our sea gull at home and a little bigger than a Bonaparte’s gull, similar in colour, but with more light grey than white. Their flight is some what erratic but they have no trouble with the big waves darting back and forth. They also are the only birds I have run into that make a sound. Its a cheep cheep and sounds like a young chick rather than a mature bird. They always seem to be together with at least one other and often three or four.  Their wing tips and tail have black bars on them. At the moment they are it for the birds around the boat and are very welcome. I imagine when and if I ever get closer to shore there will be many other types of birds.

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 11.38.10 AM

Striped dolphin. Source: Wikipedia

The dolphins around the boat last evening were Striped Dolphin according to my Princeton Field Guide to Whales and Dolphins. I thought there were two different types because of the size difference but the guide suggests they are a combination of adults and juveniles, which makes sense.  Their distinctive markings are a pale grey stripe leading from their bill back down their body which is almost black. This stripe looks like it was air brushed in place.

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 11.40.55 AM

Krill source: Wikipedia

The other thing I saw in one of my deck watches last night was thousands of illuminating red eyes switched on by WW II’s wake. This I imagine could have been krill. I also passed a shark the other day just lazily swimming along this tell tale fin cutting the water in a lazy pattern.

The fickle wind is back now and we are coming your way slowly but surely. Life can be very interesting and beautiful out here but one thing is for sure you must take it as it is – sometimes beautiful, sometimes becalmed but always all around you. I sure could do with a chip of choclate. Maybe I can settle for a graham cracker and Nutella.

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 11.44.11 AM

Graham Cracker Source: Wikipedia …just for fun

Ever so slightly closer

Dec 28


Thanks to Michael VK3LAN, ham radio operator 100 km north of Sydney, Australia who just sent me a message after chatting with Glenn on the radio. He reports his latest position, ever so slightly closer (at least on the map shown above).  

To all the ham radio operators who are chatting with Glenn, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you do for him while he’s at sea. You all do a fantastic job of ‘being there’ for him and for those of us waiting on shore. You have my heartfelt thanks and appreciation. All the best, MaryLou.

Position: LAT 35 deg 0 min S, Long 164 deg 36 min E.

Whirling dervish

Dec 27

Dec 27

We have a warm day, slightly overcast, with high clouds.  I started a cleaning bee here this morning and what a whirling dervish it turned into. Personally… I went to the self serve WW II spa and laundry, and got the full deal – hair, teeth, shave, manicure, pedicure, trim and moisturizer. Not only that, but a complete change of clothes, I mean clean clothes!!!! Oh my gawd I feel like a new man!

I didn’t stop there. Oh no, then I hit the stove, polished it, then the kettle, the pressure cooker, sink, faucets. Still not content, I moved forward and cleaned the head (toilet for you land lubbers), then washed the cabin sole (floor) all the way back to the galley (kitchen). There I proceeded to do the laundry!!! It was so intense I missed a radio sked with the guys at 01:00 Zulu (universal standard time) UTC.

I’m going to have to take a break just thinking about it. This of course was just a dry run for my landing in The Bay Of Islands in about four or five days. The rain gear is turned inside out and hanging to air as well. The wind is very light at the moment and we have full main and jib up ghosting along at three knots with the Raymarine electric Autohelm doing the steering. I have hard boiled a few eggs for quick snacks which puts me half way through my four dozen eggs.  

Position: 35 09.87 S, long 163 44.80 Course 60 T Speed 5.5 knots Wind N 10-15 Waves N 2m Temp 19 C Cloud 90%Baro 1018 Steady Miles in last 24 hrs 162 nm Distance to Cape Reinga 425nm


Making good time

Dec 25

The sun is shining through the clouds and we have a good course to the Cape. I have made myself some tea and had an orange. I also went to wipe something off the cabin sole and that started a cleaning frenzy that lasted about 30 minutes, so things are nice and fresh and drying out.

