Celebration of Life Eulogy

Royal Victoria Yacht Club
Sunday, September 18, 2022

We’re gathered at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Victoria, B.C. to hold space to honour and celebrate the life of Glenn Wakefield. Today, we’ll remember Glenn in ways he would want to be remembered. As a man who lived life out loud. A man with a fierce, indomitable spirit, and a great passion for life. A man who showed courage in the face of the most challenging circumstances, and a man whose kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone who knew and loved him.

Glenn was born on August 6, 1950 in Edmonton, the eldest son of Roy and Maureen Wakefield who emigrated from Portsmouth, England in 1948. With little more than an adventurous spirit, and a strong work ethic, they built a wonderful life for themselves and their children. After a brief trip to the west coast to look at Victoria, they made the quick decision to pack up and move to the more familiar ocean setting, reminiscent of their seaside home in Portsmouth.

Glenn’s father Roy, served in the fleet air division of the British navy during the war and had an interest in and love of sailing vessels and the sea. His mother Maureen, also had a connection with sea farers. Her sisters ran public houses in Portsmouth on the other side of the wall from HMS Victory.

Glenn grew up in the neighbourhood of Gordon Head. Their first home was on Neil Street, after which, his dad built a house on Ventura Way, and they eventually settled into a home on San Juan Avenue, now called Wakefield Place. By then, Glenn had a brother Mark who was three years younger. He was petite, with blond hair and blue eyes and in most ways very different from Glenn. While Glenn roamed the neighbourhood climbing trees, riding his bike, building forts and playing with his British dinky toys, Mark preferred instead to stay close to home and look at books.

In 1960, when Glenn was 10, 7-year-old Mark was killed in a tragic motor vehicle accident, steps from their home. It was a devastating loss for his parents and a sad and confusing time for a 10-year-old boy and it would have a lasting effect on Glenn for the rest of his life. Perhaps in some way it explained Glenn’s love of children, his intense appreciation for this world, and his determination to make the most of each and every day of his life. Whether consciously or not, Glenn lived a life big enough and full enough for the two of them. Having lost one brother, Glenn sought the camaraderie of numerous “chosen brothers” some of whom are here today, and many others in the brotherhood who are around the world.

Theirs was a characteristically English home – a small acreage at the end of a long driveway with high laurel hedges, climbing roses, charming flower beds, fruit trees and plenty of wide, open spaces. Glenn was put to work helping his father create a large kitchen garden, mowing the lawn, and tending to the fruit trees on the property. The property sloped towards the ocean, so that no matter where he was or what he was doing, he could always see the sea. The view was across Haro Strait to the American San Juan Islands with Mount Baker in the distance. It was a young boy’s paradise and the perfect place to indulge his wildest dreams. But his favourite place to play and dream was at Arbutus Cove. There, he’d spend hours making small boats from pieces of wood and pushing them out beyond the waves. He often told his parents that one day he’d sail a boat out to sea.

On the walls of his home hung two large framed pictures of small boats in rough seas. One was of Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth rounding Cape Horn in storm conditions. The other was of Sir Alec Rose aboard Lively Lady under shortened sail battling the Roaring Forties.  These, and other earliest influences came from his father reading stories about adventuresome men heading out to sea in small boats – Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Alec Rose, Robin Knox-Johnson, Miles Smeeton and John Guzzwell. These images and stories would capture his imagination and never let go.

One of Glenn’s treasured keepsakes was a hand-written note from John Guzzwell that was tucked inside a gifted copy of his book TREKKA ROUND THE WORLD which said in part, “With the pressures of modern day living, the sea offers space where one can have time to think about one’s destiny. I hope you have found contentment in life.” Sincerely John Guzzwell.

Glenn attended Gordon Head Elementary. His school days were not his happiest, nor his most rewarding. For a young boy with enough energy for 3 kids and a vivid imagination that frequently took him miles away from the classroom, he found it next to impossible to keep his body and mind still long enough to focus on his lessons. He had dyslexia, which at that time, was still a mystery and often mistaken for laziness or boredom. He found reading challenging and was made fun of when he stumbled. He lost interest in school and became even more restless and disengaged. A few teachers convinced him he couldn’t write, a belief he held for decades until MaryLou convinced him otherwise if he could just slow down the flow of ideas long enough to get them down on paper. Eventually, with patience and practice he began to write and, as we saw on his Going Solo blog, he became a good writer, especially when it came to something he cared deeply about. An entry from October, 2007 reads:

I am on the night train. Kim Chow is sailing as though she were on tracks in a Raiders of the Lost Arc movie. The sound below decks is astonishing. Water is surging past at great speed and her motion is smooth, powerful and spontaneous, climbing up and through waves and sliding back down, her bow throwing up huge waves filled with bioluminescence. I sat in the pulpit we as sailed into the loom of a crescent moon just above the southern horizon. The sound of the surging waves makes me smile a very broad smile. “YES!”, I shout this is living. It will be difficult to sleep tonight and that’s ok with me. I will lie in the cockpit looking up at the stars as we slide through the night headed for the equator, now only 1400 miles away and then into the South Pacific. Another night at sea with Kim Chow.

The realization that his teachers were wrong and that he could in fact write, was thrilling to him. The lesson there is “Don’t believe everything you learn in school.” Over his lifetime, he penned dozens of journals and filled 60 or more notebooks. His plan was always to write a book about his circumnavigation attempts.

