Saturday, April 23, 2016

Opua: last from New Zealand

     This will  be my last post from New Zealand, assuming I ever get it uploaded.  I have been trying for almost an hour.   The Internet here is excruciatingly frustrating and is destroying my equanimity.  

        I slept last night on the starboard pipe berth.  It is comfortable as I remembered, but requires adaption.  I’m old, but I can adapt.
        I woke at 5:30, had a cup of instant coffee and waited for light to row ashore and fill two jerry cans with water.  
        I left them in the cockpit until after I rowed in later to shower and filled a third.
       In the meantime I removed the two small plates I had screwed into the transom to prevent the huge shackles for the Jordan drogue from digging into thin fiberglass.  I discovered a few days ago that the plates are thick enough to prevent the pins in the shackles from being secured.  
        The shackles seem to be held in positions where they don’t touch the fiberglass anyway.  But if they do, they do.  This is survival mode.
        I filled the holes with epoxy stick putty, sanded and painted.  Not a departure task I anticipated.
        GANNET’s interior is an interlocking puzzle in which if you want to move one part, you often have to move five others.
        Last evening I rowed in and got a General Store pizza, good for me for three meals:  three slices hot for dinner yesterday; two slices cold for lunch today; three slices cold for dinner, accompanied by red wine.
       After my two piece lunch—not accompanied by red wine—I started moving parts of the interior puzzle around.  I found that I installed one of the under deck components of the Pelagic tiller pilot in a location where I used to stow a jerry can of water.  I adapted.
        I kept moving duffle bags and jerry cans around, frankly laboriously,  On all boats, but particularly on GANNET, you move and lift in undesirable positions.  Abruptly it all came together.  Chaos was ordered; one of the fundamental functions, and perhaps delusions, of our species.  Everything is not yet tied in place, but I know what is where.  GANNET is in trim.  We are in passage mode,
        I don’t have much confidence in weather forecasts beyond 48 hours, but for the past two days I have used Craig’s LuckGrib app to download GRIBs and I hope they are right this time.  
        Winds Tuesday are predicted to be 15 to 22 knots from the south.  I am going north for 70 or 80 miles until I clear North Cape, then northwest.  If the prediction is accurate, GANNET will leave New Zealand as though she were shot out of a cannon.  And the GRIB shows perfect conditions for several more days.
        With an 11 a.m. departure we even have the tide with us for five hours.  
        I don’t worry that much about weather.  
        I want to leave with a favorable forecast, which can be defined as wind from some direction other than directly ahead and not pouring rain.
        I don’t require good weather.  I left Sydney to Opua in 2003 in a gale, riding the north side across the Tasman at speed.
       Once at sea I expect that I can deal with whatever happens unless destroyed by chance.  That confidence comes from having been in Force 12 now at least eight times--and I don't know if anyone else can make that statement--but I believed in myself from the beginning.
       I watch the barometer.  I look at the sky and the sea and feel the wind, trying to observe change.
       Every evening at sunset I pay particular attention because I don’t want to be awakened unpleasantly.
        There have been false positives when I thought serious change might come and it didn’t; but in all these decades I don’t recall a single time I went to sleep thinking all would be well until dawn and it wasn’t.
       Unless I have reason to expect change, I do not reduce sail at sunset.
       To the contrary, with the development of gennaker furling gear, I now often set more sail at sunset if it seems appropriate, knowing I can regain control in a few seconds standing in the companionway.
       I said more good-byes today.

       I stood in the companionway watching the sunset below the Opua hill, sipping red wine and listening to Erik Satie accompanied by sea gulls.

     Here is an email I sent to a few publications and sites  I thought might be interested:

The Southern Hemisphere Moore 24 fleet, a.k.a. hull #40, GANNET, will be departing Opua, New Zealand when the wind comes up on Tuesday, April 26—Monday the 25th in the U.S—to resume what, time and chance permitting, will be her first circumnavigation and her owner’s sixth.

