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Thread: Molli's Misadventures

  1. #11
    Good golly Miss Molli!

    Randall has had his hand full!

  2. #12
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Molli Marches On


    Day 106

    Noon Position: 42 48S 88 01E

    Course/Speed: E6 Wind: SW20 – 30

    Bar: 1021 Sea: SW15

    Sky: Overcast

    Cabin Temp: 57

    Sea Temp: 53

    Miles Last 24 hours: 167 Longitude Made Good: 112

    Total Miles: 14,460

    Not too long ago the best weather forecast one could get at sea was from his barometer. And without a satellite link or single sideband radio, that is essentially what I’ve been reduced to. The barometer will tell you that change is a-comin, but with what intensity and from what direction—on these topics, it is more or less mum. When one is used to full-color wind charts for his quadrant for every hour out for five days, the barometer’s silence is deafening. Actually, I’m not entirely blind. Tony Gooch is tracking wind and systems for me. And based on his input, I’ve been pushing hard to get north and above the heart of a quickly intensifying low from the west whose winds were forecast in the 40s.

    I turned northeast just after noon yesterday in winds to 30 knots and NW. All day I spent in getting ready. I taped-up the electronics cabinets against possible water intrusion and anything sensitive got put in plastic bags. I pumped Mo’s bilges, of which we have four, and drained the water from the sleeve into which slides the companionway hatch. I secured anything that might fly. On deck I got the storm jib ready, put the high wind paddle on Monte, and secured lines. In the late afternoon I took a long nap; then got up just before sundown and studied the swell. It wasn’t much. Northwest at 12, maybe. But not steep nor breaking. Still, I tried to make a plan fo when the westerly set in. Winds had increased to 35 and gusting higher, so I dropped the main. Dinner was left over curry, better the day after, and a beer. Then I waited.

    The night was dirty with rain and low cloud. Slowly the winds tracked into the west, and at 8pm the sky broke clear and clean. Low cumulus raced under a bright moon and the sea was black and slick, a giant expanse of crude oil. Now winds intensified into the high 30s with frequent pushes of 40, but the steepness and break of the wave train did not. I rolled the working jib up to the size of a snot rag and went to bed. Each time I rose, things were the same. I slept until daylight. Wind was still high. Seas were large and confused but still lacked the speed and meanness I had feared. Winds began to ease by noon and I set a course to the east. And that was it.

    Why this low of similar strength and duration had such different sea-state characteristics, I can’t say. But grateful, without a drogue, I feel I’ve lost one important tactic in my survival quiver and it’s put me on edge. One low down. 2600 miles to Hobart.


    Day 104

    Noon Position: 44 53S. 81 50E

    Course/Speed: NE5 Wind: NW13

    Bar: 1023 Sea: NW4

    Sky: Overcast

    Cabin Temp: 61

    Sea Temp: 50

    Miles last 24 hours: 107 Longitude Made Good: 92

    Total Miles: 14,136

    Slowly we drifted northeast, the twin headsails filling and folding in an endless cycle timed to the swell. The night sky, its moon sunk long ago, darkened to reveal its dimmer, more outward secrets. The Milky Way, so bright you could see it bending and twisting, a cosmic river flowing from one horizon to the other. The only sound, the soft crumpling of sails and a very slight tinkling at Mo’s bow. I woke because something had changed. Usually it’s obvious—a heightening of the “hooooar” in the rigging or a more urgent motion as Mo rounds into the swell. Tonight there was no clue, just something, and when I came on deck, I found Mo had turned to the southeast, following the wind as it moved into the north. I should drop the poles and ready Mo for a reach, full main and big genoa, I thought.

    The deck was slick with dew; the sails dripped, their rivulets glistening. The sea, so empty, save a man and a boat. The sky, so full. The sails can wait, we won’t lose but a mile or two. I made a cup of cocoa and sat to watch until dawn. Which, as it turns out, was about an hour away. I thought I’d come on deck at 2am, but I’ve not been careful about ship’s time these last weeks, and, more importantly, I’ve been enjoying being 12 hours opposite of home.

