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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!