Sailing The World's Oceans

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Wednesday  August 22nd, 2012 - 01:40 Local time Port Denarau, Fiji

Due to little online connection contact and some major computer issues I've had of late I have not been able to stay up to date with some recent events and photographs.  I am in the process of fixing all that.  I have many new photos to upload along with news from what has been happening in Fiji.  But it will be a couple more weeks before I am able to do that but I will soon.

But I wanted to send a quick note to say that Fiji has continued to be the wonderful catalyst that I had hoped for and wonderful in every way.  Sadly, but also excitedly, I am leaving Fiji today and will be heading off for the 4 day sail to Vanuatu.  John has been aboard for over the past week and will be making the sail with me and we will be traveling again with Hokule'a.  When I get to Vanuatu and learn where a I can get a good internet connection I will update everything then.  In the meantime, thanks so much, or as they say in Fiji, Vanaka Vaka Levu, for your patience and understanding.  I will get updates to the website soon.  I promise.

Much Love and Aloha Always,


Friday July 20th, 2012 - 01:42 an unnamed anchorage in Vanu-Balavu, Northern Lau Group, Fiji

Tonight I find myself in a small cove with an anchorage to myself in the Lau Group.  This is one of the more remote areas of Fiji and after a 58 mile motor-sail to windward I finally made it to this part of the world that I’ve dreamed of visiting for many years.  Today’s crossing was short but different than any other I’ve been on so far.  There were no support boats, no radio check-ins with anybody, just Solstice, the sea and me.  After 10 hours of intense focus and bashing to windward and traversing a pass laden with reefs on both sides and coral heads scattered about I entered the calm of the lagoon.  When I pulled into the anchorage I had to anchor twice as I didn’t like the lay of my first attempt.  Finally, with the sun low on the horizon, I shut the engine off and sat down.  Finally, not a man made sound.  The soft lapping of the sea echoed off the walls of coral limestone that surround this cove.  A huge sigh escaped my being and a big smile emerged from within.  I’ve never been all alone in such a remote part of the world.  It’s absolutely beautiful. 

The nights are cool here as winter is in full swing in Fiji so I went below and grabbed my sweater and pulled it on.  The sent of a campfire from a few nights before still lingered from the weave of the yarn.  I breathed it in and the scent brought me back to the magic of the past two and a half weeks.  Savusavu was just the beginning of an incredible time here in Fiji.  One of the best things about getting stuck in Savusavu was that my friends Brooke and Cyrus aboard Volpaia (prounounced Vol-Pie-Ya.  I’ve been told it means “small swift fox” in Italian) arrived.  Brooke and Cyrus are married and are professional skippers for a wealthy man.  They basically sail his boat around the world and he flies in now and again to some exotic place to vacation.

I first met them in Tonga and then spent time with them again in New Zealand.  From the moment I met them there has been a great connection between us.  And these past 2½ weeks has solidified to what has already become a friendship that will last a lifetime.

Then there is Eric aboard Secret Agent Man.  By far my favorite boat name.  Eric single-handed from Seattle to New Zealand and he joined Solstice and Volpaia as we ventured off to new islands.  It was with them that I watched that gorgeous sunset our first evening in Qamea (pronounced Guh-May-Uh) where we all stood in silence and took in the beauty before us.  That sunset was a sign of the days ahead.

Between running a boat for a wealthy owner and taking impeccable care of his 70 foot Swan Brooke and Cyrus have started what they call “The Outreach Program”.  The outreach program focuses on connecting schools and children from different parts of the world so that they can make cultural exchanges between them.  The exchange focuses on arts, crafts, music, dance, games and the children.  They celebrate their uniqueness in their part of the world while they also find their commonalities with other children from other parts of the world.  It’s a wonderful program.  In Qamea Brooke invited me to shoot video and photograph the small school in the village.

It was an amazing day filled with much joy.  The children gathered all around and welcomed our arrival with traditional song and dance.  There is something wonderful about voices lifted together in song.  Especially song filled with joy and love.  Joy and love is abundant here.

It’s a sobering fact too that many of the villages I’ve traveled too where people have so little tend to be the happiest people.  Why is that?  Priorities are different here and there is little to no focus on things or money.  As Cyrus mentioned they don’t live in a society where they are constantly being “sold” things and therefore they are not inundated with the idea of lack of not having things.  Instead, they love what they do have and the community is bonded together through the intimate nature of village life.

We spent the day hearing traditional song, learning to weave baskets from palm fronds and how to extract the sweetest water in the world from the nut of a coconut palm.  They children taught us games they play from Net Ball, to Rugby.  But the best part of the day was when the girls all gathered around and improvised contemporary songs and dance that they listen too.  Their hearts were filled with joy as they shared each new song they could think from off the top of their heads.  It reminded me of a children’s camp.  There hearts were filled with smiles too as they shared their songs with us.

The other highlight of the day was when Eric from Secret Agent Man brought all the kids together and taught them how to play “Ultimate Frisbee”.  The kids were enthusiastic and suddenly teams were divided up into about 30 on 30 and they laughed and screamed whenever Eric’s Frisbee took flight.  In the end Eric gave his Frisbee to the children.  A small gesture but one that brought much joy.   

After our incredible few days with the village our three boats headed off in search of a little seclusion.  We found an empty pristine beach with crystal clear water and a beautiful healthy reef.  It was wonderful to snorkel on a reef so full of life to swim in clear clean waters that shimmered in its blueness.

We affectionately referred to our time in this unnamed cove and beach as “Beach Week”.  We did everything and more that is expected from beach week.  Cyrus strung up a slack line between two coconut trees so we could practice our tight rope walking skills.  We had happy hours aboard the luxury of a 70 foot Swan and played dice until late in the night.  We had BBQ’s on the beach and for the first time I tried, and fell in love with, stand-up paddling boarding.  We snorkeled and took dinghy excursions mostly spent a joyous time together. 