She is heading to South Africa via Australia, where her port of entry will be Bundaberg in southern Queensland.  That Bundaberg is famous for a rum distillery is coincidental.
From Bundaberg, GANNET and Webb Chiles, 74, will make their way north to Cape York, probably first outside the Great Barrier Reef and then from Cairns inside.  The sail from Cairns to Cape York is Webb Chiles’s favorite coastal sail in the world and he will be making it for the fourth time in a fourth different boat.

After Cape York, they will sail for Darwin; and from Darwin to South Africa, possibly non-stop, a passage of almost 6,000 miles; possibly with stops at Cocos and/or Mauritius. 

By the time they reach Durban or Port Richards they will have sailed more than 9,000 miles this year.  If they are near Cape Town by December, 10,000 miles.

Over the more than four decades Webb Chiles has been sailing the world, he has seen the average cruising boat become ever larger.  45’ is now probably the norm.  And the norm may be a catamaran.  

Obviously GANNET is not a cruising boat and Webb Chiles is not a cruiser.

If you would like to follow their progress the tracking page is:

For more information:  

The passage logs will be published in the journal after arrival in port.

When Webb Chiles sails, he enters what he calls the monastery of the sea and does not communicate with the land.

       GANNET and I are ready.  The Yellowbrick is fully charged and will go active Tuesday morning, uploading positions at six hour intervals to the sixth circumnavigation 2016 event. 

       See you on the other side.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Opua: piped and honored

        I was just looking at yesterday’s lead photograph.  It was taken, as were all the photos in that entry, with my iPhone 6.  It was a mistake.  I moved or GANNET did or both; but when I saw it I instantly liked it.  An impressionist painting, “Full Moon Over Roberton Island.”
        The line of light to the right of center was a light on a small power boat that came in after dark and tied up to a dock in front of one of the five or six private houses on the island.  Most of the island is public land.  
        I met the people who own that house when they came by GANNET on her Opua mooring out of curiosity that the American flag was flying from a boat clearly too small to have crossed the Pacific.  
        They have a small CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE size sailboat on a mooring near their dock, the only mooring in the Lagoon.   What a wonderful way and place to live.  How great to be there in a storm.  To climb up to the lookout, if you could do so without being blown away.  I envy them.  I’d like to live on a small island.  Oh, that’s right:  I do.


        When you arrive in New Zealand on a foreign vessel, Customs provides you with a packet of information, including departure forms.  There are three and I filled them out today and took them to the Customs office at the marina.  I gave my intended departure as 11:00 a.m. next Tuesday, April 26.  Monday in the U.S.  I have to reconfirm on Monday, but I will be ready and the forecast, if it can be believed at this remove, is perfect:  10 to 18 knots of wind from the south.  Monday is ANZAC Day, a national holiday, but I was told someone will be on duty at Customs.
        Returning to GANNET I reconfigured the cabin from harbor to passage mode.  The process is not complete.  That will have to wait until I fill the four five-gallon jerry cans with water tomorrow.  But it is sufficiently advanced so that I will be sleeping on pipe berths from tonight until at least Bundaberg and possibly South Africa.  I’m not sure it will be worth the effort to change back to harbor mode for only a few days at a time.
       GANNET has not been in passage mode since I arrived more than a year and a half ago.  I’ve eliminated one duffle bag since then, and changed the contents of another into a different bag.
       I trust I still know how to do this.


        Because Monday is a holiday, I started to say good-bye to people here today.
        I know more people in Opua than I do in Chicago.  Opua is my ‘Cheers’.  Everybody knows my name.  Well, not everybody, but many.  
        These are good people.  Probably not all, but all those I come into contact with.  At different times when I’ve returned after being away for a few years, New Zealanders, knowing how much I like the Bay of Islands, have said, “Welcome, home.”  
       A few days ago a man who works at Caters said, “You get a discount as an honorary Kiwi.”
       If I am, I am honored.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Opua: a defining moment