In August 1962, Glenn’s sister Mary was born, a happy occasion for the entire family. Theirs was a close-knit family who enjoyed spending time in the outdoors, on the family boat and hosting dinner parties for friends.

Glenn went to Mount Doug Secondary School where he made and kept life-long friends who remember his exuberant laugh, his lively spirit, and his tender heart. Glenn was very happy to reunite with many of them in 2019 when they celebrated their fiftieth high school reunion.

He worked at the Keg and mostly remembered the lively partying after his shift was over. He worked for a season as a fisherman off the coast near Tofino where he acquired the nick name “AWAKEFIELD” because he was frequently lulled to sleep to the rhythmic sound of the trawler’s engine on the long passages between fishing spots.  

But wanderlust took hold, and he was determined to see the world for himself. He worked as a logger near Port Renfrew where conditions in the bush were uncomfortable and at times, dangerous. The hours were long, and conditions were rough but the pay was good. The work was a slog, but for him it was a means to an end. He knew something they didn’t.  At the end of his year in the bush, he’d be boarding a plane that would take him around the world on the adventure of a lifetime. For him, it was worth every moment.

In 1969/70 Glenn left Victoria to travel around the world for a year. He visited Japan, Fiji, India, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. He worked in the outback of Australia as a surveyor’s assistant. During the course of that trip, he transformed from a 19-year old boy into a 20-yr. old man having had some remarkable experiences.  Along the way, he developed close friendships, some of which lasted more than 50 years. One of those friends here today will share a few stories of how he remembers that 19-year-old “kid”.

Glenn went to Camosun College to study carpentry and later apprenticed with Farmer Construction. In 1973, he joined Wakefield Construction, that his father started and built a reputation restoring Victoria’s heritage buildings and revitalizing Victoria’s downtown core. For the next decade, they transformed many of the city’s oldest and best-known landmarks – Market Square, Munro’s Books, the Herald Building, Craigflower School and Congregation Emmanu-El Synagogue that was later recognized with local, national and international heritage awards.

In 1982, Glenn took the helm of the company bringing his considerable expertise in carpentry and building project management to building and renovating commercial and residential projects, new construction and large-scale building maintenance projects. Seismic upgrades, marine construction, a major renovation to the RVYC, and numerous small and large residential projects in every community in and around Greater Victoria.

Glenn’s approach to life was ‘work hard and play harder’. Anyone who benefitted from his work knew that he poured himself into it and kept his clients’ interests in mind. For him, the very best antidote to long, hard days on a construction site was getting on his sailboat and heading off for a few hours sail from Cadboro Bay, out and around Chatham and Discovery Islands which he and MaryLou frequently did on warm summer evenings. That’s where he could let go of the day’s work and settle into his happy place. The broad grin on his face said everything you needed to know. Simply put, he loved everything about boats and being on the ocean. It was a familiar and comfortable environment and one where everything came easily and naturally to him. It was his tonic, something he often referred to as his ‘magic carpet’ and a place where, as he said, he felt most alive.

His first experience crewing on a sailboat was in 1970, at the age of 19 aboard the famous yacht the Blue Leopard. This magnificent yacht was skippered by his Uncle Bill, and Glenn spent an unforgettable few weeks aboard her in Piraeus, Greece. Back home in Victoria, Glenn’s sailing adventures started as crew on local race boats at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. He bought his first keel boat Doxy 2 in 1978 at the age of 28. After that he had Sannu Sannu, Kim Chow and West Wind 2.  It didn’t take long for Glenn to take the helm as skipper and he included many friends and family members in the exciting adventure of sailboat racing during Swiftsure, Victoria to Maui, and the West Coast race. He wasn’t in it to win, he was in it for the challenge, the adventure, and most importantly, for the camaraderie and connection he made with those on board. And from those connections came lifelong friendships which he cherished. Glenn often joked that he never won any of those races and was in fact, very proud of the after-thought trophy he was awarded by Royal Victoria Yacht Club.  Before time limits were established for Swiftsure, Glenn held the record for taking the longest time ever to finish a Swiftsure Lightship Classic.

In 1979, Glenn met MaryLou, the love of his life. They met by chance while Glenn was doing a major renovation to the Federal Building on Government Street and MaryLou was working for the government. They had a whirlwind love affair during their first two years as they navigated a long-distance relationship while MaryLou attended BCIT in Vancouver and Glenn continued to build his construction business in Victoria. On weekends in Vancouver, they’d go for lovely dinners and long walks on the sea wall in Stanley Park and on Granville Island. On alternate weekends, MaryLou came to Victoria, and they spent time with friends and sailing around the Gulf Islands. In winters, they travelled to Mexico and on their return from one trip to the Baja in January 1982, Glenn asked her to marry him. As she remembers it… “When we got back from Mexico, Glenn was up very early that first morning and was rushing to catch the first ferry back to Victoria. He said a quick goodbye and left the apartment. Moments later, I heard the apartment door open and there he was standing at the foot of the bed. He said, “I almost forgot to ask you,” Will you marry me?” In 1982, they married in Glenn’s parent’s garden and afterwards took their guests on a cruise from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club to the Inner Harbour and back aboard the 132-foot classic yacht, the Norsal.