I have been looking at my course and the wind Ron has forecast for the next few days and it all looks good for us. Just to put things in perspective my latitude is the same as Hokianga Harbour which is 90 miles “north” of Auckland. This is very good and a long way from where we were Wed at noon!

There is a certain amount of optimism in the cabin this morning knowing I’m sailing directly towards you lifts my heart and puts me in a lot better space than I was last night.  

Dec 26, 2014

Dec 26, 2014

Dec 26

Started to settle in for the day here I have propped up a couple of cushions and made a comfortable nest to read in. New book this morning “Never Fly Over An Eagles Nest” by Joe Garner. About a southern family who escapes the south and ends up in Victoria. True story and from the first few pages more than enough to keep my mind occupied for the next few days which will be a good distraction.  

Still making good time in relative comfort.

Editor’s happy note: This blog post is coming to you from Waiheke Island, not a bad place to hang out waiting for your sailor to arrive.

Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 5.18.36 PM

Taking longer than expected …

Dec 24

Dec 24

Dec 24

Fairly calm afternoon so I managed to get the main stitched up. I have come around to starboard tack and am heading north for the night to see if I can use the Northeast wind to get  some northing.

It’s almost 9:30 and the day has flown by. The wind died early this afternoon so I tackled the main sail and fortunately was able to do it from the cabin top sitting down while the boat sailed along, albeit very slowly along. Lots and lots of stitches and my finger tips are now sore from pushing and dragging the big needle through the heavy sail cloth, but it’s up and holding and pulling well. I tacked around and am heading north trying to take advantage of the shift in the wind to the east.

Lots of thoughts about being out here away from you tonight.  Merry Xmas. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

I now have a cup of tea in the cup holder beside me and I have just done 3/4 of and hour of  yoga – yes I know …hard to believe but true. It felt very good to focus on my breathing and feel my body stretch through all the exercises I made up along the way.

I’m working through some head games here. First of all being here and not with you three, but the other issue I have come to grips with is that I am going to be out here a week longer than I had planned just because the wind is not what I thought it would be, nor is it coming from the direction I thought. I made such great time getting here.

As in life, the solution to problems may not always be a straight line but one that takes a longer route but nonetheless gets you there. In order for me to get 600 miles closer to you I will have to sail 1200 miles. The most important thing to focus on is that I will get there, it will just take a little longer.  The thing I found difficult was to accept that it is going to take longer and I may as well get on with it because I won’t get there any other way.  I think the yoga will help me get through each day.


Solstice in the Tasman Sea

Dec 23  Position: 37. 52 S, 157.37 E

Dec 23

The wind has been blowing hard here all afternoon and is supposed to increase before it lets up. The wind has pulled the sea up with it and the ride is very physical. I am exhausted and my nerves are a little frayed. There seems to be no let up. In one way it is fantastic as our progress across is meteoric. We have just about 700 miles to go now. That is still a long way and when the wind starts to come on the nose, my progress will slow right down but till then I am trying to make the most of this opportunity.

The through hull fitting for the depth sounder has started to make a fair bit of water so I am pumping the bilge every couple of hours. Can’t do anything with it while we are pounding along like this so I will pick my time when things settle down a bit. 

Surprisingly I made a new stew this afternoon with one hand. I am going to put on some quinoa  now and have dinner.

I still have great boat speed and my course is about 90 T.  I’ll hold this course right through until tomorrow and when, or if, I get headed, I’ll tack north.

At noon tomorrow Dec 24, I should be at lat 37 55 S, long 160 30 E. That is if the North wind holds. That leaves me at about 600 miles from the Cape. I will
decide then which is best, but for now I will stay on this course. All is well! Happy Solstice!

