Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore









Sept./Oct. 2014 - Time???  Somewhere In the Strait of Malacca, Malaysia

Finally after almost 5 months I’m leaving Puteri Harbour Marina.  A new sail-plan has been made and I’m headed north with my friends Jamie and Behan and their three kids, Niall -15 (pronounced like the river Nile), Mairen - 12 and Siobhan -10 (pronounced Shi-vahn - I’m told they are Irish names J) from Totem.  We were all excited to leave as we had been in the marina far too long.

I looked over to the dock across from me and saw that Totem had started to back out of their slip.  I didn’t want to be far behind so I hurried and untied Solstice’s docklines.  I walked her back with the bow and stern lines.  I’ve found it much easier to control the boat by walking her out a bit before hopping aboard and putting her in gear.  Solstice is a heavy girl and this particular morning she seemed stubborn to move as I pulled.  She’d start to move but then the big round fenders pinched between her and the dock and bogged her movement down.  I pulled harder with no luck.

My God, is this what 5 months in the marina has done to me?  Am I that old and weak now that I can’t pull this boat out of the harbor anymore?

The wind had picked up a little and was blowing directly on her stern but it surely wasn’t enough that I shouldn’t be able to get her to move.

What’s the matter with you, Bill?  PPPUUULLLLL!!!

I leaned down hard and gave a long steady pull on both lines at the same time.  Nothing.  I pushed her away from the dock a bit to free the fenders up and I pulled again harder.  She moved just a bit.  Then stopped.  A neighbor friend, Richard, saw me struggling.

“Do you need a hand, Bill,” he asked.

“That would be great, Richard, thanks,” I said.

He hurried over and I handed him the bow line.

“Let’s just walk her out a little and I’ll hop aboard and put her in gear.  If you can just make sure the bow doesn’t swing away from the dock and stays clear of the boat next to us,” I said.
Together we pulled.  She started to move and I hopped aboard.  I put her in reverse and Richard kept the bow line tight.  But Solstice wouldn’t go.

“What the hell?” I said.

The bow tried to swing away from the dock towards the boat moored next to us.  Richard wrapped the line around the cleat to stop her.  In Puteri Marina the slips are huge.  Imagine one giant slip.  Big enough for one catamaran or two monohulls.  When two monohulls are in the slip there is no dock finger between them.  Each boat is tied only from one side to the dock.

“Don’t pull it too tight, Richard,” I said and I gave her a little throttle.

Solstice wouldn’t move.  I caught a glimpse of Totem’s mast headed out across the harbor.  My traveling companions were leaving.

What’s the problem, why isn’t she moving?
  My mind raced with all kinds of potential problems.

“I don’t know what’s wrong,” I told Richard.

“Maybe you should check your gearbox,” he said.

His comment jogged my memory to one of the jobs I had done while I was here.  I changed the transmission fluid.

Was the tranny slipping?  How can that be?  Oh my God, if the tranny’s slipping I’m screwed.

The idea of a transmission problem would be a complete nightmare not to mention another DELAY.  I needed to determine if that was the issue ASAP.  I shifted to forward.  I could feel the transmission click and engage and Solstice started to push water and move forward.  Immediately I put her back in neutral and then into reverse.  I thought I felt it engage but it was hard to tell, as it was much smoother than normal.  She started to move a bit but then stopped again.

“What the hell is the freakin’ problem?” I hollered.

I was frustrated and I looked beyond the trees and breakwall; Totem’s mast had exited the harbor and was headed down the river.

“Oh you guys,” Richard’s wife Susan, yelled from her boat on the opposite side of the
dock from Solstice.

She swung her arms wildly and yelled something else.  It was hard to hear her over the distance and through the sound of the engine.  Neither of us could understand what she was saying.

“What is it you’re saying, Susan?” Richard yelled.  English accents make people sound polite even when they raise their voices in annoyance with each other. 

Frustrated she cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled.

“Your other line there.  You’re still tied to the dock,” she bellowed.

“What?” I asked in disbelief and embarrassment.  Richard looked at me wide eyed.

How could that be? 

I knew my look back at him was that of the dumb slack-jawed country-boy from Virginia that still encompasses me on occasion.

“You might move a bit better when you remove that other line,” she said with a giggle.

“Oh, cheerio.  Thank you, darling,” Richard said as he went to untie the hidden dockline.

“Uhhh, I guess that would help.  Thanks, Susan.  What a moron I am,” I acknowledged.

The weight of Solstice pulling on the line had tightened the wrap on the bollard tight.  There are no normal cleats at Puteri but instead round metal post.  It took him a few moments to get it loose.

“Thanks, Richard.  Geez, I’m gonna have to flog that first mate of mine when I find him,” I said.

Richard smiled.

 “I guess I’ve been in the harbor too long,” I confessed.

I was embarrassed but I had to laugh too.  I had sailed to Malaysia from California and I still don’t know how to untie my boat from the dock.

“What a dork you are, Bill,” I confided to myself.

Richard finally freed it up.  Solstice easily backed out and Richard tossed the lines onto the boat.

“You’re right Susan, that is a bit better,” I said.

She waved goodbye.  I returned the wave and headed out, hoping Totem wasn’t too far down the river.  Other friends came out of their boats to wave goodbye and wish a bon voyage as I passed by.  When you’re cruising, leaving a port is like moving.  There’s no plan to come back.  And you don’t know when or if you’ll ever see the people you got to know there again.  It’s different than leaving your home port for a long weekend to Catalina.  When you’re cruising and you leave port, you’re gone.

Solstice cleared the harbor entrance.  I noticed Totem adrift about 200 yards in the middle of the river.  They had tried to leave Puteri Harbour twice before.  Each time their engine overheated and they were forced to turn around and go back to fix the problem.

Oh no.  Not again, was my thought.

“Totem, Totem, Solstice,” I hailed them on channel 72 as planned.

 “Go ahead, Solstice.”

“Hey Jamie, you guys okay there?” I asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well you’re just floating and not moving,” I answered.

“We’re just waiting for you, Bill,” Jamie said.

“Oh…  Your engine is okay?” I asked.

“Yep, so far all the temps and gauges are reading normal.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

“Wow that’s great news.  I was worried when I saw you stopped that something was wrong with the engine again,” I said.

“Everything’s good.  We just wanted to make sure you got out okay.”

“Sorry.  I had a little delay getting out.  I didn’t mean to make you stop.  You don’t have to wait for me,” I said.

“Ah that’s just what we do.  It’s better to head off together,” he said.

“Well thanks Jamie.  I appreciate that.  My delay…” I went on to tell him how with all my sailing knowledge I had forgotten how to untie a boat from a dock.  They got a good laugh at that.

The current was in our favor and we headed down river.  I said my goodbyes to Puteri Harbour and Raffles Marina.  Raffles, which is just down the river in Singapore, is where I was last year and where Hokule’a and Kite were a few weeks ago when they left for Indonesia.  It was strange passing by there knowing that they were nowhere near.