Glenn loved children and felt they had a special point of view of the world, and he always made a special effort to pay close attention to them. Before he had his own children, he was “Uncle Glenn” to many of his friends’ children. In 1985, Glenn and MaryLou had their first daughter Claire Frances, so named after a family member of MaryLou’s and, much to Glenn’s delight, the same name of the famous and accomplished UK sailor Clare Francis, who Glenn admired. In 1987, they welcomed a second daughter, Nicola Grace.

Glenn was a present and engaged father who spent time with his girls in numerous adventures on foot, on bikes, in sailboats and kayaks, on trails and beaches and anywhere else he could show them the wonders of the world.

In 1995, Glenn and MaryLou started making plans to make an offshore passage with the girls in their 26’ Haida Sannu II. The idea was to give the girls an extraordinary experience that would stay with them the rest of their lives.  It was two years in the planning and preparing the boat for offshore sailing and in May 1997 with much fanfare, Glenn left Victoria and sailed single-handed to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. Forty-two days later, on June 21, 1997, much to his family’s relief, they received a phone from a very excited Glenn letting them know that he’d made it safely ashore in Taiohae Bay at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands.  He would take a much-deserved rest there for a few days and then set off for Tahiti. To no one’s surprise, he’d made fast friends with all the sailors in bay particularly one family from France who tapped his knowledge and experience with reading charts and anchoring. A few weeks later, MaryLou, Claire and Nicola joined him in Tahiti for a remarkable South Pacific adventure that would take them to French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa over the course of the next year. It was a life-changing experience for the whole family.

Glenn’s three attempts at a solo circumnavigation west about have been well documented in the media and on his blog GOING SOLO. The blog attracted thousands of followers in more than 100 countries who wanted to make a connection with him, offer their support, and in a sense, “be part of” the adventure. While he sailed alone, Glenn was surrounded by dozens of books written by offshore sailors about their experiences. After reading many of them (and some repeatedly), he felt something was missing. Very few talked about the tough stuff – the self-doubt, the crushing loneliness, the internal struggles, in short, the dark times. And, very few talked about the support from family and people around them who helped them accomplish their goal. Glenn wanted to share all of it, the thrills, the challenges, the unbearable loneliness, and the crushing defeats. He wanted to tell his story in his own words – the ‘unvarnished truth’ he called it. That, to him was most important.

He also wanted to talk about all the people he carried close to his heart as he sailed alone.  MaryLou, Claire and Nicola, his family and extended family, old friends and new friends from all over the world, the network of ham radio operators who’d signed on to keep him connected via the radio and there were many others – complete strangers who wanted him to know they were pulling for him and supporting his dream.

On his first attempt in 2007/08 on the day he left the wharf at the Inner Harbour, to his utter dismay, hundreds of emails had come in overnight via the website from people across Canada offering words of encouragement and support. An article about his adventure in the Globe and Mail had apparently struck a chord. He often said he would never be able to adequately express how vital those messages of support were to him, and how they acted as a tonic, and fueled his will to keep going. One of those messages read …

“Glenn, I wish you all the best as you embark on this amazing feat. You are an inspiration for all of us, not only for the endeavour itself, but more importantly you teach us to never give up on our dreams. I’ve always found you to be a humble and gracious person, I would have to add courageous in there as well. I will keep you in my prayers and follow your blog. We are all pulling for you.”

But some of the most cherished communications came from children – ten-year-old children in grades 5 and 6 from McLean, Saskatchewan to be precise. Their teacher lived in Regina next door to Glenn’s brother-in-law, Peter. When she heard about his adventure, she took it upon herself to include it in her school curriculum so the kids could follow Glenn around the world. Students were encouraged to write to him via the blog and he promised to answer their questions including ones about whether he had to anchor the boat at night so he could sleep and, of course, whether there were pirates at sea. When he returned from his voyage, he and MaryLou made a special trip to Saskatchewan to meet those students. It was an emotional reunion and Glenn took the opportunity to encourage them to write down their wildest dreams and never let go of them.

Anything that would get him out on the ocean, Glenn was all in. He volunteered for the local Coast Guard and for several seasons, he was a kayak instructor. He enjoyed showing beginners how to exit and re-enter the boat safely and delighted in hurling himself out of the kayak to demonstrate how to safely get back in the boat.  Safety was a primary focus for Glenn, and he made sure he was kitted out with ample equipment. One summer kayaking in Barkley Sound when the girls were very young, that safety equipment came in handy when a storm moved in, and they were forced to hunker down for two days of fierce wind and torrential rain. None of the other campers had a VHF radio, flares, emergency blankets or any other paraphernalia.  On this occasion, he was able to call the coast guard on his VHF radio and ask them to relay the message to some of the campers’ families that they would be two days past their arrival date due to bad weather.

Glenn left the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on September 6, 2020 on his third attempt to finish his solo circumnavigation. His plan was to round Cape Horn and make his way back to the same location where he had been rescued in 2008 by the Argentinian navy. Once there, he planned to turn around and head back to Victoria. That would have completed his solo circumnavigation or “tied the knot” as he put it, and realized his lifelong dream.