Course 100 T Speed 7 knots Cloud 100% Temp. 18 C Baro 1021 Falling Miles in last 24 hrs: 133 nm Miles to Cape Reinga: 744

Sailing on the edge of a high

Dec 21 - 2

Dec 21

Dec 21
Position:  38.07.966 S, 154 35.656 E

I’m having my fresh squeezed lemon in warm water to start my day. West Wind II has a very lively motion this morning as we are hard on a Northwest wind tearing along into a small <1 meter wave pattern making a steady 5.5 knots with full yankee and double reefed main. I have not had a chance to repair the torn reef point in the main yet. It’s a two foot long tear and at a structural point so will take some time to repair. I am trying to figure out if I can do it in situ because removing the main is such a big job and would require a very calm day. So till then we have a very functional main but  somewhat reduced in size, which if I am looking for any consolation makes the ride a little nicer but the speed a little less. 

The sun is shining through thin cloud and it is warm. We are sailing on the edge of a high that is moving southeast. I have no cricket on the radio so I’m not sure I can make it through the day. Very steady progress and all is well.

Course 76 T Speed 7.5 nm Wind NW  15-20 Waves Nw 1 M Cloud 10% Temp 19 C Bar 1020 Steady Miles in last 24 hrs: 126nm Miles to Cape Reinga: 888nm

Sailing on the westerlies


It is Saturday night 9:00 I have just cooked up some Quinoa and heated the stew. tastes great but is a bit too hot to eat. The west wind has kept the sea up all day and us scooting along at breakneck speed.

It’s the second night that we have the company of the west wind for dinner and I can only take it standing up one hand on the grab rail over the stove the other with a spoon in my hand waiting to time my scoop of stew from a pot on the gimballed stove. And all the while trying to keep my footing. I am grateful for the miles under the keel and it is the reason I am able to put up with the motion. We just gybed so up into the cock pit disengaged the vane bring back on course and back down to keep an eye on dinner.

The steady west wind has brought us to within 1083 miles of the Cape (Reinga) so there is no complaint here.

Dec 20 -2

I am always hungry so dinner is the big meal of the day. Westerlies will be replaced by northerlies some time after midnight so will be on deck to gybe into those, but before that it will go light till the north wind takes hold of us. These transition periods are always filled with opportunities to exercise patience, which after coming out of a deep sleep is often hard to find.  It may take several hours for the transition to take hold and if the sky is clear it is of course a gift to look skyward past the wind indicator on the mast head into the milky way.

As the wind makes its transition it is difficult to keep way on (forward  movement)  and the vane is uncooperative in light airs as is the seaway.

A fair bit of cajoling takes place and some innovative strategies are tested to try to keep us going in the right direction. Should the sky be black with cloud there is a distinct possibility we can do a few donuts, which is completely humiliating even if no one is there to see it but me.

The very hardest thing at this time as to have some sense of perspective and a good sense of humour. The ability to laugh at myself has been my only saving grace. At times like this it is easy to completely lose it and believe me it is not a pretty site. No matter how futile the situation might seem, in the end, it is always up to me to get on with it as there is no one else to blame or help. 

Well I have scraped the last bit of stew out of the pot and it’s time to wash the pot and get ready for a good night’s sailing.

Lat 39 07.000 S long 149 19.000 E Course 87 t Speed 6 kts Wind W10-15 Waves w 2mCloud 40% Temp 17 C Baro 1017 steady Last 25 hr 155 nm

Distance to Cape Reinga: 1142 nm

Dec 20

Through Bass Strait on to the Tasman Sea

Dec 19
The sun is setting now on a very full day that started at 03:00 am with faint light showing on the horizon ahead of WW II just under the sails, and has ended with a spectacular blazing sunset as we leave Bass Strait in our wake.


Bass Strait

The water in between was full of dark shadows that turned into beautiful rugged rock outcroppings scattered along the path out of the east entrance of Bass Strait. There was The Glennie Group, The Anser Group, Rondondo Island, East and West Moncoeur Islands, Forty Foot Rocks, Crocodile Rock, Cutter Rock, and the Hogan Group of Islands. The main Hogan Island looked like Ayers Rock or Uluru only with a grassy wig stuck on top. I was mesmerized as they came into focus – huge cliffs, scoured by millions of waves. Each island had a collar of scrubbed bare rock a hundred feet up from the incessant barrage of the Southern Ocean breakers.  