These last few weeks have been filled with a plethora of emotions.  During the last days of my stay in Puteri I watched Hokule’a’s position move further and further away each day.  Every day that distance grew, so too did a sense of aloneness in me.  When they arrived in Rodriguez and with an ocean now separating us I sat inside myself and really felt the distance.

Geez, Bill, what have you done? was the question that came to mind.

I focused on that awareness and the feelings of isolation and loneliness.  It felt like a vacuum had sucked something out of my gut and left me with a sensation of being all-alone.  I felt like I had a hole inside.  It reminded me of the feelings I had when I left home for the first time.  Security and comfort were gone.  Nowhere in sight.  I’m out here alone.  On my own.  Far from home.  I felt naked in the world, and not sure of what’s going to happen or what the future holds.  Unsure of what problems may arise and whether or not I’d be able to handle them when they do.

When feelings like this arise the healthiest thing for me to do is to feel them, digest them and after they’ve been given the attention they deserve, let them go.  And that is always easier said than done.  All along on this trip Hokule’a had been a security blanket for me on a certain level.  Not to mention the comfort and closeness that comes from being near and traveling with life-long friends.  Having them nearby had been wonderful.  But that’s gone now and a new phase to this journey has arrived.  These past few weeks I’ve felt that distance and change a little more every day.

Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake.

I couldn’t help but think that.  Things are different.  But one thing has remained the same.  The constant challenge of going on this adventure alone.  Never has the “all alone” feeling been more evident than now.  It has never been my intention to sail around the world alone.  And though I haven’t done it all on my own (I’ve had friends come and help on some passages) the vast majority of this adventure has been just Solstice, the sea and me.  The feeling of aloneness that comes from single-handing has been enhanced by my decision to go north.  The question is how do I handle it and what do I do from here? 

How do I keep growing, learning and moving forward without regressing into a “woe is me, I’m all alone” attitude.  I’ve reached out to both John and Renée through e-mails and phone calls these past few weeks.

 “Those are all normal feelings to have when you make a big change like this, Bill.  You’ll be fine.  Just experience them and let them go.  Once you’re on the move again, you’ll feel great.  I promise,” Renée reassured me.

“You may be feeling lonely but you’re not alone,” John insisted. 

This wasn’t the first time John’s said that to me and I always sort of laugh after he says it because I know as soon as I hang up the phone and look around the boat I hear myself saying, Well it sure feels like I’m alone.  I can always sense John laughing at me in the higher vibrations of the universe after I say that.

I hear what he means though.  I have an incredible support group of friends that are always there for me.  On that level he’s right.  I’m not alone.  I know John’s always there for me as much as he can be.  Renée too.  She would do absolutely anything and everything for me.  I am lucky to have each of them in my life.  Not to mention so many others who are there in the same way.  I’m thankful, fortunate and blessed for everybody.  But nobody’s here on the boat but me.

These past few weeks have brought up a lot of feelings about being out here and what single-handing is about for me.  Some are sad and alone feelings while others have been exciting and empowering.

Totem and Solstice headed to the same island where I was last anchored with Hokule’a, Kite and Shango.  At that time we all celebrated over the radio our last anchorage in Malaysia before going into the marina.  After the marina stop we were going to head to Indonesia together.  I remember sitting there that night thinking that this would be my last Malay anchorage.  I was so happy to have been done with traversing through the Malacca Strait.  I was done with dodging fishing boats, nets, ships, garbage, thunder and lightning and poorly charted waters.  A few months later I now dropped the hook almost exactly where I had last pulled it up.  I went up to the bow and sat down to watch the sunset.  The next morning I’d head back into the Malacca Strait.  A stretch of water that I thought I had left astern.  It’s one of the busiest waterways in the world.  What I thought was behind me now loomed in front again.  A whirlwind of feelings arose that surprised me.

I’m going backwards.  Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake?

That permeated my thoughts.  I just sat there and felt alone.  I missed Hokule’a, Kite and Shango.  The Safari Net, as we had come to call ourselves was long gone.  And Solstice was no longer a part of it.  The feelings surprised me as I had just gone to the bow to watch the sunset.  I missed them and I missed my friends back home in California.  I felt small, alone, and isolated. 

Maybe it’s not too late.  Maybe I could still go south and get back to California sooner than later.  What am I doing?

When I left here last time; I thought I’d never be back.  Yet here I am again 5 months later.

You’re going backwards, Bill.

I looked over to Totem.  The evening light set a warm glow over her and she sparkled in the twilight as she lay at anchor, gently bobbing atop the sea. I thought about Jamie and Behan and their kids and how great it’s been getting to know them.  I had wonderful new friends over there.

Well… this doesn’t suck, Bill.  Those guys are great.  And look at that sunset.

I thought about the promise of reconnecting with Michelle and Bernie and their girls on Momo who would be following behind us in the coming months.There were a lot of other friends that were also going north.  Friends that I thought I had already said goodbye to that I was now going to reconnect with.  I thought about how many new friends I’d meet and make on this new route.  I thought about the amazing places I was going to see.  I got excited.  New feelings rushed in and my emotions shifted.  I breathed it all in. Nostalgia was replaced with excitement.  The longing for comfort and familiarity was replaced by the exhilaration that comes with stepping into something fresh, new and mysterious.  I looked across the Strait to the beautiful sunset before me.

Then it struck me.  I had a choice of how and handle this change.  Either embrace it or don’t.  Things in life change.  They have changed a lot for me over the last few years and in these past few weeks they’ve changed a lot again.  But I have a choice.  I could sit here and be in this "woe is me I'm all alone" sad-sack state or I can decide to not just embrace the change but embrace the aloneness too.  Because of the alone factor I’m bound to only me and Solstice and the world that lies ahead is wide open.  I’m free.  I can go anywhere I choose at anytime.  I have such a rare opportunity that so many never get.

I know it will be hard at times but I also know it will be incredibly exhilarating and rewarding.  Embracing all of this is the only choice I have.  It's the only one that fills me with life and the joy of being alive.  The other choice is depressed, downtrodden and void of life.  As they say in The Shawshank Redemption “It comes down to a simple choice really, you get busy living or you get busy dying”.  Not to be melodramatic, but it was time to get busy living.

In that moment on the bow I decided to not just embrace all of it but to run forward and leap into it with a full gainer followed by a huge splash.  It was time to shed all the sad and alone feelings.  I vowed to stand up on the bow, feel the breeze, breathe it in and look forward to what adventures lie beyond these new horizons.  Renée assured me as soon as I was on the move I’d feel better.  She was right.  It wasn’t perfect but I started to feel better.

The next morning we pulled the hook at first light and headed into the Malacca Strait.  An hour later dark clouds loomed in front of us.  I turned on the radar and tried to make sense of the storm cells forming.  There were a series of three developed cells that promised to make this day not a leisurely sail.  A bright light soon flashed ahead followed by the rumble of thunder.  My whole body tensed up.  Lightening on the open water scares me.  I know of three boats that have been hit in just the past few months here in Malaysia.  Two of those were in marinas where you are least likely to get struck.  The horizon ahead grew darker and then went bright white for an instant as another bolt streaked in the distance in jagged abrupt pattern across the sky.  The thunder rolled through sooner this time than the last.  I made a note to start using the olé tried and true “one thousand one, one thousand two…” how far away is the lightening trick.

