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           

‘Sea Fever’ print available for sale

Sea Fever hand-lettered print available at marylouwakefieldart.com

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 mlwakefield@shaw.ca or you can visit her website at mlwakefieldart.com

Thank you.

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.

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.

 

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 !

Rolling along …

Monday, May 1, 2017 05:30

We are rolling along before 15+ knots and have a pretty impressive log to show for it. Looks like another 150 nm day today!

Lots of creaking and groaning going on … almost as much as my old knees. The motion is not too bad and the sound of rushing water as WW II surges homeward fills the cabin.

My little Storm Petrel is gone from the cockpit this morning. I hope (s)he is fine. So difficult to interfere with ‘mother nature’. The sun is trying to break through on the horizon as if it’s under the door of the day. Low grey clouds fill the room. The tea is on the brew and I am dissecting one of my last oranges and savouring the fresh taste.

It is a cool 58 ° in the cabin at the moment but my fleece is keeping me very cozy and warm. Should be well into the sixties by day’s end.

Going on deck to gybe the main and square us off to the waves and bring our heading more to the north.

Hope your day has dawned warm and sunny. ( Actually, not. It’s grey, overcast and a chilly 8° C here in Victoria).

Gybe complete. Actually worked up a sweat. Feels good to do a little surfing (the boat, not him). Now sitting at the nav station with the hatch open, I can hear the waves breaking off our stern. All’s good.

I’ve got the old Perkins humming and vibrating away for the next hour. It’s cloudy and the solar is minimal and because we are running with the wind, the
wind generator isn’t able to spin enough to make any power, so Perkins has stepped up and taken that on this morning. I have the “InReach” and the computer plugged into the inverter to give them both a boost. I’ve just been on deck to give the Fleming some fine tuning.

While I was up there enjoying the ride, my thoughts went to my friend Paul Lim. Paul set out in his small boat from Hawaii to Victoria last September on his way home and never showed up.  I’ve watched and spoken out to him many times on this passage.  So wherever you are Paul, I hope you have sooth sailing my friend. You are thought of often and warmly. There by the grace of a higher power go we.

Not a breath of wind or a ripple of sea


What a splendid morning, sun is just up over the edge of the pond. Not a ripple anywhere, the sea is molten mercury, we are waddling in a south west swell which we have been in all night. We have drifted three miles closer to home and by the looks of things, our prospects of going much further could be going only another three by days end. There is nothing to do but give myself up to the fate of the wind gods and “roll” with it!

Having computer problems this morning so hope the gremlins cooperate and I can send out some mail and most importantly receive some.

Cheers from me “rollin in the deep”.

We’re working on it …

 

We have a technical glitch at the moment. The result is the program that sends subscribers updates via email is not working.

I’ve been working madly to try to fix it. I reached out to WordPress for help and the best I was offered was to post my problem to a public forum. This was after doing their updates!!!  Anyway, that was days ago and I’ve heard nothing so I have enlisted the help of our local tech geeks (their word) who are working on it as we speak and will hopefully get things sorted out today.

I’ll continue to post regular updates from Glenn here so stay tuned.

Thank you.
MaryLou

 

 

A fine balance

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tonight, I watched the blazing orb of the sun set for the second night in a row. It slipped quietly into the grey molten sea without a splash as if an act in a magic show.

Without the light of day, night sailing takes on a rather white cane approach. All my senses are piqued and shift into another realm. The humming of the wind generator signals the strength of the wind, the sound of the waves as WW II moves through the water signals our speed. A slight luffing of the sails lets me know we are off course. The movement of the boat as the swells manipulate her keep me abreast of sea conditions. The wind is very light and without WW II’s sizeable tonnage, she would falter in the fickle wind, but during the lulls she presses on against her own inertia. I still have one reef in the main as to let it out would be just too much sail and with the swells she would start to flap maddeningly. Her course, if plotted on a small scale, would reveal a rather drunken stagger but for that weight and clean bottom she recovers easily and keeps a forward motion.

I feel the fine balance and know that Fleming can only steer if the wind blows a certain strength, so I am ready with Ray, the electric auto pilot to
take over at any time. All these parts must work together or the game is up and we are “rollin’ in the deep”.

Fleming under sail

Fleming tied up

Perkins, of course has retired with a broken leg for the rest of the season and can’t be relied upon to take over as the iron sail. For such little wind, I am always amazed at our progress. West Wind has proven to be a more than able world cruiser, from the gales of the Southern Ocean to the equatorial calms and doldrums. She will, without a doubt, make a great coastal cruiser for Marylou and me.