    Some days ago, back around 58E we passed the southern ocean halfway mark between home and home again. Somehow being exactly the other side of the world from my wife and family makes them feel closer than not quite exactly the other side; somehow being 12 hours away feels more intimate, more connected than 11 hours. So, I’ve been reticent to move the clock.

    Tonight there will be no stars. The wind came up in the afternoon and with it, an uneven cloud that now races in front of a yellow moon. Mo carries this wind on the beam and as it has risen, I have reefed, once, twice, and … and still Mo plows the water like there is someplace to be. Someplace other than sailing an endless sea.


    Day 103

    Noon Position: 45 20S. 79 33E Course/Speed: NE5 Wind: WSW 11 Bar: 1030 Sea: SW 8 Sky: Overcast Cabin Temp: 56 Water Temp: 52

    Miles Last 24 hours: 148 Longitude Made Good: 135 Total Miles: 14,029

    “The guys have been great,” said my wife in a message, “Every time something happens to you, one or more of them will check in with me to make sure I’m OK and give me their technical advice on next steps and strategies. It’s like I have a whole squad of Expert Uncles.”

    So, a shout out to the Figure 8 Expert Uncles. It’s nice to know you’re there for Jo. Thanks for the support.

    Traveling over large bodies of water, slowly, for months warps one’s sense of distance. I think of Hobart, our target port of call, as right around the corner, a mere 20 days or so of easting. But a glance at chart plotter shows it to be 2,893 miles away, further than a sail from Hawaii to San Francisco; further than a flight from San Francisco to New York. It feels close. It’s not close. Especially when that 2,893 miles are Indian Ocean miles. Which is why I’m trending northeast.

    It seems only a matter of time before another low like last week’s rolls through, and without a drogue, I’m feeling exposed. Getting some north in should give me options when the time comes. However, I’ve been too aggressive and have run us clean out of wind. The bar currently stands at 1029, down a tick from noon, but still very high, and winds have trailed off to a mere 6 knots true. I have the twins polled out wide, like great, white nets, but they catch only the wandering puff of air, and in the interim, they whap and bang in the small swell.

    Suddenly the sky is a desert sky; the cumulus clouds are infantile, translucent for lack of heft; there are mares tails to the west, but they are whisps. Most birds, knowing where the wind lives, have abandoned the scene. The moon and the sun dominate. The sunset was tropical fire.

    We make 3 knots.

    Since our re-entry to the civilized world seems imminent, I’ve begun bathing again. It’s been too cold or too rough or both to contemplate otherwise. Heck, I never take the sock cap off. Heaven forbid I get my head wet. But today I boiled water and gave head and beard a good scrub. And now I smell sweet as roses. Amen.

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  3. #13
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    Hobart On The Horizon

    Day 116 (56 days since Ushuaia)

    Noon Position: 44 08S. 119 51E

    Course/Speed: E7

    Wind: WSW25+

    Miles last 24 hours: 168

    Longitude Made Good: 152

    Total Miles: 15,948

    Miles to Hobart: 1240

    Quick report tonight as the day has been long and the night may be … eventful.

    Wind swung into the WSW today and went to 25+. At noon I switched to the twin headsails poled out and we’ve been running before fast, squally weather ever since. Seas are running high due to winds further south, so Mo is a bit of a roller coaster ride. Winds have come up to 30 tonight, so I don’t know where this is going; thus the need to stay “on watch.”

    This afternoon I performed more engine tests and found seawater in the crankcase oil (by boiling it on the stove and watching for bubbles). So, did an oil and filter change that took until after sundown due to Mo jumping around like an electrocuted cat. But we make good easting, for which I am happy.