       I sailed to Roberton Island yesterday.
       I had GANNET ready at 10:30 but there was no wind and I did not drop the mooring until a half hour later.
       A beautiful sunny fall day.  
       The wind shifted, heading us, and we beat most of the way.  Even in moderate wind GANNET heels 20°, which was the angle at which I reduced sail on most of my boats, finding that they sailed faster as well as more comfortably when more on their bottoms.  On GANNET I have accepted that 20° is not unusual and try to carry on until 30° where life on board becomes unpleasantly difficult.
       I am still learning that I can see wind angle by glancing down at the Raymarine wind display at the head of the cockpit rather than craning my neck and looking up at the masthead Windex.  I’ve done that so long on so many boats, I probably always will.
       When I arrived at Roberton there were a dozen boats anchored there.  I had picked my spot and was heading in under mainsail when a ‘sailboat’—I use the term with reservations:  it was a sailboat hull but had no masts—powered past me and dropped anchor where I had hoped to. 
       One advantage of anchoring on mostly line rode is that depth no longer matters.
       I changed course and anchored in a part of the misnamed Lagoon where I usually don’t, in 45’/14  meters of water.  
       After we were set I pumped up the dinghy and rowed ashore to climb the trail to the lookout.  Following the moisture the day before, I thought that it might be muddy and slippery, but there were enough fallen leaves and pine needles to provide traction.
       The lower part of the trail is a tunnel through forest,
with tree limbs meeting over your head.  Steps have been cut into the upper part and wooden stairways built.
       The view from the lookout is world class. 
I don’t know how many times I’ve been there over the decades.  I knew that this time was shutting a door.  I might never be back again.  But that was the defining moment.  I had done everything I wanted to in the Bay of Islands for now.  As I walked back down I was shifting into departure mode.
       By sunset only two boats were left in the Lagoon.  Both flying the American flag.  The other a 40’ ketch.
       Just before sunset, while standing in the companionway, I watched a gannet cannon ball into the water and come up with a fish.  After a gulp he flew to the east, perhaps to Bird Island.
       After dinner of the second half of Mediterranean lamb and olives, I went back on deck, listening to music and sipping wine.  A full moon rose over the island. 
I have described it as magic, but it wasn’t.  It was natural and certain.  There is a lot of beauty here if you expose yourself to it.
       With a light south wind, I had the anchor up at 8:30 the next morning.  Lifting 45’ of line is easier than 45’ of chain.  Which is not to say that I don’t think that all chain rodes are best.  But if you can avoid chaff and have a good deployment bag, line has its advantages.
      Another sunny, light wind day.  The Bay of Islands may be becoming San Diego south.
       I had to beat my way to Russell and had the anchor down there beyond the mooring field at 10:30.
       I rowed ashore an hour later, was a few minutes early at the Duke of Marlborough, which begins serving lunch at noon.  Kind Kiwis seated me and brought me a glass of sauvignon blanc before, shortly after twelve, salt and pepper calamari.  I’m sure other items on their menu are good, but I’m not there that often that I get tired of my favorite.  This was followed by a Black Doris plum ice cream from a shop around the corner.  I don't know who Black Doris was but she is a good plum.  And then shopping.
       I rowed my acquisitions out to GANNET, raised anchor at 1:45 and was back on the mooring at 3:30. 
       As we approached Opua, a gannet flew past us heading north, without a glance.  
       Getting on the mooring was not easy.  The wind was from the east, creating rebound off the breakwater.  The tide was coming in strong and the combination of currents killed GANNET’s momentum.
      I came up a few feet/less than a meter short twice and was stalled, going stern first, with no response from the rudder, before I fell far enough off for the mainsail to fill.  
       The third time I aimed past the mooring and let it come along side where from GANNET I was able to reach over from the cockpit and grab the float.  Perhaps unfortunately, though I didn’t think of this at the time, with my left hand which is connected to my damaged left shoulder.  I secured the line from the float to a beam cleat, released the main halyard, centered the tiller with the tiller pilot.  And then ran a line from the float to the bow cleat and manhandled the mooring pennant to the bow cleat.  Not elegant.  But done.
      An hour ago I made a departure list.  I love it here, but I am done.
      I will be ready to leave Monday or Tuesday, depending on when I see the officials.
      Of weather, I would like to leave with the wind from some angle other than directly ahead, and I would like not to leave in a downpour.  
      Once at sea, I don’t worry about forecasts because I expect I can deal with whatever happens.
       I just downloaded a GRIB with Craig’s LuckGrib.  I will not use it at sea, but I expect I will always use it before beginning a passage.
       Next week looks good.  The wind will be light and from the south and east.  GANNET goes in light.  The new G2 will fly.  Maybe the older asymmetrical as well.
      I love being here.
      I love being with Carol.
      But it is time for me to sail oceans.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Opua: cheaters

