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Preview: S/V Odyssey

S/V Odyssey

Updated: 2018-03-06T22:30:51.677+00:00


Loss At Sea


Nearly four years after I left on this journey, I've finally finished writing about it - Loss at Sea, the book version of my circumnavigation, is done.  It's based on this blog, but is much improved and corrected, for those who are obsessive about details - things like punctuation and grammar, but also some funky mileages, dates, etc, and there's a lot of new writing and editing that makes (I think) the story work much better than just reading it.  It's been tough getting it done - version 1 of the book, basically a printed version of the blog, was put together in 2012 after I got back, and I've been hacking away at it ever since.  It's hard with my new job as well - about 6 months after I got back, Shanley and i started working for Pangaea Explorations running a 72' steel expedition yacht, and it's been pretty full on all the time - when we have down time I just want my mind to melt and relax, think of anything but boats, not be writing.  Finally though, I finished it with MUCH copy editing and  support from my mother.  This will probably be the last blog post on this blog, but I'll try to keep it online - perhaps at some point Shanley and I will start  new blog detailing what we're doing with our new boat, Fleur Australe, which we are now sailing in our spare time from Sea Dragon.  Now though, we prefer to keep that as much of an off-line experience as possible - I find that too much connectivity tends to distract and detract from the enjoyment of a thing, and with the amount of internet usage that our job on Sea Dragon requires, Fleur Australe is our home and escape from all of that.  If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of Loss at Sea, it's available currently on as a kindle ebook - this summer I may convert it to other formats and have it available through other stores as well or do a third print run if there's enough interest.

Fair Winds & Following Seas,

Odyssey is Sold


It's time to move on to a new chapter in my life - Odyssey is officially sold.  Thanks to everyone who followed me on my journey.(image)

Odyssey is for Sale


ODYSSEY IS SOLD Unfortunately I have decided to sell Odyssey.  It's a bit tough after all we've been through, but it's going to be at least a few years before I'll be cruising on small boats again, and it just doesn't make any sense to let her sit in a slip going to waste in the interim.  I'm asking $28,500, which is an excellent price considering her condition and gear fit out.  I'm hoping to be able to sell the boat quickly. For those of you who are interested in purchasing Odyssey:Odyssey is a 1977 Islander 36 tall rig.  In preparations for my circumnavigation in the summer and fall of 2011, I extensively refit her, including replacing cabin windows and chainplates, adding extra cockpit drainage, reinforcing some bulkheads and adding tie-downs to the aft-lower chainplates for increased stiffness.  I also added an inner forestay for setting storm sails, which proved invaluable off Cape Horn and in the southern ocean, backed up with dyneema running backstays.I sailed 28,000 miles and for all but perhaps 60 of those, when I hand-steered, Odyssey was steered by my monitor windvane, which functioned wonderfully.A partial equipment list and some photos are below:Sails:2 mainsails (1 full batten)130% roller furling Genoa95% roller furling jibStaysailStorm JibDrifter (160%?).75oz SpinnakerElectronics:85W and 65W solar panelnew (2011) AGM batteries, Adler/Barbour refrigeration, AM/FM stereo with CD player Icom SSB radio Watchmate AIS receiver / GPSVHF radioAutohelm ST50+ RadarSafety:Dyneema/Webbing jacklinesACR Globalfix Pro EPIRBViking 6-man liferaft (inspection good until 2014)Jordan Series DrogueMechanical:Westerbeke 4-108 Diesel25 gal aluminum fuel tank2-bladed folding propeller[...]

Back on Shore again


Finally back in California again after delivering a Beneteau 393 from Tahiti-Victoria, BC - trip left me glad that I sailed around the world in an Islander instead of a Beneteau.  I'm not really planning on doing much more in terms of updating this blog, since it was really just a documentation of my circumnavigation.(image)



Avian Visitors after the Hurricane

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Lots of Pictures


Barnacle Growth between Valparaiso and New ZealandSeaweed Grew on the TopsidesFouling - Valparaiso - New Zealand[...]



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More Pictures


Cape Pigeon in the Indian

New Inverter from Chile allows haircuts again

I'm going to upload a lot today - going to be computerless for a week at a wedding, so will try to finish off my pictures next week and maybe do a bit of final writing.(image)

The Moon


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Indian Ocean


Feeding Shearwaters

Feeding Shearwaters

Post-Knockdown Mess

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Indian Ocean





Black Browed Albatross & Fairy Prion

light mantled sooty albatross & storm petrel

Black Browed Albatross

South Atlantic



Into the South Atlantic


Sailing is Serious... so am I

Black Browed Albatross and a Fairy Prion

It's not always cold



I'm going to be putting up some pictures and video from the trip over the next few days:
Cape Horn