“Solstice, Solstice, Totem,” Jamie’s voice on the radio broke the tension.

“Hey Jamie,” I answered.

“How’s it going over there?” he asked.

“Ah probably about the same as it is over there.  I hate this shit,” I said.

“Me too.  Are you seeing anything on your radar?” he asked.

Totem lost their radar about a year ago, which Jamie believed happened from a near lightning strike.

“From what I can tell there are three defined cells and they are about 4 miles ahead moving west to east and will be coming right over top of us if we stick to this course” I said.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.  But I think if we continue on or turn a little to starboard we may be able to go between two of them and squeak ahead of the third one,” Jamie said confidently.

“Really?” I didn’t agree with his assessment.  “I don’t know Jamie, they definitely are moving in front of us and I think if we turn out towards the shipping lanes we can let them pass in front of us and we can sail behind them,” I said.

“How far would we have to turn?” he asked.

“I’m not sure yet.  Give me a minute and I’ll try and figure it out.”

I started to plot things on the radar and the chart.  What was happening ahead wasn’t good on any level.  The sky went bright white again with a quick flash and…

“One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand…”


Three and half miles maybe – I thought.  The lightning was closer.

I looked at the radar and from what I could tell we had to veer off course about 75 degrees to have any hope of going behind them.  The problem with that plan was it would put us heading out towards the shipping lanes that were filled with two-dozen ships moving north and south.  When the rain filled in and if it turned to white out conditions with zero visibility and dozens of ships nearby well, that is not good.  But I had a bad feeling about trying to go between the storm cells.  I conveyed my thoughts to Jamie.

“Yeah, I’ve seen these things develop a lot and I think even if you steer that way the footprint will get bigger and you’ll still be in it,” Jamie said.

“Yeah, maybe.  Maybe not,” I added.

I’ve seen these things develop too and one thing I did know is they are unpredictable.  This was one of those times where boats traveling together had a difference of opinion on what to do.  It’s my belief that in the end each boat has to trust their own instincts and do what feels right for them.  Jamie wanted turn to starboard I wanted to turn to port.  I’ve run alongside the shipping lanes a lot out here and I felt more comfortable out there than I did amongst the fishing boats and nets that were closer to shore.  I also had radar so I could see the ships and tugs that don’t have an AIS transponder, Totem didn’t.  So I understood his choice but I didn’t want to go that way.  It felt wrong for me for some reason.  And I’ve learned to trust my intuition.  We agreed to each go our own way and we’d meet on the other side of the storm cells.

A quick flash of white reflected off the inside of the cockpit fiberglass.

“One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand thr…”


I turned to port and aimed for what I thought was the west side of the furthest out squall.  I had to turn about 80 degrees, more than I had thought.  I’d be entering the shipping lane in less than 30 minutes at this rate.  A smattering of fat rain drops began to hit the deck and splattered against the plastic ison glass of the dodger with loud plops and claps.  The wind increased and so did the rain.  The intermittent plops and claps became a loud hiss that sounded like a large piece of bacon cooking in a giant frying pan over a full flame.  Soon there were no dry spots left on deck.  I eyed each ship I could see and made a mental note of where they were.  I could also see their AIS positions on the chartplotter.  What worried me were the two tugboats that had past earlier headed south.  They were between Solstice and the northbound shipping lane and had no AIS.  How many more of them were headed south behind them?  I had no clue.  I didn’t see any but I was on guard.

Another sudden flash of light and the crooked path of a lightning bolt hit the sea ahead,

One thousand one.. one thous…


I tensed up more. 

Should I run and rig the wire to the backstay and toss it overboard?

It was buried below and I didn’t want to leave the cockpit because of oncoming traffic.

Stupid Bill.  You should’ve taken care of that earlier.

The hiss that filled the air grew louder as the defined leading edge of the squall approached.  It crawled overtop the deck.  The rain was hard and the wind rose to 30 knots and blew over the starboard bow.  Visibility dropped to 50 yards.  It wasn’t a white out but it wasn’t good.  The gap had narrowed to the shipping lane.  I didn’t want to enter the shipping lanes so I turned back to starboard to run alongside it and to stay clear of them.  Unfortunately, that meant I turned into the wind and back towards the squall.  Neither Solstice nor Totem had any sail up.  I was thankful for that as the wind increased more and the boat speed dropped to 2.5 knots.

“Solstice, Solstice, Totem,” Behan’s voice came over the radio.

“Hey Behan,” I said.

“Hey Bill, listen lets do a check-in every 15 minutes and we’ll exchange position reports, okay?” she asked.

“That’s a great idea, Behan,” I said.

“Are you ready to take our position?” she asked.

“Give me a second.”

I ran below and grabbed a pen and pad and got back to the radio.

“Go ahead, Behan,” I said.

After we exchanged positions she went on, “Okay, so we’ll check-in again in 15 minutes.  If for some reason we can’t get a hold of each other, we’ll each head to the last known position of the other.

CRACK BOOM!  I could hear a thunder clap emanate over the radio from their position.

“Jesus, that one was right over top of us,” Behan said.

“Are you guys okay?” I asked.

“Yep, just too close,” she said.

“Okay, this is a good plan, Behan.  I’ll check back in 15 minutes, over,” I said.

“Okay.  Totemclear,” she said.

“Solstice clear.”
I set the radio back on its hook and stood in the stairwell of the companionway.  My safe-haven spot where I could keep an eye on all sides of the boat and stay out of the weather.  All the ship traffic was off to my port.  I was just outside the northbound lane so the lane closest to me was traveling in the same direction.  About 4 ships were off my starboard bow, another two off my beam.  I turned and looked aft and saw four more northbounders coming up from behind.  There were southbounders too but they were on the other side of the Strait and not close enough to worry about.

A brilliant flash of white stole my vision for a brief moment and with it came a loud HHIIISSSSS that sounded like a branding iron searing a cowhide.  The hair stood up on the back of my neck then…


I shuttered as the thunder hit powerfully after the hiss and just milliseconds after the flash.

A slight buzz and fritz emanated from the VHF speaker afterward.

“That’s way too fucking close,” I yelled to the heavens.

Buzzing over the VHF is not good.

A quick look at the instruments and everything was still running fine.  My heart, on the other hand, was beating a million times faster than it was before that latest strike.

“Jesus, if a lightning strike hits Solstice choosing to go north WOULD BE THE DUMBEST DECSION I’VE EVER MADE,” I yelled loud which in a weird way helped to calm my nerves.  Talking out loud to myself sometimes does that for me.

“Okay, God.  Don’t let us get struck by lightning.  Please God, keep us safe.  King Neptune please keep us safe.  Jeep are you up there?  KEEP US SAFE JEEP.  YOU TOO JOYCE,” I yelled.

I looked at the clock 5 more minutes until my check-in with Totem.  I stood there and kept an eye on everything.  Solstice slugged along at around 2 knots.  At this rate I’d be out here forever.  The time to check-in seemed to pass at a snails pace too.