I’m only scratching the surface of so much that we did together but for me the time we shared meant so much.  The embrace of this voyage has happened for me and my soul is bursting.  Fiji has breathed so much life and adventure back into my spirit.  I see clearly why I am here and what this window of opportunitiy offers me.

The owner of the Volpaia was coming to town and our time shared togther had to come to an end.  It was a sad day when we all went our separate ways last week.  But I didn’t feel the void that I had when Tony and Taylor left.  I felt the opposite.  I’m fulfilled with life and adventure and what amazing new things lie ahead. 

I got up at the crack of dawn the next morning and sailed off alone with joy in my heart.  I’m now in a secluded part of the world.  After a Sevusevu ceremony with the village Chief on this island of Vanu Balavu, I left the there and sailed to a labyrinth of coves and islets sprinkled atop a calm clean sea.  The amazing thing is I’m the only boat here.  This is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been and nobody is here.  It’s fantastic.  I’ve heard on the radio the promise of other boats arriving in the next few days. But for now it’s just Solstice and me.  I’m anchored in a shallow cove that vibrates constantly with an electric blue even when it’s overcast.  The only man made sounds come from Solstice.  There are no lights or structures nearby.  The lapping of the sea and the rustling of the trees on the coral islets by the wind is part of a symphony accompanied by birds, fruit bats, insects and the splashing of fish feeding.  This place is called “The Bay of Islands” in the northern Lau group.  Go to Google Earth and type in the following latitude and longitude:  17þ10.567 South, 179þ01.046 West and fly to it.  That’s exactly where I’m anchored as I’m writing this. It’s a Pirate’s haven and perhaps one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been.  And I’m alone.  And I am completely content.

Much Aloha,


Friday July 6th, 2012 - 20:12 Naiviivi Bay, Gamea Island, Fiji

So far Fiji has surpassed all of my expectations.  I was only a few days shy of a month in Savusavu.  I left two days ago on the 4th of July with friends from other boats and together we headed out to explore new islands for all of us.  So far it has been incredible.  Just tonight I watched an amazing sunset alight a softly clouded sky with purple, red, teal and black that all shimmered down a perfect reflection upon a flat calm sea.  There are only four boats in this remote anchorage of the Fiji island of Gamea.  We were all exhausted from the long crossing today so we all stayed aboard to recharge our batteries and as the sunset I looked around the anchorage and all of us on our own boats stood there in silence taking in the sunset and the beauty that surrounds us.  It was breathtaking.

I was in Savusavu for probably 2 ½ weeks longer than I had planned.  There were several reasons that kept Solstice and I in port.  The main reason was weather.  It rained the first 10 days I was there and then the southeast trades kicked in reinforced and blew 25 to 30 knots.  That’s fine if it’s coming from the right direction but when it’s coming from where you want to go, you have to wait.  And if it’s blowing 25 to 30 here in Fiji they say it’s blowing 40 to 50 between the islands.  So I stayed put.  I don’t need to go out and learn that lesson.  I worked on the boat and met some incredible people that resulted in some wonderful newly bonded friendships.  It also has resulted in a major shift within myself.  Because of that my time in Savusavu was magical.

The odd thing was that there was an unusual amount of single handers in Savusavu.  I met over a dozen single handers all here at the same time.  That is rare.  But we were all here together for a reason.  And meeting them all was important for me.  They came from many walks of life and ranged from people in their mid 30’s to 72.  Yes, 72.  In fact, two single handers were over 70.  Well, one celebrated his 70th there in Savusavu.  But he’s over 70 now.  And his birthday party was grand.

There is an immediate respect amongst sailors out here.  There is a kinship in what drives each of us in life that brings us to such remote parts.  But the kinship is also forged in the understanding of the effort and work it takes to get there by boat.  But there is something deeper between single-handers that is different than with other sailors.  We share a mutual understanding of what it means to be doing everything that we’re all doing but to be sailing on your own.

One guy named Shane, sails a boat called The Dealer.  I thought the name was funny because my first thought was of a drug dealer because many drugs are transported by boat.  But Shane sells cars for a living.  He’s the first and only car salesman I’ve ever met who is also a cruiser.  Like me, Shane never intended to single-hand.  His life’s path has led him there.  We shared our stories, which were remarkably similar, and we both are striving to embrace our path.  And it is because of the people and time I had in Savusavu that this full embrace has begun.  This voyage has taken the turn I have longed for these past several months.  My eyes are opening with visions of awe, wonder, and peace.

But amongst all the single handers in Savusavu there was one that brought me this clearer vision of what it means to not just be alive but to live.  Her name is Evi, which is short for Evelyn.

“My Mother always called me Evelyn when I was in trouble or did something wrong.  So I don’t go by that anymore,” that was her response to my question about the origin of her name.

Evi was married in her 20’s.  She and her husband lived in Florida.  They shared a dream to sail around the world.  So they bought a boat, outfitted it and took off.  They got only as far as the Bahamas before her husband found himself seasick and miserable.

“This is the worst thing we’ve ever decided to do,” is what he told Evi when they were halfway there.  “So we went back to Florida and about a year and half later we got divorced,” she continued.

Evi has a draw to be connected to the earth and nature so after that she decided she wanted to see the mountains headed off to Colorado.  She spent many years exploring the Rockies while at the same time earned a PHD in computer science.  She became a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder where she worked for many years.  Then in her mid 60’s she retired.

“And it was then I realized that that dream I had so many years ago had never left me.  I still wanted to sail around the world.  So I bought a boat and took off,” she said.