Perkins diesel engine at rest

More common view of Perkins

Cruising the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

 

Heading ‘True North’

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It’s 8:23 am and I have caught up on some sleep that was donated, to keep us on the best course and move along top speed through the night. We’ve had some fickle winds the last 18 hrs. Either on the nose or just not strong enough to keep us on course.

I spent a bit of brain power debating which tack is best and tried out a few of my theories several times in the middle of the night and suffice it to say, looking back I would have been better to take all sail down and go to bed. Such is the benefit of hindsight. Here in the light of day I am trying not to make the same mistake. The overwhelming consensus is that heading north is the best tack at the moment.  

The air is lovely and cool in the evenings and not too warm during the day, which is perfect for life on board. 

Today I have been becalmed for hours so going a little crazy even thoughI have been here literally one hundred times before so I know how to do calm. Thanks for your email they are a real life saver. Trying hard to head north and get more wind. Overhead I noticed I’m on the flight path to and from Hawaii so it’s reassuring to know I am headed in the right direction.  It’s a beautiful bright day and not too hot. Still feel the effects of my all nighter last night so been trying to nap in between pushing WW II homeward.

Found an interesting problem this morning while checking the engine. The bracket on the motor mount that I had repaired in Gisborne has broken, so no more powering! I can run the engine but can not put it in gear because it is so out of line. That must have happened last night while I was powering. Can’t do much about it and it seems to be stable so I will just keep an eye on it. This old girl needs some TLC when we get home.

I had a great ploughman’s lunch today, cheese and crackers and nice little tomatoes, mmm good.

As usual, we’ve had our fair share of malfunctions but with a great deal of fumbling and perseverance, I’ve managed to keep West Wind II afloat and moving along. Our communications systems have been intermittent. The ham radio works to talk to the Pacific Seafarer’s Net each afternoon with Peter Mott,  ZL1 PWM in Russel in the Bay of Islands, Randy KH6 RC and Jane NH7 TZ in Hawaii along with a large group of very dedicated volunteers from around the Pacific Rim help MaryLou keep track of her wayward husband. (Editor’s note: And you’re all doing a fantastic job!) There is an online program that lets her listen to me while I transmit my daily report and facilitates her getting real time audio messages from me. (You can listen in as well here.)

The other capability I have on board is sending email through the ham radio while I’m hooked up to a Pactor Modem using a program called Winlink. This is what I will use to send this blog posting, hopefully. After many tens of thousands of salty ocean miles, we’ve developed a loose connection, for lack of a better excuse, which makes sending my messages a bit like winning the lottery. I think if you could see the expression on my face when I plug in the modem and push the button and a message comes up saying ” Com 4 does not exist on this computer” you’d see crushing disappointment with a small curl of rage. Conversely, when it does connect and the lights flash, well you could probably hear my joyful shouts from where you are.  

After a complete failure of the ham radio when I left New Zealand, I had to turn back and get it fixed. After that we decided to purchase an InReach tracker, a devise about the size of a flip top Marlborough cigarette package. This small device sends out a signal every 30 minutes and lets the world know where I am. It also can be used to send text messages, well that’s if the user possessed the ability to do so! At this point, that is not me and do you think I can overcome that little cigarette box full of electronics to send a simple text message?  Not a chance. This must be so frustrating for MaryLou, who is a wizzard at such things (Editor’s note: He’s exaggerating), and hasn’t be able to teach me so far. Don’t get me wrong.  ML has the patience of a saint, I’m just a bit slow on the
uptake here.

I have been rattling on a bit here and I’m not even half way through my list of challenges so I’ll spare you and save them for a future installment.

First I’ll try to send this blog post. Wish me luck, here goes.

Cheers Glenn at Sea

Email is back !

Friday April 21, 2017

Lat 24.42 N, Long 157.04 W Course: 053 Speed: 6 knots Wind:ESE 10 knots Waves: E 2 metres Cloud: 40% Barometer: 1020 Distance to home: 2098 nm

Bright sunny morning here. Half moon still with us hanging faintly over the port stern quarter. A majestic sooty albatross has been circling us looking curiously for breakfast. I have shaken out the night reefs in the jib and main to catch a ten knot easterly blowing over a slightly calmer sea with a two metre swell from the NE.

It is still warm although cooler than Honolulu …thank goodness. Still a little drowsy and I think breakfast is imminent. Nice motion on board this morning not quiet so life threatening as yesterday.