        Sailing Anarchy ran an item about an Amazon single, COMEBACK:  How Larry Ellison’s Team Won The America’s Cup.
        I bought and read it.  
        COMEBACK is only 70 pages long, over-priced at $2.99.  For that you could buy one of my books and get great literature.  However, I don’t begrudge the author his royalties.  I got my money’s worth.
        The book is somewhat fawning and sycophantic.  I suppose that is inevitable.  Otherwise the author could not have gained access.
       The answer to the question posed in the subtitle is simple:  they cheated.  Knowingly.  They couldn’t win without cheating, so they cheated.
        It is a great success story.  A triumph of the human spirit.
        Or perhaps not.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Opua: inside a cloud; sea (or land) monster; the birds; Gourmet

        Today was supposed to be sunny and with 10 to 15 knots of wind.  Something went wrong.  Complete overcast and mist with no wind at all.  Sometimes the mist turns briefly to light rain, but mostly it is like being inside a cloud.  I have a couple of things I’d like to do on deck, but they require dry surfaces and there aren’t any.
        The forecast for the rest of the week is good.  If it is right and if there is wind tomorrow, I’ll sail to Russell to provision and to Roberton Island to row ashore and climb up to the lookout over the main part of the bay, or vice versa, and be gone a couple of days.
        When I return to the mooring, assuming I leave, I’ll reconfigure the interior into passage mode and start sleeping on one of the pipe berths.

        I was awakened at midnight by the roaring, bellowing—I’m not sure what to call it—of an unknown creature.  It sounded most like either a sea lion or a moose, neither of which should be here.  It went on for a while at intervals.  I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the land or the water, and wonder if tonight will see a repeat performance.


        Sunday evening was still and beautiful, with a waxing gibbous moon reflecting off shimmering water.  
        I went back on deck after dinner in The Great Cabin and sat at my newly discovered place in front of the tiller, listening to music and sipping wine.
        Suddenly hundreds of terns took off from the breakwater dock and began flying east.  Many of them were flying low, not much above deck level.  The sky was a river of terns, that separated as it approached GANNET and flowed around her bow and stern.
        The birds flew up the inlet to the east and did not return before I went below deck.


        Based on consumption I am one of the world’s foremost experts on freeze dry food.
        I have now tried each of the seven new Outdoor Gourmet meals and am prepared to offer my professional judgment.
        All are good.  All are innovative.  All are two 400+ calorie servings, which makes them no more expensive than the standard Backcountry Cuisine meals bought in single servings.
        By far my favorite is Wild Mushroom and Lamb Risotto.  Magnifique.
        I’m not sure I have a second choice.  I like all of the others equally, with the exception of the Venison and Rice Noodle Stirfry, which comes in last.
        Several of the meals do not actually taste like what they purport to be.  The Beef Bourguignon is not Beef Bourguignon.  Nor is the Coq au Vin, Coq au Vin.  But both are good.  The Tandoori Chicken does taste like Tandoori Chicken. 
        Four of the meals come with a secondary packet inside the main pouch.  The Beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin have instant mashed potatoes.  The Tandoori Chicken, dried yogurt.  And the Wild Mushrooms and Lamb, a packet of parmesan cheese.
        Some of these secondary packets are going to present problems at sea and I will probably just mix them in with the main ingredients.
        From a few American freeze dry meals that also come in two serving pouches, I know that it is difficult to divide all ingredients evenly, so my judgment of some meals may be influenced by uneven distribution.  I have thus far eaten both halves of four of the meals, but not the other three.
        I did not order any Butter Chicken or Thai Green Curry because I was concerned they might be too spicy and thirst-inducing on a boat where fresh water is limited.  I wish I had ordered one of each to test, but didn’t think of it at the time.
        Five cooking tips from the JetBoil of Chef Webb.
        Add a little more water than called for.  With freeze dry food, too much is far better than too little.
        Do not try to pour boiling water into the pouch at sea.  The mouth is too narrow.  You will pour boiling water on yourself and the cabin sole.  Put the contents of the pouch into something like the big plastic measuring cup I eat from and pour the water into it and then cover with something, even a paper towel will do.
        After you add the water, stir the ingredients well and be sure all are wet.
        Let the meals steep a couple of minutes longer than the stated time.
        If appropriate, and it almost always is, add a little wine to the dry ingredients before boiling the water.
        I wanted to see what the Outdoor Gourmet meals tasted straight and did not add wine to any of them the first time around.  Obviously Beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin will benefit from a little red wine.  And some of the others from white.
        Bon Appetit.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Opua: walked; the perfect crew member