That was about 7 years ago.  Evi is 72 and is still sailing around the world.  She started on the east coast, spent a lot of time between there and South America and eventually came through the canal and made her way to Fiji.  Evi is amazing.  She said that when she goes home and meets people her age she feels very out of place.  She starts to slow down like the rest of them and her knees start to hurt and she gets aches and pains she never had before.  Then as soon as she gets back to Wonderland, her boat, she starts doing things again all those aches and pains go away.  And as those vanish the wonderment of living comes rushing in.  Her boat is truly a wonderland as is the world she’s experiencing.

Evi’s outlook and attitude has been a huge inspiration for me.  She reminded me of all the reasons I’m out here in the first place.  To see new cultures, to meet amazing people, to sail, to learn, to grow, to connect with the oneness of it all and to share it with those I love but mostly to live.

Two of the years she’s traveled with her nieces who had just graduated from college.

“It’s easy to get help from men on the dock in Brazil when you’re coming into port and you have a girl on the bow in a bikini,” she told me.

“I need to get one of those,” I said with smile.

Her funny statement spoke to a deeper understanding of what it means to single-hand.  There’s a mutual understanding between single-handers about things like that.  What it means to bring a boat not just across passages on your own but landing them in and out of ports and all the intensity that comes with it.

I had two incredible evenings when all us single-handers got together to have dinner and “talk story”.  Both evenings were filled with stories about different predicaments they’ve found themselves in from simple things going wrong to more serious situations of storms and dismastings.  Each story was punctuated with much laughter.  The laughter was free, loud and joyful.  It came from a place of knowing of what you had been through to get to where you are and now we had all found ourselves in this incredible place where we celebrated being alive.

As the circle of stories came to me I shared with them what I had alluded to in a log entry not to long ago in regards to what path I’m going to take.  All these questions of perhaps turning back towards Hawaii or maybe even heading up to Japan and then across the Aleutians towards Alaska and down the Pacific northwest.  Each of them all had a gleam of understanding in their eye as to where my thoughts were coming from.  But they were also looking at me the single-hander who is also a rookie.  But they all said the same thing and they all said it with a smile and knowledge as they had all been in my shoes.

David, a wonderful Scotsman who has been sailing solo for over 15 years and who just turned 70 in Savusavu said, “You already know the only choice, Bill.  You must continue on.”

“You must,” said Stewart a fellow countryman of David’s.

“Single-handing is never a limitation,” said Curly.  Curly is a cross between Santa-Clause and Blackbeard, favoring slightly towards Mr. Clause.  He’s an old salt with kind warm eyes that spark blue with life behind round wire-rimmed glasses.

The words of wisdom continued from each of them.  And they rang true and it was what I needed to hear.  David was right.  I already knew the choice.  It is the songline that my spirit is singing.  Continue on.

David also said something else that rang true, “When people ask me about loneliness I tell them I don’t get lonely, I simple miss people.  My heavens I couldn’t be out here if I got lonely.  What a terrible way that would be,” he said with a Scottish brogue that sounded very English.

When David said those words I realized something.  I don’t get lonely either.  I simply miss people.  I’m a social person and I’ve gotten homesick and longed to be near my friends and family as I’ve felt the grand distance between us.  But never have I sat on the boat and hated being alone.

“I quite enjoy being alone on the boat,” David said.

And I agree with that too, in fact, many times, I love it.

David and Evi and all the single-handers I met in Savusavu, brought the sense of adventure I have had for many years back to the surface where it belongs.  This time last year it was a 15 year old single hander named Laura who was my inspiration, this year it’s a 72 year old named Evi.  Both have helped me look at this sense of adventure and desire to live life to its fullest that’s burning deep inside of me.  It’s a driving force that pushes me to explore, experience, dream, learn, grow, love and live.  And it all revels from this deep seeded love and respect I have for the sea and sailing.  Adventure is again brimming in my soul and I’ve never felt the zest for life and being alive more on this voyage than I do right now.  It reminds me of a favorite quote from another amazing woman.

Adventure is worthwhile – Amelia Earhart.

And Ms. Earhart was right.

Much Aloha,


6/28/2012 (USA date) - "Where is Solstice" is back up and running but there are some minor errors of positioning and though the Skipper of Solstice will do his best to keep it up to date it will not always be "real time" accurate. 

Check ou the new album, New Zealand to Fiji Passage, in the Photo Gallery.

Sunday June 24th, 2012 - 09:18 Savusavu, Fiji local time

It’s been two weeks since Tony and Taylor left and I’m still here in Savusavu.  I had planned to be away from here by now but weather has kept me in the harbor and I’ve also been making some new great friends.  My time has been a great one for me to recharge my spirit with enthusiasm and passion for this amazing opportunity I have of seeing the world we live in.  I will write more about all this later.  I know some of you have expressed concern from my last entry but I want you to know that my intention is always to be honest and not sugar coat in anyway this voyage I am on.  But I want you all to know that my time here in Fiji so far has been magical and I will write more about that in my next entry.  But I first want to recap our passage from New Zealand to Fiji.

The days proceeding our cast-off to Fiji was like it always is before a crossing such as this.  We spent our time with a bit of anxious anticipation as we watched the weather like a hawk waiting for the proper window to leave.

This was a great new opportunity for me as in the past I had always let Jake take the lead on picking the weather window.  To be clear, I’ve always paid very close attention to weather windows in the past but when you’re traveling together all boats need to feel comfortable about when to leave.  I also trust Jake completely and anytime that he and Jackie felt comfortable to leave would be fine with me.  It worked well for us in our travels but this time in New Zealand it was purely my call aboard Solstice, as we would be traveling alone.

