Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore
Raratonga Crossing (Begin reading with the first entry of August 29th below)

Thursday September 1st, 2011
- 13:33 Local Bora Bora time

Day #4 crossing from Bora Bora to Rarotonga

After a few hours this morning of flogging sails the wind has finally kicked in and we’re sailing beautifully again.  I haven’t run the engine since I turned it off about 4 hours after leaving Bora Bora.  This definitely has been one of the most beautiful and satisfying crossings I’ve ever experienced.  Of course it’s different than a major ocean crossing but there is something magical about being out here solo and just having a pure sail.

Fatigue has been the only true obstacle and last night it was particularly difficult.  I don’t really know what happened and all I can do is explain the facts.  At about midnight last night we were coming up on two islands that we had to sail between en route to Rarotonga.  There was about 22 miles between the two islands.  The plan with Hokule’a was to split the difference leaving a good 10 miles of seaway on either side.  Now that sounds like a lot of room and on one hand but on another it’s not much room at all.  All I could think was about how exhausted I was and how easily it would be for me to lay my head down for an hour only to wake up 4 hours later.  When you’re traveling 5 knots an hour well you can do the math.  Solstice and I have made a pact that we shall never run into any obstacle, especially a reef, an island or another boat.  So in keeping with my pact I planned to be awake, and alert during the time we’d be closest to the islands.  Since I’m usually trying to get some kind of sleep at about that midnight hour I planned to grab some sleep before arriving to the waypoint that put us between the islands.  At about 10:30 I went below and crashed.  At about 11:15 I awoke as planned.  I got up, check the chart, our course or rhumline, everything was perfect and as planned.  I was particularly groggy and pulling my butt out of my bunk was a challenge in itself.  But I knew that the safety of me and the boat depended on me being awake and alert.  After checking everything I put a kettle on to make some tea.  A good jolt of caffeine is exactly what I needed.  And I have a very nice tea that was perfect.  Amidst the constant rocking I went about my routine of moving around the galley and holding on as we leaned, leaned, leaned to port and we leaned, leaned, leaned to starboard.  While the water heated up I kept running topsides to check on the boat, look for other boat traffic and to monitor our pass through the islands.  At the same time, I charted out the next waypoint of where my course would change once past the islands.   


The whistle to the kettle went off.  Which acted almost as an alarm as it snapped me out of my general grogginess.  I made a wonderful cup of tea with cream and honey and went back up and stood at the top of the companionway in the stairway.  It’s always been a good place for me to navigate from and brace myself well too.  It also is a place that keeps me standing which when I’m tired which is better than sitting down as that generally keeps me more alert.  I checked everything and sipped on my tea.  Checking the raymarine digital display and looking out towards the night can be disorienting at night as the screen is bright and your eyes have a difficult time then adjusting to the nighttime.  All the while the boat is rocking hard back and forth.  I sipped on my tea again, and searched from the dark back to the screen.  When my eyes hit the screen my head started to spin.  Immediately I set my tea down and took a strong grip on the companionway side.  I took a deep breath and looked at the screen again, it went into a complete white blur.

Oh my God, I’m gonna faint. 
I grasped hard on the rails and held on. 

Bill you can’t faint!
  My little voice inside said to me.

I looked out to sea.  The night sky was overcast and there were no stars.  I could not discern where the sea ended and the sky began.  My feet began to tingle like they had fallen asleep and I felt the entire boat was spinning around in a whirlpool.  The sea and sky swirled about me.

What’s happening?  BILL DON’T FAINT! 
My little voice was now screaming.


I shook my head hard to wake myself up.  I’ve been tired before but never experienced anything like this. 

Am I having a heart attack?  Am I anemic?

My mom had anemia and fainted a couple of years ago.  Could that be it?

I recalled a big Twixx candy bar I had bought that was in the freezer.  I took a deep breath and fought through my light-headedness and made my way to the galley.  For some unexplained reason the candy bar was right on top and easily found.  Thank God I didn’t have to dig for it.  YAHOO!

