Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore

Saturday May 28, 2011 - 11:48 PDT, Day #19 of Crossing from Cabo to the Marquesas

We’re 131 nautical miles away from our waypoint to Hiva Oa.  It’s been

blowing 17-25 knots the last 24 hours with occasional higher gusts as
squalls move through.  The seas are 9-12 feet.  Solstice is on a broad
reach with a double reefed main and a handkerchief of a sail out for the
jib.  Basically we’re getting our butts pounded over and over, non-stop. 
It’s not so bad when you deal with it on occasion but the non-stop part
is what makes it grueling.  Our spirits are enduring as we’re nearing
landfall.  Talk the last few days revolves around what we’re going to do
when we get there, the things we miss, and the food we’d like to eat out
for an evening of fine dining.

In the meantime seas roll through and shove Solstice side to side
and every item behind every cabinet sings out together in a chorus of
clanks, bangs, clunks, and shutters.  Then there is the occasional loud
drawn out groan the hydraulic steering system makes in big seas.  It’s
an unnerving drone that sounds like an animal enduring pain and agony. 
Our crew is feeling about that way right now.

Mine and Taylor’s beards look hideous.  We vowed from the beginning
to not shave until landfall.  We can’t get there soon enough.  Tony told

Taylor he looked like an Amish person.  He does.  If you put a straw
hat, suspenders and plain clothes on him he’d fit right in on the Lapp
farm in “Witness”. 

I’m not sure what it is about facial hair and sailors.  So many men who
go to sea come back with beards.  I can see growing them as Taylor
and I are but not the keeping of them.  My guess is that the difficulty
of shaving in a big sea way brings on the idea of “not shaving”.  Not
shaving once you get to port, that part baffles me.  The sole fact that I
really don’t know of any women who prefer men with facial hair.  
Of course, there are the occasional heart-throbs like Clark Gable,
Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck who are known for their mustaches
but it’s pretty rare compared to all the clean shaven men out there.

See what your mind rambles on with when you’re bouncing off the walls
just waiting to get there.

Enough jibberish for now.  I’m praying to King Neptune to lay the wind
and seas down for us now so that we may have a sail into port worthy
of a crew that’s been crossing a major chunk of the Pacific Ocean the last
19 days.  I’m finding peace right now in the fact that at this time tomorrow
we’ll be either in port or very, very near.  YYYYAAAHHHHOOOO!!!

Much Love and Aloha,


Friday May 27, 2011 - 16:14 PDT - Day # 18 of Crossing from Cabo to the Marquesas

174 nautical miles to go until we arrive at Hiva Oa in the Marquesas.  With any luck we’re hoping to be there early to mid-afternoon on Sunday.  The entire crew is exhausted and has been counting down the days since…. well since we left Cabo.  Right now we’re all physically and emotionally exhausted.   The biggest problem leading up to the exhaustion is the inability to sleep.

We’ve been on this “downhill run to Papettee” for some weeks now and the seas have slowly become big ocean swelled rollers.  Basically swells that roll past the boat, lift her high up and then drop the bottom out from underneath as it moves past.  We’re not literally “dropping” onto anything and there’s no violent bang as if you’re pounding to windward.  Instead, gravity and the large swells work together and just rock the boat from rail to rail constantly.  If you’re not holding on, you’ll be the one flying across the main salon and delivering the violent bang.  It makes sleeping, however, next to impossible.

Imagine sleeping in your room.  And your bed is against a wall lengthwise.  You basically put all kinds of pillows along the wall where the bed and pillow meet.   The reason is because you’ll be spending much of your evening really laying on the wall part of your room and not the bed.  Your bed, in the meantime, is tilting from side to side at about a 45 degree angle.  This is not a consistent rock and most of the time the bed is tilted so that you’re leaning against the wall.  Now as you stand at the foot of the bed you have to time it right when the bed is flat as it drops from one 45 degree angle to the other.  In that split second when it’s flat you seize the opportunity and dive for the corner of the bed.  On a good night you hit right in the heart of your mattress and pillows just as the boat leans to the side so you’re cushioned against the wall.  On a bad night, you hit the wall above the pillows, bounce off, hit the mattress as it now drops to the otherside and you roll all the way across the bed and hit the other wall SLAM!  Or if it’s in your room you hit the floor – BAM!

Once you’ve successfully navigated yourself into the bed, you pull other pillows around you, (no top sheets or blankets as it’s hot as hell down here – and it’s winter here) and you take up your position.  Mine has been designed to keep me stationary so I can get some sleep.  I’m constantly tweaking it trying to come up with something better, I’ve thought about Velcro pajamas and mattress but I’ll have to get to port to try that one.  In the meantime, here’s what I do.  I’m propped up on my left side wedged now between the bed and the wall and a lot of pillows.  I take my right foot and put the sole of it against the side of my left kneecap.  My legs look like the number “4” if I was standing like the way some of those aborigine wisemen stand, but I’m on my side.  I then outstretch my two arms away from my body straight towards the expanse of empty mattress.  I resemble the shape of an outrigger canoe.  Now when the boat rolls hard up, I lay against the wall until she drops back hard the other way and my leg and arms keep me from rolling over the opposite way.  In the end what happens is that you roll up hard on the wall, then snap back down the other way saved by your outrigger brace, then the boat sort of rises and falls back and forth quickly while your head and neck snap back and forth like you’re at a some rock concert.  Eventually the pace quickens like a coin spinning to a stop.  Finally when it stops, it starts all over again as the next set of swells rolls past.  Somewhere in between sets you try and get some sleep.
Needless to say, Taylor, Tony and I can’t wait to get there.  The priority list right now is a nice shower, a cold beer, a nice dinner (out somewhere not in), fine wine, desert and a beautiful night’s sleep in a flat anchorage.

