Getting real

Sorry, no picture/video yet.

We’re about 2 months away for the scheduled 2020 departure. Next week we’re hauling out Changabang at Berkeley Marine Center, Thursday in fact. I think it will be a decisive moment as it will give us an opportunity to look at the keel. There’s still a small possibility that I would delay one year, mainly because repair costs would be prohibitive (and I’d have to go back to work to make up for it). Fingers crossed!

It is time to take stock of what I’ve done so far. To put things in context the Vendée Globe organisation now requires aspiring skippers to complete a 2,000 NM qualifying sail. My longest sail in Changabang was about 400 NM, which is a little less than I’d have hoped for. This was partially dictated by lighter winds off Half Moon Bay than usual, and also because I do have to spend time in other areas, mainly skipper/boat preparation.

Are we there yet?

I think my approach to this preparation was mostly based on a couple of things I learned from my reading and personal experience, as well as the specifics of this voyage:

  • In terms of the boat’s integrity, I do think she has proven her mettle many times over; putting the keel aside, I think she can be trusted. In other words, I don’t think she’ll break apart after 2,000 NM of sailing.
  • In terms of getting to sail Changabang, the beginning of the course should provide me with plenty of opportunities to refine sail handling. I can start easy, learn as I go and push accordingly when confidence builds up.
  • Where I will have no opportunity to improve as I go is having solid boat systems and enough tools/spares/supplies to fix things. This is also where a lot of attempts fail, i.e. due to equipment failure. Considering my very limited experience and budget, this is where I spent a lot of times.

Surprisingly there are still more things on the list than I would care for at this time: getting a fully functional hydrogenerator setup (port and starboard, plus spare), installing an above deck autopilot, testing a spare below deck autopilot (and replace hydraulic oil in all 3), getting a new spinnaker.

What then?

When Changabang comes out of the boatyard (hopefully before September begins), it’ll be urgent to tick off the above items off the list. That’s because then the departure checklist will start: clean up, provisioning, organizing, etc, and getting my shore life in order to depart for 6-8 months. Judging by the pace at which things are moving, I hope somewhere along the path we’ll see some acceleration!


For some reason I had never been afraid when going sailing. But … I read one more story of a circumnavigator, that of Alain Colas. He speaks of his fear in ways that somehow resonated with me. When I went sailing after reading his book I was uneasy about everything, for several hours. Then I put a bit of music on and things settled. But, yes, I do not know how I’ll feel when I’ll have to run in front of 30 feet waves in 60 kts of wind, with a sideways swell, the autopilot craps out and the jib halyard blows out. Side note: Alain Colas and his boat disappeared at sea, both never to be found.

Considering that I may leave on 10/10, it’s only two months left now. To a certain extent, and assuming the lists above get done, I feel, mmmh, about 80% ready.

Author: Skipper

Wannabe circumnavigator.

One thought on “Getting real”

  1. You are a fine writer, Philippe! I hope we don’t lose you to some ocean. I foresee batches of cookies in the near future.

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