Every morning in Auckland began with getting coffee and weather reports.  The weather kept us dockside for much longer than we had anticipated.  Because of that Tony’s window was closing as to whether or not he could make the crossing with us.  As much as anything we wanted Tony to make this crossing with us but on the flip side you have to be smart and wait for weather that you feel is safe.

On the forecast we had the leading edge of a low-pressure system starting to move in from the west and across us in Auckland.  In the southern hemisphere, the wind surrounding a low-pressure system spins clockwise and with a high counterclockwise.  Everything’s opposite down here. 

In the months of time I spent in New Zealand I heard from many Kiwis who have made this passage that they wait for a low that is being followed by a high.  They wait for that low to push through but before it leaves they head out and catch that strong southerly flow to help get them north and east.  The wind will blow strong at first but it will be in the right direction and after the first 2 days the high will take over and the leading edge of the high will also provide good wind in the right direction.

This particular morning I saw it lining up with what I thought was a good but short window.  The low that was approaching was followed by a high but the catch was that there was another system forming west behind the high and to the north that could potentially turn into another low.  You don’t ever want to get caught in the leading edge of that.  But I figured we could get north and east enough to avoid it if we acted at the right time.  I looked at the systems with Taylor and told him my thoughts.  Taylor has a wealth of experience with weather from his many years as a pilot.  We both agreed that if we got out on the tail of the current low we could make it work. 

I talked to my friends Cyrus and Brooke too who were planning on leaving a couple of days after us.  They have been sailing the world’s oceans for years and also had hired a weather router.  I told Cyrus my thoughts and he said he thought it looked like a good weather window, but they would still wait maybe an extra day.  I dove back into the computer models and double checked and triple checked everything.  The more I looked at it the more I felt that that morning was the only choice.  If we waited even an extra day the window would close because we would be in the other mess behind that high.  And if we didn’t leave then we’d be forced to wait and then there would be no way Tony could wait for the next weather window to open.  I also felt better and better about our choice the more I looked at it. 

Finally Tony, Taylor and I made the decision together.  We’d leave in about 36 hours.  We hurried with last minute provisions, phone calls to our emergency contacts and I sent an e-mail to Hokule’a to let them know the details of our departure so that we could check in via the radio during our crossing.

With less than 24 hours before our departure I got an e-mail back from Jake.

Hey Willy,

Are you leaving tomorrow or waiting for the next window on Friday? My take is that the squash zone looks really nasty between the new high and the low I mentioned to you last time. If you are leaving tomorrow you will be in it for a little while. Personally I hope that you are waiting. I know that you are a great sailor and you will make the right decision for Solstice and her crew.

We will be listening for you on Rag of the Air tomorrow and will try to make radio contact on 8007 after you check in.  Anyway we are thinking about you and miss you. Talk to you in the am.



Jake’s e-mail changed my happy feeling about leaving immediately.  What am I missing?  I went back through everything again.  I saw 30 knots on the forecast and the squash zone he was talking about but the seas were not bad and everything was from the perfect direction.  I know Solstice and I know we can reef her in well for the conditions forecast.  And I still felt like this was the only window.  But Jake’s e-mail got me second guessing myself.  I sent an e-mail to John and asked him for his thoughts.  As I pounded out my e-mail on the keyboard a voice spoke up from somewhere deep inside:  Trust yourself, Bill.  I listened to that but I also put it aside as I looked into more weather models.

Later I got John’s reply.  John saw the same squash zone that we all saw.  He also said that we may be in it for 36 to 72 hours but it shouldn’t be anything we can’t handle, the same as I thought.  He then went on with something deeper:

 Hey Bro, it's not like you're going against Jake and what he is suggesting, but it's more attune to trusting in yourself- and that comes from growth, confidence, and experience--all of which have been happening since you left Redondo.   

I know you originally wanted to do this leg solo, but you've got good friends who flew half way around the world to share the experience with you-- and those shared experiences and moments are what we talk about for the rest of our lives. 

 Embrace the adventure-- it's all part of the evolution.

 Fatuitu brother


John’s words struck a deep chord in my soul and brought tears to my eyes.  We were afraid that what happened to John, would happen to Tony.  We missed a shared adventure with John in Rarotonga for reasons beyond our control but still we missed it.  And John spoke from that experience.  He had flown half way around the world and had to fly back without ever leaving the harbor.  John was looking at the bigger picture beyond just weather.  He was speaking of friendship and a shared adventure together.  The whole reason Taylor and Tony came here in the first place.  Of course weather and safety are always the number one priority, but sharing this with Taylor and Tony also topped the list.

And on another level I feel that this was a test for me to trust my instincts.  I felt good about my choice from the beginning so I went back to that gut feeling.  I was upfront with Tony and Taylor about what we would endure the first 2 maybe 4 days.  We were prepared.  We were all in and decided in the morning that we would stick to the plan and leave.

I sent Jake a reply.

Hey Bro,

I hear what your saying and I think it would be "perfect" to wait another couple of days but I've been watching everythingvery close and I feel the first 24-36 hours might be a little bumpy but nothing Solstice and us can't handle and then it looks to turn into a beautiful sail I think.  So we're going tomorrow morning.  I'm watching everything close and we're going to go hard east towards the Kermadics and bend our way north.  I will be checking in on the radio.

 Don't worry, we'll be fine.  I feel very good about this choice.

Your Bro,

  • B.

I let John know too that we were sticking to the plan and heading out in the morning.  I got his reply:

“It was with a happy heart that the good Odysseus spread his sail to catch the wind and used his seamanship to keep his boat straight with the steering-oar” – Homer

See you in Fiji!!!

- John

I missed John and I wished he was with us to make this crossing.  My heart still breaks when I think about our fiasco in Rarotonga.  But we’ll make up for it when he gets to Fiji.