We had been running hard all night and were 30 miles from Wilson’s Promontory on the mainland of Oz. I had been up til after midnight not so much worried about being in the shipping lane but just couldn’t sleep.

As the morning revealed itself, it became obvious there would be no problem seeing or being seem by the commercial traffic. I was excited at the proposition of maybe getting out of Bass Strait and into the Tasman by the end of the day. We made a steady 6-7 knots all day running before the 15-20 knot westerly. The bird life was more than prolific, the sky was black with birds, swooping about the surface of the water like clouds of swarming bees.

By late afternoon I was feeling the sleep deprivation and the constant attention necessary to keep WW II before the wind with a big following sea. I had taken the first reef in the main as the wind filled in late in the afternoon and just as we passed the last island a big wave knocked us about and gybed the main. The force pulled the reef line out of its dog in the boom and with that all the force on the reef ties, it tore the reef point out of the main leaving a 16 inch hole in the main. I struggled to bring her back on course and then as quick as I could through the second reef to stop any more damage. Not a great way to end the day but I can still sail well with two reefs in the main, and if I get a chance I will mend it along the way.

I have sailed 2,053 nautical miles up until noon today and we have 1252 miles to Cape Reinga, so all is good.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 12.51.29 PM

Cape Reinga, New Zealand

I’m looking forward to the adventure of crossing the Tasman for the third time. First time west to east!

Editor’s note: Today’s blog post is coming to you from Auckland, New Zealand!

Slow and steady progress

Dec 18


Dec 18

I am going a little slower than I would like but I am still going which is the main thing. 

Position: Lat 38 51.888 S, Long 140 26.782

Course 110T Speed 7 knots Wind  NW 15 knots Entrance to Bass Strait 140 nm


Hand steering through a gale


This image from my December calendar page tells the story.

Dec 17

One of the most amazing days sailing ever! The gale force winds of the last few hours have blown new life into those big Southern Ocean swells I’ve been experiencing for the last week. 

Their beautiful, slow but determined energy that pushes them over the horizon was re-awakened by the force of a westerly gale.

It was like a call to war and they dutifully obeyed, turning their gentle rolling into full-on rogues with streaming white head gear that streaked the surface and filled the air with spray.  Their 8+ metre faces became so steep they toppled and crested like surf on the beach. Tripping over each other as they doubled and tripled up. The valleys became deep and the crests closer together. West Wind, with only a triple reefed main, struggled to stay on course working the Fleming self steering to the point of failure. 

I hand steered for three hours guiding her down the face of these rogues trying to keep a straight course and stop her from rounding up. The battalions of waves sweeping either side, at one point carried WW II on their backs at an astounding speed of 14.5 knots!!!!  The bow wave parted some ten, twelve feet either side as all of her 22,000 lbs. tore forward down the face and lifted as it hit the bottom of the valley below. “Fourteen point five knots!”. I should think you might have heard me screaming it out loud at home!

There are moments you will remember forever. That will be one of them. The sun was bright and the scene from the tops of the waves… incredible. The noise was deafening. The sea scape was a seething, living breathing confusion of waves and spray. Many different colours from deep indigo to glacier green of the foam tops.

Their was no escape. I was in it for the long haul. Waves crested alongside and spilled into the cockpit. Others broke in full crests right over the boat. Many times I ducked quickly as the roar came up from behind and broke over me, I shook myself off like a dog on a beach still fighting the tiller to keep her stern presented squarely to the rogues that pushed up from behind. Time flew by. I got cold as the water inevitably found its way to my skin. 