Another flash of white!


There was no hiss before the thunder so I knew this strike was further off but not by much.  Still too close.

15 minutes were up.

“Totem, Totem, Solstice…” I called on the radio.

No answer.

Oh no.  What if they got hit?

After a moment longer,

“Totem, Totem, Solstice” I hailed again.  I waited...  Silence.

Why aren’t they answering? Should I turn back to where they last were?  How long should I wait?  Maybe five….

“Hey Solstice, Totem here,” the sound of Behan’s voice brought relief. “Sorry we’re just trying to stay ship shape and I was away from the radio.  Are you ready for our position?” she asked.


After we relayed positions Behan added a sailor’s insight.

“Hey just so you know, I made fresh baked muffins this morning and we just tossed one overboard for King Neptune as an offering,” she said.

“Wow that’s great, Behan.  I actually have a bit of rum aboard that somebody left here after our last dock party.  I’ll give him the rest of that too,” I added.

“Perfect, rum and fresh baked muffins.  That should keep him happy and us safe,” she said.

“I agree.  That’d keep me happy,” I said.

Behan laughed.  “Talk to you in 15 minutes.  Totemclear,”


I put the radio on the hook and ran below to the liquor cabinet.  There it was, a frosted white bottle of rum that somebody had forgotten to take home after our last dock party a month ago.  I’d been holding on to it for whomever it was to come back and pick it up but they never showed.  I guess it was meant for King Neptune.  It was a bottle of El Dorado Deluxe Silver 6 Year Old Rum. I’m no rum connoisseur but “El Dorado” was the name of a John Wayne movie so I figured if it was good enough for the Duke then it was good enough for King Neptune.  There was still about ¼ of the bottle left.  I grabbed it and ran out into the pouring rain on the aft deck.  I opened it and raised the bottle to the sky as a flash of white streaked across the sky again.


The thunder rattled the air.  I was shaking.  This was not fun. 

“Okay, King Neptune, this is for you.  Some El Dorado rum.  Please keep us safe.  Don’t let us get hit by lightning.  PPLLEEAASSEE!!!  And don’t let any other bad stuff happen either.  Keep us safe,” I yelled to the stormy sea and poured the bottle into the ocean.  Right before it was empty I stopped and considered the bottle.

“And a little swig for me, if I may? King Neptune,” I figured he said yes, raised the bottle to my lips and took a swig.

Damn, that’s pretty good.

I was surprised how smooth it was.

“Thank you!” I yelled and poured the rest overboard.

A flash of white again lit off the starboard rail between Solstice and wherever Totem was closer to the shore.


The thunder was further off but probably closer to Totem.

The rum must be more powerful than the muffins.  That’s why the lightning went back to their direction.  I laughed at the thought.

I went back to the shelter of the dodger and companionway and took off my wet shirt.  I called Totem and reported my offering.  That last bolt wasn’t too close to them either.  We all agreed that it could only help in our cause for the powers that be to allow us safe passage through the squalls.  It sounds silly but when you’re in it, it makes you feel better.

For the next 2 ½ hours we pushed slowly through the storm cells.  Lightning and thunder continued to fall all around.  It did seem, however, that the closest bolts hit before the offerings of muffins and rum.  I’m not saying that made a difference, I’m just reporting an observation.

Jamie reported that he saw 38 knots on their anemometer.  I didn’t see anything that high but my wind speed display is by the helm and I wasn’t keeping a constant eye on it.  Whatever it was it kept the boat speed slow.  Eventually the lightning moved further away and the wind and rain eased.  Finally we pushed through the north side and got back on a course to reconnect with each other.  A huge sigh of relief accompanied the break in the clouds but a tenseness remained in me as we had just begun our trek up the Malacca Strait. 

By late afternoon we dropped the hook at Pulau Besar.  A quiet island with a good anchorage though it had a swift current.  The next day was an easy run to Admiral Marina.  The next couple of weeks were like that with the exception of a couple of minor squalls here and there.  There were no more Sumatra squalls like the one on our first day.  Instead, we day hopped from anchorage to marina, from marina to anchorage.  From Pangkor Marina we took a four-hour bus ride to Kuala Lumpur so we could add new visa pages to our passports at the U.S. Embassy.  I explored K.L. (as the locals call it) with the Totem crew.  We explored the inner city, checked out the Petronas Towers, ate great food and laughed a lot.  We had a great time and it was a nice escape from the boat for a couple of days.  It was exciting for me too because Thursday night football was on the television at the embassy.  ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???  I AM!  I miss America a lot sometimes.

Finally Totem and Solstice sailed into Straits Quay Marina on the island of Penang, which is at the north end of the Malacca Strait.  John will be flying here to meet me and we’ll spend a couple of weeks together.  Originally he was to come to Mauritius but when my plans changed so did his.  Penang is a great island.  It offers some of the best of Malaysia.  It has a perfect combination of cultures, foods, architecture, and museums.  It’s a diverse part of Malaysia unlike many other areas.  A larger Chinese and Indian population lives here and their cultural influences are everywhere.  It is a great place to stop and wait for a friend.

As I’m finishing this “short entry” Hokule’a, Kite, and Shango have arrived in South Africa.  The Indian Ocean now separates us.  The feelings of isolation and aloneness are still with me at times but the change in my attitude and the conscious effort of embracing this time and moment of my life is good and empowering.  I look to these new horizons with better eyes than before I left Puteri.  Solstice and Hokule’a made it 3 ½ years and nearly halfway around the world together.  Most boats spend only a few months together before going their separate ways.  The length of our time sailing together was a pretty good feat.  Originally, we all thought we’d sail back to California together.  That seems unlikely now.  Things have changed.  I’m thankful and grateful for the time and moments we shared on the first half of this adventure.  But I’m also thankful and grateful for this change.  The second half of this voyage will be completely different.  It will allow me to learn and grow in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to if I were still traveling with the Safari net.  I’m excited and thrilled in a way I’ve haven’t been before about this adventure.  I’m also nervous and scared about the unknown and unfamiliarity about it all too.  On one hand I feel like I’m in limbo still stuck on this side of the Indian Ocean.  On the other hand, I feel like I’m beginning a brand new voyage that I’m so excited about.  It’s been a hard adjustment these past couple of months as I’ve waded through all these emotions and feelings.  But it’s a good adjustment.  Solstice and I are exactly where we are supposed to be.  This choice to embrace this new chapter is pivotal in making this change not just something good but something great.  There is a fresh feeling of the excitement for life reverberating inside of me.  My spirit is alive and healthy and accompanied the vivaciousness and thrill for what lies ahead that only an adventure can bring.  For now, it’s Solstice, the sea and me and the best is yet to come. 

Much Aloha,



Saturday August 16TH, 2014 17:15 Local Time Puteri Harbour, Malaysia

Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes!

About a week ago all the hard work on Solstice was done.  She was primped and primed and chomping on the bit to go.  So was I.  I had just been issued my clearance papers to leave Malaysia and was excited to head out at sunrise.  An hour later the plan was derailed and the departure delayed… again.  Unexpected issues had arisen back in the States that needed my urgent attention.  Business that required me to have easy access to both phone and internet.  Business, that would take 3 to 5 working days to get sorted and it was already Friday evening.