Less than two days away……YYYAAAHHHOOOO!!!!

Much Aloha,


Wednesday May 25, 2011 - 13:41 PDT

We crossed the equator at 23:59 Monday May 23rd.  Basically, at midnight the morning of May 24th.  There is a discrepancy of the actual time as we seemingly crossed together with Hokule’a. Jake took a picture of his GPS and it reads 5 minutes after midnight. Taylor, Tony and I all have synchronized watches to our GPS aboard Solstice and were all looking at them as we crossed.  We agree that 11:59pm was the time for us.   We all agree of exactly where:

00   0’.000”  -  128   15’.000” West

Monday was a beautiful day.  A calm 14 knot breeze and we sailed on
all day at 7.5 knots on a broad reach.  We slipped up and over big rolling
swells.  We quartered the swells as we ran with them and it seemed
almost as if in each swell King Neptune held Solstice in the palm of his
hand and gently lifted her up one side of the swell and then lay her back
down gently on the other side.  I also get the sense when I’m on the
ocean out here that she’s a living breathing entity all her own.  With each
breath she swells up and then exhales as the swells move through. 
We’re definitely at her beck and call and she’s the one in control out here.

Upon arriving at the equator, the plan was to swim across.  Jake and I
swam on the equator the last time we crossed and it was big on Taylor’s
list of something to do.  Our arrival at midnight at the equator ruined the
swimming excursion.  There was talk of tying a tether to him as he swam
alongside the boat but I put my foot down and said there would be no
swimming at night.   Instead we had a star filled sky, fine wine, great music and better friends aboard.  We crossed the equator to a cannon blast and tossed three ottles overboard.  Two are the “message in a bottle” letters to Connor and Brannon as well as a third
that carried personal notes from the crew of Solstice to whoever picks up the bottle.  We also tossed some of Jeep’s ashes overboard.  It was an incredible evening.   Soltice, Hokule’a, Jackie and Taylor all became shellbacks and I lost a lot of sleep as I stayed up all night.  Well almost.

Today we’re 650 miles away from the Marquesas.  We’re looking at an arrival Sunday or Monday depending on the wind and sea and other variables.  We’ve moved into the heart of the Southeast trades and there blowing a good 20 knots.  The seas have built too and we’re still constantly being tossed around the cabin.  I’m exhausted.  It’s about enduring right now and getting there.  Tomorrow we’ll run out of coffee.  AAAAHHHHH!!!  We ran out of beer a few days ago.  I never drink under these types of passages so I thought we had plenty of beer aboard.  Taylor and Tony got us in a nice routine at happy hour where we’d have one beer at sunset.  It’s a wonderful tradition actually and in a way it brings us all together for some quality time and a few laughs.  Well, we don’t have any beer left now as I didn’t plan for that.  We’ll also run out of bread though I have fixings aboard to bake my own.  Tony’s starting to crave hamburgers.  I have a lot of cravings too but my list is too long.

That’s it for now.  I’ll touch base again as we near port.  Currently we’re charging straight towards Hiva Oa.  We’ve got about 600 miles to go.  20 knot trades and a big rolling seaway.  Solstice is under a reefed main and jib and we’re still moving at 7.5 to 8 knots at times.  I’m ready to be there but of course want to arrive safely with no injuries to anybody or any damage to Solstice.  That’s it for now.

Much Aloha,


Monday May 23, 2011
- 14:31 PDT -  Day #14 of Crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas

This morning on my midnight to 0300 watch we were at 1  55’.000” North 127  30’.000” West.  I had not seen the North Star in about a week because of heavy cloud cover.  But last night the horizon was clear and there she was 1 degree and 55 minutes off the horizon.  If you can find the North Star you can figure out the latitude where you are as the amount of degrees (and minutes) it is up off the
horizon that’s your latitude.  For instance, back home in Redondo Beach the North Star sits about 33 degrees above the horizon.  I was very excited to see it last night as I thought it would be a long while as we’re about to cross the equator.

Everybody is excited aboard Solstice.  We’re currently at  00  42’.425”North 128  34’.290” West.  Approximately 42 miles north of the equator.  We’re not traveling due South so it will be longer than that.  Our guess is about 11pm to midnight arrival.  Which is sort of a bummer as Taylor and I wanted to swim on the equator but a crossing at night won’t allow for that.  Instead, we have messages we’ve written to toss overboard in an old empty bottle of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon that I’ve been saving for this occasion for over 10 years now.  I’ve also been asked to mail to letters via wine bottles to my dear friend Renée’s two boys Connor and Brannon.  The hope is that someday they’ll get a knock on their door with these messages that have floated their way to them from the equator 1,000 miles away.  That would be cool.  We also have other fine wines and spirits to consume as well as drop some of another dear friend Jeep’s ashes at the equator.  We’ll also hoist flags, fire cannons, do Jeep’s equator dance and generally make fools of ourselves in the middle of the Pacific.  I’ll fill you in tomorrow on how it all goes.

A person who has crossed the equator via ship is called a Shellback.  Until then, you are a polliwog.  We have 4 polliwog’s on this voyage.  Jackie, Taylor, Solstice, and Hokule’a.  By this time tomorrow we’ll all be Shellback’s and for Tony this will be around his 97th crossing of the equator via ship.  You’ll have to ask him for the details on those crossings.

Okay, time to get some rest for the evening.  That’s the latest from 1,000 plus miles from the middle of the Pacific.

