D-38, Anxiety level going up

I’m not where I wish I’d be by now. There are many things that are incomplete, each generating their own level uncertainty:

  • Boatyard update 1: the keel work was completed; the bottom paint is still in the works;
  • Boatyard update 2: it’s unclear when the port V1 shroud will be installed (cable has been identified, yeah!) as the fittings are still missing (no ETA); it is likely that CaB will stay next week at BMC too. Hence two weeks, turned into 4.
  • The Watt & Sea converters are still somewhere en route (no ETA), which leaves me with an untested setup;
  • The Pelagic auto-pilot is installed but untested; testing should happen during my trip back to Half Moon Bay;
  • The WSSRC black box was shipped through postal mail (despite my recommendation to use a carrier); hence it may not even arrive (no ETA);
  • The pharmacy kit is in the process of being delivered, a generous donation of Jackie;
  • The small spinnaker and sock are in the process of being manufactured;
  • I need to terminate my berthing agreement 30 days before I depart; that date is up in the air, what with all the “No ETA”s above;
  • I need to activate a satellite plan/SIM card;
  • I need to establish a fund for the meteorologist who will support me during my attempt;
  • Of course, I need to clean the boat, and then load up water, food, tools, spares, all the while keeping the interior somewhat livable, which is going to be a formidable task;
  • I need to get the second mainsail back inside CaB (see above);
  • I had a long talk with Bill Hatfield; Bill recently set the record for the westward solo non stop unassisted circumnavigation, in the less then 40 feet category. He was very helpful with information about the difficult passages I’ll have to go through. And as a result of our conversation, I’m also likely going to modify the course slightly (pending sanctioning by the WSSRC).

News on other fronts

Nick Maloney, of APSU.life and Vendee Globe fame, has offered to furbish me with multivitamins. I have used his products to good success, so I can recommend them for offshore sailors, who would most certainly resonate with their vision for the ocean!

The weather up here doesn’t feel like your usual San Francisco Bay. There have been a lot of southerly winds. I’m hopeful that will turn around as we get into October. The doldrums appear fairly wide at about 10°N, and the Pacific North trade winds light in the 10-15 kts range. On the other side of the doldrums the trade winds appear a little stronger. If this situation remains then it is possible that I’ll sail fairly close to Hawaii. There have been 2 Category 2 hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific (one of which would have crossed my path), and one Category 2. There has been no hurricane yet in the South West Indian Ocean (as is expected) but 3 in the North Indian Ocean. All is good then?

Pictures to close

The tracker is live!

Friday I received the wires I needed to finish the wiring of the YB3i. And so I did a bit more contortion to wiggle the power wire from the back of the boat through a post, down the port pilot drive lazarette, through the liferaft lazarette, through the many cable conduits, and finally to the MPPT load posts. This also included crimping wires. In any case, it’s wired now. If the MPPT fails then there’s the option of plugging in the starter battery.

It’s live here:


Into the vast Pacific Ocean

A few days ago Changabang entered the Pacific Ocean, still on deck of MV STAR LIMA. She’ll then stop in Guatemala, Mexico and finally in San Diego, maybe on March 7th 2020. The shipping company has gone silent so I have no information about how things will proceed in San Diego: communication is not their forte!

Paper charts

I think I’m done with the paper charts I plan to buy. Besides small scale charts for all oceans, I have bought medium scale charts for Torres Strait, Cape Horn. Some of the small scale charts are from NGA and pretty outdated, and although, I don’t think that any islands or rocks are born on the open sea, offshore buoys have been deployed .

Electronic charts

I’ve downloaded Navionics charts on two iPads, which is good except that iPads don’t have GPS. I also downloaded the charts on my small Android cell phone. I want to download them to another tablet or two. To protect them from water and shocks I plan to store all electronics hardware in a somewhat waterproof/shockproof case, maybe each wrapped in aluminium foil.

Not alone

Gaetan’s Class40.

I don’t know what it is with Belgians but there’s another skipper who’s preparing a Class40 for a circumnavigation. His goal is to beat the current record and his boat is much faster than Changabang, but then we don’t have the same problem. He needs to be beat a record, and, if anything, I’m just cruising along hoping to make it safely back home. I’m talking about Gaetan Thomas. He’s much more experienced, younger, stronger, has a better boat, a solid team, etc. His odds are higher by at least an order of magnitude but wouldn’t it be nice if two Belgians were to hold the Class40 records, one in each direction. Dream on, baby, dream on!