If weather and sea conditions allowed, he planned to rendezvous with Commander Pablo Fal, the officer at the Search and Rescue Centre in Ushuaia, Argentina who had planned and orchestrated his rescue. The two were going to meet face to face for the first time and both were looking forward to it.

Tragically, on September 16, 2020, Glenn suffered a devastating stroke 500 miles off the coast. Miraculously, he managed to get one text message to MaryLou explaining his heart-breaking situation. After being air lifted from West Wind 2, he was transported to Victoria and spent his final days surrounded by his loving family.

On January 4, 2021, we received a message from the US Coast Guard in Oregon that the emergency beacon device on West Wind 2 had been activated meaning that the boat was submerged somewhere nearby. Among other items, one small piece of flotsam made its way back to the family courtesy of the Coast Guard – the slightly battered and scarred half model of West Wind 2, an emblematic memento of his epic journey.  

As in life, Glenn left this world much like he lived it – on his own terms. Our dear Glenn passed away peacefully on October 5th, 2020, held by his loving family. He will be remembered as a cherished husband, a loving father and a loyal friend.

May your indomitable spirit live on in all who knew and loved you.

Celebration of Life for Glenn Wakefield

After a 2 year delay due to Covid, we are finally able to gather for a Celebration of Life for Glenn.

Celebration of Life for Glenn Wakefield
Sunday, September 18, 2022
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Royal Victoria Yacht Club (indoor and outdoor)
3475 Ripon Road, Victoria, B.C.
Street parking on Ripon Road and Beach Drive

Farewell and fair winds

Glenn Harvey Wakefield August 6, 1950 – October 5, 2020

At the helm of the Blue Leopard. Greek Islands, 1969

It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of our beloved husband and father Glenn Wakefield.

Glenn was adored by his wife of 38 years MaryLou, and their two daughters Claire and Nicola who were his pride and joy. Glenn is predeceased by his father Roy, mother Maureen, and younger brother Mark and is survived by his sister Mary, nephew Alex. He will be deeply missed by brother-in-law Peter, sister-in-law Leslie, and sister-in-law Jenny (Grant). Glenn lived with great passion and energy and approached life with a keen sense of adventure.

Glenn was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1950 to parents who emigrated from Portsmouth, England and moved to the west coast after a glimpse of Victoria in springtime. He grew up on San Juan Avenue, now Wakefield Place, in Gordon Head on property that overlooks Haro Strait and San Juan Island. He attended Gordon Head elementary, Mount Doug High School and Camosun College where he made and continued to keep in touch with life-long friends. Glenn worked as a logger, a fisherman, a surveyor and a carpenter. A born adventurer, Glenn travelled around the world in 1969 -70 making friends everywhere he went and keeping in touch with them throughout his life, recently celebrating a 50th reunion.

Glenn became a carpenter and worked alongside his father building Wakefield Construction into a company best known for its heritage restoration of some of Victoria’s iconic landmarks – Market Square, Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, Munro’s Books and many private residences. His company was honoured to receive local, regional and national heritage awards for its work over the years.

Glenn’s love of his family was well known. He met MaryLou in 1979 and theirs was a storybook love affair. They had two beautiful daughters Claire and Nicola who were his pride and joy.

Glenn’s passion for life, for his family and for sailing was legendary. He owned 5 keel boats over his lifetime and skippered them in Swiftsure and the West Coast Race. The thrill for him was not in winning, but sharing the experience with family and friends. In 1997-98, he and his family spent a year sailing their Haida 26 to many of the storied bays in the South Pacific and on to New Zealand after which they travelled around Australia and on to South Africa. 

Sannu II, South Pacific, 1997

Friends described Glenn as a diamond in the rough, one in a million, a one-off, a hero and a legend. He often defied rules and said he wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have him as a member. For him, it was always about the people and he cherished the camaraderie of many friends at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America and the Ocean Cruising Club (UK).

Glenn’s life-long dream started when he was a young boy on the beach at Arbutus Cove looking out to sea imagining himself one day sailing a tiny boat on a big ocean. He grew up listening to stories about the adventures of Captain Cook, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Alec Rose. Throughout his life, he read and re-read hundreds of books about sailing particularly those of the single handers with whom he most closely identified – John Guzzwell, Robin Knox Johnston, and Dee Caffari and was thrilled to meet Robin Knox-Johnston in person a number of years ago in Victoria. In 1999, Guzzwell penned prophetic words in a note tucked inside a gifted copy of his Trekka round the World that said, “With today’s crowded cities and the pressures of modern day living, the sea offers space where one can have time to think about one’s destiny. I hope you have found contentment in life.”

Over his lifetime, Glenn logged close to 55,000 nautical miles of open ocean sailing, and made three attempts at completing a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation, his way – west about. While many couldn’t understand what could drive him to undertake something they viewed as impossible, those closest to him understood that it was enough that it mattered to him and they supported his dream every step of the way. He was emboldened by Roosevelt’s words,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

His last voyage began on September 6 and would have taken him around Cape Horn to the precise location where he was rescued in 2008,
48.10 S, 51.57 W near the Falkland Islands. After that, he planned to stop in Argentina to meet members of the Argentinian navy who rescued him off their coast, and then head home. Tragically, fate had other plans for Glenn who was taken from us before he could fulfill his dream.