Looking forward

Albatross at Sunset



It's really nice to be back ashore again - so far I've been sleeping, watching terrible television with my darling mother, and eating anything and everything I can get my hands on that isn't out of a can.  So far I don't feel quite as much of a culture shock as when I came into shore in Chile, but I also haven't really been outside the house much either yet - still just sort of adjusting and recovering.  I can't really focus on the trip as a whole yet, I'm still too focused on enjoying flushing toilets, showers, dishwashers, and clean sheets to be particularly interesting.(image)



5PM Position: 33 45' N, 118 15' W, SOG 0, COG 0, Day's Run 90nm.   Docked.  240 days at sea, 28,000 nm, average speed 4.6kts. (image)



Noon Position: 32 11' N, 118 42' W, SOG 5.8, COG 010, Day's Run 100nm.
I'm settling in for the last 100 miles or so to LA, trying to get a lot
of sleep today since I know I won't tonight. In a lot of ways, being
out at sea is a lot easier than being inshore, even in a gale, as
there's nothing to worry about hitting. From just after Cape Horn until
I was in the trades in the South Pacific I saw no ships, the only thing
I had to look out for was a single iceberg. Now i'm seeing a few ships
a day, and aware of far more just over the horizon with AIS. I think I
was pretty lucky with weather this trip, despite all my moanings and
whinings about being becalmed - in all those miles in the southern ocean
and a close encounter with a hurricane in the north pacific I never
really had sustained wind over what I estimate to be force 9. There
were certainly dangerous situations, but never really what one would
term "survival" storms, the kind of weather that is a very real
possibility on this route. Jesse Martin, who until a few years ago was
the youngest nonstop solo circumnavigator, was knocked down 5 times in a
row in while enduring something like 48 hours of force 10 wind on his
approach to Australia, The Moitessiers had to run under bare poles, hand
steering for 6 days before a succession of monster gales en route to the
horn, the Smeetons were pitch-poled end over end by a huge breaking
wave, even W.A. Robinson was nearly pitchpoled on board his much larger
(~50 tons) Varua. I took 3 knockdowns before I learned to be very
vigilant and aggressive in keeping the boat before big breaking seas,
and despite steadily worsening conditions escaped further damage after
my third roll in the Indian. Sometimes it really does seem that some
sailors attract storms and some attract calms, despite the apparent lack
of logic of such a statement.(image)



Noon Position: 30 46' N, 119 39' W, SOG 4.9, COG 040, Day's Run 107nm.
One of the ways I've entertained myself in the last few weeks has been
to think about the creation of the "perfect" boat. Clearly perfect is a
bit of a silly term, but my thoughts lie towards a 35-40 foot ocean
cruiser, optimized for single and doublehanding from the tropics to the
high latitudes. I won't bore you with all my maunderings, but a few
characteristics spring to the fore, namely - Dry: I fantasize about a
metal boat, with everything welded, no leaky through bolts, so I could
sail upwind without a little puddle on the floor as a constant
companion, and books and clothes in various lockers wouldn't
mysteriously emerge soaked and moldy. To take it even further, said
boat would have a far more spray-proof companionway than Odyssey, and
when shut up would be totally watertight, able to be rolled 360 by a
breaking wave without leaking. The other characteristic that I would
love is strength, and by association, stiffness, so that going upwind in
25-30 kts of wind as I am right now I'd slow down for my own comfort,
not out of concern for the boat and rigging, and could face big breakers
without too much worry. These, of course, come on top of good sailing
qualities, a boat that could be operated essentially as if it didn't
have an engine, saving that grumbling goblin for maneuvering in and out
of tight docks. I've drawn and written out pages of thoughts and goals,
but in the end it's really a futile exercise. I'd rather be out sailing
now on my 35 year old, leaky, bendy, boat, than spending the next 20
years in a cubicle farm in Albany or Secaucus, slaving away while
dreaming about sailing away some day. The world is full of sailors and
would be sailors doing just that, and there are countless dream boats
lying half finished in yards across the country, sad monuments to dreams
deferred. Better to be wet and nervous and uncomfortable, but on the
ocean, than looking at pictures of tropical islands while slowly dying,
day by day, in the snakepit ashore. Still, while I'm out here doing, it
doesn't hurt to dream.(image)