Our speed over the ground is 6.5 knots and we have a course of 23 T. The entrance to Juan de Fuca is bearing 47 T and is 2130 nm over the eastern horizon.  

Wind today will swing around from E to SSE at ten knots as the day wears on. Should be able to lay the mark and fall off the wind a little.

And now for tea and a light breakfast.

Can hear Glenn loud and clear on the Pac Seafarers Net this evening and he reports “All’s well.”

Voices across the ocean

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Position as of approximately 6:30 a.m Glenn’s time 26.90 N, 153.58 W

While I was listening to Glenn last night on the Pacific Seafarers Net roll call for marine mobile operators, I was struck by a couple of things.

First, is the obvious miracle of the technology that lets me listen on my computer at my dining room table in Victoria, BC, to Glenn who is on our boat off the coast of Hawaii and that the person coordinating the call is in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. So, even though we aren’t able to have a voice to voice conversation, or one over email, at least I can hear his voice (and his report) and know that “all’s well” on board and he knows I’m listening to the call and can send me a short message.

Glenn and I have talked many times about the eventuality of no email. And while we may not like it, and know that it will to some extent impede his ability to prepare for weather, we agree that it’s not the end of the world and we’ll work around it. He’s very experienced and understands the nuance of changing weather conditions and knows instinctively how to prepare and act. We’re working with what we have and hope the email gods might give us a break.

Second, is the generosity of the folks who run this net. Like Peter Mott, in NZ. Peter who runs the call, goes over and above in accommodating our requests to read messages to Glenn at the end of the call which he happily did. Once the roll call was completed, I was able to sneak in a short (and sweet) personal message via email which Peter read to him and, we were able to relay a weather report for the next two days, courtesy of my dedicated brother, Peter (in Regina, Saskatchewan) just to complete the circle.

Third, is the almost instant response from friends and ham operators around the world, who, knowing his email system is down, make time to listen in on the call and relay messages to him. Fantastic. Last night we heard from friends in New Zealand and Australia. An amazing group of people. Others left messages here on the blog. It all makes a difference and is so appreciated. Thank you.

Even though he didn’t say it, I did hear fatigue in his voice and that he wasn’t his usual cheerful self. I think that goes with the territory. I hope he can catch up on sleep in the next couple of days.

I’m particularly enjoying creating these Google maps these days. The best thing is that we can actually see home base in Victoria in the same view as that little blue sailboat icon.  And, this probably goes without saying but the sight of that little blue sailboat pointing towards home and getting closer every day, well I have no words for how that makes me feel. Over the moon comes close.

And, last but certainly not least, thanks to @claire_bare3 for suggesting I write a post from my point of view.

 

Listening to Glenn’s report online through the Pacific Seafarers Net

hamradio-online

Through the miracle of technology, I was able to listen to Glenn online this evening on the Pacific Seafarers Net roll call. This is the image I see on my computer as each participant gives their report amidst the crackles and blips.

Huge thanks to Peter Mott who manages the call from New Zealand and gives marine mobile ham radio operators the opportunity to report their position and give a brief report. I was able to send Peter some weather information to Glenn which Peter read to him over the radio which is a big help to Glenn.

Glenn’s report was his usual “All is well” which I was grateful for and even though we couldn’t speak directly, I could send a short personal message to him over email which Peter read to him.

It was nice to hear Barry Mitchell’s voice on the call as well and mention of Alek in Australia and Cliff in New Zealand, two long time supporters of this project and ham radio gods in their own right.

WordPress is giving me some grief at the moment around the comments function of this blog so for the moment, I’m not receiving any. I will work on fixing that and get them back online as soon as possible.

Thank you all for your ongoing comments which Glenn very much appreciates receiving.

 

 

 

Technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017  5:48 p.m. (Hawaii time) Position: 24.75 N, 157.0 W, Course heading: NE

navstn

At the nav station

Through the Pacific Seafarers Net, I learned this evening that Glenn is having some technical difficulties with his computer and is unable to send or receive email which means he isn’t able to provide his usual updates… for now. I’m hoping that miraculously changes of course and we’re back online soon. fingers crossed.  For now and in lieu of email, I will be listening in to the ham radio call over the internet which takes place each evening at 0300 utc (8 pm Pacific Daylight Savings time) on 14.300 frequency. 

You can listen in as well, if you are so inclined, by going to this link or by typing this address into your browser http://kiwisdr.northlandradio.nz:8073/?f=14300usbhere

Glenn checked in to the Pacific Seafarers Net this evening and asked that they relay a message to me about his current difficulties. Thank you Peter Mott in New Zealand and Jeanne Socrates in Mexico for getting the message to me. Glenn’s eloquent albeit short message for tonight was “All is well.”

