Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore

Tuesday June 7, 2011 - 22:14 Local Marquesas Time

I don’t have much time to add stuff tonight as tomorrow morning first thing we’re off to Manihini.  It’s an atoll between here Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and Tahiti.  It’s right next to Ahe where Jake, John and I went back in ’98.  It will be my first solo overnighter.  Solstice, Mother Ocean, and I have all had a good talk and they’re going to look after me and I will them.  To be honest, I’m a little nervous but Jake and Jackie will be nearby to chat on the radio and tell me to “WAKE UP!!!”  Laura Dekker has no such luxury.  She also is about to arrive in Tahiti.  I’ll be sure to chronicle how it goes and will e-mail a fresh update soon after we arrive there.  If all goes well, that should be sometime Saturday the 11th.  Okay, time to go to bed.  Until then….

Much Aloha,

Monday June 6, 2011 – D-day  For some unexplained reason I always remember d-day
23:38 Marquesas Local Time

We’re still in Nuku Hiva. Here in the islands things move and are done differently.  We have to top off fuel before we head out.  Nuku Hiva sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Because of that just outside the harbor, large ocean swells rolling through the seaway is pretty much normal.  Because of that, there is a constant rolling and surge that goes through the harbor.  While sitting at anchor the boat every now and again sways and rolls from side to side.  Honestly after a few days of sitting here, IT’S A HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS.

In no way does it compare to being at sea but we’re not at sea, we’re at anchor.  It’s supposed to be flat and calm.  Because there is a big surge here it’s impossible to pull the boat up to a fuel dock.  You have to drop an anchor, back in towards the concrete wharf and tie off your stern to the dock.  Well I guess they’ve finally figured out that this in itself is also A HUGE PAIN IN THE…. well you get the idea.  So they are building a seawall or some contraption that my guess is going to allow boats to pull up and fuel up easier.  Because of that, the fuel dock is a construction zone.  Because of that, it’s proving impossible to go get fuel.   So in a nutshell, I have no idea when we’re going to be able to fuel up.  Jake and I may have to hand carry jugs and dinghy them out to the boat.  That would suck.

In the meantime, I’m digesting everything that’s been going on with me personally and this next 4 day
solo passage looms.  I’ve talked to a “single handing” friend of mine Richard (whom some of you know) lately via Skype.  He’s aboard his boat in Guymus Mexico and has been a great resource as well as a dear friend.  He’s given me a couple of his techniques when up comes to getting rest.  He’s informed me that the first solo passage is the hardest.  Mostly because of the unknown of it and the “How am I going to get sleep” factor.  He never slept during the day and only at night and then on and off only for a couple hours at a time.  He’d sleep in the cockpit, I think all single handers sleep in the cockpit, where he’d check everything thoroughly and then he’d drink about a liter and a half of water.  In a couple of hours time he’d awake because he’d have to pee.  He’d wake up, pee and check everything out, then he’d drink another liter and a half of water.  Go back to sleep and awaken again when his bladder woke him up.  “The bladder is a great alarm clock, Billy” he’d say in his English accent.  “Mother Nature won’t fail you there.”  He also told me that it’s “Not a race.”  Go slow, give yourself plenty of sea room and let the boat take care of herself while you catch some sleep.  And when the time comes that you are just so exhausted but are afraid to death to go to sleep and as long as there are no lights around or land masses, “just go to sleep”.  Sleep is more important than not having it.

I’m drawing strength and wisdom from that.  And from also the fact that Abby Sunderland, the 14 year old girl who sailed all the way from LA to the Indian ocean.  Well perhaps she’s a bad example, she got dismasted. I’ll draw my inspiration from the 16 year old Aussie girl Jessica Wat…. HOLY SHIT!!!
I just went on-line to do a quick research of the 16 year old Aussie girl’s name that soloed around the world.  Jessica Watson.  I was going to say I’m drawing inspiration from her, which I am, but I just came across the 14 year old Dutch girl’s name Laura Dekker whom I had
forgotten about. She set sail back in August 2010 to become the
youngest person to sail around the world.  SHE WAS JUST
AWESOME!  I know this because she has this fierce red looking
boat named Guppy with some sort of cartoon fish painted next
to the name.  I thought the fish design was kind of silly but what
the heck, it’s a 14 year olds’ boat.  It should look silly.  It also said
on the stern quarter.  In fact, I made
a joke to Taylor when we dinghied by saying I should advertise
myself like that on Solstice.  I wish I had known who she was at
the time.  I would’ve stopped by and said hello and good luck and
tell her what an incredible inspiration she is.