There are wonderful groups of people that look out for one another in the cruising community.  One such group is on the HF radio called The Rag of The Air. They monitor all the boats during their crossing with daily radio check-ins and position reports and extensive weather information.  They have run this Net for many years have helped many sailors and boats stay safe.  They are an extraordinary and dedicated group of individuals.  A retired meteorologist named Dave gives detailed weather information for free and also offers his advice on crossings as he’s an experienced bluewater sailor.  After his morning weather report, which fell in line to what we had seen, he added this.

“I know there a several yachts waiting to cross to the islands but I will just say that based on the forecast and what I see I would not go.  I repeat, I would not go.  I’d wait a few more days.”

Taylor, Tony and I looked at each other with raised our eyebrows. 

“Well we just need to turn that off,” I said and turned the radio off.

We had heard enough.  We had made our choice.  We were leaving.  There is a bad thing that goes on out here in the cruising community that’s called Analysis Paralysis. 

Whenever there is a big crossing looming ahead for a bunch of boats all the yachties get together and bang heads about the weather and when to leave.  They analyze every detail over and over and everybody has a different opinion or idea.  In the end there is too much talk and often times the uncertainty of it all leads to everybody being stuck in a vortex where nobody goes anywhere.

We were done analyzing.  We went and had our last breakfast ashore along with some great coffee.  We got back to the boat and were about to let go the docklines when I got a phone call.

“Hey Bill, Cyrus here.  I wanted to let you know that we just talked to our weather router and we’re not waiting we’re leaving here in a couple of hours,” he said.

“That’s great, Cy.  I’m so happy to hear that.  You guys might have a hard time keeping up with us though, Solstice sails pretty fast,” I joked.

“Oh I know,” he said.  Cyrus sails a Swan 70. 

Cyrus’s words brought a sense of vindication to me that we had made the right choice.

A couple hours later we had cleared from customs and had a double reef in the main and very little headsail as we motor-sailed.  The batteries needed a good strong charging so we ran the engine for a good 12 hours.

The forecast was dead on.  As always it was wonderful when we finally shut the engine off.  The rumble of the engine was replaced by the howl of the wind in the rigging and rush and slap of the sea by the hull.  We had 30 knots out of the south but with the shortened sails Solstice handled it beautifully.  The Pacific was whipped with licks and peaks of white caps and the sea was building.  The night’s first sunset across the sea was glorious.  Taylor, Tony and I fell immediately into the routine we perfected and shared on our way to the Marquesas.  It was hard to believe that it was a year ago that we made that crossing.  It seemed like yesterday.

Holding on and moving about in such conditions is one of the more challenging things aboard.  Imagine your house on a giant seesaw but the movements are not regular from going up and down.  Sometimes the boat falls quickly to one side like when your heavier friend decides to leave you suspended up in the air and then decides to get off their side of the seesaw and suddenly you come crashing to the ground.  Or sometimes you start to crash to the ground only to be halted halfway down and you going soaring up high again in the other direction.

As difficult as these movements make things it also brings a healthy respect for the sea and your place upon it.  It’s a joy to find the point of sail that offers the most comfort and I’ve learned very much when Solstice needs adjusting. 

I do liken Solstice to a horse when I set out on a passage.  And as her rider, I’m always cautious of letting her run too hard in the beginning.  Once I feel we’re warmed up I let her run.  Taylor’s time aboard too has taught me to feel the vessel better.  Taylor has been a pilot for many years.  He flew C-130’s in the military and was a pilot for American Airlines for 25 years.  He knows vessels.  Taylor’s a vessel-whisperer.  I feel I’m still learning to be that but every time he’s aboard I learn by watching how he talks to the boat and more importantly how he listens when the boat talks to him.  Taylor has a special connection with Solstice.  His time aboard has brought a special kinship with one another.

In big wind and seas everything is intensified.  And you have to pay close attention to how the boat feels.  It’s easy to overpower the boat but it’s also equally as easy to underpower her.  The key is finding the right balance.  An overpowered boat is very uncomfortable and the rig and boat are stressed and the boat fights the sea constantly trading punches.  And that can be dangerous as the sea delivers a much stronger punch than the boat.  Imagine the sea as a heavyweight fighter and the boat as Cinderella.  When you are underpowered the sea takes the boat and throws her about which ever way she wants without the boat responding because you’ve taken too much of her sailpower away.  So the key is for Cinderella to be dressed in a jaw-dropping outfit and with an attitude that makes the fighter want to kiss her not hit her.  Taylor is great at finding that adjustment of the correct sail area where Solstice and the sea find the best place together and they take off in a beautiful ballet, swirling, twirling, lifting and catching as they move so wonderfully together.   That’s the feel you look to find.  And Taylor is great at bringing to the two together.

It took us a couple of days before we really shook her out and we were moving along in a brilliant dance.  We clocked two days where we did 178 miles.  Some day I hope to break the 200 mile mark in 24 hours but right now I’m content with anything better than 150.  We also had some 140-mile days and shorter in the beginning as I was keeping her reigned in tight because of the 30 knots we were getting.  Eventually we found our grove and Solstice was galloping beautifully the last 4 days of our crossing.

As we charged east northeast the weather turned perfect, except that we were freezing at night.  The first couple of nights were in the mid-30.  Cold weather and sailing just don’t go together.  Jake informed us during a radio check-in that it took them 6 days before the weather turned warm.  We were bummed to hear that knowing we had a few more cold nights ahead.  We watched our latitude closely and counted down the time until we’d cross the tropic of Capricorn at 23.25 degrees south.  Then we’d officially be in the tropics.  Taylor, Tony and I all looked forward to stowing sweaters and wool caps and pulling out T-shirts and shorts.  There is also little to no bathing on a crossing such as this.  That comes for several reasons.  The freezing weather, the movement of the boat and of course Solstice is still without a hot water heater.