I ripped open the package and went back up to my perch in the companionway.  I started eating the candy.  I mulled over in my mind what could be going on.  I looked at the tea again.  I so much wanted more tea but I connected the dots that when I drank it that’s when things started to spin and my feet started to tingle.  I recalled the roach powder that I had sprinkled around the galley weeks before.  Could some of that have gotten into the kettle?  Was I poisoning myself?  You think of some crazy things in the darkest hours of the night.  My heart leapt up in my throat from the fear that I had done just that.  I was still dizzy but feeling
better.  I took another bite from the candy bar and poured the tea down the galley sink. 

I blinked through the daze in my head and finished the candy bar.

Some sort of combination between exhaustion, the dark rocking boat, the bright white light of the chartplotter and though I’ve been eating well maybe I’m missing some key nutrients. 
All these things ran through my brain.  The candy seemed to help.  I then remembered a package of dried fruits that I had aboard.  I grabbed that.  That too was easily accessible.  YAHOO!  I began to eat them one by one.  I stood up there in the companionway, trying to make sense of the navigation at hand and ate dried fruits and drank a lot of water.  Slowly my whits came back to me and the dizzyness began to subside.  I stayed awake for the next hour making sure we were clear of all dangers of the nearby islands.

Once past the islands, I radioed Jake and told him what had happened.

“Wow, Dude.  You need to get some rest.  We’ll keep an eye on Solstice while you go back down and sleep,” Jake told me.

I agreed.

“Okay, Solstice, you’re on watch,” I told her.  I make sure to inform Solstice everytime she’s on watch.  I went below and crawled into my bunk.

I continued to jump up briefly every half hour to check on things and Jake and Jackie checked in with my every two hours as we do every night.  By morning I felt normal again.

I don’t know what happened.  I know it was triggered when I sipped on the tea.  Maybe it was too much caffeine on a tired body.  That doesn’t make sense to me but I don’t know.  I know I’ll give that kettle a good washing before I use it again.  All I know is what happened and I thank God, King Neptune and Mother Ocean for keeping me in the game and allowing me to not faint.

As for today and this afternoon I am fully wrapped back into the beauty that has been this crossing.  The wind shifted aft and turned light.  The mainsail and the jib were flogging about with no air.  I felt that the main was blanketing the jib so I took it down and poled out the jib with the whisker pole.  I’ve included a picture.  It took a little while to settle into the groove and trim the sail and find the wind but right now we’re sailing comfortably at 5 knots on a gently rolling sea.  We’ve got 81 nautical miles left to go.  The challenge right now is to not sail too fast as we can’t make landfall in Rarotonga at night.  It’s not a good harbor to go in at night as you have to stern to to the wharf when you tie up.  I also have no desire to hove-too and sit and float around outside the harbor waiting for daylight.  So it’s best to slow down.

I’m will enjoy the rest of this day and after I finish this entry I’m going to pull out my guitar and practice.  I played during day #2 of this crossing.  That was the first time I’ve ever played while underway.  I liked it so much and the conditions are so quiet and dry aboard now that there are no worries about getting it wet.  Also I can sing as loud as I want and not bother anybody.

I may add something later today but I may wait until I’m in port and enjoy the rest of this last afternoon of this crossing at sea.  So my next entry will hopefully come from the safety of being in the harbor in Rarotonga.

Much Aloha,



Wednesday August 31st, 2011
- 14:54 Local Bora Bora time

Day #3 crossing from Bora Bora to Rarotonga

I just turned the computer and there is no wireless connection out here.  Damn.

It blew 17 to 20 knots all night long.  I was able to catch a little more sleep than the night before but that’s because I pulled a 15 hour watch earlier in the day.  I was asleep soon after my head hit the pillow though I’d jump up still every 15 minutes to check that all was well.  Sometimes I’d fall asleep hard and wake up to a my heart jumping into my throat thinking I’d been asleep for a couple of hours only to realize I’d been asleep for only a couple of minutes.  I’d have dreams and everything in that short time.  Very strange.  I’m more than tired right now.  I’m exhausted.  I feel like I’m cramming for one final after another with no break in between.  Maybe I’m a little punch drunk from being exhausted but deep inside I feel fantastic.  The air and the sea out here are pure and clean.  If sunlight had a scent I’d say it smells like that.  I breathe it in and it rejuvenates my soul.  Stratocumulus clouds are scattered across the blue above and streaks of sunshine sparkle and zip across the tops of the waves and disappear over the horizon like meteors made of pure white light.  I feel alive out here.  I’m missing Taylor and Tony today, we all experienced this together when crossing the Pacific, I wish they were here to share it with me again today.