        I walked into Pahia yesterday, which was a fine day sandwiched between two fronts.  Overcast and drizzle again today. 
        I had previously only climbed the Opua hill once since my return and wasn’t sure that I would be able to climb all three of the hills on the way to Pahia without stopping.  The tide was too high for me to go my favored way along the water’s edge around the third hill.  I did manage successfully to huff and puff my way without taking a break.
        At the top of the Opua hill, the road to Pahia was blocked off and a road worker was turning cars away.  I continued on and only a few cars passed me, perhaps local residents.  Most of the time I walked in lovely silence broken only by sounds of insects and my own footsteps.
        On the last hill before Pahia I discovered the reason for the closure.  A power pole had come down dropping wires across the road.  A crew were working on repairs.
        At the bottom of the hill was another barricade preventing cars from going north and it dawned on me that I was stuck.  The Marina Cafe and an ATM in the marina laundry room have reduced the need to go into Pahia, but I intended to buy more at the grocery and liquor stores than I could carry far and to taxi back, which wasn’t going to happen until the road reopened.
        After a leisurely lunch at the Flight Deck, a second floor cafe overlooking the bay, I shopped and carried my bags along to the road block.  I asked the worker there when the road would reopen and he said he didn’t know.
        I settled into the lobby of a nearby hotel and read on my iPhone number 17 of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, THE COMMODORE, getting up every chapter to check if the road was open.  I was beginning to think that I was going to have to take a room and spend the night, when finally the barricade came down.  I called a taxi and got back to GANNET just in time to watch the sunset behind Opua.
        I brought my Apple Watch with me, though I don’t wear it all the time.
        I did on the walk to Pahia.  The distance from Opua to the center of Pahia measured 3.8 miles/6.1 kilometers.  The climb up Opua Hill is .6 of a mile/1 kilometer.  The other two hills are equally steep, but only half the distance, .3mile/.5 kilometer each.
        I took the above photo along the way.  I believe they are known as Toe Toe feathers, pronounced toey-toey.  If you are a New Zealander and I’m wrong, please correct me.
        Mark has written that the pronunciation is closer to toy-toy.  I thank him.


        A few boats have cleared in during the past week.  A catamaran is on the ‘Q’ dock now.  At this time of year I assume they have come from Australia.
        One was a big trawler type yacht.  70’ or 80’ long.
        As soon as it cleared, it moved to the fuel dock where it stayed a long, long time.  Hours.  
        I would not be surprised if the fuel bill was greater than the amount I paid for GANNET.


        From Chris in South Africa comes a link to a blog by a couple who cruised the Magellan Strait which gives added reason, were any needed, why I don’t want to.  I thank him.
        You will know that I don’t consider them Cape Horners.


        From Jeff comes a link about Inky, an escaped octopus.  I thank him.
        Inky might be the perfect crew.  I’ll take him if he wants to go to Australia.  There are often times I wish I had an extra arm and he has eight.  I don’t know how much octopuses sleep, but he could hand arm steer forever.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Opua: not a gale; The Strait revisited

        We have a gale warning, but not a gale.  Rain has ended in mid-afternoon and, although the sky is still mostly cloudy, I have hopes of sitting on deck, or at least standing in the companionway, while listening to music after I post this.
        The photo is not from this morning, when rain was falling steadily, but yesterday, a moment of unexpected beauty when I first stuck my head above deck.