Much Love and Aloha,


Wednesday May 18, 2011 - 16:11 PDT - Day #9 of Crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas

I adore our crew.  Taylor and Tony are gems to have aboard out here in the middle of the Pacific.  They embody the best of people in these conditions.  They’re thoughtful, compassionate, careful, smart, funny and know how to approach situations as they become hard and serious.

But even the best of people can be peculiar.  Taylor got it in his mind a few days ago that we are headed to the tropics and that he’d have no need for the blue jeans that he had with him.  More importantly he was short on shorts so he’d modify his jeans.  He asked for a pair of scissors and commenced on becoming Taylor the tailor.  So he cut his pant legs off the jeans just above the knees.  They are pretty even but if you look close you can see that one leg is slightly longer than the other.

Taylor put on his new jean cut-offs right away and seems to enjoy wearing them.  Later that night I came up to relievel him on his watch.  There he was seated in the cockpit with his new shorts but he had pulled the cut off pant pieces up to cover his now bare legs.  He said that “It was colder than he thought at night” and so he still needed the rest of the pant leg.  He would wear his shorts during the day and then as evening came about he’d take off his shoes, pull up his old pant pieces and then put his shoes back on.  One of my favorite images of him on this voyage so far is of him in the galley wearing his jean shorts with the cut pant leg pieces bunched down around his ankles laying atop his shoes while he made coffee and cleaned the galley.

I will also add that I have had only one concern about Tony and Taylor well before the voyage began.  That would be their balance in rough seas and swells.  Tony is 70 and Taylor is 69 and, though both are in fantastic shape, it has still been a concern.  I’m always reminding them to move slow in these rolling seas and to grab a hold constantly as you never know when the boat is going to pitch or roll to one side.  I go flying across the cabin every now and again and it makes me nervous when they do.  We can’t afford to have anybody get hurt out here.

Tony and Taylor have both heeded my warnings and have been very careful.  But fatigue sets in on voyages like this and even the most simple of movements becomes a challenge.  I awoke Tony to relieve me of my midnight to 3am watch.  Once awake I went back up to the cockpit and waited.  As usual during these early morning watches, to ready himself, he sits up in his bunk and waits a good five minutes for his body to adjust to the environment.  Carefully he hoists himself to his feet and gingerly moves to his luggage to get jackets, hats and things he wants to have for his
watch. I watched from my vantage point in the cockpit of him putting on
his final jacket and life jacket/harness in the dark at the foot of the
companionway.  He slowly slid on his jacket one arm at a time.  Being mindful
to keep a handhold constantly.  He then began with his life jacket/harness. 
He slipped one arm in and something got stuck.  He shimmied and shook
trying to insert his arm through the webbed arm-hole.  Then to my horror
he let go of his other hand and stood there with both arms free of any
handhold trying to get his arms in the harness.   This is it!  I thought. 
This is when he’s going to get pitched across the salon and bust his head. 
And then…..


The bang and hiss startled me.  I peered into the darkness below and
made out what had happened.  The life jackets C-o2 cartridge had been
deployed and the jacket filled up instantly.  In the process it had seized
his arm and jerked his left elbow above his head and his left hand behind
his neck.  The jacket had put him into a perfect half-nelson.

“OH FOR FUCK-SAKE!”  Tony’s Irish accent echoed off the salon walls.

His arms flailed like a crazy and finally he tore the inflated balloon from his head and shoulders and threw it on the ground.  He stood there motionless in the dark.  The boat swayed deeply from port to tarboard.  He stood there for a long moment, silent.

I couldn’t help it.  With all the stress of the last few weeks I couldn’t suppress it.  The laugh started low and quietly and just became a deep throated chuckle from the chest.

“You okay, Tony.”

“Yes, yes, of course.  I just set off the damn jacket.  I think it’s Taylor’s harness though.”

Tony got it together and finally made it to relieve me.

“Tony can I fix you some tea?” I asked.

“No, no, don’t bother,” he insisted.  Tony never wants anybody to do something for him.

“I’m making some for myself,” I lied.

“Oh, well if you’re doing it for yourself then sure I’ll have some.”

I went into the galley and stood there waiting for the water to boil.  And the laugh began to simmer again.  It slowly came to a boil just as the water.  It came from deep within and was hearty and filled with laugh.  God how I needed that.  I stood there in the galley and laughed hard in the dark by myself for a good 7 minutes.  The sounds of the sea and the wind protected the ears of others.   But nothing has been so priceless to watch so far as that.

I handed Tony up his tea and then before I turned in I handed up the inflated life jacket. 

“Here’s a pillow too if you need it Tony,” I couldn’t resist.

Much Aloha,


Tuesday May 17, 2011 - 12:02 PDT - Day #8 Crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas

Yesterday morning we were more than 900 miles from shore.  I awoke to the crackling sound on the VHF radio.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a, this is Solstice on channel one, six.”

Taylor was on watch in the cockpit trying to hail Hokule’a on the handheld radio.  I was hearing his transmission through our main radio down below by the chart table.   I closed my eyes and felt the heavy sway from port to starboard in my bunk.  Through the cobwebs left behind from my slumber I thought about making a nice breakfast for us.  Bacon, eggs, toasted English muffins… Hmmmm.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a, this is Solstice on channel one, six.  Do you copy?”
What’s up?  I wondered.  I heard a brief scratchy sound from the main radio.  I pulled myself out of my bunk and carefully got dressed so as not to send myself flying across the cabin.  We are living in a perpetual earthquake.  No wonder Solstice is the perfect earthquake haven.