I re-fashioned the steering leads from the Fleming self-steering so it could be re-attached. This took many tries but I knew it had to work and I needed a break. Fleming agreed to take over and now that the wind was easing, it would not be so critical to dodge the rogues.

The wind has droped to 25 knots, and later this afternoon it will drop to 15 – 20 and back down to a souwester from a westerly. Although it is blowing hard, our speed has dropped to 4-5 knots so I can keep some control on the helm. This sea will not go down too fast and the wind is due to be back at gale force tomorrow night as I approach the entrance to Bass Strait. I definitely have my work cut out for me over the next few days. I’m glad the stew is ready to heat up tonight. The motion on board has been very conducive to lying down and reading a good book. Bill Bryson is keeping me laughing.  

All is well and West Wind is taking good care of me. Love, Glenn.  

P.S. I have my safety harness on as I go out the hatch …just to let you know. (Editor’s note: He promised.)

Position:  38.35.00 S, 139.10.070 E

Dec 17

Running before 30 knots of wind

Dec 16 @ 08:49 local time, 22:49 UTC

Position: 38.03.058 S, 137 02. 753 E Course 82 T, Speed 7.5 knots. 

Dec 16

Amazing morning here running before 30 knots of wind in 3-4 metre seas. The sun is shining through the clouds and the horizon is covered in white horses.

The sound down below of West Wind running through the water is a little hard to decipher from the howl of the wind on deck, but the overall feeling is one that causes some anxiety and tension. I have just finished making a pancake and cup of tea, all done in slow motion with a great deal of care.

I poked my head out the hatch in between full deck inspections and did see the stern lights of a carrier heading west. One thing I’ve noticed is the difference in the speed of these vessels. Usually 7 knots, some are flying along at 15 knots. From what I can see I think my footprint is definitely on their radar. 

There’s a low groan coming from WW II’s rigging as she strains against the big wind and sea.

Here’s a close up look at Bass Strait that Glenn will navigate through in a few days.


Attribution: Chuq at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



Eyeball to eyeball

Dec 16
Monday night 8:49 pm South Australia time.

The rice is just about ready to go with a new stew I pulled together during a lovely warm day. We’re running before a 10 knot wind and a 4 metre swell from the SW. The afternoon was a nature encounter bonanza. I had two very curious Minke Whales along side the boat and  I mean hop on their backs close to the boat! I could see them eye ball to eye ball with their black and white bodies about half as long as WW II as they went down the port side of the boat after surfacing around the bow. Of course I am scrambling for a camera and they are saying see yah later.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 8.54.18 AM

photo courtesy Google images

Next encounter I was ready with the camera, this time it was a young wandering albatross and he was curious as well eye ball to eye ball back and forth over the waves and around the boat several times me calling out ” Hi Al” and him almost into the rigging. I had the video camera on or so I thought, ducking and weaving from side to side, keeping in mind the we are off the wind with a following sea, 4 meter swell, and I am trying to film this guy and carry on a conversation at the same time. I think the conversation went well, very one sided mind you, but the video did not happen. I have so much respect for the people who can pull that off. Maybe next time I will concentrate a little more and talk a little less.

Next was a Black Browed Albatross  – ones with the eye liner make up air brushed on. Of course how could I forget them I caught one in my fishing line on my last voyage and held its drowned body in my arms before I gave it up to the deep. Still feel bad about that.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 9.35.25 AM

photo courtesy Google images

There is a very pretty little bird called a storm petrel that dances on the waves flitting to its own music on very long thin black legs. There have been several of these around us today. What is even more extraordinary about these birds is that while I am on deck in the middle of the night, my head light occasionally catches them dancing in the dark. How on earth do they do that without a light?

It is dark now and I have Ron’s latest weather update which calls for wind increasing to 34 knots early tomorrow morning from the west which will work well with that 4 meter swell coming up from the southwest. This should be quite a night! Running before 30+ knots of wind could be a real handful. I think I’ll get ready early with a triple reefed main and a very small jib poled out, may be even the staysail. We shall see how it goes.