I went from being a happy person in mind and spirit to a soul filled with anger and frustration in the blink of an eye.  This latest delay was just another in a long list that had been happening one after another over the past month.  Each delay in its own way pushed back a planned departure date. 

I’ve always tried to live my life in a state of consciousness that is focused on my environment, my daily life experiences and I try to pay attention to what the universe has in store for me.  I don’t believe that everything that happens in our lives is a sign that carries a higher meaning but I do believe that certain things that affect us strongly and emotionally do indeed warrant our full attention and many do hold life lessons and or are signs and tools that the universe utilizes to help teach us to grow, expand, learn and persuade us to move in a specific direction that is best for us to follow.  The question is, when these events occur, are we listening?  I had not been listening.  I was wrapped up in trying to get out of here as soon as possible.  This last delay was a slap in the face to me from my guardian angels saying “Hello Moron!  Wake up!  We’re talkin’ to you!” 

This was their final attempt to shake me awake.  It worked.  I began to pay attention.

My anger and frustration calmed at this realization and at the reality of the “no control” I had of current situation for the next few days.  I went back to the boat and sat down in the main salon and started to think.  I looked at where I was and what was happening.  I paid most attention to the simple facts.  I had been getting an echo of this same vibration for over a month now.  Over and over this reverberating energy surfaced and resurfaced enough times that I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  I wasn’t just being delayed in Malaysia, I was being held here.  That was a fact.  The question that needed to be answered was “Why?”

Was it fear of crossing the Indian Ocean alone?  Was it weather related?  Was it something on a level beyond my comprehension?

I ruled out fear right away.  Yeah, every big passage scares me on some level but this was nothing different than anything before.  Every passage has anxiety associated with it but nothing to keep me from going.  In fact, the opposite was more the case with this passage.  I was more excited about doing this solo crossing than most of all the others.  I have always loved the passages.  I still do.  They’re great.  So I was sure that fear wasn’t keeping me here.  Weather?  Maybe.  Maybe there was some unexpected storm that would blow up without my knowledge and my guardian angels were doing their best to steer me clear of being caught in that.  But if that was the case, I should have only been delayed a day or two while the potential collision with bad weather moved far enough away time-wise to be avoided.  Weather shouldn’t delay me over and over again.  I don’t know of any month long storms lasting in the same place out there.  If it was storm related; once the storm cleared I should’ve been free to go.  At least that was my reasoning.  So if it wasn’t fear or weather what was it?


“Hey Solstice, anybody home?” a voice called out.

Was I hearing my guardian angels now?  I popped my head out the companionway and was happy to see that I wasn’t hallucinating but that instead my friends Jamie, Behan (pronounced Bee-In) and Michelle were there.

“Hey we’re having a little birthday dinner/celebration for Jana.  Come join us,” Michelle said.  Michelle is Jana’s Mom.  Jana (pronounced Yah-nah) was turning 10.

“Great. When?” I asked.
“Now” they said simultaneously.

“Oh, ahh… okay.  Give me a few minutes,” I assured them.

“No hurry, take your time, we’re just down at the end of the dock on Momo,” Michelle said and they walked off.

During my time here, I’ve got to know two cruising families in the harbor.  Jamie and Behan with their three kids aboard Totem.  And Bernie and Michelle with their two girls from MomoTotem is from Seattle and Momo is from Annapolis.  They’re all wonderful. 

Like most cruisers who gather in the same place we’ve all hung out many times together and got to know one another well over these past two months.  We’ve helped each other out with boat projects, learned from one another, laughed, shared meals and BBQ’s and had send off parties for those leaving.  There was one for Hokule’a when they left and another for Kite when they left a week later.

Michelle had gone all out to make Jana’s birthday celebration special.  There were salads and pastas and twice baked potatoes stuffed with vegetables and cheese (Jana’s favorite, I’m told), crackers, cookies, candy and birthday cupcakes tiered three stories high to look like a tall cake.  Decorations, hats and silly presents were scattered atop blankets that had been laid out on the dock for us all to sit on.  We laughed, told stories and sang happy birthday.  It was a fitting birthday celebration and one that I suspect Jana will keep as a wonderful memory of when she turned 10 in Malaysia.

During our time here we had all become friends and liked each other very much.  They all also knew how each of my delays had put me further and further behind and how I had missed the sail away date with Hokule’a and Kite when they left Singapore 2 ½ weeks ago.  Like me they were making their way to South Africa, unlike me, they were traveling back up to Thailand, over to the Andaman Islands, off to Sri Lanka, down through the Maldives, Chagos, the Seychelles and then down the east coast of Africa and on to Cape Town.  This northern route was Solstice’s and Hokule’a’s original plan until we opted to turn around and run back down south to head out the Sunda Strait.
Over the past two months I had gotten friendly and playful jousting from both Totem and Momo that I should change my plans and head north with them.  Tonight as the birthday celebration was waning their tone turned more serious and I was hit with a barrage of questions.

“So when do you think you’ll get out of here, Bill?” Jamie asked.

“Well another 3 or 4 days as soon as this stuff is all sorted,” I said.

“And where are those guys now?” he continued.

“They’re in Belitung but they’re leaving tomorrow for the Sunda Strait.  That’s what Jake’s e-mail said this morning,” I said.

“I thought you were gonna meet them in Belitung?”

“Yeah that was the plan.  Hopefully I’ll get going here and see them in Cocos Keeling,” I added.

“Bill if they’re heading out tomorrow, they’ll be long gone from Cocos by the time you get there,” Jamie said confidently.

“Yeah, maybe,” I knew Jamie was close to the truth.

“Why don’t you come with us?” he said.

“Yeah, Bill come with us,” Michelle said.

“Oh you guys, that would be such a huge change.”

“That’s what we did,” Michelle added.

“Yeah, we were going that way too, Bill.  Now we’re headed north.  Come with us,” Bernie insisted.

“Come with us, Bill,” said Behan.

“Geez, come on you guys.  I can’t do that,” I insisted.

“Why not?” Bernie asked.

I didn’t have an answer.

“Bill why are you chasing after people who aren’t going to be there when you get there?” Jamie started to ask harder questions.

I didn’t have an answer for him either.

“They’re too far ahead,” he insisted.

A barrage of hard facts and questions started to fly and continued for another 15 minutes.  I didn’t have answers for most of them and I got defensive of my plan.  I told them about everything I had been through with Jake and Jackie and how far we had come together and how close I had gotten to Jack and Zdenka on Kite.  Jamie listened to everything.

“Bill, they’re not going to be there when you get there,” he said simply.

“I thought this was a birthday party, not a “lets grill, Bill” party?” I asked.

“We just really like you, Bill.  We want you to come with us,” Behan had a beautiful smile.

There was a sweetness and genuineness behind everything each of them said.

“It’s really nice to be wanted you guys.  Thank you but it’s really too complicated.  I have to stay the course,” I added.