Up until the end of his life, he was the master of his fate and the captain of his soul. One way or the other, Glenn’s story will be published. A celebration of Glenn’s life is being planned and will take place when COVID restrictions allow for a gathering. The date will be announced on the blog.

Glenn will be remembered as a loving husband, a dedicated father, loyal friend, a man who worked hard and played harder.

A man who lived life on his own terms. He inspired many of us to fulfill our own dreams and in so doing, each of us honour Glenn’s memory.

Thank you

Thank you for sharing your memories of Glenn and your heartfelt messages.

If there is one thing Glenn would have hoped for, it is that his family would be okay.

Where that seems impossible right now, the kindness and generosity we have received and the wonderful memories you’ve shared on these pages are helping us work towards being okay, one day at a time.

We want you to know we are thinking of you too. Glenn’s story touched many people in different ways and his death sent a ripple far and wide.

We love that his spirit is carried in each of you and knowing that makes the finality of his death feel slightly less so. Please continue to share your stories with us here.

We love knowing how Glenn’s/Dad’s story lives on.

Thank you all.

With you in spirit

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

On our Haida 26, Sannu II somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, 1997

It is with deep sadness that we let you know that our dear, sweet Glenn passed away peacefully last night at 10:14 p.m.

As in life, Glenn chose the way he wanted to die which was to do it on his own terms, and without assistance. He left this world much like he lived it, surrounded by his adoring family, who wished him fair winds and a smooth journey.

We will be making plans for a tribute and celebration of Glenn’s life in the weeks and months ahead and will share that with you when the time is right.

Thank you for always supporting Glenn and particularly his big dream. It meant everything to him to know you were along for the ride. 

And, thank you for supporting me and the girls always, and especially through these past few excruciating weeks. We are deeply grateful.

We will each remember Glenn in our own way and for his unique gifts. We will remember him as a man who lived his life with passion, rail under, one hand on the tiller, scotch in the other, his infectious laugh letting us know he was living life to the very fullest.

MaryLou, Claire and Nicola


October 2, 2020 @1050

Dear friends

Glenn remains in stable but critical condition.

We have been meeting with his medical team who continue to assess and monitor his condition and we’ve been told it is unlikely to improve.

As always, our focus is on his quality of life.

Thank you for continuing to support Glenn and all of us through this difficult time.


September 30, 2020 @1400

Glenn arrived home in Victoria yesterday evening. He remains in critical condition in ICU.

Our family is now focusing all of our energies on Glenn. We will provide updates when possible.

Thank you all for your support and understanding.


A quick update to let you know there’s been a delay in transporting Glenn home. We’re expecting him in the next day or possibly two.

Looking forward to updating you once we have him back in our loving arms.

Thank you all for holding on to hope for him.

One day closer to home

Update Sunday, Sept 27 @ 0900

Thank you all for continuing to send your kind words and continuing to share the link to this blog to your communities. The GFM campaign has reached individuals far and wide and we are working on ways to further that reach to more audiences.

Over the weekend, we’ve been working with the hospital in San Jose and the emergency transportation team here in Victoria to make all the arrangements for Glenn to be transported on Monday.

The medical team there is preparing him to be transported, the transport team here is in place, and the hospital here is preparing for his arrival. There are so many people working hard to make this happen and we are so grateful for everyone’s efforts.

We continue our daily visits with him over FaceTime and reassure him that he’ll be coming home very soon. We hope with all our hearts that’s true. We tell him that he is loved so much by so many and we whisper sweet things to him before we say good night. He’s unable to respond other than look at us but we’re holding on to the idea that he can hear us and that he understands. Those visits, as we’ve said before are the best, and most difficult part of our day.

As you can imagine, the strength he needs to hold on through all of this is enormous. We’re looking forward to the moment when we can be with Glenn in person and hold him close.

The power of community

Sept 25, 2020 @ 1900

We’re overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of support for Glenn and the #BringGlennHome GoFundMe campaign. You can read the update here. We’re so humbled by every one of your donations. They are all important in reaching our goal. Thank you so much.

As of today, Friday, Sept 25, we have reached just over 80% of our original goal and together we’ve raised an astounding $123,000.00 from 707 donors. As one friend said, ”that’s a lot of money and a lot of love.” Situations like this show us how deeply connected we really are and the collective power of community.

We are eagerly awaiting an update from Glenn’s neurologist with new information about the timing of his transfer home. It’s been a long and excruciating wait and I wish we had more details to share with you at this point. We want you to know we have read each and every one of your lovely messages and we feel your support.

The girls and I are learning to come to terms with the situation and we are supporting each other through the ups and downs. The best and most difficult part of each day is when we talk to Glenn over FaceTime from his hospital bed. For now, it’s a one-way conversation but we are holding on to hope that he finds some comfort in hearing our voices. We read all your kind messages to him and we believe he can feel the love.

Thank you all so much for continuing to support Glenn and all of us through this.

Love and hope is holding us together

Wednesday, Sept 23, 2020

Sunset cruise on West Wind II , April 2020

Glenn remains in critical but stable condition and is expected to be ready for transfer to Victoria within 5 – 7 days, god willing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a strict no visitor policy therefore, we must remain in Canada and await his return. Our family physician here in Victoria has been at our side from the beginning of this ordeal providing logistical coordination for Glenn’s transfer and emotional support to our family.
We love you Dr. H.