        My comments yesterday about why I prefer to try to sail around Cape Horn rather than go through the Strait of Magellan or Panama caused two readers to suggest that I portage GANNET across Central America in Nicaragua or Guatemala.  One provided a link to a piece about a man who does this.  Ingenious and enterprising, but not for me.  Portages are only honorable if you carry or pull the boat yourself.  If my only purpose was to get back to the West Coast, I could do so by sailing to Florida and having GANNET trucked across.  For that matter if my only purpose was to get back to the West Coast, I never would have left.  But that isn’t sailing, nor is it the point of this exercise.
        I only mention alternatives because I have been around Cape Horn twice and spent more than a year south of 40°S and I have experienced storms down there in which I know I could not sail GANNET to windward.  
        Another reader, Bill, wrote that he sought information about Magellan Strait and found at Wikipedia:  On the Atlantic side, the Strait is characterized by semidiurnal macrotides with mean and spring tide ranges of 7.1 and 9.0 meters respectively.
        He continued:  “Almost like sailing in the Bristol Channel, then.”  His home waters.
        That still has me smiling.
        I have only experienced such tides in northern Australia, where they range to 8 meters/26’.  Perhaps even more.  Where they are constricted, as around Cape York and in the Torres Straits, they result in very strong currents.
        One hazard Joshua Slocum did not have to worry about was a couple of thousand ships a year sharing the Strait with him.
         Sea room.  Give me sea room.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Opua: seats and straits and solo and hill and poems and rain

        Next month I will have owned GANNET for five years.  I am embarrassed that it has taken me this long to discover the perfect place to sit on deck.  Again last evening I placed the Sport-a-Seat just in front of the vertical tiller.  With the two Megaboom speakers at the forward end of the cockpit the sound is exceptional, and the view forward over GANNET’s vast deck unparalleled.  In mitigation, the location was not perfect until I replaced the traveler bridge with the pod which serves as an unintended foot rest.
        This is only an in harbor location.
        At sea I would be sitting on the lowered tiller,   uncomfortable and inefficient.


        Recently two sailors have written suggesting that I sail through the Strait of Magellan. 
        There are four ways around and through the Americas:  south of Cape Horn; the Strait of Magellan; the Panama Canal; the Northwest Passage.
        I’ve gone around the Horn twice and through Panama three times.
        I strongly do not want to take GANNET though Panama.
        I would have to rent or borrow a different outboard.  There is no room on board for four line handlers and an advisor.  No place for them to sleep.  No way for me to feed them.  And, without being too gross, no real head.  GANNET’s PortaPottie would not suffice.  There is no privacy.  And I don’t wish to share a bucket.
        Beyond that, I dislike losing my freedom in Panama where your boat and life are in the control of others for two days.  Longer if you count the waiting before transit.
        I feel so strongly about this that this voyage may end up not being my sixth circumnavigation, but a delivery from the west coast of the United States to the east coast the long way.  
        It is possible I might change my mind.
        I have considered passing through the Strait of Magellan.  Slocum did it in an engineless boat that sailed less well than GANNET.  But I like sea room and would rather take GANNET around Cape Horn if I can.
        The Strait is just over three hundred nautical miles.  It’s negatives are huge tides and currents at the Atlantic entrance, deep anchorages, dodging shipping, constant lee shores, and fierce williwaw winds.
        I’ve even considered the Northwest Passage.  But that is a thousand miles long, even colder, and with more things to bump into.

        Not unrelated, a sailor asked if a circumnavigation made via the Panama Canal is really solo when others have to be on board for the transit.
        My opinion is that it is.  One gains no longitude from the transit which is less than forty miles long.  I have called my fifth circumnavigation solo, and I believe that GUINNESS has recognized as solo circumnavigations made via the canal.
        However I don’t feel strongly about this.
        I am known as a solo sailor, but Jill sailed parts of my second, third and fourth circumnavigations with me, and Carol part of the fourth as well.  Had women not been a part of my life, I probably would have sailed around the world a dozen or more times.  And my life would have been much the poorer.
        If enough of you want to express your opinion, I’ll report the results.