    Day 114

    Noon Position: 44 08S 113 31E

    Course/Speed: E7

    Wind: NW18

    Bar: 1016

    Sky: Overcast, though clear till noon

    Sea: NW5–big roller coming in from somewhere

    Cabin Temp: 64 Sea Temp: 53

    Miles last 24 hours: 169

    Longitude Made Good: 164

    Total Miles: 15,653

    Miles to Hobart: 1513

    When you have the opportunity to see your wife some 1500 miles on, you do the distance math…a lot. Wind machines, that are slow by nature, and schedules aren’t a good match. Much could go right, and wrong. In the 17 days since Mo lost her port pilot house window, we’ve made 2309 miles of easting for an average run of 136 miles a day. This is somewhat below our 139 mile-a-day average from Ushuaia to now; winds have been lighter up here at 44S than down at 47S. It’s also nominally below the 137 miles a day we need to average in order to arrive Hobart on the 19th. Any way you slice it, it’s a close run thing. Which is why as winds eased today, I went for the big guns, that being the big genoa and full main…wind on the beam, 7 knots.

    I am largely happy with the foods I’ve packed aboard Mo. Over a hundred days on, the dishes are still appetizing, though there are only four breakfast recipes and five for dinner. This could be due to the fact that, in the case of dinner, curry paste, chicken stock and butter added to any recipe make it a winner. But they are winners. There have been some exceptions, however. At home, I enjoy Quinoa and so featured it in one recipe, whose quantity required I pack aboard 40 pounds of that grain. I don’t know why except that it is simply a matter of taste. I found for that recipe that I preferred Polenta, of which until this week, I hadn’t even opened the first bag. brought but 15 pounds (stocked up in Ushuaia).

    Yesterday I forced myself to use the Quinoa. Bingo. Now it’s a favorite. De gustibus non disputandum. Another example is Soylent, one of the very generous Figure 8 sponsors. I have aboard enough Soylent for one meal a day, a favorite easy meal for me. But, I’ve not been taking advantage as often as I anticipated due, I finally figured out, to friction in the process. It was the bag, which can be messy to open and scoop from on a boat bouncing six ways from Sunday. The fix occurred last week: transfer the powder to a separate container with its own scoop! Simple. And I’ve had Soylent every day since!


    Day 113

    Noon Position: 44 30S. 109 43E

    Course/Speed: ENE7

    Wind: NW18

    Bar: 1018

    Sky: Clear: cloud front windward

    Sea: NW3

    Cabin Temp: 58

    Sea Temp: 51

    Miles last 24 hours: 132

    Longitude Made Good: 125

    Total Miles: 15,484

    Miles to Hobart: 1673

    Light winds overnight—from the southwest until early morning, and then gently they swung into the northwest and stayed light. I rose every hour and a half. Each time there was more south in our course. Finally at 4am it was too much south. I dressed, had a snack, and then swapped the headsails—larger genoa to starboard, smaller to port. And off we raced east. Wind kept its migration into the north as the day matured, and by noon we were back to main and the working jib. Average speed, 7 knots.

    Yesterday I did an inventory of beer and wine aboard, this for Oz customs, who apparently don’t mind my having a liberal supply of both…as long as they know how much that is. One locker reserved for beer is the ice box in the galley. It’s long term storage—I don’t go in there much. Upon lifting the lid, I noted a peculiar smell, a smell very unlike the malty, hoppy odors left over from a can that exploded in the tropics, though those were present as well. This odor had a spicy quality to it reminiscent of the aftershave splash my dad favored, pleasant enough on its own but not the best accompaniment to stale malt and hops. Some digging turned up a disfigured and desiccated Old Spice deodorant stick sans lid that had wedged between two bottles of Cape Horn Lager. Aha! One mystery solved. How did it get in there?

    One thing that is coming home to me is just how far Mo went over during the knockdown that blew out her port window. This icebox lid, for example, came off. That’s no mean feat. The lid is about a foot long and a foot wide and six six inches deep, and under normal circumstances, it takes two hands lifting straight up to unseat it. But I recall looking into the galley after we righted. Mostly I saw water sloshing everywhere, but there too was the icebox lid tipped up against a cupboard. (Luckily nothing came out as much of what it contains is glass.) This can only mean that for a brief moment, Mo was well past 90 degrees over, and I’m beginning to suspect that we weren’t simply slammed over by a breaker but actually were pushed off the top of a sea and fell into the trough.