Many of you have reached out with messages of love and hope and for us, they are the glue keeping our family together and we are so thankful for all of you.

We want to share a heartwarming moment our family had amidst this otherwise dark time that I think you may also feel buoyed by. It comes in the form of an email from the Rear Admiral and Commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District in Alameda, California. It was the women and men in his command who were responsible for coordinating Glenn’s rescue from West Wind II.

Here’s an excerpt from the Admiral’s reply to our note of thanks.

Although you may be surprised to hear it, I’ve rarely received an email like yours in over 31 years of service.  Thank you for taking the time to compose such a thoughtful email.

Please know that Coast Guard women and men live for the opportunity to save those in peril on the sea, and that we are overjoyed we were able to be part of this rescue.”

Many of you have asked how we, his family, are doing and I want you all to know that this is a devastating and uncertain journey for us and we appreciate your kindness and compassion. We feel supported by so many who have reached out to offer the gift of your company, nourishing food, and sharing the link to the GoFundMe Campaign across your networks, all of which is so appreciated. Others have offered support and information that may assist in the retrieval of West Wind II and we have a group of dear friends who are at this moment working towards that.

We are keenly aware and sensitive to the fact that Glenn is a close and treasured friend to many of you and his unfortunate situation is personal for you and hits hard. As one friend so poignantly put it,

“I think (if it gives you any peace with this) the reason why this tugs at all of us is because it strikes so many chords at the same time. Our sense of adventure through Glenn and his courage, our fear of the same thing happening and mostly preventing guys like me from jumping off, our compassion for your entire family and our sense of charity to our sailing community are all somewhat rattled.” 

We’ll provide more relevant information as we receive it. His family continues to hold space for a miracle and Glenn’s safe return home soon.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Update on Glenn and Go Fund Me Campaign

September 21, 2020 @1800

MaryLou and the girls would like to begin by thanking all of you who have reached out with support. We are feeling comforted by your kindness.

We would like to update you on Glenn’s status.

Glenn is currently stable, in critical condition in a hospital in California following a massive stroke.

We are working hard to Bring Glenn Home with the help of so many people here in Canada and the U.S.

Glenn did not anticipate touching U.S. soil and as such does not have U.S. medical insurance. We have created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to bring him home to Victoria for care.

You can find a link to our GoFundMe at the top of the every page.

Glenn’s family would like to thank our many friends who have shown kindness and generosity during this most difficult time. From our local medical team working behind the scenes to coordinate Glenn’s return home, those in the sailing community working tirelessly on a plan to recover West Wind II, and to the friends who have provided us meals, we are forever grateful for all of you and your efforts.

Update on Glenn

September 18 @ 19:00

This update is from MaryLou, Glenn’s wife, and our two daughters Claire and Nicola from our home in Victoria.

Firstly, we would like to extend our gratitude for your messages and all the support from so many friends through this very challenging time.

We would like to let you know that Glenn is currently safe, in a hospital in California and is receiving exceptional medical care. At this time we are awaiting the results of multiple assessments that will give us a more complete picture of his condition.

We are hoping for the best possible outcome for Glenn and will provide further updates about his condition as they become available.

With gratitude,

MaryLou, Claire and Nicola


Thursday, Sept 17, 13:30

Glenn has sent a message asking for medical assistance. We are in communication with the US Coast Guard who is at this moment providing support.

Please hold Glenn in your thoughts. We are all hoping for the best.

We will provide updates when they are available.

It’s getting real

Day 9 Sept 14 39.24 N, 131.45 @ 14:15 6.5 knots

Recovering from my first full gale last night. All is well and no gear broken, or bones! I have to admit I should have just chosen the other tack and headed for shore. I’m headed back to where I started yesterday afternoon. Once I had committed last night conditions quickly deteriorated and tacking in big seas on a very dark night with water coming over the deck was not a good idea so I shortened sail got comfortable and waited it out. Things always look better in the morning in the light of day and we are on a much better course with the wind just off the nose and heading down the coast. My routine for heavy weather is coming back and some of the changes I made for Vic – Maui race are taking a while to get used to. Moving the main sheet traveller aft of the tiller would have worked better with crew on board but for me by myself it’s a bit out of reach. I secured the windward running back stay tackle to aft of the rail to give the mast more support in the big sea running last night. It helps steady the mast in those conditions.  

I’m very much missing getting emails and having conversations with people on Winlink. I’m going to try and talk to some ham land stations just like I talked to Cliff and Alek. Missing our conversations the most. those ties for me are very important to keep me grounded out here.

It’s always the way that once I actually put myself here on the boat that it gets real – the scale of the voyage and what it’s going to take to make it successful. 

First blow

Sunday, Sept 13 @ 21:35 39.39 N, 130.77 W 5.4 knots

There’s  nothing quite like your first blow to find all the chinks in your armour. It’s blowing pretty hard out there and has been for most of today. I have three reefs in the main and the working jib rolled in a little way past the last black reefing stripes. We are doing just over five knots and it is comfortable in a gale-at-sea kinda way.

I spent a couple of hours in the cockpit watching the storm unfold after an hour or so catching up to the wind conditions. In the euphoria of being back at sea I had forgotten to take the anchor off the bow when leaving the Straits and although I secured it well, not well enough for the conditions we are experiencing today.

