Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore








Check out the new album, New Zealand Prepping for Fiji Passage, in the Photo Gallery.

Check out the 3 new albums (New Zealand Pre US Trip, US Trip and New Zealand South Island) in the Photo Gallery.

Tuesday May 29th, 2012 - 02:30 Auckland, New Zealand

It’s early morning and in a few short hours we’ll be casting off our dock-lines and heading North to Fiji.  I say “we” because my Pacific crossing crew of Taylor and Tony are aboard.  Taylor and Tony flew in one week ago today.  We moved Solstice to Auckland last Thursday so that we would be closer to the customs wharf to clear out.  Plus Taylor and I wanted to sail Solstice under the Auckland Harbour Bridge which we did.

It’s been a very stressful week as we’ve been stuck waiting for a good weather window to go.  The reality sunk in that Tony, and perhaps Taylor too, might not be able to make this crossing if the weather didn’t start to cooperate.  I’ve weighed everything cautiously and gotten a lot of input from weather folks around.  In a perfect world we could maybe leave in about 24 to 36 hours later than planned but that would most likely result in me losing Tony as he wouldn’t be able to make the crossing because of other commitments.  Safety is always the number one priority but this of course comes into play as something to consider.

We will get some strong southerly breezes the first 24 to 36 hours.  Somewhere in the 30 perhaps 35 knot range.  But they will all be behind us and after that things start to shape into a perfect crossing so we’ve made our choice.

We have all sacrificed onboard to make it all happen.  Tony has shifted his flights and pushed things as much as possible.  I too am leaving perhaps 24 hours before would be ideal but all is good.  The magic of this crew also has stepped in and our attitude is happy and close.  Taylor, as always, is an amazing grounding rode in his optimism.  He also, being a pilot for so many years knows his fair share about weather and also people being paralyzed by being overly cautious.

So we have made our choice and tomorrow morning we will clear the customs wharf after our 10am appointment.

I know I have a lot of updates to follow up on about my travels though the South Island, which I will work on during this passage.  With that in mind, many new photos have been posted in the photo gallery.

My next postings will come from Fiji where I trust, with the guidance of Mother Ocean and the Powers that be, will be after an amazingly magical wonderful crossing shared by Taylor, Tony, myself and of course my dear Solstice, as she carries us safely across another section of this vast Pacific.

Much Aloha,


Monday May 21st, 2012 - 19:43 Gulf Harbour, New Zealand

I am very hopeful that this will be the last log entry I will be writing from Gulf Harbour, New Zealand.  Since my return from the South Island I’ve been running full speed getting Solstice ready to head north to Fiji.  In a certain way, I liken getting Solstice ready to awakening Shaquille O’Neil from a deep slumber to get up and play.  There’s a game 7-playoff game looming and Shaq needs to be alert and at the top of his game just as Solstice needs to be ready to head into the Pacific.  She’s been reluctant to get up as she’s been dreaming of happy things but when the plan has been laid before her, she shakes  the cobwebs from her brain and grows excited.  Like Shaq with basketball, this is what Solstice was born to do.  She’s a bluewater boat and is never happier than when she’s sailing upon the big blue.  Jackie mentioned a couple days before they headed out that she could tell that Hokule’a was “vibrating with excitement” and was ready to go.  That’s exactly how Solstice feels right now.  She has a few more cobwebs to brush out but she’s foaming at the mouth with anticipation and chomping on the bit to run.  So am I.

But like most things on this trip so far, things haven’t quite turned out like I had planned.  My separation from Jake, Jackie and Hokule’a was initiated from me because of  a deep yearning I’ve had inside to figure out why the hell I’m out here sailing across the ocean on my own?  I’m longing to discover something deeper within myself that can only be done by being alone and embracing this voyage of sailing around the world without the safety net of a boat only a few miles away making sure I stay on course.  I made my choice to do this some months ago; and I was excited about it and had stepped into this decision and am ready for it.

Well things changed when I was back in the U.S. and specifically when I went to New York for an incredible 36 hours.  I had an opportunity to go up there and see Taylor and Tony.  To this day one of the great highlights of this voyage has been my crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas with Taylor and Tony.  There is a bond that’s formed between people after such an undertaking when life is being lived in the extreme.  Moments like those tend to do one of two things with people, it either tears them apart or it bonds them stronger together as they forge something deep and special.  Such was the later with Tony, Taylor and I.  The friendship between the three of us had always been special but it became something wonderful and magical because of crossing the Pacific together.

Because of that, one of the things I wanted to do most when I got back stateside was to visit them in New York.  Tony owns a wonderful Irish bar in New York called Finnegan’s Wake.  And it was there one evening, well after midnight and after a few  beers and some nice port that my plans changed.  Late in that evening I looked across the crowded bar and saw Taylor and Tony standing arm in arm laughing with one another.  We caught eyes and Taylor motioned for me to join them.  I did happily.

“There’s something we want to do, William…” Taylor usually calls me William or William Albert, my official full name, when he’s feeling fond of me.

“We want to sail to Fiji with you,” Tony finished his sentence.

My initial thought was Oh, I wanted to sail that leg by myself, but that thought never left my lips.

“Okay,” is all I said.

“We really want to do that leg with you, William” Taylor continued.

“Well… It’s a lot shorter than the last leg, but it can be a lot rougher.  The lows can get pretty nasty down there,” I’m not one to sugar coat the reality of anything.

“We know,” Taylor said and Tony nodded in agreement.

At this point in our relationship there’s no bullshit.  Not that there was before, but we speak on a much clearer level with one another than our pre-pacific crossing relationship.  Taylor and Tony are men of their word and something like what they were saying wasn’t shared lightly or without intention of following through.  I knew that.

I went to bed that night with a foggy brain from too much beer and wine but also from one that was swirling with the excitement of what had just happened.  The more I thought about it the more I felt touched and honored that they wanted to join me on this leg.  Tony and Taylor are both 70.  They are in great shape and act younger than a lot of 40 year-olds I know.  But they wanted to share another adventure with me and Solstice.  I was touched deeply.  They too are adventurous souls and they both still have a few more adventures left in them.  And who was I to deny them of such an adventure?  In fact, I realized how fantastic it was that Solstice and I could help them have another one.  So I accepted the notion that my time upon the sea alone, re-discovering myself, will have to wait awhile longer.  Besides, perhaps I’d discover something even more special about myself by having them aboard.

So it is now Monday night.  I am sipping a nice red wine, feeling the chill of the autumn air outside and excited that tomorrow morning I will be heading to the airport to pick up my dear friends Taylor and Tony.

Crossing to and from New Zealand to the Pacific Isles is all weather dependent.  So we will spend the next few days shaking the final cobwebs from Solstice and waiting for the proper weather window to head north.  We’ll move the boat to Auckland in a couple of days and there we will wait near the customs wharf where we will need to clear out of the country. 

A nasty low is forming off the east coast of Australia right now and is starting to make its way towards us.  It’s scheduled to hit here over the weekend and as it passes over and moves east it will bring a strong southerly breeze that we’ll ride north.  At least that’s the plan right now if the weather pattern holds.  But weather, like life, is unpredictable and you never know what breeze will blow that may change your plans.  At least this time, I’ll be sure to have enough beer onboard to last the entire crossing.

Much Aloha,


Wednesday May 9th, 2012 - 20:28 Gulf Harbour, New Zealand

When I returned home from the States at the beginning of March I had a plan.  I had brought back with me several boat items that I figured would take about 10 days to 2 weeks to complete.  Once completed, I was going to sail to the South Island.  These items wouldn’t take long.  I had bought new bilge pump float switch that needed to be installed, a new inverter to take the place of the one that crapped out and an AIS (Automatic Identification System) that I needed to install.  This item, I was most excited about as it places commercial shipping vessels positions, headings etc. on my chartplotter.  A great new tool for a single-hander.  Anything to help avoid running into ships at sea would be a great tool.

Well as the saying goes, “the best-laid plans tend to go awry.”

Once back I took a couple of days to enjoy just being home and back aboard.  Jake and Jackie were still exploring the South Island and I reveled in doing nothing.  Two days later, I jumped in feet first, well, head first, into the bilge to replace the float switch.  I figured this job would take a couple of hours.  In the end it took an afternoon and the better half of the next morning.  A few bloody knuckles and several head rushes later from having my head deep below the waterline and blood rushing into my brain and the job was done.  It only took me about a half a day longer than I figured.  Not too bad for a boat project.  Next came the inverter.  Of course I stupidly thought this would only take a couple of hours because it only involved a couple of wire hookups where the old ones had gone.  For some reason even after years of being a boat owner I always forget the biggest variable of all… IT’S A BOAT!!!

For starters the new inverter wouldn’t fit where the old one would go so I needed to find a new place for it.  There was only one place that worked well but it meant shortening a drawer that was used for valuable storage.  I also had to build support stringers out of 2x4’s that needed to be cut and fiberglassed to the hull.  Of course whenever you fiberglass that involves sanding and eventually putting on 3 coats of paint.  Once that was all done the drawer needed to be shortened and put back together so that it could actually be used though just not for very much.  Jackie made the suggestion that several bottles of wine could be neatly laid in that space.  A good idea I thought.  Even then with the pieces in place new wire runs had to be made through different bulkheads and holes had to be drilled for new passageways.  This few hour job turned into a week ordeal.  I tried my best to keep a good attitude though my patience was dwindleing as I saw valuable days being ticked off the calendar that would allow me to head to the South Island.

Finally, came time to install the AIS.  I had saved this job for last because it seemed simplest.  Since I bought the AIS, I had been leafing through the manual during the free time I had on the plane and in bed as some fun nighttime reading.  Okay, not so fun.  It actually was a great device to put me to sleep fast.  Finally with a grasp of the knowledge and with some insights from Jake (their South Island trek was completed long before I got the inverter job done) I finally seemed to make sense of it all and got busy.