    In my estimation, only that kind of force could have blown out the window, leaving nothing but shards around the rim. And unbeknownst to me, as Mo fell, a red stick of deodorant flew from the head and across the boat to the galley, where it collided with a cupboard, which separated it from its lid. The lid fell behind the stove and the stick did a hole-in-one into the icebox, neither to be found for days and days. Which begs a curious question: what is a solo sailor doing with deodorant aboard anyway?


    Day 112 (Day 52 since Ushuaia)

    Noon Position: 44 16S 106 50E

    Course/Speed: E6

    Wind: SSW15

    Bar: 1015

    Sea: SW8

    Sky: Clear, Cumulus: look like Tradewind weather

    Cabin Temp: 56

    Sea Temp: 51

    Miles last 24 hours: 143

    Longitude Made Good: 116

    Total Miles: 15,352

    Miles to Hobart: 1800. I need to average 138 miles/day in order to arrive Hobart in time to see my wife, who arrives on the 19th.

    Weather building. It started on the 4th. At first NW 20, then 25, then 30. By 6am on the 5th winds had gone 30 plus, at which point I opened our course up from E to SE to make the ride more comfortable. I’ll ease back up on the coming W and SW winds, I thought, winds I anticipated any moment. But the bar kept dropping. 1007, 1005, 1004; every hour or two, down a point. And then the wind veered into the N, as high as 350 true. Now, instead of a SE course for comfort, I was locked in. I couldn’t point any higher without taking a building, toppling swell dead on the beam. And we were racing, a steady seven knots on a double reefed working jib and a three-reef main.

    After sundown, wind increased to the high 30s gusting 40. I dropped the main. Bar down to 1002. By 11pm there was more 40 than 30 in the wind. Bar down to 1001.I rolled in the working jib until it looked like something you could fold up and put in your pocket. Swell had built to a steep and sloshy 8 or 10 feet, but was nothing serious if left on the quarter. After a time I figured this was the max we’d get; Mo was riding fine, so I started sleeping. An hour later the radar alarm woke me. “Targets in your guard zone,” it said. Nothing but sea clutter, I thought. But before I could check, I noticed was Mo was off course. The chart plotter showed her heading due north, and her turn on the screen was sharp. A glance at the wind indicator showed wind still 40 and still on port, but now the direction was not 350T but 210T; from nearly north to nearly south—same velocity, in about an hour. Then I noticed pounding. Now we were pushing into the NW sea. Our speed, 3 knots. I had to gybe around.

    On deck, things were wild. Mo jumped and kicked like a wild mustang. Sea spray and rain flew every which way. It took an hour to move the sheets from starboard to port; roll in the jib; gybe, and unroll it again, simple work when you don’t need to hold on with both hands and feet. I kept checking the wind indicator because I simply couldn’t believe wind could do a one-eighty like that and hold its punch. Indicator kept reading 40. Gybe complete I came below and waited.

    By 3am winds were down to 30-35, so I called it a watch and started sleeping again. In the morning, blue sky filled with tropical cumulus and a sea full of birds, prions, storm petrels, albatross. And the sea itself, a lumpy, heaving, chaos of opposing swell. But by afternoon it was all over. As I type, wind is coming into the west at 10 knots. I have the twin headsails out full, and we make 5 knots on flat (for the south) water.
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  4. #14
    St Paddies in Hobart?

  5. #15
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Holed Up In Hobart

    Editor's Note: Molli in now tucked in, safe and sound in Hobart, It's been a trying adventure thus far and skipper
    Randall Reeves gives an update on landfall in trying conditions:

    March 21, 2018

    Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, Hobart

    All day we ride due east on brisk northwesterlies, which Mo takes beam-on with double reefs. Hour after hour she froths the sea, giving off a sense of intention, as if she too understands the urgency. Tony has made it clear we are racing a large and strong low pressure system–“Westerlies to 45 knots and up; at your current rate, you are five hours ahead;” and later “given your progress, you should be under Tasmania’s South East Cape two hours before the weather turns.”

    And what Tony did not say, the barometer did. For days it has been dropping a point at every log entry, reminding of the sailor’s proverb, “short notice, soon past; long foretold, long last.”