Both Tony and Taylor were sitting in the cockpit trying to hail Hokule’a.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Fine,” said Taylor.

“Good, good, Bill”, Tony added.

“Why are you hailing Hokule’a?”

“We’re not.  He hailed us and so we’re trying to raise him,” said Taylor.

“Where are they?”

“We haven’t seen them at all in either of our watches,” Tony informed me.

“I was having a tough time seeing them too when I left watch but I talked
to Jackie and she said that she and Jake had a visual on us.  That was
right before Taylor relieved me.” I said.

The three of us looked in the general northeast direction where we saw
them last and scanned the horizon.  All we saw was sea.

On this downwind heading, Solstice has been sailing beautifully.  Fast and she’s been able to point deep downwind.  At sunset the night before, we sailed under a reefed main and a full jib.  She sailed fast and as comfortable as we could hope for amongst a rolling open ocean swell.  We had noticed that we were making way just a little faster than Hokule’a.  With thoughts of pulling in the jib to slow us down and turn our comfortable sail into a more rolling one than it already was, we decided we’d leave the full jib up until morning and take it in then.  Also, we knew the winds would lighten up in the middle of the night so we’d need the full jib then.  And Jake hinted to the fact that they may shake out the reef they had in their main so they could catch us.  They were about 4 miles behind us then.

“I’ll try them on the main radio below,” I said.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a, Hokule’a, this is Solstice.  Do you copy?  Over.”

“Solstice, grrriiihhh, Hoku… grrriiihhh…..eight.”

“Switching to six, eight,” I knew that is what he was saying so I switched to channel 68.

“Jake do you copy, over?”

“Bill do you, grrriiihhh….”

“No copy, Jake. No copy.  Please repeat.  Repeat, over.”

Grrriiihhh….. Bill…. Grrriiihhh”

His transmission was filled with static.  I could barely pick out a word let alone anything else.  What the hell?  How could we not hear them.  We should have at least a 20 mile range on this radio or even 30 miles.  My brain started to flood with a million questions as to what could be going on.

“Jake!  What is your position?  What is your position? Over,” I searched through the chart table for something to write with and on.”

Grrriiihhh…. Degrees….. grrriiihhh…. Five… grrriiihhh…”

“No copy Jake!  Repeat no copy.  What is your position?  Over”

Four… grrriiihhh….. eight…. Grrriiihhh, North…”

The static fell off and then I heard nothing.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a.  Do you copy?  Over?”

No reply.  No static.  All I could hear was the sound of the sea rushing past Solstice’s hull.  I looked up to the cockpit.  Tony and Taylor were looking down at me from the companionway.

“I could barely here them?”

“What’s the range on that radio?” Taylor asked.

“I’m not sure but I’ve talked to people more than 30 miles away before.  They couldn’t be that far from us.”  Could they?

Back topsides the three of us scanned the horizon thoroughly.  A windswept sea was the only thing surrounding us.

“Let’s fire up the radar,” I suggested.

While waiting for the radar to warm up we began a discussion of what to do.  We had been sailing great and making good headway in a southern direction.  Something we hadn’t done in almost a week.  But our point of sail was still about 90 degrees to our waypoint that the weather guru gave us which was due west.  Jake and Jackie had been following the same direction as us when they disappeared over the horizon.

“What should we do?” And “Where are they?” were the million dollar questions.  Keep sailing or stop our way and search for them.  The first one was a no brainer.  We had to search and make contact.  The other question was the tricky one.  Where are they?

“They were last east and north of us.  If we turn east and they’re still headed south west we should run into them.”

I’m not sure how convinced Taylor and Tony were of my deduction.  The one thing we all knew was that we had to try and narrow the gap between us and establish radio contact.  On that we all agreed.

I turned Solstice to port trimmed the sails and made our way east.  The discussion of the best course of action continued.    I went back down below.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a, Hokule’a, this is Solstice do you copy?  Over.”

Only silence on the airwaves.  I adjusted the squelch to make sure it was set right.  I noticed I was still on channel 68.  I switched to channel 16.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a, Hokule’a ,this is Solstice do you copy?  Over.”

Nothing.  I hailed them two more times.  Each was answered by an almost foreboding silence.

I went back up to the cockpit.  Solstice charged on east.

“How long should we head this way?... A half hour?”  I asked.

That would put us another 3 miles closer or worse, further away.

I looked out to sea to where I thought they might be and I tried to use the force.  Jake, we’re headed east looking for you.  Keep going South.  We’re headed east.  Jake hold your course.

Anything is worth a shot in these conditions.

“Well knowing Jake and the way he is, he’ll probably change course and go to the waypoint.  That’s the logical thing,” Taylor said.

“Then by going this way we’re widening the gap and heading the wrong way,” I realized.

“And if he’s headed the other way we’re getting further apart twice as fast,” Tony added.

Taylor and Tony were right.  The east direction felt wrong.

“Then lets fire up the engine and head to the waypoint,” I said.

We fired up the engine turned about 60 degrees and headed northwest towards the last known waypoint that the weather guru gave us.

That was still 17 miles away.  With the engine and radar running, we utilized all our resources hoping to find them.  Surprisingly with a 24 mile radius on our radar screen revealed nothing.

Taylor had been an Air Force and American Airlines pilot for almost 50 years so he knew radar and he set about tuning it.  I went back below and started hailing Hokule’a again.  Still no response.  I set my watch and decided to hail them every 10 minutes on channel 16.

In the meantime we continued charging northwest.