We also have the InReach tracker so we can see his daily progress. Here’s a link to that page. Just refresh the page to get the latest update which happens every 4 hours. If you want his exact position, click on the blue arrow head beside his name and select More.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.09.33 PM

 

As of 5:48 p.m. his time, his position: 24.75 N, 157.0 W

April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017

He also managed to get out a brief email yesterday to let me know that he has successfully replaced the bilge pump (thank goodness) and that he was still feeling a little “off the mark” and was hoping to get some food down today. 

So …that said, the blog may look a little different for the immediate future and we hope it’s back to normal soon. And, we hope you stay tuned.

 

 

On my way home

 

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Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaii

April 17, 2017 Honolulu, Hawaii  8:35 am local 18:35 UTC

Lat. 22 06.9 N, Long 157 35.8 W, Course 003 True, Boat speed 5 knots, Distance to Victoria 2232 nm

Left Honolulu yesterday (April 16) under sunny skies and a warm offshore breeze.

Been resting all day today after a long night. Beating into that NE 20 knots of wind with 2-3 meter seas. Taking it easy at 5 knots. Lots of water on the deck. All is well.

Trying to catch up on my sleep and get my sea legs and tummy settled. Still fairly warm with overcast and grey skies. 

Been resting all day, but still yawning and generally feeling tired. Just had a few spoonfuls of “FATSO” and a cracker to tie me over.

Making great headway at the moment, very lively ride and the best place to endure it is in my bunk. The combination of the 20 knots of breeze and the height and breadth of the waves and our sail set is giving us a steady 5-6 knots of boat speed. The electric bilge pump has packed it in so glad I brought a new one with me. We are not making a lot of water but enough to make it something to keep an eye on which is exactly how I found out the pump had packed it in. I have a small hand pump mounted on a board and that is what I have been using for the last little while, til things calm down enough so that when I replace the old for the new I don’t risk falling head first into the bilge. I may have to shorten sail for a bit to make that happen.

There’s lots of those extremely talented sea birds skiing the waves and providing a living element to the vast breaking ocean vista that I am sailing through. Both the ocean and sky are fifty shades of grey, the sky the lighter of the two. The clouds look like a tray of endless croissants floating all at the same level. I think they are only one croissant deep as occasionally you can see the blue tray they float on.     

Looking back to yesterday afternoon there is quite a contrast in the scene. I left the Ala Wai Marina channel with bright sunny skies, warm offshore breeze and patches of surfers like a flock of birds waiting for the perfect wave suspended in the azure green water. Watch this short video MaryLou took of the same channel back in January.

The sea was calm with a gentle swell. Diamond Head was picture perfect with a few billowy bright white clouds contrasting its distinct and powerful shape.  

I sailed out into the ever increasing wind and waves towards Molokai and then tacked on to starboard as the sun set, to clear Oahu and have been sailing along ever since.

I am in a familiar place and all my senses default to sailing mode, preset after thousands of miles, hundreds of sunsets, thousands of reefs and tacks all adding up to a program deeply set into my genetic makeup and may have been there for generations – passed down from my Dad and my Mom.

There are instinctive movements and decisions made automatically in response to the fluid environment all around me. My mind adjusts to the 2300 nautical mile passage ahead, already breaking it down into bite sized pieces that are easy to fathom. The warm leg, the temperate leg and the cold leg. When will the moon shine full? I have sailed down the Straits of Juan de Fuca in 1973, 1997, 2006, and 2013 all but one single handed, in boats from 55 ft. to 26 ft. always headed out into the Pacific, never home.

So this passage will be very special. It’s the end of an odyssey, a returning home. I long for the smell of the west coast. That mixture of coniferous forest and salty seedy beach.

And home once again to MaryLou who waits ever so patiently. Thanks for waiting MaryLou.

 

WestWindII on the hard in Keehi Boat Harbour, Honolulu

Painting the bottom at Keehi Boat Harbour in Honolulu before setting sail

April 17, 2017

The short view

 

April 17, 2017 #2

The long view

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Go to earth.nullschool.net for up to date wind conditions across the north Pacific.

 

Settling in …

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 

 IMG_1094

I’m here in the legendary and very hospitable Waikiki Yacht Club.

I am happy and very lucky to be here with my MaryLou and to have arrived safely. MaryLou and I have just enjoyed a coffee and fresh breakfast prepared by chef Jasmine.