        Light rain during the night ended this morning and I was able to row ashore and walk up the Opua Hill for the first time since I returned.  It was pleasingly easy.
        With an overcast sky, the light was muted, but I took some photographs anyway.
        The photo above is of the sign at the top of the hill where the road down to Opua branches off the main north/south highway, which is itself only two lanes.
        All photos were taken with a telephoto lens which compresses depth of field.
        In the one of GANNET taken from the shore, Pine Tree Island in the background seems much closer than it is.


        I replaced the spinnaker halyard the other day.  
        I’ve oiled the interior wood and the flag staff.
        I’ve been trying to polish metal today, but every time I go on deck it starts to rain again.
Not a breath of wind.
I doubt I’ll be able to enjoy my new deck location this evening.


        I’ve added two pieces to the poems page.
        One is the words from the last entry that occurred to me a few evenings ago.
        The other is something I’ve worked on for decades and never got right.  
         I’m not sure either is a poem and may upon reflection remove them. But they are there now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Opua: I know

        I know these trees.
        I know these hills.
        I know this water.
        I know this sky.
        I know this light.
        I will carry them with me.


        This is among the best of times:  these days before I return to sea, when all is done but those things necessarily left until just before departure, and I sit on the gentle sloop and enjoy the quiet before the storms.
        I don’t actually expect many storms this year, except on the approach to South Africa, which is like New Zealand in that you can have a gale any time.

        ‘He holds the world in his mind.’
        A line I’m sure you all recognize.  And I do hold the world in my mind.  At least a lot of it.  
        I know the way from New Zealand to South Africa.  
        Bundaberg will be new to me and Port Richards, if I enter South Africa there, but the rest I know, and because I do I am considering making the passage from Darwin directly to South Africa.  
        If you are sailing around the world and have not stopped at Cocos, you should.  The anchorage behind an uninhabited islet is beautiful; but during the week I was there in 2008 on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA the wind blew too hard most days for me to row ashore.  People live on some of the other atolls around the lagoon, but there is little in the way of supplies.  I may pass Cocos.
        I read that Port Louis in Mauritius has changed since I was there more than three decades ago.  I may go in.  That decision will be made at sea, depending on how GANNET and I are as we reach that side of the Indian Ocean.
        Darwin to Port Richards or Durban is almost 6,000 miles, approaching the 6408 we sailed crossing the Pacific Ocean.  I’m thinking about it.
        The course for the year is an arc, but not a symmetrical one.
        We are starting at 35° South.  If we are near Cape Town by the end of the year we’ll be on almost the same latitude.  But in between we will have quickly gone up to just above 11° South at Cape York and then made a long gradual curve back down.  Durban is 30° South.  Port Richards 29° South. 
        I have ambitions for the year.  On past crossings of the Indian Ocean I have experienced strong trade winds.  GANNET’s best day’s run so far is 156 miles.  If the tiller pilots can handle conditions, I expect to blow that away.  And the best week run of 1003 miles as well.


        Steady rain kept me in the Great Cabin all yesterday.  
        The rain ended during the night and today was lovely.
        Sitting on deck the hour before sunset I found a new location.  With the tiller upright I can place the Sport-a-Seat just in front of it and sit there, facing forward, using the pod as a foot rest.
        I am so looking forward to being at sea on the new and improved GANNET.  The reconfigured cockpit and pod are the greatest change.  But the side decks are clearer.  I have a wind instrument.  The new G2 and top down furler.  The Pelagic tiller pilot.  And a carbon fiber tiller.  This last for me is an affectation, but it is right for GANNET and very, very smooth under hand.  I like it.


        Two nights last week were cool, around 52°F/11°C.  I was cold in my lightweight sleeping bag and changed into the heavier one.  I found myself thinking about the real cold off Cape Horn.  It is easy to consider these things from a distance and in comfort.  
        A couple of friends happened to have emailed me recently asking about cabin heaters.  I’ve  had them on some boats, but they create more problems than they solve.  
        There is certainly no room for one on GANNET.
        So I told myself:  buy yourself another base layer, old man, and suck it up.