“Suppose they’ve made the waypoint and are headed south, we’d miss them then,” Tony said.  “Maybe we should head south of the waypoint and run into the rhumbline between that waypoint and our next waypoint?  Wouldn’t that give us a better chance of intersecting them?”

“Well….”, I thought. 

Tony was right.  The radio would reach the waypoint before we could.  When we’re close enough to know the radio will reach them at the waypoint we’ll make way for the rhumbline.

For the next hour we motored.  Every 10 minutes I tried to hail them on the radio.  Each time I got no response.  Not even the crackle of static.  A new conversation amongst the crew began.  What if we can’t find them?  How long do we search for them?  And what should we do?

We were over 900 miles from the nearest piece of land.  Nobody was going to come get us.  We are on our own.  We discussed that, in reality, we were on our own whether Hokule’a was near or not.  It’s not like they could swim over to lend a hand.  But they did have an SSB radio and could contact somebody in an emergency.  We had our EPIRB that I could set off in an emergency.  This was not an emergency.  That we all agreed to.  The worst thing was that we couldn’t talk to anybody.  After a good 45 minutes of discussing different options as we headed to the rhumbline, we came up with a plan.

We’d sail to the rhumbline and continue hailing them on the radio, searching on radar and scanning the horizon.  Once we got to the rhumbline we’d make our way South and head to the last known waypoint we had from the weather guru.  That was at about 5 degrees North 127 degrees West.  From there we’d sail straight to Hiva Oa.  And hopefully we’d see them in the harbor there.  This seemed to make sense and the more we thought the only thing we could really do.

I went down below again.

“Hokule’a, Hokule’a, Hokule’a, this is Solstice.  Do you copy?  Over.”

A bunch of static crackled over the radio speaker and Jackie’s unforgettable southern accent came in ever so faintly.

“Solstice.  Solsitce.  This is Hokule’a do you copy?  Over.”

“Jackie I hear you!  I hear you!  What is your position?  Over.”


Taylor and Tony were peering down again.  Both had smiles are their faces.

“Oh Jackie sounds quite chipper don’t you think?”  Tony commented.

“Solstice are you there?  Over.”

“Go ahead, Jackie. Over.”

“Sorry.  We’re hove to at the waypoint waiting for you.  Over.”

“Copy that.  We’re headed your way but we’re going south of the waypoint and headed to hit the rhumbline.  You guys sail south along the rhumbline and we’ll intersect with you.  Okay?  Over.”

We agreed on a plan.  Over the next two hours we continued to close the gap between us until we got closer.

I’ve heard many sweet voices in my day but none sweeter in the middle of the ocean than Jackie’s coming across the radio.  Both boats were still 900 miles from shore.  We were both very alone but we were here together and that was comforting. 

I later learned that when I called, Jake had climbed the mast with binoculars and his handheld radio scanning the horizon and hailing us.  I also learned that he used the force too and said “Bill head for the waypoint.  We’re at the waypoint.” 

I’m not sure if Taylor heard him or maybe I did.  All I know is that it felt right to turn and head in that direction as opposed to the other.  So something or somebody was guiding us.  And there’s something about being way out here with them close by that is very comforting.

Much Aloha,


Sunday May 15, 2011
- 15:59 PDT - DAY #6 crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas

We’re about 800 miles off shore and still charging more west than south.  This is because of the advice given us by our weather consultant.  Taylor, Tony and I keep hoping we’ll get the call for a tack towards the equator. 

The last few days have been uneventful for the most.  A consistent 16-18 knot breeze keeps us reefing and unreefing.  I’m still learning Solstice’s parameters and this has been a great way to do it.  The sea state has been lumpy, on the other hand, and moving about the cabin let alone is difficult.  Tony and Taylor have adapted well and are very careful to prevent being thrown across the cabin.  That’s already happened to each of us at one point or another but we’ve been able to catch ourselves at the last possible second. 

Fatigue has set in and we’re being careful to prevent any injury or damage done because of that.  The hardest part with fatigue set in is the frustration factor of dealing with the constant movement of the boat.  Along with that is the constant monitoring boat systems and checking to make sure all is well.  Yesterday morning after running the engine I noticed that the solar panels were not working.  How could that be?  I just put them in a few months ago. They’ve been working great.  I went down and checked the breaker.  No power.  I proceeded to pull out stuff from cabinets where wiring for the solar panels was hidden behind and within them.  I checked each connection.  The difficult thing is that each cabinet is jammed with tools and hardware and trying to find a place to put them on the floor of a boat that’s rolling from one rail to the next makes it almost impossible.   I checked all the connections.  No loose connections.  Power just all of a sudden stops.  There has to be a loss somewhere in the circuit.  But where?   I pulled out the tool drawers that concealed the 30amp fuse for the circuit.  It looked fine but
I replaced it anyway.  Still no power.

SSSSSHHHHHH  BAM!  Drawers filled with tools slid across the cabin sole and slammed into a bulkhead.  Anger simmering, I humbly gathered things and tried to put them in some sort of order.   

I double-checked everything again.  I stood at the chart table staring at the wires behind the distribution
panel I had pulled out.


Solstice decided it was time to lean hard to port and knock me down.  

Swearing filled the cabin. 

Taylor slowly made his way down the companionway.  He saw all the stuff from the cabinets strewn about.  He saw the frustration and anger about to explode from me.

I searched for the manual for the solar panels.  In the box of manuals, which is buried in another cabinet under empty bags and suitcases, I finally retrieved the box.  All the while Solstice is leaning hard hard hard to the left and hard hard hard to the right to Mother Ocean’s commands.  Making every movement strenuous.  The manual, of course, is not there because I didn’t put it back where it’s supposed to go because they are such a pain to get to.  Where it is?  I have no idea.  Frustration mounts.