    I want no part of it and feel pleased we are outrunning this final Indian Ocean gale. Only 70 miles to Mewstone Rocks, a nothing compared with where we’d started. In the evening I take photos of the sunset, have a beer and a slow dinner of beef hash and potatoes. I think about Hobart; the pleasure of meeting my wife at the airport.

    9pm. The wind eases dramatically and turns northeast. Suddenly we are making but five knots with full sail and are close hauled in a sloppy sea. I start the engine to give us an extra knot. Situation stable, I decide to take a quick nap. The landfall will be rugged and met in the dark. This is my only chance for sleep.

    I wake with Mo laying right over. In the pilot house, the gauge reads NNW 35 knots with long pulls of 40. I kill the engine and douse the main in a hurry, then triple reef the working jib. We charge on, close reaching, slanting up for the Cape. Slowly we pass pulsing Needle Rocks light and then are under Mewstone Rocks, unseen.

    At 2am the South East Cape light begins to bob. We are well over the continental shelf now. Seas are racing short and steep. Mo shovels water high into the air; immediately it is swept beyond the range of her running lights. I am standing in the cockpit, knees braced and holding the rail with both hands; head under the dodger for some protection from the bullet-spray. This is the most secure place on deck. Still, and for the first time, I am compelled to clip in here. The gauge shows winds to 45 knots.

    4am. Dawn. Wind howls in the rigging. A diabolical sky, as dark and heavy as the sea, so low it feels barely above the mast-head. The Cape, a black, evil-looking smudge too far too windward, our goal, D’Entrecasteaux Channel, a tight squeeze on this tack.

    I remember my fear at the Cook Bay entrance in Tierra del Fuego. There the landfall was lee, right below the westerlies, and the challenge being that, once committed, there was no turning back. Here, the opposite. Here the headland is decidedly up wind. A mistake means being swept out to sea.

    5am. We need to hurry. To the north and west I can see the front carrying the long foretold westerlies, a single roll of low cloud extending from the Cape to the horizon, a giant, inverted wave; behind this, a solid wall of gray extends from sea to sky. But we are behind the weight of Tasmania now. Seas are still a mass of confusion, but smaller by half. We’re still on time.

    Mo begins to open D’Entrecasteaux Channel. I can just make out the western headlands, and its eastern border, South Bruny Island and Tasman Head.

    Suddenly the wind shifts into the NE, straight down D’Entrecasteaux, without losing any of its strength. And with it the sea changes direction, pushing in a rush through the channel and stacking up as it exits. Now our goal, a mere 6 miles north, is a dead beat in gale-force winds. Mo is still flying a deeply reefed working jib, and our new course, I see, puts us far below D’Entrecasteaux; even Tasman Head and Storm Bay are now up wind. I need more drive, a seeming impossibility in these conditions.

    I douse the working jib and raise the hanked-on staysail. With the boat awash, it’s slow work. I’m on all fours or seated with legs wrapped around rigging. Finally the sail flies, but the result is no better. Mo can’t develop enough speed; each sea sets her bow back, heaving the boat bodily southward. We need more drive if we have any hope of raising the land.

    I throw triple reefs into the mainsail and haul away, but before I can pull the halyard taught, it fouls in the mast steps. I free it and try again. It fouls again. With the main partly up, I have to climb the mast fifteen feet to grab the line. Boat movement is extreme; keeping hold of the halyard and mast, difficult. I lower the sail and try again. And again. Each time, same result. We are losing ground fast. The great wall of cloud is approaching. I’m running out of ideas.

    Gerry Clark in The Totorore Voyage recounts being blown off a southern ocean island in just such a gale and having to motor the 60 miles back. It took him three days. This, I decide, is my last option. I start the engine, but instead of pounding directly into the sea coming down D’Entrecasteaux, I turn Mo northwest, taking it slantwise. This heading is just south and west of the Cape. If I can tuck in under the landmass, I reason, the land will block sea and wind, and I can make for the channel by coasting along the cliffs.