Our time of departure turned out to have been ideal.  Yes, it blew hard out the gate for a good 2 days or more but everything was southerly.  And we were staying a day ahead of a wind shift out of the north.  Boats that left only a day after us were bashing to windward while we were able to stay just north enough to avoid it.

We experienced beautiful sunsets and moonlit nights.  I’ve seen some amazing sunsets and sunrises in many different places but more often than not the ones in the middle of the ocean offer something special.  Perhaps it’s the tropical sky, the angle of the sun, or the simple fact that you know you’re the only one on earth in that place seeing the setting sun at that particular angle.  The moon provided a glory all her own throughout the passage.  If it was up to me, every passage would coincide with the full moon.  The light is so soothing and the shimmering silver that lays atop the water in a brilliant sheen of white light brings a oneness to your soul and the universe.  The first half of our trip saw an early setting moon at night leaving a brilliant star filled sky in her wake to keep you company during the midnight watch.  The last days saw the complete glory of the moon rising and setting with the sun.  I tried to get photos of the moon at night but on a rocking boat in the middle of the ocean it was well… impossible.

We did have our occasional squalls that popped up.  They always required taking in headsail and a readiness for the unpredictable.  We left the double reef in the main as Solstice sailed well with that configuration.  But the squall activity keeps you on your toes.  Sleeping and getting rest is another challenge.  It always takes a few days for your body to adjust to the movement so you can relax enough to catch some good sleep.  Having Taylor and Tony aboard proved to be fantastic.  I was always relaxed when either of them were sailing and never did I lay my head down with a sense of anxiousness that often accompanies single-handing with nobody at the helm.

I did awaken one night for some reason and I lay there awake in the middle of the night.  I stared at the ceiling of my aft cabin and felt the boat moving from side to side.  I could barely here an intense discussion from the cockpit between the whirs of the wind.  And then…

“Bill, Bill get up here!” Tony’s voice barked.

I leapt from my bunk and hurried to the companionway.

“Sorry to get you up, but there is something in the sky here and I don’t know what it is.  It’s arching down to the sea,” Tony said.

My heart leapt to my throat, as my first thought was a waterspout.  I climbed into the cockpit and Tony pointed off the starboard rail.

“There,” he exclaimed.

A single brilliant arc of white light rose up from the sea and bowed high over head across the night sky and down again to the sea in a perfect bow.  My heart sighed with relief.

“Oh Tony that’s a Moon-bow,” I said.  “ I don’t know if that’s what you call it but that’s what I call it.”

We were looking to the east and the moon was setting in the western sky.  The light cast from the moon refracted off the misty rain in the east and caused the same phenomenon you get when the sun creates a rainbow.  Only there are no colors when the moon creates it.  The light is a brilliant bright white.  It was as if a painter took a brush dipped in white paint and swept it across the night sky with one bold stroke.

“I’ve never seen one before, Tony said.  Sorry to get you up for that,” he said.

Taylor sat there quietly enjoying the moment.

“Oh Tony, this is totally worth getting up for.  I’ve only seen them twice before and this is the first time I’ve seen one on Solstice.  It’s beautiful.  And it’s the first one you’ve ever seen.  Enjoy it,” I said.

When I went back to bed a thought struck me, if Tony wasn’t with us he’d never have seen that.  It took him 71 years but he finally saw a moonbow.  Sharing that with him was exactly what John had talked about in his e-mail.  And it brought a smile to my heart.

As we neared the islands I prepared for landfall.  There is always tons of paperwork and documents that need to be in order for the customs and immigration officials whenever you arrive into a new country.  I don’t know why coming into a country via a boat is a much bigger deal than on an airplane but it is.  I had everything arranged and tidied up Solstice so that she’d be presentable when the officials came aboard.

With less than 24 hours to go the air was warm and the wind had settled to 20 knots.  We still had a swell running but it was a normal ocean swell.  Out here in the Pacific where there is little land to calm the sea there is always a deep swell running.  A small swell is about a 2 meters.  That’s about what we had.  It’s deceivingly calm as the boat still rolls quite a bit from port to starboard.  I needed a shower and I figured a 2 to 2½ meter swell was comfortable enough to go shower on the aft deck.  I put on my bathing suit and grabbed some soap and shampoo and ventured out to the aft deck.  The boat was still rocking a bit and I moved slowly to the freshwater hose fitting that comes out of the deck near the starboard aft rail.  I opted to not put on a harness, as I couldn’t see soaping up around a harness and tether.  I connected the short garden hose to the fitting and began hosing myself down.  I struggled to wash because I had crouched down on my knees to try and keep a low center of gravity.  With one hand I lathered soap and shampoo on while with the other I tried to hold on to the hard rail while at the same time letting go briefly to hose myself off.  Soap and shampoo ran down my face and I shut my eyes to prevent the suds from burning my eyes.  A sudsy pool collected all around me.  With my eyes shut and not able to look at the sea I tried to feel the motion of the boat as to when I could let go to get a good rinse.  I felt Solstice dip to starboard and let go of the rail to quickly rinse.  Solstice suddenly rose back up and dipped hard to port and I went sliding across the soapy teak deck.  I tried to dig my toes to stop me but I was going too fast the deck was too slippery.  sliding too fast.  The hose suddenly tightened, ripped free and my body slammed into the port hard rail and saved me from going any further.


A fountain of water shot high up into the air.  I looked at the end of the hose in my hand.  The deck fitting had sheered off and was still connected to the hose.  The water continued to stream skyward as the freshwater pump was working brilliantly.