I stumble back over to the distribution panel.  Taylor has picked it up and is staring at the panel and the wiring.  He clicks off the solar panel breaker.  Then puts it back on again.  The solar panels begin to
work.  I couldn’t believe it.  Had the breaker just popped?  Didn’t I check that right away?  I thought I did.  It didn’t matter.  Frustration immediately was replaced with relief.  I leaned over and gave Taylor a
kiss on the cheek.  I don’t think he liked it.

After all that and everything was put away, it was time to make dinner.  Our galley is on the starboard side of the boat.  For the past 6 days we’ve been on a starboard tack.  I opened the kitchen utensils drawer and the entire drawer launched itself across the cabin.


Knives, forks, spoons, bottle openers, cork screws, measuring spoons, and a host of other items were strewn across the salon floor.

No swearing now.  Too tired.  Picked them one by one by slowly crawling across a pitching floor.  Taylor watched from the security of his bunk.  Tony peered down from his watch station in the cockpit.

Finally, I got them all back in the drawer and the drawer safely away.  I opened up the cabinet above them where the plates were kept.


One plate flew out towards me.  I released my handle on the rest to try and grab that one.  Immediately all the other plates and cups seized the opportunity to free themselves from their cabinetry imprisonment and all leapt to freedom at the same time.


I swear I heard them yelling in glee as they soared past my head and and


Their escape was short lived as they all slammed to a screeching halt in the main salon floor.

The mess was everywhere. 

“Well at least nothing broke,” Taylor reassured me after the noise had settled.

He was right.  Thank God it’s all plastic stuff.

Again, no swearing, but I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.  If I were alone I would have.  I picked everything up.  Put it away.  We had frozen lasagna for dinner that night.  On paper plates.

That was last night.  That evening I had my 3am to 6am watch.  A hard one to get up for.  The wind had settled down to about 15 knots.  Solstice sailed beautifully and slipped over top a ruffled sea.

A waxing ¾ full moon hid above an overcast sky. 


Solstice makes this sound as she rises and falls so eloquently over the waves in these conditions.  There before the bow on the horizon, a break in the cloud cover began to form.  A sliver smile in the cloud layer revealed itself.   Another smaller smile formed just next to it.  Two new smiles formed above each of those and connected to the corners of the smile below it.  Two shafts of moonlight then shined down from the smiles where they buried themselves straight into the sea.  I couldn’t believe what was being painted on the night sky before me.  It was a perfect picture of two whale tails painted in moonlight rising from the ocean just as they were about to dive deep.  A perfect whale tail shot.  At first I thought it was a mother and calf but it soon became apparent that they were two full grown whales.  Tails up headed deep.  I stood up from the cockpit and took in the beauty of it all.  It was magnificent.  Tears welled in my eyes and I remembered why it was I was out here in the first place.

Thursday May 12, 2011
-16:13 PDT

A screw had come loose in the stanchion that held the first guide for the roller furling line.  When that happened the stanchion twisted causing the lead for the line to foul and chafe.  Eventually the line had had enough and parted.  Based on what I looked at, that’s what I think happened.

With Taylor and Tony’s help we found a spare line that would work.  It was a line off Taylor’s old boat Con Brio.  We all felt great about Con Brio helping save the day.  She was a great boat.  Together we spent the most of the morning taking the old line off the roller furling and figuring out how to put on the new one.  An involved task on a boat at sea.  The weather laid down and with a 15-17 knot breeze we finally “Opts checked”, as Taylor would say, the new line and made sure it furled in and out okay.

The worst thing about long passages is the late night watches.  The best thing about long passages is the late night watches.  What makes it hard is the fatigue.  What makes it great are the stars.  I can gaze at the stars for hours.  I am humbled by their awe, their mystery, their beauty and the real sense of oneness with everything they evoke in my soul.  One particular star stands out to me.  The North Star.  For me, it is the most beautiful star in the heavens.  It is unwavering, it is constant, its grounding, it is forever.  It is always where it should be and you can always count on the security and warmth it brings in helping you know about yourself.  Where you are.  Where you’re going and no matter when you need it, all you have to do is look up and it is always there for you.  Just like great people in your life. 

It’s sinking lower on the Northern horizon the farther South we go.  That makes me sad.  But I know she’ll be right there over the horizon and as the song says about the Southern Cross rings true for me about the North Star “My love is tied to you, tied with a silver chain.”  So I head southwest knowing that one of these watches soon the North Star will sink over the horizon not to be seen again until my return to the northern latitudes. But I do know that she’s right there, just over the horizon.  Always tied to me.
Taylor and I are trying to find the Southern Cross now.  Perhaps we’ll see that tonight, that’s pretty cool but it’s not the North Star.

Wednesday May 11, 2011 - 19:56 PDT

Long passages at sea are hard.  They’re hard on gear, they’re hard on boats, and they’re hard on people.  We pulled anchor and headed out of the harbor around 08:00.  Taylor, Tony and I were under the impression that we were leaving at 08:00 and when Hokule’a and their crew had their anchor up and motoring towards us at 07:00 we went into panic mode for what we thought was going to be a leisurely morning getting the boat ready.  Instead we found ourselves heading out of the harbor and within 10 minutes we were hit by a fresh 26 knot breeze that bounced off the Baja peninsula and put our port rail in the water.  We put in a double reef and charged into the wind swept sea of the Pacific.  Taylor, Tony and I were getting thrown into it early.  I missed the flat calm of the Sea of Cortez early.

