Plowing the surf.
I need a haircut!
Leaving from? Going to?
We’re into day 4. As I settle in this new routine, I looked at the video I posted right before sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. I now see that I was fairly stressed out. In fact I was also tired because of two difficult nights before. I carried on this stress for the first two days. I now feel better, although I also realize how long this voyage will be, if it is to be successful. For now that is okay with me. Of course life on the boat is demanding. It’s always moving always noisy. And there are always risks involved such as hurricane Marie. There will be highs and lows and highs again! Such is life … This morning to help center my mind I did 5 minutes of Tai chi. Similarly I did a few push-ups and squats to keep the body moving. It is well known that sailors have skinny legs. I listen to music often. And I do spend a lot of time on my phone to communicate, run weather routing exercises, look at forecast, and generally check how certain boat systems are working.
A special note
Yes it takes a lot of strength to watch your dad or husband leave for such a crazy adventure as the one I have chosen. I am blessed to have these two wonderful women in my life. Joëlle is having to do some heavy lifting with communication management. And Luna is growing up a fine young woman. So this is just a special note to send my thanks to both of you. And to my mother, for whom this must also be a difficult transition. It’s all worth it.
I also want to say my thanks to the folks who donated to my GoFundMe campaign over the past few days. I know there are many causes and projects vying for your financial support, and so this is all the more especially meaningful to me. Marc, Daniel, Jacqueline, Keith, Shane, thank you!
I’m sorry but I do not have access to my regular emails, nor to my website management interface. So I do not see comments to Facebook posts, or to my blog posts, except what Joëlle finds the time to relay to me. The problem is that my communication tool at sea is satellite-based, and it has a very restricted bandwith capability. I cannot allow it to be bogged down with data to download because it plays such a critical role for me.
An attitude of gratitude, Inc.
Besides the help of many individuals, during the preparation of Changabang, I reached out to a few companies to help me with certain aspects of the preparation. I did not get sponsored per se. Most companies charged me for some of their services. But all of these were supportive, and more or less financially attractive. The only exception is APSU, who provides free of charge the necessary multivitamin to support a fully freeze dried nutrition plan. My thanks to Nick! PredictWind is also a great supporter, providing their professional package and the tracking system, free of charge. My thanks to Nick again (not the same). There’s Backpacker’s Pantry, from whom I acquired the freeze dried food at a fair discount. My thanks to Drew! There’s Hammer Nutrition, who provided a fueling plan, electrolytes and fuel drinks at a fair discount. My thanks to Ginger. More to come … There’s no particular order here, just in case your name hasn’t come up yet 😀
Ah, right! We’re sailing! I’ve got the big spinnaker up. Forecast was showing 12 kts of wind so I felt confident keeping it up for the night. Well, I’m seeing 16-18 kts! Let’s hope all is good until tomorrow morning. I saw a top speed of 13.5 kts. With swell and increased boat speed we surf often. We’re regaining the westing we lost when I gybed South, quickly! This may be a good thing as there’s a possibility that the remnants of Marie will move more West as ECMWF had forecast. That’s all for now. I’ll try to attach a picture later.
Let’s talk about the most pressing things on my mind. Sailing and weather. Darn it, I am disappointed. After gybing to go South, I found myself sailing deep on a COG of about 170 degrees true. Then the sun set and magically we were doing 190. I was so excited. Such a stud to have guessed my gybe so perfectly. But that was only temporary as you can see from my track. In addition, I am still a chicken when it comes to spinnakers. If you happen to have followed my race in the SHTP, you’ll know that my sail plan for the downwind run was a chicken’s chicken spinnaker. Now it worked great at that time. Here I do need to man up a little and start flying the big spinnaker. I suppose we’ll try that tomorrow. Marie continues to move to cross our track, hopefully behind us. I will continue to monitor weather forecast to ensure that I stay out of trouble. It would be nice to be close enough to benefit from good winds. What happens after Marie is very much unknown at this time. I need to cross the doldrums. And that is always a conundrum, from what I read.
I do not have a great galley aboard Changabang. It’s only freeze-dried food and a jet-boil stove. But the night before leaving I did pick up four bags of chips. So today I indulged in half of one. And I also had a few Carmelita bars. I had one of those too, in fact two. Boat systems are working fine so far. The only troublesome piece of equipment appears to be my primary cell phone, whose battery seemed to not want to hold a charge. Tomorrow is my daughter Luna’s birthday. It is sad not to be with her and my wife to celebrate on the day. But we did have a little party the night before leaving. I am amazed at how they both are supporting what I am doing.