I’ve been for an early morning swim in the pool, which overlooks the boats and Ala Wai Boat Harbour. I’ve done my poolside yoga lying in the early morning sunshine. 

We’ll spend the rest of the day working on West Wind and preparing her for her 6 month stay in Hawaii. 

Thanks for all your welcoming comments.

Motor sailing through the hi

122416

December 24, 2016 Leg 2 Day 4

4 a.m.

There’s a Hi moving in from the North East and I am on the edge of it now with wind coming from the North, North West at 10 knots. Not a good heading for me to sail into. My course at the moment is 301 at best. I have Perkins on, otherwise our boat speed in this wave condition would not be enough to keep Fleming steering.

Going west would bring us into some wind but our heading would be South of West sailing away from Honolulu. I might have to just bite the bullet and take the jib down and power at 3 knots due north till the hi passes in a day or so. It means powering into the waves which may not work at all. I will stay on this course till daybreak in about an hour when I can see the sea conditions better.

Till  then it’s back to my bunk beside Perkins.

Had a difficult afternoon yesterday. Couldn’t upload or download any mail for a few hours.

I’m now on port tack. Came around from starboard tack because we were heading due west. Now wind has shifted to the east and we are headed east. Can’t seem to win here today. Have a triple reefed main and only 1/4 yankee out and we may be overpowered at that. Lots of wind and heavy seas most of the day. Lots of water making its way into the boat in the form of drips which although small, do eventually make things wet. So hard to find the source of these little devils. I have been reading and thought of working on the chain but the motion is just a little too much.

Got it together to boil a few eggs and had a Plowman’s lunch with cheese and crackers, a little sun dried tomato and pickled onion.

The sky has just gotten very dark so probably in for some torrential rain very soon. Thinking of you. 

I’ll try get this off later this afternoon when propagation is better and down load faster.

Bye for now love you  

4 pm

Merry Xmas to all

Lat. 15.52.82 S Long. 160.25.57 W Course 040 T Speed 5.5 knots Wind NW 10 Knots Waves W 2 M Cloud 100% Baro 1010
Miles in last 24 hrs: 125 NM Range to Honolulu 2239 nm

Motor sailing. Hope to push through this hi in the next day or so. How are things looking for transiting the ITZ’s? And what is above the high?

Trying to stay with a course as close to 160 Longitude as possible, shortest route.

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Thanks again for all the wonderful support and hope you enjoy family and friends over the holidays.

All’s well here.

Cheers Glenn

Riff on a sunset

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Lat 25.24 Long 159.51 Wind NE 5-10 knots Waves SW 1.5 metres Cloud 100% Baro 1013
Distance in last 24 hrs: 98 nm  Range to Rarotonga: 250 nm

Day 18 December 14, 2016

Lovely cool morning here. The sky is filled with change. A very large bank of grey cloud with a ragged front is sliding over from the north east. The sea has just a ruffle of a breeze showing from the east over long rolling swells from both the South West and the East. We’ve had Perkins pushing us along since midnight when, for the very first time there was not a breath of wind. I took all sail down and after drinking up the beauty in the moonlit sky for half an hour, went back to sleep with Perkins snoring beside me. There is just a bit too much swell and not enough wind yet to hoist any sail but it does look from the clouds moving in that we will get wind soon enough from the East.

Last night I witnessed the most spectacular sunset. It was not one of those classic radiating blazes although that element was there. It was the illumination of so many layers of clouds over the entire evening sky from one horizon to the next and one encore after another of those ever changing pastel blues, brilliant reds and flamingo pinks. It didn’t matter where I looked there was a event of galactic proportions as if on an IMAX screen. It started with the billowy clouds on the edge of the opposite horizon which early on showed faint hints of shadow ever darkening underneath them, the blue sky around them fading lighter and lighter.

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As the sun sank into the ocean behind, it revealed the dying moments and molten bright red blazed at the edges and a molten silver flame shot out right at the oceans edge. The high sky above this regular sunset event was still very bright robin’s egg blue. It was the texture and variety and the clarity of the high cloud that was so dramatic, bright white against brilliant pale blue. There were long wispy clouds that stretched in over the northern sky and overlapping those in the western sky just above us were paddocks of soft cotton batten balls all very close together. Then in the southern sky high and overlapping the cotton were jagged thin edged bright white wispy streaks. All these sat in a very bright soft blue sky light. Mean while back behind us, opposite the dying sun in the eastern sky was a large foreboding swirling Tsunami of a wave cloud starting to turn a soft pastel red. It was as if in slow motion all these clouds which were moving in different directions over lapping each other crossed the stage while all their sunset pastel colours grew more faint but so very crisp showing all the detail of the thin cloud edges.