I walked slowly back to the boat that night, my mind swimming with all that was said.  Their whole idea just put a huge monkey wrench in the way I had been thinking.  My guardian angels were indeed hard at work and I felt they were responsible for this conversation.  I looked up to the stars and pointed at them,

“I can’t just turn around and change everything like that,” I shouted. 

Why not?  I could hear Bernie’s earlier reply in my brain.


Because why?

“JUST BECAUSE!...... FUCK!” was the most intelligent reply I could think of.

My predicament suddenly became a lot more confusing.

I laid down in my bed, eyes wide open, sleep, not even remotely possible.

What are you going to do, Bill?  Change course?  Could this possibly be the reason for all these delays?  They’re trying to get me to open up my mind to a completely different course?  To not chase after those guys but instead go North?  How could I do that? 
That thought scared me.  It scared me enough to know that this was something I needed to look at.  And look at hard.

One thing rang true; Jamie was right, it had become almost impossible for me to   catch those guys before Coccos Keeling and it was likely that not only would I sail to Cocos Keeling on my own but probably Mauritius too with no support boats.  Or in the best-case scenario, with other boats that I really don’t know.

During times like this when I need some input from somebody with a level head I often turn to my best friend Renée.  She lives back in L.A.  Renée and I have known each other for over 24 years.  We worked together at Disney soon after I moved to Los Angeles.  Instantly we became close friends and we’ve grown closer and closer every year since.  We’re connected on a very powerful level and she understands and knows me better than anybody.  Often she knows me better than I know myself.  She’s a great confidant in that she’s encouraging and supportive but she is not a “yes” person.  Renée tells me what she feels and what I need to hear, not I want to hear.  I can always count on her to tell me the truth.  She speaks to me from a higher consciousness of love, compassion and understanding and though she doesn’t sugar coat things, she speaks from her heart and always with love and empathy.  For these same reasons, she’s a great confident and sounding board when something is troubling me.  I wished so much I could talk to her.  But she lives very far away and it was too late to call her.  I opened up the computer and started to write her an e-mail.  Renée is one of my emergency contacts back home so I keep her up to date on everything.  So she was up to speed with all my recent delays, what they had caused and what was happening because of them.

Hey You!

Just touching base… I began. 

…Anyway, I’ve gotten to know a couple of really great families since I’ve been here.  They’re all headed north and going up through what was my original plan to sail north of Thailand then across to the Maldives and back down south through Chagos and the Seychelles.  A very enticing route.  A bit sketchier because of some instabilities but a lot of boats that went that way this year have had a great trip.  They are all telling me that I should go with them.  That I'm never going to catch Hokule'a and Kite now and I should just change all my plans completely.  It is tempting but it would require pushing everything back almost a year and not being in South Africa until the Oct./Nov. of 2015 and….
blah, blah, blah…  I continued to write and explain things in detail about how such a change would be almost impossible to make now and what a change like that would mean.  After venting, I hit send and went to sleep.

The next morning I got up, made coffee and turned on the computer and smiled as I saw that I had a reply from Renée.  I opened it up.

ABSOLUTELY 100% GO THE ALTERNATE ROUTE WITH THESE PEOPLE!!!! Never was anything more obviously thrown in your path than this.  There is a reason!!! Do not hesitate.  Please.  No question that these delays were to have you wait for something else to cross your path and this is it! Lots of benefits to this one including the writing!

Lots of love,



Her e-mail scared the crap out of me.  What she said hit me right in the chest.  And she used ALL CAPS!!!  How could I do this?  I couldn’t even think about it… could I?

I began to write her back and something washed over me.  As I wrote a calmer, cooler relaxed feeling replaced my initial emotional reaction.  It was odd.  And that inner voice spoke up.

Bill, you don’t have to make a choice right now, but look at it.  Take a good, long look.  There’s no harm in that.  You have a couple of free days here waiting.  So take it in, digest it.  Weigh all the pros and cons.  No pressure.

After breakfast, I grabbed my iPad that has charts on it, my computer and a couple of guide books and went to Starbucks where it was quiet and they have great internet and air conditioning. 

I got a venti triple shot latte, found a great table where I could spread out my devices and books and started a day of research.  I pulled up Google Earth, opened the charts on the iPad and plotted Hokule’a and Kite’s position.  They were anchored off Krakatoa in the middle of the Sunda Strait.  By the next evening they’d be at the east end of the Java peninsula at the national park where we had planned our jump off point to Cocos Keeling.  That was almost 700 miles from where I was.  I couldn’t see them sitting the park for more than 4 days at the most.  Even if I left the next morning and did the best I could I’d be lucky to make it to where they were in two weeks.  They will have been at Cocos Keeling long before I even got to Krakatoa.  And then, I couldn’t see them waiting there very long.  As soon as they got the right weather window they’d be off.  And this was taking into account if I left the next morning, which I couldn’t.  I was still stuck here for another 2 to 3 days waiting for things to get sorted back home.  That was the first sobering statistic.  I realized right then, there wasn’t a chance in hell they’d still be in Cocos Keeling before I got there.  But even in the remote possibility that they were I’d have to sail full on between here and there which would require multiple overnighters where the concern of unlit fishing boats and fishing platforms, traps and nets as well as squalls and thunderstorms.  These are just some the obstacles and hazards and with no other boats to travel with where I could rely on an extra set of eyes I’d be fighting fatigue and pushing myself and the boat hard the entire time.  This indeed was a big con.  I then started to look at this leg in its fuller context.

Once I got to Cocos Keeling, and as I saw it, Hokule’a, Kite and Shango would had all left before then, I’d then have to cross the Indian Ocean on my own.  My challenge would then be to catch them in South Africa by Christmas.  And if I could even achieve that, I’d have only two months there before shoving off for the next long sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.  An incredible amount of distance to travel in the next 9 months.  Right then, I didn’t see a lot of pros lining up for me with the southern route.  With the exception of crossing with Hokule’a in the same year so we’d be on the same seasonal time frame, I counted zero.

I turned my attention to the northern route.  The biggest affect of going this route is that it changes the weather window from when I would cross the Indian Ocean.  Instead of crossing in 2014 it would be 2015.  But from this point, I’d leave here in 2 or 3 weeks and start to make my way casually back up north through the Malacca Straits.  I’d also be sailing with friends from other boats.  A definite pro was the relaxed, safe pace and traveling with friends.  Going back through the Malacca Straits wasn’t really a pro or a con just something I’d have to traverse again.  I didn’t relish the idea of heading back up that way but there was a sense of comfort associated with it because of the familiarity of the places I had already been.  I knew where to go and what to expect and knew it was doable even if I had no other boats near me.  The pace would be relaxed, slow and if something went wrong I’d have the time to deal with it.  The southern route left little to no room to stop and fix something on the boat should something break or need repair.  Another big con for the southern route.    

The northern route also opened back up a host of places I wanted to go including Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Chagos and possibly the Seychelles should I decide to head that way.  Rodriguez, Mauritius and Reunion were all still in play as I could chose to go that way from Chagos if I wanted.  The idea of now being able to go to all those places got me excited.  Of course a con was I’d miss Krakatoa, the Ujung Kulon National Park and of course Cocos Keeling that are all on the southern route.  But the time in those places in the south would be for only a few days or weeks when compared to the months of time I’d have sailing down through the islands along the northern route.