    To my surprise, Mo can do this. It’s a crawl, but within two hours we are under the headland. There the wind is still strong, but without any fetch, the sea is flattening. We are nearly kissing the black rocks of the Cape when I turn Mo north toward safety. The front is now here, the great rolling wave in the sky right overhead. The northeast wind dies right away. A heavy rain. Astern I see a whiteness rushing toward us at water-top and in a moment we are slammed. The westerlies have arrived. But they are too late. We are sliding behind the protection of South East Cape. We’ve made it.

    Inside the weather is sunny and bright. The gale is entirely stopped by the western mountains, the great wall of cloud and its falling mist creating a rainbow high above green forests and smooth sand beaches. We motor slowly north to a divot in the channel called Lady Bay. Anchor down in 25 feet at 2:30pm. I spend an hour cleaning; have an early dinner and am asleep by sundown.

    Mo departed Ushuaia, Argentina on January 12th; arrived South East Cape, Tasmania on March 18th; 63 days; 8,500 miles; four lows of Force 8 and 9; three knockdowns; rail bent; window smashed; water-logged electronics. Still safe. One tough boat is Mo!

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  6. #16
    Time to rest, get repairs done and have some wombat stew!

  7. #17
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    What follows is the video story of the Indian Ocean knockdowns that bent Moli’s starboard rail and shattered her pilothouse window. The gale that precipitated the knockdowns occurred between the Crozets and Kerguelen Islands at latitude 46 south on February 18, 2018. A written report sent-in the day after via the Garmin InReach can be found here.

    The video was recorded three days after the incident, by which time Mo and I had mostly recovered. The weather had turned fair; we were back underway and making fast easting. That said, nearly all the electronics remained offline, and I was still picking glass from corners of the pilot house. I also had no idea where we were headed.

    The knock down busted some glass, bent the rail and shattered the solar panel.

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  8. #18
    I wonder if the hacksaw on the rail created more problems down the road?

  9. #19
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    Molli Headed Home

    After substantial time spent in Hobart getting Molli repaired, Randall Reeves had a grand new plan:

    The New Plan

    Mo and I will depart for San Francisco non-stop in mid-April and should sail under the Golden Gate Bridge as early as middle June.

    I then plan to begin the Figure 8 route all over again in September of this year.

    When I arrive home, I will have completed a solo circumnavigation of some 25,000 miles via the Southern Ocean and in two stops—not so remarkable except that it may be the longest shakedown cruise in history.

    Yet, nothing worth doing is ever easy and once again, gremlin rear their ugly heads:

    Day 125 (Day 1 of this leg)

    Noon Position: 44.00S 150.46E

    Course/Speed: ESE7

    Wind: N20

    Bar: 1014 and falling

    Sea: N4

    Sky: Scattered cloud and haze

    Cabin Temperature: 69

    Water Temperature: 60

    Sail: Working headsail, one reef; Main, one reef

    Noon to Noon Miles Made Good: 145

    Miles this leg: 145

    Avg. Miles this leg: 145

    Miles since departure: 17,400

    Down the River Derwent toward the sea goes Mo. We are motoring in the company of friends, who will see us as far as their weekend mooring. The day is bright, warm, windless. The water is glass and the trees along the shore show the burnt oranges of deep autumn. Just last week there was snow on Mount Wellington and a hard, cold wind on the bay. Now it is Indian Summer; a high caps the entire island.

    Some hours out, I look into the pilot house and see that the chart plotter has gone black. I attempt to power it up, but get nothing. I reboot the whole system. Nothing. I check power to the device and get the expected voltage, but still the unit is dead.

    My heart sinks. This happens as we are departing?

    To be fair, the chart plotter bore the brunt of the deluge that immediately followed the last, worst knockdown. For a few seconds, it was entirely under water. But in the intervening months, it had shown no sign of being the least bothered by the dunking. It had worked without a flicker through that disaster and on every day since.

    By now it is late, and I opt to take a mooring in my friends’ private bay while I work through the problem. There I get Phil Sandman on the phone. “Was the fuse box also underwater during the knockdown? If so, check for a corroded fuse. It’ll be blown but not entirely and may be passing volts but no current.”