By this time I had lost more than two weeks of time I had hoped to use to sail to the South Island.  It is near 1,000 nautical miles to the South Island from Gulf Harbour.  It would take me a week to just sail there and another week to sail back.  And that’s if the weather was good.  As much as I wanted to take Solstice down there I had to change my plan.  Instead I’d take trains and buses and still have almost a month to explore the South Island and not have to worry about taking the boat there.  I had gotten the bulk of the wiring done for the AIS unit and had to order some small terminal blocks that would take a few weeks to get from Australia.

No problem, I thought.  I would just finish the last of the installation once I got back from my South Island trek.

So I had begun to clean up the disaster of what was now the interior of the boat.  That tends to happen when I work on major projects all at once.  Poor Solstice looked as if her insides had come undone and all available tools, fasteners, wires, hose clamps and bits and parts from every storage bin had hurled themselves from their lockers into the main salon and surrounding cabins.  As I cleaned, my mind began to run with the excitement of finally getting to the South Island and what I’d do once I got there.  Once things were about put together I fired up the engine as I wanted to give the batteries a good charge before leaving the boat for 3 weeks or more. 

After a half-hour of running the engine I opened the engine room door to check the vacuum guages on the fuel filters.  I shook my head in disbelief; the needles to both guages had risen up into the red emergency area.  Immediately I shut down the engine.  Since I installed the guages I had never seen them in that area and only once in the yellow area.

Okay, change the fuel filters, Bill.  That’s what that’s all about, I said to myself.

I went ahead and got to that task.  This was okay to take care of now as it was on my list of things still to do before leaving for Fiji.  I had noticed too that the visual inspection bowls of the filters had a bit of black stuff in them so I figured I’d take the filters apart completely and clean the bowls out while I was at it.  I’m no engineer but I’ve sure sworn to the high heavens about the dumb ones out there and their stupid designs of things.  One such stupid design is the pain in the ass disassembling and reassembling of the raycor filter when you have to remove the bowl to clean it properly.  By the time you can figure out how to contort yourself to get to screws that are near impossible to dislodge you will just end up dropping them into the bilge only twice if you’re lucky.  My problem came in the reassembling.  Three separate times I tried to position the gasket in place with one hand and get screws tightened down with the other.  Each time after I thought it was together properly I filled the filter up with fuel only to have it leak all over the place.  Finally, at the peak of frustration and covered with the wonderful smell of diesel I called Jake for assistance.  This was a job that required two sets of hands.  Digging into your pockets with hands covered in diesel fuel to retrieve a cell phone is also another lovely task.  Finally, Jake arrived and together we got the filter to seal properly.  That’s when I noticed something else.  The squeeze ball I had in the fuel line to help manually fill the filters with fuel wouldn’t fill back up after I squeezed it.


My lost patience had turned to complete frustration.  I had to now find a clog somewhere in the system.  I pulled the inspection ports to the fuel tanks and looked inside. 


My heart sank.  Upon further investigation, I learned that water had somehow gotten into my fuel tanks and caused a terrible black algae-type growth.  A major problem and one that had to be taken care of before I went anywhere.

I spent the next two and half days painfully emptying all the fuel from one tank to the other so that I could clean them out individually.  The process was all consuming, dirty and in the end I wound up losing easily $400 in fuel.  After the tanks were clean I knew too that I had to pull the fuel manifold apart because I still could get no fuel through the fuel lines.  I took the manifold out, hooked up my own little hand pump with a spare squeeze ball and some spare fuel line and went to pump air through the manifold.  I squeezed hard but no air would push through.  I squeezed again as hard as I could….


A powerful explosion of black sludge burst forth from the manifold and splattered all over the bucket and erupted back over me and the surrounding floor.

I guess I should be doing this outside, the wise voice in my head spoke up.

I took the manifold onto the dock to perform the same procedure on the fittings for the valves and plumbing passageways for the opposite fuel tank.  Same results.  Black smudge hurled itself outward under the pressure of the squeeze ball and splattered out dotting my face, my shirt and the surrounding dock in a pattern that would have made Jackson Pollock smile.  I smiled too; I was making progress.  I also smelled more like diesel than Solstice’s fuel tanks.

After some thorough cleaning and flushing of the manifold with clean fuel the manifold was ready to be reinstalled into the boat.  As all boat owners know, working on boats in many spaces requires that you be a bit of a yoga expert.  This space proved to be no different than most boat spaces.  I took screws and screwdriver in hand and had to bend and contort myself around machinery and obstacles to get to where I could find the hidden access to the proper screw holes.  I about had the first screw in when…

Tink Ta Tink Tink Clunk!


I dropped the screw.

After pulling myself out of my yoga pose to get my bilge-retrieving tool, I rescued the screw from the bowels of the engine room.

Folding myself back into position I…


baptized my head perfectly into a bowl of clean diesel I had set aside for filling up the lines.


Maybe you should move that bowl, Bill.  My wiser inner voice spoke up again.  I brushed my new diesel-slicked hair off my forehead and moved the bowl.

I finally got the first screw in and went to work on the second when…

Tink Ta Tink Tink Clunk!


I dropped that screw too.  That one I couldn’t find and had to search my drawers for its likeness.  I had about had it.  I was growing more frustrated and pissed off by the minute. Every now and again I wonder about the pain of it all and whether this was all worth it.  This was another of those times. I felt I was being tested.  I got my emotions under control and after some more painful yoga moves I got the manifold reassembled and all the fuel lines hooked back up.  The diesel tanks were clean, all fuel filters had been replaced and the fuel lines were free of clogs.  I felt better.

Before leaving on this voyage I reconfigured the fuel lines so that I could filter the fuel from one tank to the other by bypassing the engine.  Now was the time to put in practice that configuration.  This would insure that all the lines were clear, working well while also cleaning the fuel one more time.  I switched on the electric fuel pump.


Fuel flowed freely through the fuel lines.  It sucked up from one fuel tank and into the other one.


No clogs!  It’s working, it’s working.

I grabbed my flashlight and stuck my head in each fuel tank to make sure all seemed well.  It did.  I stuck my head into the engine room and…


AAAHHHHH!!!! – A leak.  And a fast leak

I shut off the pump and dropped my head.  The leak was coming from the manifold and was coming from the threads of one of the valves handles.  A valve that I never took apart and had only cleaned.  My guess was that whatever I cleaned out of the system had previously kept it from leaking before.

Not knowing how valves are assembled I called somebody I knew, knew such things, Jake.

Jake came over and took a look.

“Oh yeah, I replaced all those valves before we left California because two of mine started to leak,” he informed me.

I was glad to hear Jake point out another job he had taken care of before leaving California that I never got to.

“Well, is there any way of getting it to stop without replacing the valve?” I asked him.

“You could try and tighten up the external nut there a bit and perhaps it will seal,” he said.

I got out my lucky socket wrench, put it on the nut that holds the handle and..


The valve handle and threaded shank broke clean off.

Buh Bunk Bunk CLUNK!

And fell into the bilge.

“What was that?” Jake asked.

I had no anger or frustration left inside anymore.

“I just broke the valve,” I said calmly.

The entire thing needed to come out again to fix it.  I took the manifold apart again and took it up to the engine repair shop here at the harbor.  This was the only place nearby I could go.

With a face freckled with black diesel smudge, hair conditioned with diesel fuel and reeking to high heaven of diesel fuel I marched into the shop with my manifold in hand.  A collection of office managers and mechanics were gathered in the waiting room drinking wine and laughing.  The room went silent as all eyes turned towards me upon my entrance.

“Gidday, Mate!” an older jovial Kiwi man said with a smile, “What d’ya got there?”

“Are you guys open?” I asked.

“Just getting the weekend started early,” he said with a laugh as he set his wine glass down and approached.

“This is a fuel manifold that was leaking from this valve.  When I went to tighten it it broke,” I explained. “Any chance you guys have anything that could replace it?”

“Not a problem at all.  We can fix that, Mate.  We deal with this stuff all the time.”

I went on to tell him how I needed to find replacement parts that needed to be the exact same size because it had to go back in where hard fuel lines were plumbed and everything had to line up correctly.

“Not a problem, mate.  We can get exactly what you need.  Not a problem.”

“Great!  When do you think I could get it done?” I asked hopeful as it was Thursday.

“Well tomorrow’s a holiday so not until Tuesday,” he said.

“Tuesday.  What about Monday?”

“Oh Monday’s a holiday too as the holiday really falls on Saturday so we’re taking both Friday and Monday.  Ha, ha, ha, ha” he said with a cackle.  “That’s why we’re knocking off early today, Ha, ha, ha, ha,” and he gestured to the others all drinking wine.

I then realized that the rest of the group was staring at me as if I was some strange alien being.

“Where ya from?”

“California,” I replied.

They all nodded as if that explained all the questions that had been running through their brains.

“Well I’ve been there for the last 23 years but originally I’m from Virginia,” I said.

Brows furrowed with the group in the background of where that might be but not with the gentleman I was talking to.

“Virginia!  I’ve spent some time in Virginia,” he said.

“No kidding,” I was surprised.

“Yep, Arlington, Virginia,” he said cheerfully.

“That’s right next door to where I grew up.  I’m from McLean,” I said.

“I’ve been there too, Mate.  I’m Ralph”

“I’m Bill.  I’d shake your hand but I’m covered in diesel,” I replied.

“We can see that,” he said and everybody laughed.

“Don’t worry, Kiwi girls love diesel, Mate,” one of the mechanics said to more laughter.

“Virginia’s a fascinating place,” Ralph said, “I quite enjoyed touring the civil war battlefields there.”

“Really?  Did you go out to where the Battle of Bull Run was fought?” I asked.

“Indeed I did.  But being from Virginia I thought you’d refer to it as the Battle of Manassas,” Ralph said.

I was impressed.  Here I was in New Zealand half way around the world and I’m chatting with some Kiwi guy in an engine repair shop that actually knew both the Confederate and Union names for the first battle of the American Civil War.

“That’s where old Stonewall Jackson got his nickname,” Ralph said.

“That’s right.  I’m actually related to Stonewall Jackson,” I told him.

Ralph’s face lit up.

“What?  You’re famous.  Hey guys this Yank we have in our shop is famous,” he said to the others.  “This bloke’s related to Stonewall Jackson.”

They had no idea what Ralph was talking about.