I continued to spend the rest of the day going through everything.  The more I looked at it the more I started to feel a sense of something bad about heading south.  It felt hurried, forced and unsafe.  None of which are what this voyage is about for me.  I’ve always wanted to get the full potential out of this adventure and traveling at such a rate seemed to go against the very grain of what I’ve always dreamed this trip to be for me.  I again looked closer at the northern route and all the places that I wanted to see before we decided this past year to turn back around and head to the southern route.  All of those places and islands that had vanished from the radar screen were now suddenly part of the sail plan if I went north.  That thought evoked a rise of energy that began to swell inside of me.  I got this feeling that this was where I was supposed to go and that this route and this time was an important part of what this adventure was supposed to be for me.  I felt like I had worked so hard to get to this point and now had this new opportunity right in front of me.  I had to take advantage and realize the full potential of this trip.  Some of the reasons that caused us to turn around in the first place were still there but a lot of them had also dissolved when I heard news from the boats and experiences from the group that went up there this past year.  Suddenly, it all began to make sense.  The delays started to make sense.  And then there was truth in what Renée had alluded to at the end of her e-mail.  I’d have time to write.  The slower, more relaxed pace would lend itself to a freedom of time that had been completely lacking in not just this southern course but really since I left Sydney.  I have had so little time to write as those who continue to look for updates here know.  I’m so far behind.  And writing and sharing this adventure is such an important aspect of all of this for me.  I’d have real time to write and take pictures.  When that thought came into my brain that inner voice spoke up loud and clear. 

Go North Bill.

The two biggest things this change would bring are foremost losing time traveling with Hokule’a and second pushing my crossing to the next weather window.  Not traveling with Hokule’a and not seeing those guys for a very long time is huge and hurts.  They have been such an integral and important part of everything.  I owe so much to those two.  I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for them.  But the reality was that the delays that had already happened had already caused a huge amount of sailing time to be lost with Hokule’a no matter what route I took.  As for the change in weather window, that became less of a factor as soon as I realized the northern route would be safer, smarter and best for both mine and Solstice’s well being.  The northern route made much more sense from a single-handed aspect as well.  The passages are much shorter and the island hopping will be much more manageable.  I’ll also have the flexibility and time to take things as they come and stop when I need to.  And did I mention I’d have time to write.  And maybe even pick up my guitar more than once in a blue moon.  The southern route with it’s forced and hurried pace left no breathing room if something went wrong or broke with the boat.  The northern route felt right and to that feeling I had to pay attention.  That was where I’m supposed to go.  That’s what my guardian angels have been trying to tell me all along.  That’s why I’ve had these delays.  Renée was right on.  She too was a catalyst in all this to help me wake me up and see what was being shown to me.  I’m so fortunate to have her in my life.  It’s why she knows me better than I know myself.  And so I’ve made a decision.  Solstice and I are headed north.

“Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can't look back for too long.
There's just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can't go wrong
with these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same” - Jimmy Buffett

Much Aloha,



Monday August 11th, 2014 22:00 local Puteri Harbour, Malaysia

I’m going to start doing two types of updates.  One that is short and will give pertinent more timely information of where I am and what’s going on; the second will be much more of my type of writing that will be rich in feelings, experience, emotions and true story telling.  The later/longer versions are lagging behind in where I am on the current journey as they take much more time to write to the standard I want.  The longer version will also hold the raw emotion of guts and how my story I cannot express in a few words.  My hope is that the longer version will be the foundation to put the entire journey in a book.  The shorter version will be my attempt to be more timely and to help people not get bored or disinterested by reading the longer updates.  This update is the former (shorter one).

Yes, 4 months later, I’m still in Puteri Harbour.  The time has flown by.  The original intention was to be here only 3 months but as they say “shit happens” and a lot of shit has happened that has kept me delayed.  Hokule’a and Kite left here about a month ago to go to Singapore.  They left Singapore a little over two weeks ago.  The plan was for me to leave with them but in the process of getting Solstice ship shape I discovered some serious issues that had to be addressed to get her ready to cross the ocean.  The result has put me way behind them.  Right now catching up to them seems almost impossible.

When I first got here I had three months of time to write and take care of what I needed to do on the boat.  The first 6 weeks were dedicated to writing and going through thousands of photographs.  That job was all consuming and still I was only able to update the log to where I arrived in Darwin.  I’m still working on the Darwin to Indonesia phase.  I don’t know if I will be able to get that done before leaving here but I am trying.   Solstice has been a disaster for the past 3 months.  All the tool drawers have belched and thrown their contents into the middle of the main salon and beyond. Solstice has been in a perpetual state of disarray for the better part of past 2 ½ months.  Though I knew where everything was she was a mess.  Only about a week ago have I gotten her back to her shining self.  She and I are both content again living in her clean happy space.

I have spent most of the past 14 weeks working my ass off on the boat.  As usual, most jobs took twice as long as anticipated.  In hindsight perhaps I should’ve started the boat projects first and done the writing on the tail end of this stay in the marina.  But if I had done that I never would’ve found the time to really delve into the writing.  This best part of my time here has been the time writing the 73 pages from Whitsundays to Darwin leg.  My days were relaxed and free to think and write and flesh out my experiences.  Right now I’m hurrying to wrap up some final logistics and get Solstice out of the marina and to begin my pursuit of Hokule’a and Kite.  Though when I was just about to leave here just a couple of days ago more unexpected things popped up that has continued my delay for perhaps as much as another week.   I’ve grown frustrated by the constant delays and have been asking the universe “Why am I being delayed so much?”  I’ll let you know when I find an answer to that question.

Originally, I was going to cross the Indian Ocean on my own.  I was excited as it was going to be my longest solo non-stop leg.  Then John called and said that he wanted to come and help me on that leg that would ultimately land us in South Africa.  I was bummed at first as my solo voyage opportunity had gone away.  But as I thought about it, I got excited at the idea of having John back aboard and the opportunity for us to share something great by crossing the Indian Ocean together.  About 2 weeks ago John called and said he could not get the leave from work that he had hoped for and would not be able to make it.  I was bummed again at another lost opportunity.  But as the days passed I got excited again about the challenge of a solo sail across the Indian Ocean.  I then began to wrap my mind around what this entailed which brought more projects that had to be addressed from a single handing standpoint.  My hope was to be traveling with Hokule’a, Kite and Shango.  Together we had planned to make the leap across the Indian Ocean.  Though the jobs that mounted for me were soon overwhelming but I continued to work constantly from sunup to sundown doing my best to knock them out one by one.