Attitude of gratitude
Continuing on this chapter, which I started in the last blog post, I would like to mention the team at Seven Seas Yacht Transport. They managed the shipping of Changabang from Antwerp to San Diego, at a price that was significantly more accessible than other boat transporters. They did a fantastic job as well. Speaking of San Diego, I need to remember how great Lee Johnson, the Silver Gate Yacht Club and Rob Tryon were. Lee provided a base and much more. Thanks to him, Rob and the SGYC, the preparation of Changabang for her first sail in the Pacific Ocean went flawlessly.
Well if there’s a wind shift, it’d better be coming soon 🌬️ Fair winds and following seas.
It’s is the end of the second night as I write this. Aside from the obvious concern of hurricane Marie, the conditions have been extraordinarily practical. The wind has been strong on the beam in the first leg, allowing us to do good speed. Then, yesterday early in the evening, thanks to the advise of my sailing friends, I have put up the A5 spinnaker, and again we are moving swiftly. One of the hardest thing for a sailor is being in very light wind, and you can make that situation worse by adding a good strong swell. In those conditions, it is really hard to get a sailboat moving. And the sailor will try and try and try until exhaustion, all the while making tiny progress. This is likely to happen many times. But for now we’re happily gliding. Just like last night I have been lying down in my bunk, not yet getting good sleep. Other daily activities such as eating, drinking, and using the infamous bucket, are going well. I do however already long for a shower.
I have started to keep a job list. I noticed that the Windex windvane atop the mast was off center. This likely means that a screw has come undone, and I’m likely to lose it unless I go up the mast, which considering the situation is unlikely to happen as I need to keep moving to try and beat Marie. It does mean that I will find myself without a windvane but there will be alternatives to that. I do not have a backup however. I think the accumulated stress over the past months is slowly making way for other emotions, slowly. On other news fronts, I am happy to report one additional donation on my GoFundMe campaign. Thank you! I have received friendly support from different companies out there, but for the most part I am self-funded. I had to dig deep to get started, and that was still by working with a shoestring budget, considering the magnitude of this grand sailing project. So, all that to say, that I would welcome additional donations if you can spare some change: www.gofundme.com/SF2SF
An attitude of gratitude
I will try to thank the long list of folks who have helped me along the way. Looking at the history of this adventure, I will start by sending my thanks to Christian Dumard. Although a Westward circumnavigation from San Francisco had been thought of before, it had not occurred in my mind and Christian was (to me) the one who suggested this course. I had plenty of conversations about the general plan with different people after that. But if my memory serves me right (which is not a given) Christian planted the seed. And he continues to help me when possible. I also would like to thank Jean-Francois Mazan, a French entrepreneur who owns the dry storage place where Changabang was waiting for her next owner. Besides being a wonderful gentleman, he put me at ease with the transaction, which was a major decision and financial burden. During the search and purchase of a vessel for this project, I had on my side Bill Lee, whose vast experience was tremendously helpful to help me manage the uncertainties of buying a new to me boat. I bugged his ears more than was reasonable, and he was always friendly and helpful. I thank him very much for working with me.
What comes next?
Considering that I am trying to go southwest towards Torres Strait, the optimum path will likely be to sail just in front and on the west side of hurricane Marie. This involves managing the forecast, and making routing decisions. I am likely to continue on this course until Saturday, at which point I will gybe to finally make some progress South. That’s all for now.
So far I feel lucky. There has been good wind on the beam allowing me to make great progress. Things are slowing down a little bit, but I’ve been spoiled so it’s all good. I do need to think about sail changes as it feels like I am in cruising mode with the full mainsail and the genoa. We are starting to get some surf even though the wind is lighting up. Although I lay down for the night I did not get any real sleep. I am also a little queazy as usual in the first few days. Emotionally things are a bit of a whirlwind, including the uncertainty of hurricane Marie’s track. I think I will carry on a similar course as suggested by PredictWind. The full moon was a beautiful sight! Back to work 🙂
Ouch, things did not go according to forecast! Coming out off Pillar Point Harbor I had 15-20 kts of wind, a bit of a (well necessary) wake up call! It allowed me to save on fuel. Then the wind slowly decreased. The tacking practice/rehearsal was well worth it!
It’s still a go
It is not an easy call but I’ve decided to carry on. Routing does show that I should be able to skirt hurricane Marie to the North. I consulted a few friends in sailing, and made my decision. Time will tell! I’m now waiting on the East side of the Golden Gate Bridge, drifting with the incoming flood, with flies bugging me. And longing for yet another last proper meal. Let’s hope all this works out well in the end. Thank you to all those who supported me on my way to here. The list is long, I’m here all thanks to you. I’ll be back!