“Well I’m not famous, but he sure was.  He’s on my Mother’s side of the family.”

“Wow.  You don’t say.  Wow.  You know I’ve been in the room where old Stonewall died,” Ralph said proudly.

My eyes lit up.

“So have I,” I said.  “The Stonewall Jackson Shrine off I-95.”

“Yes,” Ralph answered.

“What are the odds of that Ralph?  I bet we’re the only two people in all of New Zealand who have both been in the actual room where Stonewall Jackson died.”

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha” Ralph’s cackle burst forth rapidly like a civil war Gatling gun.  It was genuine and loud.

We laughed and talked more.  I soon learned that Ralph was a history nut.  He knew more about American history than I’d guess 90% of Americans do.

I left him with the manifold and as I walked out of the shop, I felt better about things and that I was close to having this fuel nightmare behind me.  Then a thought crossed my mind.

When I was a boy growing up in Virginia my older brother had a metal detector.  We used to find all kinds of treasures but my favorite was always finding old civil war bullets.  When you dug down and revealed one it was literally like pulling history from the earth and it was always exciting holding it in your hand.  When you knew where to look you could find a lot of them.  My older brother even found a bayonet once.  For some reason, I’ve never really have known why, I’ve kept two of them.  Over the years of my life they have traveled everywhere with me since I was a boy.  They went to college with me, they drove across the country with me when I moved to L.A. and they even went with me to Hawaii on my brief attempt to move there.  And, yes of course they were aboard Solstice sailing with me.  In fact, they may be the two most traveled U.S. Civil War bullets in history.  But in all my travels either home or abroad I have never met somebody more enthusiastic about the U.S. Civil War, with the exception of my history professor at college, than Ralph.

I spent the weekend getting some other needed jobs done while I waited for Tuesday to come along with my fixed manifold.  Tuesday finally arrived.  I went into the drawer where I keep my life’s treasures and grabbed one of my two civil war bullets and put it in my pocket.

Ralph was working behind his computer sipping on a cup of coffee when I entered.

“Chancellorsville!” we both said when we saw each other.

Before I had left the shop last week Ralph and I had a bit of a debate as to where Stonewall Jackson was shot by his own men.  Ralph had said that it was at the battle of Antietam (the battle of Sharpsburg to us Southerners).  I couldn’t remember the battle but I knew it wasn’t Antietam.  For some reason I had the name “Culpepper Virginia” in my head but Ralph knew that I was wrong as I knew he was wrong with Antietam.  Neither one of us knew the truth but I guess independently we both went out of our way to learn it as soon we could.

“Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,” I found myself laughing with Ralph.

“I’ve got your manifold all assembled and ready to go,” Ralph said. 

They had not only replaced all the old valves with better new ones but had also taken the old plumbing pieces apart, cleaned them up and reassembled them.  It looked great.

“Wow, fantastic,” I said.

“We got these nice new valves.  They are much better than what you had and you won’t have to worry about them leaking,” he said assuredly.

“That’s great, Ralph.  Thank-you.  I actually have a present for you, Ralph,” and I handed him the bullet.

“What’s this?” Ralph rolled it over with his fingers and examined it close.  It looks exactly like you’d think a squashed piece of lead with some markings on it.

“That’s a genuine bullet from the U.S. Civil War, Ralph.  I dug that up in McLean, Virginia when I was a little boy,” I told him.

“What?  Ha, Ha, Ha Ha. Really?”

“Yep.  I used to dig them up as a kid with my friends.  I’ve carried that around for years and after talking to you the other day I wanted you to have it.  I knew you’d appreciate it,” I said.

“Oh! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.  I do, I do.  Wow!”  Ralph examined it even closer.

“I wonder what caliber it is?  What are these markings? I wonder if it’s from the Union or the Confederate rifle?  What size do you think it is?”

Ralph asked all kinds of questions that had never entered my mind after having possessed it for 40 years.  He ran behind the counter and pulled out a pair of calipers and measured it.  His smile widened.

“Maybe a 50 caliber.  But these markings mean it’s not a ball.  It must be from a cartridge.  You know that’s when they really started using cartridges in rifles.  It was probably an imported bullet,” he said.

I was learning new things about this relic already.

“I really am quite chuffed about this, thank you.  Ha, ha, ha, ha,” he said.

“Awe that’s awright,” I said in my best kiwi lingo for “You’re welcome”.

“Really.  Quite chuffed.  Thank you,” he repeated.

In the 5 months I’ve been in New Zealand that was a word I had not heard.

“Chuffed!  I haven’t heard that word before, Ralph.  What does that mean?” I asked.

He stopped examining the bullet and shifted all of his focus from the bullet to me.

“Chuffed, you don’t have that expression in America?”

“No,” I said.

“Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!  It means pleased.  Please.  Very pleased,” he gave me a jab on the shoulder and turned his attention back to the bullet.  “Yes, chuffed.  Quite, chuffed indeed.”

His eyes lit at a thought. “I have a dear friend who loves history as much as me.  Wait until I show him this.  He’ll never guess what it is.  Ha ha ha!  I’ll bet him a nice bottle of wine that he won’t guess it.  Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha,” Ralph was happy.

I went back to the boat with the manifold feeling great.  I had my new valves ready to install and I was happy to give something to Ralph that thrilled him.

I happily folded myself back into my yoga position and put the manifold back together.  It seemed to go in easier this time than the last.  Once reassembled, I turned on the fuel pump to start polishing again.


I look insided the fuel tanks.  Fuel was flowing great.   I ran back to the engine room, vacuum guages looked perfect, back to the manifold.

 Drip, drip, drip….


There was now a new leak from one of the old fittings that never leaked before.  A fitting that they had taken apart, cleaned and reassembled.  I was not chuffed.  No, not chuffed at all.

I took the manifold apart in record time.  Pulled the fitting out thinking I would reseal it myself.  Once apart I noticed that the pipe threads had been corroded off at the end and deformed in places. Right where it was leaking from. 

I marched back up to the shop.  Ralph was talking to one of the mechanics.  A tall 6’5” dark haired, dark eyed lean man.  He had a handsome look that you find with superheroes.

Ralph was surprised to see me.

“Well Ralph, it’s still leaking,” I said definitively.  “But from somewhere new, around the pipe threads of this fitting.  One of the fittings that got pulled apart, cleaned and put back together.”

“Well what kind of goop did you use to assemble it with?” the superhero mechanic asked.

“I don’t know.  You guys put it together not me,” I snapped back.

Ralph rolled the fitting over in his hand the same way he had the bullet.  He examined it close.

“Oh, these threads are bad.  That’s not going to seal.  We should’ve seen that,” Ralph looked at the superhero and smirked.

“Do you know where I can get another fitting like that?” I asked.

“Well there is a place,” Ralph went on.

“Do you have a piece of paper that I can write it down with?” I asked.

“Paayyyppperrrrr - Paaayper.  That’s not how you say it, mate,” the superhero mechanic said.  “You pronounce it Paypah.  Paypah is the correct way to say it, Mate.”

“No it’s not,” I shot back. 

“It’s paper.  It’s spelled P-A-P-E-R.  Not P-A-Y-P-A-H.  It’s pap-er, not pay-pah,” I was frustrated and was not in the mood to be corrected on my English from somebody who lived in a land where they murder the diction of the English language on a regular basis. Not even from a big superhero mechanic-guy.  Did I mention I wasn’t chuffed.

Ralph smiled slightly behind his wire-rimmed glasses.  We liked each other.

“Don’t worry, Bill.  The place is in Albany.  I’ll take it there on my way in tomorrow and pick up the right thing.  You’ll have first thing in the morning.  I promise,” Ralph’s calm and confidence eased my attitude.

“Okay, Ralph.  I’ll see you in the morning.  Thanks.”

The next morning Ralph had the parts as promised.  He had to mix and match a little but he put something together that worked perfectly.  By midday I got it all back together turned on the fuel pump and finally I had free flowing fuel and no leaks.  I was elated.  I finally the fuel issue was behind me. And even though I had lost even more valuable time to be spent in the South Island I was finally heading there.  I would deal with the AIS when I got back.  I still had time enough for a good 18 days to see a lot of things down there that I had never seen before.  And for that, I was quite chuffed about.

Much Aloha,


Monday April 16th, 2012 - 10:10 Gulf Harbour, New Zealand

One year ago today we left Redondo amidst a whirlwind of emotions and wrapped in a cloak of love and warm wishes from a sea of friends who gathered to send us off.  It was a day that is forever emblazzen in my memory.  Yesterday was another day that I will also remember forever but for circumstances that were much different than those of a year ago.
Since I arrived in New Zealand 5 months ago I’ve been filled with an array of feelings and emotions.  On one level I’m proud of myself for getting Solstice and her accompanying crew, when they have been aboard here safely.  I’ve also re-evaluated over and over what this trip is about for me.  And it is in this continued soul searching endeavour and voyage that has brought me to this next huge change for me.

Soon after the New Year, I told Jake and Jackie that I wanted to talk to them.  As always, they were warm and welcoming and asked me to come aboard.  Jake has always had a sixth sense about things but I don’t think he even quite knew what I was about to say.

“First of all I want you guys to know how very much I love you and how I would never be here if it wasn’t for you,” I started.

Jake and Jackie sat quietly, their ears pricked to attention.

“You guys have been amazing through this whole journey.  You’ve been there for me with everything.  I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done and still do for me.  I want you guys to know that because it’s because of everything that we’ve been through that has made this decision of mine a really tough one.  In the spring I want to sail off with Solstice by myself and away from Hokule’a for awhile,” I said.

They still sat quietly.  They are great listeners.

“For probably three or four months.  I’m not sure.  I figure we’ll reconnect somewhere in Fiji.”

I went on to explain how I have felt the need to figure out why I am out here on my own and I had to do that separately from Hokule’a.  I told them that I was out here for a reason and it’s not to tag along and in the shadow of Hokule’a everywhere she goes.  I then had to appeal to Jake’s engineering side and explained to him that I needed a test of myself completely solo, especially with looming crossings across the Atlantic still ahead.  Crossings that I needed to be prepared to take on alone.  This was a step in prepping for that.  That explanation, I knew Jake would understand better than the spiritual one that has been the deeper motivation for this choice.