I will let you know in the morning. Hope you have quiet night. 

Spectacular galaxy show

Dec 15

The spectacular galaxy show is long gone and a soft grey curtain has been brought down on an equally grey stage that I find myself sailing along this lovely cool morning. It was a night of many feelings – wonder and frustration.

Frustration, as the wind danced around the boat like a cat sleeping on the couch. The sea on the other hand danced feverishly all night to a beat similar to hip hop, which had me running all over the deck trying madly to eek out  2-3 knots in as straight a line as possible.

I think I could, without any coaching, have won a spot on one of those TV talent shows with my spinnaker pole performance on the foredeck to the hip hop beat of the southern ocean, percussion provided by the rigging and sails slapping an erratic cacophony while trying to knock me off me feet.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 9.34.01 PM

Image from ‘Dreamworks’ logo

Can you picture it? The foredeck heaving from side to side, and me with only a two point stance and a sixteen foot pole in my hands at waist level. I felt like one of the great Wallendas on a wire going across Niagara falls. I had a topping lift in the grip of my teeth and a down haul in one hand while grasping the pole and some how trying to stop the sheet from swinging out into the darkness with the motion of the deck going up and down and back and forth. I did not have a smile on my face! I may have, at times, steadied WW II for about half an hour at a time on a course that if drawn on a chart would indicate consumption of large amounts of alcohol by the helmsman.

My trusty steering man ‘Fleming’ had the whole thing sussed out from the beginning, or I should say the end of the afternoon breeze, he went into a kind of hibernation and would have nothing to do with my pathetic attempts to keep up my previous day’s run of 150 miles. So I employed ‘Raymarine’ to help me – and on short notice – he definitely stepped up to the plate and as a matter of fact he is now on the tour permanently.

The rest of the evening was about everything that was happening off the boat.

I had a front row seat to the best show in the galaxy, on for only two nights of the year, The Falling Meteor Shower Show. The conditions were perfect till about 01:00 when the moon showed up in a beautiful pastel orange gown and slowly climbed up on stage. It was like the one you see just before the movie comes on with the boy sitting in its lap with his fishing pole out.

I was dazzled by long and short streaks burning across the screen from all different directions.

I took a seat on the rolling foredeck for a while and laid down to take in this galactic light show and while I was there my attention was piqued by the distant sound of heavy breathing. I listened even harder trying to zone in on the sound and after a while I heard that familiar exhale of a whale in our neighbourhood. Hoping I could see his fin or tail through the darkness. I did not see him or her but just knowing it was there was a great comfort, I was not alone!

We are reaching along at  a respectful 6 knots and are on course for our entry into Bass Straits in the next few days.

I am going to tune the radio in and send this message off and see if there is any mail waiting. At 01:00 zulu or UTC I will tune into 14.140 and have a chat with VK6APK Alek in Binningup and VK6NTE Ted just down the the track from Alek in WA.  

Bye for now. Love, Glenn   

Dec 15

It’s the small things

Dec 14

Well, a great surprise this morning ‘an inbox full of mail’. It really makes my day. It takes a while to rally the troops and get the sail mail going but oh it is so nice to wake up to a screen full of mail.

Real newsy stuff about ordinary daily life and a good catch up on the time in between our last contact. It’s been two weeks since I left Fremantle. It feels good, and I definitely know I am a lucky man to have this opportunity to be out here again.

Looking back on the last two weeks I can see that there was an awkward transition from the sudden working life on land to the open ocean solitude and adventure of sailing in the southern ocean. Hard to quantify what a huge leap that was. It is such a dramatically different head space. The elements that make up  this environment, the Southern Ocean, are all so overwhelming and in your face immediately. It takes all your strength and concentration to, at best, meet them at their own level.