I was overcome by what was unfolding before me. Everywhere I looked in the sky, a beautiful scene was taking place. It went on and on, and eventually after a half hour show, a bright star appeared as if to draw the curtain down and signal the coming of the night. I was spellbound.

My description could never come close to explaining what I saw and experienced in the sky last night but hopefully I did it some justice.

Stallion and rider

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Lat 30.31 S Long 160. 37 Course 14 T Speed 6 knots Wind W 15-20 knots Waves 2 metres W Cloud 99% Barometer 1009 steady
Distance in last 24 hrs: 144 nm Range to 
Rarotonga 558

Day 15 Dceember 11, 2016

Lively morning here this morning. The wind increased last night around 02:37 am to about 15 knots from the west and I was up to find an amazing seascape with the moon bright in the western sky, clouds scudding past it and the moisture in them showing as rainbow colours. The sea was black, tipped with silver from the moonlight catching the wave tops.

I stood straddling the cockpit seats holding on to the hand grip on the top aft edge of the dodger like reins, with one hand as WW II galloped over and through the three metre waves coming on our beam. The cool wind whistled in my ears and the sound of the waves, one after the other being scythed and thrown on the deck filled the scene. WW II’s motion was that of a great stallion. I stood with a broad grin on my face urging her on with affectionate words out loud. Two hours later I was back on deck for another ride, this time the wind had increased to the point that it demanded a third reef in the mainsail. With the decks awash and the wind now screaming and me not quite awake to my surroundings, I made my way, hand over hand up the port side of the boat and clipped my harness to the goose neck (the point where the boom connects to the mast) and started the ritual of reefing the main. There is a great deal of pully haully that goes on and it all has to be done quite smartly and in the right order. Some times it goes better than others, but one thing is for sure, WW II is more than thankful to have the load on her relieved so she can gallop on more freely.  

I have been able to go back below after these exhilarating nocturnal rides and put my head down and fall back to a great depth of sleep even if it’s only for a few hours. Today is day 14 in my watery world beneath the galaxy sky. I love it, while up on deck in the saddle of the night I think of all the sailors through all the centuries that have looked in wonder as they sailed passed. I feel their wonder and mine. 

How lucky I am to be here and through Marylou, share what I see and feel.  

 

Through the high, making good progress

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Day 11 Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lat. 37.30 S Long 163.40 W Course: 05 T Speed 5.5 knots  Wind NE 20+knots Waves NE 1.5 metres Cloud 99% Barometer: 1020 Falling
Distance in last 24hrs: 108 nm Distance to Rarotonga: 996 nm Distance to Cape Flattery 5571 nm

Wonderful to wake up this morning to WW II surging along at 6+ knots and in the right direction. We made it through the “High”with a great deal of help from Perkins and one of our Raymarine 2000 electric auto helms, and me, of course. I enjoyed the calm of the high, no water on deck, a chance to air everything out – rain gear, cushions, sleeping bag and anything else that could benefit from the sun’s healing rays. The motion, although at times can still be difficult, was a lot less than what we are experiencing this morning. I think we’ll reach one hundred miles for our daily run today which is good.

Very special treat this morning – a Gisborne grapefruit, one of three beauties given to me by Sally and Neil Knight, and right from their back garden, I believe. So sweet and juicy. It’s interesting now that I think about it the amazing oranges I have on board were given to me by Suzy and John McKendry and their three great children, Holly, Matt and Georgia. They all mentioned something about scurvy as well. There’s a connection Gisborne has with being the first place Captain Cook landed in New Zealand, although it was not so amicable a landing as history records it. Hence the name “Poverty Bay” that Cook gave their beautiful waterfront.

I got an email from Alek VK6 APK (in Perth, Australia) yesterday with instructions on how, if I have the right equipment, I could rescue what remains of my damaged solar panel. I’ll study that again this morning and see what we can do. Alek is one of my ham radio guys, and is a real MacGyver kind of guy. Thanks Alek!

Although we had cloud cover for most of the night, I woke around 2:30 to catch the moon setting on the western horizon. It was lying on its back and softly, with and orange glow, slid into the ocean. Most of the afternoon it was visible high overhead, very bright white and clear.

I’m off to make breakfast. Oats this morning.