When this trip was in its planning and Jill and I were married we had always shared with Jake and Jackie about how most likely during our voyage around the world we’d sail together at times but how often we’d separate too.  Connecting, separating and reconnecting throughout our trip as we sailed around the world together and apart.  That all changed when it became just me.  Suddenly the idea of breaking away from each other went away and Hokule’a became a huge safety net for me.  The love and support they have given me has been priceless and because of them they have helped me find the courage to sail off solo.  I now feel that it’s time to remove the net and to head out on my own as a true single hander.  I want to do this next 1,100 mile leg to Fiji by myself.  I want to embrace single-handing and find out just why I’m out here alone sailing around the world.

After I was done telling them of my choice Jackie brought up how this is what we had always talked about.  How we would separate and reconnect throughout our journey.  She felt that this was perfectly normal, which made me feel better.

I never felt the full ramifications of my decision until yesterday.  Yesterday, Jake and Jackie left Gulf Harbour.  I went over in the morning to give them final hugs and to wish them safe travels and to say goodbye to Hokule’a.  The tears immediately welled in my eyes as I struggled to form the word “goodbye” in my mouth.  Before I could embrace them the tears were rolling down my cheeks.  I wiped them away quickly and was able to shut down the next ones that tried to start.  I was determined to stay strong through this departure.  They fired up the engine and gave me the 10 minute warning of them pushing away from the slip.  I wanted to videotape them leaving the harbor so I ran out to the overlook where I could get a great view and watch them leave.

Grey cumulous clouds sat under a canopy of an even deeper darker layer of altostratus clouds.  The dreary day matched the somberness of my mood as Hokule’a made the turn into the channel and headed in my direction.  The tears began to well again as they moved slowly towards me.  Soon they spilled over and flowed down my cheeks.  I didn’t feel the need to wipe them away anymore.

“I love you guys!” I yelled when they were in earshot.

“We love you too,” Jackie’s voice skipped sweetly over the water to me.

“Be safe!  Fair Winds!” I hollered.

“Fatu Itu!” Jake yelled the Tahitian phrase to “Have Courage”.

“Fatu Itu, my Brother!” I yelled back.

sailed past.  I blinked through my tears and struggled to see the image in the viewfinder.

“I love you guys!” I said again softly for only me to hear.  “Thanks for everything.”

The tears flowed freely now as I went on, “ Godspeed Hokule’a.  Godspeed Jake.  Godspeed Jackie.  Be safe. ”

“We’ll see you in Fiji!” Jake yelled again as they chugged out of the harbor.

For the next 40 minutes I watched as they headed out into the windless dreary day.  The cloudes increased and light showers started to fall.  The rain soon masked my tears and I watched as Hokule’a rounded the point and disappeared behind the bluff.  And as she faded from sight a huge swell of loneliness overwhelmed me.  I stood there for the longest time staring at the grey sea and sky.  I couldn’t tell where the sea stopped and the sky started.  I had no idea when I’d see them again, and here I was by myself some 6,700 miles from home.  I have felt lonely many times in my life but never before had I felt so all alone, lonely and far away from home than I did standing there on the shore of Gulf Harbour, New Zealand.

Then one of my favorite movie lines of all time popped into my head and I said it out loud.

“I am missing you already!”

And that made me laugh.

Much Aloha,


Saturday April 14th, 2012 - 20:24 Gulf Harbour, New Zealand

It’s been a way too long since I’ve been able to get an update here online.  The reasons I will detail soon.  In a nutshell I’ve been in boat maintenance hell that has caused me to have my head buried in the depths of Solstice’s fuel tanks dealing with a serious issue that I will get into later.

As for now, it’s been almost a year to the date of our departure from California and the trip is taking on a whole new prespective.

Wednesday March 21, 2012 The Fall Equinox - 04:11 Gulf Harbour, New Zealand King Harbor

I’ve been back in New Zealand almost three weeks now.  The first week was a bit of an emotional adjustment for me while the second week has had me fighting off a cold and now that I’m feeling better I’ve started attacking this long list of boat projects so that Solstice and I can get out of the slip sooner than later.
The big thing lately is that it’s been wonderful being back on the boat.  I don’t think I spent more than a few hours off the boat since I’ve been back.  The first week it was great to sleep in my own bed.  But it’s also been a strange emotional adjustment being back as I feel like I’m home but I also feel like I left home when I left L.A.

Upon my arrival back here the first thing I did after being aboard was go and grab a bite to eat at the restaurant here in the harbor called “Ripples”.  It’s a little joint run by a wonderful Kiwi couple named Dave and Anne.  They have run it for some 30 years now.  It’s nothing fancy.  It is split into two different styles of a restaurant/bar.  One side is more like a convenient store takeaway place with a walk up counter for orders of burgers and grilled sandwiches and is lined with coolers filled with sodas, sports drink and ice cream.  All the normal convenient store things.  Of course there are shelves with chips, munchies, plastic cups along with paper towels that cost $5.50 a roll!  Yes, even the nice small stores around the globe screw you, it’s not just in the U.S.  The other side of the restaurant has a few tables with folding chairs and a horseshoe shaped bar that wraps around the side that connects to the convenient store side.  The roof is a large tent-like structure that sways back and forth and thumps with a loud WHAP when the wind blows over 25 knots.  It’s a short walk from the boat, the food is good, and is filled with older local boaters who seem to come in every evening for beers before heading home.  I’ve treated myself out to a meal there maybe once a week since I arrived here.  So it was familiar to me when I walked in the door after being gone for a month.  And when I walked in something odd happened.

“Cheers, Mate.  Welcome home, Bill,” Dave said in his cheerful Kiwi accent and poured me a beer.

It was strange to hear a “welcome home” greeting so far from well… home.

“Thanks, Dave.  It’s great to be home,” I replied.  “It’s weird though because I feel like I’m home but I also feel like I just left home.”

Dave nodded with an understanding that seemed beyond my wisdom because I was really quite confused by how I felt.

I was home.  One of the greatest things about cruising around the world on your own boat is that you’re traveling around in your home.  Solstice is home to me.  She’s where I am most comfortable.  I know every bit of her from the top of the mast to the bottom of the keel.  I know her sounds, her smell, her warmth and her motions.  And my bunk aboard is about the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in in my life on land or sea.  There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.  I am so happy to be home.

But I left home too.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been a bit homesick since I’ve been back.  I miss my family, I miss my friends and I miss California.  Which gets me to this query of “What is home?”

Is home a geographical place?  Then my original home would be McLean, Virginia where I spent the first 25 years of my life before moving to California.  But when I go back to McLean the place and the town has changed so much that I get lost whenever I go there now.  So many things are new and unfamiliar.  Woods where I knew every tree are gone and have been replaced by parking lots, office parks, apartments and strip malls.  A place that once was so familiar is now strange and unrecognizable.  It doesn’t feel like the same place I grew up; it doesn’t feel like home anymore. 

I’ve lived in the Southbay area of southern California for almost twenty-four years and there I feel completely at home.  I know all the faces of the people at the grocery stores, laundromats, and restaurants.  If I go to run an errand I’ll run into friends at almost every turn.  It takes forever to get things done there because I’m always running into somebody I know, which isn’t always a bad thing.  Redondo feels comfortable and where I belong.  It feels like home.  But when I was there this past trip I was displaced because my home where I live, Solstice, was not there.  So I had a feeling that I was just a visitor, which I was.  I actually felt most at home walking on the beach.  And that was because I was with the ocean.  The ocean has always been home to me.  Especially the Pacific.  I felt a sense of connection to the boat there too.  I could put my feet in the water and I knew that this body of water was also touching the hull of Solstice even though she was more than 5,600 nautical miles away.  It was comforting.  And fewer times in my life had I ever felt more at home and peace as when I left Palmerston in that nightmare situation with 30 knots of wind blowing towards a boat eating reef.  I found refuge and complete comfort offshore in the middle of the ocean.  The ocean that evening welcomed me home so brilliantly that I felt like a long lost friend reconnecting.

But there are many other things that come into play for what is home.  When I got off the plane in Virginia and was met by my brother and my two nieces I instantly felt at home by being with them.  So is home being with the people that you are close to?  The love that wrapped around us when we saw each other was fantastic.  The same thing happened that evening when I saw my parents.  And in those moments being with my family I felt very much at home by being with them.   Also spending time with John, Tony, Taylor, Andy and Luis in New York brought to me huge feelings of love and welcome and the real sense of being home.  In California, I was surrounded daily by dear friends that always gave me an incredible sense of love and home.  I went to lunch with one of my dearest friends in the world and her two sons and her nephew and the sense of being at home with them is so strong that I feel that they are an extension of my own family.  As far as I’m concerned, they are my family.