    I had checked this at sea, had pulled the fuses, cleaned them, had oiled the connectors, but they’d not made the shore list because, like the chart plotter, they’d worked every day since. Now they are indeed corroded, and the chart plotter fuse is indeed blown but not entirely. I replace all the fuses from my spares kit.

    At first light Mo and I are off again, motoring down Storm Bay.

    South of Tasman Island, I notice that most of my AIS ship targets have disappeared, and when I try to raise TAS Maritime on the radio, I get only silence, though I can hear them clearly. A check of an AIS tracking site shows I fell off their page earlier in the day.

    A week ago we did a full shakedown and tested everything. How can this be?

    “Remember, you beat the boat up pretty badly,” Dustin had said the week before. “You’ve had the mast-top in the sea at least twice; you filled the cabin with water. You may be working through knockdown issues for months.” I continue southeast for two hours running checks that tell me nothing good and contemplating a 9,000-mile passage without radio or AIS.

    At six o’clock, I turn back. “I’m returning to Hobart with technical problems,” I say when I raise the customs man, David, on the phone, “and may need two days to effect repairs.” “Understood,” he says. “I know your case details. Keep me up to date as work progresses.” That is all.

    Mo has lines out to Constitution Dock by eleven.

    Next morning, Darryl Ridgeway is tapping on Mo’s hull before I’ve finished breakfast. “Saw you come in on that tracker of yours! How can we miss you if you won’t go away?”

    Darryl immediately runs me into town for a spare fuse block and a new VHF antenna. In the afternoon, I meet John and Steve and wives Dee and Hellen, who have brought their boats to Constitution Dock for the weekend. John and Steve spend the rest of the day helping me install the new equipment. We are done in time to visit a local brewery and toast a second departure attempt, and then Dee makes dinner for all of us.

    In the morning I buy meat pies and fresh bread and vegetables with my pile of coins, and once again admire a town I’ve come to love. So like my home, but smaller and manageable; so rich in history; such beautiful sailing grounds; such delightful people, if only they wouldn’t mumble so.

    Then down the River Derwent toward the sea goes Mo. We are motoring, alone this time. The day is bright, warm, windless. The water is glass and the trees along the shore still show the burnt oranges of deep autumn. The same high is still parked over Tasmania. But the chart plotter is solid now; the AIS shows targets upwards of 20 miles away.

    We are far south of Tasman Island by sundown, still motoring in calm, and even 20 miles off I can pick up the island’s white light.

    After midnight, a wind comes out of the northeast. I raise sails, switch off the motor, and with that we have departed Tasmania.

    The morning is gray and chill. Winds are now 20 out of the northeast. We’ve long since sunk Tasmania, though briefly I think I can smell it on the breeze. Mo shoulders along on a reach at 7 knots and better.

    I have slept well and dreamt hard, but I have not avoided the blue funk of departure. There is too much I already miss about Hobart–where I was comfortable, warm, and Mo did not throw my coffee across the cabin–and too long to the comforts of home.

    Why did I commit to a difficult return to San Francisco only to then restart the Figure 8 when I could have spent a winter slowly gunkholing around Tasmania?

    Today I do not have a good answer.

    The route home is long and complicated. It runs the westerlies south of New Zealand, making sure to avoid both the Traps Islands on the one hand and the Snares Islands on the other; then on it presses east and north a bit until roughly the longitude of Tahiti. There it makes a full turn due north and weaves a maze of tropical islands. In the southeast trades at last, the on-the-wind slog begins in earnest and won’t end until well north of Hawaii; then the route passes clockwise over the North Pacific High and runs slantwise to the southeast and down to San Francisco Bay.

    From 48 South to as much as 40 North; through two trade wind belts and two of Horse Latitudes, across the doldrums and around the big Pacific high.

    9,000 miles.

    That’s the leg home.

    Thank you again to all my friends in Hobart. To Captain John Solomon, Darryl and Ursula Ridgeway, Zane, Sally, John, Steve and Hellen, John and Dee Deegan, Phil Sandman, to Sonia in the office and Bosun Anthony at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and to all those I am forgetting. Thanks for making it so hard to leave.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  10. #20
    Better to have tried and failed then never tried at all!

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