Friendly support

I continue to reach out to companies and parties who can help us with donation, discounts, used material. It’s really great to see folks being enthusiastic and supportive. Although there has been no recent development I’ve listed our supporters here for now. In fact, if you’re interested in joining Team Changabang and are willing to commit to helping get us to the start line and onto the finish line, please drop me a note. If there are enough of us maybe I’ll think of some sort of merchandise, a T-shirt maybe?

Night sailing version 🙂

More supporting friends!

PredictWind has offered their forecast, weather routing and other weather related services. I’m really happy to have them contribute to this adventure as their expertise is highly regarded in the sailing community.

We continue to taste the good food of our friends at Backpacker’s Pantry. So far my taste buds are happy with what we’ve been trying.

Changabang appears to make it to the East side of the Panama canal.

And I’ve updated the Navigation page, summarizing what my choices have been, considering what I have and what I can afford within my budget. Hopefully, you’ll find it an entertaining read.

Money, doubts, weather and updates

This post is going to be the combination of a few things. Hopefully enough to keep you entertained until the end.


Or lack thereof … I’m officially boat poor. Funds have been transferred to the seller and my Euro funds have been wiped. We’re finalizing paperwork and I’m lining up the delivery to Antwerp, shipping company, import agent and other small things. After that, my US funds will be next in line for decapitation. Is it worth it? Yes! I can’t wait for the boat to be here and start preparing. But … read on. Or go here and donate a little to help replenish funds.


Of course I’d lie if I wrote that I feel super happy and excited. It’s quite the opposite. There had always been doubts about this undertaking, fears. This particular transition to being a boat owner again crystallized them a little more, which is good as I can now better see what they are, where they stem from.

Nobody and nothing is putting me on this path. It is solely an individual decision. I am not embarking on this adventure to prove anything. It is just something to do and I do love the vision of sailing solo, being immersed in Nature. And, maybe, I want to find myself.

When I hold the thought of this project in my heart, I feel naked, exposed. There is nothing I can lash onto, no obligation, no dependence, none else’s direction. I stand alone. Maybe, that’s what adulthood is about. Making decisions, charting one’s own course, without moral guidance, but one’s own, whether familial, professional, social or religious. Of course, I’m receiving help from folks and that will continue, I hope. I’m not saying that I’m executing this project completely alone. I am saying that when I go up the lighthouse to see who’s shining the light: it is only me up there. Can I be trusted?


Stay in the green!

I’ve been keeping an eye on weather, mostly using this and that. My goal was to study the course from San Francisco to Torres Strait. The common way is to go South, pass the Equator somewhere between Samoa and Tahiti, with the hope to avoid doldrums (ITCZ/SPCZ), thunderstorms and light/variable wind areas. But that adds about 800 NM to the Great Circle route. That’s about 4-6 days of sailing. What I am finding is that:

  1. Leaving from San Francisco may not be as easy as I initially thought. In November there are all sorts possibilities. I could find myself in strong headwinds, no wind or storm conditions. And then sometimes the tradewinds are well established.
  2. Similarly it is not clear that crossing between Samoa and Tahiti is best. Sometimes the ITCZ appears to duplicate itself. As the picture above shows I could get trapped in light wind and thunderstorms. Things usually change pretty quickly though.
  3. Forecasts for the Arafura and Timor seas usually show light head winds (3-6 kts). That’s going to make for a long passage! We’re talking about 500 NM at a speed of 3-6 kts or about 5 days.

All that was fine; the big surprise was extreme weather! I knew my course would go through hurricane season in the East Pacific, the South Pacific and the Indian. But I just shrugged it off. Can’t do that! Oh boy, three tropical cyclones have already materialized near my course. There was Rita between Vanuatu and Fiji. And then Ambali; oh gosh Ambali! Explosive intensification they say. Based on JTWC data, Ambali’s winds increased by 185 km/h (115 mph) in 24 hours, marking the fastest 24-hour intensification recorded in the Southern Hemisphere since 1980. Winds topped at 155 mph! It really took less then 48 hours for this thing to develop into a killer. If you were close by there would have been nowhere to run. Add Belna, North of Madagascar, not as explosive, not as strong but larger and longer lived. Ok then … can’t shrug this off. I must continuously monitor extreme weather.

Is there a silver lining? Those 3 hurricanes were NOT on my course.

Other bits

I’ve updated a couple web pages on the web site, here and there.

I came to the realization that, when we will go around Cape Horn for the last third or so of the journey, the boat will likely have about 30,000 NM under her belt and will need to sail another 8,000 more. I’m not a hard core racer so I wasn’t likely to push the boat hard but I will need to sail conservatively if I want to keep the rigging and everything else as fresh as possible. So, I’ll have a boat heavily loaded, sailed conservatively; I wonder how much slower that’ll make us. Time to downgrade our polars!

Real polars!
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