But there was one particular event that happened on the trip back to the States that put things in perspective for me.  I’m not on facebook but it seems like everybody else on the planet is.  Because of that friends from many years ago are reconnecting.  I have reconnected with a couple of old friends by default through my best friend growing up Jim who I have always been in close contact with.  Jim is on facebook (I don’t even know are you are supposed to capitalize the “F” in facebook?).  Jim and I were and still are very close.  We became close in 8th grade and were inseparable all through high school and college.  Not until I moved to L.A. did our lives travel down different paths.  But we’ve always made the effort to stay connected and have remained close over the years.  But other friends you lose touch with.  One such friend that Jim and I were equally as close to in high school was my friend Susan.  I hadn’t seen Susan since before I moved to LA almost 24 years ago.  Jim had reconnected with her via facebook and so I also had through Jim and via the internet.  So when I was back in Virginia the three of us decided to meet for lunch.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because so much time had passed since I had last seen her.  When she walked into the restaurant it was as if a fresh breeze blew through me and I was instantly transported back to where I grew up and was again with my two best friends.  It was as if the three of us were getting together after school like we did all the time so many years ago.  It was as if no time had passed and the 24 years in between hadn’t happened.  It was like I had awoken from some deep slumber where I had dreamt that I had moved away to California. Now I was awake and back together with Jim and Susan after school had let out.  We were so caught up with being back together we kept forgetting to order lunch.  We talked about silly things, we talked about serious things, we talked about dumb things and we talked about intelligent things.  We hugged, we laughed and we cried.  Well I cried.  That happened in a moment just sitting there in this restaurant with the two people that once upon a time were the most important people in my life.  And I realized in that moment that life is made up of different chapters.  And I had turned the book of my life back to one of these early chapters with Jim and Susan.  I thought that that time and those feelings were long lost but they weren’t.  They were still there.  They had just been written in the earlier chapters of my life and were waiting for me to turn back and reread those pages.  And it was sitting with them when I had this overwhelming feeling of love, friendship and home.  Those feelings are never far away.  They are in my heart and different things bring them to the surface to give me that sense of comfort, warmth, love and home.  I’m often in touch with Jim so those feelings are always there with him, but I hadn’t seen Susan in so long that I didn’t expect it and it caught me offguard.  I was overwhelmed at the reality of how close we were and still are even though we hadn’t spoken is so many years.  That’s how very important she was in my life so long ago and how very much I loved and treasured her friendship.  And when the three of us were together that afternoon we were home.  And I saw more clearly too how they helped me grow into the person I am today and helped me believe in myself enough to go on this trip.  I don’t know if they even realize it.  The love and support and friendship they gave me at such an important time of my life when I was trying to discover who I was was invalubable.  I am forever indebted to what the two of them have given me in this life.  And I love them with all my heart.  If it wasn’t for Jim and Susan I don’t know if I would’ve made it out of my teens sane.

So I left that lunch with this incredible feeling of love and warmth, and a feeling of home and a realization of what home is.  Home isn’t a tangible place like some building I grew up in or some neighborhood where I used to run around.  Home is found in the heart, in the soul and in the spirit.  It’s a place of warmth and comfort and belonging surrounded by an overwhelming feeling of love.  It fills me up when I’m with my closest friends, my family or in the middle of the ocean by myself connected to nature.  It’s a sacred place in the spirit that is like no other.  If fills your soul with so much love that at times you feel like your chest might burst.  And it is one of the best and most beautiful places to be.  And yes, it was great to go home and yes, it is great to be home.

Much Aloha,


Saturday March 3rd, 2012 - 20:48 Gulf Harbour, New Zealand local time

It’s blowing about 40 knots out with gust to 50.  I left similar conditions in King Harbor only a couple of days ago.  It wasn’t blowing quite this hard but it was blowing.  It’s interesting as there is a distinct difference in the sound of Gulf Harbour, New Zealand compared to King Harbor in Redondo Beach.  The wind howls here with a smooth deep drone as it rushes through the mast and rigging of the boats.  There is no clanking, clinking or smashing of haylards against mast like in Redondo. It seems as if all the sailors here are mindful to stow and wrap things securely aboard so that there boat isn’t thrashed about in a hard blow.  Perhaps it is because they get more days of big wind here and people make sure their rigs are kept ship shape.  I really don’t have an answer, it’s just an observation and one that struck me immediately when the wind started blowing after being in Redondo only a couple of nights earlier and was stirred awake by the loud sounds of the harbor.

The only annoying thing here in these conditions is the high pitched whirring of wind generators on boats.  I will never understand how people can stand to be on a boat with that noise going on all the time.  A baseball bat sure would come in handy tonight.

Anyway, it’s great to be home and to be back on Solstice.

Tuesday Feb. 28th, Wednesday Feb. 29th, or Thursday March 1st, 2012
Actual Time Zone… Unknown:  Somewhere High Over the Pacific

We took off from LAX a few hours ago.  I’m really not sure what the date or time is because of this illusion of time and dates that we all live in.  As time and dates figure it, I left LA the evening of February 28th.  13 ½ hours later I’m scheduled to arrive in New Zealand on March 1st.  In a normal year that probably sounds correct but this is a leap year.  We have a February 29th this year.  Though, the rest of the world will get to live through Feb. 29th me and the other travelers on this plane won’t ever see February 29th 2012.  How can that be?  It’s not like we’re in the air for over 24 hours.  It should only be 13 ½ hours later from when we left until we land.  I left at 11:30pm Feb. 28th.  I should arrive then at 1:00pm in the afternoon Feb. 29th, 13 ½ hours later.  But that’s not the case.  I’m actually landing 37 ½ hours after my departure.  Which makes zero sense to me, as there are only 24 hours in a day.  But that’s the reality of it.  HOW CAN THAT BE???

Of course this whole dilemma is because of a man made imaginary line that we put across the globe called “the international date line”.  It’s supposed to be at longitude 180 degrees but most countries don’t really pay attention to that.  If you look at a globe that has the international dateline drawn on it, it is certainly not straight.  In fact, different countries manipulate what side they fall on depending on how they feel about it.  Some change the line to fit better trade relations with other countries in other time zones, while others take a more spiritual approach and change where they fall on it so they can be the first place on earth to greet the new day.  This used to be the case in Tonga “The Land Where Time Begins”.  But this year Samoa decided they wanted to be on the other side of the dateline and since they are further east than Tonga they now greet the new day before anybody else.  And now all the globes in the world are wrong as to how the international dateline is depicted upon them.  I wonder if Tonga will change their slogan to something like “The Land Where Time Used To Begin” or “The Land Where Time Began Before This Year”?

Being back in the USA this past month has been fantastic to say the least.  I’ve spent some quality time with family and friends though there never is enough time to share time with everybody you want especially when your time is limited.  The days leading up to this flight got me thinking about “time” and what exactly it means and who came up with time and time zones in the first place.

While I was back home in Redondo Beach, California, I spent a few evenings at my favorite local restaurant and bar called “The Bluewater Grill”.  It sits along the harbor and is quaint, classy, sometimes quiet, sometimes noisy, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting but always wonderful.  It has an excellent full bar, fine beers, a decent wine list, a fireplace, and big screen TV’s spaced throughout that are great for watching the Lakers.  Not every day is the same there but one thing is consistent, it is always filled with old friends.  It’s a place that I can go “where everybody knows my name”.  After long weeks at sea my mind often drifts there and to the idea of watching a Laker game, sipping on fine glass of wine and having a few laughs with some pals. 

Like “Cheers” we have our own Cliff at The Bluewater.  His name is John.  John is a dear friend.  I can always count on him for a warm embrace, intellectual conversation, and a few laughs about what crazy things are going on in our world.  Like Cliff, John is smart and his knowledge of obscure facts and historical events is phenomenal.  Unlike Cliff, John’s facts are usually grounded in reality and not full of shit.  Cliff was often dead on about many things but very often he just made shit up too.  You never knew which was the case with Cliff, which was one of his charming qualities.  It must have been great to be a writer on that show.  John has a charm all his own that would be the envy of Cliff, Sam or Woody for that matter.

On one of my last visits to the Bluewater Grill last week I found myself sitting at the bar sharing a beer with John. The Lakers were on too, which made the night even better.  I brought up this notion to him of how I was flying back to New Zealand in a couple of days but I would be flying through some time warp that would find me not living a single minute of February 29th.

“The whole world is going to get to live the leap year of February 29th, 2012 but some how I was going to leap the leap year,” I said to John.  “How could that be?  I’m leaving here on Feb. 28th and arriving in New Zealand on March 1st.  What happened to the 29th?  I’m getting screwed out of leap year,” I explained. 
I took a sip of my ice-cold beer.  The sunset alighted the skies silver lined clouds with brush strokes of flaming oranges, deep reds, midnight blues and ink blacks.  It was a perfect Southern California sunset.

“Well it’s a well known fact about how time zones began you know?” John always talked to you like you knew the facts as well as he did.  He never talks down to you.  It’s one of his many charms.

“Ahhhh, I must have missed that class, John.”

“The railroads.  It all began with the railroads,” he said.


“Oh yeah.  Nobody had any real need for schedules or times before the railroads came along.” John took a long sip from his beer and placed it on the bar.  He turned towards me.  Class was just beginning.

“You see before railroads people went by their daily business with the sun.  Solar Time is what they called it.  Every place had a different time for noon based on when the sun was directly overhead in their own town.”

“So noon in one town was at a different time than noon in a neighboring town?” I asked.

“Yeah,” John replied.

“Well that doesn’t make sense?”

“Oh it makes perfect sense, really.  Why would you care what time it was in the next town?  You don’t go over there?  You don’t call anybody over there?  All that mattered is what time it was right where you were.  It makes a lot of sense when you think about it,” John nodded like it should make sense to me now.

“You know, that does make sense,” I replied.  “Who cares what time it is in Santa Monica.  We don’t ever go over there.  We’re here right now,” I was being silly but on another higher level I understood what he said.  It made perfect sense.  “We only live in the now, right?” I said.

“Now you’re starting to understand.”

“Maybe we should go back to that system,” I said.

“Well the problems started with the railroads and with time schedules for trains.  Each railroad line had their own time.  The Pittsburgh railroad station, for example, had a bunch of different clocks with different times of each railroad line.  Nobody knew what time it was in Pittsburgh because there were six different clocks reading six different times.  And each clock was based on the solar noon of the headquarters for the city of that particular railroad.  So not only did you not know what time it was at the train station, unless you knew where your railroad line was headquartered, you didn’t really know at what time your train was supposed to arrive either,” John swallowed his beer.  “I’ll have another one when you get a chance Melissa,” he said to the bartender.

“Me too,” I said to Melissa.  She’s a lot cuter than Sam at Cheers.

John went on.  “Imagine going to the airport in a couple of days to fly to New Zealand and there is a different clock for each airline,” a big smile spread across his face.  “And you don’t know that American Airlines is headquartered in Dallas, Texas but think they’re headquartered in San Francisco.  You’d miss your flight because you arrived two hours after your flight left.  Ha, ha ha!” John gave me a friendly slap on the shoulder.

“Well,” I hoisted my glass “Here’s to the guy who invented time zones,” I said.  We clinked our glasses and followed with a swallow of beer. 

“Though I’m still not sure why everybody in the world gets to live February 29th this year but I don’t.  Is my gravestone gonna have the wrong date on it now when I die?” I asked him.