So with my new offshore gear on, I faced my old nemesis “the guy with the fire hose”. After crawling up the deck I got all snuggled in to the bow with harness attached and a line to re-secure the anchor in my free hand. West Wind is plowing the Pacific at 5 1/2 knots with the anchor – a fine 40 lb 
plow itself. As soon as I leaned through the pulpit to lasso the anchor, the guy with the fire hose starts soaking me down. The bow is rising and falling about six feet with each wave burying the anchor every four seconds along with me. The big consolation here is that the water is, well not warm but it sure ain’t Cadboro Bay either. This is when all that practice doing the one handed knots really pays off. After what seems like an eternity on the waterboard I feel water start to trickle in my boots and it’s on its way to my neck as well. This voyage was made out to be a big deal so I laid down some serious coin for “offshore rain gear” and I’m here to tell you after all my voyages I have never found rain gear that is any match for the guy with the fire hose, it’s impossible. The rodeo with the anchor is now complete and I disentangled myself from my safety gear kind of like Houdini and made my way back to the comfort and relative safety of the cockpit. Mission complete!

I think we will be in this little commotion for about 12 to 18 hours, at least that’s how long they usually last. We are hunkered down for the duration and I have a can of split pea and ham soup on the stove. This gale has been good for me. It reminds me of all things I need to do to be prepared and what to do as it builds. 
There has been some rain as well and along with the waves it will clean all that smoke and soot residue off the decks.
I have a good course and once this has passed, I hope to be in a good position to head for a way point in the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone).

The ITCZ is visible as a band of clouds encircling Earth near the Equator.

Note: The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms because of its monotonous, windless weather, is the area where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. It encircles Earth near the thermal equator though its specific position varies seasonally. Source: Wikipedia

Heading in to a low pressure area

Recording barograph measures atmospheric pressure

Day 8 Sunday, Sept 13 @ 08:13 40.01 N, 129.96 W

Glenn is still experiencing communications difficulties on WestWind II so daily updates are minimal for the time being.

“Nice to have weather report. Big low moving in below me so decided to chill last night and move on slowly. South wind on the nose”.

Glenn’s current position (small green circle) in upper centre on earthnullschool
animated weather website

Update 09:03
You would love it if you could be transported here at the moment. The clouds, the sky and the mercury ocean are unbelievable! Wish I could send a photo. I could try and sketch it but fear I would not do it justice but maybe I will try anyway. It’s the colours, the shapes and that line – so finite so dramatic.


Day 7 Saturday, Sept 12 @ 09:28 40.20 N, 130.31 W

Glenn is experiencing challenges with his communications systems which means that his updates via email have been sparse. We are working on helping him sort out the issues and hopefully he will be able to provide regular updates soon.

He has a handheld GPS device on board which, when working, gives his latest position. Click here to see Glenn’s position on a map or visit the WHERE IS GLENN NOW? section of the home page.

The square miles of smoke in the image above totals 963,269. That estimate has been computed using the measurement tool within the NASA Worldview application. Credits: NASA Worldview

Visit the Earth Nullschool website to see an animated weather map.

Calm and smokey

On WestWind II circa 2019

Day 6 Friday, Sept 11 @ 06:17 42.03 N, 130.21 W

Becalmed after a very good sail for about three days with hardly any deck work and lots of naps, reading and eating.

I did motor sail for about 2 hours hoping the wind would fill in but no luck.
The smoke this morning is really bad and there is some residual black soot on the deck. There are still birds chirping away around us this morning, poor souls must be very disorientated.

This somewhat still water will be a good time for me to finish my “head” project.

Note: Glenn is having some communication issues on board which we are working to resolve.

Tricky manoeuvers at sea

Day 4 Thursday, Sept 9 @ 03:26 44.19 N, 128.66 W
Just got back down below after altering course and changing sails from a run to a reach.  The moon is blood red and there are very few stars showing because the smoke in the air is so thick. There was no sun set this evening for the same reason. A black and not so stormy night. I have had several unusual encounters with wild life as well. I found several dragon flies on deck, birds flying around the boat chirping, and there was a sparrow that landed this afternoon. We are well over a hundred miles offshore… a bit far for a sparrow! 

Coming off a run (wind from behind) onto a reach (wind from the side) in the middle of the night on your own requires some planning, particularly if the wind is falling coupled with a boisterous sea.  Life jacket with safety harness and head light on full are the basic equipment before coming up on deck.

I laid in my bunk for about half an hour planning my moves, and wondering how long I could put it off. When running before the wind in a seaway, it’s important to secure the boom so the main sail does not flap and chafe. I hook up a preventer line which is already on the outward end of the boom and while not being used, is attached temporarily near the gooseneck which attaches the boom to the mast. There is one each side of the boom so which ever tack I’m on, the preventer is handy. I attach another line to the inboard end of the preventer and then run that down to the toe rail about eight feet back from the bow and cinch it up tight once the boom and main are in the right position for the run. This line must be removed so the boom can be brought in with the mainsheet in the cockpit. The boom vang, a tackle that runs from the bottom of the boom down to the toe rail in order that the boom does not rise is also let go before the main sheet is brought in. This requires some quick manoeuvering which can be difficult while moving your harness down the deck as you move back and forward. Once the main is set for the new course, the vang is put on again.