Here’s a quick list of things I’ve done while I’ve been here and is why there has not been a new update since my last posting.  Waxed the entire boat hull and deck.  Every bit of fiberglass.  Poor Solstice was way overdue, a week’s worth of work.  Fixed the leak in the forward head.  Replaced the broken pump base for the aft head and got the aft head functional after it not working for almost a year.  Fixed the hinges on the main salon hatch that were broken.  This required modifying the hatch frame as well as where the hinges mounted into the deck because Bomar doesn’t make the old hinges anymore and the new ones are different sizes and don’t fit on the old hatched properly.  I also pulled out the old hatch seal and replaced it with new seal.  All in all the hatch job that I guessed was a 4 day project that turned into an over a week project.  I did a rigging inspection where I actually hired a fellow cruiser/friend Jamie from Totem to inspect the rig.  Jamie was a professional rigger and sailmaker in his previous life. Jamie determined that ten of my T-bolts that connect the chainplate to the turnbuckles that hold up the stays had micro-cracks.  He was 100% convinced that they were cracked and should be replaced. 

“I would not go to sea with those like that,” was his bold statement. 

I listened to his advice and ordered new ones that I had shipped from the U.S.  This involved releasing each stay from its turnbuckle and removing the old T-bolts, putting in the new ones and then re-tuning the rig.  Another 3-4 day project.  All got replaced and Jamie came and helped me re-tune the rig.  I learned a lot from him.  I also opted to replace the lifelines that I had been worried about for some time now.  When I found out the cost of new lifelines I realized I couldn’t afford to replace them all and instead opted to only replace the most important ones.  I replaced the top lifelines that run from the bow to the gates.  I also replaced the gates on both sides.  I will have to wait to replace the rest when I have more money.  This job also required me going over to Singapore a couple of different times which is where I had the new ones made.  I fixed the bow running lights that quit working.  This involved pulling the wire out from where it runs through the pulpit and putting in a new wire.  I took apart the watermaker to troubleshoot why it had been slowly failing over the past couple of months in both water quality and quantity of output.  In the end, I shipped it back to the states where the Spectra team rebuilt it.  I also replaced the VHF antenna at the top of the mast and troubleshot the poor radio transmission and receiving I had been experiencing.  Another 4-day project that also required me going to Singapore for parts.  Got that working.  Rebuilt the falling apart auto-pilot box that houses the control unit for the auto-pilot in the cockpit.  I also took the time to repair the broken teak drink holder for the cockpit. This broke awhile back and it was okay as it would hold one cup of water, precariously but it held it.  With John coming we needed to be able to have that working so that we could each have a place to keep a cup of water in place while in a sea way.  This sounds stupid but it’s actually really important and valuable.  Those who’ve been to sea understand the importance of this.  That project took about 2 days time to fix because it involved sanding, gluing and varnishing.  The varnish aspect took about an hour each morning for about 6 days while I applied fresh coats.  The autopilot box also got varnished.  Both look great.  I replaced the main bilge pump float switch that quit working.  Pain in the ass 2-day project as it’s in the bowels of the boat and difficult to get to.  That involved taking out the bilge pumps and looking them over and cleaning them.  In the process I discovered that the float switch for the sump pump had quit working too.  So that got replaced.  Similar hard to get to place pain in the ass job but not quite as difficult to get to as the bilge pumps.

Then came engine maintenance.  During my inspection I found that the exhaust elbow on the engine needed to be replaced as it was corroded and in terrible shape.  But in order to remove it properly I had to take the generator out of the boat as it was mounted directly overtop the engine.  I’ve despised this old piece of crap for some time.  It’s old and cantankerous and I’ve never used it.  It has done nothing but get in my way while working on the engine.  And I’m sure its weight alone cost me some boat speed.  But removing the generator presented new problems.  How to deal with where the raw water that comes into the generator and leaves the boat for the exhaust from the generator.  I had to replace a thru-hull and find a plug for the water intake.  The fun continued, as I had to then deal with the fuel lines too as the ones for the generator were T’d into the fuel lines for the main engine.  So that required some adjustments.  The exhaust elbow finally got removed and replaced.  Fortunately I had a spare aboard.  Then came changing fuel filters, oil and transmission fluid.  Once that was all done the next 5 days were spent putting everything away and cleaning and scrubbing the boat inside and out.  Finally Solstice looks like her old self again though there are a couple of small jobs I’d still like to address like line maintenance and changing the gear oil for the outboard engine as well as cleaning and scrubbing the dinghy.  But those are low priority.  Topping up with fuel and finishing up with provisioning and checking out is all that’s left.

As I stand now, I’m still in a holding pattern waiting to sort out some personal and logistical things back in the States.  These jobs can only be done while I have good internet.

Over this period one setback has lead to another, which has lead to another and then another.  The entire wait has put me well over a month from my first intended departure from Puteri Harbour.  I now find myself 2 ½ weeks behind Hokule’a and Kite.  Shango is well ahead of both of them.  I’m starting to feel the reality that catching them will be impossible.  And as the days tick by my weather window for when to leave here gets narrower and narrower.  I remain hopeful and am still moving forward trying to figure out how to get going ASAP with the hopes that maybe somehow I’ll catch Hokule’a and Kite.  But as I’m writing this they are sailing into the Sunda Strait and getting ready to head out into the ocean.

Much Aloha!


Thursday April 3rd 2014 - 07:30 Puteri Marina, Malaysia local time

Hello everybody, or hello to those who still have the faith and keep looking to see if Bill’s updated anything.  I am so sorry I have not been able to get anything posted for these past 6+ months.  So much has happened during this time.  For one, my position reports computer crashed which of course is why my ship track still shows me in Darwin.  I’m still trying to get that sorted.  I’m very far from there now.  But mostly I have had zero time to really write.  Since I left Sydney I have been on the move almost constantly.  The longest time I’ve had in one place has been over Christmas and New Years at a marina where I spent 6 weeks.  Half of that time was spent working on the boat in the yard.  I have finally landed in a place where I will be for 3 months.  I have been working on an update for some time but with the constant moving between fixing things on the boat and trying to actually see where it is I am I just haven’t had time to finish it.  Until now!  My intention is to get a new update posted that will take the reader from where I left off in the Whit Sundays all the way to Darwin.  I will then work on my next update, which will carry me from Darwin across to Indonesia and west and north through those many islands up to Singapore then up through the Malacca Straits to Penang, Malaysia.  Finally a third one will come which will take me from Penang up to Thailand and then back down through the Malacca Straits again to where I am now in Puteri Harbor.  I arrived here two days ago and after cleaning the boat and put her in stop mode I plan to do nothing but write, write, write and go through photographs.  There is a ton of work to do in both of those departments but I will put all my focus and energy into this and get her done.  I hope to have everything caught up to my current location and posted in the next 3 weeks.  The first update will come much sooner as most of that is already written.

Again, I deeply apologize for not being better at getting things posted but with most places having little to no internet and with the constant moving priorities have shifted to taking care of the boat and sailing safely.  All is well, I’m alive and Solstice and I are doing great.  We both, however, are thrilled to stop for a good long stretch.   And thank you so much to all of you for continuing to check for updates and for all the love and support I continue to get from you.  It’s invaluable.  In the meantime, I’ve attached a photo that Jake took of me about a month ago while diving in Thailand.  Much more is to come.  I promise. 

Keep the faith.

Much Aloha,






Solstice Log