“I think that depends if you die on the plane while flying across the international dateline,” John said with a laugh.  He pointed to one of the girls that worked there.  “Now Ashleigh over there, she had twins born on Feb. 29th.  They’re having a big party for them as it’s their first birthday but they’re really 4 if you count how many times they’ve been around the sun,” John smiled.

“Really,” I asked.

“Honestly.  I’m sure you would’ve been invited if you were gonna be here.  It’s going to be a big party.”

“Well I’m not going to even be on the planet to see that day and wish them a happy birthday,” I said.  “Good thing they aren’t on my flight.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have a birthday until 2016 and they’d be screwed out of 4 years of life,” I exclaimed.

The whole thing got stranger by the minute.  In the end we laughed about it all and really just hoped for a Laker win.

A few days later now, high over the Pacific, I know that I haven’t lost any time here on earth.  All we have is this moment we’re living.  That’s what I mean about the illusion of time.  All there is, is now.  There is really no yesterday or tomorrow, all there is is today.  It’s when we’re alive, it’s what we live and breathe.  How often are we caught up in the “if only things were this way?” or “if only things were that way?” or “I can’t wait until this happens or when things are different?”  I’m as guilty of that as anybody but the reality is those are all thoughts of illusion and are all grounded in what’s not.  And while we’re focused on those things we’re missing the only thing that is real and the only thing that does matter and that is this moment that we’re living.  The now.  That’s what we’re supposed to focus on.  That’s what I love the most about sailing.  It connects me to the now.  When I’m out upon the sea, the wind in my sails, the sea rolling beneath me, I’m completely in the now.  I’m not worried about what’s supposed to happen tomorrow, next week or next year, I’m completely absorbed in being where I am.  Grounded in the now.  I’m alive and I’m living.  And that’s what matters.  It’s why I ventured out on this trip in the first place.  To feel the hot breath of life up close and personal.  It reminds me of a Jimmy Buffett song “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”.  It’s a song about Hurricane Katrina but it’s more about living in the now.  It’s a great song and I highly recommend it.  Now is the only thing that it is real.  It’s the only thing that is happening.  It’s the only time we’re alive.  Live it and don’t let it pass you by.

What I do know is that right now I’m filled with many mixed emotions and thoughts.  It’s bittersweet leaving L.A.  It’s home.  But Solstice is home too and I can’t wait to get back to her.  On one level I feel like I’m going home but on another I feel like I’m leaving home all over again.  Somewhere in between here and New Zealand there is a common ground.  I will write more about this when I get back home aboard Solstice.  Until then, I’m enjoying the peace of this flight and the now of being alive.

Much Aloha,


Tuesday February 28, 2012 - 01:36 King Harbor, Redondo Beach, CA Local Time

It is early morning in Redondo and a gale is blowing outside with 30 knots of wind gusting to 35.  I’m staying aboard Taylor’s boat Capella here in King Harbor.  The haylards in the harbor are clanking and clinking at a furious pace in the breeze and has stirred me awake.  I am filled with mixed emotions as in less than 24 hours I’ll be high over the Pacific flying back to New Zealand and home to Solstice.  At the same time I feel like I’m leaving home all over again.

These past 4 weeks in the States have been incredible.  The flight from Auckland to the Los Angeles on January 29th was 12 ½ hours and after a 2 hour lay over I jetted off to the east coast and to Virginia.  I arrived there mid-afternoon where I met my brother Andy and his two girls at the airport.  My fatigue instantly washed away as I was overwhelmed by feelings of love and family and emotions of joy that such a reunion brings.  That evening my parents came over to their home for dinner.

The motivation of my visit back to the States was to surprise my Mom for her 78th birthday.  Knowing that my parents are getting up there in years and having the opportunity to leave Solstice in a safe and secure place I chose to come back as I don’t know when such a good scenario might present itself again.  It wasn’t an easy decision as I also knew that I’d be losing a month of time in New Zealand.  That night my mother came to Andy’s door and rang the doorbell.  When I opened the door and she looked at me, in that instant all the trouble and expense to fly back was instantly worth it.  Simply the moment was priceless and one that is not easily put into words.  The relationship between a mother and son is a special one.  One that should never be taken for granted and one that is filled with a bond that was forged from before I was ever born.  It is strong, secure and real.  The look on her face as I opened and we saw each other spoke volumes.  In that moment all the miles traveled and the decision to leave NZ for a little while instantly became worth it.  It was a moment that I’ll never forget.

The bookends of that moment only a few weeks ago and this one now that finds me snuggled in a bunk on a boat in King Harbor is filled in between with some amazing moments with dear friends, family, love and home that I will expand upon as I fly back to New Zealnd and home to Solstice.  It’s funny I feel like I’m going home and leaving home at the same time.  I will share those moments from high over the Pacific.

In the meantime here are a couple photos of me opening the door to see my Mom.

Much Aloha,


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A note to the reader:  I will post some new entries soon but from the log entry below you will see why I have been vacant from any new postings over the past three weeks.  While Jake and Jackie have been car camping around NZ I’ve been doing a some traveling of my own without Solstice.  Traveling that was impossible for the sailors back in the days of yore.  God Bless The Wright Brothers.

Sunday January 29th, 2012 - 13:59 Auckland, NZ Local Time

I’m not sure if this can technically be part of the Ship’s Log as I’m not on the boat.  I’m sitting in the Auckland airport waiting to board a flight back to the United States.  I’m flying back to surprise my Mom for her birthday which is February 6th.  She has no idea that I’m coming.  In fact, most people in LA are also unaware of my traveling.  I’m going to spend 2 weeks in the Virginia/DC area and then another 2 weeks at home in Redondo Beach.  In fact, this entry will not be posted until after my arrival in Redondo as I am also planning to surprise some folks there.

It’s nuts when I think about it.  It took me 7 months to sail here to Auckland and in about 20 hours I’ll be in Virginia.  I really am not sure how I feel about that.  On one hand I’m amazed at modern traveling and on another I’m like “I’m so lame to fly back as it took me so long to sail here”.  It does, however, put perspective on where we’ve come as a society and how easy it is to move around the globe.  On another hand, I have so much more respect for the sailors in the days of yore who explored and expanded this world by crossing oceans alone in sailing vessels.  Especially in the days of no charts or idea of approaching storms not to mention a million other things that made world exploration hair raising to say the least.

I’m not sure what to expect upon my arrival in the States.  A bit of culture shock, an overwhelming feeling of comfort of coming back home but an even more unsettled feeling of leaving Solstice, all alone and so far away.  This will be the longest time I’ve ever been away from the boat since I bought her.  That is one feeling that rang very loud as I stepped off the boat and headed to the airport.  No matter where I am in this world, Solstice has become home to me right now.  She is where I’m most comfortable and there is a bond there that is very strong that has been forged by crossing the Pacific.  It’s hard to explain.  I am so excited to get back to the States right now, to see my family and so many dear dear friends but there is a side of me that is going to miss being on the boat very very much.

Much Aloha,


Saturday January 21, 2012 - 07:52 Gulf Harbour NZ Local Time

Tomorrow January 21st, 2012 at 3pm Atlantic Standard Time, on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, Laura Dekker will complete her circumnavigation and will become the youngest sailor to ever circumnavigate the globe.

You can follow her arrival here:

3pm in St. Martin will be 2pm in Washington DC, 11am in Redondo Beach, CA and 8am Jan. 22nd here in New Zealand.  It will be early here for me but I will find a glass of champagne and salute this amazing young woman.  I hope you will all find a moment to raise a glass in her honor.  It is people like Laura that shine a bright light on this world’s future and who inspires old sailors like me to venture into our vast oceans alone.

This last leg for her has been a 6,000 mile non-stop journey from Cape Town South Africa to St.Martin.  That is one of two such long legs that she’s done.  It is an amazing achievement by an amazing person and one who is a hero to me.  As they would say down here in New Zealand, “Good on ya, Laura.”

Much Aloha,


Thursday January 13th, 2012 - 11:17 Gulf Harbour, NZ local time

Today is my birthday.  That’s right, Friday the 13th.  Though the actual day was a Monday.  I’m still unclear though if it really is my birthday here today in New Zealand.  I was born on January 13th, 1964 in Washington D.C. roughly around 3pm.  If you go back in time to that exact hour it was actually January 14th, 9am here in New Zealand.  So do I celebrate my birthday here today on the actual date or do I go by the exact hour on the planet I was born and celebrate then?  I have found it to be quite the quandary as to what is proper.  I think for arguments sake the exact hour would be proper which would really make the day to celebrate tomorrow Jan. 14th at 9am.  But that feels weird as I always have celebrated on the 13th of January which it is today here in New Zealand.  So to be safe I will straddle both times and dates and just celebrate for a good 36 to 48 hour time period spanning from Jan. 12th in the States through Jan. 14th here in New Zealand.  That way I’m covered to make sure that I’m honoring the proper time I entered the world.

As I often do at the end of every year and with my approaching birthday, I have spent the last few weeks looking at my life over this past year.  The past 15 months have seen an incredible amount of change.  A lot I had planned on and a lot I had not.  The reality of what my life is today is so different than what it was even less than a year ago.  And I am still coming to grips of where I am and where I am going and what this next year will bring.

But as I look at it there are so many things in life we cannot plan for and cannot count on.  Not to bring up an old cliché but this one rings true.  If there is one thing in life that is constant it is change.  Change is all around us.  If you don’t think your life is changing well here’s a news flash…. IT IS!  It’s happening at every moment.  If the world is spinning then things are changing.  Change is inevitable.  It flows in and out of life like the tides.  Sometimes things change for the better, sometimes for the worse.  Sometimes we have no idea why things happen and sometimes we make them happen.  What we can do and what we do have control over is how we choose to react to it when it does come.