“Welcome to the Pacific,” I said to Tony.  “You’re not in the Sea of Cortez anymore Tony.”

“Ye got that right, Bill”, said Tony in his lovely Irish accent.

That first day we were tossed around constantly and hard at times.  Just trying to move around the boat without being hurled across the cabin was a monumental task.

In a steady 26-28 knot breeze and a 6 to 9 foot swell, the boat works hard.  Solstice was reefed down to a second reef in the main and only about a third of the jib was rolled out on the roller furling.
We charged all day through a sloppy windy sea with white water crashing over the bow.  The hause pipe where the anchor chain leaves the deck was getting a regular dousing and saltwater splashed regularly into the anchor locker.  I have to move that job higher up on the priority list when we get to port.  As night fell, the sea just grew dark but the wind seemed to pick up.   Solstice rose to the occasion and took the seas well as she quartered up and over them.  My 2100 to 0000 watch went well up until about 2350. ?”  I was about to eat my last small chocolate kiss for the end of when… SNAP! WWHHHIIIRRRRR!  BOOM!  Solstice shuttered and let out a groan as if she had been sucker punched in the gut.  But in the darkness she threw off the blow and her prow lifted high and leapt over the next sea swell where SPLASH!  She came down to greet the next wave on the other side.

“What the hell was that?”

I put on my headlamp and looked down the port rail of the boat towards the bow.  I looked up to the rig.  Everything seemed in tack and okay.  Did we hit something I thought?   Out of the corner of my eye I saw a line blowing freely in the wind.  Frayed pieces of fiber were being whipped around and it was flying off the leeward side of the boat.  One sheet to the wind, I thought.  But it wasn’t a sheet.   I looked closer to the forward sail.  The jib was up, boat sailing fast and …  the jib was no longer furled. The broken line was the for the roller furling.  It had snapped in two and sent the jib unrolling to full sail.   Oh no, how can I get the sail rolled up?  I’m glad this happened now and not on Tony’s watch.  I have to fix this and I have to fix it NOW!

Going on the foredeck at night is a rule aboard Solstice of something not to do.  Never, ever do it without a harness, or without somebody else in the cockpit.

“What’s going on, Billy?”  Tony asked as he emerged from the darkness below to relieve me of my watch.

“The roller furling line broke Tony.  I have to go forward to fix it.”

“Oh no you’re not.  Not in this weather.”  Tony insisted.

“Tony, we’re being overpowered.  The sail has to come in.  We have to figure out how to roll the sail in, now.”

Tony suddenly understood the situation and knew that I didn’t want to go forward but had to.

I have been in situations before when something has happened and needed to be fixed immediately.  This was one of those times.  I have learned, however, that acting immediately without thinking things through can break more things or worse, get somebody hurt.  I took a deep breath.   Going forward in these conditions was the last thing I wanted to do.  I missed sailing with Jake right now.  He was always first to the foredeck.  I needed to see clearly up there.  Turn on the foredeck light.  Jake wouldn’t turn on the foredeck light, ruins your night vision, burns up battery power.  Suddenly, I was glad Jake wasn’t aboard.  I turned on the light.  A bright white light filled the deck.  I installed it last year.  I could see everything.  Well everything on deck.  I grabbed my harness and put Tony on watch.

“I’ll be clipped in Tony, but as a reminder, here’s the man overboard button on the Chartplotter.  I’m just going to do a temporary fix tonight so we can get the sail pulled in, we’ll fix it for good in the morning.”

“Got it.” 

The wind and sea whipped about as I crawled along the port deck of the boat.  Solstice rolled hard over to port.  I had all points secure and water rushed up over my knees and legs filling my shoes with water.  Damn I had dry socks on.    I slowly inched my way forward to the broken piece of line.  I looked ahead to the very bow.  I could see clearly the other broken end at the drum.  I could just tie them together and pull the sail in.  I grabbed the broken end and pulled it forward with me.  I fed the line through the roller lead it had pulled out of and worked my way to the bow.   I tied them together and pulled hard.  They seemed secure.  I started to work myself slowly back to the cockpit.  I noticed roller guide that the furling line leads through.  I then looked back along the rail at all the other guides the line went through.  There’s no way that knot will pull through those.  I have to take the whole line out.  Damn.  I crawled back to the bow and started to untie the lines.  WHAAWHHOOSSHH!!  A big wave came over the bow.  I held on tight as my body was awash waist down.  Damn I had on dry underwear.

I untied the line and slowly worked back to the cockpit.  Tony was there to greet me. 

“You got it, Bill?” 

“Not yet but we will.  See the other broken end up there?  I’m just going to tie the ends together and we’ll pull the sail in but the knot won’t go through the guides.  We’ll have to figure out how to run it,” I pulled the line through the guides as I explained it to him.

Once free I crawled my way back to the bow.  Clipping in and holding on at every place.  Square knot or a bowline?  Square knot is probably best but I know the bowline is much faster and easier.  Tie the bowline, Bill.  And learn some other knots later.

I reached the bow and tied a bowline in the short piece at the drum of the roller furling line.  My hands were wet so I slowed down to make sure I tied it right.  I took the other end and looped it through the bowline loop and tied another bowline.  WHHAAAWWHHHOOOSSSHHH!!!  Another wave came up and washing over me and the foredeck again.  Doesn’t matter.  Underwear’s already soaked.

I pulled hard on the two lines.  That should hold until morning. 

I worked my way back along the rail towards Tony. 

“Run it through the empty roller in the spinnaker block, Bill.  And to this wench,” Tony hollered through the wind.