“What?”  Tony popped his head up from the companionway.

“Hurry up Tony, turn off the water pump.” I yelled.

Tony turned off the switch and the fountain fell back down to deck level.  What I had hoped was going to be a leisurely 24 hours left turned into an ordeal.
Taylor sat quietly on his watch and continued to keep and glanced back occasionally but remained focused on sailing Solstice.  With no valve to stop a jet stream from exiting the aft deck that meant we couldn’t turn on the freshwater pump unless I fixed it.  This was a problem.

I went below put on some clean clothes and started pulling out my bins with plumbing parts.  Tony was at my side as it was late in the day and we needed some type of fix before dark.

Taylor remained calm and kept us on a beautiful line while Tony and I moved back to the aft deck to remove the broken parts from the deck.


A wave hit the side and drenched both Tony and I.

“Dammit!  Well there goes my shower,” I exclaimed.


“And there goes my clean dry underwear,” I added.

I caught eyes with Taylor briefly.  He held a steady calm in his look.

“In pilot training the first rule of any crisis is somebody maintains the aircraft,” he said.

“That’s a good rule, Taylor.  Thanks,” I said.  He nodded and went back to keeping us sailing and sailing safely.

Tony and I tinkered away with the task at hand.  We mixed and matched different parts.  We crawled to and from the aft deck several times.  We turned the pump on several times only to have the latest assembly leak.  Finally after a good hour we had assembled something that worked well and we had no leaks.

By the end I had sweated and been doused by saltwater so much that I needed another shower.  But I wasn’t about to try that again.  I’d wait until landfall.

We wanted to arrive tomorrow morning.  The wind was coming and going.  We’d sail wonderfully for awhile and then the wind would lay down and we’d drop to 3½ to 4 knots.  The wind stayed in the sails but if we continued too slowly we’d miss our daytime arrival that we were set on.  We discussed running the engine but both Taylor and Tony wanted me to save fuel and sail.  It was a good plan.  In fact, once we decided that we would sail as long as we could the wind began to blow more consistently.  We sailed beautifully all night and we were within about 6 miles of entering Savusavu bay when I was convinced we would be able to sail all the way to the harbor.  Just as those thoughts seemed set in stone the wind shut-off.  With such a short distance to go we bobbed and floated becalmed.  I was disappointed, as I really wanted to sail all the way in.  But Savusavu lay on the horizon teasing us.  It didn’t take long to fire up the engine.  We wanted to be there.

We rounded the point into the bay and motored upon a flat sea the last 4 miles to the river.  We were happy and excited.  We had our bumps and smacks that come with every passage but the reality was our crossing was absolutely beautiful.  It was filled with beautiful sunrises and sunsets and rainbows after squalls and a full moon by night.  The crew was great and a deeper bond was forged atop a bond that was already deep.

When we came into the harbor I knew the hour was near for when I’d say good-bye to Taylor and Tony.  I knew it would be a sad moment for me as I loved the time I shared with them so much.  And I knew too that I’d soon be alone again.  But we still had a couple days before that and we promised to make the best of the time we had.  And we did, but that’s another story.  For now, we were a happy ship and a happy crew after arriving safely from a beautiful passage across a small part of the vast Pacific.

Much Aloha,


Sunday June 10, 2012 - 13:21 Savusavu, Fiji local time

First of all, we had an incredible crossing and we made it here safely to Fiji.  I will write more about the crossing later but today is a sad day for me.  I just returned from the tiny Savusavu airport where I watched Taylor and Tony board a small twin propped plane for the first leg of their journey back to New York City.  The feelings of loneliness that hit me so hard in the Marquesas when they left me from that journey returned upon their departure from Fiji today.  And without Jake and Jackie nearby I’m feeling especially alone in this part of the world right now.

Savusavu is a tiny town in a developing third world nation.  Many of the buildings that line the cracked and pot hole laden road are broken down and rust stained from old tin roofs that have seen their days of heavy rain and tropical weather.  Others are faded from the sun and are shedding paint chips that are blown into the gutters of the dirty street.  During the day the town is packed with people going about their daily business.  Most everybody here is either of Indian descent or are islanders of Melanesian descent.  A few Polynesians make up the rest of the population.  The only white people in town, are those that make up the yachties from the cruising boats and the scant tourist who are brave enough to venture beyond the segregating walls of the fancy resorts to see a real slice of Fijian life. 

I’ve prided myself in being candid and honest in this log and it is because of that I want to share the seriousness of feelings have swirled within me for the past several months.  More than ever now, being here in Fiji so far from home, I’ve been faced again with the reality of being alone and how the hell I’m going to get me and Solstice back home safely to Redondo Beach.  In all honesty, the jury is still out for me as if I made the right choice of heading out on this venture in the first place knowing that the majority of this trip I’d be alone.  I don’t think I fully understood at the time what that choice entailed.  Often times, I wish I had done things differently.  Mostly that stems from wishing I had someone special to share this adventure with.  I’m sitting here in Fiji and the void of loneliness that comes with single-handing has grown with Taylor and Tony’s departure.   By far the most challenging thing I’ve ever taken on in my life is this voyage to sail around the world.  It has had some incredible rewards so far but it also has had some difficult and challenging times too.  Of course being away from Hokule’a compounds these feelings as my safety net of Jake and Jackie being nearby is gone.  I am out here now and swinging with no net to catch me.  But I knew that I had to confront this with myself.  In fact, confronting it was the motivating factor that caused me to sail off on my own without Hokule’a.  In order for me to grow in life I need to not just get out of my comfort zone but live outside of it until it becomes comfortable.  And as I grow I hope to become a better, more secure, more capable and happier person.  And for me it will only be done by fully embracing this voyage.  If I am not able to do that, I think that this adventure was perhaps a mistake.