Trees see more change than any of us.  And they don’t go anywhere.  Can you imagine what the giant redwoods have seen in their 2000 year existence on this planet? Over the years I’ve learned a lot about change from trees.  When the power of a hurricane Katrina comes which trees survive and which ones don’t?  Sometimes storm force winds are so powerful that they uproot everything.  But more often than not it’s the trees that have a strong root system atop a good foundation and are flexible that survive.  Palm trees are notorious for lying with the wind when it blows hard.  They sway and bounce in a rhythmic dance and let the waves of wind flow past as the bend and give into the resistance of the wind.  They have strong roots that hold them firm and are built in solid ground.  They don’t just survive, they thrive.  It’s the trees that stand straight and rigid and fight the force of the wind that ultimately have their tops sheared off or have their roots ripped from their foundation.  Or they have a shallow root structure built on a weak foundation.  And when they fight the change, they lose.  They’re ripped from their core.  Solstice can sail beautifully in 30 knots of wind if I reef in the right sail configuration and adapt to the change at hand.  If I don’t we’ll get knocked down, break gear or worse hurt somebody.

So when change comes my way, I try to adapt.  I’m not always successful but I try.  Sometimes I don’t know when change is upon me, sometimes I don’t what the change will bring about, sometimes I create the change and sometimes it just shows up but adapting to it is essential to live and grow stronger.

The biggest thing by far and the most unexpected challenge for me during this voyage has been without a doubt the single handing aspect.  But I’ve made a decision.  To not only accept the change but to embrace it.  To bring out the positive aspects of it and to not dwell in what solo sailing lacks.  I’ve come to see and embrace the things that I could never learn in any other way than to be sailing by myself.  Single-handing provides an incredible opportunity and one that I’ve never fully embraced.  Now is the time to embrace it.  I’ve always moved towards choices in life so that I live a full, happy life and what that helps me grow and learn both spiritually and physically.  That is what has brought me to this most recent change in my life.

My Katrina wasn’t a category 5 hurricane carving a new path of destruction and devastation through my life.  No my Katrina is a 5’9” blonde haired, blue-eyed beauty with a smile that would warm the coldest heart.  She’s born and raised in New Zealand and her name is, you guessed it, Katrina.

I first met Katrina when I needed to trim up the bits and pieces of my hair that had seen too many days at sea and had gone too long without a haircut.  She’s an excellent hair stylist and she did a lovely job.  But in that moment sitting in her chair something past between us and I knew that she was meant for greater things in my life than just a nice little haircut.  We had a future.

I have thought about all that has happened to me and how I wanted to embrace this new path in my life, this new way of living and that meant purging the past.  Letting go of old things and moving forward.  Katrina stepped into my life at the right time and I made my choice.  Embrace the future, bring it on and move forward.

I went to see Katrina a couple of days ago, the truth was at hand and I told her how I felt.  She felt the same way.  She didn’t pack 150 knot winds but she still carved a path every bit as noticeable as if she had.  She wheeled a mighty set of sheers and an electric razor and she whirled, swirled, snipped, shaved and carved something completely new atop my dome.  The ponytail was removed first and soon after long lengths fell to the ground and were scattered about the salon floor.  With every snip and clip a little gleeful laugh erupted from deep within her and the slightest smile spread wider and wider over across Katrina’s lips.  She was having a ball.  In less than an hour the deed was done.

I looked into the mirror and a new person was staring back at me.  A huge smile spread across my face and one that I hadn’t seen in some time.  I left her with huge hugs, a kiss on the cheek and a haircut that I’ll remember until I’m eighty.

~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~

Now it may sound trivial and stupid because it was just a haircut but this was a big deal for me.  I wanted a new look to not just represent the change in myself but that said I’m embracing it.  And because of the haircut I feel that something is different.  Something has clicked inside that makes me smile a lot more.  When walking back sporting my new haircut the world looked different too.  The sun seemed to bring out the greens in the grass just a little bit more.  The reds of the flowers were alight in a brilliant glow and the sky seemed to shimmer a deeper more intense blue than it had only hours before.  I don’t think the world changed so much as my way of viewing it has.  It’s more exciting to me than it’s been in years.  It’s ripe with endless possibilities and everything feels fresh, renewed and reborn.

A friend of mine told me recently “You know Bill, in France they say that when a woman changes her hair she is about to change her life.  I think that is true for men too.  I think that is true for you.”

Now I don’t know if she’s right but I do know one thing.  I’m embracing this change, this new path, this new lifestyle with all I my heart and soul and I am seeing the world through eyes that I haven’t looked with in a very very long time.

Much Aloha,


Sunday January 1st, 2012 - 12:22 Gulf Harbour, NZ local time

Happy New Year!  I’m already halfway into the first day of 2012 while everybody back home is still getting ready to usher in the New Year.  As planned Lynn made it up from the South Island to join Jake, Jackie, Jake’s Aunt Lois, her boyfriend, Jean and myself to ring in the New Year with us.  Jean and Lois treated us to a wonderful dinner complete with 5 courses of great food, fine wine and better company.  We listened to a live band play old American rock n’ roll songs and we popped champagne and welcomed 2012 with hugs and kisses.

Being far from home over the holidays brings up a swirl of emotions.  Christmas celebrations were lower key as feelings of nostalgia washed over me.  It’s hard being so far away from home during the holidays.  A longing to be with those that mean the most to me made the days slow down.  The last couple of weeks have past with much reflection on the year past and to the year ahead and what could possibly be next in store for me.  On top of those feelings I received the very sad news that my dear friend Joyce passed away a couple of days before Christmas.  She actually died on the Solstice which I thought was particularly strange.  Joyce was a great fan of our trip around the world and followed all the blogs and postings closely. 

Joyce was Jeep’s significant other and if you’ve been following the website you know that she gave us some of Jeep’s ashes to take with us around the world and to put some of them in places that we felt were fitting.  Jeep and Joyce have been dear friends of mine for many years.  Back in Redondo I lived and worked from the boat.  I could always count on once every week or so Jeep and Joyce pulling up in their blow up boat and knocking on the hull to see if I was home. If I was, they’d always try and entice me to blow off work and hop into the dinghy with them and go touring around the harbor with them.  Often times I turned them down and went back to work.  But I am happy to say that often times I joined them as well.  One of my favorite memories was when I was under a deadline and feeling a lot of stress that everyday living brings when they pulled up.  I was down below editing away when I heard them pull up.  Then came the unmistakable strum of Jeep playing the ukulele.  Soon after their voices in perfect harmony together began singing the sweetest Hawaiian song about love and the sea.  I ventured onto deck to listen.  The warmest feeling filled my spirit and all the stress sort of melted away as I listened to them sing together with smiling eyes.

Afterwards Jeep said “Hi Billy.  Want to go putt around the harbor with us?”

I grabbed a bottle of wine and hopped in.  We spent the next 2 to 3 hours putting around the harbor, knocking on peoples’ hulls and singing Hawaiian songs while Jeep played the ukulele.  Jeep and Joyce were spreading happiness around the harbor.  That’s what they did.

 Since their passing I’ve felt that there has been a shift on this planet and in my world with first his passing and now with hers.  His passing being the first earthquake and her’s being a significant twin aftershock.

I think because I’m so far away that when I received the news on Christmas day it struck me as being unreal and surreal.  I was numb to it.  Joyce had planned to come visit us here in New Zealand in mid January.  Towards the end of November I talked to her and she told me she had to cancel her plans as she was having some health issues.  I spoke to her again on Dec. 10th and she was upbeat and positive.  Less than 2 weeks later a friend called to give me the tragic news that she had died.  I still don’t think it has really hit me.  About an hour and a half after the news I went below and walked into the forward cabin.  There is a throw pillow there on the guest bunk with a Hawaiian quilt cover that Joyce hand stitched as a wedding gift for Jill and me.  When it was new it was beautiful.  A ring of blue dolphins spiral out from a center where their tails are connected together against a pure white background.  Beautiful.  Over the years it’s become frayed torn and dirty.  I was holding onto it until after Joyce’s visit as she always loved seeing it aboard.  Because of its decaying condition I thought that after she left I’d find something new to replace it with.  When I walked into the forward cabin and saw it there I burst into tears.  It hit me like a sledgehammer.  I held that pillow tight and cried hard.  It’s the only thing I have left of Joyce upon the boat.  And it took her months to hand stitch.  I won’t ever throw that away.

I’ve often felt that if I were God I would pass a law that nobody could die from the week before Thanksgiving to about mid January.  Those days are for the celebration of life, laughter, great friends and family.  When a loved one passes away during the holiday season the feelings of wanting to celebrate gets sucked out of you like a vacuum.

But with Jake and Jackie and Jake’s Aunt and Jean and Lynn here as well as a host of other friends; I haven’t stayed too long in the nostalgic saddened state.  I think it’s healthy to embrace those feelings when they come up and to truly feel them.  But it’s also healthy to let them go and to move forward. 

The turning of the calendar to 2012 has helped me make that strong step and to go forth confidently into this year and the years ahead that promise to be perhaps the best of my life.  For I know that 2011 brought me stepping into this new world of a time to sail around the world and I believe that early on in 2012 I will just be finding my stride.

Much Aloha,




The last three photo galleries:  Tonga, Tonga to New Zealand Crossing, and New Zealand have been sent to the webmaster and should be on the website soon.  The New Zealand photos mar finally being up to date with the photos.  After months of being behind with no internet access the photo galleries are finally current.  YAHOO!!!

The three new photo albums have been added to the Photo Gallery. The webmaster wishes everyone Happy Holidays. ___Ho, Ho, Ho!

Sunday December 18th, 2011
- 21:02 Gulf Harbour, NZ local time

It’s only a week before Christmas and here in New Zealand we are only days away from the first day of summer.  Mark Twain once wrote, “the coldest winter I spent was a summer in San Francisco,” I don’t think Mr. Twain ever spent a summer (or spring) in New Zealand.  It’s freezing here.  In fact it feels much more like Christmas weather than summer weather.  Before I began to write this entry I pulled my electric blanket out from a hidden corner deep in my closet and plugged it in.  Never before have I used it only 3 days before summer.  A cold soft rain is falling outside and a light breeze is rattling the rigging in the harbor but I’m toasty warm under my heated blanket.  Thank God for shore power.