I do recall watching her leave the harbor from the bow of Solstice. 
She stood behind the helm, sort of leaning forward with her eyes
pierced towards the horizon. It’s kind of weird when I think about
it now because I recall vividly watching her leave.  I  thought, there
Who puts that on the side of their boat? 
Is she by herself?  I don’t see anybody else onboard.  Wow cool. 
And I continued to watch her as she headed out of the harbor.  All along having no idea that there goes somebody trying to be the youngest person to ever sail around the world alone.

I had no idea who she was.  She had short-cropped hair and seemed older and self-assured as she left the harbor.  I would’ve easily guessed she was in her late 20’s if not early 30’s. She had that presence about her as she headed out of the harbor.  She stood tall and dignified.  The reality is  SHE’S ONLY 14.   HOLY COW!  She’s my new inspiration.  GO LAURA.  If she can do a solo sail around the world, I know she has a long way to go but geez she’s already gone as far Hiva Oa from Europe.  I can do a wimpy 4 day solo passage from Nuku Hiva to Ahe.  No PROBLEM-MON! 

If you’re interested check out her website  It’s written on the side of her boat.  She’s on her way to Pape’ete.  I doubt she’ll be there by the time we get there as she’s hell bent on getting around the globe but if I do run into her there I will most definitely go introduce myself and tell her what an inspiration she is.  GO LAURA!!

I will just add this, too.  Zac Sunderland, Abby’s older brother briefly became the youngest person to sail around the world at age 17.  His record was broken only a few months after he got back by some English guy named Mike Perham.  Anyway, the day that Zac arrived in Marina Del Rey I sailed Solstice up there to watch he and his boat Intrepid complete the circumnaviation.  Solstice was right there when Zac made his landing in the slip.  Solstice has now been right next to Intrepid and Guppy.  I wonder how many boats can say the same?

Okay, time for sleep, it’s not so bad in getting to sleep in a rolly anchorage now that I think about it.  Hopefully we can get fuel in the morning.

Much Aloha,


Saturday June 4, 2011 - 20:12 Marquesas PDT

As if very often is the case when you are ashore, time slips past and before you know it a week has past.  We are currently in Nuku Hiva, the largest island in French Polynesia with the exception of Tahiti.  Tony did leave Hiva Oa and jetted-off, actually propellered-off, to
Tahiti on Tuesday.  The other two days on Hiva Oa we spent a lot
of time in the rain.  It rained a lot and in between down pours we
readied Solstice to shove off to Nuku Hiva.  We left Hiva Oa under
cloudy skies and sailed into skies that soon cleared into a beautiful
sunset and faded into a star filled sky.  We had an 8 to 10 knot
breeze out of the southeast.  Just enough wind to keep the sails
full and push Solstice at about 6 knots towards Nuku Hiva.  Taylor
and I missed Tony a lot as we now had 3 hours on for our watch
and only 3 hours off instead of 6. Of course we missed Tony’s
ever-present smile and the joy of life he gave us just having him
aboard.  He was missed.  Fortunately for Taylor and me, we only
had to deal with this watch schedule for one night.  But it gave us
a glimpse into what Jake and Jackie had to deal with for 19 plus
days.  No thanks.  I will take three always on longer passages.

We made landfall the morning of June 3rd  (Jim’s birthday) and had
the hook down about 08:00.  Taylor only had a good 24 hours of
time here and we spent that time clearing in, getting the proper paperwork done for him to leave the boat, eating and drinking and catching up on the exhaustion our bodies still felt from the Pacific crossing.

Taylor left me and Solstice this morning.  Right now he’s somewhere in Pape’ete exploring the city before he heads out to NYC tomorrow.  He and Tony leaving me and the boat has been a sobering realityI won’t get into this too much as it’s a private matter but I feel it should be addressed briefly and then no more.  The recent failure of my marriage has catapulted me into a reality of making this trip by myself.  Jill and I had worked very hard together to make this trip happen but life doesn’t always work out as you had planned.  Suddenly, I find myself here in the Marquesas Islands on a voyage around the world that I had always intended to share with my wife.  The sobering reality of being alone, making passages by myself and generally having only me to look towards hit me hard today when Taylor left.  It has been hard on many levels over the past several months but especially on the day I left California and today here in the Marquesas when I got back to the boat and was all alone.  But as a friend told me on the phone earlier today, I am looking at what I have and not what I do not have.