Good idea, Tony. 
I nodded affirmative.

I pulled the line through the spinnaker block taking up the slack.

“Here give it to me,” Tony sounded like Quint taking the line from Hopper in “Jaws”.

I gave the line to Tony.  He looped it around the wench.  Together we freed the jib sheet and pulled on the spliced roller line.  WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!  The flogging jib beat hard against the wind but she started to roll.  We pulled hard and rolled her in to where we had it before.

“Cleat her off there, Tony.”

Tony wrapped the line around the cleat and the jib filled with a nice shape.

Solstice sighed and headed comfortably on course.  I poked my head up and looked down the bright deck.  Wind swept seas still blew over her deck from time to time.  I noticed the position of the knot about near the first block that we had bypassed.  The block was crooked.  Hmmm….?  That’s weird.  The line chafed through.  There maybe.  I’ll check on it in the morning.

The run for the newly routed line ran right down the deck.  In the way of everywhere but no bad leads.  No chafing anywhere.  It will do until morning.

“Okay, Tony.  Good job.   Thanks.  We’ll fix it in the morning.  Don’t hesitate to get me if you need anything.  Have a good watch.”

“Get some sleep, Bill.”

I dragged my soggy ass below.  My head hit the pillow and I stared at the ceiling in my cabin.  21 more days to go.  I hope the weather lays down.

Tuesday May 10, 2011
02:30  Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico

It’s 2:30 in the morning and a soft 5 knot breeze is waving Solstice’s haylards against the rigging.  These particular sounds can be very annoying in the middle of the night but tonight for some reason they are particularly soothing.  Perhaps because tomorrow morning we’ll be weigh anchor and head off on a 3 week plus passage to the Marquesas and this is the last time I’ll get to hear sounds of rest for some time.  Particularly and always soothing is the gentle lapping of the sea upon the beach.  That has always been one of my favorite sounds and I long for the day when each night I’ll drift off to sleep to peaceful lullaby.

The last 24 hours have been interesting.  We arrived in Cabo about 6:30am yesterday and made way to the fuel dock to top off before our extensive passage.  We then motored out to the anchorage to drop the hook where Solstice now awaits to depart around 0800 in the morning.  The plan was to come here and clear out through immigration and the Port Captain so we could make our way to French Polynesia yesterday afternoon.

About an hour after setting the hook, Jake’s voice broke over our radio.  “Solstice, Solstice, Solstice this
Hokule’a do you copy?”

“Go ahead, Hokule’a”

“Hey Bill,” Jake’s voice sounded unusually stressed.  “Jake and Jackie are on our way over we have something when need to discuss.”

May 9th was Jake’s birthday but I knew it didn’t have to do with that.

“Is this about weather?” I asked.

“Affirmative.  We’ll be right over.”

In a nutshell Jake had listened to one of the Pacific weather nets where a guy told him he was “insane” to be making a crossing to the Marquesas this time of year.  We have followed our weather windows closely and, though we know we’re racing the cut off time to leave for the Marquesas, this time of year still fits into the windows of a good time to go.  These particular comments, however, changed our outlook and put our whole decision to leave in jeopardy.  In the end, we spent the majority of the morning gathering information from other sources, weighed all our options and have made what we feel is a well thought out choice.  I also feel that it is a safe decision.

Whenever you cross oceans there are risks.  It comes with the territory.  Some risks are greater than others.   I don’t feel like we’re taking a risk on this crossing, that is unusually more risky than other ocean crossings.  From other information we’ve gathered from other sources we’ve heard that the weather out there looks great and now is the time to go.  So based on all the knowledge we’ve digested the last few days, we’re heading out at first light.

I will keep you posted as to how the crossing proceeds.  On a side note, an annoying thing is that my SPOT device that puts out my GPS signal for everyone to follow on the web is not working properly.  The last three days it has been unable to acquire a GPS fix all the time while I’m in a coverage area.  I’ve been on the phone with them three different times today and their answer is to send it back and we’ll send you a new one.  That’s great if I were in Redondo Beach but I’m not.  I’m in the field where the device is supposed to work and it doesn’t.   I apologize to all who have been following our location updates on the web.  I trust that at some point I’ll be able to send it back to them from French Polynesia and get a replacement.

Okay, time to get some shut eye so I’ll be ready to go in the morning.  I guess being awake at this hour is my body just getting ready for the unusual schedule I’ll have these next three weeks.

Much Love and Aloha,


Monday May 9, 2011 - 00:40 La Paz to The Marquesas Leg

I just got off my 9pm to midnight watch.  I have aboard two dear friends to help me with this leg.  Taylor and Tony.  We are enroute to Cabo San Lucas which is where we will clear out.  I’m not sure of the official plan but we’ll either shove off first light of May 10 or tomorrow afternoon.  We’re racing to get South before hurricanes start popping up.  I am very tired and need some sleep but I wanted to post something as we’ll head into town to do a couple of things which I need to be on-line for.  So this will be my last entry until I get somewhere in French Polynesia where I can get on-line again.  I have no idea when that will be.

Also, for some reason my SPOT connection device has not worked the last two days.   It’s been frustrating as I haven’t been able to post my trek of leaving La Paz.  I’m going to try and take care of that by talking to Spot on the phone tomorrow.  But if the “Where Is Soltice” link isn’t working on the web page, go to the "Where Is Hokule'a" link from Hokule’a page and check on where they are.  We’ll always be within a 5 mile range from one another.

Okay, I need to get some shut-eye.   And expect a new ship’s log in about a month from now.

Fair Winds and Much Aloha,


Solstice Log