We spent a few days with Lynn before she headed off to the South Island to explore.  She plans to be back to spend New Years with us.  It might be sooner if she’s experiencing any of the chilly weather we are.  And she’s camping.

Her being here has been a reminder of all my friends and family back home.  Every year I’ve always made a strong effort to hand write Christmas cards but being in New Zealand hasn’t allowed me the opportunity to do that this year.  But I wanted to wish all of you the very best this holiday season.

2011 has been a very different year for me.  It has seen much change in my life on so many levels.  But one thing has remained true and unchanged.  And that is how very much I love my friends and family.  Those closest to me have been there during some very tough times as well as some unbelievably great times.  For that, I am eternally grateful and thankful.  2011 has been filled with emotions from every spectrum of the emotional scale.  The cast-off from Redondo will go down in my memory as one the most emotional days of my life.  It ranged from heart wrenching to pure elation.  That day was an incredibly powerful and special one on so many levels.  I have you all to thank for that.  The year has catapulted me into a realm of experience of living on the edge of life.  And it is in those precious moments, out upon the sea, thousands of miles from shore, wrapped in the arms of nature and connected to everthing real, that one sees clearly that life is pure, true and simple.  Life is about one thing, Love.  The love we share with one another, the love we feel for the earth, the love we feel when we’re doing what’s important in the world and what is important to our souls.  It really is so very simple.  It doesn’t take going to sea to know these things, I’ve always known them, they are just so very clear out there.

So I wanted to take this moment to say thank you so much for everything you all give and share with me.  It means more than I could ever express in words.  I hope you all have a beautiful holiday filled with the joys of the season.  And may 2012 bring adventure, love, laughter and life to your soul.  I know it will for me.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, and Happy New Year!

Much Love and Aloha,


Monday December 12th, 2011- 02:29 Gulf Harbour (that’s how they spell “Harbor” in NZ), NZ local time

Finally…. We’ve got a lot new pix and log updates loaded to the website.  If you go into the Ship’s Log and go to the Tonga to New Zealand icon and scroll down to the November 7th entry you can read details of our crossing from Tonga to New Zealand.  Also there are a lot of new pictures posted under sections of the trip that were not there previously.  Mostly starting from Palmerston on.  I know they aren’t timely as to where we are now but I’m working on getting everything up to date ASAP.  I will keep you posted as that gets done.

It’s early Monday morning right now and a 20-25 knots breeze is blowing with higher gusts.  Solstice is swaying gently on her dock lines and the rush of high winds is whistling the rigging of the boats in the marina.  I’m so happy to be tucked in somewhere where the boat is flat and secure tonight.  A soft rain hits the deck and the pitter-patter of raindrops on the deck give a soothing romantic feel to the boat.  Solstice is also all clean and decorated for Christmas which makes me happy.

Our friend, Lynn, arrived at the Auckland airport a couple of hours ago.  At least she was supposed to.  She’s going to be taking the bus into town early this morning and the first thing I’ll be doing when I get up is catching the ferry to Auckland to go meet her. 

Her arrival marks the first of several friends that will be coming to visit over the next 6 weeks.  It will be great to reconnect and hear about all the news from home.  I will also do my best to keep things up to date in the log as we near Christmas.  I’m currently going through hundreds of pix from Tonga and the Tonga to NZ crossing as well as the latest NZ pictures.  I will do my best in getting them to the webmaster ASAP.

As for Solstice there is still quite a list of projects to take care of.  The worse thing recently is that my inverter crapped out on me.  It had been flawless until reaching Opua.  Then it decided to not want to work under heavy load.  Now it won’t even charge computers.  It took the better part of the other day to remove it from the boat.  Then the better part of the next day traveling to Auckland via ferries and buses to the shop that I hope, can fix it, though the service guy already painted a grim picture and warned me of the slim chances of its salvation.  We’ll see.  The last thing I need is an expense of a new inverter.

But there is something I’m learning too over these past few months.  They have to do with my attitude with “boat projects” and towards the boat and trip in general.  Over the years of owning boats when things break or expensive items need to be replaced I’ve always reacted like “WHAT?  NOW WAY!  I CAN’T AFFORD THAT!  GOD DAMN, GREAT!  F’ING BOATS!” or some other equally negative emotional reaction.  I’ve come to learn by not just my experience but from the experience of every other cruising boat out here that this is what happens.  And it happens all the time.  As I look back on it, the reality is it’s not just cruisers it’s all boat owners.  You know what?  In fact, it’s all of us.  In life we deal with these things all the time, every day.  Cars break down, we get flat tires, homes need to be repaired, water pipes burst, mainsails blow out, dingies get holes in them, inverters crap out, etc. etc.  Shit happens and we have to deal with it.

Because of accepting this plight of “life things happening” my attitude was different this time than it had been when things break on the boat.  I don’t know exactly what the cost of a new one is yet as I am still hopeful this can be fixed but it is over the $1000 range to replace what I have on the boat.  But I’ve changed my approach starting with my initial emotional reaction.  This trip is going to be this way.  And it’s a long trip.  Every cruiser goes through this.  As the creator of Latitudes & Attitudes magazine Bob Bitchin says “Cruising is just fixing your boat in exotic locations”.  He’s right on about that.  The secret is balancing working on the boat and seeing the places you’re visiting.

That’s the great thing about friends coming to visit.  They are here to see, enjoy and share time with you and the place they’re visiting.  So Lynn’s arrival today also marks a time to put some boat projects aside for the time being, to not worry about it and to just enjoy life.  And I will do just that while doing my best to get caught up with all the photos still to be posted.

Much Aloha,


Tuesday November 29, 2011- 19:29 Auckland, NZ local time

We arrived outside of Gulf Harbor (12 miles north of Auckland) about 0800 this morning.  Solstice and Hokule’a are literally moored on the dock right next to each other.  I sat on the aft deck and watched the sunset at the same time Jake and Jackie sat aboard Hokule’a and enjoyed the same moment.  Without sharing a word we sat and watched the sunset together.  There were a lot of emotions swirling around in the air.  On one level it seemed like we were on top of one another crowding one another’s space but on another something much more profound had happened.  We booked reservations to stay in this marina back when we were in Bora Bora.  Little did we know that they had planned to put the boats right next to one another.  But there is something very fitting, very right, and very real about this juxtaposition.  Today was the culmination of the end of Phase One of this journey around the world.  We had started out from King Harbor side by side and we ended up here in Auckland, New Zealand, side by side.  It touches me deep in my soul, knowing that we have, Solstice, Hokule’a, Jake, Jackie and I have put thousands of miles astern and come this far together.  And because of it we’ve forged a bond that is deeper and stronger than anything we’ve ever shared before.  A bond that will prove to be a solid foundation and launching pad for Phase Two of our journey.  A journey together with them that I fully embrace.  It is beautiful.

Getting to Opua after our crossing from Tonga was a big deal.  It was a 10 day crossing that was daunting and filled with challenges.  But today, arriving here, our final destination for 2011 was a much bigger deal to me personally.  When we arrived in Opua last week the task at hand was still unfinished.  We still had another 120 miles to go to get to where we wanted to be and stay thru New Years.

Randy left last week and I fell back to the sobering situation of having to complete Phase One by myself.  And I was happy about that.  In fact, I was excited about the opportunity.  I’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding single-handing and what’s that all about.  Not just from friends at home but from fellow cruisers out here.  I will say this, as 2011 nears its end I have come to embrace the single-handing notion where when Taylor left me in the Marquesas only a few months ago, it scared the shit out of me.

Having crew aboard and sailing solo are very different.  There are great and powerful things about both.  In the end having crew is easier as all tasks are shared.  Whether you’re raising anchor, raising sails, making landfall or sharing watches, everything is just that, shared.  People working together towards a common goal.  There is a lot to the phrase “many hands make light work”.  Such is not the case when you’re the only one doing the work.  When you are solo everything no matter how big or small comes down to you and you alone.  Small tasks suddenly become big and large ones become well…. larger.  The biggest single thing I’ve found is that when you’re sailing solo you cannot lay your head down for real rest.  When you have another crew member aboard you can lay your head down with a peace of mind that everything is fine aboard because there are another pair of eyes watching out while you sleep.  When you are solo, especially when traveling close to shipping lanes and shorelines as I did on this last leg, it is impossible to lay your head down peacefully.  As much as I wanted to crash out for just 20-30 minutes I just jumped up every 5 minutes (10 if I was lucky) to check to make sure that all was well.  On this particular crossing I was surrounded by two ships, one dredge, two fishing vessels and three sailboats.  And this was at night with no moon so not only was I exhausted but I had to make heads or tails of what lights meant what and where the hell all these boats were are going.  I’m very happy that I only had to deal with this one night.

Of course in the middle of the ocean, when you single-hand, there is little to no traffic and no land masses to crash into.  Sleep comes easier and being alone in the middle of the vast Pacific is well…. FANTASTIC.  But even out there, sleep doesn’t come easy.

So our safe arrival here today was a big deal for me.  I also am touched deeply too that Solstice and Hokule’a are moored side by side.  We’ve been through a lot since leaving Redondo 8 months ago and we have a lot to look forward to together.  It is a fitting way to end 2011 and an even more fitting way to start 2012.

Much Aloha,


Wednesday November 30th, 2011


I have received some recent e-mails from friends wondering WHERE THE HELL ARE THE LATEST UPDATES!!!!? Well let's just say after our crossing from Tonga to New Zealand much R&R was in order.  With our arrival in Opua we also had terrible internet access there so very little time was exhausted trying to upload things to the internet.  FINALLY Solstice and I arrived safely in Gulf Harbor, NZ two days ago.  It is the first place we've been since Rarotonga that has good internet.  With that said, these next few days will be dedicated to me sending "boat loads" of photos to our webmaster to put up on the website.  If you are not aware, few if any pictures have been added to the gallery for some months.  Our webmaster, also has a life so she will get them posted when she can.  The wheels are turning in this regard and I will send some more detailed log updates of our crossing and arrival in New Zealand in the next day or two.

I'll leave you with this.  It's GREAT to be in New Zealand, though it's FREAKING COLD HERE!!!

Much Aloha,





Solstice Log