Noon Position: 28 34' N, 122 43' W, SOG 4.5, COG 090, Day's Run 84nm,
Week's Run 587nm. As I sailed south in November, each day I listened to
the radio, as first the FM college radio stations dropped out, then the
stronger FM broadcasts, then last of all the AM news and talk shows and
I was surrounded by the silence of the sea. Now, sailing back towards
shore, the reverse is happening - for a few days now I've been able to
receive AM stations on the SSB's big antenna, and last night for a few
hours I picked up my first FM station on the stereo - Santa Barbara's
KTYD. It was an exciting moment, far more so than just hearing
different music for the first time since January could account for, and
I capered around the boat, sang along, and tried to come up with good
slogans for KTYD ("Easy listening for easy living"). Just as the
euphoria of this tangible proof that I was once again approaching land
was wearing off, and, incidentally, the signal was starting to fade out,
I heard one of those noises that sailors dread to hear - A
SPROING-DOINK-Doink-doink.. kind of sound. Hopeful, I pretended that it
was just a fork or a knife leaping from the galley counter in a
spectacular fashion, despite the fact that I had carefully put
everything away as the wind picked up yesterday afternoon, but my hopes
were quickly dashed as the boat lurched, luffed up, and tacked, then lay
quietly hove to. The clutch pin for the windvane's wheel adapter had
finally broken, doinking it's way across the cockpit, and in the process
disconnecting the self steering from the wheel. I guess I should be
grateful that it waited until this late in the trip, particularly as
Odyssey pretty much sails herself close hauled, making the windvane a
mostly superfluous luxury so I can adjust course without leaving the
cabin. Still, I continue to be not particularly impressed with the
rugged construction (or lack thereof) of the Monitor. It certainly has
taken a lot of abuse, and I don't know that any other commercial vane
would be in as good of shape, but the welds that broke last night looked
like they were initially only made about 1/2-way around the pin, not
taking full advantage of the available surface area. After gybing back
on course and getting the boat close hauled again I broke out the stumpy
emergency tiller and rigged the windvane up to it with a gorgeous
kludge-y spiderweb of rigging across the cockpit, so I've got full
steering capabilities again, although I suspect that because of the
shortness of the tiller the windvane isn't going to be able to steer at
low speed as well anymore. I continue to regret not just ripping the
wheel off before I left and installing a proper tiller, but there was
only so much time and far more work to do than time to do it in.(image)



Noon Position: 27 10' N, 26 29' W, SOG 5.2, COG 010, Day's Run 38nm.
Yesterday I felt like I was sailing at Tufts. I normally record changes
of course and speed in the log. Yesterday, after discovering that I had
tacked 10 times in the last hour, and gained 1 mile of distance, I
decided to save the trees and just gave up. The weather continued like
that, constant 45-130 degree wind shifts, puffs, and flat calms, until
around 6 am this morning when the breeze finally filled back in. I was
actively sailing, tacking on every header until I went to sleep, and for
about 10 hours of almost constant effort gained about 10 miles. Last
night I pretty much gave it up as a lost cause, only getting up every
hour or so to tack to try to keep moving, but didn't really get anywhere
until this morning. It seems like I've finally gotten a bit of a lift
today though, so hopefully it'll last long enough to get some mileage.(image)



Noon Position: 26 31' N, 122 35' W, SOG 3, COG 330, Day's Run 80nm.
Beautiful, Sunny Southern California has extended all of it's very best
attributes 500 miles out to sea, just for me! Gloomy, overcast skies,
chilly water, and no wind makes me feel like I'm already back on shore.
I hoped that when I escaped the doldrums I had seen the last of the
drifter, but its yellow and blue stripes are slowly drawing us along. I
guess I should be grateful that I don't have smog, traffic, and strip
malls springing up all around on top of the weather :)(image)



Noon Position: 25 26' N, 120 40' W, SOG 4.5, COG 320, Day's Run 72nm.
A few days ago I dug some .txt and .pdf ebooks out of the carcass of my
old laptop, and have been devouring them in all-day reading binges. In
the process, I have been reminded of the best feature of my deceased
kindles - the screen. Reading all day on my laptop's lcd leaves my eyes
bloodshot and dry, trying to crawl out of their frazzled sockets,
throbbing and clawing at my eyelids when I go to sleep. After two
nights of bleariness I've finally given in and gave my eyes a break, and
today am re-reading some paperbacks (for the second time...) just so my
poor eyeballs stop trying to escape. I wonder if this is in part due to
having gotten LASIK - I don't remember computer monitors being quite so
brutal with glasses. In the last seven days I've only gained 470nm
towards LA - about 68 nm made good per day.(image)



Noon Position: 23 50' N, 122 10' W, SOG 2, COG 325, Day's Run 108nm.
Unfortunately, instead of giving me the wind shift I was hoping for, the
passage of Hurricane Emilia seems to have just sucked away all the wind,
so we're slowly drifting NW. We left the tropics today, and for the
past few days it has been noticeably cooler - the water has a bit of a
nip to it, no more do I swelter in a puddle of sweat through the middle
of the day, and I've even had to break out a big wool blanket for
sleeping at night.(image)



Noon Position: 20 59' N, 120 18' W, SOG 5.7, COG 330, Day's Run 122nm,
Week's Run 615nm.(image)