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Managing in a seaway

 

Day 5 Friday December 2, 2016 @ 03.25 local time

12216-w-chatham-islands Lat 42.51 S,Long 171. 55 W Course 96 T Speed 6.8 knots Wind S 15 knots Waves SW 4 metres Cloud 75% Baro 1011 steady
Range CH 4086 nm 
Distance in last 24 hrs: 140 nm

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Back down below after a half hour on deck taking down the pole from the yankee. The dawn is breaking and as always, the most amazing thing about going up on deck is the enormous sea that is running. The motion below I have gotten used to and belies the great size of the waves.

There are petrels gliding by looking for offal. Sadly for them, my greatest offering would be my old tea bag at best. These seas cause WW II to yaw a fair bit when we are off the wind, it makes the yankee flutter,  and it shakes the whole mast.  It’s difficult to deal with. I am going to have to go back up and see what I can do to stop it. I will probably roll the yankee back in a bit and see how that works. Last night at dusk in amongst the pinking clouds I spied the sliver of the new moon. It will be nice to have that as company as it waxes over the next few weeks. I hope your day is dawning well.

06:40

Tea’s here beside me and the sun is up high enough on our port side to fill the nav. station with cloud filtered morning light. There’s light but no real heat which I have to admit would be nice this morning as it is a bit nippy. Got my fleece on and collar turned up. Finger tips need some rubbing but breath is not visible yet.

I finished Wade Davis’s  The Wayfinders last night. The litany of cultural genocide portrayed in great detail was enlightening but left me feeling guilty and ashamed at the plight of indigenous people around the planet. He did portray Canada as a modern country which in his opinion is moving in the right direct though. Felt like I took a first year Anthropology course and enjoyed it. It is wonderful that such dedicated people have pursued the study of indigenous people and in a very honest way recorded their stories.

My next book will be Bill Bryson’s A short History of Nearly Everything. I definitely need to laugh out loud. I read one of his books about Australia “Down Under” on my passage from Fremantle to Opua, NZ a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you Sally and Neil Knight of Gisborne for giving me this book.

It is important to note that at this very moment the wind has picked up and we are surging along at the breakneck speed of 7+ knots and Fleming seems to have everything in control. I hope it stays that way. I have been conservative in my sail area during the night not wanting to have to get up quickly to react to an increase in wind. This seems to be working fine for now.  

There are several rain squalls around us this morning so I imagine it will be exciting sailing through those. Have to keep a hand on the tea mug.

Another project I’m starting is the carving of a wooden chain out of a solid piece of wood. A shipwright in Opua, Graeme Rigden, an incredible talent, gave me a couple of pieces of wood from his shop to do this project.  I picked up a small set of carving tools from Lee Valley Tools before I left and some sharpening stones. Meeting Graeme was a stroke of luck and of course I am benefiting from his generous gift of two pieces of wood  for my project. He also came down to the boat and dropped off a beautiful wooden bowl he spun out on his lathe one evening. It’s incredible, paper thin. Thank you Graeme for your kind generosity. Wade Davis would likely use Graeme, as an example of those individuals who will keep the planet safe.

My stomach is telling me it’s time for breakfast. I think a hard boiled egg and a pancake with hazelnut butter will do the trick. Making it in this seaway though is going to be a real feat. I’ve had tens of thousands of miles of practice at this, but still one never really knows if at the last minute your breakfast will land in the right place or be interrupted by a rogue wave. He, by the way is part of that same mob as the guy with the fire hose. 

Cheers from the great Southern Ocean. Have a good day and be thankful your galley isn’t moving at 7 knots over 4 meter waves.
(This is ML saying “duly noted and thankful indeed.”  :-)  

Note: A small correction to what was posted earlier. Glenn actually crossed the International Dateline today, December 2, 2016  at approximately 0:737 local time, or 1837 UTC. As this imaginary dateline zig zags in a north south direction, the exact time of crossing varies depending on your position of latitude where you crossed it.

Safety at Sea

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Day 4, December 1, 2016

Lat 42.13 S Long 174.58 W Course 123 T Speed 6.5 nm Wind: South 15 knots Waves: S 2 metres Cloud 90% Baro 1014 steady 
Range: CH 4213  Distance in Last 24hrs: 144 nm

Bright sun shine streaming through the port  side windows (ports) this morning, quite chilly outside, lovely and fresh. Thought I got a glimpse of a Suka off the stern this morning. This is a hawk-like bird and quite clumsy looking in its flight compared to the petrels. I will look it up in the bird book later and confirm. There many birds around due to our close proximity to the Chatham Islands. Unfortunately I have the smell of a burnt beans from my stew permeating the cabin this morning instead of the more pleasant aroma of Bergamot from my Earl Grey tea. I must have spilled some of my stew on the stove burner last night when I was ladling it onto the rice.  Add cleaning the stove to the list this morning.