Life’s funny.  Before I began this crossing it was more daunting to me than any of the others for some reason.  I don’t know why, perhaps because of its length.  What I can say is that my opinion has changed about short crossings being harder than longer ones.  That’s not true.  There’s no comparison.  The longer ones are harder.  There are so many variables that make it more difficult.  Exhaustion is compounded by having to sail the boat.  Too often you’re reefing and trimming sails.  Checking systems, making sure the boat is safe.  The list is endless and there’s a fear of overlooking something because of the fatigue.  The days wear on you.  But with each passing day there’s a passion of life and a feeling of being alive that grows bigger every day.  These last three days have been incredible and perhaps my favorite sailing on the trip so far.  Solstice is breathing life back into my soul.  There’s a song called “ Boats” by Kenny Chesney.  The chorus calls them “vessels of freedom”.  We used to put it on the stereo while we were deep in the middle of some nightmare boat project and I found myself cursing the boat more than anything else.  It was always played sarcastically because back then Solstice seemed like a trap more than anything.  She sucked money and life out of me often.  During those times I’d stop and say to Solstice “You know I’ve given you absolutely everything of myself, one of these days you better start giving back.”  Well she is.  And she’s giving back so very much to me.

My soul is bursting with the joy of not just being alive but in being free.  I’ve never been more free in my life.  I think about all the trouble in our world and how is it that I’m out here removed from anything bad?  I’m surrounded by beauty everywhere.  I’m sailing across a sun-drenched sea and I haven’t felt this alive in a very long time.  I am so very fortunate.

I will be glad when this crossing is done and Solstice and I are safe and sound in Rarotonga.  But I know as I’m writing this out here in the middle of the Southern Pacific Ocean that this 500 mile crossing will be a special one that I will always remember with great joy and with the love I have for life.  We all have passion in our hearts.  It’s a huge part of human nature.  It’s a great part.  It can also be a dangerous part.  I think today’s lifestyles cause us to suppress passions and some bury it completely.  That’s when passion or lack of passion turns dangerous.  With no positive release of passion to fill our souls these suppressed feelings are instead released by acts of road rage or some fist fight at a Dodgers game because some guy’s wearing a Giants hat or something equally as silly.  On the global stage wars are started by displaced feelings of passion.  These great feelings of emotions need to come out but need to come out in a positive healthy way.  Whether it’s filling your soul with music, dance, or love for your children and your spouse or by touching the face of nature in a pure way, it’s something our souls need to do.  When we embrace passion in this positive way we see the great beauty that lies in being alive.  Life is meant to be lived, loved and embraced.  We all have hard times, that’s part of life but we have a choice on how to deal with them.  For me the only answer is to breathe in the beauty that this world has to offer and to fill my soul with all that makes me feel alive and rich and then to share that with other people.  For me today, I’ve found it in sailing these last three days in the South Pacific and my heart is full with the beauty of being alive and free.  It’s a beauty in us all that needs to be embraced for us to not just survive but for us to thrive as mankind in a loving, compassionate, passionate healthy way.

Just some thoughts running through my brain while sitting here in the cockpit of Solstice in middle of the South Pacific sailing across the pure beauty that is this ocean.