Being on your own and coming to grips with that really makes you think about what you’re doing, why am I doing this. For me I seem to have a romantic view of life and throw myself into it with all my heart only to find of course, the romance is there, but so is the reality. The reality is that I am alone, and yet I love to be with people. Some would say it is a control thing and there is a certain amount of truth in that. Control of your own destiny is very rewarding and there is no one out here to blame for where you find yourself.


I have to admit there are some amazing conversations that go on in my head about being out here alone. It’s scary, not the drowning or hurt yourself kind of scary, but how can I keep this together in my head and get the boat to New Zealand to meet Lou. I have all the same insecurities most people have. What will people think, how could I leave my wife. The very idea of surviving out here is a little daunting. Can I make the right decisions, for instance what the hell is for dinner? Am I going in the right direction etc. For a guy who is dyslexic, this question takes on some scary connotations.

But without fail I choose all or nothing. The world is made up of lots of different people and I think I might be a little different. One thing for sure is I am far from perfect, (I’m sure MaryLou can corroborate that).        

The other thing is, what the hell am I going to do with all that time?  For sure I’m not going steer the boat hour after hour and sit in the cockpit while the Southern Ocean dumps cold salty water on me every few seconds.  I spend most of my time down below doing anything that does not require standing up! Lying down is the best way to take the Southern Ocean and preferably with a very good book that takes you away from the madness of the noise and killer motion for at least twelve hours a day.


As in life, it’s the small things that make a day notable and touch our souls. A visit from an albatross the most graceful of god’s creatures. A sunset blazing into the ocean painting the sky with a thousand colours of red and purple. A moon rise at night all orange and blazing right out of the sea, the aurora of the night sky, the streak of a comet meeting its demise after millions of years of roaming the universe, a school of dolphin escorting you gracefully on your way, the tranquility and majesty of a whale surfacing alongside the boat looking at you with an acknowledging glance,  a clear contact on the ham radio with a dear friend I have yet to meet but know so well. The list goes on.

Once again the great part is to write about these feelings and sights and share them with you. Thank you for your thoughtful support and kind comments.

Cheers and fond regards, Glenn.

Giving myself up to the moment


Dec 13, 2o14

Today is the first day I’ve been able to sit in the cockpit and lie on the foredeck in the warmth of the obscure sun, as WW II pendulums her way downwind toward Bass Strait. Brings back lots of memories and very easy to give myself up to the moment for a long time.

Did some personal grooming and laundry as well as set out my rain gear to dry and air out.

I’ve just split open an orange and am enjoying the sweet citrus hit.

I spent a lot of time time on deck last night as the wind blew around the clock. I managed to keep her moving in the right direction even though the wind is very light. WW II and I are like a hand in a glove; she moves so well as long as she gets all the attention she needs!!

I will savour this day for as long as I can. Hope the weather is OK at home.

See you soon… but not soon enough.

Position:  35 54.480 S,  130 00.00 E Course 115 T Speed 3.5 -4 knots Wind SW 5-10 Waves SW 1.5  m Cloud 95% Temp 22 C Baro 1012 Miles in last 24 hrs: 125 nm Miles to Bass Strait: 585.

Reading the day away

Dec 12
Position: 35. 03 S, 127. 00 E

Dec 12, 2014

Dec 12, 2014

Another grey day here under the quilt. The wind has started to come from the NE and gradually we’re moving east.

Sailing lots of miles but not as many to our goal of Bass Strait. 741 on the GPS here at 5:30am local.

I remember all the funny local time zones in Australia and I think I will be switching to UTC just to get passed it. Hopefully less time consuming!

I started another book today.  A spoof on all the idiosyncrasies of Australian life. Written by an America. Hilarious!  (Australians have idiosyncracies ? Really?) 

Because of the acute motion, I’ll be spending most of the day in my bunk reading, so thank gawd I have something funny to read.

Hope you’re having a good day.