I have had this dream of sailing around the world for a long time but that dream in my minds eye always included somebody special to share the adventure with.  Somebody with whom I would grow old and gray with and talk about this little adventure we had together for a few years of exploring the world, new cultures and meeting friends along the way.  That was the romance of my dream, and one that drove me to work so hard to achieve.  But things haven’t happened that way.  When friends like Taylor and Tony jet off back to the States where they’ll be back in the comfort of home in less than I day I can’t help but feel the enormity of space between me and Solstice here in Fiji and Redondo Beach, California and how we’re going to get home and most important, get home safely.

Today, the overwhelming feelings of loneliness, vulnerability, and insignificance against the power of the Pacific are well… humbling.   It’s easy to scare the crap out of myself when I look at the big picture.  Just the labyrinth of reefs and places to run aground in Fiji alone scares the shit out of me.  That’s not to mention the two huge crossing across the Indian and Atlantic Ocean that lie ahead.   Fiji, by far offers more obstacles than any place I’ve ever been.  All the cruisers talk about here is how the charts are inaccurate and even their modern digital charts can be up to a half a mile or more off.  Just last night people talked about how the charts are garbage and the tracks they made that took them in and out of lagoons safely showed them cutting right through the reefs on their chartplotter.  Bottom-line, you can’t trust your charts.  The other constant talk here is about the 3 boats that have gone up on reefs here in the last 3 weeks.  The biggest tragedy of all is a boat called “Navillus”.  It’s still a big mystery as to what happened to them.  All that is known is that they ran smack into a volcanic cliffed island called Latte a few hundred miles east of here while leaving Tonga enroot to Australia.  The boat broke up and sank.  The two men aboard have not been found and search and rescue efforts are still underway.  Cruising boats traveling between here and there have been warned of the 20-mile long debris field of broken boat parts.  They’ve also been alerted to keep a sharp lookout for a dinghy floating with the two men.  It’s crazy to think you can just run into an island.  And it’s easy for some to laugh and say that that’s ridiculous and what fools they were or how bad they were at navigating, etc. etc.  Second-guessing and making judgments by anyone not involved, in my opinion, is irresponsible.  The reality is that can happen to anyone of us.   The facts they hit the island, sank, lost their boat and perhaps or worse their lives.

As always with sailing and more so with cruisers than any other sailing community we rely on each other for help.  And that is comforting.  Here in Fiji, we find and share waypoints that are reliable from those that have gone before.  We’re constantly sharing information that helps us all stay safe.  But as always the best navigational tool you have is your eyes and what’s between your ears.  This type of navigating in Fiji avoiding reefs and shallow destinations offers a whole new dynamic of stress to an adventure that is already filled with stress.  So the idea of beautiful coves, beaches and tropical sunsets well… yes they are here, but the challenge of getting to them requires that you raise yourself to a higher level.  And it’s not just getting to them but navigating around and away from them too that keeps you on a constant level of alertness.  It’s life on the edge because in an instant it can all be taken away as it was with Navillus and Jake and Jackie’s friends on Touché who lost their boat.  All these things ring as wake-up calls for me of being out here.

I feel that I’m at a major crossroads in this trip and of what path to take.  Whether or not I should keep going west or should I do something else.  The plan has always been to circumnavigate.  To keep going feels like the most right thing to do but at the same time it feels like the scariest choice of all.  Another choice would be to work my way back east from here and recreate the Far Niente trip I did with John and Jake back in ’98.  Sail east to Samoa, then to the Northern Cooks, Hawaii and then back home to California.  I could be home in a year from now.

There is always the choice that a lot of people do, go to Australia or New Zealand and sell the boat there and fly back to a more normal life back home.  That is the easiest choice but one that feels wrong.  It would break my heart after all I’ve been through with Solstice.  Finally, another scenario I’ve thought of is figuring out if I could ship the boat home from New Zealand or Australia.  The choice I always come back to is to embrace it all, live it fully, step into the challenge and keep going.  Any other choice I feel would be betraying myself.

But I feel that these next few months will hinge on which way to go.  The reality is that when this void of loneliness kicks in then these other thoughts of giving up surface.  Because they come up in those moments when I’m feeling bad it tells me that they contradict what I really want, which is to circumnavigate. 

After Taylor and Tony left I went into town and had what I’m calling my “Brad Pitt moment”.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself as Brad Pitt but here what I mean.  I forget which movie it is and it may not even be Brad Pitt but I think it is.  In one moment he’s in a modern day urban world of a fancy rich section of New York or some similar place.  He’s wearing a great suit and tie and walking down the street, talking on his cellphone, hailing taxis, eating in fine restaurants etc. etc.  Suddenly we cut to him in a third world nation where he’s walking down some dirt road lined with throngs of people and vendors and markets with old carts and tarps.  He’s the only white guy amongst all the people in the busy street.  He’s buying stuff and haggling, talking and laughing with the local vendors as he moves comfortably in a place very unfamiliar to him.  A backpack flung over his shoulder, sunglasses and relaxed clothes he moves confidently and assuredly amongst this sea of beautiful brown skinned people.  I felt that way walking through Savusavu today.  Folks were moving about all around me.  I had my backpack flung over my shoulder and was wearing Tony’s sunglasses that he forgot to take home.  I was going into stores finding out the best deals on things, talking to strangers, laughing and joking with them and a voice inside spoke up,  You are starting to embrace this voyage Bill.  You’re doing the right thing.  Be patient, take your time and you won’t just be fine, you’ll be great.   And I felt that loneliness feeling fade away.

Much Aloha,






Solstice Log