Much Love and Aloha,



Tuesday August 30th, 2011 - 15:16 Local Bora Bora time

Day #2 crossing from Bora Bora to Rarotonga

When I left Bora Bora yesterday I had a single reef in the mainsail.  For you non-sailors out there a reef point is an area that you can pull the sail down and tie it off so it’s not as big a sail.  Shortening sail or reefing is sailor lingo.  Solstice’s main sail has 3 reef points.  Each one pulls down to make the sail shorter than the last.  As the wind increases you shorten sail to make the boat better balanced to the wind that is blowing.  Solstice needs her first reef in around 17 knots.  It’s usually blowing that down here so I’m often sailing with a single reef in the main all the time.  Anticipating such conditions I put one in before we left.  Of course when you’re ready for it the winds lighten up.  We had anywhere from 5 to 9 knots of breeze yesterday.  I took the reef out early on.  At about midnight the wind shut all the way down.  We motored (I say “we” as Hokule’a  is nearby and we’re trying to stay close) until 07:00.  Then started to sail.  It’s been a glorious day of sailing.  Mostly 11 knots of breeze and a 2 to 3 foot swell.  Perfect.  About three hours ago a squall came through and the wind went up to about 19 knots.  It’s been there since.  So I just had to put a reef in the main.  It’s not hard to do but it’s physical in a boat that’s leaning hard to starboard and burying the rail into the sea.  The seas have been building too.  And I’m working on about 2 ½ hours of sleep from last night.  So I’m extra careful to be mindful and do things slowly and deliberately.  In similar conditions I had to reef the main on my first solo crossing on the way to the Tuamotus.  So, I mulled it over and over for a couple of hours waiting and hoping that the wind would lay down.  It didn’t.  So rather than wait until it becomes unmanageable the time to act was upon me.  I went through all the steps slowly and Solstice has her first reef back in and all is well aboard.  I’m tired and of course once the reef was put in the wind settled back down to about 14 knots.  If I had not put the reef in we’d have about 25 knots now.  That’s just the way it is out here.

But all in all it’s been a fantastic day of sailing.  Solstice is skipping over the seas beautifully and we’re safe, comfortable and grateful for all this day has been.  I went through the charts and where I’ve traveled since Taylor left the boat in the Marquesas.  I calculated out that sometime between 3am and 4am last night I crossed the threshold of logging over 1,000 nautical miles single handing Solstice.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I’m no Laura Dekker but who knows, by the end of this trip I may have logged more solo hours aboard than with crew.  I hope that isn’t the case but you never know.

Right now the sun has about 2 ½ hours before it sets.  My favorite time of day is the 3 hours before and the hour and a half after sunset.  If Tony and Taylor were aboard we’d be having our happy hour beers about now.  No alcohol out here for me while alone but a glass of red wine sounds real nice about now.  That’ll have to wait until Rarotonga.

Okay, I’m going to enjoy the peace of the afternoon and relax.    It’s a gorgeous evening.

Much Aloha,



Monday August 29, 2011 - 14:32 Local Bora Bora time

Day #1 crossing from Bora Bora to Rarotonga

I’m 5 hours into this multi-day crossing.  We motored the first 4 hours.  There is little wind but we’re sailing now.  The anemometer is reading anywhere from 4 to 9 knots of wind.  I’d say it’s mostly around 7 knots.  We’re traveling anywhere from 3.5 to 4.5 knots.  That’s not too bad for a 30,000 lbs. boat.

There is a deep dark purple and a big swell gently passing through at about 10 second intervals.  The sea moves up and down almost as if it were breathing.  I have not seen the ocean this gentle and quiet since we left.  She’s absolutely beautiful today.  There are fist of cumulus clouds sprinkled along the horizon but a deep clear blue sky overhead.  It’s so awesome to be out here sailing again.

The passages; on their own, are a whole other part of cruising.  In a way, it’s my favorite part.  Don’t get me wrong, they are hard, they are much better with crew and as daunting as this leg has been it is magical to be out here.  And to be out here alone offers a unique fortitude.  The only sounds I hear are the lapping of the sea as it rushes past the hull, the creaking of sheets and lines and the occasional rustling of the sails spilling wind and filling up again.  The sea is vast.  It is humbling and she is in control.  The sailor who thinks otherwise is a dangerous sailor.  The sea pulls you in.  It connects you and grounds you.  As I look to the Northeast in the direction of home I know I’m upon the same sea that washes up on the shores of Redondo.  It brings me home.  It is home.

Bora Bora is very low on the horizon and soon she will disappear from view.  I don’t know when I’ll ever get back to that island.  I’m fine with that.  It’s time to move forward, to see new things and meet new people on this journey.  I have decided to embrace this incredible opportunity here before me.  To live for all I can and to be as connected to the ocean, the earth, my friends and family all at the same time.  It is great to be out here and it is great to be sailing.  Even if we’re only moving at 4.5 knots.

It’s time to put the computer away, relax a little and enjoy the afternoon hours.  I may even pull out the guitar and sing a song.  After all it’s only me out here, oh and the sea.

Much Aloha,


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Solstice Log