This newfound freedom is amazing.  I have decided to embrace it with my entire being.  Tonight, I sat on the aft deck and watched the sunset over the mountains, the sliver of a waxing moon rise from the eastern horizon and stars punch holes in the darkness of a Marquesian night.  My soul was fulfilled with new energy and I felt  alive and at peace of where I am in life.  I am a lucky man.  One of my new favorite bands “The Zac Brown Band” then came on the radio with their song “Let it go” I took the words to heart.

You keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open; so this world can’t find a way to leave you cold.  And you know you’re not the only ship out on the ocean;  Save your strength for things that you can change and forgive the ones you can’t.  You gotta let ‘em go.

And so I’m letting go of those things I can’t change.  And to quote another Zac Brown Band song “I’m somewhere now knee deep.”  You’ll have to listen to that song to understand.  And as Forest Gump would say, “that’s all I have to say about that.”  I felt compelled to at least address it address this briefly and how the departure of Taylor and Tony affects me.  I will miss them dearly as they are a very important part of my life and always will be.

Time to pour a glass of wine and enjoy the “shank of the evening”.

Much Aloha Always,


Monday May 30, 2011
- 05:50 Marquesas PDT Landfall

“Land Ho!”

Was the cry from Taylor that stirred me awake before dawn yesterday
morning.  I pulled my exhausted body from my cabin and up the
companionway.  I peered through the cobwebs in my brain and the
morning cloak of mist that hung over the western end of Hiva Oa on
the horizon.  Land!  Our first sight of land in 20 days.  Technically we
saw Clarion Island about 3 days from Cabo but 20 days sounds better.

Soon Tony was on deck, too.  Excitement was abundant.  Solstice
stilled rocked hard from port to starboard as we still were in a big
seaway but that didn’t matter anymore.  All we could think about
was being in an anchorage in flat water, going ashore, taking a shower,
shaving this hideous thing from my face and having a cold beer, some
good food oh and SLEEP!

The rest of the day sort of turned out like when you make a road trip
to Vegas.  The initial excitement is great until you get on the freeway
two hours into a 5 hour trip and you’re stuck in bumper to bumper

Most vessels making this leg arrive earlier in May.  We were hopeful
that being “behind the pack” of cruisers that the anchorage would be
empty and dropping the hook would be simple.  Three hours after
landfall and still an hour to go, I checked on the ground tackle to make
sure we’d be ready to go once we got there.  I went to the bow and
began to pull up on some of the anchor chain.  About 20 feet into it
the chain snagged.  I couldn’t get it to come out.  No problem.  I’ll go
below fix the snag. 
To make a long story less boring, the anchor
chain had been so tossed and twisted upon itself that I spent the next
hour pulling out 400 feet of chain on deck.  Finally we began our
entrance into the harbor and the anchorage WAS PACKED.  And
everybody had two anchors out.  DAMN!

So we turned around, went back outside the harbor and readied a
stern anchor and came back in.  Finally after anchoring and
re-anchoring the bow anchor we were set.  We spent the remainder
of the day tidying up a bit, putting the dinghy together.

Charlie’s Charts is a wonderful cruisers guide written by a gentleman
who has been to all of these places.  It’s filled with wonderful
information.  In the section about our anchorage, it said that there
were showers at the wharf.  WOW GREAT!  It failed to discuss in detail
the definition of these showers.  An open air facility behind a cement
block wall with a mud filled floor and an open pipe of cold water.  Oh
and tons of mosquitoes.  But in the end, we were clean and we laughed
at the bites on our body and the shower facility that we’ll never forget.

Last night we went to town and found a quaint little restaurant that
overlooked Atuonana Bay.  We drank cold Hinano’s; the Tahitian beer
is much better here for some reason than in America.  Perhaps it’s
the hot weather, the tropical setting or the fact that we haven’t had
a cold beer in a long time.  They were wonderful.  We also had some
French wine with dinner.   Jackie’s shrimp came with all the heads on
it, which, if you know Jackie, was funny for us but not funny for her. 
The meals were nothing to write home about but the setting was
gorgeous, the company better and we all shared stories amongst
ourselves about the last 20 days at sea.

In the end, I’m thankful to King Neptune and the powers that be for
delivering us a safe landfall.  I’m also thankful for my crew. 
Taylor and Tony were wonderful to have aboard.  I’m going to miss
them very much when the leave.  Tony may be flying back tomorrow. 
We have to go clear in this morning which I’m getting up now to do.

Yikes, apparently the food didn’t agree with Taylor or Tony last night. 
I just learned they were up in the evening dealing with that.  Perhaps
some things are still better at sea.

Much Love and Aloha,

Solstice Log