Good sleep, only up a few times which is to be expected. I’m still not sure I have the right time zone but I will check things out in the almanacs I have on board. I’m going to start carving my wooden chain out of a solid block of wood this morning,

I’ll have to take my time and get it right. Also thinking of getting the GoPro Kite project on the go as well.

So combine that with my Yoga at Sea class, keeping the boat going, navigating, and feeding myself, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to fit it all in. And, oh yes, I see its vacuuming day as well (Imagine!). Maybe have to put the Kite project on hold.

Reading Wade Davis’s “The Wayfinders” and it has me thinking of the great inhumanity toward humanity.  So, I’m looking for some positive sign we’re going to save the world. Not sure where to find that but to look outside where I am, things here seem to be in order or as they should be.

To answer a few questions people posted through the blog…

Q: Do you ever feel seasick when you start your journey, the transition from land to sea? Or is that a malady for the unaccustomed?

A:  Everyone reacts differently to the wave action of the sea. From no reaction to full on coma. I’m lucky, other than my appetite is a little off. I have very little reaction to the transition from shore to sea, although if it is very rough in the first few days eating is not high on the menu, so to speak.

Q: Are you tethered to the boat at all times? The thought of losing your footing and falling overboard would scare the you know what out of me let alone the  eerie silence of the night.

A: As the famous UK circumnavigator Dee Caffari once said to me, “You can’t finish if you’re not on board”. Good advice, I thought. I have every intention of coming home. Wearing the harness is a two-edged sword, sometimes it’s absolutely essential and other times it’s more trouble than it’s worth. The weather and motion of the boat dictate its use. Night time is one of the times I absolutely need to wear it. Reefing of the main sail is done on deck at the mast and it’s a lot easier to do with two hands. On a cold dark and stormy night when the boat is awash – waves constantly over the entire boat, and I have to go up to the mast, I do have my harness and safety line on. I hook it to the “Jack line ” that runs from the cockpit along the deck to the bow. Most of the time in conditions like this, I am on all fours as low inside the lifelines as I can get till I get to the mast, then I stand up and transfer the safety line to the mast, step up on the coach house beside the mast and rap one leg around the mast and start the reefing procedure. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes an hour and of course all that time, the guy with the fire hose is laughing his head off as he tries to get the water down the back of my neck or up my pant leg.

At this point, my eye glasses could definitely do with automatic wipers. So here I am holding on for dear life my leg tethered to the mast, almost blind, trying to work with lines that the wind is tearing at, saying to myself, “You can do this Glenn.” Occasionally I have to laugh, what was I thinking getting out of that nice warm bunk to come here and be violated by mother nature and the fire hose guy.

All seriousness aside, the safety harness is 50% psychological and 50% practical.  Marylou who is here in my heart, is sometimes standing right beside me saying “If you go over the side I’ll kill you.”

There are always risks in life. I have worked as a logger, a fisherman, and have been in the construction industry all my life. Risk of injury has always been with me and I have a huge respect for the consequences of ignoring it. By the grace of God go I. To him or her, all I ask is safe passage back home to those loving arms.

If I had crew on board they would not be allowed to leave the main hatch without their safety harness on. Double standard you might say and you’re right, but I’m still the Captain.

Hope that answers some of your questions. I’m happy to answer them, and thanks for being there.

 

Light winds overnight

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Day 2 November 29, 2016 @ 04:45

The winds have been light and shifting back and forth all night. As you can probably see on the InReach Google map, our track is somewhat erratic. I’ve had the motor on since 2:00 am at 500 RPMs, just enough to keep us going in the right direction.

By the look of the dawning red sky off the bow we are indeed heading away from NZ. The wind has shifted to the west and along with it the sweet smell of hay and sheep. I hope the wind fills in with the sunrise.

We have some very big steep waves coming from the south west and smaller waves coming from the north east. These two sets of waves and light wind make it impossible to keep sail up as the waves shake all the wind out of the sails as each one passes. We need more wind and less sea in order to sail this morning. I’ve taken the jib in and we have two reefs in the main to stop the slatting. As you can imagine sleep has been illusive. 

I’m looking forward to the new day dawning to see what it brings to get us on our way. We aren’t fussy, we’ll work with just about anything. 

I’m going to lie down beside the motor and try to get some sleep. Just had a section of juicy orange from Gisborne. So sweet!

Will check in later.
G

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.

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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.