Now there is the jib which is poled out the opposite side to the main sail which has its own preventers to hold the pole in place which keeps the jib where you want it for running before the wind. Getting the pole down requires some very quick manoeuvering so the pole doesn’t swing dangerously when the jib sheet is let go. The line controls for the topping lift, which controls the pole, are on the mast and you have to make your way from the cockpit to the mast very smartly to maintain a controlled take down of the pole. There is also a downhaul for the pole which has to be released. Once the pole is secured on deck you make your way back to the cockpit and roll in the jib and then bring the boat around to your new course and set the wind vane and secure its lines to the the tiller and then set the jib to the new course. Once I’m satisfied the vane is steering the new course I tidy up all the lines around the mast and when I’m back in the cock pit, take one last look at the course and head back to my bunk. This some times goes very well and sometimes not so well depending on my state of mind and the weather. Tonight went rather well, I must have gotten lucky.


Day 3 Tuesday, Sept 8, 2020 @ 07:30 47.91 N, 126.44 W

Becalmed in a fiery sea with the sun just a few feet above the horizon. It’s quiet, but for Westy’s stirring to the still lumpy surroundings. A spider weaves a nest in the pushpit pipes and moths flutter by. I’m jealous of their speed. Frustrating conditions last night with waves coming quickly from several directions. Very lumpy and unpredictable motion on board, also hard on the sails and rigging. I slept well in between trips on deck to quiet and ease the slapping of the main and jib.

Nice slow morning here, we are not going anywhere so a slow cup of tea in the cockpit will be fine.Not sure where the wind went but will wait till some sign shows up and we will make the best of it.
One small job on the list, repair the head. There are pros and cons with using a bucket, I have yet to realize the pros other than it tends to not
clog up. I have my old chart here from when I left around the same time in 2013 so will overlay my positions and compare. Hard to believe this is my forth time, no fifth time across the Pacific. Four times south and once North.

The land has gone by the wayside. The slowly fading silhouette disguised the entrance to the Strait of Juan Fuca. It’s what Captain Cook would have seen and what a thrill that must have been. I was surprised by the amount of freighter traffic yesterday transiting the Straits. One thing I noticed was their speed seemed a lot slower than it used to be within the Straits. 
I’ve just heard the wind generator start up so there is wind. Hurray!  
On that note, I will sign off.  Love to all.
Cheers, G

NOTE: To see Glenn’s latest position on a map, click on Where is Glenn Now? on the home page.


Fifth transit of the Pacific begins

Day 2 Monday, Sept 7, 2020 48.32 N, 125.03 W @ 0:545

A clear sky is blushing on the eastern edge. The moon is bright overhead and a few stars remain on stage. It’s cool but no fog, not like last night when it enveloped us for many hours with its cool mist. I’ve heard whales in the distance along with the breaking shore and the haunting call of a loon. Vancouver Island is a black silhouette against a light blue early morning sky.

We are motoring slowly over 2 m swells from the Pacific. The lights of freighters are going back and forth on their highway. We were becalmed for several hours and I slept below as we wallowed. A promising breeze is coming up behind us. With any luck we will clear Cape Flattery.

This afternoon starts my fifth transit of the Pacific. I am warm and dry. A cup of tea will be brewing shortly. 
Cheers, G   

NOTE: To see Glenn’s latest position on a map, click on Where is Glenn Now? on the home page.

And so it begins

Sunday, Sept 6, 2020 @ 19:45

Sunset, sailing well. And so begins the first night.

NOTE: To see Glenn’s latest position on a map, click on Where is Glenn Now? on the home page.

It’s all coming back to me

Glenn on West Wind II at the start of his
third attempt at completing a solo westabout circumnavigation

Sunday, September 6, 2020 15:30

I’m now five miles off East Sooke park heading back from the American side. The wind is 10-12 knots from the west coming right down the Straits. We have 15 degrees of heel and making 5.5 knots. It’s sunny, cold and very bright. There’s fog against the US shore and I hope it stays over there.
It’s all coming back to me. The vane is steering, I’ve made tea and have been pecking away at my roasted chicken and eating Trevor Hayward’s fabulous rock cakes. I changed into warm clothes for the night.
We got headed and are now heading directly for East Sooke. No panic I’ll tack in a bit. The tide will be changing to an ebb in an hour or so, so that will help us on our way.

Friends gather on the wharf at Royal Victoria Yacht Club to say goodbye

I’ve been fortunate to have such amazing friends who would show up in the middle of a pandemic to say good bye. Thank you, it was greatly appreciated, more than you know.

West Wind II is escorted out of Cadboro Bay by our 26′ Haida Shadow with MaryLou, Claire and Nicola aboard

I’m tired now and tonight will take some doing but the wind looks promising. It’s supposed to lighten up during the night then fill in from behind early Monday morning with 15 + knots.
With lots of tea and warm clothes, I should have no problem. I hope the fog stays in the American side!

There will be a moon around 22:00 hrs which if clear will brighten my spirits. Thanks again to everyone for coming to the dock and sending messages from near and far.

Here’s a link to the story in today’s Times Colonist by Jeff Bell.

NOTE: To see Glenn’s latest position on a map, click on Where is Glenn Now? on the home page.

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.